In honor of Black History Month, we celebrate Women of Substance & Style, black women who have influenced our community's growth and prosperity. This year we will be giving back to Breakthrough Collaborative, who's mission is to create powerful educational experiences for students on their path to college. We will partner with Harriet’s Book Store by having a pop-up shop of African American books for children and adults. The featured book will be The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones. Additionally, we will sell 1619 necklaces and charms created by Nina Grier of Historical Black Dreams.

We will be celebrating on
February, Wednesday the 23rd!
RSVP BY FRIDAY THE 18TH

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OUR SPONSORS FOR THIS YEAR'S EVENT!

OUR MC: MONIQUE BRAXTON

WOMEN OF SUBSTANCE AND STYLE HONOREES 2022

RHONDA & MERCEDES SALTZMAN

A team of two sisters and Philly natives who are crazy about food. Rhonda is a classically trained chef turned baker and graduate of The Culinary Institute of America She has a bachelors degree in culinary and hospitality management. She has worked in the Philly restaurant industry for 5 years in various roles. Pastry has always had some sort of gravitational pull on her. She made the shift in her career because of her fasicnation with pastry. Mercedes is heavily involved in the creative process; her main focus is photography. Mercedes and Rhonda are extremely excited to embark on this new endeavor with each other and all of you.

 


BARBARA DEVAN

Crispy Fried Chicken, Cheesy Mac & Cheese, Yummy Yams, Fried Turkey Chops and Freshly Pulled Greens and so much more seasoned, just right! You will not be disappointed. Tasties Soul Food serves the best Soul Food in Philadelphia, Pa and Now in Wilmington, DE. Come dine in at our upscale restaurant located at 1212 52nd st., Philadelphia, PA and visit our take out restaurants in North Philly & Wilmington,


LADY ALMA

International singer and songwriter LADY ALMA is bringing her soaring, searing vocals back to eager audiences who desire her incomparable funk-house-soul stylings. Born in San Diego and raised in Philadelphia, LADY ALMA began her decades-long career with an entry into the house music scene recording club anthems helmed by the likes of super-producers Yukihiro Fukutomi, David Harness, Fanatix, Kaidi Tatham, 4Hero, and fellow Philly mainstay King Britt.

 

Her track “Let It Fall” made a resurgence in 2018 when the song went viral via Facebook with over 30 million views (video of a fan seen dancing and lip-syncing to the song in Johannesburg, Gauteng South Africa). Not long after, another video of legendary choreographer Toni Basil dancing to “It’s House Music” went viral with over 5 million views on Twitter. The buzz catapulted LADY ALMA back into the spotlight - and she has not slowed down!

 

In 2019 LADY ALMA released her highly anticipated anthology album entitled Twilight (June 28, 2019), with longtime collaborator Mark de Clive-Lowe; she also performed at the 29th annual Chosen Few Picnic & House Music Festival in Chicago on July 6th, 2019. Current releases also include a compilation of remixes of her track “Make You Move” featuring renowned DJs including: Terry Hunter, Mark Francis, DJ Shannon & Lil Dave on T Box’s Records;  “Breathe” released 2020 produced by South Africa’s own DJ Miza featuring Chris Stevens, along with a remix of her Traxsource #1 hit-single “Your Time to Shine” (Wipe The Needle Remix) produced by Lee Gomez.

 

In 2021, LADY ALMA will resume her dynamic live shows via a virtual residency at World Cafe Live and planning a 2022 release her newest EP project via Box Records. As quoted by legendary DJ/Producer DJ Jazzy Jeff, “Oh my God...if you’re looking for some true soulful emotion, movin’ vocals...here you go...she makes me wanna throw my hands in the air & party the nite away... that’s Philly soul for ya!"

LIZETTE APY

Lizette moved to Philadelphia 7 years ago packed with her dream of opening a cafe. She has a passion for food as a road to wellness and being connected to her community. Whether she’s teaching a cooking class, catering an event or judging a high school culinary competition, she continually brings her enthusiasm and warmth. Lizette stresses the importance of stewardship and helping to pave the way for young black women and entrepreneurship.

 

Lizette’s professional past consists of several years in luxury retail management and the food and hospitality industry.

 

In 2019, she opened the doors of Thunder Mug Cafe, fulfilling her dream combining community and good food. She is an avid gardener and fledgling beekeeper.

 

Lizette was the 2021-2022 recipient of the Philadelphia 76ers Buy Black Program.

 

Acceptance:

I am truly grateful and honored to share this nomination with such a distinguished group of women both past and present. We have the opportunity to form strong bonds and help pave the way and provide valuable mentorship to our future community of entrepreneurs. Thank you.

WAKISHA BAILEY

Wakisha Bailey joined CBS3 Eyewitness News as a reporter in July 2021.

 

Before moving to Philadelphia, she was a reporter at WPBF in West Palm Beach, where she covered the deadly building collapse in Surfside, Hurricane Dorian, and Jeffrey Epstein and Robert Kraft’s affiliation with the massage parlor sting. During her three years in South Florida, she was also part of the presidential local press pool when former President Trump stayed at his Mar-A-Lago estate.

 

Before moving to West Palm Beach, Wakisha was a morning reporter in her hometown Rochester, New York at WROC, CBS affiliate for two years. She also spent four years on the assignment desk at WMAQ-NBC in Chicago.

 

Wakisha graduated from Tuskegee University.

KAISHA BLACKSTONE

Kaisha Askins Blackstone is the embodiment of the phrase "well-rounded musician." She has been a touring background singer for Billboard-topping artists and is an accomplished businesswoman specializing in music and media publishing, branding, and finance in the music business.

While recording and singing around the world, her desire for business never faded, and her strength in cultivating and promoting quality music grew. In 2001, Blackstone launched Ray's Sister Publishing, LLC, a Music Publishing Administration and web, print, and media branding company. In 2009n, Blackstone partnered with her husband to start BASSic Black Entertainment, LLC (BBE), BBE is a full music service company that provides live music production, connecting artists and musicians, and studio production.

