Keynote Speakers
Keynote Speaker Friday, March 17, 2006


1997 Image Award Nominee
1999 New York World Fest Gold Medal Winner

1999 Gabriel Award Winner “Tonea” Stewart, a native of Greenwood, Mississippi, has lived in Montgomery Alabama since 1990. She is a tenured Professor and the Director of Theatre Arts at Alabama State University (ASU). Also, she is a professional actress.

As Director of Theatre, Tonea serves as a teacher, role model and mentor to many students at ASU. Since her arrival, the number of Theatre majors, and minors has, and the number of graduates from the program has more than doubled. Youth from Montgomery area and across the nation have been touched by Tonea’s artistry through T.A.P.S (Theatre Artists Performance School) and Camp 31 (Teaching Through Theatre), a summer performance and enrichment camps.

After receiving a B.S. degree in Speech and Theatre from Jackson State University and an M.A. in Theatre Arts from the University of California at Santa Barbara, Tonea completed her Ph.D. in Theatre Arts at Florida State University (FSU) in 1989. She was the first African American female to receive a doctorate from the FSU School of Theatre and the first McKnight Doctoral Fellow in Theatre Arts. During her study, at FSU, Tonea also received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

As an actress, Tonea is perhaps best known for her reoccurring role in, In the Heat of the Night. More recently, she earned an NAACP Image Award nomination for her role in the film adaptation of John Grisham’s A time to Kill and The Gold Medal Award for narration of Public Radio Internationals Series “Remembering Slavery.” Tonea began her acting career in 1969 and became the first African American to direct and appear on stage at New Stage Theatre, the most prestigious equity theatre in Mississippi. Since then, she has performed on stage in Canada, Mexico, South Korea, and throughout the United States, including Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, and has appeared on screen and television. Some notable titles include: Mississippi Burning, Invasion of the Body Snatchers III, Living Large, My Stepson / My Lover, “Walker Texas Ranger,” “Matlock,” “Leave of Absence,” “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” “ER” and “Touched by an Angel.”

Tonea is a spokesperson for “One Church, One Child” of Alabama and for NOSAP, a texas based organization aimed at youth development. In 1995, she was inducted into the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame. She has honorary doctorates from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, and Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins Texas and has received numerous keys to cities throughout the United States.

Tonea is a member of the Order of the Golden Circle, a life member of the NAACP, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and is a dedicated member of the Hutchinson Baptist Church. She is married to Dr. Allen Stewart. They have three children.

Keynote Speaker Saturday, March 18, 2006
Dr. Belle Wheelan

Dr. Belle S. Wheelan received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Trinity University in Texas with a double major in psychology and sociology. While at Trinity University, she distinguished herself as an Academic Scholar. She was the first African-American at Trinity University to be named to Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities.

Dr. Wheelan enrolled in the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas and earned a Doctoral degree in Educational Administration in 1984. She received the Distinguished Graduate Award from the College of Education at the University.

After obtaining her doctorate, Dr. Wheelan accepted the position as Director of Developmental Education at San Antonio College.  She established a new administrative office, and became the Director of Academic Support Services at the College. Over the next ten years, Dr. Wheelan held many positions at several community colleges ending as the President of Northern Virginia Community College, the second largest community college in the nation in 1998.

 In December, 2001, Dr. Wheelan was appointed the Secretary of Education to Governor Warner’s Cabinet. She was sworn in on January 13, 2002, and is the first African-American female to serve in this capacity. 

In July, 2005, Dr. Wheelan was appointed as the President of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. She is the first African-American and female to serve in this capacity. 

Dr. Wheelan holds memberships in numerous state and national organizations including the Presidents' Round Table of the National Council on Black American Affairs, and the Jobs for Virginia Graduates Board. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Northern Virginia Family Services, American Heart Association, the Tower Club, Virginia Economic Bridge, and the Women’s Forum of D.C.

 Dr. Wheelan attributes her success to hard work, endurance, tenacity, and being in the right place at the right time. She recognizes that prayer, hard work, and support from family and friends make anything possible.

Dr. Wheelan is the mother of a twenty-one-year-old son named Reginald.

Keynote Speaker Sunday, March 19, 2006
Dr. Janet Zadina

Dr. Janet Zadina is an experienced high school and community college instructor and reading specialist now engaged in neuroscience research.  She received her doctorate in the College of Education at the University of New Orleans, conducting her award-winning dissertation research on the neuroanatomy of dyslexia through collaboration with Tulane University School of Medicine. 

She is currently a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Cognitive Neuroscience in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology at Tulane, where she is researching neuroanatomical risk factors for developmental language disorders through MRI brain scans.  She is also working on research projects at VA Hospital on  post-traumatic stress disorder. Dr. Zadina is co-author of Writing Now, a college developmental composition textbook.  She has presented keynotes and workshops on brain research and instruction for numerous regional and national conferences, as well as for faculty development workshops.


Friday, March 17, 2006
Tonea Stewart

Friday, March 17, 2006
Dr. Belle Wheelan

Sunday, March 19, 2006
Dr. Janet Zadina

Like each of you, we too are greatly saddened by the tremendous loss and hardship resulting from Hurricane Katrina. It is with heartache that we watch the news and see the devastation of the Gulf Coast.

We encourage you to support the Community College Hurricane Relief Fund, coordinated by the American Association of Community Colleges.
Hurricane Relief