PHILADELPHIA — Mayor Jim Kenney joined more than 300 women today at the 3rd Annual Summit for Women and Girls presented by TD Bank at La Salle University in Northwest Philadelphia. Hosted by the Philadelphia Commission for Women, the day-long Summit addressed major issues facing women in Philadelphia. It also recognized the contributions and importance of women’s leadership in the community, as part of a local observance of National Women’s History Month in March.
The event featured local and national influencers from the business, political, educational and healthcare industries.
Inspired by the theme, “Our Voices…Our Power,” the Summit provided a forum for women in Philadelphia to collaborate and share their experiences about pressing professional, health and social realities impacting their daily lives.
Mayor Kenney recognized the efforts of the Philadelphia Commission for Women and marked the occasion with an official “Third Annual Summit for Women and Girls” City of Philadelphia citation.
“The Summit for Women and Girls has become a highly anticipated annual event where women and girls can collectively strategize about how to improve their lives socially and economically and be inspired by one another,” said Mayor Jim Kenney in his welcoming remarks.
Mayor Kenney added that the Summit is a perfect opportunity to celebrate the meaningful contributions of some extraordinary local women during Women’s History Month.
Joining Mayor Kenney in the Summit’s kickoff program were Tamala Edwards, a journalist with 6abc and the program’s emcee; City Representative Sheila Hess; Felicia Harris, Chair of the Philadelphia Commission for Women; Jazelle Jones, Commissioner of the Pennsylvania Commission for Women; Dr. Pamela Barnett, La Salle University’s Dean of Arts & Sciences; and City Councilmember Blondell Reynolds Brown, who was acknowledged for her women’s advocacy. Reynolds Brown has served for five terms in Council and will retire this year.
The free event highlighted interactive presentations by leaders in economic empowerment, civic engagement, health, education as well as entrepreneurship and innovation. It celebrated the diverse and changing lives and roles of local girls and women. The gathering served as an opportunity to network and examine the progress of matters impacting local women including health and wellness, financial literacy, marketing, business development, self-esteem, smart-technology, economic empowerment and leadership development.
Specific conversations centered around wage inequality, work-life balance, immigration, violence against women, sexual harassment, education, the impact of poverty, and lack of opportunities for women-owned businesses. Top professionals imparted career insight to help participants effectively navigate topics such as the ever-expanding Information Age and the City of Philadelphia’s Certification process to bid on contracts and secure other resources to aid women-owned businesses.
Many of the Summit’s guest speakers, organizers, and participants have worked diligently to support progress for political empowerment, social justice, economic and leadership development as well as for women’s rights.
Feminista Jones; civil-rights activist LaTosha Brown; Gisele Barreto Fetterman, community leader and Second Lady of Pennsylvania; and Pennsylvania State Representative Elizabeth Fiedler (the 184th Legislative District/South Philadelphia) led engaging discussions about women’s empowerment. Former Little League pitching sensation Mo’ne Davis also was part of a youth panel sharing her inspirational story of triumph.
Joining Davis to share their inspiring stories were M’niyah DeVaughn, a 13- year-old tackle for the Overbrook Monarchs football team, and Aniyah Ayers, Philadelphia 76ers Youth Ambassador and creator of the “Kids Can” community-service initiative.
Young Summit participants discussed inspiring success stories and also technology including smart and safe technological strategies to navigate personal electronic devices and social media. More than 80 students from nine local schools and youth organizations participated in the workshops: Mitchell Middle School; The Philadelphia High for Girls; CCP- Gateway to College; Furness High School; Women of Tomorrow of the Academy at Palumbo; Girls Inc.; Girls Advocacy and Leadership Series Women’s Campaign International; National Youth Foundation; Center Academy for Diversity and Mastery Charter School.
The Summit also addressed pertinent physical issues. Monique Howard, executive director of Women Organized Against Rape, led a session that tested knowledge of what constitutes consent and identified community healing resources to address the impact of sexual assault.
Leading community leaders engaged participants in one of the main explorations of the day — Reality of Maternal Mortality, Mental Care Coalition/New Voices for Reproductive Justice — a follow-up session that continued the conversation initiated at the Philadelphia Commission for Women’s town hall meeting last December. The discussion was about the city’s high mortality rates among African-American mothers and infants, and potential solutions such as creating policy strategies to reverse the city’s disproportionate maternal mortality rate among African-American women.
Jovida Hill, Philadelphia Commission for Women Executive Director, said that convening women and girls to share their experiences reinforces not only the power of their individual voices but the power of their collective voices.
“It’s great to have an opportunity to come together to uplift and inspire one another,” said Jovida Hill. “The big take-away from an event like ours is that there is an entire support network to encourage us to effectively be our best selves and to do our best work.”
The event was produced by the Office of the City Representative.
Philadelphia Commission for Women
Philadelphia voters approved a change to the Home Rule Charter in 2015 establishing the Philadelphia Commission for Women. Philadelphia joined more than 30 major cities when it established the Commission, which is comprised of 10 people appointed by the Mayor and 17 by City Council. The Commission for Women examines and promotes the civic, educational and economic policies that challenge and enhance the lives of girls and women. It makes policy recommendations to the Mayor, City Council and public policy makers that advance gender equality for the women of Philadelphia.
More about the Summit’s Participants.
LaTosha Brown, of Alabama — the Summit’s 2018 keynote speaker and co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund — returned to be part of the powerful day of dialogue and celebration. Her organization supports voter mobilization in black and marginalized communities. Her 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 that political race.
Feminista Jones is a North Philadelphia community leader promoting neighborhood revitalization and improving the lives of people. She is a social worker, writer, public speaker and champion for the homeless, the poverty-stricken and individuals with mental disabilities. Jones and Carol Bangura, Health and Diversity Specialist / City of Philadelphia, led a session about the social-media revolution called Mind Over Matter: A Conversation with Feminista Jones, author of ‘Reclaiming Our Space: How Black Feminists are Changing the World from Tweets to the Streets.’
Gisele Barreto Fetterman is an access and equity advocate, and founder of Freestore 15104, a distributor of surplus food and donated goods to the community. She is the wife of Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman. Community activist Brown, Barreto Fetterman and State Rep. Fielder were speakers in an opening panel discussion.
Student-athlete Mo’ne Davis participated in a youth panel, Never Too Late to Break Barriers. She was the first African-American female to play in and earn a win in Little League World Series history, earning the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2014 when she named as the magazine’s “SportsKid of the Year.”
Workshop moderators or speakers were: Iola Harper, the City’s Deputy Commerce Director; Lexi White, New Voices for Reproductive Justice Policy Manager; Tatiana Amaya, a Commissioner of the Philadelphia Youth Commission; Dr. Lorina Marshall-Blake, Independence Blue Cross Foundation President; Carol Bangura, PhD, Sr., Health Equity and Diversity Specialist and the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbilities; author Feminista Jones; Keola Harrington, Assistant City Treasurer; Monique Howard of Women Organized Against Rape; Alison Williams Bruno, former lacrosse coach of Villanova and Georgetown universities.
Panelists included: Candace Shillingford, Doula, mental health technician; Leandra D. Santos, (MSN, CNM) certified nurse midwife; educator Michelle Sorkin-Socki, M.Ed, George Washington High School; La Salle University student Nyderah Pollitt; Patricia Gillett, City Council’s Digital Director; student-athletes Mo’ne Davis and M’niyah DeVaughn; Aniyah Ayers, the 76ers Youth Ambassador; Diana Utu, Vice President Store Manager of TD Bank, and Ashley Fox, CEO of Empify.