Janis Winkfield, affectionately called ’Sweetie’ by her family, grew up in Montgomery, West Virginia. After graduation from high school, she followed her older sisters to Huntington to attend Marshall University. She obtained her bachelor’s degree and later a master’s degree in adult and technical education and her Ed.S. in adult education. She was employed at Marshall University as a senior financial counselor. She was committed to students, helping them maneuver the maze of information to secure their financial aid. She served as second vice president of the Marshall University Alumni Board of Directors and was elected president of Black Alumni (MUBA), successfully leading the campaign to have a room named for Nate Ruffin in the MU Alumni Center. She was a member of the Eastern Star and the Huntington Chapter of the LINKS. She was a member of First Baptist Church and served on the church’s Housing Association Board.