Home About us

All About ColorsVA

ColorsVA’s mission is to illuminate issues relevant to Southwest Virginia’s communities of color through high-quality, enlightening and thought-provoking content. Integrity, professionalism and dedication to open and balanced dialogues will be our guides. Through education and exposure, we will foster pride and mutual respect among people of all cultures and ethnicities.

Meet Our Team

Staff
  • icon
Robert Jeffrey, Jr

Robert Jeffrey, Jr

Publisher/CEO

Robert L. Jeffrey, Jr. started his career in media in 1991 at The Seattle Times.  Robert was selected as one of the first two Times Fellows, a program that gave him experience in advertising, corporate marketing, operations, new media, circulation and information systems.  The goal of that program – to train promising individuals in the area of publishing- gave Jeffrey the drive to create ColorsNW Magazine, a publication about people of color in the Pacific Northwest. Jeffrey launched the magazine at age 31 to illuminate issues relevant to Northwest communities of color through high-quality, enlightening and thought-provoking content.

Jeffrey says, “I started ColorsNW because my news experience showed me that a lot of stories about communities of color did not make it into the newspaper.  We wanted to show the richness and diversity of our communities.” Under Colors NW magazine leadership during 2000-2010, the publication earned over 80 journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and in 2006 was named “Magazine of the Year” by the organization. Jeffrey is also owner of ColorsCareers.com; an online diversity recruitment site for the Pacific Northwest area.

Jeffrey relocated to back home to Roanoke Virginia and has brought the concept of ColorsNW with him. Colors VA magazine launched in July 2015, focusing on the same principles of ColorsNW “Celebrating Our Similarities; Understanding Our Differences” for the Southwest Virginia community.

From an early age, Jeffrey was conscious of the important of community involvement.  Born into a family of diversity advocates, Jeffrey’s mother was a former President of the Roanoke Chapter of the NAACP in Virginia and his father was, and still is, an outspoken minister on civil rights and diversity issues.  Over the past 15 years, Jeffrey has received numerous community awards, including the Puget Sound Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Award Winner, the Small Business Administration’s Diversity Champion Award, Seattle Magazine’s Most Influential Person” Delta Sigma Theta Seattle Alumnae Chapter “Man of the Year”; Alpha Kappa Alpha Seattle Alumnae Chapter “Talented Tenth Award; Puget Sound Fastest Growing Private Companies in 2005, 2006, 2007 and many others.  Jeffrey has been profiled in the Entrepreneur Magazine, Seattle Magazine, Roanoke Times, and Seattle Times.

Jeffrey graduated from Hampton University with a bachelor’s degree in business with a marketing emphasis.  He has completed Executive Management Training at the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University in Chicago and served his “Executive in Residence” training at The Washington Post.  Jeffrey was a former board member at United Way of King County, Seattle WA and Seattle Goodwill.  He is currently an active member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.  Jeffrey is also a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, and currently serves as a board member for the Goodwill Industries of the Valley.

Robert is married to Mrs. Tina Jeffrey. He is the father of five children, Kendra, Chounnarin, Angelina, Mikia and Miles Wynton. He is the grandfather of Aishya, Andrea, Amielle, David James, and Sebastian.

Connect with Robert:

robertj@colorsva.pub

Gregory Cooper

Gregory Cooper

Associate Publisher

Associate Publisher

A native of Roanoke, Virginia, Gregory Cooper was educated in the Roanoke City Public School system and graduated from William Fleming Senior High School in 1992.  He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from James Madison University in 1996.  Greg pursued graduate education at Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA) and completed a Master’s degree in social work in 1999.  He has taken doctoral courses at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and is currently working on a Master’s degree in divinity at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, VA.

Greg advanced in administration and leadership within the field of higher education for close to ten years.  His last appointment was at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he served as the Director of Admissions, Recruitment, and Financial Aid for the School of Social Work.  In addition, Greg has provided executive leadership in the non-profit sector working with children and families.  Greg has worked with Robert Jeffrey, Jr. at Colors VA Magazine since 2015.  Among his varied job duties and responsibilities includes managing monthly distribution, advertising/sales, working with freelancers, coordinating special projects, and providing leadership and general oversight to the Scholar of the Month Program.

Greg enjoys listening to jazz music, traveling, and frequents thrift and consignment stores.  Greg is a member of First Roanoke Baptist Church where he sings in the Celebration Choir.  He teaches a Connect group at his church and hopes to take a missions trip to Taiwan in the very near future.  His favorite quote is by Robert Frost, “In three words I can sum up everything that I learned about life:  It goes on.”

