Queen Latifah, 2018 Trailblazing Woman of Excellence Award Recipient
Queen Latifah is a musician, critically acclaimed television and film actress, label president, author and entrepreneur. Latifah has had amazing success in Hollywood and became the first hip hop artist to be crowned with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006. She received rave reviews, an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, a Golden Globe nomination and a SAG Award nomination for her portrayal as Mama Morton in Miramax’s Chicago. She also received an Emmy nomination, a Golden Globe win and a SAG Award win for her role in Life Support.In May 2015, Queen Latifah made her way back to the small screen earning an Emmy Award nomination, Golden Globe Award nomination, and a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries for her role in Bessie, an HBO biopic that she also produced which recounts the life of singer Bessie Smith, who was also known as "The Empress of the Blues."Queen Latifah has not just been recognized for acting: she has earned six Grammy nominations as well as a Grammy Award for Best Solo Rap Performance in 1994. In 2004, she was nominated for Best Female Rap Solo Performance for Go Head. In 2005, she was nominated for Best Jazz Vocal Album for The Dana Owens Album and in 2008 she was nominated for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for Trav’lin Light. In 2016, Queen Latifah starred in Miracles from Heaven opposite Jennifer Garner in Sony’s faith-based drama and took to the stage and small screen performing as the title character in NBC’s The Wiz Live! alongside Uzo Adubo, Mary J. Blige, Ne-Yo, Common and David Alan Grier. Also in 2016, Queen Latifah starred in Ice Age: Collision Course where she returned as the voice of the Wooly Mammoth, Ellie.
She can currently be seen in Lee Daniels’ FOX series STAR, which is in its second season. She recently starred in Universal Pictures’ Girls Trip, released last summer, alongside Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall and Tiffany Haddish.Latifah made her big screen debut in Spike Lee’s 1991 film Jungle Fever. She starred in Set it Off, and co-starred with Holly Hunter and Danny DeVito in the critically acclaimed Living Out Loud. Following Chicago, she starred in and executive-produced the box office hit Bringing Down the House. Her additional film credits include The Secret Life of Bees, alongside Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys and Dakota Fanning; Neil Meron and Craig Zadan’s Hairspray; Mad Money, opposite Diane Keaton and Katie Homes; Just Wright; Joyful Noise; The Last Holiday; and Beauty Shop. She also starred in and executive-produced the cable movie Life Support. And the TV movie adaptation of Steel Magnolias.And then there’s Flavor Unit Entertainment, a production company owned and operated by Queen Latifah and her partner, Shakim Compere and is quickly establishing itself as one of the most important production companies in the film industry. They began by executive producing Disney’s box office # 1 hit Bringing Down the House and then continued with Beauty Shop for MGM and The Perfect Holiday for Paramount. They have also produced The Cookout with Lionsgate, as well as the film Just Wright with Fox Searchlight. On the small screen, they executive produced HBO’s critically acclaimed film Life Support which garnered a number of awards including an Emmy nomination and Golden Globe win for Queen Latifah. Flavor Unit also co-produced HBO’s original movie Bessie. Most recently, they produced The Real MVP: The Wanda Pratt Story, The Best Place to Be; Curvy Style with Timothy Snell, and The Perfect Match, and The Rap Game. Flavor Unit also recently produced VH1’s one-hour special event Dear Mama which premiered on Mother’s Day, shining the spotlight on mothers. VH1 recently renewed Dear Mama as an annual special.From Newark, NJ, Latifah currently resides in Los Angeles.
Patti LaBelle, Accepting the award on behalf of Queen Latifah and 2016 Trailblazing Woman of Excellence Award Recipient
Beautiful, simply does not describe the incomparable force known to the world as Patti LaBelle. Through the years, the songbird's name has become synonymous with grace, style, and class. Her effortless ability to belt out classic rhythm and blues renditions, pop standards and spiritual sonnets has created the unique platform of versatility that the artist is known and revered for.
