Penny Dickerson is an independent journalist with a passion for cool people, extraordinary places, and good sushi.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from Temple University (Philadelphia, PA) and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Lesley University (Cambridge, MA).
Passionate about words and writing, Penny has augmented her freelance writing life by working as an adjunct English professor at Florida State College at Jacksonville where she taught English composition and Humanities courses including Writing for Non-Fiction, Introduction to Literature & Film and Literature.
Media contributions include: Orlando Arts Magazine, Jacksonville Arts & Business Magazine (ARBUS), EBONY.com, New America Media, Equal Voice, Miami Times,Mosaic Literary Magazine, Onyx Magazine, The News-Leader, Florida Times-Union, Florida Courier, Philadelphia Stories, Daytona Times, Tallahassee Women’s Magazine and others.
Journalism fellowships awarded include the New America Media Four Freedoms Fund Fellowship (2013); Henry Frank Guggenheim Fellowship (2015); Marguerite Casey Equal Voice Fellowship (2015); Journalists in Aging Fellows Program (2016) Measures for Justice/John Jay College
As a fundraiser, Penny served as Assistant Area Director of Development for the United Negro College Fund’s $1 million Orlando team and is former Marketing Director for urban shopping center Gateway Towne Center – the gig she insists taught her everything she knows about resilience.
Born Merdis Lavonda Robinson in El Paso, Texas, she was given the nickname Penny by her mother, but friends close to the helm refer to her simply as “P.” Raised a “military brat,” Penny traveled extensively and attended various primary/middle schools, but ultimately graduated from the controversial named “Nathan Bedford Forrest High School “in Jacksonville, Florida which has since been renamed, “Westside High School.”
Pageantry afforded her the opportunity to pursue higher education, as she won several teen pageants and was further crowned the first black Miss Florida Junior College (Miss America Preliminary) and held the title Miss Black Florida but wants to make it abundantly clear that she is not a pageant-girl snob. She does, however, love the world of “beauty.”
Prior to winning the National Shrine Pageant, she traveled to Puerto Rico, Barbados, Grenada, Honduras, Panama, Guantanamo Bay, and Cuba with the 1st Miss Florida USO Troupe and has traveled to virtually every U.S. city and points of the globe as a former TWA Flight Attendant who was known to fly the Vegas red-eye with friends on her days off just to get free shrimp cocktails.
Penny is listed as an Outstanding Woman in American, Who’s Who In American Junior Colleges, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and is a Leadership Jacksonville Alumni. She is an American Symphony Orchestra League Management Fellowship finalist, Creative Capital Professional Development Workshop participant, the 2011 Minority Writer’s Seminar sponsored by the National Board of editorial writers.
She specializes in underrepresented populations, racial and gender disparity and human interest stories. Some high profile subjects include music icon Frankie Beverly, Najee, Poetry legends: Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, and Ntozaki Shange and entertainers LeVar Burrton, Najee, Angela Robinson (Tyler Perry Studios), Chef Amadeus (Food Network), and politicians: Congresswoman Fredericka S. Wilson, Congresswoman Corrine Brown, Senator Anthony Hill, Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown and more.
Multi-day events are a favored editorial specialty and include the Democratic National Convention (2016); Zora Neale Hurston Festival (2011-2016); Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine Disney Dreamers Academy (2012-2017); Tom Joyner Family Reunion (2015).
Penny is a strong woman of faith who is spiritually balanced, yet unapologetic regarding her inherent belief that God could eradicate bad hair days and traffic [if he really wanted to].
She is a seven year cancer survivor of stage II renal cell carcinoma, dynamically divorced, and mother extraordinaire to Kelsey Nicole Dickerson (27) who gave birth to “Journey Nicole” on February 18, 2012. Like a champion, Kelsey earned her BFA degree in Dance from Jacksonville University four months later (May 2012). She is an amazing dancer who deferred her MFA in Dance acceptance at Hollins University and is currently a full-time dance instructor for Leon County Schools in Tallahassee, Florida. Kelsey is married to Donte`Boyer and they have one son together named “Isaiah Donte`.”