Kaisha's expansive background keeps her as a sought-after resource for the music community. As her core values of faith and family center her, she continues to expand her music empire.

ALISHA BOYD

Persevere On Purpose (POP) is a girls and womens' organization that is committed to breaking barriers by creating economic growth in the individual lives and communities it serves. They facilitate, collaborate, and engage the community by providing resources, access, and training that empower and support entrepreneurship and 21st-century skills in business. They specifically work with girls and women to build confidence, self-awareness and skills so that they can thrive in business and give back to the community. POP encourages principles and values that teach/enhance communication, business etiquette, accountability, integrity, courage, and perserverance, to name a few.

Founder's Torri Grice and Alisha Boyd have successfully started and managed profitable businesses and want to share their knowledge and expertise to girls and women in the Philadelphia region. After many years of pursuing their own dreams, overcoming failure, learning from their challenges, they are now focused on empowering young girls and women to boldly step into business and life. They believe that women are a powerful catalyst for strengthening our community.

NICOLE DUPREE

Nicole Dupree is a professional makeup artist and skincare therapist. She has been in the beauty industry for 30 years working with Brands such as MAC Cosmetics, Anastasia Beverly Hills Cosmetics and Clarins Cosmetics to name a few. Nicole received her education from Yvonne De Vilar School of SkinCare & Makeup and Aveda School of Advanced Skincare and Makeup. She has worked on many celebrity faces, covered many NYC fashion week shows, Philadelphia fashion week shows, along with numerous magazine publications.

 

Nicole is currently the Retail Sales Representative for Dermalogica Cosmetics covering the Manhattan market in NYC.

EBONY EDWARDS

Ebony Edwards is the queen of effortless events. Working in the events planning and branding industry for over three decades, Edwards found her niche for helping her clients pull out their inner wow factor by producing fabulous events that won’t break the bank. She is the go-to woman for lifestyle tips, party ideas, decor and more, and has built a formidable reputation as a trailblazing event producer with a passion for helping women entrepreneurs grow.

 

Edwards’ greatest strength is knowing how to create transformative cultural moments. Every step of the way, she leaves her indelible mark on each event she leads and every brand she works with. From the beginning stages of planning to the event’s wrap up, Edwards is a dependable resource for her clients, never afraid to ask questions, take bold risks and demand the best out of everyone.

 

Edwards has been an entrepreneur from the beginning. For a decade, she owned Little Fairy Godmothers, a princess party business in Flourtown, Pennsylvania, and in 2018 she was hired by William Morris, Endeavor as the marketing manager for the Together Live Tour, which is the brainchild of Oprah Winfrey. These experiences helped her realize she wanted to refocus on her brand in Philadelphia helping to create more opportunities for women in business. In 2013, Edwards launched Soiree In The Cities Girls Night Out, one of the leading exclusive girls-night-out consumer shopping events held nationwide, known for showcasing women-led brands.

TORRI GRICE

Persevere On Purpose (POP) is a girls and womens' organization that is committed to breaking barriers by creating economic growth in the individual lives and communities it serves. They facilitate, collaborate, and engage the community by providing resources, access, and training that empower and support entrepreneurship and 21st-century skills in business. They specifically work with girls and women to build confidence, self-awareness and skills so that they can thrive in business and give back to the community. POP encourages principles and values that teach/enhance communication, business etiquette, accountability, integrity, courage, and perserverance, to name a few.

Founder's Torri Grice and Alisha Boyd have successfully started and managed profitable businesses and want to share their knowledge and expertise to girls and women in the Philadelphia region. After many years of pursuing their own dreams, overcoming failure, learning from their challenges, they are now focused on empowering young girls and women to boldly step into business and life. They believe that women are a powerful catalyst for strengthening our community.

AMBER NICOLE HENLEY LPC, MA, EdS

A Philadelphia native and South Jersey resident, Amber is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Academic Counselor for Rider University's Educational Opportunity Program. She graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelors in Psychology and from Rider University with a Masters and EdS in Counseling. In her role at Rider University, she counsels students from academically and economically challenged backgrounds. During her time at Rider she has helped hundreds of students from disadvantaged backgrounds navigate higher education, reach their full potential and earn their college degree.

 

Amber also runs her own private counseling practice where she provides individual, family, and marriage counseling to a variety of clients. She has a passion for the field of mental health and has dedicated her life to helping others. Additionally, Amber has served on many academic committees and presented on her areas of expertise at conferences throughout the state. She has also lent her time to various non-profit initiatives and events to help underserved communities and to create greater awareness about mental health over the years. Along with all of this she also finds time to be a wife and mother of two teenagers.

LINDA HOWARD, JD

Linda Howard is a multi-faceted individual with over 35 years of experience in law, compliance, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and multicultural competency (MCC). She earned her law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, practiced law at major New York City law firms, and was Senior In-House Counsel for Ernst & Young. Later Linda worked as a compliance and ethics executive and consultant. In that capacity, she served as AVP, Business Ethics & Associate Vice President, Marketing Risk Control & Compliance Officer, Amerigroup Corporation. Linda is currently serving as the Interim Chief Compliance Officer for an Illinois-based Hospital & Health Sciences System. In addition, she is the Immediate Past President of the National Wellness Institute (NWI) Board of Directors and served as NWI’s acting CEO for several months (during CEO search).

 

Linda is the founder and Chief DEI Consultant for WithLindaHoward, a specialized consultancy focused on DEI and multicultural competency. WithLindaHoward advises, coaches, and inspires leadership focused on transformational change and authentic leadership. She is also the founder of Alturnative, a consultancy that provides healthcare compliance advisory services.

 

Linda is known for her ability to help transform organizational cultures. As a living example of being the change you want to see, Linda shares her knowledge and time in various communities. She is committed to using her leadership to advance dialogues that bring about industry and organizational transformations. Her transformative works range from creating cultures of compliance and ethics to creating cultures of diversity, equity and inclusion. She provides advisory services to organizations related to multicultural competency, DEI, anti-racism, and anti-discrimination compliance. Over her expansive career, she has built effective compliance programs; worked across units, at different organization levels, and globally; guided leadership through change; and trained front-line staff.

