Loretta Devine to keynote Awards Gala at Black Women’s Expo

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Award-winning film, stage and television actress Loretta Devine keynotes the Phenomenal Women Awards Gala on Friday at the Chicago Hilton for the official opening of the two-day Black Women’s Expo. The Gala salutes outstanding women whose excellence

Award-winning film, stage and television actress Loretta Devine keynotes the Phenomenal Women Awards Gala on Friday at the Chicago Hilton for the official opening of the two-day Black Women’s Expo. The Gala salutes outstanding women whose excellence deserves recognition. Divine will speak to 600-plus supporters, colleagues, friends and family of the women and one youth-focused organization that will be honored for “service to the community.” Now in its 18th consecutive year, this two-day State Farm-sponsored exposition at McCormick Place South, designed to empower, enlighten and educate women and girls of all ages, features seminars, workshops, speakers, authors, exhibits and pavilions, as well as entertainment for the estimated 25,000 visitors. Phenomenal Woman awardees were selected by members of The Black Women’s Expo Advisory Panel.

Merry Green, creator and executive producer of the Expo and the Phenomenal Woman Awards Gala, said, “African American women have demonstrated tremendous leadership in a wide variety of fields. They continue to successfully multi-task by serving in professional capacities in corporations, foundations, institutions of higher learning, non-profits, political settings, churches, entrepreneurial businesses, health care, community service and philanthropy.”

The honorees: Gleatha Glispie, Walgreens; Angela Henderson, Chicago State University; Ald. Michelle Harris, 8th Ward; Dr. Ann E. Smith, Gamaliel Foundation; Dian Powell, Roseland Community Hospital; Donna Gaines, Alliance of Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs; Dr. Bettye Allen, Woodlawn AME Church; Sandy Reynolds, Loop Capital Markets; and Build, Inc. (Broader Urban Involvement and Leadership Development). Atty. Cheryl Blackwell Bryson, DuSable Museum board chair, receives the special Launa T. Thompson Spirit Award, reserved for a woman who exhibits the characteristics of the late Launa T. Thompson, a giant in the radio industry and a humanitarian.

Val Warner, co-host of Ch. 7’s morning show Windy City Live, emcees; entertainment for the Awards Gala will be provided by Lee England Jr., 25-year-old virtuoso violinist who has successfully merged hip-hop in his music to create an authentic style of his own. Popular TV reality show hostesses will be spotlighted at The Black Women’s Expo on Saturday and Sunday at McCormick Place South. Niecy Nash (Clean House) discusses domestic violence and marriage; Shaunie O’Neal, ex-wife of basketball great Shaquille O’Neill and executive producer of The Basketball Wives, conducts a session on ambitious women exceeding expectations in business and in life; and Toya Carter Wright, of A Family Affair, provides motivation for girls and women as she talks about her book, Priceless Inspiration. Tiffany Davis of Bad Girls Club will focus on college-bound high school teens in her workshop. Chicago’s Rhonda and Je’Neice McCullough will discuss From Struggle to Fame, a tribute to the late comedian/actor Bernie Mac, their husband and dad, respectively.

“For two days, The Black Women’s Expo will shed light on the concerns and aspirations of African American women, while including events of interest for the entire family,” Green said. “This year’s guest line-up will focus on issues, ideas and themes that impact and celebrate the lives of women and girls, while also addressing topics of interest to men and families. There is absolutely something for everyone at The Black Women’s Expo 2011.” Nearly 25,000 attendees are expected at this year’s Expo – women from all walks of life, along with men and youth will participate in the two-day event that offers African American-focused topics and themes.

Entertainment will be presented by R&B chartbusters Anthony David and Avery Sunshine, gospel singer Maurice Griffin, who was showcased on BET’s Sunday Best; the comedy stage will be headlined by comedian Damon Williams and Lil Red.  Additional main stage performances will be presented in dance and fashion segments. Activist/comedian Dick Gregory moderates a town hall meeting, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness. Panelists include Garrard McClendon, former talk show host; Dorothy Brown, clerk of the Circuit Court; and Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, author.

