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Stacey Patton, PhD is an award-winning author and journalist who writes about race, politics, popular culture, child welfare issues, diversity in media, and higher education. As a nationally-recognized child advocate, Dr. Patton travels the country delivering keynotes and professional trainings focused on combating racial disparities in child abuse cases, criminal prosecutions for child abuse, foster care placements, the over prescribing of psychotropic medications to children of color in foster care, the school- and foster care-to-prison pipelines, corporal punishment in public schools, diversion and restorative justice programs. She works as an intermediary between social service and law enforcement agencies seeking to improve services to communities of color. Patton teaches journalism at Howard University in the Cathy Hughes School of Communications and is a research associate at the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University. She is the author of That Mean Old Yesterday (A memoir), Spare The Kids: Why Whuppin Children Won’t Save Black America, and two forthcoming books: Strung Up: The Lynching of Black Children in Jim Crow America and a children’s book Not My Cat.
Fizz Ahmed joins the Centurion Board of Directors as a marketing executive with over a decade of experience working in the technology industry. He is currently a Senior Account Executive at Google, and also the Founder and CEO of a corporate growth strategy consulting firm called Growth Theory. He is an alumnus of the NYU Stern School of Business where he specialized in Marketing, Leadership, and Change Management.
Having migrated from Bangladesh at an early age, Fizz’s formative years were spent in the greater Boston area, where he pursued his higher education at Brandeis University. It was during his undergraduate tenure that the vibrant culture of social justice prevalent at Brandeis instilled in him an unwavering commitment to extensive philanthropic endeavors, particularly focused on promoting education equity among underprivileged children. Presently, as a board member at Centurion, Fizz effectively channels his passion for social justice to drive impactful change in the community.
Jim Floyd is a life-long Princeton, NJ resident and a psychologist. He graduated from Princeton University in 1969 with a concentration in Psychology. Dr. Floyd attended the University of Rochester and completed his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 1975.
Between 1975 and 1979 Dr. Floyd was director of the Community Readjustment Program, a free outpatient psychological service for ex-offenders in Mercer County, NJ. He is retired from a career with the NJ State Division of Mental Health, including serving as the “psychology consultant” for the Division, and an administrator at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, Trenton, NJ. Also, he is a licensed psychologist in NJ, has been listed in the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology, a member of the American Psychological Asso. & NJ Psychological Asso., and has had a private practice in psychology. Between 1987-2007 he had thirteen ‘Lecturer’ faculty appointments in the Psychology Dept. of Princeton University.
Christina received her undergraduate degree from Rutgers University – Newark and her law degree from Washington University in St. Louis. Most recently, Christina worked at The Legal Aid Society in the Parole Revocation Defense Unit (during which time she spent a significant amount of time on Rikers Island working with clients with special needs), and then in the Criminal Defense Practice.
Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, he was working 60-70 hours a week at a small Southaven, Mississippi, law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby—writing his first novel.
Born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and a homemaker, John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. Realizing he didn’t have the right stuff for a pro career, he shifted gears and majored in accounting at Mississippi State University. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981, he went on to practice law for nearly a decade in Southaven, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. In 1983, he was elected to the state House of Representatives and served until 1990.
One day at the DeSoto County courthouse, Grisham overheard the harrowing testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim and was inspired to start a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl’s father had murdered her assailants. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day to get in several hours of writing time before heading off to work, Grisham spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987. Initially rejected by many publishers, it was eventually bought by Wynwood Press, who gave it a modest 5,000 copy printing and published it in June 1988.
That might have put an end to Grisham’s hobby. However, he had already begun his next book, and it would quickly turn that hobby into a new full-time career—and spark one of publishing’s greatest success stories. The day after Grisham completed A Time to Kill, he began work on another novel, the story of a hotshot young attorney lured to an apparently perfect law firm that was not what it appeared. When he sold the film rights to The Firm to Paramount Pictures for $600,000, Grisham suddenly became a hot property among publishers, and book rights were bought by Doubleday. Spending 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, The Firm became the bestselling novel of 1991.
The successes of The Pelican Brief, which hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and The Client, which debuted at number one, confirmed Grisham’s reputation as the master of the legal thriller. Grisham’s success even renewed interest in A Time to Kill, which was republished in hardcover by Doubleday and then in paperback by Dell. This time around, it was a bestseller.
Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year (his other books are The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, A Painted House, Skipping Christmas, The Summons, The King of Torts, Bleachers, The Last Juror, The Broker, Playing for Pizza, The Appeal, The Associate, The Confession, The Litigators, Calico Joe, The Racketeer, Sycamore Row, Gray Mountain, Rogue Lawyer, The Whistler, Camino Island, The Rooster Bar, The Reckoning, and The Guardians) and all of them have become international bestsellers. There are currently over 300 million John Grisham books in print worldwide, which have been translated into 40 languages. Nine of his novels have been turned into films (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, A Painted House, The Runaway Jury, and Skipping Christmas), as was an original screenplay, The Gingerbread Man. The Innocent Man (October 2006) marked his first foray into non-fiction, and Ford County (November 2009) was his first short story collection.
Grisham took time off from writing for several months in 1996 to return, after a five-year hiatus, to the courtroom. He was honoring a commitment made before he had retired from the law to become a full-time writer: representing the family of a railroad brakeman killed when he was pinned between two cars. Preparing his case with the same passion and dedication as his books’ protagonists, Grisham successfully argued his clients’ case, earning them a jury award of $683,500—the biggest verdict of his career.
When he’s not writing, Grisham devotes time to charitable causes, including most recently his Rebuild The Coast Fund, which raised 8.8 million dollars for Gulf Coast relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He also keeps up with his greatest passion: baseball. The man who dreamed of being a professional baseball player now serves as the local Little League commissioner. The six ballfields he built on his property have played host to over 350 kids on 26 Little League teams.