On June 28, the New Pittsburgh Courier will hold its annual luncheon to recognize the newspaper’s 50 Women of Excellence. Held at the Westin Convention Center, Downtown, the luncheon will also pay special tribute to this year’s Legacy Honoree Jean Bryant, retired journalist and founder of the Miss Black Teenage Pageant.
“I’m so humbled by this award,” Bryant said. “I’ve had a wonderful career. I just can’t tell you how much joy I’ve got out of it.”
Through her work as a journalist, Bryant has been a lifelong advocate for the Black community. After spending several years with the New Jersey Afro-American, Bryant moved to Pittsburgh in 1972 and began working for the now dissolved Pittsburgh Press.
“The views that are often ignored by mainstream media, you get a different perspective in the Black media,” Bryant said. “When I was hired at the Press, there was very little positive exposure of the Black community. I decided I was going to get out there and get as many positive stories about Black people as possible. That brought about an awareness about trying to find positive Black features and it wasn’t hard to do.”
More than three decades ago, Bryant brought the Miss Black Teenage Pageant to Pittsburgh in order to address the lack of opportunities and motivation for African-American youth. During her 36 years with the pageant, the eight-week program aided 1831 girls and provided $500,000 in scholarships.
“I felt that Miss Black Teenage was so much needed. We try to instill them with the knowledge that they are beautiful and we come from kings and queens. Those little things can do so much to instill confidence awareness and pride in them,” Bryant said. “Our girls are very accomplished. The talent is there, the beauty is there, we just work week in and week out with them trying to instill in them how beautiful they are.”
Bryant also created a similar program for young men, which worked with 200 youth over the course of 10 years. Although she has retired from running the pageants, her current community involvements include serving on the board of directors for the New Horizons Theater, working with Macedonia Church’s, in the Hill District, grief comfort and healing ministry and serving as president of the Stanton Heights Community Association.
“I became president of the Stanton Heights Community Association shortly after moving here as I began to find things to champion for,” Bryant said. “We were trying to keep our neighborhood as diverse as possible. The public leadership tends not to focus on minority communities and we were kind of neglected.”
During her tenure as president, one of Bryant’s biggest battles has been trying to stop the construction of a school building on part of the neighborhood’s former green space. Despite her efforts, construction of the school has already been completed, but the neighborhood association is still fighting the school and the city in court.
“We want our public officials to know that they’re never going to get away with pulling anything over this community again. A whole woodland was destroyed. It’s really had a devastating effect on the community,” Bryant said. “Minority communities have to stay alert to public trickery.”
Executive Director – YouthWorks Inc.
JERRY ANN ALLEN
Allen Place Community Services Inc.
Asst. Professor, Dept. of Mathematics
University of Pittsburgh
Placement Officer – Manchester Craftsman Guild/Bidwell Training Center
Executive Vice President
Mel Blount Youth Home
NANCY TRAVIS BOLDEN
Legacy Award Honoree
JEANNE V. CRICHLOW
Dir. of Volunteer & Community Services
JUDITH M. DAVENPORT, DMD
Deputy Director – Shuman Center
Assoc. Dean of Academic Affairs
CCAC (West MIfflin)
CHERYL SQUIRE FLINT
Executive Director – Healthy Start Inc.
Program Director – T.R.A.I.L.S.
LISA M. FORD, MSW, LSW
Senior Vice President of TECD & Quality Improvement – A Second Chance
LOVETTA FORD, MSW
Acting Deputy Director
VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System
LISA MICHELLE GARLAND
University Relations Recruiter – Highmark Inc.
President & CEO – Hill House
Creative Expression Equals Economic Success
GINA R. HICKMAN
Center for Spirituality in 12 Step Recovery Inc.
DIANE R. HUGHLEY
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Chief Community Affairs Officer
Housing Authority City of Pittsburgh
SHIRLEY A. JOHNSON
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Retired Executive Director of
Homewood-Brushton YMCA & Community Activist
TONI S. KENDRICK
Principal – Pittsburgh Allegheny 6 – 8
MARGARET L. LANIER
Treasurer – City of Pittsburgh
LISA M. MCBRIDE
Special Asst. to the President for EEEO/University
Ombudsperson – California University of PA
ROBIN M. MUNGO
Trooper First Class – PA State Trooper
DENISE L. NORRIS
Organizational Leadership & Communications
Consultant – Corporate Planners Inc.
President & CEO – The Oaks Group LLC
Director, Center for Student Success
Robert Morris University
JOELYNN H. PARHAM
Principal – St. Benedict the Moor School
GEORGETTE D. POWELL
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Executive Director of Corporate Care
Management – UPMC
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FELICIA LANE SAVAGE
Founder & Owner – YogaRoots on Location
MARY L. SHIELDS
Teacher – Urban League Charter School
MARCIA M. STURDIVANT, Ph.D.
Allegheny County Dept. of Human Services
Office of Children, Youth and Families
SARAH L. SUMPTER
Principal – Pittsburgh Sterrett
Instructor – Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh
LENALL THOMAS, PH.D., MSW
CEO – Center for Family Excellence Inc.
DR. CATHERINE UDEKWU
Pediatrician – UPMC and St. Clair Hospital
President – Sabio Springs
DEBORAH L. WALKER
Student Conduct Officer
University of Pittsburgh
President – Allegheny Housing Rehabilitation Co.
GWENDOLYN L. WATKINS
Community Relations Coordinator
University of Pittsburgh
REV. LAURAN B. WEBB
Monumental Baptist Church
BRENDA B. WELLS
Director, Western Region
Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency
REV. ELEANOR WILLIAMS
Co-Founder – Parents Against Violence and
Special Education Teacher at Schaeffer Intermediate
The Best of the Batch Foundation