Relationships are covered by interactive panels under the titles of He Says, She Says and Brothers Unscripted. Diversity & Inclusion Career Pavilion will host a job fair with representatives from several major corporations, such as Procter and Gamble, Prudential, Exelon and Walgreens that will interview potential applicants. Those seeking job opportunities should bring updated resumes and come prepared for interviews. Resumes can be uploaded at http://www.blackwomensexpo.com for advance reviews. Other pavilions: Health & Wellness, Beauty Bar, Kidz Korner and Literary CafΘ. 

Expo hours on Saturday: 10 a.m.- 8 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.- 7 p.m. Tickets: $10 for adults; $5 for children. The first 1,500 women to register online will receive a Walgreens Community Corner gift bag full of retail-sized beauty products. Visit http://www.theblackwomensexpo.com or call (312) 454-6100.

Billiken Gospel Fest – A tribute to the late gospel legend Dr. Albertina Walker, featuring Faith Howard and Delores Washington-Green, has been added to the first-ever Bud Billiken Gospel Festival held in conjunction with this year’s Bud Billiken Parade & Picnic. The gospel fest will be held on Aug. 13 in Washington Park at the site of the annual picnic which follows the parade. A stellar lineup of our town’s finest veteran and emerging gospel singers and choirs is slated for the free festival which begins at noon. The parade steps off at 10 a.m. at 39th and King Drive and ends at 51st Street just inside Washington Park. The theme of the parade is Education, Now More Than Ever.

Featured performers include Walt Whitman and The Soul Children of Chicago, a group of young people who have won numerous awards and just returned from Sweden ministering through music; The Brown Sisters, a quintet of award-winning sister singers from the West Side of Chicago; The Nichols Sisters, a group that has been harmonizing traditional gospel tunes for 30 years and just so happens to be Jennifer Hudson’s cousins; The Victory Travelers, a veteran, award-winning quartet led by Reuben Burton that has been praising through music for 25 years; Dexter Walker & Zion Movement, winners of the American Heart Association’s Power to End Stroke Most Powerful Voices competition; Janet Sutton & The Voices of AMCE, the 2009 winners of the Verizon Wireless How Sweet The Sound Best Church Choir Competition; and Gospel Music According to Chicago, a mass choir comprised of legends, novices and praise singers from over 40 churches in the Chicago area. Denzel Talison will lead the National Anthem. Call Defender Charities, (773) 536-3710, or visit http://www.budbilliken.com.

Newsy Names – Happy b’day to President Barack Obama, Dr. Greg Hinton, Jackie Taylor, Emilie McKendall, Isaiah Washington, Vivica A. Fox, David Dodd, Rev. Linda Mootry-Dodd, Trevy A. McDonald, Laura Rice, Rudy Brown, “Cousin Buddy” Fambro, “Cousin Kelly” Shepard, Derrick K. Baker, Tressa Epps, Sabrina Miller, Derrick Mosley, Christiana Nance, Eloise Franklin, Chip Johnson, Pemon Rami, Linnie Attyberry Sims and Evelyn Rivera … Anniversary wishes to Jackie and Jim Craig … West Side community organizer Marcus Chizm has teamed with State Farm and Goose Island Beer to host “Laugh ‘Til You Cry,” a live comedy classic and Craft Beer Taste with Marlon Mitchell, Jay Deep and Reggie Reg on Saturday, 8 p.m., at ICE Lawndale Theater, 3330 W. Roosevelt Road. Call (312) 672-9926 … Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, with Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) and Rush Hospital, sponsor free physical, dental and hearing checkups on Saturday at the school, 211 S. Laflin. Call (312) 263-9273. 

Meet & Greet – Jennifer Williams, of VH1’s NBA Wives, turns up in Chicago’s South Loop on Saturday, 2 p.m.-7 p.m., as company spokesmodel for Glam Luxe Boutique, 2230 S. Michigan (2nd floor), to host an exclusive shopping event and help unveil a new concept in buying high-end hair extensions. On tap: special discounts, raffles, hors d’oeuvres, networking and an intro to the Exclusive Hair Bar. Stylists and sales reps will be onsite to showcase products and provide personal attention to shoppers. Accessories feature 100 percent Indian Remy Hair, Extensions Plus, Indique Virgin Hair Extensions, Wagman’s Hair and Beverly Hills Elgin Charles. Visit the website, http://www.GlamLuxe.net or call (321) 451-3796.

Copyright 2011 Chicago Defender

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