Theresa White has been inducted into Marquis Who’s Who. As in all Marquis Who’s Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.
While best known as the Founder, Chair, and CEO of the nationally known Pan-African Family Empowerment & Land Preservation Network, Inc.–which has saved Gullah Geechee-owned property assessed at over $15-million since 2015–Ms. White has also made noteworthy achievements as an award-winning Journalist, a Congressional Aide to Georgia’s first African-American congresswoman, a political activist, and a Beaufort County Democratic Party leader in South Carolina. Additionally, she has served in government positions from the municipal to federal levels. Marquis Who’s Who awarded Ms. White its 2020 Top Professional Award in recognition of her wide-ranging career achievements.
The Savannah, Georgia native was an outstanding student leader at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she was a columnist for the student newspaper, The Thimblerig; President of the Afro-American Society; President Pro-Tem of the Student Senate; and a member of the Expanded Faculty, among other things. Eckerd’s faculty awarded her the James H. Robinson Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Enrichment of the Minority Experience in 1977, and tapped her to be spotlighted in Who’s Who Among Students In American Colleges and Universities 1976-1977.
A former Membership Director of the League of Women Voters of the Beaufort, South Area, Ms. White has served in leadership positions as diverse as Co-Secretary of the South Carolina Progressive Network; a founding member of the Town of Hilton Head Island Gullah Geechee Land and Cultural Preservation Task Force; the former Public Relations Director for the Burton-Dale-Beaufort Branch of the NAACP; and the Founder and first Secretary of the Hilton Head Island Chapter of the National Action Network. Ms. White is also a member of the Unified Interfaith Community Coalition of Beaufort, and was the Keynote Banquet Speaker 2017 “SC Rural & Limited Resource Landowner Symposium,” which was held by the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation at Voorhees College in Denmark, South Carolina. She has also been a member of the American Association of University Women, and Hadassah.
After receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Eckerd College in 1977, Ms. White made history as the first African-American employee of the Labor Relations Department of the City of St. Petersburg, Florida. She was profiled in the city’s newsletter for her college studies abroad in Bogotá, Colombia, and London, England, as well as her reign as the first Miss Black St. Petersburg in 1975. Within two years, she transitioned into her first full-time job in the media, after publishing her first paid freelance story in Ebony Magazine in 1978. She was among the earliest students to take newspaper writing courses at the then Modern Media Institute, which is now known as the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, a premier journalism training center and think tank.
In 1979, Ms. White, a former member of the National Association of Black Journalists, began her almost 40-year career as a Journalist and Freelance Writer/Editor as an Intern/General Assignments Reporter at The St. Petersburg Times, then one of the top 10 newspapers in the U.S. While at The St. Petersburg Times, Ms. White was nominated for several prestigious journalism awards, including the Sidney Hillman Foundation Award for her highly-acclaimed story about Florida’s welfare system in 1981, and a Pulitzer Prize for Specialized Investigative Reporting for a 1981 project that she worked on with three other reporters.
For her exemplary efforts as a dedicated media professional, Ms. White won the 1985 Emory O. Jackson Memorial Journalism Award from the South Atlantic Region of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the nation’s oldest sorority for college educated Black women. She has been an AKA since 1980. In 1993, she was presented the Outstanding News Coverage Award from Citizens for Environmental Justice, a grassroots environmental activist group based in Savannah, Georgia. And, in the 1990s, her work was a part of newspaper submissions that won awards from both the Georgia Press Association, and the South Carolina Press Association.
Over the years, Ms. White has worked as a Staff Writer or Freelance Journalist for a number of publications, including The Weekly Challenger; The Savannah Tribune; Freedom’s Journal; The Georgia Guardian; The Savannah Morning News; The Savannah Evening Press; The Gullah Sentinel; Southern Exposure Magazine; and The Beaufort Gazette. Other media credits include serving as the Special Projects Editor for the 60th Anniversary Editions of The Savannah Herald in 2005, and a stint as a Production Assistant for WJWJ-TV/SCETV, a PBS affiliate in Beaufort, South Carolina.
Another highlight of Ms. White’s wide-ranging career is serving as the Savannah District Office Manager/Constituent Services Representative for U.S. Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney, Georgia’s first Black congresswoman, in the early 1990s. She is also a former Secretary, External Communication Director, and key member of the Executive Committee of Beaufort County Democratic Party, and a former President of the Northern Beaufort County Democratic Club.
As the leader of PAFEN, Ms. White works diligently to fulfill the growing non-profit’s mission of empowering people of African descent with the educational resources and financial means to ensure continued ownership of their ancestral homes and land. PAFEN specializes in preventing properties from being sold for delinquent taxes, and/or redeeming properties already auctioned for unpaid taxes to prevent homelessness and displacement of descendants of formerly enslaved West Africans in the federal Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor.
PAFEN also provides training and referral services through partnerships with other non-profits, in addition to its free, annual STAND4LAND TAXPAYER EMPOWERMENT WORKSHOP.
Ms. White’s work with PAFEN has been spotlighted in TV broadcasts on WTOC and WJCL in Savannah, Georgia; WHHI in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina; “Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien;” “American Portrait” on PBS; and the MSNBC Podcast “Into America;” as well in as publications including The Island Packet, The Beaufort Gazette, Bluffton Today, Pink Magazine, The Island News, Jacobean, and The Georgetown Times.
In December 2021, Ms. White will rejoin the marketing team of Universal Benefits Insurance, Inc. in Sumter, SC, one of the top three independent insurance marketing firms in the Southeast.
About Marquis Who’s Who®
Since 1899, when A. N. Marquis printed the First Edition of Who’s Who in America®, Marquis Who’s Who® has chronicled the lives of the most accomplished individuals and innovators from every significant field of endeavor, including politics, business, medicine, law, education, art, religion and entertainment. Today, Who’s Who in America® remains an essential biographical source for thousands of researchers, journalists, librarians and executive search firms around the world. Marquis® now publishes many Who’s Who titles, including Who’s Who in America®, Who’s Who in the World®, Who’s Who in American Law®, Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare®, Who’s Who in Science and Engineering®, and Who’s Who in Asia®. Marquis® publications may be visited at the official Marquis Who’s Who® website at www.marquiswhoswho.com.