IL Celebrates Black History Month!

Career Night... February 11th

February is Black History Month! Join us in celebrating!

With its roots dating back to 1925 and Harvard historian, Carter G. Woodson, Black History Month is celebrated every February as a way to honor the accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history. Understanding Black History and diverse perspectives is work that we are committed to every day at Indian Landing. As we focus on and celebrate Black History during February, students and families are invited to learn with us.

Career Night sponsored by Indian Landing Project LEAD

Thursday, Feb. 11th, 7-8pm

This is an online event.

As we look at leaders throughout history, we also want to showcase the leaders right here in our community. At this event, students will be able to ask questions and learn more about a variety of careers from local leaders in the Rochester area. We are hopeful that our future changemakers will find some inspiration in listening to our panelists.


This event has been coordinated by Indian Landing's Project LEAD Committee and is open to all K-5 elementary students in the Penfield school district.

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

How to Join...

Log on via Zoom https://zoom.us/j/97186878183. We will start promptly at 7:00 p.m. so please feel free to log on a few minutes early.


Students are encouraged to write down questions in advance so they are prepared to ask them during the Question & Answer portion of our event.


While we encourage family participation, please kindly remember that the focus of this event is students. We want to allow our Penfield children the opportunity to listen and ask questions of local leaders.

Our Career Night Panelists

Ms. Emily Belcer- Educator

Ms. Belcer is a teacher in the Fairport Central School District. She holds a MS in Educational Administration from St. John Fisher College and is currently working on a doctoral degree in Organizational Leadership from Northcentral University. She has three daughters who attend Penfield schools. Ms. Belcer is also a member of the Penfield Central School District Board of Education.

Mr. Darrell Bell- Vice President at Roberts Wesleyan College

Mr. Bell joined Roberts Wesleyan College and Northeastern Seminary as Vice President for Institutional Advancement in January 2016, following more than 19 years of advancement experience with public and private institutions of higher education. Prior to joining Roberts, he held advancement roles at several highly regarded research universities, including University of Rochester and Carnegie Mellon University. His breadth of experience spans across various areas of advancement but his expertise is geared towards annual giving, front line fundraising, diversity and management. As Chief Advancement Officer, Mr. Bell provides overall leadership for the College and Seminary development and alumni affairs programs. He oversees four departments, numerous volunteers and 12 professional and support staff in Advancement. He works with and through others to plan and implement strategies and tactical approaches to fundraising and external relations encompassing the areas of annual giving, major and planned gifts, corporate, government and foundation relations, programming, communications, parent relations and alumni relations.


Mr. Bell volunteers his time and talents to local organizations including The Michael Napoleone Foundation and The Charles Finney School. Mr. Bell also serves on the CASE District 2 Cabinet as well. He holds an associate’s degree from California University of Pennsylvania in Criminal Justice, a B.A. in Administration of Justice from University of Pittsburgh and a Masters of Strategic Leadership from Roberts Wesleyan College. He resides in Rochester, NY with his dog Lacy.

Senator Samra Brouk- New York 55th District

Senator Brouk represents New York's 55th District which includes portions of Monroe and Ontario counties, including Rush, Mendon, Pittsford, Perinton, Fairport, Penfield, East Rochester, East Irondequoit, Naples, Bloomfield, Victor, and the east side of the City of Rochester.

Senator Brouk was born and raised in the City of Rochester and surrounding suburbs, before earning her B.A. in Psychology at Williams College. Senator Brouk has always worked to help provide quality services, greater opportunities, and vital support to those in need. This dedication to public service led her to join the Peace Corps, work with local governments to improve recycling efforts, improve services for seniors aging within their homes, and address inequalities in the public school system. As a leader in non-profit community development, she has spent a decade building educational, environmental, and senior services initiatives in her own community and across New York State.

