2019 HONOREES SONITA BELL, LISA SYLVESTER, TIMIRA RUSH
50 women to be honored at Sheraton Station Square
Deadline to purchase tickets ’ is Dec. 10
One woman said she was “shocked,” another woman “cried,” upon learning that they were named a New Pittsburgh Courier “Woman of Excellence.”
The longstanding “Women of Excellence” awards ceremony is back this year after a year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year’s event will take place, Thursday, Dec. 16, from 6 to 9 p.m., at the Sheraton Hotel Station Square. Hundreds are expected to fill the ballroom to cheer on the 50 African American women that comprise the Courier’s “Women of Excellence Class of 2021.”
The list includes legacy honoree Lynne Hayes-Freeland, who recently announced her semi-retirement from the Pittsburgh media scene. Her 45-year career in Pittsburgh television and radio is nearly unparalleled.
LaKeisha “Kiki” Brown, herself a media personality, formerly on WAMO radio in Pittsburgh and other cities such as Baltimore, was shocked upon hearing she was named a Courier “Woman of Excellence” in 2018. “I don’t really think of myself as someone who’s done extraordinary work, or above-and-beyond work,” she told the Courier in an exclusive interview, Dec. 3. “I just do the work that I love.”
KIKI BROWN, a 2018 honoree
Brown currently has her own company, Nice 2 Media Marketing, and hosts “What’s Good in Your Hood,” a weekly program that features Pittsburgh’s Black movers and shakers, on kdkaradio.com. She’s also the lead host of the “Hey Girl Hey” podcast, which airs on urbanmediatoday.com.
“It’s empowering, it’s inspiring, it’s motivating,” Brown said to be in a hotel ballroom with dozens of other Black women being honored for their talents and contributions to the Pittsburgh region. “You’re not the only person who’s working hard. It’s an entire village and you’re not alone, and now you have this new sisterhood. These people cover a tremendous amount of work in their industries.”
FAWN WALKER-MONTGOMERY, a member of the Courier’s “Women of Excellence” Class of 2018.
Fawn Walker Montgomery was a fellow member of the 2018 “Women of Excellence” class that was honored at the Wyndham Grand Hotel, Downtown. She’s the co-founder and CEO of Take Action Mon Valley, an advocacy organization committed to bettering the lives of African Americans in McKeesport, Duquesne and the surrounding areas. She also does consulting for other advocacy groups.
“It felt humbling to be recognized by my peers in that way,” Montgomery told the Courier, Dec. 3. “This is an area (Pittsburgh) that is known for being one of the worst for Black people, especially Black women, in the country, so it actually felt really good.”
The Courier’s “Women of Excellence” celebration honors the most Black women at one time in Pittsburgh. One by one, each honoree’s name and professional title are voiced to the crowd, followed by the honoree walking up to the stage to receive their plaque. A photo is then taken of them, to be included in the Courier’s “Women of Excellence” recap edition a few weeks following the event.
For Dayna Delgado, the Homestead resident, she was shedding tears when she got the call some weeks ago that she was named a 2021 Woman of Excellence. “I couldn’t believe it, especially from my upbringing,” she told the Courier, Dec. 3. “I came from living down by the railroad tracks with river rats in Homestead past 7th Avenue. If you’re from Homestead then you knew what 7th Avenue was like back then.”
Delgado has been a professional photographer in Pittsburgh for over a decade. Her company, rebranded as “Weddings by Day,” now focuses on that big day for a couple, their wedding day. But being the official photographer for a wedding isn’t easy, Delgado said.
“You have to actually capture an essence between the couple,” she said. “The photographs have to tell the story, show the emotion and the love between the people. That is hard to do.”
Delgado said she’s photographed between 50 and 60 weddings in her career. She also freelances for publications like the Courier and covers political events, such as get-togethers for state Rep. Jake Wheatley.
“A lot of times, we as Black women get a bad rap,” Delgado said. She said there’s a false notion that Black women don’t lift each other up. But events like the Courier’s “Women of Excellence” show that “we can all come together and give each other the props that we deserve,” Delgado said.
2018 HONOREES Ruthie Walker, Valerie Kinloch, Mamar Gelaye
Delgado will be honored on Dec. 16 along with, among others, Gladys Jelks, assistant director/programming director of Pittsburgh Community Television (21), Dr. Bonnie Young, associate professor at California University of Pennsylvania, Chandi Chapman, reporter at WTAE-TV (4), and Dr. Terrie Griffin with the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania.
Tickets are still available for the Dec. 16 event. To purchase tickets, call 412-481-8302, ext. 136. Ticket are $90, or $900 for a table of 10. The deadline to purchase tickets is Friday, Dec. 10.