The book launch of Makeda & Solomon in Barbados, West Indies: 2003

About the Author

Born in St. Croix, U. S. Virgin Islands and raised in Oakland, California, Jennifer Gross-Awinda began writing and illustrating children's books at the age of 9, eventually growing into the pen name Empress Ivory. It was just for fun but she found a great love for writing and drawing with colored pencils. Finally at the age of 26, Jennifer publish her first educational children's book about the legendary story of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, 'Makeda & Solomon'. 

  • Makeda and Solomon, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told, was published and launched in Barbados, West Indies in 2003 through the honor of collaborating with Barbados' Commission for Pan-African Affairs. 

For over a dozen years, Jennifer has also worked in the Senior Living Industry under various titles; Activity Director, Business Office Manager, Executive Director and Regional Director. Realizing the need for a book with straight forward answers, Jennifer recently published Navigating Arizona's Senior Care Industry to help seniors and adult children with understanding dementia and their overall senior care options. "Industry professionals answer the exact same questions every day and it's imperative the information people are seeking is readily available to the masses.

Since publishing Makeda and Solomon, Jennifer, using the pen name Empress Ivory, has written and illustrated more than a half dozen books, including;

  • A B C, 'Alzheimer's Book For Children'
  • Navigating Arizona's Senior Care Industry (for seniors/caregivers/adult children)
  • How Dementia Affects the Brain
  • Once a Man, Twice a Child 'Dementia Education for Teenagers'
  • Re-Discover Me, 'The Silent Cries of Mother Earth'
  • You Are My Survival, 'A Journey Through The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
  • The Reggae Tribute to Conscious Musicians
  • NyahBinghi Chants
  • Conscious Crosswords and Word Games
  • King Lalibela and the Rock Hewn Churches of Ethiopia


Additional books were written for the assisted living and memory care communities Jennifer managed as gifts to caregivers, residents and families. She also published books for her personal friends who required assistance with their works to which they maintain the copyrights.
"I simply love to create books so I write what I like and I help my friends publish their writings. If their child writes an essay or short story in school, I produce the story into a book for them to have 'official' copies to give their children with hopes it will encourage them to write more. It's a wonderful feeling to have physical copies of your own work and creating books is just super fun for me. Writing is what I love to do and I am always thinking of more books to write. 

In the news

Mission Senior Living has announced the addition of Jennifer Awinda as director of resident enrichment, a position created to oversee life enrichment programs and services at the organization's six assisted living and memory care communities.