Dr. Marvin Doyley- Biomedical Engineer and Professor

Marvin M. Doyley received his Ph.D. degree in biophysics from the University of London in 2000. From 2000 to 2001, he was with the Experimental Echocardiography Department at the Thorax Center in the Netherlands. From 2001 to 2008, he was with the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College as a research faculty member. In 2008, he joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering faculty at the University of Rochester, where he is currently professor and the chairman with appointments in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Radiology. His research at the University of Rochester concentrates on cardiovascular imaging, high-frequency ultrasound imaging, neuroimaging, and molecular imaging for pancreatic cancer.

Mr. Malik Evans- City Councilman and Banker

Mr. Evans is currently an at-large member of Rochester City Council and is a candidate in the Rochester Mayoral race. In addition to being a banker, Mr. Evans is very active in the Rochester community—he is involved with the Charitable Distributions Committee at the Rochester Area Community Foundation and serves as a trustee on the boards of the Rochester Museum and Science Center, Path Stone Enterprise Center, RIT’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship Advisory, and Wilmot Cancer Institute, along with numerous other community-impacting activities. Mr. Evans is a graduate of the University of Rochester and has a Master of Science in Management from Nazareth College.

Mrs. Nicolette Ferguson- Dancer

Nicolette Ferguson, Dancer, Educator and Choreographer, is currently an Adjunct Lecturer in the Dept. of Theater and Dance at SUNY Geneseo and holds a Master of Fine Arts in Dance Performance and Choreography. A former Principal Dancer with Garth Fagan Dance for 21 years, Mrs. Ferguson has provided instruction in the Fagan technique to students ages 3-80, beginners, pre-professionals and professionals. In addition to conducting weekly dance classes for kids and adults throughout the Rochester area, she also counsels a healthy lifestyle through group fitness classes. Born in Jamaica, W.I. and raised in Queens, NY, Mrs. Ferguson is a wife and mother of two boys, 11 and 7 years old.

Mr. William Ferguson- Dancer

William (Bill) J. Ferguson II, is the Garth Fagan Dance Acting Executive Director, Personal Assistant to Garth Fagan and Artistic Director of the Garth Fagan Dance Student Ensemble. Mr. Ferguson joined Garth Fagan Dance in 1989. An instructor at the Garth Fagan Dance School since 1990, Mr. Ferguson has directed the Garth Fagan Dance Student Ensemble with performances during the GFD Home season, the MAG’s Clothesline Festival, and most recently at the City of Rochester Black Heritage Committee performance at Hochstein. Mr. Ferguson graduated with honors, from The Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City with a B.A. in Dance. He currently serves as Vice President of the Board of the Joseph Avenue Arts and Culture Alliance. His hobbies include making jewelry and sculpture and golfing. A cancer survivor and veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Mr. Ferguson is a husband to Nicolette, and the father of William Donovan and Nicholas Lamond.

Ms. April Franklin- News Host & Reporter

Before her current role as the local host of WXXI's Weekend Edition and reporter at WXXI News, Ms. Franklin spent 12 years working in the Emergency Department at URMC. Her passion for community and storytelling led her to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Broadcast from SUNY Brockport. Ms. Franklin is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the current Vice President of Rochester Association of Black Journalists.

Mrs. Ahlia Kitwana- Entrepreneur

Mrs. Kitwana is the CEO and founder of her own company. She founded Little Black Buddha several years ago when she discovered there was a severe misalignment between what she was creating as an engineer and the person she was becoming. At the time, Mrs. Kitwana was a systems engineer at a Fortune 500 company. At different points in her life, she has been a high school teacher, an electrical engineer, a waitress, and a cashier. Mrs. Kitwana has successfully pivoted or changed careers completely five times, and the last transition is what led her to Little Black Buddha.

Ms. Danielle McKenzie- Nurse

Ms. McKenzie is a proud MCC Nursing graduate. Prior to her career in nursing she double-majored in Psychology and African-American studies at The University at Buffalo where she received her BA in 2014. Since graduating nursing school last January she has been employed at Rochester General where she works on a pretty unique pediatric and adult medical/surgical unit. Ms. McKenzie states, " I feel lucky I get to take care of everyone from week-old babies to 100 year-olds with amazing stories. This past year hasn’t been the easiest time to be a nurse let alone a new graduate, but the outpouring of love and support from the community makes it worthwhile."

