Louisiana Tech University Conference

27 October 2022, 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM at Louisiana Tech University.

Event Details

The Let Us Dream community conference was first held in 2017 at Louisiana Tech University. The conference provides a forum for professionals, scholars, researchers, and college and university students to share experiences, challenges, and achievements in their respective efforts towards community improvement.








9:00am - 9:30am
Registration and Vendor Networking
9:30am - 9:35am
Welcome: Dr. Dickie Crawford
9:35am - 9:40am
Welcome: Father Lijo
Street Dance
9:40am - 9:55am
Keynote Speaker – Monroe Mayor Friday Ellis
10:00am - 11:00am
Education Panel
Street Dance
11:00am - 12:00pm
Social Panel
Street Dance
1:00pm - 2:00pm
Health Panel
Street Dance
2:00pm - 2:15pm
Keynote Speaker – Dr. Noflin, Jr.
2:15pm - 3:00pm
Unsung Heroes
3:15pm - 4:15pm
Student Panel
4:15pm - 4:30pm
Closing Remarks


Mayor Friday Ellis

Mayor Friday Ellis was born in rural Rayville, Louisiana. . Mayor Ellis is an advocate of entrepreneurship and business growth. He encourages community and civic development and involvement at local and state levels. In 2019, he was named Free Enterprise Champion by the Louisiana Business and Industry.

Dr.George Nofin

Dr. George Noflin, Jr., is a native of Jackson, Louisiana. Over the past thirty-plus years, Dr. Noflin has become a knowledgeable administrator who is diligent, conscientious, and hardworking. He has served in the United States Marine Corps for a number of years where he received the United States Marine Corps Meritorious Award while serving his country.

Conference core leadership team

Dr. Pauline Leonard
Dr. Suzanne Mayo

Health Panel

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Kendra McMurry

Kendra D. McMurry, MSN, RN is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing at Grambling State University. She is a Ruston native and 2009 graduate from Grambling State University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She received her MSN from Walden University. McMurry’s research interests consist of strategies to improve health literacy in minority communities, de-stigmatization of mental illness, and journaling as a form of self-care to improve mental health. McMurry has a passion for educating, empowering, and encouraging others to strive for their greatest potential.
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Tori Davis

Tori Davis serves as the Chief Communications Officer for Green Clinic Health System in Ruston. Davis is a Shreveport native who received her bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Louisiana State University and a master’s degree in business administration from Louisiana Tech University. Prior to joining Green Clinic, Davis gained experience in marketing, public relations, social media, and strategic planning while working in the travel and tourism industry. Davis is passionate about the Ruston community and doing her part to ensure the best quality of life for residents and students who call the area home.
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Baylee Gray

Baylee Gray is the ER Director at Northern Louisiana Medical Center in Ruston, Louisiana. She is originally from Mansfield, Texas and received her BS in biology from Northwestern State University and BSN from Texas Christian University. Following a nursing travel assignment, she fell in love with the Ruston community and what it has to offer. Her goal is to continue to assist in giving quality care to the city of Ruston and surrounding communities.
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Dr. Ashley Owen

Dr. Ashley Owen is a National Board Certified Counselor, Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor, and a QPR Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Instructor. In 2009, Owen received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Louisiana Tech University. She returned to Louisiana Tech University to receive a Master of Counseling and Guidance in 2013, and completed her PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy at the University of Louisiana Monroe in 2021. Owen’s clinical interests include anxiety disorders, suicidal ideation, self-harm, disordered eating, and personal growth and development. Her research interest are issues in suicidal bereavement specific to existential regret, sense-making, meaning-making, relational aspects, and the impact of physical exercise on mental health. In her free time, Owen can often be found cheering on the Bulldogs and Lady Techsters, spending time with family, and volunteering.
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Meleah Pea