Connect with Gregory:

gregc@colorsva.pub

Melinda J. Payne

Melinda J. Payne

Editor

Editor

Karen E. Jones

Karen E. Jones

Office Administrator

Karen joined ColorsVA in April 2017. In her role, she assists Robert and Greg by providing executive administrative support, manages social media, and assists in planning and coordination of events.  Karen loves her hometown of Christiansburg and the New River Valley. She is actively involved with organizations and issues that promote diversity, social justice, community awareness, and working with children and youth. Karen is the oldest of four girls raised by their father. She’s the favorite auntie to 13 nieces and nephews. Karen earned her Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication with a concentration in Public Relations from Radford University. She is a member of Asbury UMC, serves on the board of the Old Hill School Community Center in Christiansburg, Political Action Chair of the Montgomery County-Radford City-Floyd County NAACP and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

“You don’t make progress by sitting on the sidelines” ~ Shirley Chisholm, first Black woman to serve in the US House of Representatives

Connect with Karen

karenj@colorsvamag.com
Twitter @thekarenejones
Instagram @thekarenejones
LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/karenelijones

Lauren Fochtman

Lauren Fochtman

Graphic Designer

Lauren, a Southwest Virginia native, holds an AAS in Communication Designer and
concentrates in graphic design, photography, illustration and fine arts. She loves working with bright, electric colors and her favorite is a summer shade of green. She seeks inspiration from everyday life and expresses herself through a variety of media and subject. Although she is primarily a graphic designer, she can not give up her love for using watercolors, gouache, acrylics, oils, mixed media, photography and ink. Lauren’s other passions include music, nature, cooking, and traveling.

Connect with Lauren

www.laurenfochtmanart.wixsite.com/portfolio

Writers
Jeremy Angione

Jeremy Angione

Contributing Writer

My name is Jeremy. I am originally from Connecticut, but I have always had family in the Chesapeake, Virginia area. I finally moved to Virginia when I started school at Liberty University in 2010. I graduated with a degree in journalism and am currently pursuing a Master’s degree in professional writing. Since graduation, I made Lynchburg home and currently live there. My main job is at Liberty, where I work as a Resident Admissions Specialist. I am passionate about writing, but even more so, about my martial art of choice, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which I have practiced for about 10 years. I am hoping to expand my writing careers into as many avenues and sources as will have me!

Bianca Holman

Bianca Holman

Contributing Writer/Editor

Contributing Writer/Editor

M3GZ

M3GZ

Feature Writer

Megan, single mother to three beautiful children: 16, 15 and 7, works part time as a legal assistant while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communication online through Grand Canyon University.  She takes great pride and attention to detail with every hat that she wears within each facet of life.  Outside of life as a mother and student, Megan also takes great joy in displaying her talents by running a part-time business as a makeup artist, free-lance writer, Certified Life Coach and Virtual Assistant.  She also shares a love for the arts and likes to vlog and travel with friends in her spare time.  For more information or inquiries please connect through the various media links:

Connect with M3GZ

M3gzempire@gmail.com
www.m3gz.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/realM3gZ
Instagram:  @imm3gz
YouTube: www.youtube.com/channel/UCy2F4YlHmCSc6NAQ6RG_PAQ

Jordan Bell

Jordan Bell

At the Feet of Our Elders

Jordan Bell is a historian and community advocate. Jordan is a Special Education aid who specializes in assisting autistic children with Roanoke City Public Schools. He is summer camp director with Apple Ridge Farms where Jordan is also the Leader of Aspire Mindsets, a group to help ages 12-17 become more involved in the community by building them up mentally. Jordan takes pride in being involved in his community. He also is involved with many other organizations such as the Dumas Legacy Foundation, Inc. and 21st Century.

Jordan’s biggest accomplishment is being a father to his only daughter, Zariaya Armanii Bell. He loves to teach her and encourage her to be the best she can be. They love taking trips to see museums and learning as much as they can about our history. Jordan’s latest project, Gainsboro Revisited, is a documentary on the history of the Gainsboro community and Urban Renewal of the Roanoke Valley. He is in the process of interviewing Black Pioneers of the Roanoke Valley to tell their story and how Urban Renewal impacted the Black Community. The documentary is set to be released Fall 2018.

