Seven women who have diligently advanced the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh’s ideals of eliminating racism and empowering women in their workplace and within their communities were honored at the organization’s 33rd Annual Tribute to Women Leadership Awards Luncheon held at the Westin Convention Center Hotel on May 21.
The event honored women from various facets of the community. Through their dedicated efforts, these women continue to pave the way for young women who come behind them.
“These are all remarkable, accomplished women,” YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh CEO Magdeline E. Jensen said during her remarks. She went on to say that as these women are celebrated, “We will keep working so that future local women who walk in the paths of these women are paid equitably and fairly.”
Award recipients for the afternoon’s program, which was guided along by the mistress of ceremonies, WPXI News Anchor Peggy Finnegan, were Young Leader awardee Ayisha A. Morgan Lee, founder, CEO and artistic director of the Hill Dance Academy Theatre; Carmen Anderson, senior program officer of the Heinz Endowments’ Children, Youth & Families Program, who received the Civic and Community Service Award; Janet L. McCall, executive director of the Society for Contemporary Crafts, who received the Creative Arts Award; Business and Professional Services awardee Ruth O’Block Grant, former president of Louis A. Grant Inc.; Rosa Davis, executive director of POWER, the recovery program for women, who received the Health and Human Services Award; and Science & Technology awardee Erin Dalton, deputy director of the Allegheny County Department of Human Services Office of Analysis, Research and Evaluation.
The top honor, the distinguished Allerton Lifetime Achievement Award, was bestowed upon retired Vann Elementary School educator, Doris Brevard, who gave more than 50 years to teaching and grooming young African Americans into successful leaders. Brevard’s award presentation included a video featuring herself along with several of her former students who shared special memories and messages of thanks to the life changer.
“She was influential on many of us in my class, but (especially) on young ladies because while she was the excellent teacher, she taught you to be a lady, “ said President & CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania Doris Carson Williams.
Brevard was also described as not only making an impact on the students, but the parents and the surrounding community as well. Other guest appearances made in the video included local leaders, Tim Stevens, Laurence Glasco, Rev. Barbara Gunn, Chentis Pettigrew Jr. and retired administrator Harry Clark.
While she has made many accomplishments throughout her career, such as improving standardized test scores and developing a method of education that was so successful that many would travel from around the country to learn, Brevard said her greatest achievement is “when I see one of my students and they thank me for what they have been able to do because I helped them in elementary school.”
While the recipients were excited about receiving their awards, during their remarks, many spoke of the work still left to do and their hopes for the future.
“While this day, is a day to pause for celebration, I’m reminded of the work yet to be done. My hope going forward is that we have the insight, courage and inspiration to react to the injustices in both mind and deed,” said Anderson. “That we not grow weary in advocating on behalf of those who have no voice or those who have not the power to stand up for themselves.”
Along with the celebrating the honorees, Jensen also recognized several of the YWCA’s recent accomplishments, which include extending their STEM Stars program to 11 more local middle schools in the fall and the first place win in a local video competition of a team of their STEM Stars from Woodland Hills Junior High School.
Support for the event included major sponsors, the Eden Hall Foundation, Huntington Bank, Highmark and the Heinz Endowment, along with several other achievement sponsors.
(For more information on the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh and its programs, visit www.ywcapgh.org.)
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