Meleah Pea is a native of the Strawberry City, Ponchatoula, and graduated from Ponchatoula High School in 2019. In high school, she was involved in an array of organizations and sports that influenced her desire to be involved. Pea is now a senior Biology major and psychology minor that continues to serve her campus and community. Pea serves in various positions on campus, such as the President of the Alpha Theta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, President of the President’s Student Leadership Initiative, GRAMbassador, Health Equity Intern for ASPHN, amongst many other things. Off-campus, Pea serves her country as a Munition Systems Reservist in the United States Air Force and her community as a sickle cell disease awareness advocate providing informational events and scholarships for students and citizens. Pea enjoys shopping, reading, and playing sports outside of school. After graduation, Pea is looking to attend medical school to become a physician and work in underserved populations.
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Spencer Stelly

Spencer Stelly is a third-year student majoring in Chemistry and minoring in Spanish. He will be graduating in the Spring and plans to continue his studies in Veterinary Medicine School. Stelly currently serves as the President of the Peer Leadership Council (PLC) with Louisiana Tech University’s Counseling Services, and is involved in other organizations such as Student Recruiters, Union Board, American Chemical Society, Pre-Veterinary Medicine Club, College of Engineering and Science Ambassadors, Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine Alliance through Equity and Diversity, and three research groups. Spencer’s favorite part of PLC is giving presentations to incoming freshman classes to raise mental health awareness and assist students in their transition to their undergraduate education.
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Becky Stutzman

Becky Stutzman, LCSW-BACS, C-SSWS, has been a social worker for more than 25 years and she has worked in the school setting for 22 of those years. She graduated from McNeese State University with her BA degree in sociology and Louisiana State University with her master’s degree in Social Work. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Board Approved Clinical Supervisor, and Nationally Certified School Social Work Specialist. Stutzman is currently the Coordinator of Pupil Appraisal Services and Mental Health Services for the Lincoln Parish School Board. She has worked for Lincoln Parish Schools since 2005 and currently oversees testing and evaluation services for students with potential disabilities and learning challenges and has had the opportunity to assist in expanding mental health services and social-emotional learning opportunities for the students of Lincoln Parish.
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Jerrilyn Washington

Jerrilene Washington, EdD, is Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – Ruston Chapter. NAMI Ruston is a 36-year-old, nonprofit mental health organization, which serves communities in north and central Louisiana. Dr. Washington serves as a volunteer columnist for the Ruston Daily Leader with a bi-monthly column focusing on mental health issues. She retired after 44 years of service in education in school systems and universities in north and south Louisiana, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.
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David Wells

David Wells is the Director of Emergency Medical Services for the Ruston Fire Department. He received his degree in Fire Science from Columbia Southern University and holds multiple certifications including International Critical Incident Stress Foundation: Assisting Individuals in Crisis and International Critical Incident Stress Foundation: Group Crisis Intervention. He serves as a board member for the Louisiana Emergency Response Network Region 8 and is chairman of the Louisiana Delta Community College Paramedic Education Board.
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Calvin C. Williams

Calvin C. Williams is a Licensed Professional Counselor with over 25 years of experience. He has a private mental health practice in Monroe and provides counseling to patients of The Health Hut, a mobile healthcare unit providing services to Lincoln Parish residents. Williams served as a clinical consultant in the healthcare industry, Director of an Intensive Outpatient Chemical Dependency Program, and provided direct care for inpatient and outpatient psychiatric programs serving adolescents, adults and geriatric patients. He was presented with a LCA Presidential Award for recognition of his exemplary service to the counseling profession and the Louisiana Counseling Association.