Connect with Jordan

Facebook Jordan Bell

Nehemiah Bester

Nehemiah Bester

Contributing Writer, Millennial View

My name is Nehemiah Bester, I am an Alum of Radford University where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Media Studies and a Minor in Political Science. I will be attended Morgan State University as a Master of Science Candidate for Strategic Communication and Journalism in the Fall of 2018. I have a deep passion for public speaking, specifically on topic’s dealing with race, sexual violence, prison reform and economic disparities among minorities. In my spare time I enjoy reading, spending time with my friends and between all those, finding time to sneak in naps. I am a strong believer in social mobility for communities of color as it is absolutely critical that equal opportunity be enforced in democratic societies; None of us are free until we all are. Please feel free to contact me through any of my social channels with any inquiries. Black Lives Matter.

Connect with Nehemiah:

Instagram nehemiah_bester
Twitter nehemiah_bester
Email joshl@colorsva.pub

Stedman Payne

Stedman Payne

Contributing Writer, Stedman Speaks

Stedman Payne, Jr is Senior Vice President and Lynchburg Market Executive with Member One Federal Credit Union. Payne has been employed by Member One since 2004. Originally a teller in the Salem retail center, Payne rose quickly through the organization. After leadership stints in the Rocky Mount and Westlake retail centers, he spent six years as market leader of the Main Office retail center in downtown Roanoke.
No stranger to community service, Payne, a graduate of Leadership Roanoke Valley and a Rotarian, has served on the Board of Directors of the Harrison Museum of African American Art, the Board of Commissioners of This Valley Works, a committee member for Children’s Trust, and in a trusted advisory capacity with American National University. Stedman, currently serves on the Board of Directors for Human Kind, American Red Cross and the Juveniles Diabetes Research Foundation.

Stedman Payne currently resides in the Lynchburg area, a community and its social capital for which he has a passion. He sees great potential in the community and hopes to do his part to improve the financial lives of residents of Lynchburg and beyond.

Payne obtained his Associates Degree in Computer Science from American National University and his Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Liberty University.

He enjoys spending time with his wife Demietre and two sons, Robert and Trey, and appreciates sports, pizza, and great jazz music. Two of his favorite quotes are:
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy” …. Martin Luther King, Jr

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why” … Mark Twain

Connect with Stedman

Stedman Payne, Jr
spayne@memberonefcu.com
(800) 666-8811 ext. 9139

Carolina Smales

Carolina Smales

Contributing Writer, Latino Corner

Carolina Smales is an engineer native of Venezuela who currently works as an Analytics Consultant in Carilion Clinic, helping leaders of this health industry improve patient care. She has more than 14 years’ experience in a variety of strategic roles in Healthcare and has worked for Harvard University and Veterans Hospital Administration. She is an Author and Co-author of medical abstracts and publications.

Throughout her life, Carolina also developed an artistic side, often connecting with people in the community through music and communication. In 2017 Carolina founded PerSUNality – “Bright to Brighten Someone’s Day”, a company that offers cultural development and other specialized technical services involving education, technology, innovation and Art. Feeling proud of her Hispanic Heritage, Carolina hopes to continue captivating people through unique modes of communication and empowering social health.

Carolina is passionate about promoting human connection beyond cultural differences, bringing unity and grace to this world so she either takes leading roles or joins other organizations that somehow align with her mission!

Carolina is very excited! to have Joined COLORSVA in 2018 as a Freelance Culture Writer for the ‘Latino Corner’. She started ‘Chronicles of an Immigrant’ which describes the life journey of Latin American immigrants who have come to USA while offering cultural remarks and description of their place of origin.

  • Favorite Phrase: “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for a smile is the beginning of love” – Mother Teresa
  • Fod: love soups!
  • Hobbies: Singing, playing board games, writing.
  • What few people knows: When feeling sad or nostalgic, I like to go to a private venue and cry. Things are always so much better after a good cry.
Connect with Carolina

Website: www.persunality.com
Social media:
Facebook: search for Carolina Smales
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/1carolinasmales4theworld

Bridgett Kidd

Bridgett Kidd

Bridgett’s Business Tips

Bridgett Kidd serves as Vice President of Business Lending and Services at Member One Federal Credit Union. She is responsible for business and commercial lending, as well as the business account products and services offered by the credit union. Bridgett has been instrumental in the exponential growth of Member One’s business lending program. She has 17 years of experience in all aspects of loan servicing and production, with an emphasis on credit and financial analysis. Bridgett’s degree is in Business Management, and she has a passion for lending and finding appropriate financial solutions for members.

