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VP of Rainbow Push To Be Honored As Woman of The Year

by Amanda Smith

Attorney Janice Mathis will be honored as Woman of the Year at The Informer’s Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards Ceremony on Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 12 noon at New Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church, located at 795 Maynard Street in Macon, Georgia. Mathis is former General Counsel for Rainbow PUSH Coalition in Atlanta and current Vice President of the Citizenship Education Fund (a charitable research educational organization based in Chicago), where she directs the CEF's Southern Region office and is responsible for legal affairs and programs.

Mathis' work with both organizations has been phenomenal. As General Counsel to Rainbow Push, Janice negotiated inclusion pacts with some of the largest publicly traded companies in the country, including John Deere, Nationwide, General Motors and Toyota. The Toyota discussions resulted in an historic $7.8 billion diversity initiative. John Deere recruited the first African American franchisee in its 150-plus year history. Cooper Tire paid severance to more than 200 workers when it closed its Griffin, GA plant. In 2010 Janice negotiated a deal with YUM! Brands to create 200 new African-American-owned franchise restaurants for KFC and Pizza Hut, as well as a 40 million dollar loan guarantee fund to finance them.

As an early advocate for homeowners in crisis, and drawing on her skills as a lawyer, Janice and her staff at CEF have helped hundreds of families across the nation avoid foreclosure. Janice planned and executed the largest civil rights demonstration in Atlanta history, "Keep the Vote Alive", which successfully helped to mobilize public opinion and Congressional support in favor of reauthorization of expiring provisions of the Voting Rights Act, in 2005.

 She opposes hyper-incarceration and the death penalty on legal and philosophical grounds and was one of the first public voices calling attention to the Troy Davis case in May, 2007. Janice recently obtained a new trial for a 25 year old African American male who was convicted of robbery and sentenced to 42 years in prison, on grounds that his right to counsel had been abridged.

Janice is a former member of the Georgia Power Diversity Advisory Council and the Coca-Cola Company Supplier Diversity Committee. She is also a former member of the Rules Committee of the Democratic National Committee and a former board member of the League of Women Voters of the United States. She was a Centennial Olympic Community Hero Torchbearer for the 1996 Olympics. She was named an Outstanding Georgian by former Secretary of State Cathy Cox and one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Georgia by the Georgia Informer. Janice has been named for several years in both Most Influential African Americans in Atlanta and 100 Most Influential Women in Atlanta by the Atlanta Business League. She was named one of One Hundred Women of Promise by Good Housekeeping Magazine.

 Janice Mathis
Janice Mathis