Jon Saxx & Endless Possibilities

::click here to see the full length article:: Jon Saxx and Endless Possiblities

Published in MIA Magazine Fall 2010

Passion Drives Endless Possibilities…

By, Ascellia M. Arenas

He is a dapper fellow, streamlined like his saxophone. His presence is heralded by the sensual sound of his horn.  He stands close to her, not close enough to touch her; but close enough for her to hear the wail of his horn and see the strength of his hands as he controls the air flow from each note.  He does not need to look at his fingering, he is looking at her and drawing her in to him.  She blushes, she swoons, and she falls for the Saxx man.  Jon Saxx is more than just a saxophone player; he is an astute businessman with a five year plan to take his stardom worldwide.

He didn’t start out making the ladies swoon from the sound of his alto sax; he was only in the fourth grade.  He grew up playing in church and eventually graduated to the soprano sax. Jon learned how to play while attending school in Cincinnati, Ohio. He says, “Arts combined with education creates a diverse portfolio.”  Influenced by the sounds of Stevie Wonder, Gerald Albright, Grover Washington and Kurt Whalen, young Jon developed a passion for music and began to develop his signature sound from playing sounds he liked by ear and applying his own personal feelings . Jon believes that “God didn’t give everybody everything but He did give everybody something and with that something, you can do anything.”

Jon attended Miami University at Ohio, where he earned a degree in Engineering. He also played basketball, ran track for the Redhawks, and became a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated, as well.  His degree led him to South Florida as a managing team leader for Johnson and Johnson where he worked for CORTIS, a company that makes cardio vascular devices.  It was there he learned how to structure and create systems for success. Jon knows how to navigate the business end of the music.  His stint at Johnson and Johnson ended: however, the experience he gained there helped him develop his best product, which is Jon Saxx.

Jon knows his own self worth. That enables him to get great jobs as an artist.  He states, “[I’ve] worked for free at certain gigs; but, I choose the right type of gigs to do…that allows me to network and follow-up on those connections.”  He has created musical magic at events for the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, Johnson & Wales, the Florida Tourist Board, Jazz in the Gardens, the Miami Dolphins Organization and for the Miami Heat Organization.  Jon currently markets his CD’s on his website (jonsaxx.com) and is preparing to go on tour in Europe. He is excited about his band, Endless Possibilities, and spearheading a charitable cruise to the Bahamas, February 11-14, 2011. The Saxx at Sea cruise is a benefit for the Kids in Harmony and Moms 2 Moms Organizations (visit saxxatsea.com for more details).

Jon is no stranger to community service.  He frequently amazes students at career day events. One of his favorite lessons is called “The IPod Challenge”, students provide a song for him to play from their IPods: and Jon shows them how he can play any song he hears by ear!  He says, “I made an impact on them: now they think jazz is cool.”

Russell Benford

Success Magazine, September 2010

::click here to see the full length article:: Professional Profile: “A Man of Vision”

Russell Benford

By, Ascellia M. Arenas

Russell Benford, City Manager of North Miami, has a strong presence that commands attention and respect. He conveys approachable warmth that makes him the type of leader that people are naturally drawn to. He first became interested in leadership through a close mentoring relationship with high school Principal, Locke Beachum, who was also a city councilman. At East High, in Youngstown Ohio, Beachum spent time mentoring Russell. With nurturing and support from his mother, Rose Benford, and his grandmother, Henrietta Young, Benford earned a Bachelor’s of Arts degree at Oberlin College, and a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs at University of Texas at Austin.  While at Oberlin College, in Ohio, he applied for the Woodrow Wilson fellowship.  He attended graduate school as a Woodrow Wilson Public Policy and International Studies fellow. Benford developed a passion and a plan that would guide him through 16 years of Public Administration and Leadership.

