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Women's History Month

The origins of Women’s History Month can be traced back to International Women’s Day, which was first observed in the early 20th century and gained global recognition in the 1970s. In the United States, the celebration expanded from a week-long event to a month-long observance in 1987, following a proclamation by Congress and the President. To close out Women’s History Month, we would like to highlight the contributions and achievements of some phenomenal women who are currently breaking barriers around the country. 

diverse group of women looking forward together

Vernice Flygirl Armour smiling and making a fist

Vernice “Flygirl” Armour was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1973 and moved to Memphis, Tennessee after her parents divorced. By age four, she knew she wanted to be a police officer that rode a horse downtown. She graduated high school in 1991 from John Overton High School for Creative and Performing Arts where she was active in the music program, class vice president, a member of Mu Alpha Theta (mathematics honor society), and The National Honor Society. 

In 1993, the future combat pilot enlisted in the Army Reserves and joined the Army ROTC program while at Middle Tennessee State University. During an Army ROTC career day, the seed of becoming a pilot was planted when Vernice saw the image of a young Black female in an Army flight suit. In June 1996, after a brief stint as a Nashville Sheriff’s Department correctional officer, Vernice took a break from college to accept an invitation to the Nashville Police Academy. She graduated in December 1996 – and later became the first woman of color on the Nashville Police Department’s motorcycle squad. She graduated from MTSU in December of 1997 with a B.S. in Physical Education: Emphasis in Exercise Science. 

With the aviation seed in full bloom, Vernice was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps on December 12, 1998, and on her way to flight school. When Vernice finally earned her wings in July 2001, the ambitious pilot ranked No. 1 out of both her class of 12 and of the last 200 to graduate. She made the Naval Air Station’s prestigious Commodore’s List, received the Academic Achievement Award, was the top graduate in her class, and went on to make history as the Marine Corps’ first African American female pilot. She served two tours of duty in Iraq as a Marine. She was also a diversity liaison officer to the Pentagon for Headquarters Marine Corps. After her military service, FlyGirl revved up her career in the private sector as an entrepreneur, consultant to business, author and highly sought-after speaker. 

As her newest business venture, in 2020 FlyGirl started FlyGirl Construction, a General Contracting Firm in the Atlanta, GA area.


Dr. Uché Blackstock standing by a wall

Dr. Uché Blackstock is a physician, thought leader, and sought-after speaker on bias and racism in medicine and health care. Dr. Blackstock founded Advancing Health Equity in 2019 with the goal of partnering with healthcare organizations to dismantle racism in healthcare and to close the gap in racial health inequities.

As a child, Dr. Blackstock watched her mother, Dr. Dale Blackstock, a Black woman in medicine, navigate the world with the odds stacked squarely against her. Dale was raised by a single mother with six children, on public assistance, and Dale was the first person in her family to attend college. Dale died of acute myelogenous leukemia at only 47 years old. Dr. Blackstock’s mother’s legacy inspires her to work to advance health equity for Black Americans and to address the detrimental effects of systemic racism on health outcomes.

In 2019, Dr. Blackstock was recognized by Forbes magazine as one of “10 Diversity and Inclusion Trailblazers You Need to Get Familiar With.” In 2020, she was one of thirty-one inaugural leaders awarded an unrestricted grant for her advocacy work from the Black Voices for Black Justice Fund. Dr. Blackstock has received numerous awards and honors, including the American Medical Women’s Association’s 2021 Presidential Award, the 2021 Harvard Humanist of the Year, and the NAACP Brooklyn Chapter’s 2022 Valiant Service Award. 

Dr. Blackstock’s writing, including numerous OpEds, has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Scientific American, the Washington Post and New York magazine. In April 2021, she became an exclusive medical contributor for MSNBC and NBC News.

She is a former associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and the former faculty director for recruitment, retention, and inclusion in the Office of Diversity Affairs at NYU School of Medicine.

Dr. Blackstock received both her undergraduate and medical degrees from Harvard University, making her and her twin sister, Oni, the first Black mother-daughter legacies from Harvard Medical School. They have been profiled in The New York Times and on PBS NewsHour.

In June 2021, Dr. Blackstock signed a book deal with Penguin Random House Books for her generational memoir, LEGACY: A Black Physician Reckons with Racism in Medicine. LEGACY was published January 2024.

Dr. Blackstock currently lives in her hometown of Brooklyn, New York, with her two small children.


close up of Angelique S.C. Grant, Ph.D.

Angelique S.C. Grant, Ph.D. is an Associate with Aspen Leadership Group. Through her work with ALG clients and as the Founder and Principal of The Inclusion Firm, Dr. Grant provides counsel in diversity, equity and inclusion practices, fundraising, and nonprofit strategies. Her services include philanthropic strategic thought partnership, building and leading effective, diverse teams, recruitment and retention strategies, diversity audits and assessment, and cultural awareness trainings. She is a certified unconscious bias trainer and facilitator, has been an active speaker for countless industry associations over the years, and has chaired and served as faculty for several conferences across the country.

Dr. Grant recently compiled this expertise into the first comprehensive book on DEI in advancement: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Advancement: A Guide to Strengthening Engagement and Fundraising Through Inclusion (CASE 2020), which she co-authored with ALG’s Ron Schiller. It serves as a guidebook for nonprofit teams seeking to move from awareness of DEI to action and sustained behavioral change. It features interviews with philanthropy leaders across all nonprofit sectors, as well as the “DEI Maturity Model,” which she developed.

Throughout her 25-year career, Dr. Grant has successfully managed teams to meet fundraising goals in several multi-million-dollar campaigns, and two separate billion dollar campaigns. Previously, she served as an Assistant Vice President of Development and Assistant Dean of Medical Advancement, Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine at Florida International University. Her extensive experience in higher education advancement has also included roles at Princeton University, Washington State University, and the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.

Dr. Grant is a proud Miami, Florida native. She is a Fulbright Scholar who holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration specializing in Institutional Advancement from Washington State University. She has a M.A. in Communication, specializing in Public Relations and Media Management from Washington State University, and a B.S. degree in Journalism from Florida A&M University.

She is the founder of the South Florida Network of Blacks in Philanthropy and serves on numerous boards, including Our Fund (LGBTQ) Community Foundation, the African American Development Officers (AADO) Network, and the Advisory Committee for Women of Color in Fundraising and Philanthropy (WOC). She has been recognized as one of the 25 Most Influential and Prominent Black Women in South Florida by Success South Florida Magazine, a Lumina 10 in ICABA Honors South Florida 100 Most Accomplished Blacks Healthcare & Law and selected as a Top Hat Woman of Achievement Award for Community Empowerment.


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