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  • Anthony Ray

This week on #It'sEasySon, The Yancy Years

"This week Gerald Hector invites four guests to It's Easy Son. Now that Dr. Dorothy Cowser Yancy's documented success at Johnson C. Smith University is publicly available in electronic formats, co-authors Dr. Brian Johnson, Dr. Sharon Raynor and Mr. Benny Smith join the podcast to reflect upon the impact and inspiration Dr. Yancy has on the higher education landscape. A pioneer whose vision created one the period of greatest growth and prosperity in the university's history.

A legend in higher education administration, all the authors, and Gerald as host, have been impacted by Dr. Yancy's scholarly, administrative and fundraising prowess. They are all "Yancy's Kids" even though only Dr. Johnson is a JCSU graduate. They all note that you cannot work with Dr. Yancy and not become a better administrator and fundraiser on your way to "what's next."

Join these four individuals and Dr. Yancy as they discuss the timeless nature of this project. What was learned. The successes. The challenges and all that happened in between. This will be special edition episode and we encourage everyone to tune in and be blessed by the journey of a lady who continues to inspire, challenge and direct so may to realize their dreams despite the start they have in life."


Dr. Brian Johnson

Dr. Brian Johnson is the president of Warner Pacific University. In addition to being his former colleague at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, Dr. Johnson is also a past president of the historic Tuskegee University, Assistant Provost at Austin Peay State University and has held other roles at the senior levels of higher education at Johnson C. Smith University and Mercy College in Manhattan.

A scholar par excellence, Dr. Johnson's academic credentials are impressive As a Dubois and Washington scholar, he shares his perspective on a host of issues through daily quotes from these leaders. A man of deep faith and conviction he continues his quest to shape the conversation around the future of higher education and scholarships's relevance to it.


Benny Smith, APR

Benny Smith, APR is the new Executive Director of Communications at Western Carolina University.

Smith comes to WCU after working 10 years in public relations and community relations for Food Lion, headquarters in Salisbury, N.C. While at the grocery chain, he garnered two national PRSA Silver Anvil awards and one PRSA Bronze Anvil award for strategic integrated public relations campaigns that ignited record engagement with its external publics. 

Prior to his tenure at Food Lion, Smith worked as the Director of Public Relations and Special Assistant to the President at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C. While at JCSU, Smith served as its chief

crisis management officer. He also led a team that garnered more than 30 top publication awards for the University and collaborated strategically with the Admissions Office to increase new student applications by 19 percent.

Smith is also a former reporter with the Times News in Hendersonville, N.C., and the Spartanburg Herald Journal in Spartanburg, S.C. He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina where he received a master’s degree in mass communications. He also performed further study at both Harvard and Vanderbilt Universities and later received his national accreditation in public relations. In his spare time, Benny teaches mass communications courses and loves to workout. 

“I am particularly excited to work with highly-motivated faculty, staff and students at WCU who are helping our university to be a national model for student learning and engagement,” Smith said. “WCU is such a wonderful university and this position is a great opportunity for me to lead a team whose goal it is to strengthen our reputation and increase WCU’s awareness not only in the local community but in the world.”


Dr. Sharon D. Raynor

Dr. Sharon D. Raynor is the Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Winnie Wood Endowed Professor of English and Digital Media at Elizabeth City State University (ECSU). She collaborated with the North Carolina Humanities on two community oral history projects: “Breaking the Silence: The Unspoken Brotherhood of

Vietnam Veterans” and “Soldier-to-Soldier: Men and Women Share Their Legacy of

War."; She uses her various platforms to share veterans’ stories with communities in

North Carolina. Raynor is the Executive Producer for the documentary film, In the Face of Adversity: The Service and Legacy of African American WWII Veterans for the North Carolina African American Veterans Lineage Day Documentary Project in collaboration with the NC Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and NC Museum of History.

She is also a Co-Producer of The Silence of War, a transmedia, enhanced eBook and short film documentary in collaboration with students and faculty in “The Imagination Project” at Wake Forest University’s Documentary Film Program. Raynor is the co-editor of Teaching Race in Perilous Times: Racial Discourse in the College Classroom with SUNY Press. She has a forthcoming book, Practicing Oral History with Military and War Veterans, with Routledge Press as well as dedicated publications in the fields of veteran studies, African American literary studies and narrative and trauma theory. She has previously held faculty positions at East Carolina University, Johnson C. Smith University, Wake Forest University and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. Raynor is a North Carolina native with degrees in English and Multicultural

Literature (BA ’94, MA ‘96) from East Carolina University and a PhD in Literature and Criticism (‘03) from Indiana University of PA. She is the 2020 recipient of the Old North State Award from the NC Governor’s Office for her continuous work in the fields education and veterans advocacy in the state of North Carolina.


It's Easy Son: Life Lessons on Your Journey To Your Promise airs on

HBCUiRadio ( and HBCU Smart TV ( Amazon Fire TV, Roku and on Wednesday evenings at 8pm ET & #SmartSundays at 3pm ET.

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