For more than 50 years, Patti's strong and soulful voice has left an indelible mark all over the world. This Philadelphia born entertainer captured her first hit in 1962, as lead singer of The BlueBelles and went on to receive worldwide acclaim with the trailblazing and genre bending trio, Labelle. A solo artist since the 1970s, Patti has created timeless songs that have helped cement her place as a music icon and garnered her numerous honors, including GRAMMY Awards, American Music Awards, NAACP Image Awards, New York Times bestsellers and more. In addition to being a world-class artist and mother of five, Patti is just as well known for her philanthropy and willingness to share her blessings and gifts with the world.
Shonda McClain, Magazine Editor of The Philadelphia Tribune
Shonda McClain is the editor of the Tribune Magazine, a publication that addresses topics of interest and importance to the African-American community, and editor of Sojourner, a quarterly African-American visitors guide to Philadelphia. Both are products of The Philadelphia Tribune, the nation’s oldest continuously published newspaper, which has served the African-American community since 1884.
As the magazine editor, Ms. McClain oversees the Tribune Magazine’s highly successful publication of “Philadelphia’s Most Influential African Americans.” Under her leadership, the magazine expanded to include “10 People Under 40 to Watch” and “Movers and Shakers,” making it one of the most sought-after publications in the city. She was also instrumental in putting together the Tribune’s inaugural “Women on the Move” special edition, which debuted in 2009. It is now called “Women Achieving” and highlights outstanding African-American women in corporate America.
In addition to her magazine duties, Ms. McClain is the Entertainment, Lifestyles/Leisure and Learning Key Editor at The Philadelphia Tribune, all of which have been awarded for journalistic excellence under her leadership by the National Newspaper Publishers Association.
Ms. McClain joined the staff of The Philadelphia Tribune in 1995 as the New Jersey Learning Key coordinator. In 1996, she served as the entertainment reporter before being promoted to magazine editor in 1997.Before coming to The Philadelphia Tribune, she honed her skills as a journalist at The Indianapolis Recorder, were she worked as a general assignment reporter and entertainment reporter from 1993 to 1995. While there, she worked with The Recorder’s youth internship program, serving as the Journalism and Writing Seminars Coordinator, where she taught and mentored junior high and high school students. The newspaper section her students produced was named best youth section by the National Newspaper Publishers Association for two years straight.
Ms. McClain enjoys mentoring young women and giving back to her community. She serves as a proud board member of Teenshop, Inc., which nurtures “girls with goals,” and is a former board member of Bebashi Transition to Hope, the second oldest AIDS service organization in Philadelphia. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and the National Association of Black Journalists.Ms. McClain grew up in Indianapolis, Ind. She attended Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., where she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and was inducted into Kappa Tau Alpha, the national journalism honor society.
Leslie Patterson Tyler, First Lady of Mother Bethel AME Church
Leslie Patterson-Tyler is the Director of Media Relations and Communications for The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. In her role she provides overall leadership and management of The Kimmel Center’s communication strategies, its programming and education initiatives, and overall institutional identity and messaging as well as overseeing internal communications initiatives and cross-departmental communications.
Leslie Patterson-Tyler is also the owner and operator of Tyler Made Productions, a multi- and social-media, public relations consulting company that assists faith-based groups, non-profits, and small businesses tell their stories. Among the company’s most notable clients is the historic Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the congregation to which Leslie belongs and where she serves as Director of Public Relations. Since assuming the position in 2008, Leslie’s efforts have resulted in Mother Bethel receiving local, national, and international media coverage on dozens of occasions.
Leslie Patterson-Tyler transitioned to PR from a very successful career as a television news executive having worked in commercial newsrooms around the country for more than 20 years. She held senior management roles in some of the most competitive markets in the nation including Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Miami, and her hometown of Cincinnati. Leslie gained a reputation as a difference maker in the newsroom and her community pushing herself and those around her to do more than settle for the old “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality. Recognizing how important the news is in shaping public opinion, Leslie always strived to produce stories that made a difference, by going deeper than what was on the surface.
Leslie Patterson-Tyler’s passion to make a difference is not limited to her own professional career. She has taken that same drive to make a difference throughout her community, serving in the following capacities: Advisor Sarah Allen Women’s Missionary Society; Board Member, American Red Cross Penn Jersey Region and Sickle Cell Committee Chairperson; worked with the American Diabetes Association to create “First Ladies Health & Wellness Tea” in an effort to engage other wives of area pastors to join the fight to prevent diabetes; newly elected member of the School Advisory Council of Julia R. Masterman High School; past President, Meredith Home and School Association; and, former Vice-President of Community Engagement for the Friends of Nebinger Elementary School. She has become a “go-to” person in the health and education communities in Philadelphia in helping to spread messages to various constituencies.
