The Commission

The Henrietta Lacks Commission is currently conceived to be a gathering of engaged stakeholder leaders who will hone and accelerate its concepts and ideas, culminating in an affective operating model, facility design and business plan for a Life Science and Cancer Treatment Center, funded without the use of monies from the Commonwealth.  These stakeholders include the Lacks Family, the Commonwealth of Virginia, Virginia research institutions, Virginia healthcare providers, private pharmaceutical companies, and Virginia policy leaders.  Together they will focus cancer research and treatment using the bio-data capacity and expertise available in the region, provide tailored cancer treatment medicine to an underserved portion of rural Southern Virginia, research, develop and commercialize new therapies, transform the Southern Virginia economy and appropriately honor Henrietta Lacks’ unique legacy where it is most appropriate - her home place.

Henrietta Lacks Commission Members

Del. James Edmunds

Virginia House of Delegates
as appointed by Speaker

James Edmunds is a Delegate of the Virginia House of Delegates representing the 60th District. He earned the B.S. from Averett University. Edmunds was recently appointed to serve on the Henrietta Lacks Commission.

Sen. Bill Stanley

Virginia Senate
as appointed by President of Senate

Bill Stanley is Senator of Virginia representing District 20. He earned the B.S. from Hampden-Sydney College and the J.D. from the District of Columbia School of Law. He was appointed to serve on the Henrietta Lacks Commission.

Jeri Lacks-Whye

Member of the Lacks Family

Jeri Lacks Whye is the granddaughter of Henrietta Lacks and the daughter of Henrietta’s middle son David “Sonny” Lacks.

Jeri works in the Judiciary System in the domestic violence unit. She travels the country giving her insightful account as the granddaughter of such an amazing African American woman that has left a legacy to the world. Jeri continues to keep the legacy of her grandmother active and conscious while at the same time using her family’s story as a platform to take part in issue we face nationwide such as patient rights, health prevention, health disparities, illiteracy, fighting cancer, partnership between research and research participants, trustworthiness between the communities and medical establishments.

Dr. Adele Newson-Horst

Member of the HLLG

Dr. Adele Newson-Horst is a professor of English at Morgan State University (MSU). She is also the coordinator of Women’s and Gender Studies at MSU. She earned the B.A. from Spelman College, the M.A. from Eastern Michigan University, and the Ph.D. from Michigan State University. Her books and articles focus on the literature of African, African American, and Caribbean women writers. She is also the vice-president of the Henrietta Lacks Legacy Group (HLLG). She regularly reviews books for World Literature Today and Academic Choice. Among other publications, she has published two edited volume on Egyptian novelist and physician Nawal el Saadawi: The Essential Nawal El Saadawi: A Reader, London, Zed Publishers, 2010 and The Dramatic Literature of Nawal El Saadawi, London: Saqi, 2009.

Mattie Cowan

Halifax Industrial Development Authority
Appointed by the Governor

Mattie Cowan serves as chairman of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, vice-chairman on the Halifax County Planning Commission and secretary/treasurer of the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority. Cowan attended Danville Community College and studied Business Administration. She continued her studies in Business Management while employed at CenturyLink. She was recently appointed by Governor Ralph Northam to serve on the Henrietta Lacks Commission, a cancer science center honoring the memory of Henrietta Lacks. She is president of the Halifax County Business and Professional Council, a member and past president of Wind Beneath the Wings, Inc., and past president of the Virginia State Baptist Ushers Union. Cowan has also served as president of the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce, treasurer of the United Way, a member of the Halifax County Improvement Council, treasurer of the Mentor Role Model Program, a trustee Virginia’s A.L. Philpott Manufacturing Extension Program (GENEDGE) and served on Danville Community College Board of Trustees, serving terms as Vice Chair and Chair.

Ed Owens

Mayor
Town of South Boston, VA

The Honorable Edward Owens is the mayor of South Boston and owner of Edward Owens Agency (insurance and financial services) in Halifax, VA. He is a well-educated and learned gentleman who attended Halifax County Public Schools including Washington-Coleman Elementary, Halifax County Junior High, and Halifax County Senior High schools. After graduation from Halifax County Senior High School, Edward earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Hampden-Sydney College (Hampden-Sydney, Virginia).

Owens has served 20+ years as an elected official and is very much a community servant who volunteers much of his time. A few community service and engagement commitments include Southern Virginia Higher Education Foundation, Inc., and gubernatorial appointments by three governors to the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission. He is a former member of the Board of Directors for The Launch Place located in Danville, Virginia as well as a former SunTrust Advisory Committee member.

Jason Studley

Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital
as appointed by Halifax County Board of Supervisors

Jason A. Studley is President of Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital. He holds a B.S. and an M.S. in Health Administration from Truman State University of Missouri in 2000 and Austin Peay State University of Tennessee in 2001. He holds a degree in Ministry Leadership from Every Nation Leadership Institute. He is currently enrolled in and pursuing his Doctorate degree in Health Administration from A.T. Still University, business school for the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Missouri. He serves on the Henrietta Lacks Commission as an appointee of the Chair of the Halifax County Board of Supervisors.

Dr. Nettie Simon-Owens

SVHEC
as appointed by Southern Virginia Higher Education Center Executive Director

Dr. Nettie L. Simon-Owens is the Chief workforce Development Officer at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in South Boston, Virginia. Dr. Simon-Owens earned the Doctor of Education degree in Educational Leadership from University of Phoenix, the Master of Business Administration from Averett University, the Master of Science in Microenvironmental Studies and Design from Howard University, and the Bachelor of Science in Human Ecology from Virginia State University.

She has served as a gubernatorial appointee for several Boards including Longwood University Board of Trustees, Virginia Board of Social Work, and Virginia State Board of Social Services (served as chair and vice-chair). Community engagements include serving as former Halifax County Chamber of Commerce Board of Director and former Tri-County Community Action Agency Board Member.

Brian Brown

Halifax Industrial Development Authority

Brian Brown holds degrees from Longwood College and Liberty University in Political Science and Social Science. Mr. Brown has served as the Economic Development Administrator for Roanoke, Virginia and as Economic Development Director for the City of Buena Vista. Mr. Brown worked on the Roanoke South Jefferson Revitalization Area, including brownfield clean-up efforts, which led to the site development of the Carilion Clinic and the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. Mr. Brown also negotiated the purchase of the Buena Vista Medical Center by Carilion Family Medicine to ensure medical care for the City of Buena Vista.

Henrietta Lacks Commission Committees and Members

Communications Committee

Brian Brown

Jeri Lacks-Whye

Dr. Adele Newson-Horst

Legal and Funding Committee

Hon. Ed Owens

Sen. Bill Stanley

Jason Studley

Advisory Council Committee

Mattie Cowan

Del. James Edmunds

Dr. Nettie Simon-Owens

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