Louisville native Miss Ariel Thompson crowned Miss Black USA

August 6, 2023


(Washington, DC) Tonight, in Washington the Miss Black USA crowned a winner.  Louisville, Kentucky native Ariel Thompson will represent the scholarship pageant. Her reign begins this evening and Thompson will hold the title for one year. 

Thompson will return to Louisville later this week.  To set up an interview contact VIPP Communications at info@vippcommunications.com or by calling 502.341.7306. 

For the first time in more than ten years, Kentucky was represented in the pageant.  Miss Ariel Thompson, Ms. Dominique Joy Thompson and Nia Franklin all travelled to Washington to compete. 

We would like to congratulate Miss Talented Teen Nia Franklin.  This evening, she placed first runner-up.  Ms. Dominique Joy Thompson won the fitness competition in the Ms. Division. 

Dr. Ashley Anderson says “I’m so excited about Ariel’s win.  She earned this great honor, and we are celebrating this huge accomplishment.  I’m excited for all three of our delegates.  Nia and Joy represented their divisions and gave us momentum heading into this year’s Miss Black Kentucky.  It’s a great feeling.  This was a great evening.  To hear the audience cheering for the young ladies brought tears to my eyes. These ladies have worked hard and represented this pageant in a grand way.”

The birth of the Miss Black Kentucky USA franchise is one that will have an impact on young women of Kentucky for generations to come. Beyond the scholarships that will be awarded in Miss, Ms., and Teen divisions, the life skills programming will be sure to elevate the minds and lives of all participants. It will groom leaders, shed light on issues of concern in the community, and meaningfully fund the educational pursuits of Black women in Kentucky. It is my intent that this program becomes the largest scholarship funding source for young women of color across Kentucky.

Again, to set up an interview with any of our Kentucky delegates, please contact VIPP Communications at info@vippcommunications.com. 

Kentucky native announces a scholarship fund to help aspiring artists


(Los Angeles, California) Louisville, native and 2023 NAACP Image Award winner Ericka Nicole Malone of Ericka Nicole Malone Entertainment, LLC, announces the creation of the Ericka Nicole Malone Essay Writing Mentorship which includes four scholarships ranging from $250 to $5000. The scholarships are for high school seniors and current college level students majoring and/or minoring in arts in a Kentucky accredited school.

Ericka Nicole Malone says “I am excited to announce this opportunity. It is important that I give back to my hometown and the first people to believe in my writing ability which has given me so many chances to create produce and direct films you can see today.  Kentucky has a lot of hidden gems and I honestly believe that there is so many creative writers in the community that just need a chance.  With these scholarships, someone wanting to follow their dreams will now have a chance to fulfill them and that is what made me create this initiative so I can follow them along their career.” 

The Ericka Nicole Malone Scholarship can be used for tuition, school fees, books, housing, and food. To be eligible for the scholarship individuals must reside in Kentucky, have at least a 2.5 grade point average, (GPA), on a 4.0 grading scale, already enrolled in the College of Arts and/or accepted into an accredited college institution, performing arts school, trade or vocational school that has an arts program.

As part of the consideration process. You need to submit an essay, (up to one thousand words) on what you want to pursue in the arts and why this scholarship is important. Submit your essay to info@vippcommunications.com. Your deadline is August 4, 2023. Recipients will be announced on August 22, 2023.

Malone attended the Youth Performing Arts School, (YPAS), graduate of Manual High, a JCPS school is a successful writer, director, and executive producer. He latest award-winning project is “Remember ME: The Mahalia Jackson Story” starring Ledisi, Columbus Short, Janet Hubert, Keith David, Wendy Raquel Robinson, and Keith Robinson.

ERICKA NICOLE MALONE ENTERTAINMENT is a production company focused on the development, production/co-production and distribution of film, television, and animated projects nationwide. 

To setup an interview via phone and/or zoom, contact Sherlene Shanklin at VIPP Communications at sshanklin@vippcommunications.com or by calling 502.341-7306.  To read learn more on the Ericka Nicole Malone Entertainment go to www.erickanicolemalone.com.      

