“It’s not white excellence. It’s not Latino excellence. It’s not Asian excellence. It’s just excellence. Nobody can afford to be black for a living anymore. We have to be good at what we do, and proud to be black.” -John Hope Bryant, president and CEO of Operation Hope and 2016 Women of Excellence keynote speaker.

For a decade, the Michigan Chronicle has celebrated African American women who inspire others through vision and leadership, exceptional achievements, and participation in community service. Those who have been selected have shown exceptional success in business, community involvement and philanthropy.

Honorees were chosen from hundreds of nominees and will join an elite group comprised of the area’s most influential women. “These distinguished women not only have professional success to their credit, but they are beacons for the African American community through-out the region,” said Hiram Jackson, CEO of Real Times Media and publisher of Michigan Chronicle.

On Thursday, April 20, the highly-anticipated tradition continues as members of the 2017 class of Women of Excellence are honored in an induction ceremony at the MGM Grand Hotel.

“These esteemed women are essential to the workings of Detroit, and their contributions in the corporate and civic arenas make them more than deserving of this honor,” said Michigan Chronicle senior editor Keith Owens.

The 53 honorees cut a wide swath in Detroit’s socio-economic, cultural and political circles and with their induction into WOE will be part of a group pf more than 500 black women who have been honored to date.

From Dr. Stephanie Burrage, Assistant Superintendent at the Wayne Regional Educational Service Agency, to Dr. Deirdre Young VP for Health and Equity for United Way of Southeastern Michigan, all members of the WOE class of 2017 were recommended by a group of their peers and selected from hundreds of nominations.

Special distinctions will be awarded to three WOE recipients for exemplary leadership and unparalleled accomplishments.

Patricia Maryland, Dr.PH, who will become executive vice president and president and CEO of Ascension Healthcare on July 1, will receive the Pinnacle Award for professional accomplishment.

Pat Locke, the first African American woman to graduate from West Point will be the recipient of the Trailblazer Award for historic achievement.

Lisa Phillips, Cass Technical High School principal will receive the community service award for her civic contributions.

and “Women of Excellence is an opportunity to honor women who are making significant strides,” said Cathy Nedd, Michigan Chronicle associate publisher. “Pat Locke’s courage and fortitude made her the first African-American woman to graduate from West Point. That is what Women of Excellence is about — honoring women of extraordinary achievement.”

The list of accomplishments is equally inspiring and populated with African American women who broke new ground to rise through the ranks in their respective fields; like Michelle Alexander, Diversity Marketing Manager at General Motors, or Adrana Jones U.S. Postmaster, and Gina Smith-Gallant, senior trial attorney for AAA Michigan.

“Those who have been selected have shown exceptional success in business, community involvement, and philanthropy,” said Jackson, “and they inspire others through vision and leadership,” he concluded.

As news of the Women of Excellence awards spread throughout the Detroit metropolitan region, young African American women were prompted to delve into their dreams and consider a future of service and influence.

“I was moved to make some decisions about what it will take to get in a position where I can make a difference and improve the lives of people in my neighborhood and my city, “said Raven King a junior at Detroit Preparatory High School. “I want it to be a remarkable life in an extraordinary world.”

St. John Health System, the largest provider of inpatient care in Southeast Michigan is the Women of Excellence lead sponsor. St. John provides comprehensive prevention, primary care and advanced treatment programs with more than 125 medical centers and five hospitals spanning five counties.

The Women of Excellence Awards ceremony will be held at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 20 at the MGM Grand Hotel.



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