The Trail Blazer Leadership of Excellence Awards reception and program Nov. 8 honored seven DeKalb County Women of Distinction. The program, held at the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts and Community Center, was presented by DeKalb County Commissioner Stan Watson and Congressman Hank Johnson was its honorary chair.
The event, presided over by Champion Newspaper publisher Carolyn Glenn, recognized women whose “leadership qualities, nurturance and ability to do good for others are not only sought after but also needed to inspire others to make a difference,” according to the program.
The honorees are as follows.
Juanita Baranco is executive vice president/chief operating officer of Baranco Automotive Group and an assistant attorney general for the state of Georgia. She has been featured on several occasions in Georgia Trend magazine’s annual list of the “100 Most Influential Georgians.” She has received numerous awards for her business and community activities. In 2001 she was inducted into the Georgia State University Business Hall of Fame. Currently, Baranco serves on the board of directors of Southern Company and Cox Radio. In addition, she serves as a board member of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia and as chairman of the board at Clark Atlanta University.
Alice White Bussey and her husband are co-owners of Bussey Florist, which more than 30 years ago became the first Black FTD Florist in Atlanta. Prior to becoming a full-time businesswoman, Bussey worked for more than 16 years with the U.S. Department of Labor in Atlanta and Los Angeles in various positions ultimately becoming the first Black federal representative over the state of Georgia. She was also the Federal Womens program manager for the eight states in the Southeast Region. As the first female president of the Atlanta Business League, she created “Super Tuesday,” a day of celebration through seminars, exhibitions, award luncheons, networking receptions and business clinics.
Carleen Cumberbatch has been an active volunteer in DeKalb County for almost 20 years. Her focus has been improving the quality of life for “seasoned citizens.” As an AARP volunteer in the 1990s, she conducted workshops and seminars about Medicare, lectured nurses’ classes at Georgia Perimeter College, organized and implemented senior group ministries. Cumberbatch is a commissioner with the Housing Authority of DeKalb County Board. She was appointed to the Georgia Council for Aging, elected to the Georgia Silver Haired Legislature and appointed to be the co-chairperson of the Bridge Builders for DeKalb Seniors.
Charlene Fang is senior vice president/business development officer of Touchmark National Bank. Previously, she was a relationship officer with Summit Bank for 15 years. In January 2010, Fang was appointed tax assessor of the DeKalb County Board of Tax Assessors. She has sponsored many fund raising efforts and acted as an all-around advisor to a number of local business groups. Fang has served a board member for organizations such as the DeKalb County Police Alliance, the Asian American Legal Advocacy Center, the DeKalb History Center, DeKalb Convention & Visitors Bureau and Commission of Interpreters at the Georgia Supreme Court. She is the first female president of the Hip Sing Association of Atlanta Georgia.
Sarah C. Fitten is a retired assistant director of services for Fulton Atlanta Community Action Authority, where she served for 41 years. She helped identify rent assistance and housing for those facing homelessness, food pantries for those needing provisions, clothing banks for the indigent and employment assistance for families needing self-sufficiency. As an advocate for parents for school reform and as a nurturing guardian in the lives of many children, Fitten became affectionately known as “Mama Sarah.” Her volunteer efforts have included involvement in the construction of a Grady satellite clinic in the Kirkwood area of DeKalb County, MARTA expansion, the Atlanta Project, Habitat for Humanity and Boys and Girls Club.
Sara Fountain was executive director of Leadership DeKalb Inc., a community leadership program providing training to adults and high school students, for 11 years. She also is a community advocate for sustainable and environmentally responsible growth, public health issues, and education. Fountain serves on the Clifton Community Partnership and is a member of the National Advisory Board of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at her alma mater, Georgia Southern University. She is a founding board member of the DeKalb Literacy Council, a member of the DeKalb Homeless Advisory Council and an advisory board member of BreakThru House, a treatment facility in Decatur for women with addiction.
Prior to becoming the first female CEO of DeKalb County, Liane Levetan was the first woman elected to the DeKalb County Commission, where she served for 10 years. Levetan also served in the Georgia State Senate, 2002-04. A founder of the Georgia Forum–International Women’s Forum (IWF), she serves as a member and past treasurer of the IWF Leadership Foundation. She is co-founder of the DeKalb County Police Alliance, co-chair of Senior Connections Capital Campaign and founder of the organization’s Legacy Campaign. She is a member of the IWF Board, the Georgia Perimeter College Foundation Board and the DeKalb Police Alliance and represents DeKalb County on the Atlanta Regional Commission.