Unveiling of the William J. Simmons Portrait at the Heritage Center

Unveiling of the William J. Simmons Portrait at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage

The Kentucky Center for African American Heritage (Heritage Center), in partnership with Simmons College of Kentucky, invites the press and public to the unveiling of the William J. Simmons portrait on Monday, June 26, 2023, at 10 a.m. at 1701 West Muhammad Ali Blvd., Louisville, Kentucky. Simmons’ portrait will be a permanent installation joining other life-sized portraits in the Heritage Center’s Brown-Forman Great Hall Gallery, depicting African American leaders in the arts, civil rights, education, innovation, media, military, and sports. 

Dr. Rev. William J. Simmons (June 29, 1849 – October 30, 1890) went from enslavement to becoming Simmons College of Kentucky’s second president from 1880–1890, for whom the school was eventually named. Simmons College was the first school for higher education established for African Americans in Kentucky. The college was the vision of 12 formerly enslaved Africans who were members of the General Association of Baptists within the state. Their tenacity was fueled by their understanding of the importance of education for the sons and daughters who were formerly enslaved. 

Simmons developed multiple programs, including the teacher education program and one of the few Black medical schools at a Black college. Additionally, Simmons produced Kentucky’s first black medical doctor, Artishia Gilbert. In addition, he was a writer, journalist, and educator. In 1886 he became President of the American National Baptist Convention, one of the organizations that would merge to form the National Baptist Convention, USA. He was elected President of the Colored Press Association for his work as editor of the American Baptist, a newspaper in Louisville, Kentucky.

Simmons is best known for his 1887 work, Men of Mark: Eminent, Progressive, and Rising. The book compiled brief biographies of one hundred seventy-seven prominent African American men across the United States. Men of Mark was a best seller and the most extensive collection of African American biographies.

Aukram Burton, Executive Director at the Heritage Center, says:

“The time is overdue for Dr. Rev. William J. Simmons’ portrait to be a permanent installation at the Heritage Center to ensure that visitors will learn about Simmons’ accomplishments as a transformational leader who built a rigorous and inclusive learning environment that promoted academic excellence during an era that denied African Americans the liberties they should have enjoyed as U.S. citizens.

For media inquiries contact VIPP Communications at info at vippcommunications dot com or by calling KCAAH at 502-583-4100. 


CEO of Family & Children’s Place to Retire in 2024

Louisville, Ky. – Last week, Family & Children’s Place, one of the oldest nonprofits in the city of Louisville, announced their CEO and President Pam Darnall will retire in November 2024. The Board of Directors for the agency was told by Darnall back in November of 2022 of her retirement plan to allow the board plenty of time to find her successor.

“It has been my honor to serve in various roles with FCP since 1994. I am eternally grateful to my predecessors, who were patient and supportive role models as I learned what leadership is truly about,” Darnall said in an email to her staff after their team meeting, where Darnall announced her upcoming retirement.

Darnall began working at what was then called Family Place in 1994 as a program director and in 2001, she became the agency’s executive director. At a meeting with the CEO of Family & Children First Dan Fox, the two discussed the possibility of their organizations merging. In 2008, the two leaders created what is now known as Family & Children’s Place.

In 2016, Darnall was named an Enterprising Woman Making a Difference honoree. In 2021, she was listed as one of Business First’s Most Admired CEOs.

Celebrating their 140th anniversary in the community, Family & Children’s Place protects and heals family and children from child abuse and neglect. Their five programs (HANDS, Greater Louisville Head Start, Counseling, Child Advocacy Center, and School-Based Services) help establish healthy and safe environments for children and their families. Since 1994, Darnall has played a huge role in making the organization the staple it is in the community.

“For nearly 30 years, Pam has been a steadfast force at Family & Children’s Place, and she leaves big shoes to fill. We are grateful for her longtime dedication to the families and children who turn to Family & Children’s Place for the support and care they desperately need,” Family & Children’s Place Board of Directors Chair Richard Garner said in the same email sent to the staff following their team meeting.

