From left: 2013 Legacy Honoree Bev Smith with 2012 Legacy Honoree Jean Bryant. (Photo J.L. Martello)
On June 20, the New Pittsburgh Courier continued its six year tradition of honoring the region’s most esteemed African-American women at the 2013 50 Women of Excellence Luncheon.
“There’s a saying in the bible that a prophet is never honored in his own land,” said Bev Smith, the Courier’s 2013 Legacy Award recipient. “But the New Pittsburgh Courier continually makes that untrue.”
At the luncheon, Smith was recognized for her more than 30-year career in broadcasting and her lifelong commitment to improving conditions for African-Americans, but she isn’t slowing down anytime soon. True to form, Smith used the occasion to speak out on the issues facing African-American women and to highlight her upcoming convention bringing 1000 women to Pittsburgh.
“If you look at what’s happening around the world, women are fighting the same battles they fought before,” Smith said. “Here in the United States women are stereotyped on TV shows and paid less in the workplace.”
The other honorees mirrored Smith in their comments about the challenges facing women and African-American women in particular. As testament to many of their roles as mentors, they said it was important to help young African-American women overcome the obstacles in their way.
“I’m just so proud to be amongst so many powerful women. Black women especially have never had the opportunities we have today,” said honoree Marla Bradford, senior employment recruiter for Duquesne University. “So it’s nice to see that we have arrived, we’re still arriving and it’s very important for us to reach back to our young women.”
The theme of helping youth was a common thread through many of the honorees’ resumes. Whether in their full time job, or as part of their volunteer efforts, each is playing a role in cultivating tomorrow’s leaders.
“It was a very unexpected surprise, but a pleasant one,” said honoree Robyn Francis, a senior scientist with Bayer MaterialScience, LLC. “Bayer is very committed to the community in Pittsburgh and particularly encouraging youth to pursue careers in science.”
“I just believe in helping others. I was raised that way,” said honoree Anita Walker, assistant principal Allegheny K-8. “I was surprised and honored that someone was actually recognizing the work I do.”
Friends Francis and Walker were quick to compliment each other, but even those honorees who had never met one another expressed admiration for the other honorees at the luncheon.
“I’m very humbled by this recognition,” said honoree Ebony Pugh, public information officer for the Pittsburgh Public School District. “It’s wonderful to be recognized in such a great group of women, so many of whom I look up to so I’m just grateful.”
“It’s a wonderful feeling,” said honoree Robyn Greer, a personal trainer, nutrition coach and hair salon owner of the Trevor James Experience. “I’ve worked really hard along with all of the other women here. So it paid off.”
Others were complimentary of the Courier event and the newspaper’s role as a champion for the African-American community. They also hoped their recognition would increase awareness about the causes they advocate for.
“It’s always a wonderful event. I’m just honored to be here,” said honoree Charlotte Brown, associate professor of psychiatry and health and community systems for University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “I’m hoping my recognition has to do with the work I’ve done in the African-American community trying to raise awareness about mental health issues and reducing stigma.”
“It’s really a great honor to be recognized by the New Pittsburgh Courier, one of the newspapers that has done so much for Black people, along with the NAACP,” said honoree Connie Parker, president of the NAACP Pittsburgh Branch.
The luncheon, held at the Omni William Penn, was sponsored by UPMC, Highmark, Duquesne University, Dollar Bank, All Purpose Cleaning Services, the NAACP Pittsburgh Unit, The Press Club of Western Pennsylvania and Real Times Media. Robert Hill served as celebrity host for the event.