Education Panel

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Dr. Cheyrl Mansfield Ensley

Dr. Cheyrl Mansfield Ensley currently serves as an Associate Professor and the Interim Head of the Departments of Curriculum and Instruction and Developmental and Higher Education Studies at her alma mater – Grambling State University. She received her master’s from Louisiana Tech and earned her doctorate from Texas A&M Commerce. Ensley is an advocate for providing access and opportunity for all students with over 30 years of experience in education. She is an experienced educator, dedicated to leveling the playing field for all children. Prior to joining the GRAMFAM in August 2018, Ensley had previous experience teaching at the college level and served in the PreK-12 setting as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, director, executive director, and assistant superintendent. She is an outcomes-based educator with a laser focus on obtaining results based on data.
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Lanecia Deshund Clinton

Lanecia Deshund Clinton, a native of Ruston, is the oldest of six children. She earned her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2018 and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in education at Grambling State University. Clinton is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated and serves as a second-grade teacher at Lincoln Preparatory School.
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Dr. Patsy Hughey

Dr. Patsy A Hughey began her career at Louisiana Tech University in March 2018. Before transitioning to higher education, she has 29 years of experience working in K-12 public school education. She has been a teacher, principal, central office administrator, district school superintendent, and educational consultant. Hughey graduated from Southern Arkansas University with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Early Childhood Education and a master’s degree in School Administration. She obtained an Educational Specialist degree and was a member of the first cohort group to graduate from Arkansas Tech University, Russellville, Arkansas, with an Educational Doctorate in School Leadership.
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Dr. George Noflin Jr.

Dr. George Noflin Jr. is a native of Jackson. He and his wife Valerie are the proud parents of five children. Over the past 30 years, Noflin has become a knowledgeable administrator who is diligent, conscientious, and hard working. He served in the United States Marine Corps for a number of years where he received the United States Marine Corps Meritorious Award while serving his country. He received an Associate of Arts degree from Southwest Mississippi Community College, his Bachelor of Science in Education degree from Millsaps College, and master’s and doctoral degrees in Education from Mississippi State University. Noflin has been a teacher, coach, athletic director, assistant principal, director of an alternative school, principal, assistant superintendent, and superintendent of schools in Morehouse Parish. He has also served as Assistant Professor at Louisiana Tech University and Associate Professor at Grambling State University. He is currently the Director of the Call Me MiSTER Program. These experiences have given him the knowledge and expertise to properly supervise, manage, and motivate othersto excel in the areas of academics, athletics, and leadership. Noflin is a member at the New Living Word Fellowship Church in Ruston, and he was a past-president of the Sunrise Kiwanis Club in Ruston.
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Dr. Dustin Whitlock

Dustin S. Whitlock, EdD, is an Assistant Professor at Louisiana Tech University. He completed his doctorate from Johns Hopkins University with an emphasis in 21st Century Learning, as well as a MA in Teaching and MA in Counseling and Guidance from Louisiana Tech University. His research interests include 21st century learning, learning science, educator preparation, teacher professional development, and teacher efficacy. In his role as an assistant professor, Whitlock teaches undergraduate courses in Learning and Development and Secondary Teaching Methods. He also teaches courses within the MA Education, Curriculum and Instruction program.
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Chase Willis

Chase Kylen Willis, a native of Shreveport, is a rising senior at Grambling State University, majoring in Elementary and Special Education with a certification endorsement in Early Childhood Education. He is currently completing his teaching practicum at Queensborough Elementary in the Caddo Parish Public school system. Willis is a member of various professional organizations for educators, including the Louisiana Associations of Math and Reading, the Iota Tau Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education, and the Aspiring Educators Club. Upon graduation, Willis plans to attend graduate school to obtain his master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Social Work.

Social Panel

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Will Dearmon

Will Dearmon earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Louisiana Tech in 2013 and his master’s degree in Public Service and Administration with a Higher Education concentration at Texas A&M University in 2016. He has a background in higher education policy and administration as well as political and communications consulting. In March 2022 he returned to Ruston as the new President and CEO of the Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce.
Dearmon also currently serves as the President of the Louisiana Tech University Alumni Association National Board of Directors. He and his wife, Kelsey, have been happily married for almost five years and are the proud parents of a very active 13-month-old baby girl.
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Janet Durden

