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Meet the panelists for WURD’s 2021 Empowerment Experience

todayDecember 13, 2021

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WURD Radio will host the 2021 Empowerment Experience on Friday, Dec. 17. This year’s theme is “The Power, Purpose and Possibility of Black Women: Conversations on Healing and Wholeness,” which will feature a keynote from Dr. Robin Smith and several hours worth of exciting panel discussions! Read below for more information about the panelists for WURD Radio’s 2021 Empowerment Experience discussions. 

1-1:40 p.m.: Kickoff Keynote Conversation with Dr. Robin Smith

Dr. Robin L. Smith, or “Dr. Robin” as she is affectionately known, is a No. 1 bestselling author,  sought-after national speaker, experienced media personality and fearless truthteller. As a  licensed psychologist, she brings a uniquely healing perspective to our nation’s most daunting  social justice and mental health issues: from systemic racism and racial violence, to grief and  loss, to discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation, to recovering and rebounding as  a nation after the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. Warm and wise, nonjudgmental yet  no-nonsense, Dr. Robin draws from her professional and personal experiences to help others  transform adversity into purpose and power. 

Dr. Robin has worked as a national and local television correspondent and appeared numerous  times on news and entertainment television and radio programs. She has shared her expertise  on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” CNN, NBC’s “Today Show,” MSNBC, “The Real,” The Root,  The New Yorker, USA Today, NBC News’ Know Your Value, Anderson Cooper, “The Steve Harvey Show,” OWN TV’s “Super Soul Sunday” and notably as the beloved therapist-in-residence on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Dr. Robin also hosted a daily call-in program on SiriusXM’s Oprah Radio for three years.  

Currently, Dr. Robin hosts “The Dr. Robin Show” on SiriusXM’s Urban View (Channel 126). The show addresses today’s most pressing societal challenges through soulful conversation that unlocks the heart of the matter. Every Sunday, from 11 a.m. to noon ET, Dr. Robin leads in-depth conversations with preeminent thought-leaders, entertainers, and experts who share their own insights on rising up toward truth, justice and joy. Dr. Robin also appears as a regular guest expert on “The Karen Hunter Show.” Additionally, she often joins forces with award-winning  actor Courtney B. Vance to discuss sensitive mental health issues including suicide. 

Dr. Robin’s book “Lies at the Altar – The Truth About Great Marriages” — translated into 14  languages — has been a No. 1 national bestseller on the lists of The New York Times, The Wall  Street Journal, USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly, Entertainment Weekly and many other  publications. She is also the author of the soulful memoir “Hungry: The Truth About Being Full”  and a contributing author for the book “The Audacity of Faith.” Dr. Robin’s first book, “Inspirational Vitamins, A Guide to Personal Empowerment (Foreword written by Stevie  Wonder),” was received with great enthusiasm and acclaim. 

Dr. Robin wrote her signature, four-step prescription for truth — Wake Up! Show Up! Grow Up!  Rise Up!™ — after a serious car accident that caused a traumatic brain injury and served as a  pivotal U-turn moment in her life. Today, Dr. Robin is dedicated to working with others to honor  diversity and difference; as a Black woman and an ordained minister, Dr. Robin feels a strong  personal stake in the nation’s awakening and healing around race. She regularly works with  Fortune 100 and 500 companies, sports and entertainment professionals, and groups spanning  professions, ages, racial/ethnic and religious backgrounds, leading breakthrough programs and  presentations. You can find Dr. Robin delivering a commencement address at a university,  working with youth and staff at a juvenile detention center or speaking to the senior leadership in a corporation — she is equally at home in these diverse worlds. Dr. Robin also enjoys teaching  and served as an adjunct professor at Palmer Theological Seminary for many years. 

