ABOVE PHOTO: From left: 6ABC anchor Tamela Edwards, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, keynote speaker LaTosha Brown of the Black Voters Matter Fund; Chair of the Philadelphia Commission for Women, Felicia Harris; Commission for Women Executive Director Jovida Hill, and Phila. City Representative Sheila Hess. Harris and Hill represent the Philadelphia Commission for Women who hosted the summit. (Photo: Robert Mendelsohn)
Mayor Jim Kenney joined more than 300 women last week to attend the Second Annual summit for Women and Girls presented by TD Bank. The Summit recognized the contributions and importance of women’s leadership in the community at the National Museum of American Jewish History as part of a local observance of Women’s History Month.
The second annual Summit for Women and Girls presented by TD Bank provided a forum for women in Philadelphia to collaborate and share their experiences about pressing issues impacting their lives. The free summit focused on interactive presentations by leaders in economic empowerment, civic engagement, education, mentoring, as well as entrepreneurship and innovation. It celebrated the diverse and changing lives and roles of local girls and women. The gathering also served an opportunity to discuss and examine the progress of pressing matters impacting local women.
“We introduced the Summit for Women and Girls one year ago to celebrate the achievements and great work of exceptional women, such as our keynote speaker LaTosha Brown, who are making meaningful changes in their communities and nationwide,” said Mayor Kenney. “Far too often these accomplishments go unrecognized, which makes today’s celebration of women so significant. This Summit opens the dialogue for women and girls of all backgrounds and experiences to share their empowering personal and professional stories of sacrifice and success.”
LaTosha Brown, the keynote speaker for the event, is the co-founder of Black Voters Matter Fund, which supports voter mobilization in Black and marginalized communities. In one week, she and her co-founder raised enough money for their Alabama Grassroots Mobilization Project to put “boots on the ground” in 18 Alabama counties, providing grants to more than 30 local organizations. Their outreach was credited as the catalyst to the historic defeat of Roy Moore in a special 2017 election for the U.S. Senate seat. African-American women boasted the largest turnout and had the greatest impact on this race.
Brown has worked diligently in the nonprofit and philanthropy sectors to support progress for political empowerment, social justice, economic and leadership development, and civil rights in Atlanta, GA. Her participation in the Second Annual Summit for Women and Girls set the tone for a powerful day of celebration and discussion.
Jovida Hill, executive director of the Philadelphia Commission for Women, praised keynote speaker Brown for her historic grassroots efforts and tireless commitment to social justice.
Singer-songwriter Suzann Christine kicked off the event with a stirring rendition of Andra Day’s inspirational “Rise Up”.
The program included networking and how-to workshops on business start-ups offering first-hand entrepreneurial advice. Sessions focused on meeting challenges in the tech industry in which educators from various fields imparted savvy career insight to effectively navigate the ever-expanding Information Age. Young Summit participants addressed topics of self-esteem, conduct and rules of teen dating and financial independence through spoken-word exercises in a mentoring workshop.
“Today, we get to spend a few hours together, united by a thirst to exchange ideas and discuss ways to improve the social and economic outcomes of our lives and the lives of generations of women to come,” Hill said
Tamela Edwards, an accomplished journalist and anchor of 6ABC, was the program’s emcee. Program speakers were City Representative Sheila Hess; Felicia Harris, chair of the Philadelphia Commission for Women; Ivy Barsky, director and CEO, National Museum of American Jewish History, and City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown(D- At-Large), who noted that “our future as women should be bright and full of potential no matter what we look like or where we come from or how we identify.”
Workshop moderators were: Iola Harper, the city’s deputy commerce director, Kaira Brickhouse, a teen dating violence workshop facilitator for the Black Women’s Health Alliance, and Maggie Deptola, CEO of Codes by Kids, a nonprofit tech-education provider for underserved youths.
Workshop panelists included: (Business Start-up 101) Amy Raybould-Derstine, TD Bank; Kittura Dior, Community College of Philadelphia; Meegan Deneberg, Little Giant Creative; Kate Marlys, Philly PR Girl; Tanya T. Morris, MOM Your Business; (Know Your Value/youth panel) Alexis Forth, Teen Dating Violence Workshops; Kadidja Cissie, Parkway West High School; Jude Husein, Philadelphia Youth Commission; Courtney Whitest, TD Bank; (Overcoming Barriers in the Tech Industry: Breaking the Gender Firewall) Tiffanie Stanard, Stimulus; Danica Pascavage, Techgirlz; Susan B. Davidson, Computer and Information Science, and Archna Sahay, J. Nowak Strategies.
Philadelphia voters approved a change to the Home Rule Charter in 2015 establishing the Philadelphia Commission for Women, which examines and promotes the civic, educational, and economic policies that challenge and enhance the lives of girls and women. Philadelphia joined more than 30 major cities when it established the Commission.