Executive of the Year
Ms. Suna Om
Come inside and learn about 7 dynamic women on the move! visit their websites, get involved in their foundations or organizations and just support their movement. Want to learn more email us at
About our 2015 InfluenceHER Honorees
The Forsythia Foundation is a charitable, non-profit Single Parent agency established in June of 2010 by Suna Om, President and founder.
Ms. Om, a native of Korea, is a respected resident and investor in the historic West End community of Atlanta, Georgia. Years ago she became a successful entrepreneur and real estate developer, as well as serving as the head of the Korean American Chamber of Commerce of Georgia. Suna is also a member of the West End Merchants Association, and regularly participates in events and initiatives designed to improve the economic opportunities and growth of the West End neighborhood.
A few years ago, a young woman found herself in a brutally abusive relationship. With seemingly nowhere to go, and no one to turn to, she reached out to Suna. Her situation was all the more urgent because she was about to give birth to the child of her abuser. Suna knew that it would not be enough to just help the woman get out of the dangerous living situation... further support would be needed so the new mother could rebuild her confidence, improve her education, and secure a decent job to sustain herself and nurture her child. It was Suna’s hope that the young woman not simply survive the domestic abuse, but also be able to stand on her own, financially independent and forever free from the yoke of an abusive partner.
It was in that moment that the vision and inspiration for the Forsythia Foundation was born. Although the situation of that young mother was in fact frightening and desperate, it was unfortunately all too common. Violence against women is a scenario repeated all across the nation and the world, and the time to confront it and reject it, is NOW.
That is the mission and hope of Suna Om and the Forsythia Foundation. To stand up and push back against those that abuse women; to let single mothers know that they are NOT alone; to support them in their time of need and give them the tools to survive and prosper. In that way, just like the forsythia plant, whose branches reach out to touch the earth and take root again, so too the rejuvenated and independent mothers can again take root, grow, and reach out to help others overcome.
Ms. Alexis Scott
Journalist, Executive & Visonary
Atlanta Daily Word
M. Alexis Scott has a long career as a newspaper journalist, executive and visionary community leader. She retired in 2014 after 16 years as publisher of the Atlanta Daily World, a newspaper founded by her grandfather in 1928. The paper became part of the Real Times Media family in 2012. Before ADW, Ms. Scott had a 22-year career with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Cox Enterprises, Inc., where she worked her way up from reporter to vice president/community affairs at the AJC, and director of diversity at Cox. She is also a featured commentator on The Georgia Gang, broadcast Sundays on FOX 5 Atlanta. Last year, she was part of the executive team that opened the Center for Civil and Human Rights in downtown Atlanta.
Ms. Scott joined the family business in 1997, following a 22-year career with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Cox Enterprises, Inc., where she worked her way up from reporter to vice president/community affairs at the Journal-Constitution and then director of diversity at Cox. As publisher of the ADW,
Ms. Scott has received many awards and honors, including the 2015 Women’s History Month award from Women Flying High and the Georgia Coalition of Black Women. She and The Scott Family were recognized as Legends in the Historic Westside Village 2015 exhibit at Walmart. She was inducted into the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau 2014 Hospitality Hall of Fame. She received a 2013 award for column writing from the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists. She was inducted along with her family into the inaugural Atlanta Press Club Hall of Fame in 2011. She was inducted into the 2007 Business Hall of Fame of the Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University. She also received a 2007 Trailblazer Award in Honor of Coretta Scott King from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; the 2005 Millennium Pacesetter Award from the Atlanta Business League. She received an honorary doctor of humane letters from Argosy University in Atlanta in 2003.
She was named one of the "Top 100 Women of Influence" by the Atlanta Business League for more than 15 years. She was named the 1998 Pioneer Black Journalist by the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists. Ms. Scott is a member of the 1989 YWCA Academy of Women Achievers.
Ms. Karmetria Burton
GM, Supplier Diversity
Born Aliyah Diane Williams, Homestead Florida and her family had a profound affect on her. This is where she was first inspired to be a business woman. Her father and mother, still living, still own and operate the family restaurant named “Baby Face Place” – patriarch-ally penned after a nickname her father has worn all his life. “My daddy has a beautiful baby face, even to this day…” – she smiles when she speaks of her parents and talks about what they mean to her foundation of family and her desire to create viable businesses.