Leslie is a graduate of Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio and studied in the Graduate School at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Leslie is also a distinguished McCormick-Tribune Fellow and a Fellow of Leadership Philadelphia Class of 2011. She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, The Philadelphia Black Public Relations Professionals, Philadelphia Public Relations Association, Philadelphia Public Relations Association, the Delaware Valley (PA) Links, Incorporated, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Leslie and her husband, Rev. Mark Kelly Tyler, Ph.D., live in the Philadelphia area with their children. In her spare time she enjoys, cooking, traveling to new places, and running with “Black Girls Run.” She successfully completed her first Half Marathon in October 2015, and the Broad Street Run in 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017.
Lisa Thomas Laury, Iconic Philadelphia Anchor Woman and News Pioneer
Lisa Thomas-Laury is a retired news anchor in Philadelphia.
She began working at WPVI-TV, Channel 6, the city’s ABC affiliate, as a reporter and co-anchor of Action News in 1978, at the age of 24. She covered the stories of everyday people around the region, as well as numerous political figures, from Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy to President Ronald Reagan and the inauguration of President Bill Clinton.
In 1981, she received high praise for her reports from London on Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding. However, the stories she loves to tell the most are those of average people with unique experiences, and those who overcome major obstacles in their lives.
In 2001, Lisa began facing her own significant life challenge. She was struck with a rare nerve disorder that remained misdiagnosed for nearly two years. She left WPVI temporarily when her disease paralyzed one of her vocal cords. Lisa underwent a bone marrow transplant at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, in 2004, and returned to Channel 6 two and a half years later.
Lisa has received three honorary doctorate degrees and numerous other awards, including an Emmy for a public affairs documentary on Philadelphia neighborhoods in the 1980s and the city’s most prestigious accolade, the Liberty Bell Award. She retired in May 2016 after a second bone-marrow transplant, having spent nearly four decades with WPVI-TV.
City Councilwoman Cherrelle Parker (District 9)
Councilwoman Cherelle L. Parker proudly serves the Ninth Council District in the City of Philadelphia. This region spans throughout northwest and northeast Philadelphia communities that include Mt. Airy, West Oak Lane, East Oak Lane, Olney, Lawncrest, Lawndale, Burholme and Oxford Circle.
Prior to her election in November 2015, Cherelle served for 10 years as the State Representative for the 200th Legislative District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, where she made history by becoming the youngest African-American woman ever elected in September 2005. As State Representative, she earned a reputation for being one of the most effective, politically-savvy and proactive legislators in the region.
During her tenure in the PA House, Cherelle served on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, as well as the Labor and Industry, Professional Licensure, Rules, and Transportation committees. Additionally, she was twice elected by her Philadelphia colleagues to serve as Chair of the Philadelphia Delegation in the PA House. In 2013, she was also appointed Vice Chair/Democratic Chair of the House Committee on School Safety.
Widely recognized for her strong organizational, strategic planning and oratorical skills, Cherelle championed several key pieces of legislation, amendments and policy initiatives including, but not limited to:The Philadelphia Tax Fairness Package; Act 89 of 2013 – The Commonwealth’s historic Transportation Bill; Local $2 per pack cigarette tax implemented to generate additional recurring revenue for the School District of Philadelphia during a period a gross under-funding; and Act 75 of 2012, which strengthened victims’ rights by permitting expert testimony in cases of sexual assault.
As State Representative, Cherelle also fought vigorously to safeguard Philadelphia’s Paid Sick Leave ordinance, to ensure that school district resources were used in the classroom, to provide our students with access to high-quality resources, and to preserve the city’s ability to enact local public safety ordinances in efforts to prohibit access to and use of illegal guns.
Additionally, Cherelle is vice chair of Council’s Committee on Commerce and Economic Development, and serves as a member of the committees on Rules; Appropriations; Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs; Transportation and Public Utilities; Education; Housing, Neighborhood Development and the Homeless; Environment; Disabled and Persons with Special Needs; Global Opportunities and the Creative Economy; Aging; Children and Youth.