The Board of Directors has formed a search committee and are working with Ashley|Rountree and Associates, a local firm specializing in nonprofit growth and sustainability, to determine the skills and abilities they are looking for in their next leader and identify high quality candidates.

If you wish to schedule an interview with Pam Darnall, please contact Allison Wiseman at awiseman@famchildplace.org or 502-645-5526.


For more than 140 years, Family & Children’s Place has been a critical presence in Louisville, helping our most vulnerable citizens — children, that have experience physical and sexual abuse and neglect. We believe that every child deserves a happy, healthy childhood free from abuse and that every family should have the tools and resources to maintain self-sufficiency.

Our mission: We protect and heal children and families.

KCAAH announces 2023 Juneteenth Weekend Heritage Experience

Louisville, KY–The Heritage Center invites you to celebrate with us during the 2023 Juneteenth Weekend Heritage Experience, featuring “The Fannie Lou Hamer Story,” doors open at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 17, and the Juneteenth and Father’s Day Jazz Brunch featuring the Ansyn Banks Legacy Quintet with guest vocalist Karen Chavis and host Marjorie Marshall at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 18 at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage (KCAAH), 1701 W. Muhammad Ali. 

The Fannie Lou Hamer Story is an award-winning 90-minute one-woman stage play performed by Mzuri Moyo Aimbaye. The play is riveting storytelling, celebrating an unsung hero who became a catalyst for the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

General admission for The Fannie Lou Hamer Story $25.00/Limited V.I.P. Seating ($30.00). 

KCAAH Executive Director Aukram Burton believes: “When we think about Juneteenth, it must be remembered as a moment of clarity about our struggles and how far we have come. That is why the Heritage Center is proud to showcase a play about the life of voting rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. Now is the time to truly examine the challenges we face as Black voters, and Fannie Lou Hamer was a powerful and passionate voice that needs to resonate, even today.”

In addition, the weekend experience will feature Ansyn Banks Legacy Quintet with Ansyn Banks (Trumpet), Dave Clark (Saxophone), Gabe Evens (Piano), Tyrone Wheeler (Bass), & Jonathan Higgins (Drums). Marjorie Marshall will host the performance and guest vocalist Karen Chavis will be invited to grace the stage with her angelic voice. General admission for the Juneteenth and Father’s Day Jazz Brunch is $40.00/Limited V.I.P. Seating ($45.00). 

Visit WWW.KCAAH.ORG to purchase tickets. For more information, contact Marjorie Marshall at 502-271-9228.

To setup an interview contact VIPP Communications at  booking@vippcommunications.com.


Roots 101 African American Museum gets rave reviews for music legend Static Major exhibit

(Louisville, KY) Roots 101 welcomed during Kentucky Derby weekend the long-awaited tribute to the ‘King of Kentucky” the late Stephen “Static Major” Garrett.  The exhibit will take you through the legendary music career of the musical genius.  The Louisville, Kentucky native was a singer, songwriter, and record producer.  Born on November 11, 1974, and died on February 23, 2008.  He was a member of the R&B trio Playa that went on to have hits like “Cheers 2 U” and  “Don’t Stop the Music”.  This is their 25th anniversary of the group’s formation. 

Static Major has produced with some of the biggest artists in R&B and Hip-Hop from Aaliyah, Ginuwine, Nicole Wray, Pretty Ricky to Lil Wayne.  Proceeding Garrett’s death, in 2018, hip-hop superstar Drake featured Garrett in his hit song “After Dark”.  Then in 2020, Louisville native Jack Harlow hit. “Luv Is Dro”, which was a song of Garrett reworked by Harlow. 