 

Her career path, engagement with diverse audiences globally, and passion for social and corporate responsibility have made her a leading voice on DEI and MCC. She was a founding member and former co-chair of the NWI’s Multicultural Competency Committee. In addition, she serves on the DEI Advisory Board of HR.com, which serves

1.75 million Human Resources (HR) professionals.

 

In addition, she is the subject matter expert and content developer of an online interactive course, Disrupt Implicit Bias in Your World, that HR.com will offer to thousands of HR professionals. She was the leading subject matter expert and chief architect of a groundbreaking High-Level Wellness Through Multicultural Competency Certificate course offered via HR.com, the first-ever MCC certificate program in wellness.

 

For decades, Linda has inspired and educated audiences as an inspirational, informative, and authentic public speaker and author. She has publicly addressed audiences in Africa, the Middle East, and the United States. Linda has also facilitated educational sessions for executives, senior and middle management, and hiring committees focused on disrupting bias, authentic leadership, and strategies for successful transformational DEI initiatives.

 

Previous public appearance topics include, among others, How To Facilitate Difficult Conversations That Advance DEI Initiatives; How to Avoid Talent Acquisition Bias Inherent in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning; The Future of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 2021; Beyond Inclusion and Belonging: Authenticity in the Workplace; The State of Legal Compliance and Employment Law 2021; and Multicultural and Diversity Requirements for Organizations: The Legal, Business and Ethics Case for Multicultural Competency and Diversity.

 

To learn more about Linda, visit www.WithLindaHoward.com.

PATTI LABELLE

In her long career, Patti LaBelle went from singing gospel to leading the wild funk group, LaBelle, whose biggest hit, "Lady Marmalade," is told from the point of view of a prostitute. Along the way LaBelle was a balladeer and a straight -soul queen like Aretha Franklin or Tina Turner. She even pursued a successful acting career, but throughout it all, her remarkable voice and her exuberant stage personality remained constant. With these assets, she definitively established herself as one of the great American pop divas.

 

Born Patricia Louise Holte, LaBelle grew up singing in the Beulah Baptist Church Choir of southwest Philadelphia, a city that remained her home throughout the years of her incredible commercial success. As a child she was shy, but she liked to sing and worked on her singing not only in the church choir but also at home in front of the mirror. While still a teenager she began singing with a friend, Cindy Birdsong. They called themselves the Ordettes, but a year later two more friends joined, Nona Hen dryx and Sarah Dash, the quartet renamed themselves the BlueBelles. Patti took on her own stage name, LaBelle, in conjunction with her group's new name.

 

The four singers were together only about a year when they got the chance to record their first song. "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman" was a gold record and a number-one hit. Such immediate good fortune in the record industry must have m ade success seem easy, but no more number-one hits followed. In 1967, Birdsong left the group to join forces with Diana Ross and the Supremes. Meanwhile, the remaining members of the BlueBelles tried to revitalize their music and career.

 

The search for a new style was typical of a restlessness that characterized LaBelle. In 1969, she married Armstead Edwards, who took an active hand in her career. They had three children, and by working so closely together, they were able to balance personal and professional responsibilities and tensions. Still, after 30 years, the marriage ended in 2000.

In the early 1970s, the BlueBelles hooked up with British promoter Vicki Wickham, who at that time was best known for having produced the BBC rock show, Ready, Steady, Go! It was an unlikely partnership. Wickham knew littl e about soul or rhythm 'n blues, but she saw possibilities in the group that they did not see themselves. In She-Bop, author Lucy O'Brien related Wickham's memory of the period: "When Patti first asked me t o manage them I was reluctant. The name Patti LaBelle and the BlueBelles sounded so old. I said, 'If we're going to do this, it's a new day. You've been together sixteen years, you can't get arrested. You can't wear those ni ce little frilly frocks and wigs, we've got to rethink it. You've got to make a statement, you're women, there's a lot to be said.'"

 

Wickham threw out the group's old name and recrafted "the girl group" into LaBelle, a provocative trio, wearing space age, daring clothes and tackling adult subjects such as prostitution, which had been off-limits to pop music befor e that. "Lady Marmalade" turned out to be their first number-one hit in 12 years. It was on an album called Nightbirds, which was also a big seller. The newly found success of the band was attributed partly to the gr eater freedom songwriter Nona Hendryx was given. Her energy and passion bolstered the group's live performances. They even became the first pop group ever to play the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.

 

Paradoxically, in 1977, less than three years after Nightbirds, the singers split up. Hendryx went deeper into the "glam" funk music of the time, and Sarah Dash started singing on the jazz nightclub circuit. Pa tti did not release another album until 1980, when she put out Released, later considered one of her best.

 

The next year LaBelle began an acting career, first appearing on television in guest spots and then in the movies, playing roles in A Soldier's Story and Beverly Hills Cop. She also appeared on Broadway in the gospel musical extravaganza, Your Arm's Too Short to Box with God. She continued roles on the television series, A Different World and Out All Night.

 

Still music was her passion and her claim to fame. After the breakup of the group LaBelle, she pursued a varied course, recording whatever interested her at the time, including even a couple of country songs and duets. In 1982, she had a number-one hit, "On My Own," sung with Michael MacDonald. While other singers of her generation became oldies acts, Patti LaBelle continued to push herself and innovate, although not without some trepidation about new trends in music. She told Geoffrey H imes of the Washington Post in a 1994 interview, "Music is not music anymore. There's a lot of talking and sampling, but not many creative juices flowing.... The talent's there, but the talent's lazy."

 

In spite of those feelings, LaBelle continued creating new music. While many of the performers placed in the same categories as LaBelle performed as "oldies" acts, she endured throughout the 1990s with several albums and singles that had a good showing in urban contemporary music. She won a Grammy for her 1992 album Burnin', and went on to earn a star on the Hollywood walk of fame in 1993. She followed that with the successful Gems album in 1994 that included a top selling single, "The Right Kinda Lover."