In 2000, Benford was the first black employee for the Village of Hawthorn Woods in Chicago, Illinois where he served as Chief Administrator.  While vacationing in South Florida he became enamored with the tropical breezes and rich cultural diversity.  He desired engagement in a wider range of cultural diversity: and, that lead him to pursue leadership opportunities in South Florida.  In 2005, he was hired by the City of West Park to be Chief Administrator.  Benford states, “West Park was a chance to help a community that needed [his] leadership.”  He became aware of the position of City Manager for North Miami through public posting.  He credits his success to preparedness and established relationships with recruiters who were working to fill the position with the most qualified applicant.  Benford states, “It is important to develop relationships with recruiters so that they can get to know you and find the right position for you”.  Benford recommends that anyone seeking high level positions should research and involve themselves with reputable recruitment firms.

In fulfillment of the mission statement to enhance the quality of life for the citizens of North Miami, Benford happily calls himself a “work-aholic”.  He actively mentors by including the Interns from the Youth Empowerment Program in meetings and demonstrates how networking can bring them closer to their dreams.  He believes in the stabilization of the city of North Miami through purchasing foreclosed homes and providing first-time-homebuyers the opportunity to buy refurbished homes in the city. He says, “Homeownership instills pride in the community”. Beyond the ribbon cutting, supporting camp programs, community activities, and meetings Benford credits his successful leadership style with including the community and all of the people he works with when making tough decisions.  He states, “I seek input from my co-workers”, this he believes, also empowers his staff.   He relies upon his support system of City Mangers, for input as well.  Russell Benford meets quarterly with City Mangers of South Florida to discuss planning and implementation.  In regard to future aspirations he states, “If I work hard today, the future will take care of itself”.

Sisters Looking For Love Online

Success Magazine, September 2010

::click here to see the full length article:: Sisters Looking For Love On Line

“Sisters Looking for Love Online”

By, Ascellia M. Arenas

She is unmarried, she is African-American, and she does not want to be single anymore. Is her man online? The Online Schools study reports over 20 million people visit online dating websites at least once a month. Also, one and three women have sex on the first encounter with men they meet online. Unfortunately, men frequently lie most about their age, height, and income. Why then would any woman risk her heart with “taking a chance with love” online? Are these “sisters” getting down on the first date? Do the “brothers” know and seek that?

After discussing the topic with African-American men and women; it is clear that the majority of the single females have a high interest in online dating services. Angela states, “Yes, I would and do date courtesy of online avenues. I think dating online opens up possibilities to meet people outside of the traditional places.” Given that today’s successful African-American woman is most likely digitally literate, and spends a great deal of time working and networking online and offline: there is no doubt that she would participate in online dating. The 2006 Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project claims that nearly 7 million American adults have gone out with someone they met online.

Cynthia agrees that some single African-American women may feel hesitant about online dating, but are willing to give it a try. She states, “As an African-American woman, I don’t feel like there is a stigma attached to seeking relationships online. My hesitancy comes from wanting to protect my safety and my heart. Niky, who is a single mother of two children, states, “as the years ‘tick on by’, it becomes more of a considered option.” She understands the need to exercise caution.

The African-American male point of view is different about finding “love” online. They view it as a socially interactive way to meet people. William understands that his friends may purposely look online for women who may be interested in dating them. The use of social networking sites like eHarmony and Match.com requires a fee and they are willing to pay to play.

Tony offers, “Well, I think that [in] this computer age that we live in, it’s not a bad idea.” Scott sees the benefit in women participating in the selection of eligible bachelors available online. Scott adds, “I feel that dating has evolved just as everything has and will.” David, a single African-American male offers his opinion about single sisters looking for love online. He states, “with the advent of social networking, we are truly all connected in this matrix now, no one is safe!” Interestingly, the men who seek the women to casually connect are honestly seeking true companionship as well.

Many of the single African-American women who participated seemed to be optimistic about the opportunity to meet professional African-American men. Is it about a making love connection or a digital-booty call? How would you know it doesn’t work if you never try it? Wanna chat?