Dr. Robin was first introduced to viewers worldwide during her years as the tough-yet-tender,  on-air therapist for “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” In 2009 and 2010, Dr. Robin was commissioned  to be one of six celebrity participants to endorse Pepsi’s “We Inspire” campaign, designed to  honor and empower women, where she addressed the important gift and use of wisdom.  Additional credits include serving as an expert as part of an award-winning documentary on  Women and AIDS. Today, Dr. Robin is proud to serve as ambassador of the AARP Foundation and United Health Foundation partnership on the Connect2Affect campaign, an online platform and resource to help the more than 8 million people who are affected, both mentally and physically, by social isolation. 

Based in Philadelphia, Dr. Robin has a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Temple University, a  master’s degree from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary and an undergraduate degree from  La Salle University. She was also deeply influenced by her early years attending Germantown  Friends, a Quaker school in Philadelphia. In May of 2007, Dr. Robin received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Palmer Theological Seminary. For several years she provided  psychological and counseling services at Swarthmore College. She is a former member of the  Board of Directors of Albert Einstein Medical Center, Belmont Hospital and Eagleville Hospital,  a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility. She also served on the Advisory Board of the Barristers’ Association of Philadelphia. 

1:45-2:45 p.m.: Healing Mind and Body in a Time of Hurt 

Dr. Carol A. Penn

Dr. Carol A. Penn, DO, MA, ABOM, FACOFP, triple board certified in family medicine and obesity medicine and a master movement, meditation and mindset coach, brings more than 40 years of experience and expertise in mind-body medicine and the movement sciences. Gifted with the ability to inspire and educate about self-care, Dr. Penn brings a unique set of skills to her work as a physician. Her work in mindful movement and the dynamic small group facilitation work in the Mind Body Spirit Medicine series is designed to assist each participant in their journey of deep self-care and in learning how to prioritize themselves on behalf of achieving their best and highest self. In her online Mind Body Medicine series you will learn how to balance your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, as well as how to uncouple the amygdala and hippocampus regions of the brain from fear-based behaviors that hold us back and keep us stuck.

Dr. Penn, hoping to guide each person on their own unique journey, holds national certifications in mind-body medicine from the Center for Mind-Body Medicine; health, wellness and fitness coach from Wellcoaches; and is a certified personal trainer from the National Council on Strength and Fitness. Additionally, she has a 500-hour certification in yoga from Soma Yoga and is certified in Organ Cleansing QiGong. She also brings her artistic sensibilities to the marriage of the arts and medicine with her background as a professionally trained dancer and choreographer with the world-famous Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and as a Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Teaching Fellow. Dr. Penn will get you moving and keep you moving on your path to health and wellness.

Having achieved a rare standard of excellence in the academic community, Dr. Penn is a Fellow in the American Academy of Osteopathic Family Physicians and is Clinical Faculty with Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, the Center for Mind-Body Medicine and the Medical Moguls Academy. She is a recent graduate of the Whole Health Medical Institute and serves as a leader in her community as a member of the Board of Health and in her capacity as a trustee with Lunch Break Inc. She is also a three-time best-selling author and her book and journal series, “Meditation In a Time of Madness,” launched in 2019 as a No. 1 best seller in the category of meditation and alternative medicine.

A businesswoman, servant leader and entrepreneur, Dr. Penn is a founder/activist and chief visionary officer of Penn Global Visions LLC, a health and education multimedia firm changing the world one meditation at a time. Soon the doors to Penn Mogul Medical Group, her concierge medical practice, will be open! Fondly known as the Dean of Spiritual Legacy on WURD’s Envy McKee show, Dr. Penn is a frequent guest and podcaster as well as the host of her own weekly show and podcast, “Weightless in Mind, Body and Spirit.” A creative forever, she continues to direct her all-volunteer women’s dance ensemble Core of Fire.

An activist, Dr. Penn has most recently taken on as her mission ending racism globally. Viewing racism as a chronic disease, Dr. Penn is the content creator for both a seminar/webinar, The Mindful Genogram: The Examination of Ancestral Bias, and a course that is gaining national recognition, Unpacking Racism Through the Lens of Mind, Body and Spirit Meditation and Movement.

She is a super proud wife, mom and daughter living and loving in the midst of a beautiful blended family, surrounded by a beloved extended family and connections and kinship with friends and colleagues.