Ms. Lonette Merriman- Attorney

Ms. Merriman joined Constellation Brands, a leading international producer and marketer of beer, wine and spirits, in July 2016 as Vice President, Associate General Counsel. She reports to the Senior Vice President, General Counsel of the Wine & Spirits Division. In this role, Ms. Merriman is responsible for intellectual property portfolio management and enforcement, alcohol beverage and regulatory expertise, and mergers and acquisitions support for Constellation’s growing portfolio of beer, wine, and spirits brands. Preceding her tenure at Constellation Brands, Ms. Merriman held the position of Alcohol Regulatory Specialist at McDermott Will & Emery in Washington, DC, where she counseled beer, wine and spirits manufacturers on alcohol beverage matters, including federal and state laws and regulations, licensing, permitting, labeling, formulas, advertising, trade practice and trademarks.

Dr. Penelope Parris- Medical Doctor

Dr. Parris was born and raised in Trinidad and has been a resident of Rochester for over 30 years. She completed her undergraduate degree at SUNY Brockport and received her medical degree from SUNY Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Her Residency training in Pediatrics was at the University of Maryland Hospital for Children. Currently she is a Medical Director at United Health Group. Prior to that she was a community Pediatrician here in Rochester. She lives in Victor with her husband, stepson and nephew and she enjoys, hiking, biking, sewing and playing the Steel Pan.

Ms. Lachonda Potter- Counselor

Ms. Potter has a MS in Counseling from SUNY Brockport. She has worked as a counselor at Mt. Hope Family Center for thirteen years where she provides Child-Parent Psychotherapy and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to families and children in the community.

Mr. Herb Smith- Musician

Herb Smith is third trumpet in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, director of Jazz Bands at the Rochester Institute of technology and leads his own jazz group called The Freedom Trio. You can find the trio's music on Spotify and iTunes. He teaches trumpet lessons for the Eastman Community music School, and directs all-county bands for high school students in the greater Rochester area. As a composer he has written music for Orchestra, brass quintet, jazz band and one of his pieces for trumpet, piano and voice was premiered at Carnegie Hall. When he is not playing or composing, he delves into conducting. Mr. Smith is a guest conductor with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra conducting educational programs for children of all ages.

Jerome & Lorna Underwood- Restaurant Owners

Mr. & Mrs. Underwood launched Mighty Good Food as a micro catering business in 1996 in Buffalo. Their niche was and continues to be authentic high-quality Caribbean food. After returning to Rochester in 1997, Mrs. Underwood returned to work and catering took a back seat to her full time employment. They continued with the business on a small-scale doing “special things for special people”. Notwithstanding, they have generated a cadre of very loyal customers over the years who incessantly asked when they would be opening a restaurant. That dream came true in 2019 when Mr. and Mrs. Underwood opened Caribbean Heritage Restaurant on S. Plymouth Ave. in Rochester.


Mrs. Underwood holds an Associate's Degree in Hospitality Management from Monroe Community College and is certified as a food service manager. Mr. Underwood holds a Bachelor’s Degree in accounting from St. John Fisher and a Masters in finance from Rochester Institute of Technology.

Indian Landing Project LEAD

Project LEAD is a school-based committee comprised of both parents and teachers. LEAD stands for Learning & Evolving in Advancing Diversity. We recognize the prejudices and structural racism built into the fabric of our institutions and culture, prevalent and harmful to our community today. We are committed to antiracist policies and practices to promote the healing of our community, and we assert our commitment to change the current paradigm by starting with our school community. We believe this involves the engagement of teachers, parents, students and community members of all ages to identify and challenge biased thinking, narratives, and practices.


We strive to accomplish our mission through a three-pronged approach-


  • Steward diversity within school practices and structures
  • Organize events designed for wide-reach engagement
  • Support parent community in practicing antiracism at home


If you would like to learn more about the work of Project LEAD, please contact Indian Landing Principal Marcie Ware mware@penfield.edu.