 

LaBelle continued in the latter half of the decade with projects that took her to the studio as well as to the writing table. In 1997, she released her album, Flame, just after her first book, an autobiography, Don't Block the Blessings. At 52, LaBelle finally felt she had a story to tell. In the book, she recalled the pain of losing her sisters, each before they reached the age of 45. Her eldest sister, Vivian, died in 1975 at the age of 43 of lung cancer. Barbara died in 1982 at 40 of colon cancer and Jackie, the youngest, died of a brain tumor in 1988 at 43.

 

She commented to Jet on her grief and her divorce in 2000: "I'm a veteran of adversity," she explained. "You get through things when you have to. You never get over them, but you get through them. Yo u try to make it as easy on everybody around you as possible because usually I think about the people around me before I think about myself."

 

LaBelle's next release, Live! One Night Only, won another Grammy. She also finished her second book around this same time. This time she focused on her fame as a cook with LaBelle Cuisine: Recipes to S ing About. LaBelle was a well-recognized chef among the likes of Oprah, Luther Vandross, Elton John, and Prince. In an interview with American Visions, she described the intent in her second book. She considered it a "thank-you to my family, my friends, and my fans."

 

A diabetic, LaBelle warned against including the extravagant recipes in everyday menus and enforced that warning by joining the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health in the fight against diabetes. This move demonstrated that, as always, she thought about others even as she prepared to offer thanks for a career of support. In 2000, LaBelle released When A Woman Loves, taking her in yet another direction. She remains a much-loved and respected entertainer. Shirley Henderson of the Chicago Tribune quoted Patti at a concert appearance during subarctic temperatures. "You know ... to come out in this weather ... I know you all must love me." Nobody disagreed.

 

LaBelle expanded her career once again and launched a clothing line on the Home Shopping Network (HSN) on November 6, 2003. LaBelle, involved in the creative process of the clothing line, took inspiration from her own wardrobe and stage clothes. Lab elle has not let her new passion obstruct her musical career. She recently signed to Def Jam Classics and has begun working on her next album, which is expected to be released in February of 2004.

 

TAKEN FROM WWW.MUSICIANGUIDE.COM by Jim McDermott and Leslie Rochelle

AUNYEA LACHELLE

Aunyea Lachelle is a lifestyle & entertainment reporter for NBC10 Philadelphia. You can watch her reports weekdays on Philly Live at 11:45 a.m.

 

"Having been born and raised here, I know this area is bursting with entertainment! There's so much to do and see, from music and food to sports and events, we've got it all," said Aunyea.

 

Aunyea joined NBC10 in July 2019 and enjoys showing viewers the amazing, hidden gems our region has to offer. During her time at NBC10, she has covered a variety of subjects, from highlighting local businesses and owners during the Coronavirus pandemic, to interviewing sports legend Billie Jean King, and Philly’s own music legend Patti Labelle. Aunyea enjoys highlighting the work of local non-profits and community groups who she believes are the true champions of the city.

 

Prior to joining NBC10, Aunyea worked as a community affairs coordinator, programming producer and digital reporter at WPVI.

 

A native of Northeast Philadelphia, Aunyea earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from West Chester University. She is a proud member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and is passionate about women's rights, equality, and access to education.

 

When she is not reporting, Aunyea enjoys spending time with family and friends, keeping up with the latest celebrity news and trending topics, listening to music and even writing her own songs now and then.

ALEXANDRIA LEIBOWITZ

Alexandria Leibowitz Founder of Bōtage Beauty

 

has made it her life’s work to ensure that senior citizens have a visiting companion no matter what zip code they reside in. For the past 10 years, she has been a volunteer teacher of HIV/AIDS education to low-income Black women and the LGBTQ community. She helps organized organize the AIDS Walk and has raised over $50,000 for research. 20 years ago she began taking in foster kids who were in need of a home, she raised five foster children, all of whom have graduated college.

 

Most recently Ms. Leibowitz was appointed Board Chairwoman of The Evoluer House, a non-profit for at risk teen girls of color in Philidelphia.

INDIA MAYO

India Jade Mayo is Board Treasurer of The Evoluer House, a non-profit organization providing education to impoverished teen girls of color in Philadelphia. As a Philadelphia Black woman who forged her way into Corporate America as a Consultant at one of the top accounting firms in the world, India knows first hand the importance of educating young girls, and has dedicated herself to getting more girls where she is today.

 

She began educating women on finance and investing at NYU as President of Smart Woman Securities. She found multi-cultural, successful women in Finance and Accounting to exemplify female success and teach seminars to her peers looking to learn about a male dominated field. As President, India helped over 50 college women successfully complete seminars and gain tools to invest in their future.

 

Once graduating NYU, India obtained her CPA and began work at PricewaterhouseCoopers, but continued to serve underrepresented communities. India worked closely with the Campus Recruiting Team at her Company and served as a mentor for underrepresented college students of color, teaching them about the accounting field and creating opportunities for them to follow her path. India became involved with The Evoluer House as a volunteer, dedicating her expertise on Accounting. She transformed the accounting process used and enabled the organization to increase fundraising and grant revenue by over double the amount of the previous year. Annually, she teaches the financial literacy session, giving girls the knowledge on financial tools them break the cycle of poverty in their communities.

YOLANDA E. MCBRIDE

LESLIE OLAGUNJU MORRIS

Leslie Olagunju Morris is a Detroit native that has been in the Philadelphia area for over 15 years. She is mother to four children: ranging in age from 22 to 7. As a teen parent herself, Leslie has navigated the challenges faced with teenage parenting and continuing your education. She currently works as a Health Science Marketing Professional and Adjunct Professor at Temple University. She has over a decade of experience and has completed both her Undergraduate degree and MBA. Leslie has served on the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Chapter of Mocha Moms in recent years and served as the 2021 President. Leslie has a passion for community work centered around families and empowering teen parents by encouraging them to live the life they truly want and deserve.