You can see the temporary exhibit through July 8th

Avonti Garrett, the widow and mother of his two children remembers not only the artist but the family man.  “Stephen Ellis Garrett aka Static Major was a special one-of-a-kind person.  He not only was a talented singer, songwriter, and producer, he was a good husband, father, son, and friend.  He was a family man who was generous to all.  Static had a way of leaving a memorable impression with everyone he encountered.  The love that he generously displayed made all of us feel special to him.  His timeless music still has a great influence over the music industry.  Static Major is and will forever be a true legend.  The Goat!!! By age 33.  His family, friends, and I appreciate the love and we are truly grateful for the honoring of his legacy.  He is greatly missed by all. “

Lamont Collins, Founder of Roots 101 shares his excitement about having the exhibit at his museum.  He says, “It’s so important to document and preserve our history.  Stephen “Static Major” Garrett played and still plays a vital role in the entertainment industry.  This was a long time in the making, this should have happened a long time ago. We are happy that Roots 101 in Garrett’s hometown was able to make it happen.  We invite you to come see the temporary exhibit.  We hope it will have a permanent home someday, but it is an honor to be the first to display his life and superstar career.  Legacies matter and Roots 101 continues to chronicle history of African Americans in our community and the outstanding contributions made not only to Kentucky but the world.” 

To setup an interview contact VIPP Communications at  booking@vippcommunications.com


The Palm Room welcomes Slutty Vegan to Louisville for a pop-up

Louisville, KY) Slutty Vegan, known as one of the top vegan restaurants in U.S. hits the road for a pop-up and Louisville is their next destination.

This Saturday, April 8th from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the parking lot of The Palm Room located at 1821 W. Jefferson Street in Louisville, KY you will see the Slutty Vegan Food Truck. If you follow them on social, you know that lines will form to savor the plant-based food alternatives especially their signature burgers that the Slutty Vegan team will put together right here in West Louisville.

The Palm Room owner Donnie Adkins says, “Louisville has been wanting this opportunity and I’m so proud that our team was able to get this scheduled.  Entrepreneurs helping one another is how we survive. Helping Black-owned businesses is vital for growth.  Everyone can’t travel to Atlanta, so we are bringing Atlanta to Louisville.  Every city they have travelled to has had people standing in long lines just to try the food.  We are going to make this an event, an experience. I hope you come out and support. We are planning events throughout the year so stay tuned.”

Along with the Slutty Vegan Food Truck, The Palm Room will provide music with a DJ, our guest Slutty Vegan will also sell merchandise and The Palm Room will be open for guests to purchase drinks and take a tour of the live music restaurant and bar.

Again, they are expecting a large turnout and we would love for you to cover our event. We are introducing the residents to healthy alternatives to things they eat every day.

When you arrive, your point of contact will be Ebony Davis. Contact her via cell at 502.905.2176.

To learn more about Joe’s Palm Room and Slutty Vegan we have attached their websites.  https://www.joespalmroomlounge.com & http://sluttyveganatl.com/

If you get calls that there’s a large crowd on Jefferson Street on Saturday. Follow the people heading to The Palm Room and look for the yellow food truck. 


About Slutty Vegan:

Founded by CEO and visionary Pinky Cole, Slutty Vegan is an Atlanta-based, nationally acclaimed burger joint offering bangin’ 100% vegan comfort food. Slutty Vegan’s crave-worthy, indulgent menus and joyful customer interactions draw locals and visitors to eagerly wait in now-famous lines down the block for a vegan burger, with sluttified fans including celebrities like Snoop Dogg, Jermaine Dupri, Taraji P. Henson, Tyler Perry, and Queen Latifah. Slutty Vegan has ten existing brick-and-mortar locations, including metro-Atlanta stores in the Edgewood, Jonesboro, Duluth and West View neighborhoods, on-campus at Georgia Tech, and inside Truist Park, plus outposts in Athens, Georgia, Birmingham, AL and Harlem and Brooklyn, New York. In addition, the brand’s “Big Ol’ Slut” food truck tours the country popping up in neighborhoods across the region.

