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 at the other attendees and her. She vowed F1NE-TUNE participants will receive professional development they can experience, appreciate and easily implement.

Rita’s doctoral research focused on African Americans and the systemic structures impeding their progress. While she is concerned with the education of all students, she is passionate about seeing the academic and social-emotional success of those most marginalized. With the recent movement for justice and equality, she wants to use her voice as an educator to help change the trajectory of black students. She looks forward to producing F1NE-TUNE webinars that will address issues of inequity and empower teachers and parents with strategies to confront them.

Rita has served as a teacher, instructional coach, instructional coordinator and dean. She earned a Bachelor's of Science in Mathematics Education from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, Master's of Science in Educational Leadership/Administration from Florida State University and a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Policy Studies from Georgia State University. 

Rita resides in Atlanta, GA. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, karaoke, hiking and preparing for her new Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Mackenzie.

 

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. In the fall, she will began working on a Post-Master's Certification in Educational Leadership at the University of West Alabama. 


Sonya currently resides in Mobile, AL with her four adult children and her long-haired Chihuahua, Mario. She enjoys cooking, entertaining her family, and serving her church.

 

Marlon Pilson

Director

For almost 30 years, Marlon has been a business educator who specializes in teaching urban youth entrepreneurial skills and practices. He has a passion for training students to develop strong leadership principles that will prepare them to be entrepreneurs as well as recipients of other opportunities. 


Marlon is a certified Youth Entrepreneur teacher and mentors numerous of African-American males.  During both individual and small group settings, he focuses on instilling confidence, responsibility, and accountability. 


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. Additionally, he was elected to serve on his school’s governance team and annually coordinated a major multi-faceted event for students. Moreover, he has held the roles of head coach and assistant coach for track & field.  


At his church, Marlon is a small group leader and a leadership coach. He oversees the church’s first community garden, which involves his training community members to understand the principles of sowing, planting and harvesting. His completion of John Maxwell’s leadership program prepared him to serve as the current assistant director over 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.


Living just outside of Atlanta, 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.

 

Zaria Hardnett

Executive Assistant

Zaria is 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 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.

 

Horace 'Pete' Williams

Accountant

Horace 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.

Horace’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.

Horace 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. Currently, Horace lives in Thomasville, GA where he enjoys walking, gardening and tinkering with electronic and electrical items.

 

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