STACI MOORE

Staci is a visual artist, volunteer and ardent housing activist, starting with her own issues of housing insecurity through homelessness. Fate would have her walk through the doors of Women’s Community Revitalization Project , literally around the corner from her home, an organization serving low income women and their children with high quality affordable housing and resident leadership development. Her volunteer work with WCRP started in 1997 and she has continued to lend her voice to issues of affordable housing ever since.  

 

Staci's volunteer work has also extended to being a proud volunteer for Women's Way participating in their Women's Economic Security Initiative work as well as being a new face among a group of fantastic women trustees at the Valentine Foundation..  

 

Staci’s artwork has been featured with the Philadelphia Art Museum as part of one of the museum’s most extensive social practice of the arts project, PhiladelphiaAssembled of 2017.

NICOLE ROSS

A Community Activist ,Gender diversity & equality advocate and a multigenerational strategist . She Attended Temple University briefly , but a Niche Real-estate Investment opportunity quickly became her main focus. Both of Nicole’s Grandfathers were large real-estate holders/ investors in PA, RI,SC,NJ,NY.

 

Historical housing insecurities, research and studies on the effects of housing in the black community became a focal point in her activism . Nicole’s passion to help her community members achieve home ownership is something she is very passionate about through education and support . She is working as an advocate & activist on many fronts.

Nicole has Spoken at the United Nations Headquarters , At The Committee on the Status of Women for over 10 years. Some of the discourse topics were of late (Pathways to power for millennials, decision making in public life 2020),(how education and entrepreneurship can help women and girls access services 2021), (The role of women entrepreneurs and the sustainable development goals 2021) as well Speaking at the african Union 2015- 2019 traveling to many countries to Speak and listen to women and girls around the world at The global Summit of women & other Global forums in Japan , Brasil, Republic of Georgia, Zurich,and Australia…… All of these travels have given Nicole an insight on the impacts of speaking with women about subjects spoken and not spoken on in order to help women excel. Providing valuable words of wisdom with resources and referrals to help empower them as well as create male allies..

She is President of Hands across Philadelphia . A collaborative organization in the Philly metro area to support communities affected by gun violence. The USA Ambassador of The Justina Mutale Foundation launched in the House of Lords at the UK Houses of Parliament in London, United Kingdom. Executive Board member & international liaison for The Scriptural Literacy Institute. The Finance Chair of The National Federation Of Black Veterans Network.

Collaborative partner with The Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives Advisory Board Member of The Walter D Palmer Foundation. Executive Director at BlackFuturism TM

Several more organizations in Philadelphia and around the United states as an Executive board member or an Advisory board member in NGO’s in Ghana,Gambia, Zambia ,Kenya,Mali, India and more. Nicole has mentored Girls and youth from around the world. Many of those students are highly successful now in their fields. One of her mentees became the first homeowner in her family and went on to get her mother to purchase the HUD home she rented for many years and her brother also , not to become just a homeowner but a business

owner as her brother purchased a duplex like his big sister. One of the former mentees is a 15 guinness world record holder from Austria. Another mentee is working at one of the largest Petroleum companies in Brazil. Having an impact on a young person’s life and seeing them become great is an amazing journey. My Grandma Gladys always used to say you have to lead by example. I hope to continue to improve and do more with the life I have been given, To help other excel beyond my expectations. I would like to thank the amazing women who nominated me for this award Cherly Ann Waddington. I was a Single mother in Philadelphia raising my two children and her amazing program changed my life , providing support for my then Teen daughter was so instrumental, it shows how just a little help can go a long way. My daughter now works in the state of texas for the Department of Defense, as a military Health care Contractor.

KATHY SLEDGE

Kathy Sledge is a Renaissance woman — a singer, songwriter, author, producer, manager,

and Grammy-nominated music icon whose boundless creativity and passion has garnered

praise from critics and a legion of fans from all over the world. Her artistic triumphs

encompass chart-topping hits, platinum albums, and successful forays into several genres

of popular music. Through her multi-faceted music career and her legacy as the signature

voice in Sister Sledge who originated worldwide anthems like "We Are Family," which was

added to the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry in 2017, and "He's the

Greatest Dancer," Kathy's inspired millions of listeners across every generation.

 

Iconic producer Nile Rodgers says it best: "Kathy has one of the most original and unique

voices in pop music. Always has and always will!” While Kathy Sledge has tapped into the

power of her voice, she consistently sets new standards of excellence. As a dynamic live

performer, she's also developing her passion for producing shows for the stage and screen.

Presently, she’s producing several live concerts and headlining festivals worldwide. She

conceived both The Brighter Side of Day- A Billie Holiday Tribute and "Kathy Sledge

presents: My Sisters & Me," a Classic Concert series that features "Sisters In Song”,

Deniece Williams, Karyn White, and CeCe Peniston. With an impressive stylistic versatility,

Kathy remains a vibrant presence in nearly every genre of popular music.

 

As one of the most sought-after voices in dance and pop music Kathy collaborated with

renowned London-based production team Horse Meat Disco on recent chart-topping club

hits "Jump Into the Light" (2020) and "Falling Deep in Love" (2019). Kathy received the

"Outstanding Contribution Award" at the highly acclaimed Ibiza DJ Awards. "Music is my

passion," she declares. "It's what I love to do, throughout my music career, and now more

than ever.”

 

Branching into film production, Kathy, with her daughter Kristen Gabrielle, launched "Family

Room," an interactive series developed as a mother-daughter talk show, designed for

network television. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they launched the series on IG live,

directly from Kathy’s home, where D-Nice, Questlove, Sinbad, Donnie Wahlberg, Sheila E.,

Macy Gray, and many more surprise celebrity guests are among the thousands of viewers

who tune in twice a week from across the globe. Also in development, Kathy is Executive

Producing a film project based on her personal memoirs and the heart-felt story behind the

iconic “We Are Family”.

