Mrs. Lekesa P. Whitner in her position her role as the Supportive Services Manager for the Northside Development Group serves as the community quarterback for all 1,800 families that reside on the Northside. As a long term resident of Spartanburg, Lekesa has seen both the changes and the economic development in the city. Lekesa is currently the Supportive Services Manager at Northside Development Group (NDG) and is an adjunct professor at SCC. In my role at NDG she provides financial literacy, homeownership skills, employment opportunities and access to countless other resources to the 1,800 families that live on the Northside.
Three years ago as The Northside Development Group began work to bring the Start:ME program to the Northside resident. The Start:ME program, developed by the College of Business at Emory University, is a 14-week course in Micro Entrepreneurship (ME) designed to help people start small businesses in their communities by providing knowledge, networks and capital to aspiring entrepreneurs. Start:ME is a 14-week business development accelerator. Entrepreneurs receive 42 hours of classroom training, access to networking opportunities, access to capital and assigned a business coach. Lekesa spearheaded the processes for selection the participants and managing the entire administration of the program from the beginning to the end, including communications, meals, special events, facilities and anything else that came up. We are entering our third year of the Start:ME program. Since its inception Start:ME has impacted over 45 different businesses and 2 have recently opened their brick and mortar locations.
Lekesa Whitner has been an integral partner and advocate for the creation and implementation of the Northside Construction Pipeline Project. There were many key players that were a part of the Construction Pipeline program including Northside Development Group, Spartanburg Community College, SC Works, Upstate Workforce Board, Spartanburg, Regional Healthcare System. The original project’s goal was twofold: Increase the number of skilled construction workers in the community while also improving the number of Northside residents with well-paying jobs. The project has been so successful it has attracted additional community partners, including both the City of Spartanburg and the Spartanburg Chamber of Commerce (OneSpartanburg). And it is now being replicated in an effort to expand the concept throughout the county.
Mrs. Whitner has spent many hours providing outreach services through her service organizations Children and Choices. Her organization offers a free haircuts and hair styles annually in December in one of our highest priority communities. The name of the event is “Merry Clippers” which, through partnering with local barbers and stylists, provided 222 haircuts or styles for those children in need and Children and Choices, a nonprofit which emphasizes education while empowering mothers to become better. December 2018 made 6 years of our way of saying Thank you to the citizens of Spartanburg. Lastly, through the L.P. Whitner Education fund, Mrs. Whitner seeks to assist high school graduates by paying for the SAT test, caps and gowns and assisting with college preparedness.
Lekesa is the administrative assistant for Pastor Richard Williams at Vision of Faith Christian Ministry where she loves to serve. She is also the Youth leader for 16 teenagers.
Lekesa was 2015 recipient of the Wheeler award, 2017 S.P.A.R.T.A (Sisters Partnering And Releasing True Anointing) Valedictorian award, she is a 2012 Grassroots Leadership graduate, 2014 Spartanburg County Citizen Academy Graduate, and 2017 City of Spartanburg Citizen Academy graduate. In 2017 Lekesa spoke on numerous panels and was an alumni spotlight for Grassroots Leadership Development Institute.
She also serves on the Children & Choices – Founder / CEO, Upstate Fatherhood Coalition Advisory Committee, the Forrester Center board, Women Giving’s Board, Spartanburg Chamber Advisory Board for OneSpartanburg and the Breakfast for Professional Women. She loves serving her community and is an active volunteer.
Lekesa was a 2017 nominate for Career Woman of the year from BPW Spartanburg. Lekesa also received a plaque for her community support and leadership from the Upstate Fatherhood Coalition.
Lekesa is the first woman of color to run for Mayor in the City of Spartanburg during the 2017 local election.
Lekesa Whitner is the wife of Mr. Ray Anthony Whitner since June of 2013 and the mother of two wonderful daughters.
Lekesa Whitner earned a diploma in Computer Operations and an Associate in Arts from Spartanburg Community College. She later went on to further her education an earn Bachelors of Business Administration at Limestone College along with a minor in Computer Applications. She later returned to Limestone to earn her Masters of Business Administration. She is currently enrolled at Liberty University Doctoral Program. Her major is Doctorate Strategic Leadership. She has always been an advocate of education and is well aware of the importance of having an education. Lekesa was a high school dropout.
In her spare time, Lekesa enjoys roller skating, spending time with family, friends, and her church family.
Lekesa is guided by: “If you build the people, you grow the city!”
Please join us in congratulating this 2019 Upstate Black History Maker!