3 Comments
  1. LaShawn Youngblood
    Founder of Loving Me LLC

    How have you in your leadership position empowered women?
    In my leadership role, I have been committed to empowering young girls and women for over 20 years. I founded Loving Me officially on paper in 2020 but I have been operating since 2003 mentoring teenage girls and women. The name of the groups were God’s Glamours Girls and Elect Ladies, both have since been combined into one name entitled Loving Me. I realized while collaborating with women that early in life many were trained to take care of others but neglected themselves. Loving Me has a mission to encourage teens and women to look in the mirror and really embrace the entire person.
    One significant initiative I implemented was the establishment of a mentorship program specifically designed to support young girls as they navigate through their teenage years. Through this program, the young ladies graduated from high school, reconciled with their parents, and received parenting and life skills.
    Many of the girls went on to higher education and have successful careers today. My mission was, whether it is a 2-year, 4- year or trade school degree, to encourage the young ladies to aim high and operate in excellence. One student was struggling in college, and several people told her that medical school was not in her future. During one of our talks, I encouraged her to follow her dreams, stay focused and to never give up no matter what she came up against. She graduated the University of Pittsburgh Cum Laude with a degree in Chemistry and a minor in Administration of Justice. I also had the pleaser of writing a reference letter for her to attend the University of Puerto Rico Medical School and later received a copy of her acceptance letter.
    Over the years, we have partnered with local organizations, educators, therapist, and entrepreneurs across the United States that shared their wisdom and expertise with the women of Loving Me. With this partnership, we offer monthly seminars on topics such as leadership development, grief/trauma, fitness/nutrition, mental health, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship to name a few. These seminars are designed to equip women with practical skills that can enhance their professional and personal lives.
    It has been my desire, create a culture that is safe and values every woman as a person and not their title. They are not just a mom, wife, teacher, bus driver or flight attendant, these women are so much more. I recognize that titles can define a person’s identity and used to mask the real person. Many have the appearance of being successful, yet they are broken internally. I also recognize the unique challenges that women may face in balancing professional and personal responsibilities, while also dealing with childhood issues, abuse, strained relationships, etc.
    Because of these challenges, Loving Me provides tools that teach boundaries, self-care, personal growth, faith, and hope. One of the ways we strive to share hope is by encouraging the women love themselves by spending time with themselves and making themselves the #1 priority.
    We also share the importance of connecting to a strong community that will provide valuable guidance, safety/security, socialization, and support. I understand that as women, we are stronger together than we are apart. When we pull up a sister that needs strength and support as well as push up a sister that is leading in a particular area there is nothing but success in the air. I believe in women supporting women no matter the background, culture, or education status.
    I want to show the Loving Me community that I when you are healed from your past, find your voice, and see yourself correctly, it flows into your business and every relationship you have including the community. Every month I show love by volunteering with local food banks, local shelters, and participating in companion time with senior citizens by taking them to doctor appointments or just spending time with them. I also invest in assisting with the connection of resources for families in need, supporting single parents, creating yearly girl’s day/trips, and online conferences.
    In summary, my leadership approach involves creating a culture of empowerment through mentorship, advocacy for mental wellness, fostering work and home-life balance, supporting professional development, helping women thrive in life, and participating in broader initiatives for gender equality.”

  2. Greetings Ola. I would like to nominate Rev. Eileen Smith for the 2024 Onyx Woman Leadership Awards:

    Rev. Smith has inspired women in many ways through her leadership excellence and being a trailblazer for
    many programs and projects. A registered nurse, Revered Eileen O. Smith retired in 2014 from the
    Pennsylvania Department of Health, where she was a Community Health Nurse Consultant. As a Dept. of
    Health employee she served on the District’s Emergency Preparedness Team and completed the Pennsylvania
    Preparedness Leadership Institute Advanced Scholars Program where her class project, the Minority
    Emergency Preparedness Task Force Task (MEPTF) was selected for community implementation. MEPTF is
    based on the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the fact that the Gulf Coast’s African Americans and
    poorest residents were disproportionately impacted. For the past 16 years under the coordination of Rev.
    Smith, MEPTF has been successful in working with low income housing communities to empower them to take
    responsibility for their preparedness needs in the event of a major disaster through education, resources and
    the training of Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs). As a result, Rev. Smith prepared a national
    online curriculum for Harvard University. She was also the lead author with Harvard professors on the case
    study manuscript, Improving Preparedness in Low Income Housing Communities by Forming Community
    Emergency Response Teams (CERTs), publication pending. She also spear headed the 2020 Covid vaccine roll
    out collaborating with UPMC, United Way, Medical Reserve Corp. and the Brashear Association. Because of
    these efforts, MEPTF received an award from the United way to continue the Covid vaccine rollout and also
    received a recognition award from the National Medical Reserve Corp.
    Although professionally retired, Rev. Smith continues her work in the community to the underserved and
    unreached population. She served as a hospice chaplain for over 23 years and continues to ministers as a grief
    counselor in the community. She has been a panelist and speaker on living with grief, and has conducted
    workshops on numerous women’s topics including domestic violence. She is a member of the board of
    directors of the Birmingham Foundation, which affords her the opportunity to work with and advise funded
    agencies such as the South Pittsburgh Coalition for Peace (SPCP), where she currently is the Executive
    Director, and recently was awarded the Allegheny County Department of Human Services Community
    Violence Reduction Initiative 5 year sustainability grant that she oversees as the Community Quarterback and
    Program and Outreach Coordinator for three evidenced-based programs for south Pittsburgh: South
    Pittsburgh Peacemakers /CURE Violence Global model, a street violence interruption initiative; Becoming a
    Man school violence prevention curriculum launched in Carrick HS and Brashear HS.
    Rev. Smith also serves as an advisor for Monessen Communities That Care and Divine Intervention Ministries.
    She is a former board member of Cribs for Kids and has worked diligently to bring the safe sleep message to
    the disparate communities. Rev Smith is also the co-investigator on a research project, Exploring Safe Sleep
    and SIDS Risk Perception in an African American Community: A Focused Ethnography that has been published
    through Duquesne University. She serves on the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP), Coalition
    Against Violence and many other boards and committees.
    In addition to her nursing studies at CCAC Boyce, Rev. Smith is a year 2000 graduate from Geneva College
    where she earned a BS degree in Community Ministry with highest distinction. She attended the Pittsburgh
    Theological Seminary and also earned a certificate in Pastoral Care from the Department of Graduate Studies
    at LA Roche College in Pittsburgh, Pa. Rev. Smith has been the recipient of many awards including the first
    Governor’s Award for Excellence in Community Service; The Isaiah Project (TIP) Award for Community Service;
    The South Pittsburgh Coalition for Peace Visionary Award; Monessen Communities That Care Champions
    Award; Pittsburgh Courier Women of Excellence Award; Proclamation, City of Pittsburgh, Office of the Mayor,
    “CERT and Eileen Smith Day;” Cribs for Kids Making a Difference Award; The 2017 Greater Pittsburgh YWCA
    Women of Excellence Health and Human Services Award; the 2018 American Red Cross Hero’s Award; 2023
    Cities United National Heroine for Violence Prevention award at their national conference, and numerous
    other commendations.