 

O Magazine spotlighted Kathy's remarkable evolution in the feature article "Better Than

Ever" (2012). Out of 50 women worldwide, Kathy was among the four that O Magazine

selected as getting better with time. They were especially impressed with her production,

The Brighter Side of Day: A Tribute to Billie Holiday, an intimate concert that celebrates the

music of the 1940s and honors the legacy of Lady Day. Hailed as "a spine-tingling musical

journey of an American icon" (NBC 10), the show manifests a lifelong passion of Kathy's

where she explores what it would be like for audiences to attend a Billie Holiday concert.

Stanley Clarke, who calls Kathy's voice "one of the greatest jazz voices I've ever heard," is

among the legendary jazz greats who is currently collaborating with Kathy on a jazz project

with some of his esteemed peers.

 

Early in her career, Kathy was often called the female counterpart to Michael Jackson since

both came of age on stage as the youngest siblings and lead vocalists in a family group.

Fueled by a prodigious musical talent, Kathy's journey began in Philadelphia, the youngest

of five daughters born to Edwin and Florez Sledge. Her grandmother was an opera singer

who taught her harmonies while her father was one-half of Fred & Sledge, the tapping duo

who broke racial barriers on Broadway. "I learned the appreciation and the art of music

through my mother, father, and my grandmother," she says. Kathy and her sisters honed

their act around Philadelphia and signed a contract with Atco Records. At the tender age of

13, Kathy's lead vocals on "Mama Never Told Me" (1973) furnished the group's first

international hit record in the U.K. Their follow-up "Love Don't You Go Through No Changes

On Me" scored them major hits everywhere from the U.K. to Japan, plus the Silver Award at

the Tokyo Music Festival. At 14 years-old, Kathy and her sisters were invited to perform at

Zaire 74, a three-day music festival that promoted the historic "Rumble in the Jungle"

boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. "To this day, that was one of

the most powerful and impactful experiences I've had," she says.

 

However, groundbreaking producers Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards (the CHIC

Organization) completely changed their lives. The #1 We Are Family (1979) album went

platinum and earned plaudits from the rock press. "'We Are Family,' beautifully sung by

Kathy Sledge, is a near perfect fusion of gospel fire and disco cool," wrote Stephen Holden

in Rolling Stone. The song's sentiment also stuck a personal chord with Kathy, who

recorded her vocals in one take. Successful collaborations with musical geniuses like

George Duke, Elton John, and Narada Michael Walden duly followed. "Take Me Back to

Love Again," the #1 Billboard club hit from Kathy's debut solo project Heart on Epic

Records, a chart-topping cover of Stevie Wonder's "Another Star," and several other singles

have since powered Kathy's solo career, which continues to flourish through her recent

studio work with acclaimed R&B producers Carvin Haggins and Ivan Barias (Musiq

Soulchild, Jill Scott).

 

Parallel to her studio work, Kathy has established an active philanthropic platform through

the timeless musical statement of "We Are Family." After sitting on the Board of Directors for

several years, she is an Honorary Trustee and esteemed Emeritus Board Member with Nile

Rodgers and the We Are Family Foundation. She is also a Goodwill Ambassador for

Antigua and Barbuda, as well as the Halo Foundation. "'We Are Family' is a mountainmover,"

says Kathy, who proudly performed it for former First Lady Michelle Obama at

BET’s Black Girls Rock! and UNESCO's first Nelson Mandela International Day. As the

defining voice of an anthem, Kathy's regularly invited by royal families and cultural

tastemakers around the globe to bring the universal language of "We Are Family" to

exclusive events and engagements. And with that passion, Kathy Sledge is forever standing

strong in the spotlight, shining brighter than ever!

SHARON SMITH

Sharon A. Smith is a retired Social Worker Service Manager of the Philadelphia Department of Prisons (PDP) a department with over 4,500 inmates and 2,200 sworn personnel. Prior to her retirement in December 2019 Ms. Smith performed a variety of duties such as pre-release counseling, she facilitated and trained others for Thinking for a Change a National Institute of Corrections approved program, which integrated cognitive behavioral change designed for justice involved adults and youth, male and females. This training provides participants with cognitive restricting theory and social skills development as well as the learning and use of problem solving skills. Ms. Smith also worked as the Assistant Manager for The Institute for Community Justice Reentry Center a Philadelphia Fight Program. Ms. Smith has over 20 year experience working with youthful and adult offenders & Mental Health populations within the city of Philadelphia.

Among her many responsibilities, Sharon has done extensive work in the multidisciplinary treatment field; having worked as a Behavioral Specialist 2 at the North Philadelphia Health System, where she provided 1:1 counseling, lead group therapy sessions, supervised and assisted the Behavioral Specialists Staff.  

 

Working as a Substance Abuse Counselor at Gaudenzia, Inc. Ms. Smith was an advocate for the clients as she provided networking support in the areas of admission, benefits and financial affairs, as well as community support and resources. In addition to her support role, Ms. Smith actively managed a more challenging case load including, individuals suffering from chronic homelessness, dual diagnosis, and those suffering from mental health challenges.

 

Sharon Smith holds a Bachelor Degree in Social Work, a Master’s Degree in Human Service from Lincoln University as well as a Youth in Custody Fellowship received from Georgetown University School of Social Policy.

In addition to her formal education, Ms. Smith has benefited from extensive trainings such as Non-Profit Leadership and Specialized Training.

 

Sharon serves on various committees in the field of human services, behavioral health field also serves on The Balm of Gilead Counseling Ministry at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church for which she has been a member for over 23 years.   Sharon is a highly sought-after lecturer in various areas of her specialized training.

BRI STEVES

Atlantic Records’ new rapper, singer, and songwriter Bri Steves will not fit in any societal boxes. The 25-year-old, Philadelphian MC is as multi-layered as she is multi-talented. The cocoa beauty possesses the ability to walk into any boy’s club and spit for the entire female experience.  