Dr. Marquita C. Williams

Dr. Marquita C. Williams is the Senior Advisor for Public Engagement at Community Behavioral Health in Philadelphia. In this capacity she is responsible for creating and coordinating opportunities for direct dialogue between organizations, government and community stakeholders, provider groups, providers, academic institutions and the community at large in an effort to ensure all voices are reflected in the policies, practices and behavioral health wellness programming across the system. This creates an opportunity to bring new voices to the table, ensuring that everyone can participate and inform the work of the city of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services.

Specific collaboration has been in providing oversight on all activities supporting community mobilization strategies and guidelines for school community engagement in support of high school behavioral health programming and Community Schools integration, as well as providing administrative and clinical technical assistance to small providers to aid in building capacity and infrastructure to participate fully in competitive opportunities.

Formerly the deputy commissioner with the city of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services (DBHIDS), Dr. Williams provided leadership for the DBHIDS service system. Her work included identifying system goals and priorities, creating innovative solutions to address departmental priorities and providing direct oversight for the programmatic visioning, planning and operationalizing of the public health vision for Philadelphia’s (1.1 Billion) Comprehensive Child and Adult Behavioral Health System, which included daily operational and programming oversight and monitoring for the department’s six (6+) priority units (Trauma, Training, Policy and Planning, Research and Evaluation, Peer Culture, Community Based Services, which included various large-scale, public engagement targeted initiatives including the LGBTQIA Initiative, Faith and Spiritual Affairs, Immigrant Affairs, YouthMove, Engaging Males of Color Initiatives and the Mental Health First Aid and I Will Listen Citywide Campaigns) through a large behavioral health services staff engaged in providing ongoing social service programming through a public health framework to the residents of Philadelphia. 

Prior to working with DBHIDS, Dr. Williams had over 20 years of experience working comprehensively in the field of mental health. In various capacities across the system, Dr. Williams has been an innovative contributor and guiding force as she rose through the behavioral health ranks from academic researcher and trauma-based clinician to university faculty member, program and organizational consultant. As the chief consultant of MWilliams Consulting, a clinical consultation company that provided clinical training and technical assistance, organizational and program development, clinical outcomes management and grant writing services, Dr Williams’ clinical foundation was laid during her earlier years in the field. She received a clinical and research faculty appointment at the Medical College of Pennsylvania and Hahnemann University Hospital. There she was the youngest faculty researcher investigating the psychological aftermath of assault-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Collectively, these experiences have yielded invitations to present at national conferences across the United States, such as the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE), the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy (AABT) and the Cross-Cultural Roundtable held annually at Columbia University in New York City.  As a result of her distinction in the field she also has garnered numerous awards including the prestigious National Institute of Mental Health: Grant for Minority Faculty Researchers and the “Best of the Best” Excellence in Psychology Award. 

From 2005 until 2013, Dr. Williams was the CEO of Germantown Psychological Associates (GPA), a community-based clinical services organization that provided outpatient psychotherapy services, assessment and evaluation services and school-based mental health services. Through Dr. Williams’ visionary leadership, GPA and MWilliams Consulting served as a clinical leader for many years, collaborating on various local, regional and national programming initiatives with faith-based institutions, community-based mental health and social service agencies, hospitals and physicians groups, universities and the School District of Philadelphia’s Public and Charter school systems.

Dr. Williams is also known for her growing media presence as she has appeared on numerous live and internet-based radio and television programs offering advice and guidance on numerous topics designed to help individuals increase their quality of life through living an authentic, purpose-driven, joyful existence. 

Dr. Williams holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Temple University, an MA in Counseling Psychology and an Ed.M. with a specialization in Cross-Cultural Psychology, both from Columbia University in New York, N.Y.

