'Night of Empowerment' authenticates strength of diversity, representation

Published 02.19.2023

Student News

Bright lights, empowering city! The CAC marquee beams with the promise of the event and reflects Penn College's proud co-sponsorship.Alison A. Diehl, executive director of the college's Clean Energy Center, networks with Alix Norte (center), a community member who supports the Clean Energy Center's impactful programs, and Shaqira S. Drummond, a 2022 business administration: marketing concentration graduate who created promotional materials for Night of Empowerment.A gray-suited Richards – introduced by Mayor Slaughter (standing at right, with Stanley Cary, community outreach specialist at UPMC) as "Williamsport's own" – strides to the stage to join the other panelists. The special agent talked about the foundation that his local upbringing provided.A student-moderated conversation among six Black professionals, some of the "best and brightest leaders" from across Pennsylvania, was a centerpiece of Williamsport's inaugural "Night of Empowerment" at the Community Arts Center on Saturday.

Penn College's Ashlee Massey and Lycoming College's Jordan Golding, Black Student Union presidents on their respective campuses, involved the panel and kept the questions flowing from the students in the audience. Those students were also the focus of a pre-show VIP networking opportunity in the theater's mezzanine, which put them in direct interaction with area employers and their potential future careers.

Massey, a human services & restorative justice student at Penn College, and Golding, studying history and political science at Lycoming, did a great job asking questions and engaging the impressive panel.Work by artist/muralist Marcellus and vintage photographs, on loan from the African American Museum in Philadelphia and displayed in the inner lobby and on the second floor, intensify the spirit of the evening.Woods talks about how important it is for the community – especially students just beginning their own journeys to hoped-for success – to see successful professionals who look like them.Panelists for the public portion of the evening were Jovan Goldstein, managing partner of JTGoldstein Accountants & Business Advisors, and board chairman of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware; Regina Hairston, president/CEO of that joint chamber; Melonie Jackson, UPMC vice president of human resources for northwest New York/northwest and northcentral Pennsylvania; Special Agent Alston Richards, FBI; Lt. Col. Kristal Turner-Childs, retired deputy commissioner, Pennsylvania State Police; and PageCarol Woods, assistant dean for student success at Lycoming College.

Saturday's program – envisioned by its organizers as an annual event – was arranged by the office of Williamsport Mayor Derek Slaughter, Penn College and Lycoming College, UPMC, the Pennsylvania Chamber for Black Owned Business, and the newly formed Williamsport Representation Council.