Two years at the famous FAMU, one of the most prestigious HBCU’s in the country, and playing the apprentice role to her mom and dad for years, gave Aliyah Najm an acute business savvy. In Tallahassee she “cookie cut” her families “Baby Face Place” idea, scaling it down (conceptually) to a “Seafood Restaurant” and made a name for herself in the fast food dining industry - with her husband as her business partner. After the successful launch of the restaurant, she decided to listen to the cries of small businesses that were having trouble managing their finances and filing their taxes. Aliyah established a “Book Keeping Service” to meet their needs. A multi-tasker by nature, Aliyah managed to run the book keeping company, the restaurant, birth/raise five children, maintain the status of “wife” to her husband and blow out hours as a full time accounting clerk for the Tallahassee school board for ten years. Finally, her professional life saw 20 years of service in the medical field where she had experiences she appreciates and holds close to her heart…..even today.
In 2005-2006, Najm and a new business partner created “Gold Fire Entertainment” in response to the mounting success her son T-PAIN was having in the entertainment industry. “Local and national artists saw me as the mother of T-Pain and began to ask me to help them gain some footing in the music industry” she so humbly reveals. 13 successful acts later the business Diva decided it was time to move on to a more palatable place in the business world and signed over Gold Fire to her business partner.
Currently Aliyah D. has been courted to be the spokesperson for a highly toted skin care product line developed by Dr. Jacqueline Owusu, MD an opportunity she believes will bring a grass roots, dependable skin care regiment to women of all cultures, garner nationwide attention to this incredible fledgling company and bring awareness to the cosmetic industry that marketable products can be created and manufactured by African Americans.
As we said earlier – multi-tasking is an exact science to Aliyah D. Najm and she continues to blaze the trails into new and innovative arena’s making her one of the leading women in business to be recognized for creating new opportunities in the 21st century. Outside of the skincare product line, she has established and continues to artistically construct a television talk show entitled “Dinner Table Discussions”, a vision she’s had for years – and one that offers information and resources to assist people in solving their day to day problems.
Finally, and this may be one of the most humanitarian non-profits to hit the nation in some time – Najm is creating “Caregivers 911” a foundation dedicated to assisting and preparing families and individuals who are sadly forced into taking care of sick, elderly and handicap family members and friends. Caregivers 911 will ultimately encompass the skill and experience of her life’s work - and take her well into her winter years. “This foundation is what I’ve wanted to do all my life; I believe that everything I have endured, learned and created up to this point – has prepared me to finally create Caregivers 911”. Her voice determined as she places this non-profit in the forefront of her projects, Aliyah D. Najm is ready for this new challenge, and at 56 years young – shows no sign of slowing down or sitting on anyone’s sideline. She is a woman with a big heart but a power broker in business.
Sheryl Riley Gripper is Founder and Executive Director of the Black Women Film Network, an organization that seeks to tell the untold stories of women of all cultures in film and digital media. The organization has given more than $30,000 in scholarships to women pursuing careers in film, broadcast and related areas. BWFN scholarship winners have worked at MTV, NBC ,REVOLT and BET. Scholarship winner Alicia Hailey won the prestigious Directors Guild of America (DGA) fellowship and has worked as a 2nd AD on many films, including “Let the Church Say Amen.”
A multi-Emmy Award winner, Gripper was Vice-President, Community Relations, for WXIA-TV, 11Alive and WATL-TV 36, for 29 years. She is a Community Relations Consultant for The Networks of 11Alive and Atlanta Technical College. A graduate of Spelman College and Georgia State University, she holds Masters Degrees in Education and Film.
Additionally, Gripper was Founding Executive Director of the BronzeLens Film Festival, a festival that promotes diversity in film. She is also founder and CEO of Rosey Posey Pictures, LLC, a company that produces film and digital media that encourage and inspire.
The mother of three, she is the wife of Jeff Gripper, Atlanta’s First World Karate Champion. As a member of Elizabeth Baptist Church, she serves on the Intercessory Prayer and Encouragers ministries. Gripper wrote and produced the documentary, “I Didn’t Make Him, God Did,” the story of three media moms who lose their adult children to murder and “In the Last Days,” an experimental short.