Rev. Dr. Helena Fontes

Reverend Dr. Helena Fontes is the founder and CEO of NewView Institute, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that delivers programming through: counsel, training, psycho-educational groups, the arts and spiritual support for both victims/survivors and perpetrators of domestic violence and other such violent crimes. Dr. Fontes is a Certified Domestic Violence and Anger Management Specialist-1 through the National Anger Management Association (NAMA), a board-certified chaplain who specializes in Hospice, Palliative, and Acute Psychiatric Care. She is a member of the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC). In addition to being a licensed ordained minister and mental health practitioner who serves at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Dr. Fontes is the proud mother of one adult daughter, Tempest Kristian Carter. 

Additionally, Dr. Fontes is an actress, playwright, producer and songwriter.  Her most recent theatrical production can be found on YouTube and is called “Institutions: Hiding Behind the Lipstick, Silenced No More!” Dr. Fontes is a graduate of Regent University, where she earned her D. Min. in Clinical Pastoral Education. Her research focus was the promotion of domestic violence awareness for the Black church; she defended in August 2015 and completed her studies for Counseling and Psychology in May 2019, also from Regent University.  On May 21, 2011, she graduated from Palmer Theological Seminary, where she earned her Master of Divinity degree. Dr. Fontes completed her residency in Clinical Pastoral Education at Christiana Healthcare System in Newark, DE, on Aug. 16, 2012, and earned her Bachelor of Science from Geneva College in 2008 and her associate degree in liberal arts from Community College of Philadelphia in 2007. Remarkably, her academic accomplishments were being pursued during her own personal recovery from her experience with domestic violence. Sadly, her ex-husband, Robert Haughton, was murdered Jan. 29, 2011.

Fortunately, Dr. Fontes was spared; therefore she provides grief counseling, bereavement support and mental health services for co-victims of homicide at Mother’s In Charge. In addition, through her nonprofit NewView Institute, Dr. Fontes oversees and provides counseling services for victims and co-victims of crime for the 22nd, 6th and 9th police districts served by Central Division Victim Services. While she recognizes the importance of partnerships, Dr. Fontes also provides mental health services for Why Not Prosper, ManUp PHL, Black Women’s Health Alliance and others. She is a social justice minister who has a concentration on gender equality. Finally, Dr. Fontes is a committee member for the Baptist World Alliance, where she shares her passion for serving the marginalized, disparaged, yet hopeful women of the world.  Her goal is to help individuals transform their minds and heal their souls.  Dr. Fontes does this work by combining an eclectic approach using: Narrative, Drama, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, coupled with the integration of her client’s religious and or spiritual beliefs.

2:50-3:55 p.m.: Women’s Wellness: Healing Ourselves, Healing the Village

La’Tasha D. Mayes

La’Tasha D. Mayes, MSPPM, is a nationally recognized leader in the field of reproductive justice, human rights and leadership development for Black women and girls. La’Tasha is the founder, president and CEO of New Voices for Reproductive Justice, a multi-state organization in Pennsylvania and Ohio dedicated to the health and well-being of Black women, femmes, girls and gender-expansive folx. New Voices advocates for the human right of all people to control their bodies, sexuality, gender, work, reproduction and ability to form their families. New Voices will soon celebrate its 18th anniversary, having organized and served over 200,000 constituents. 

La’Tasha is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Science in business administration, and she earned a Master of Science in public policy and management from Carnegie Mellon University. La’Tasha recently completed a second term on the Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs, is a former Groundswell Fund Board Member and is a past National Board Chair of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective. 

La’Tasha has received numerous honors including the 2021 KYW Newsradio GameChanger Award. La’Tasha also completed the Rockwood Leadership Institute Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice Fellowship and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania 2019 Executive Program for Social Impact Strategy. 

In 2017, La’Tasha was published in the books “Reproductive Justice: An Introduction” and “Radical Reproductive Anthology” by Loretta J. Ross et al. and in the In Our Own Voice Policy Report, “Our Bodies, Our Lives, Our Voices: The State of Black Women and Reproductive Justice.” La’Tasha is a national thought leader on reproductive justice and has been published and featured in numerous media platforms including ColorLines, Essence Magazine, NBCNews.com, Rewire, Slate Magazine, The Nation and Time.com. 

La’Tasha is a reproductive justice policy and organizing strategist, native of West Philadelphia and believes in the indefatigable spirit of Black women.

