September 23 at the LeMont Restaurant marked the fifth annual Benefit Program Series presented by Workforce Development Global Alliance. During the evening guests bid on dynamic silent auction items, dined on grilled salmon filets with dill sauce, carved roasted filet mignon, roasted turkey and Somossa’s (Kenyan cuisine).

TEAM PLAYERS—Franco Harris (keynote speaker) and Niecy Dennis (WDGA).

Franco Harris of the Pittsburgh Steelers was the keynote speaker and the crowd enjoyed performances by guest artists from Hip-Hop on Lock and Archie’s Drummer’s a Helen Faison Arts Academy Reunion team.


The WDGA teaches students how to avert violence on our streets, become leaders in their communities and attract employment opportunities to advance economic development. Niecy Dennis, WDGA founder and president, says WDGA is linking youths from Pittsburgh to Kenya Africa through a program called 2STEPS2WORK, teaching at-risk youths how to “get along to get ahead.” The training teaches youths 13-25 and their families how to avert violence in their communities and promote peace as the initial step to obtaining employment. It combats rivalry by teaching the students conflict resolution and to promote peace instead of community violence (Step 1) and helping the students find alternatives to violence (Step 2) through mentoring and ultimately employment (work).

Since fall 2008, more than 500 Kenyan youths and nearly 100 Pittsburgh youths have been inducted in WDGA’s 2Steps­2Work Peace Ambassador ePal program. Targeted for launch in 2011, the local to global ePals will have an online career development relationship with an eMentor to support reaching their destiny.

WDGA recognized Chuck and Elisa San­ders as their fifth annual humanitarian award recipients. The Sanders have been supporters of WDGA since its inception. Dennis says, “Chuck is the chair of our governing board and continues to provide premier leadership to every facet of our journey.”

The evening concluded with a vibrant auction with a real live auctioneer from Hostetter Auctioneers. Up for bid: dinner for four with Franco Harris, and dinner at the soon to open Savoy Restaurant with Jerome Bettis and Chuck and Elisa Sanders, round-trip Jet Blue tickets, one week in Mexico, Steeler game tickets and Pittsburgh Penguins tickets. Retired ambassador (Central African Republic) Daniel Simpson and Libby Simpson served as program chairs. Bill Flanagan (executive vice president, corporate relations for the Allegheny Conference on Community Development) served as master of ceremonies.

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