    Rev. Smith has been the Pastor of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church in West Newton, Pa. for the past 20 years where
    she grew up and returned to her roots. She considers pasturing an honor and is known to be accessible to her
    church family and others in the community who are need of pastoral care. She has inspired women in ministry
    by training female ministers and deacons and licensing and ordaining them to the ministry of the Gospel. Rev.
    Smith gives all glory to God for the things that He has done in her life that have been a blessing to others.
    Through the good times and the struggles, her favorite quote that has brought her this far by faith is “I can do
    all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Philippians 4:13. She is the proud mother of Rev. Nikki Porter
    and Dr. Toya Jones, and 3 grandchildren, CJ, Naomi and Ray.

  3. Greetings Ola, I would like to Nominate Lashawn Youngblood for the 2024 Onyx Woman Leadership Award.

    In her leadership role, She has been committed to empowering young girls and women for over 20
    years. I founded Loving Me officially on paper in 2020 but she has been operating since 2003
    mentoring teenage girls and women. The name of the groups were God’s Glamours Girls and
    Elect Ladies, both have since been combined into one name entitled Loving Me. She realized while
    collaborating with women that early in life many were trained to take care of others but
    neglected themselves. Loving Me has a mission to encourage teens and women to look in the
    mirror and really embrace the entire person.
    One significant initiative I implemented was the establishment of a mentorship program
    specifically designed to support young girls as they navigate through their teenage years.
    Through this program, the young ladies graduated from high school, reconciled with their
    parents, and received parenting and life skills.
    Many of the girls went on to higher education and have successful careers today. Her mission
    was, whether it is a 2-year, 4- year or trade school degree, to encourage the young ladies to aim
    high and operate in excellence. One student was struggling in college, and several people told
    her that medical school was not in her future. During one of our talks, She encouraged her to follow
    her dreams, stay focused and to never give up no matter what she came up against. She
    graduated the University of Pittsburgh Cum Laude with a degree in Chemistry and a minor in
    Administration of Justice. She also had the pleaser of writing a reference letter for her to attend the
    University of Puerto Rico Medical School and later received a copy of her acceptance letter.
    Over the years, we have partnered with local organizations, educators, therapist, and
    entrepreneurs across the United States that shared their wisdom and expertise with the women of
    Loving Me. With this partnership, we offer monthly seminars on topics such as leadership
    development, grief/trauma, fitness/nutrition, mental health, financial literacy, and
    entrepreneurship to name a few. These seminars are designed to equip women with practical
    skills that can enhance their professional and personal lives.
    It has been my desire, create a culture that is safe and values every woman as a person and not
    their title. They are not just a mom, wife, teacher, bus driver or flight attendant, these women are
    so much more. She recognizes that titles can define a person’s identity and used to mask the real
    person. Many have the appearance of being successful, yet they are broken internally. She also
    recognize the unique challenges that women may face in balancing professional and personal
    responsibilities, while also dealing with childhood issues, abuse, strained relationships, etc.
    Because of these challenges, Loving Me provides tools that teach boundaries, self-care, personal
    growth, faith, and hope. One of the ways we strive to share hope is by encouraging the women
    love themselves by spending time with themselves and making themselves the #1 priority.

    We also share the importance of connecting to a strong community that will provide valuable
    guidance, safety/security, socialization, and support.She understands that as women, we are stronger
    together than we are apart. When we pull up a sister that needs strength and support as well as
    push up a sister that is leading in a particular area there is nothing but success in the air. She believes
    in women supporting women no matter the background, culture, or education status.
    She wants to show the Loving Me community that when you are healed from your past, find your
    voice, and see yourself correctly, it flows into your business and every relationship you have
    including the community. Every month she shows love by volunteering with local food banks, local
    shelters, and participating in companion time with senior citizens by taking them to doctor
    appointments or just spending time with them. She also invest in assisting with the connection of
    resources for families in need, supporting single parents, creating yearly girl’s day/trips, and
    online conferences.
    In summary, her leadership approach involves creating a culture of empowerment through
    mentorship, advocacy for mental wellness, fostering work and home-life balance, supporting
    professional development, helping women thrive in life, and participating in broader initiatives
    for gender equality.

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