Women all around Pittsburgh are being recognized for their personal, professional prowess

VIPs—Ola Jackson, sitting left, founder and publisher of OWN celebrates with some of Pittsburgh’s top women in leadership. (Photo by Diane I. Daniels)

By DIANE DANIELS, For New Pittsburgh Courier

Both Joy Sato, director of special events for the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, and Dr. Marcia M. Sturdivant, president and chief executive officer of the Negro Educational Emergency Drive, agree that this is the time for Black women.

“This year, in 2019 women have emerged, we have come together. But the thing that is so beautiful about us is that African American women have emerged with a presence. We have always been there, we have always been strong, we have always been the doers, but we are so beautiful that our very presence, our very beauty has become iconic and opened doors for us at every level,” Sato said during her remarks after accepting the Style Icon of the Year award during the 2019 Onyx Woman Leadership Awards Reception, May 4, at the Mt. Ararat Community Center in East Liberty.

DOING THINGS WITH STYLE—Joy Sato, director of special events for the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, receives the Style Icon of the Year Award from Ola Jackson, right, president and CEO of OWN during the 2019 Onyx Woman Leadership Awards Reception. (Photo by Diane I. Daniels)

Over at the Talk Minority Action Group 16th Annual Pennsylvania African American Network Convention one week later (May 10-11), Dr. Sturdivant discussed how Black women are “very underappreciated in the community, but we are a powerful force.”

Dr. Sturdivant was recognized as one of the 100 influential Pennsylvania African American Women by Talk Magazine.

Add in the Women Entrepreneurs of Pittsburgh, which held a Women’s History Month event on March 23 entitled, “High Powered—Black Girl Magic Meet and Greet,” and more than 150 women have been recognized for their work in the past two months.

“There are a lot of women making history in this area,” said Shawna Solomon, the Women Entrepreneurs of Pittsburgh organizer. “Some up-and-coming and some well-established. We want to salute and encourage them all. We believe all women can embrace who they are, can define their future, and can change the world.”

BLACK GIRL MAGIC—Women Entrepreneurs of Pittsburgh organizer Shawna Solomon and founder Patricia Sallie (both seated) enjoy a moment with their awardees. (Photos by Diane I. Daniels)

“I Can Do It,” was the theme for the May 4 Onyx Woman Network Awards Leadership Reception. In its third year the event, according to Ola Jackson, founder and publisher of OWN, celebrates some of Pittsburgh’s top women in leadership roles for their support and commitment to other women, businesses, social justice and in communities at-large. Along with Sato, the Entrepreneur of the Year Award was given to Debbie Hickman, former owner of Giant Eagle in East Hills, and the 2019 Woman of the Year Award was given to Lynne Hayes-Freeland, KDKA radio host and host of “The Lynne Hayes-Freeland Show” on KDKA-TV.

Fifteen other women were also honored including Harrisburg-based state police Major Kristal Turner Childs, director bureau of forensic services for the Pennsylvania State Police. Jarene Barnes, president of CASA of Allegheny County served as mistress of ceremony and Anita Nowack, senior director of ambulatory and diagnostics of UPMC, along with Jackson, were presenters.

“Over the past 28 years, Onyx Woman magazine has established itself for being a voice and giving a voice to women of color while being a leader in celebrating and documenting their successes,” said Jackson. “We have spotlighted some of the most successful women throughout the state of Pennsylvania and around the world. The exceptional leaders have represented Fortune 500 corporations, businesses, politics and nonprofits that have been instrumental in uplifting other women along the way.”

DOUBLE THE JOY—Karen Denton receives her award from Women Entrepreneurs of Pittsburgh organizer Shawna Solomon during the “High Powered–Black Girl Magic Meet and Greet.”

In 1991 Jackson created OWN as a career, entrepreneurial and financial platform created for women of color with the vision to help women on their adventures to rise up the corporate ladder on their journey through entrepreneurship and path to wellness. Throughout the years, she says, the network has expanded and brought its message to television by producing shows featuring women who shared their experiences and advice about issues that impacted their quality of life. In addition to her extensive social media presence, which is a spin-off of her hard copy magazine, Jackson coordinates business and financial conferences.

Luther and Roxanne Sewell, conveners of the Pennsylvania African American Network Convention and executives of TMAG, understand the significance of African American women. According to Roxanne Sewell, there are thousands of African American women who give their time, skills and service to make Pennsylvania a better place for all of us to live. She says their goal is to tell the story of our people and our families that highlight and demonstrate the growth and development of African American women in a variety of positions and services to the communities.

Karen Denton, owner of KSC Enterprise LLC, a commercial cleaning business, was the recipient of the Women Entrepreneurs of Pittsburgh Black Girl Magic Award and the Onyx Woman Leadership Award.

“It’s an honor to be recognized for doing something that you like to do,” Denton said. “Throughout my career and through the business, I have led, trained, and developed many people, not because I have to, but because I’m supposed to. Black women are making great strides in this region, making a difference and I am humbled to be recognized for helping others.”


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