VIPP Communications is a full-service public relation, event management and production firm headquartered in Louisville, KY with clients and/or projects all over the U.S. We can create, maintain and sustain your brand.  Our clientele ranges from small businesses, non-profits, corporate leaders, entertainment to current and retired professional athletes.  Contact one of our team members to see how we can assist you at info at vippcommunications dot com.  www.vippcommunications.com

Rally to End Child Abuse hosted by Family & Children’s Place

Immediate Release 

Family & Children’s Place will hold a Rally to End Child Abuse on Thursday, March 30th at 10:00 a.m. in the parking lot of our headquarters located at 525 Zane Street.

April is the designated start of Child Abuse Prevention Month but anyone who works and/or advocates for children understand it’s a 365 24/7 obligation. 

In 2022, the Child Fatality & Near Fatality Report says that 67% of all cases reviewed involved a child four years of age or younger. 

The report also says that one in seven Kentucky high school students reported having seriously considered suicide within a 12-month period.  One in five of Kentucky middle school students reported having seriously considered suicide at some point in their lives.

Pam Darnall, CEO of Family & Children’s Place says, “As you can see in the report, it affects all ages.  There’s not one targeted group that we need to focus on.  We need to help every child so that they do not become a statistic. We can do better. We must do better.”

Child Abuse Prevention Month brings awareness to those in the community unaware of how serious the problem is in Kentuckiana. According to the latest

national report of Child Maltreatment, Kentucky has dropped in the ranking from fifth, to sixth in the rate of child abuse/neglect.  Indiana remains at #11 with their rate of child abuse/neglect. 

The following have confirmed their participation as speakers for the March 30th rally:

  • Pam Darnall, President/CEO, Family & Children’s Place
  • Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman
  • Vic Maddox, Deputy Attorney General
  • Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg
  • KY State Senator Julie Raque Adams
  • Roz Welch from the office of Keturah Herron, State Representative
  • Eric Friedlander, KY DCBS Secretary
  • Jeremy Mull, Clark County Prosecuting Attorney
  • Barry Dunn, Kosair Charities
  • Dr. Terry Brooks, KYA

We will also acknowledge a group of individuals who have supported our organization over the years.  The following have confirmed their attendance for the rally:

  • Tom Wine, Commonwealth Attorney
  • Mike O’Connell, County Attorney
  • Caroline Ruschell, KY CAC Executive Director
  • Emily Bonistall, Marsy’s Law
  • Barbara Sexton Smith, Louisville Deputy Mayor
  • Nicole George, Deputy Mayor of Public Health and Services
  • David James, Deputy Mayor of Emergency Services
  • Dana Mayton, Deputy Mayor of Operations and Budget 
  • Phillip Baker, City Councilman District 6

We hope you will cover our rally.  As you can see by our prestigious list of attendees, we have a lot of support and would like to have your cover our event to further educate your viewers about the staggering statistics in this community and things they can do to help stop child abuse. 

If you have any questions and/or would like to setup an interview, please contact us by calling 502-341-7306 or by email at info@vippcommunications.com

To learn more about Family & Children’s Place visit our site at www.familyandchildrensplace.org

WHO:                   Family & Children’s Place

WHAT:                 Rally kicking off Child Abuse Prevention Month

WHEN:                 Thursday, March 30, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. (In-person)

WHERE:               Family & Children’s Place, 525 Zane St, Louisville, KY 40203


For more than 140 years, Family & Children’s Place has been a critical presence in Louisville, helping our most vulnerable citizens — children, that have experience physical and sexual abuse and neglect. We believe that every child deserves a happy, healthy childhood free from abuse and that every family should have the tools and resources to maintain self-sufficiency.

Our Mission: We protect and heal children and families.

Family & Children’s Place is hosting their annual Champions for Children Breakfast


WHO:             Family & Children’s Place

WHAT:             Hosting Champions for Children Breakfast

WHEN:             Thursday, April 20, 2023

                         7:30 a.m. Networking

                         8:00 a.m. Program

WHERE:            Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, 1701 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd.