 

Bri’s music dreams were first inspired by greats like Marvin Gaye and Lauryn Hill. At age 10, she began studying the viola at the Delaware Symphony Orchestra. Some years later, champion lyricists like Biggie, Joey Bad Ass and J Cole inspired her to start rapping. While attending Temple University, she began experimenting with her singing voice and eventually maturated into a double threat on the mic. Before graduating, she signed with Atlantic Records and balanced her final collegiate year alongside studio time in Miami, Atlanta and Los Angeles where she worked with producers like Sonny Digital.

 

Her debut single “Jealousy,” produced by T-Minus and Yung Berg, climbed to #15 on the charts and garnered her major media acclaim from outlets like Revolt and Billboard. iHeart anointed Bri an “On The Verge” artist and The Fader named her one of “5 Artists Ready To Be Philadelphia’s Next Champion.” She soon found herself opening for artists like H.E.R., Mary J Blige, Pharrell and mentor Kendrick Lamar.

 

Today, she is set to introduce her yet to be titled debut EP––a collection of supremely crafted songs which sway from inspirational hip-hop to confessional R&B. The lead single and video “Stick Up,” featuring Poundside Pop is a stellar exhibition of Bri’s talent for penning melody and motivation. On the Boi 1da, Jahaan Sweet and Fyre-produced future anthem “Anti Queen,” Bri informs all that her sum is greater than societal expectations or “industry standards.” “Had to bet on myself, invest in myself/A Queen as I’m God/I can’t think less of myself.” All hail the new highness: Bri Steves.

NAKIA & TAAHIRAH STITH

Founded and created by Herbalist and Certified Integrated Health Practitioner sisters, Nakia and Taahirah Stith Dope Botanicals combines clinical herbalism and ancient remedies in new and refreshing ways. Inspired by their unique upbringing, Nakia and Taahirah have been ‘plant based’ before it was a trend. The duo has over 30 years of experience utilizing food and herbs as medicine and they have been devoted to botanical and herbal therapeutics; intuitive healing, North American herbalism; and healing art modalities.  In their unwavering commitment to health and wellness they opened Dope Botanicals in Rittenhouse; an inspired a'plant'ecary that creates intentional, plant based alchemical remedies. The sisters believe your body is your most luxurious possession and you deserve to feel, and heal good.

JAZMINE SULLIVAN

A Jazmine Sullivan record can go down like a shot of cognac—spicy, yet full-bodied and smooth as butter—or it can swathe you in the warmest embrace like your favorite pashmina. It’s why we fell in love with her a dozen years ago when she first burst on the scene with fiery records about the push and pull of romance. At the center of every Jazmine Sullivan album—from her 2008 debut Fearless to 2015’s Reality Show—is the point of view of a modern Black woman. She could be your sister, your girlfriend, your homegirl, or the woman you’ve judged based on the curated life she presents on IG or reality TV. Jazmine has spent her career painting vivid worlds of everyday women through poetic records that are unflinchingly raw, vulnerable and poignant. And it’s that commitment to giving it to us straight, no chaser, that serves as the foundation of her new project Heaux Tales (RCA Records).

 

Heaux Tales is Jazmine Sullivan’s first release since the critically lauded Reality Show, a six-year hiatus that she’s the first to admit wasn’t entirely planned. “I always take breaks to give myself a breather, but time just got away from me,” she says with a laugh. “When you’re going on, living your regular life, time slips away.”

A conceptual project born out of conversations Jazmine had with her sisterfriends, Heaux Tales is inspired by a sisterhood of women bonded by their desire to stand in their power and take agency over how they see themselves in a world working so hard to define and judge them. Heaux Tales takes Jazmine’s knack for masterful storytelling to another level by placing several protagonists at the center. The records are steeped in the hard-earned wisdom and unvarnished truths shared between Jazmine and her friends. These are tales of lust, insecurities, betrayal, regret, empowerment and the desire for love and security (even if just superficial), presented with the intimacy and honesty we’ve come to expect from the Philadelphia native.

 

“It’s one thing to say these things to your girlfriends in the privacy of y’all’s space but to put it on record and people hear it and, perhaps, judge them? That was a lot to ask, but I have wonderful dynamic friends that trusted me with their stories and I was so grateful for that,” she says. “The tales are the meat of the project. Even if you can’t connect with the songs, you can connect with the words someone is telling you about their life and the conversations and stories we have as women.”

 

The idea of creating Heaux Tales started as Jazmine contemplated the direction for her next proper album. She was feeling stuck, creatively. and the pressure to follow up Reality Show— a critical blockbuster of an album that debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s R&B Albums chart received three Grammy nominations and appeared on numerous “Best of” lists—was growing more intensely as the years passed.

 

“I wasn’t really sure where I wanted the album to go and then I started thinking about doing something conceptualized. Creating a theme and doing something based off of that, instead of thinking of it as the next big project,” she says. “I grew up doing plays. My mom had me in acting camps and she wrote plays that I would be in or I was always watching them. The suggestion of a conceptual project made me feel better. When you take such big breaks, people are like, ‘Okay, so what’s the next thing? It has to be bigger. It has to be better.’ Some people deal with the pressure great. For me, it can be stifling. It helped to be able to do something that I could put into a little box.”

 

Informed by the conversations she was having with her girlfriends about love and life, the records of Heaux Tales took shape in bits and pieces—a verse here, a hook there. Jazmine brought a recorder to meet with friends or had them record themselves at home for the tales that became the project’s connective tissue. The story of Amanda, a woman who has found great comfort—and profound sadness—in the power of her sex was the turning point for the project after it inspired “Girl Like Me,” a searing duet with H.E.R. underscoring the beauty of sisterhood that is the bedrock of the project.

 

“It was so honest, and heart wrenching,” Jazmine remembers of hearing Amanda’s tale for the first time. “A lot of women these days take their value from social media. We see these women with perfect bodies and seemingly perfect lives and you can’t help but compare yourself. You can get lost in the loop and start to feel like you’re not good enough and I wanted to speak to that.”