Ms. Sheryl Riley Gripper
CEO, Black Women In Film
Ms. Aliyah Najm
CEO, Caregivers 911
Karmetria Dunham Burton is general manager, supplier diversity for Delta Air Lines. In this position she is responsible for developing and executing a global Supplier Diversity program while enhancing the processes to assist Delta Air Lines achieve its vision of being an industry leader of making minority and women owned businesses (MWBEs) a natural and integral part of the way the company does business. Karmetria has worked in strategic sourcing in various national and international corporate settings including Xerox and AT&T and Union Pacific Railroad. Before Delta, Karmetria was supplier diversity manager for IHG (Intercontinental Hotels Group).
A raising star in her field, Karmetria was the 2005 recipient of the Trailblazer Award presented by the Black Business Professionals and Entrepreneurs organization and was recognized as Who’s Who of Black Atlanta in 2010. In 2012 and 2013, Mrs. Burton was honored as one of the Top 25 Women Impacting Diversity, by Diversity Inc. magazine. A well-respected authority in supplier diversity, she is a contributing writer for MBE magazine that focuses on minority business development. Also in 2013 she was honored by Kentucky State University- the Thorobred Award. And in 2014 she was noted as a woman of Excellence by the Atlanta Daily World Magazine. Her work and her passion has gained her notoriety in several publications; Black Enterprise, AMOI and Diversity Inc.
Karmetria holds a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Southern University-Baton Rouge, La., and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska. She is currently completing her doctorate degree at Argosy University. Mrs. Burton has instructed business, procurement and diversity related courses at Kennesaw State University as well as Shorter College, Strayer University, Georgia State University and Monroe Community College in Rochester, N.Y. Mrs. Burton is a sought out speaker of women’s organization, youth empowerment groups and entrepreneur forums.
A native of Houston, Texas, Karmetria is married to Horace A. Burton, and resides in Atlanta.
Her philosophy is: Your attitude determines your altitude! Shift your thinking!
Ms. Kim Bearden
Co Founder and Executive Director
Ron Clark Academy
Kim Bearden is the cofounder, executive director, and language arts teacher at the highly acclaimed Ron Clark Academy, an innovative middle school and educator training facility in Atlanta. Over the past seven years, over 27,000 educators from 42 states and 22 countries have visited to observe Kim and her staff teach and to learn better ways to engage students, promote academic rigor, and create a climate and culture that promotes success.
Kim was selected from over 70,000 nominations to be honored as the Disney American Teacher Awards Outstanding Middle School Humanities Teacher. The Milken Family Foundation selected her as one of 155 teachers from across the nation to receive the Award for Excellence in Education. and she was the chosen from among 7000 teachers as Teacher of the Year in Cobb County, Georgia. Women Works Media Group has named her one of Georgia’s Most Powerful and Influential Women. She is also a keynote speaker with Premiere Speakers Bureau, and each year she speaks to thousands of educators across the country and around the world to inspire them and teach them methods for engaging and motivating students.
Over the past twenty-eight years, she has been a teacher, instructional lead teacher, curriculum director, school board member, staff development trainer, and middle school principal.
Kim’s book, Crash Course: The Life Lessons My Students Taught Me, was released by Simon and Schuster in July. Her book made numerous bestseller lists, the L.A. Times Bestseller List being among them.
Jamye Selby is a rising Senior and honor student at The Westminster Schools in Atlanta. Jamye is the Co-President and founder of the Gender Equality and Relations (G.E.A.R.) student organization at Westminster and founded and serves as the Editor-in-Chief of “The Modern Era,” a digital magazine focusing on social, cultural and political empowerment of young women and men coming of age.
Jamye serves as a program participant and sits on the Student Advisory Board for Giving Point (a nationwide community-based youth development organization).
Jamye has held internship positions with YouthSpark (a human traffic prevention and advocacy non-profit) and with the Global Health division of The American Cancer Society.
Jamye’s early education was at the Atlanta International School where she became fully bi-lingual in Spanish and English. Jamye is an avid runner earning three letters in varsity track and field and cross-country.