Dr. Seun O. Ross

Seun Ross is the executive director of Health Equity at Independence Blue Cross. In her most recent past role, she was the Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Vice President of Master Service Provider Operations at InGenesis. She also worked in health policy with the previous presidential administrations (Obama and Trump) as the director of Nursing Practice & Work Environment at the American Nurses Association. In her most recent clinical role, Dr. Ross was the vice president of clinical operations for AL Health in Washington, D.C. Prior to this role, she was the director of patient care services at MedStar Harbor Hospital. 

Dr. Ross is a published author, most recently as a committee member of the National Academies of Medicine-Medications for Opioid Use Disorder Saves Lives; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-Advance Practice Nursing Leadership: a Global Perspective; and the American Nurse Credentialing Center-The Doctor of Nursing Practice and the Executive Role. She has lectured on many topics within her research interests, which include health equity, SDOH, health care policy, evidence based practice, workforce management and developing/mentoring the novice RN. She received the Healthcare Award from the Helene Fuld School of Nursing in 2014, in recognition of her efforts in advancing the profession of nursing. 

Dr. Ross earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s Degree from Coppin State University and her doctoral degree from Chatham University. She is currently the president of IMBUEfoundation, vice president of the National Organization for Women (NOW)-Baltimore, immediate past president of Chi Zeta Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society, a member of the Academy of Healthcare Executives and holds certifications as a family nurse practitioner.

Dr. Anuli Mkparu

For the past decade, Dr. Anuli Mkparu, M.D., MBA, MSc. has been recognized as an orthopaedic surgeon who practices compassionate, evidenced-based medicine. Upon completion of her  undergraduate education at Texas Lutheran University, she attended Columbia University, where  she graduated with a Master of Science in Human Nutrition. She went on to graduate from Duke  University School of Medicine, where she won multiple awards including an Alpha Omega  Alpha National Honor Medical Society Award. She was a research fellow at the Center for  Orthopaedic Research at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She  presented her award-winning research at several high-profile meetings, including the  Massachusetts Chapter of the American College of Surgeons. She obtained her orthopaedic  surgery residency at Boston University Medical Center and Harvard University’s Massachusetts  General Hospital, winning the New England Orthopaedic Society’s First Place Resident’s Award  during her time in residency. After residency, she worked as an associate medical director for  over six years in a concierge medical group. She is the founder and chief medical officer of Sunnyvale Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Clinic in Philadelphia. She is also the chief medical correspondent for The Source on WURD Radio 96.1FM/900AM, as well as the medical director of Bucks County’s Street Medicine Program. Dr. Mkparu completed her opioid use disorder training at Harvard Medical School in 2020 and graduated with an MBA from Yale University School of Management in May 2021, receiving an Outstanding Graduate Award for Excellence in Scholarship, Leadership, Service & Advocacy. 

She is a member of Black Women Orthopaedic Surgeons, which works to support and empower  Black women through mentoring, activism and education while advocating for health equity. She has been a guest speaker on multiple medical and academic panels, including at Yale University and Columbia University. She also volunteers with the Delaware Medical Reserve Corps, aiding with COVID-19 testing, vaccination and food drives. While she enjoys everything she does, her favorite activity by far remains spending quality time with her adorable twin daughters.

Marianne Fray

Marianne A. Fray is chief executive officer with Maternity Care Coalition (MCC). Marianne leads the day-to-day affairs of MCC, a 41-year-old community-based nonprofit. MCC serves pregnant and postpartum women and parenting families impacted by racial and social inequities throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania. MCC’s mission is to improve the health and well-being of our families while enhancing the school readiness of their children ages 0-3. MCC provides direct services and performs advocacy and research to impact systems-level change. 

Marianne also worked in “for-profit” and other “not-for-profit” organizations in the health care, telecommunications, consulting and publishing industries.  

Marianne earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from St. Joseph’s University, a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Bryn Mawr College, is a Certified Association Executive (CAE), holds a certificate in Nonprofit Management (IOM) from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and earned her Certificate in Project Management (CAPM) from the Project Management Institute. 

