Director, LMA Board

CEO, Defender Media Group

Sonny Messiah-Jiles is the CEO and Publisher of the Defender Media Group, Houston’s leading Black Information Source. The media group includes the Defender newspaper, the website and social media platforms.  She has been at the helm of the company since 1981 when she purchased the newspaper at age 27. 

Messiah Jiles served as the chairperson of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (The Black Press of America), a federation of African-American newspapers across the country and currently serves on both the NNPA board and NNPA Fund board. She also served as the National Alumni Chair for the Houston Alumni Organization (University of Houston).  Currently, Messiah-Jiles serves as Vice President and Director of Grand Slam, a marketing/investment consulting firm and is on the advisory board of KIPP Houston. Her professional activities include being the first African-American female board member of the Greater Houston Partnership, and she currently serves on the M.D. Anderson Board of Visitors. She has served on the Advisory Board of J.P. Morgan Chase-Houston, United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast, Center for Houston’s Future, NAACP-Houston, JobPlus, Hester House, March of Dimes Texas Gulf Coast Chapter, American Diabetes Association, and American Leadership Forum. 

Messiah-Jiles has received many awards including the Houston Association of Black Journalists Trailblazer Award, Phenomenal Woman Award, NNPA Publisher of the Year, American Civil Liberties Freedom of Speech Award, YWCA Outstanding Woman of the Year, Jaycees “Outstanding Texan”, “Women on the Move”, UH Distinguished Alumni Service Award and the National Dental Association Civil Rights Award. She has been named by EBONY Magazine as one of the100 most influential Black Americans. She and her husband were awarded the “Community Service Award” by the University of Houston Downtown. In December 2008, Messiah-Jiles was inducted into the Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce Inaugural Hall of Fame along with former first lady Barbara Bush and eight other women. In 2019, Messiah-Jiles received the highest honors of the CaryAKid Award from the Children’s Museum in Houston and the Dorothy Height Award from the YWCA. 

Messiah-Jiles received an undergraduate degree from the Universityof Houston and did postgraduate work at Texas Southern University and Rice University. 

Prior to purchasing the Defender, Sonny worked as a radio news reporter, a television talk show host, and an advertising account executive at the Houston Chronicle and Majic 102-KMJQ. 

Messiah-Jiles is married to Jodie Lee Jiles, who works in commercial real estate. They have two sons, Jodie and Clyde. She is a native of McNair/Baytown, Texas.

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