Top Teens of America
Lady Ozell Dean, Founder
In 1964, while serving as “first lady” at Texas College in Tyler, Texas, Mrs. Willie Lee Glass was invited to a luncheon by Mrs. Lyndon Baines Johnson, the First Lady of the United States of America. Mrs. Glass could not attend. In her wisdom, she asked, a Texas College graduate and Major in the United States Air Force, to represent her at the luncheon. Major Ozell M. Dean answered the call and was among other outstanding women from all over the world at this power luncheon.
Major Dean was impressed and inspired by what took place at the luncheon, the energy of the participants, and their concerns of issues that impacted our communities. She shared her enthusiasm with Mrs. Glass and also contacted a relative in Tyler, Texas, Mrs. Franchell Boswell. These trailblazers assisted Major Dean in contacting other persons to ascertain if enough concern, interest, and strength could be generated among distinguished women to help alleviate the myriad of problems confronting youth in our respective communities. A group of distinguished and respected women answered the call and this vision and service formed the Top Ladies Of Distinction story.
Top Ladies Of Distinction, Inc. (TLOD) was chartered in the state of Texas on September 8, 1964 as a non-profit educational, humanitarian organization. Charter members include: Mrs. Franchell Boswell, from Tyler, Texas; Mrs. Ina Bolton Brown, from Houston, Texas; Mrs. Augusta R. Cash, from Memphis, Tennessee; Major Ozell M. Dean, from Washington, D.C.; Mrs. Willie Lee Glass, from Tyler, Texas; Mrs. La Verne R. Madlock, from Tyler, Texas; Mrs. Ruth Payne Smith, from Navasota, Texas; and Mrs. Georgia B. Presswood Nelson, from Dallas, Texas.
It is from this idea and nucleus that Top Ladies of Distinction (TLOD), Incorporated has developed into an internationally known and respected public service organization.
In 1964, TLOD's eight founders met with the primary objective to help alleviate the moral and social problems engulfing the youth in our communities. This objective led to the birth of our youth organization.
In 1968, while meeting in Fort Worth, Texas, it was decided that the youth group should have an official name. Lady Cordelia Mackey, President of the Texarkana Twin City Chapter, suggested the name of Top Teens of America (TTA). The name was adopted.
In 1969, it was determined that there needed to be a TTA group in each TLOD chapter. A committee was appointed and this resulted in inclusion of a TTA chapter within each TLOD chapter.
The Houston Chapter of Top Ladies and Top Teens hosted a meeting to organize the National TTA Executive Board. Teen representatives from all chapters were in attendance. Under the guidance of the first National TTA Director, Lady Willie Lee Glass, the first National Convention of Top Teens of America was held in Houston, Texas in 1969. Over 300 Top Teens were in attendance. Top Teen Harnell Price, of the Rose City Chapter, Tyler, Texas, was elected as the first TTA National President. At this convention, the purposes of TTA were defined.
In 1983, the TTA program was further expanded to include a collaborative project with the National Foundation March of Dimes. The program was known as Teens Outreach Program and Service (TOPS), a peer education program, designed to inform our teens about drugs, alcohol abuse, sexually transmitted disease and birth defects through workshops, seminars and conferences. Parents were encouraged to participate. TOPS through education has also enabled youth to make critical decisions, regarding their lives.
In 1996, the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation and Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc. extended its youth peer education through a newly developed program known as Healthy Choices: Your Future and You. The major purpose of this program focuses on leadership development, health awareness as it relates to premature births, and raising funds to support the program.
In 1995, the "Me and My Mentor" program was adopted. Every Top Lady was encouraged to personally touch the lives of Top Teens through one-on-one nurturing and the development of relationships that foster mutual trust and respect.
Since 1968, thousands of youth in secondary schools, nationally and internationally, have benefited from membership in Top Teens of America.
Over the years, TTA works with TLOD on the following programs and projects: community beautification, community partnership, status of women, senior citizens, NAACP, NCNW, UNCF, March of Dimes, Sickle Cell Anemia Disease, St. Jude Cancer Research and more.
Area II was established in 1977 as one of 6 geographical areas. Area II includes the following locations: Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania (East), District of Columbia, New York, New Jersey, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Rhode Island. To date, Area II has chartered 18 chapters in 6 states as crown jewels of the organization.