4-4:50 p.m.: The New Women of WURD Conversation: Black Women in Broadcasting

Tonya Hopkins

Legacy Cook & Culinarian:  Tonya Hopkins, a.k.a “The Food Griot,” descends from a long line of professional cooks in America, traced to enslaved African Americans in our nation’s earliest days who skillfully toiled under harsh conditions and without recognition in plantation kitchens of Maryland and Virginia for centuries. Her American artisan forebears with pre-industrial intel, ingenuity and innovative techniques mastered open fire cookery and fostered farm-to-table dishes informed by the seasons and incorporating imported ingredients, aromatic herbs and traded spices to maximize flavor. In later generations, her emancipated ancestors cooked in wealthy white homes and private and public eateries; their work was integral to the development of dining throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Akin to Black culinary professionals throughout the Americas, her predecessors carried on traditions of unmatched culinary expertise in enterprising ways: Her great-grandmother was a speakeasy “entrepreneur” and professional chef; a favorite great-aunt owned and operated a family restaurant in South Jersey. Not only was Tonya blessed to spend time with exceptional elders like them in the multigenerational family of her youth, their collective kitchen wisdom and talents transferred to Tonya’s grandmother, her mother and ultimately to Tonya herself.

Connector & Contributor: Growing up engulfed in a “UN” of extended family and friends (an Ecuadorian great-grandfather, two immigrant uncles – one Cuban, the other Italian; a Japanese step-grandmother and another from Germany and Irish-Jewish play cousins) not only made for deliciously different holiday meals but also gifted Tonya with an early ability to make meaningful connections across cultures. Throughout college (University of Pennsylvania) she worked in hospitality and retail; after graduating with her Bachelor of Arts she eventually landed in advertising as a brand strategist, qualitative researcher and trend spotter at both multicultural and mainstream agencies (LA, the UK, NYC). After years of unearthing consumer insights and developing impactful ad campaigns for food/beverage, wine/spirits and luxury brands, she did post-graduate food studies at The New School and ICE (Institute of Culinary Education), The Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET), Windows on the World Wine School with Kevin Zraly and trained with the International storytelling company, Narativ. Tonya subsequently segued to work as an independent food and drink scholar on special projects. She has researched and is a contributing writer for: “The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America”; “The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture (Foodways Edition)”; Food History News; Essence Magazine (first ever wine issue in 2004); and Spruce Eats (2021). 

Content Creator, Consultant Collaborator: Tonya founded The Food Griot LLC, a storytelling platform through which she produces nonfiction audio/podcast and video content (for broadcast and online) intended to offset the historical omissions and systematized obscurity of foundational Black contributors to “The Makings of America’s Cuisines, Cocktails …” Her role as griot (historian and nonfiction storyteller) also extends to the James Hemings Society, a nonprofit she co-founded with chef Ashbell Mcelveen to help lead the charge to remember, uphold and continue timeless Black culinary creativity that profoundly influenced American foodways. Hopkins is a main adviser for the Museum of Food and Drink’s “African/American: Making the Nation’s Table” groundbreaking exhibition (lead curator Dr. Jessica B. Harris); the first and only food historian featured on ABC’s iconic daily show “The Chew”; lead food historian for chef Carla Hall’s book “Carla Hall’s Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration”; a teacher and mentor for Black and Brown culinary students at the Brownsville Community Culinary Center; and is cited in award-winning author Michael Twitty’s two-time James Beard Award-winning book “The Cooking Gene.”