Ashley Rhame

Ashley Rhame

Perspectives Blogger

Ashley Rhame is a native of Roanoke, Virginia. She has self-published two books, Soul Cry and God’s Eye. She is currently writing her third book of poetry, Chasing Sun. Her work has been featured in the Artemis Journal alongside poets like Nikki Giovanni, Natasha Trethewey, and others in the Appalachian area. Ashley has also lead workshops at Hollins University, Girls Rock Roanoke, church youth departments, and other local organizations. She currently leads a regular youth writing workshop, TeenSpeak with Roanoke Public Libraries. You can find her every other Wednesday night at Soul Sessions using her voice to create a space that is loving, reflective, and healthy. When Ashley is not writing, she enjoys photography, reading, sipping tea, wandering around art galleries, and indulging in sweets.

 

Connect with Ashley

Instagram @a.rhame

Facebook @a.rhamethepoet

Betty Jean Wolfe

Betty Jean Wolfe

Megan Stevens

Megan Stevens

Charmayne Brown

Charmayne Brown

LINDA PHARIS

LINDA PHARIS

Contributing Writer
Obinna Morton

Obinna Morton

Contributing Writer

Obinna Morton is a Writer/Entrepreneur who works with people to help them tell stories that grow their businesses. She’s written for Foundr, Women On Business and Lifestyle Business. She has also appeared on SheLeads Podcast.

Social Media
Medium Obinna Morton
YouTube Obinna Morton
Facebook Obinna Morton

Photographers
Phillip Barrett, Jr

Phillip Barrett, Jr

Senior Staff Photography

Having majored in Art and Art History at Virginia Tech, Phillip Barrett Jr. knew he wanted to be a popular artist. Seven years ago, at the Taubman Sidewalk Art Show, he took the leap of faith that set him soaring toward that goal. With an affinity for local cultures, Phillip’s photographic artwork is filled with images that are iconic to the identities and histories of different cities and towns, as well as the people that live there. There are stories to be told behind the cleverly arranged and augmented images. For many, the finished pieces are personal and full of meaning.

The railroad is another popular theme, with train images being among his best sellers. His unique blending of black and white with color not only helps to emphasize the subject, but to give it character and emotion. His collages are also sought after for their inventive mingling of landmarks and other iconic images. But Phillip doesn’t stop at working with just color and collage. He often finds other textures and details to add, so that the final piece is enhanced artistically with mixed-media. This is the difference between standard photography, and photographic art. With careful consideration, lots of experience, attention to detail, and meticulous adjustments, Phillip refines each image until it is perfect.

Phillip Barrett Jr. has become a full-time artist, with his artwork hanging in many local businesses and homes. He can be found at festivals and art events across the region. Prints of his work, as well as postcards and other items, are on sale in area shops. His extensive collection of original canvas pieces, prints, and novelty items can also be found on the Roanoke Market almost every weekend.

Connect with Phillip

www.pbjfineart.com

Xavier Duckett

Xavier Duckett

Staff Photographer

Giving, loving, teaching, empowering, hustling and being humble is the lifestyle that encompasses Mr. Xavier Duckett. A renaissance man and entrepreneur to say the least, he uses every gift that he has been given to help someone else. This giving spirit comes from his strong family background, his free spirit and his experiences with various different cultures.

 

Some say Xavier doesn’t know how to sit still, others say Xavier is just a world traveler 10 countries and 39 states and truly knows how to be free and live his best life. Xavier is the proud owner of the Humble Hustle Company (nonprofit aiming to empower youth to give back to their communities), Imagine Me Mentoring, LLC and VII photography. Xavier is a co-host on the Roanoke weekly podcast and a co-host on the Thinkin Out Loud podcast. Xavier was awarded the community service award in 2015 by The Urban Professional League and awarded a community service award again in 2018 by UBU. He has been recognized as a star of the city by vice mayor Anita price. He is a mentor, a creator, a lover, a friend, and a youth and community change agent.

Connect with Xavier

www.TheHumbleHustle.org
Facebook thehumblehustleco
Instagram. @Thehumblehustleco
Email. Thehumblehustleco@gmail.com
Imagineme.org
Instagram. @Theviiphotography

ToBroan Jumper

ToBroan Jumper

Company: Jumps Images

ToBroan Jumper is a Roanoke native who started his company Jumps Images March 28, 2018. He is a single father of two, a boy and a girl. His children inspired him to follow his photography dreams and found is company. Jumps Images specializes in portrait and wedding photography.

Social Media
Facebook
Instagram