A native of Mississippi, Janet S. Durden has been President of United Way of Northeast Louisiana since 1985 and with United Way for a total of 40 years. Under Durden’s leadership, United Way of Northeast Louisiana has adopted a Strategic Community Impact Plan that is tackling the region’s greatest challenges.
In 2020, ULM Women’s Symposium awarded Durden with their Legacy Award. In February 2017, Monroe Chamber of Commerce bestowed their highest recognition, the prestigious Rambin Silverstein Award to Durden. She received the Kitty Degree Humanitarian Award in 2016. In 2015, she was recognized with Grambling State University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Leadership Award for Community Service and Leadership. Durden received her Master of Arts from Mississippi State College for Women.
She has served on numerous state and local board of directors and is currently on St. Francis Medical Center Board of Directors, Ouachita Business Alliance, and Louisiana Association of United Ways.
Janet and Bob Durden have been married for 27 years. Her daughter is a non-profit professional and lives with her husband and their two daughters in Kansas City. Bob has three children, and they enjoy their four grandchildren. Janet and Bob are active members at First Baptist Church in West Monroe.
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Kristopher Kelley

Kristopher Kelley serves as the Executive Director for the West Monroe-West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Assistant Manager for Columbia, and is a small business owner. He is a local naturalist entrepreneur with over two decades of experience as a non-profit consultant, biology instructor, and environmental chemist. Kelley has worked not only for business development and promotional initiatives with local and regional government organizations; but also, with US Fish and Wildlife, US Army Corps of Engineers, USDA, and the just to name a few. He works tirelessly as promoter of our local businesses, as an environmental educator, as the regional past chair for American Chemical Society all while serving on the boards of 12 non-profits fully committed to advancing the mission of many arts organizations in our region. Kelley is passionate about workforce development for our region, the role the arts play in developing quality citizens, historic preservation, and celebrating the natural diversity of Louisiana.
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Dr. Reginald Owens

Dr. Reginald Owens is the retired chairman of the department of journalism at Louisiana Tech University where he held the F. Jay Taylor Endowed Chair of Journalism.
As a student at Tech in the late 1960s, he was one of the founders of the university’s first African American student organization, Soul Tech, and served as its first president. He also initiated the application in 1969 to bring to campus in 1971 the first black Greek letter organization, Alpha Phi Alpha.
Owens began his professional career as a police reporter at the Houston Post. He later worked in Houston at Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. editing publications and as an advertising assistant; managing editor of The (Houston) Informer; and associate professor of journalism at Texas Southern University. He has also taught at Grambling State University and in Austin, Texas at Huston-Tillotson University, Austin Community College and the University of Texas.
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Tory Smith

Tory Smith is an Onboarding/Delivery Manager at IBM Monroe Client Innovation Center located in Monroe. She is a native Shreveport. Throughout her career, she has dedicated time, energy, love, and creativity to community involvement and giveback.
At IBM, she is a member of the Diversity & Inclusion council for her business unit to help foster inclusive environments and champion diversity of thought and voices. She is also the Engagement Champion for the Monroe office serving as executive advisor to the center’s business resource groups and supporting employee engagement endeavors which include community action and volunteering as IBM believes in giving back to the communities in which they reside.


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Brenda Dupree

In her nomination, Brenda Dupree is described as one of the hidden treasures of North Central Louisiana. An active member of her church, sorority, and the NAACP, she leads the charge in several parishes for completing and providing accurate information for census reports. She understands the importance of an informed voter and therefore during each cycle, she leads the efforts to organize candidate forums. At over 70 years of age, she has more than tripled her load this election season and will stop whatever she is doing if someone has a question about voting or registration. Dupree wants to be sure that everyone understands their rights and knows exactly who to contact in their district regarding voting. Well known for her kindness, organization skills, relationship building and selflessness, she lives the motto “Intelligence is the torch of wisdom.” Her diligence has inspired our youth to become more active and she guides community leaders on the best ways to merge their generational gaps by developing programming or simply serving as a mentor. A force of nature, Dupree lives a life committed to advocacy and service for those around her.
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Bobby Mounts