Custom Drinks Designer, Wine & Spirits Specialist: In the beverage arena Tonya creates customized cocktails for a range of clients and events including drink design and wine curation for the James Beard House in support of several chefs doing seminal dinners there. Her work often takes place at historic Northern sites linked to early American slavery (e.g. Morris Jumel Mansion, Wycoff Farmhouse Museum) including her ongoing work with The Old Stone House of Brooklyn’s Food/Drink & Public History Program, where she launched a spirits sipping series to narrate nearly lost, more inclusive American history through the “liquidy lenses” of pillar potations. For Harlem Hops, the nation’s first 100% African-American owned craft beer bar, Ms. Hopkins conducted original research and wrote the “African Origins of Beer” narrative prominently displayed at the bar (and designed the wine list and flagship cocktails). Tonya works her wine magic by teaching classes and conducting talks and tastings at Good Wine: A Food Lover’s Wineshop, a Black- and woman-owned wine shop in Brooklyn, NY.

Follow @TheFoodGriot: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.

Janee Latrice

Janee Latrice is a performing artist and entertainer who hails from Philadelphia. With over 15 years of experience gracing stages in Philadelphia and abroad, Janee is thrilled at any opportunity to share her gifts with the world with hopes to make a positive impact on anyone she encounters. Having such opportunities to perform at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, opening for the likes of Howard Hewitt and Alyson Williams and headlining sold-out venues across Philadelphia, Janee values connecting with her audiences and is known for her authentic and transparent approach to art and her lively performance quality. In 2017, she established Boogie Down Experience LLC, an event entertainment company that dispatches live entertainment to weddings and corporate events nationally.  

Carol Riddick

This sultry singer-songwriter has graced stages in her hometown of Philadelphia and across the globe, winning fans and admirers alike with her extraordinary voice and presence. Highly  regarded in the music community for her vocal dexterity, mesmerizing performances and  genuinely warm personality, Carol is a unique entertainer whose evolution is ongoing. 

Born and raised in South Philadelphia, music has been a part of her life since she was a  teenager. It was in her early adulthood that the industry took notice of her vocal talent when  she got her start touring as a vocalist with Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith, aka Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince. 

Since then, Carol has blessed the tracks of many distinguished artists. She is featured on  records by Anthony Hamilton, Jill Scott, Norman Brown, Kindred The Family Soul, Gerald  Veasley, Jeff Bradshaw, Musiq Soulchild and a host of others. 

After partnering with Axis Music Group, a former Philadelphia-based production company,  Carol started an independent label “CRIDDICKNOTES” and creatively spearheaded the creation and release of her debut CD, “Moments Like This.” What some consider a huge undertaking for an artist came natural to Carol, who co-produced and co-wrote the majority of the songs on the project. Carol has collaborated with Grammy Award-winning producers and songwriters including James Poyser (Erykah Badu, The Roots), Anthony Bell (Jill Scott, Jewel) and Carvin Haggins & Ivan Barias (Musiq, Faith Evans), just to name a few. 

Her highly regarded sophomore project “Love Phases,” which includes the soul-stirring single  “Love Like I’ve Never Been Hurt Before,” is a collection of songs expressing facets of the joy and hurt of love, whether it be with regard to romantic or self-love. 

In addition to her solo efforts, Carol also lends her impressive vocals to other artists, most  notably musically acclaimed R&B crooner Will Downing. Her live performance of the riveting duet “Nothing Has Ever Felt,” originally recorded by Downing and Rachelle Ferrell, is sure to take your breath away.  

Her passion for music education is demonstrated in her efforts as a mentor and educator. She is a current national trustee and former chapter president for The Recording Academy®, a  renowned and prestigious organization known for recognizing the epitome of music industry  excellence. She is a Philadelphia creative ambassador and is also a member of the Philadelphia Music Industry Task Force, an initiative founded by Philadelphia City Council to promote awareness of and cultivate the arts in the city of Philadelphia. Carol also sits on the board for the Philadelphia Music Alliance, a community-based nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting Philadelphia’s rich musical legacy. She also is the program coordinator for DASH (Destined to Achieve Successful Heights), a program founded by music industry veterans Jerome Hipps and Michael McArthur that provides opportunities for students to learn about various aspects of the entertainment industry.  

She’s a songstress, songwriter, performance coach, actress, label-owner, mentor and podcaster. In addition, her beautiful spirit, sensuous stage presence and passionate vocal delivery will soothe your ears and alter your spirit in the most alluring way. 



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