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Dr. Rita Williams


Visionary & Chief Executive Officer

Rita has been an educator for more than 20 years and an educational consultant since 2014. She enjoys partnering with schools and districts to provide quality professional learning that meets the specific needs of the educators in their buildings. Rita has been in numerous training sessions during which the facilitators talked ad nauseam to their attendees. She vowed F1NE-TUNE participants will receive professional development they can experience, appreciate, and easily implement.

Rita’s doctoral research focused on African American males and the systemic structures impeding their progress. She is passionate about F1NE-TUNE providing the space for educators and parents of black male learners to collaborate on how to better meet the needs of this marginalized group.  

Rita has served as a teacher, instructional coach, instructional coordinator, and assistant principal. She earned a B.S. in Mathematics Education from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, M.S in Educational Leadership from

Florida State University, and Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies from Georgia State University. 

Rita enjoys spending time with family and friends, karaoke, hiking, and taking care of Mackenzie, her new

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

 
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Sonya Scott

Senior Executive Officer

Sonya is passionate about quality STEM education for all students. As such, she desires to F1NE-TUNE the skills of educators to better equip them to cultivate students as skilled problem-solvers who can compete in a global society. 

During the school year, Sonya coaches the Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology robotics team. She assists students in developing skills in the engineering design process, company development, teamwork, marketing, dynamic presentations, effective communication and displaying team spirit. She also coaches the scholars and science bowl teams at her school.

Sonya has had the honor of being named Alabama High School Science Teacher of the Year by the Alabama Science Teachers Association (ASTA). Additionally, she earned her National Board Teacher Certification (NBCT). Since then, she has been involved with mentoring other teachers seeking NBCT and serving on the Mobile County Public School System (MCPSS) NBCT Steering Committee. In addition to presenting for F1NE-TUNE, Sonya consistently facilitates training for these organizations.

Sonya earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry from Howard University and a Master’s of Education in Secondary General Science Education from the University of South Alabama. Currently, she is working on a Post-Master's Certification in Educational Leadership at the University of West Alabama. 


Sonya has four adult children and a long-haired Chihuahua, Mario. She enjoys cooking, entertaining her family,

and serving her church.

 
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Marlon Pilson

Director of Treasure Hunt

For almost 30 years, Marlon has been a business educator who specializes in teaching entrepreneurial skills and practices to urban youth. As a certified Youth Entrepreneur teacher, he trains students to develop strong leadership principles that will prepare them to be entrepreneurs as well as recipients of other opportunities. As a mentor to numerous African-American males, he focuses on instilling confidence, responsibility, and accountability in both individual and small group settings. 


In both his school and community, Marlon serves in numerous leadership roles. At his current high school, he serves as the CTAE department chair, facilitates professional learning, coordinated the work needed for his school to earn two industry certifications, and started his school’s first store. At his church, Marlon is a small group leader and a leadership coach. His completion of John Maxwell’s leadership program prepared him to serve as the current assistant director who supports 150 ministers.


Marlon received his undergraduate degree in Business Education from Saint Paul’s College in Virginia. He also attained a master’s degree in Education Instruction from Central Michigan University where he presented a capstone project focusing on strategies to improve academic achievement in African-American males.


Marlon enjoys spending time with family, overseeing his church’s community garden, and preparing for future motorcycle rides. When he is not engaged in these activities, Marlon is traveling with his lovely wife and daughter.

 
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Zaria Hardnett

Executive Assistant

Zaria is a conscientious young woman who is a junior at the Georgia Institute of Technology (GaTech). She was born and raised in Atlanta, GA and was a student in the Atlanta Public School System from elementary through high school. This Mechanical Engineering major graduated 6th in her class at Benjamin E. Mays High School in Atlanta. 

In her early high school career, Zaria was an intern at Ballard Spahr LLP where she was tasked with legal research for design patents, record keeping, and tracking patent assignments for one of the firm’s largest clients. During her senior year of high school, she participated in the Project ENGAGES internship program at Georgia Tech. In a graduate lab with the assistance of a neuro-engineering researcher, Zaria conducted scientific research on the “Effects of Optogenetic Stimulation on Natural Sensory Processing in the Thalamus”. She attended scientific conferences, such as the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, and went on to present her research at multiple poster sessions for the program.

At the SURE summer research experience for undergraduates, she also conducted biomedical/mechanical engineering research on the impacts of cathepsins K, L, and S on arterial mechanics to characterize arterial mechanics in sickle cell disease. Recently, she assisted in another research project addressing the question of whether different sources of feedback (e.g., visual, auditory, kinesthetic) in a self-paced sport (e.g., billiards) would draw different cognitive processing- relevant to decision making and error-detection- among performers of different skill levels. 

Zaria labors diligently to balance her GaTech studies and her F1NE-TUNE duties. In her role as Executive Assistant, Zaria works closely with the CEO to support daily operations. Rita could not imagine moving forward without her.

 
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Andrea Williams

Editor

Andrea is a veteran elementary school teacher who has been teaching for 17 years. Currently, she teaches Pre-K virtually and face-to-face in a school in Decatur, Georgia. She has a passion for being creative in the classroom by implementing great hands-on activities for her students.  


Andrea is an alumnus of Albany State University. There, she earned both a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education and a Master of Education in School Counseling.


Andrea enjoys interior decorating, listening to music as well as spending time with her family and her Yorkshire Terrier, Manhattan. She also enjoys journaling and traveling.

 
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Horace 'Pete' Williams

Accountant

Pete has leadership experience in both the military and school system. He spent 24 years in the United States Navy where he served on three submarines and two surface ships. He retired as a Chief Warrant Officer Four. He then spent 20 years in education and held the titles of teacher, assistant principal, and principal.

Pete’s work experience prepared him to serve as F1NE-TUNE’s accountant. In various naval assignments, he was responsible for multi-million dollar budgets.  As a principal and district-level Career, Technical and Agricultural Education Director, he managed all financial aspects of his school and department, respectively.

Pete earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Saint Leo University. Additionally, he attained both a Master of Education and an Educational Specialist in Educational Leadership from Albany State University. Pete enjoys walking, gardening, and tinkering with electronic and electrical items.