Cherelle is also a member of several service-oriented organizations, boards and commissions also working to improve the community at-large. Moreover, as an Eisenhower Fellow, in 2010, Cherelle joined the Women in Leadership program to study the role of women in government in South America. In August 2016, she was named as one of 25 women across the United States selected to join the 2017 Class of the prestigious “Women in Government Leadership Program” sponsored by the Governing Institute.
Cherelle is a graduate of both the University of Pennsylvania and Lincoln University, where she earned Master of Public Administration and Bachelor of Science in English Education Degrees, respectively. Cherelle is also a wife and mother residing in Mt. Airy. She enjoys reading, traveling, cooking and spending time with family and friends during her leisure.
Rev. Louise Williams Bishop, Legendary Philadelphia Broadcaster & State Rep
Louise Williams Bishop has achieved an incredible degree of personal success in three separate, but related careers - radio, the ministry and politics. The theme that runs through all her work is her desire to bring inspiration and assistance to those people in need.
Born in Cairo, Georgia, she moved to Philadelphia as a young child. A graduate of West Philadelphia High School, she earned a degree in communications and radio broadcasting from the American Foundation of Dramatic Arts. Although drawn to the emerging field of television, she began her communications career at WHAT radio, as the youngest voice in radio. She immediately fell in love with radio and the power and responsibility the microphone gave her to communicate with the masses on a daily basis. Moving to WDAS-AM, she hosted "The Louise Bishop Program" for over 49 years. Her program was consistently one of the highest rated programs at the station and was an institution in the Philadelphia media market. She has used this forum to inform and unite people around social, civic and religious issues; to advocate for services for the poor, including job search; and to bring the message of political leaders to the people. In 1978 she was called to the ministry and became an ordained Evangelist by the Pennsylvania Baptist Association. She felt God moving her to minister more than just between records on her gospel program.
Having just experienced the hurt and pain of a recent divorce, she felt she could minister to those with the same heartache and sorrow. She has served her ministry with the Message of God's Saving Grace since that time and preaches and teaches all over the City, including conducting revivals all along the East Coast. On Sundays 6:00am to 12 noon she can now be heard on WURD Radio 900, and weekdays 5:00am to 6:00am.One Sunday morning in 1987, a blind man whose wife had deserted him and their five young children (three still in diapers), called into Louise's gospel program begging for help. She opened the microphone and asked the people of Philadelphia to respond. Within five minutes the City's Managing Director, as well as scores of people, answered the call. The power of that response led to the beginning of her third career.
Recognizing how good God had been to her, she realized she had to do more and made the decision to run for the open state representative seat created by Chaka Fattah's move to Congress. She was first elected to serve in the state House of Representatives in 1988 and has been overwhelmingly re-elected to office nine times by her constituents of the 192nd Legislative District. Located in West Philadelphia, her District is a diverse area that encompasses some of Philadelphia's most affluent and poorest residents. It is also home to many Philadelphia institutions including St. Joseph's University, Overbrook High School and Pinn Memorial Baptist Church.Rep. Bishop is the House Democratic Chair of the Children and Youth Committee. As part of her legislative duties, she also serves on a number of committees including the Democratic Policy Committee. She is the most senior African-American woman serving in the General Assembly and is a former officer of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus and the Philadelphia Delegation.
Representative Bishop has sponsored legislation to address a number of critical issues, including domestic violence, day care, mandatory drug treatment, education, health care and Sarcoidosis. She is most proud of the legislation which improves the quality of life for children and older people. In her district she sponsors an annual "Spring Fling" Fair for young people and the "Senior Expo" which brings services to older people. With a keen interest in community development, she convinced Mercy Wellness Center and the University of Pennsylvania to establish a presence in the district. She has worked with St. Joseph's University and Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary to expand their services into the surrounding community. She has also worked tirelessly to secure resources from state, city and private sources to develop business along urban corridors, especially along Lancaster Avenue, between 52nd and 63rd Streets. She has also supported the renovation of the Overbrook Train Station and new housing development in the Carroll Park area.