Women of Excellence spotlighted at luncheon

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Throughout her life, Jean Bryant has been dedicated to promoting the strengths and accomplishments of others. Whether through her time spent in the media, writing positive stories highlighting African-Americans, or her work with the Miss Black Teenage Pageant showcasing positive young women, Bryant has often been the one giving the accolades.

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But on June 28, Bryant received some well-deserved recognition of her own when she was honored with the New Pittsburgh Courier’s 2012 50 Women of Excellence Legacy Award.

“Looking back, I can say my intent was always to make a difference and leave a legacy,” Bryant said after accepting her award.

At the annual Women of Excellence Luncheon held at the Westin Convention Center, Bryant and the other honorees on this year’s list came together to celebrate their accomplishments. Each one more gracious than the next, the women were more concerned with congratulating each other than patting themselves on the back.

“I am so humbled and blessed to be amongst all these egos in the room,” said Denise Norris, organizational leadership and communications consultant, Corporate Planners Inc. “I feel so blessed to be recognized by the Courier and I think it’s great that they do this. It’s inspiring to the community.”

“I feel like when I walked in this room, was when I first realized what it’s like to be recognized,” said Karen Florence, program director, T.R.A.I.L.S. Ministries Inc. “I work in the community with people who need help and I feel like that’s what God called me to do and it’s the same with everyone on this room. They’re doing the work God called them to do.”

While the group of women at the luncheon was diverse, each of the honorees share a commitment to helping others whether in their professional or personal lives. They said the work they do helping children, students, women, young men, and families is more important than the recognition they have received.

“It’s definitely an honor,” said Cassandra Oden, director of the Center for Student Success, Robert Morris University. “I am committed to our students at Robert Morris and I think people notice that. Being recognized isn’t why we do it, but it’s definitely appreciated.”

“I’m really honored. It’s really humbling,” said TiAnda Blount, executive vice president, Mel Blount Youth Home. “You do working in the community not to be recognized but it is truly humbling.”

The women on this year’s list were chosen because of their success in professions traditionally difficult for Black women to break into. Among them was Trooper First Class Robin Mungo, who said she is one of only ten African-American women state troopers in Pennsylvania.

“Our numbers are low, but our numbers are powerful,” Mungo said. “We would hope to see those numbers increase and being honored like this brings attention to what we do. I think it’s important for young African-American girls to see that and hopefully it inspires them.”

The sponsors for this year’s luncheon included University of Pittsburgh, The Heinz Endowments, UPMC Dignity and Respect Campaign, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, and Real Times Media.

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