While you could start with the fact that valiantly Bobby Mounts served his country as a Marine, he is recognized today for how he has chosen to live his life as a civilian and businessman. Each year, PJ’s Coffee hosts a contest that allows a veteran the opportunity to win a franchise. Upon the urging of his wife, Mounts entered and became the second franchise winner. He chose to open his business in Ruston but as he opened his doors, he made a commitment to make a difference through his work. Beyond his ongoing support for veterans and veteran causes, Mounts dedicates one day each month where a portion of his proceeds goes to support non-profits and various needs throughout the community. At his own expense, he advertises and promotes these efforts, welcomes representatives from the benefitting group, and hosts special events to bring awareness to the cause. Yet Mounts does this quietly and without fanfare because he wants no credit; instead, he prefers the spotlight shine on those he is serving. He operates with the purest servant’s heart and with a desire to truly leave this world better than he found it through his steady, consistent gift. Whether mentoring college students or volunteering with 4-H, Mounts is a warrior with a sterling heart for service that represents “paying it forward” in the finest sense of the expression.
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Michelle Tarpley

When the unthinkable happened on April 25, 2019, Michelle Tarpley transformed into an angel for countless individuals throughout the community. As the sun came up the very next day, she became a tireless volunteer, checking on neighbors and senior citizens in her community where the F3 tornado had severely ravaged the area just two streets over from her home. Throughout the neighborhood, she consistently helped family after family with hot meals, water, and much needed supplies. But she wasn’t finished. Even after the tornado recovery began to subside, she chose to continue her service, passing out homemade soup once a week during the winter months to shut-ins as well as those individuals who were sick during their wellness checks. Furthermore, Tarpley teaches diabetes awareness as a licensed life coach to help individuals become better informed about how to live with the disease and also volunteers with the TAPS program which provide comfort, care and resources to those grieving the death of a military loved one. A resident of Ruston, Tarpley is known as a true caregiver who never meets a stranger and lives her life daily with the goal of making someone else’s life better.
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Jackie White

Jackie White works tirelessly for the community as director of the Lincoln Parish Health Hut where she strives daily to bring the very best health care to those who may be struggling with how to pay for their care. She has established school-based health care programs throughout the Lincoln Parish School District, advocating for telemedicine protocols that will help keep students from having to leave school and their instructional time. White also gives of her time to the students of Louisiana Tech University, allowing them to shadow her and her staff. White readily engages with community partners as well as the university to improve the health of those who live throughout the parish. She has been recognized as an outstanding volunteer in various capacities, honored for her advocacy around better health care for all. However, she is quick to allow others to have the spotlight, demurely declining opportunities so that others can have their moment to shine. Jackie White is a role model and inspiration to many, especially young women who want to have careers in medicine while also having a family and living a life of purpose while practicing selflessness through service.
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Adarian Williams

While a student at Grambling State University, Adarian Williams distinguished himself through his active role in various organizations before going on to serve in various capacities in Washington DC, including as an Organizing Fellow for the Campaign of President Joe Biden. He later worked in the office of former Congressman Cedric Richmond and went on to work as the Senior Manager of Congressional Relations for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Inc. During summer 2020, Williams led an effort that brought together elected officials, law enforcement officers, religious leaders, and most importantly, families, students and citizens in a Week of Action to discuss the racial unrest across our country and take united action in growing a thriving community for future generations. Shortly after that effort, he hosted and engaged more than 4,000 citizens in a virtual candidate forum for Louisiana’s Fifth Congressional District. He currently serves as the Deputy Chief of Staff in the office of GSU President Rick Gallot where his commitment to service is evident. Williams is said to possess resilience, integrity and the ability to collaborate with others to achieve a shared vision while remaining fully committed to giving back to this community he calls home.