Freelance Journalist

CONTACT:  pennydickersonwrites@gmail.com

Penny Dickerson formerly served as a senior staff writer and managing editor of The Miami Times and currently works as an independent journalist. She is passionate about 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). 

Temple UniversityPassionate 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.

Lesley LogoMedia 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 Association of Healthcare Journalists Ethnic Media Fellow (2019); Journalists in Aging Fellows Program Gerontological Society (2017); Marguerite Casey Equal Voice Fellowship (Poverty 2016)); H.F. Guggenheim Reporting Fellowship (Criminal Justice 2015); New America Media Four Freedoms Immigration Fund Fellowship (2013);   Minority Writers Editorial Fellowship (2011).

In 2019, she endured a humanitarian mission in Dakar, Senegal as a writer onboard the Africa Mercy for Mercy Ships, a nonprofit organization that follows the 2,000-year-old model of Jesus bringing hope and healing to impoverished people in West African countries.

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. marguerite casey foundation

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.”

She is a former Miss Delta Teen, Hal Jackson’s Miss Talented Teen, and placed 1st Runner-up in the Florida state pageant finals.

Prior to winning the National Shrine Pageant, she traveled to Puerto Rico, Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Honduras, Panama, and Guantanamo Bay, 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.USO photo

Penny is listed as an Outstanding Woman in America, 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, and fellow for the  2011 Minority Writers Seminar sponsored by the National Board of Editorial Writers.

Penny 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; faith-based community heavy weights Bishop T.D. Jakes and Bishop Vaughn Mclaughlin; entertainers LeVar Burton, Najee, Angela Robinson (Tyler Perry Studios), Chef Amadeus (Food Network), and prominent politicians congresswoman Fredericka S. Wilson, congresswoman Corrine Brown, Senator Anthony Hill, Tallahassee Mayor and Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown and more.

Multi-dayImage result for Disney Dreamers Academy Logo 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 (2012-2019); 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 two-time cancer survivor of stage II renal cell carcinoma whose nickname is “Pennyfly” in the tradition of fighting cancer like Muhammad Ali, “Float like a Pennyfly, sting like a she.”

Penny is divorced, currently single, and mother extraordinaire to Kelsey Nicole Dickerson (32) who gave birth to Journey Nicole on February 18, 2012. cancer survivor  Like a champion, Kelsey earned her bachelor of fine arts degree in Dance from Jacksonville University four months later (May 2012).  She is an amazing dancer who is currently a full-time dance instructor for Frank Nims Middle School (Tallahassee) where she is “Teacher of the Year” 2019-20.  Kelsey is pursuing an M.A. degree in Educational Leadership from Florida State University and is married to Donte`Boyer They are a beautifully blended family and together have birthed one son named Isaiah Donte`and in 2022 welcomed Mya Nicole.


9 comments on “Freelance Journalist

  1. I really love that you are so into what you do. Your works and writing are amazing and your talent really shines through. Dedication and devotion to your work is honestly very inspiring to me and makes want, and dream! Keep doing what you do, your amazing in my eyes! Come back soon 😉


    • Thank you Ja-lello! I do indeed enjoy what I do. As your fellow artist, your body is an instrument
      of lyricism to you, as words are the same to me. Yes son, DREAM. Peace, light, and love ~ P


  2. Penny,

    You were an inspiration to many, during our years together in high school. 30+ years later, you continue to achieve and inspire. I am so thankful there are role models in this world for today’s youth and you certainly fit the bill.

    Elizabeth Schenk


  3. Well, you said that you had been very busy! This is an excellent forum for you and I am excited to see your work! You are missed, loved and all that jazz baby!


  4. Looking forward to ‘Malignant Wind’. Glad to hear about survivors penning it down. It means that they are seeing endless hope rather than hopeless end! Way to go, Penny!


  5. You sound fascinating Miss Penny. Impressive that a black woman has organized her accomplishments itno such a nice package. I’m gonna keep up with you. You tight. Pretty too 🙂


  6. The more I know about you the more you inspire me. I just thought you should know you are amazing!


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