 

“Bodies” sets the tone for Heaux Tales. Unspooling like a juicy television soap opera, Jazmine narrates the morning after a random sexual conquest like a string of sober texts to a group chat. “Gotta stop getting fucked up, what did I have in my cup? / I don’t know where I woke up / I keep on pressing my luck / I don’t know where I woke up,” she sings before checking herself: “Bitch, get it together bitch!”

 

Working piecemeal on the records for Heaux Tales allowed Jazmine to explore a different approach to storytelling as both a writer and a vocalist without the pressure of having to consider “I’m a storyteller at heart … but I learned that I don’t have to do those things I thought I had to in order to connect with people in songs. I learned to be more confident in the nuances of my voice, and the emotions I was exploring. It was eye opening really to take a different route and still get to the same destination—the finish line.”

 

She found power in restraint, allowing her gospel-drenched voice to smolder more than it belted which makes records like the project’s somber first single, “Lost One,” and the wistful ballad “The Other Side” so emotionally devastating. Jazmine brings each tales to life with powerful command and profound vulnerability. She channels a woman that fantasizes about a man showering her with cash and lavish gifts on the Anderson .Paak-assisted “Price Tags”; she brings her signature ferocity to the explosive breakup banger “Pick Up Your Feelings”; unabashedly details the potent spell Vitamin D can put one under on “Put It Down” and “On It,” a cheeky collaboration with Ari Lennox, who also narrates her own confessional. The 14-track project features production from Key Wane, DZL, Cardiak & Wu10, J Mo, Dev Hynes, Dave “Pop” Watson, Dilemma, JoeLogic & Gee and Bongo ByTheWay.

 

“What I wanted to create with this project is sisterhood. I can’t imagine getting through all that I’ve gone through without the women in my life—my girlfriends, my mom, my aunts,” Jazmine says. “I’ve put so much pressure on myself over the years, but I’ve learned that if people are fans of you they just want to hear you and feel where you are. Doing this project helped me take that pressure off myself. It helped me stop being so hard on myself. This project is about being who you are confidently. Not letting anyone dictate how you present or the space you take up.”

DONN THOMPSON-MORELLI

Donn Thompson Morelli aka Donn T, originally hails from Philadelphia and comes from a storied musical lineage. She is the sister of Questlove, and daughter of legendary singer Lee Andrews– both Philly Walk of Fame inductees. She currently serves as Philadelphia Chapter President of The Recording Academy, the world's leading society of music professionals, also known as THE GRAMMYs.

 

Donn T is a singer songwriter and an entrepreneur; the label owner to D-tone Victorious, and a contributing author (Behind The Song/Sourcebooks). She runs her own recording studio in Philadelphia. Her debut and sophomore albums Kaleidoscopic and Flight of The Donn T received international acclaim. In fact, the buzz around her sophomore effort got the attention of CBS.com who ahead of The 58th Annual Grammy Awards highlighted Donn T as an Artist of Tomorrow. Her single, “Waiting” appears in director Ava Duvernay’s tv movie, I Will Follow (Netflix). "Midnight" single appears in the Lifetime network movie, With This Ring, co-starring Jill Scott, Regina Hall and Eve. Donn T has also racked up songwriting credits, including, "I Am Music'' by Common ft Jill Scott, while several of Donn T’s other songs have appeared in various forms of visual media, including the Showtime crime series, Street Time, and in ads for the wireless audio product Sonos.

 

As a special guest on the Emmy Award-winning PBS tv series, Articulate, Donn T performed songs from her latest album, Ethel Bobcat (ft Chuck D, J. Ivy, Bilal ) with &More, her band with Philly rapper Chill Moody. Donn T with &More has opened for Michelle Obama, toured with Low Cut Connie and St Paul and The Broken Bones, and has performed on NPR’s Tiny Desk. Her newest release,“Can’t Let Go '', is a collaboration with GRAMMY nominated producer/singer songwriter Georgia Anne Muldrow.

MISHEL H. WILLIAMS, M.Ed

Heather Mishel Williams, M.Ed is a creative and educator; Little Z and Firefly is her first children's book. She is originally from the Lehigh Valley area and is a 17 year Philadelphian transplant. She currently teaches as an Assistant Adjunct Professor in the College of Education and Human Resources at her Alma Mater, Temple University. Her area of expertise is in special education specifically autism spectrum disorder and emotional disturbance. Her career's work has focused on supporting the needs of youth, families, and communities that experience high susceptibility to generational trauma. She began her career working in the nonprofit sector working with first time offenders in an ajudicated youth program. Over the course of 13 years she went on to work for the Philadelphia School District, other charter school networks in Philadelphia and was a featured speaker at the 2018 IIRP World Restorative Practices Conference. She has mentored dozen of youth over the years and is now a mentor to first time teachers just beginning their career. She is a fierce advocate for mental health and self-care for adults and children. It is her belief that the earlier wellness tools can be taught to children the likelihood of them growing into healthy adults increases. When she is not writing she enjoys creating art, cooking, fashion, and her ever-so-happy dog, Charlie.

ANGIE BROWN - CHEF

BIILE YEGEZO

My name is Biile Yegezu and I am a 24 year old second generation American working as a Cybersecurity professional. I have volunteered at The Evoluer House for almost 2 years now within Board and Task Management, as well as tech operations and oversight for online education and professional development programs. Outside of my career and volunteering, I enjoy being involved in social justice initiatives such as protests against the injustices occurring to Ethiopians (Oromo tribe) from the Ethiopian government, Black Lives Matter movements, discussions regarding privilege among coworkers and peers, Book club discussions regarding cultures and lived experiences, etc.

 

In addition, I am also passionate about women empowerment and therefore I co-founded and was on the Board of a diversity organization called WIRED IN (Womens' International Racial Ethnic Diversity Intercultural Network) which is an inclusive organization with a goal of providing educational resources and guidance for diverse students at my alma mater, Penn State. As I am also passionate about equal access to education for all, I have been and still currently financially supporting an underprivileged girl in Ethiopia for over 10+ years, who is planning on becoming a nurse in the future and make a difference in the world as well.