WHY:                Benefitting Family & Children’s Place program

To register, go to www.familyandchildrensplace.org/championsforchildren/

We would like to thank HealthTrackRX for being this year’s presenting sponsor. 

If you would like to be a sponsor, contact Kristen Millwood, Director of Development at 502-855-6154. 

Please announce and/or post our event.  If you have any questions and/or would like to setup an interview, please contact us by calling 502-341-7306 or by email at info@vippcommunications.com.

To learn more about Family & Children’s Place visit our site at www.familyandchildrensplace.org

Reckoning, Inc. to participate in Frazier History Museum event, Help Me Find My People

(Louisville, KY) On Wednesday, February 8th, Louisville-based non-profit organization Reckoning Inc. will participate in an event at the Frazier History Museum entitled Help Me Find My People: How Archival Documents Can Connect African Americans to Enslaved Ancestors.  The event will be held from 6:00 p.m.- 7:00 p.m at the Frazier History Museum, 829 W. Main Street.

For African Americans researching their ancestry, it is a huge challenge to find information about ancestors who lived prior to 1870, the first year that formerly-enslaved Black people appeared by name in the U.S. Census. At the Frazier Museum event, Reckoning, Inc. will discuss a huge breakthrough that is unlocking information and helping Black families to find their enslaved ancestors, thanks to a new collaboration between Nelson County historian Charles Lemons and Reckoning, Inc.  Lemons is the former curator of the Patton Museum at Ft. Knox.

For the past 12 years, Lemons has traveled across the state visiting county courthouses and other archives seeking the names and family relationships of Black people who were enslaved in Kentucky. In 2022, Reckoning, Inc. learned of Lemons’ activities and approached him about publishing his work online and collaborating on future research, built upon Reckoning’s previous research into Kentucky’s Black Civil War soldiers. Thanks to a grant from the Kentucky African American Heritage Commission, Reckoning, Inc. has begun the process of publishing his research on its website, reckoninginc.org, and using it to further its mission to explore the lives of Kentucky’s enslaved people and their descendants.

At this event, Charles Lemons, along with staff and volunteers of Reckoning Inc., will discuss the research they have done so far and how it will help African Americans to break through the “brick wall” of 1870 and learn the identities of their enslaved ancestors. 

Dan Gediman, Executive Director of Reckoning Inc. says “We have worked for the last several years working to connect the dots.  We are now ready to introduce to the public what we have been able to find.  It gives African Americans, particularly those here in Kentucky, a way to connect back to their loved ones. We invite you to come out, learn, and ask questions in hopes of your family being able to connect the dots.”

Rachel Platt, Director of Community Engagement says “We are thrilled to partner with Reckoning, Inc. on this program, and highlight this ongoing research.  It’s information that can be life-changing for thousands of families by opening doors about their ancestry.  It dovetails perfectly into our programming entitled, Bridging the Divide.”

The panel of guests include:

Dan Gediman, Executive Director, Reckoning, Inc.

Abby Posey, Research Director, Reckoning, Inc.

Jackie Burrell, Volunteer Genealogical Researcher, Reckoning, Inc.

Charles Lemons, Military Historian

To register for the program, go to https://www.fraziermuseum.org/calendar/help-me-find-my-people

To learn more about Reckoning Inc go to www.reckoninginc.org

If you would like to setup an interview and/or cover the event contact VIPP Communications at info@vippcommunications,.com or call 502-341-7306. 

Reckoning, Inc. is 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to examine the legacy of slavery in America, and to create ways for communities to engage with this information through research projects, media productions, educational curricula, online content, and other means.

Reckoning, Inc. receives funding from the Kentucky African American Heritage Commission, Gheens Foundation, Community Foundation of Louisville, LG&E and KU Foundation, David A. Jones, Jr., and Mary Gwen Wheeler, Hardscuffle Inc., Metro United Way, National Endowment for the Humanities, American Historical Association, and the Owsley Brown III Philanthropic Foundation.