Community College of Philadelphia to Bestow Leadership Awards on Community and Business Leaders

PHILADELPHIA, May. 3, 2010 —Community College of Philadelphia’s three Regional Centers will give distinguished leadership awards to 18 community, political, student, education, faith and business luminaries at 8 a.m. on May 4, 5, and 6, respectively. The awards will be given to individuals who have demonstrated achievement and outstanding commitment to the College and their community.

  • The Northeast Regional Center will hold its award ceremony at 8 a.m., Tuesday, May 4, at 12901 Townsend Rd.
  • The Northwest Regional Center will hold its award ceremony at 8 a.m., Wednesday, May 5, at 1300 W. Godfrey Ave.
  • The West Regional Center will hold its ceremony at 8 a.m., Thursday, May 6, at 4725 Chestnut St.

The following is a list of this year’s awardees for each of the Regional Centers:

Northeast Regional Center

  • Business - Patricia M. Betz, assistant vice president and branch manager Beneficial Bank. Betz, who started at Beneficial in 1979 as a teller, currently is in charge of two branches. Through Beneficial Bank, she has participated in many volunteer activities, such as walking to raise money for Special People in the Northeast Inc., handing out Halloween candy at the Northeast Community YMCA, running to benefit neighborhood athletic associations and assisting senior citizens in winterizing their homes. She is also a member of Beneficial Bank Blue Gooders Group, a new initiative at Beneficial to give employees an opportunity to give back to the community. Serving as ambassador of the Greater Northeast Chamber of Commerce, Betz is also a member of the Mayfair Business Association and the Northeast Sunrisers Rotary Club.

  • Education - Lissa S. Johnson is regional superintendent for the School District of Philadelphia where she directs educational programs to improve student achievement; oversees the implementation of policies and procedures; manages budget and financial operations; and conducts professional development for administrators, teachers, parents and community members. As a superintendent for the Northeast region, she serves 16,000 students in 22 schools. With experience as a special education teacher, department chair, supervisor and principal, Johnson brings years of knowledge to her position. She also is a member of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the National Staff Development Council and the Schoolmen’s Club of Philadelphia.

  • Elected Official - The Honorable State Rep. Brendan F. Boyle was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ 170th Legislative District in November 2008. His legislative priorities include affordable education, universal health care for children and adults, crime reduction, sustainable growth and government reform. Boyle currently serves on five committees: Aging and Older Adult Services, Labor Relations, State Government, Urban Affairs and he is secretary on the Insurance committee. A Philadelphia native, Boyle graduated from Cardinal Dougherty High School and became the first in his family to attend college, earning a bachelor’s degree in Government from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s degree in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

  • Faith-Based - Rev. Richard Smith, pastor at Faith Assembly of God in Frankford, has spent the last 35 years helping others rebuild their lives and break the cycle of poverty and despair. His ministry works to house, clothe, feed and nurture those in need, especially individuals addicted to drugs or alcohol and individuals returning from prison. One of his main priorities is reducing the recidivism rate in the community by providing employment, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, and spiritual services. His all-volunteer staff serves the 190-member congregation, plus anyone who comes to the church looking for help. Faith Assembly of God also offers other kinds of help, ranging from finding resources to assist the poor in paying for utilities to job referrals and parenting and marriage counseling.

  • Community Service - Michael Hatala, president of the Parkwood Civic Association, has made community service a way of life. About 10 years ago, Hatala saw the need to clean up parts of his neighborhood. His desire to tackle bigger projects led him to revive the Parkwood Civic Association, of which he is now president. Since then, he has organized spring and fall cleanups in Parkwood. Hatala is the community liaison responsible for communicating any needs and concerns of the neighborhood to our College, Korman Residential Properties and Wawa, the convenience store chain. He started the Town Watch, which has won awards from the city of Philadelphia. For the last couple of years, he has been working with our state and city officials to develop part of the Benjamin Rush State Park for community use. The park is also home to one of the world’s largest community gardens. The father of four also volunteers his time as a basketball coach for the Academy Sabres Sports Association.

  • Youth - Anjerie Yohn, a student at George Washington High School, is a member of the National Honor Society and carries a 95 average, which puts her in the top 10 percent of her senior class. She also is a member of the International Baccalaureate program, which prepares students for college and offers a chance to earn college credits. Yohn serves as secretary of the student government association and has been vice president of the National Honor Society for the past two years. For two years, she was a member of the Beacon Youth Center Council program, where she helped develop and supervise afterschool activities for community youth. Last summer, she traveled around the United States as part of the prestigious Operation Understanding Program, which brings African-American and Jewish teens together to explore their cultural and historical roots. This year, she was an ambassador to the program, helping to promote tolerance and understanding between different cultures.

Northwest Regional Center

  • Business - Bob J. Elfant, president, Elfant Wissahickon Realtors, has been a member of the Northwest Philadelphia business community since the early 1970s, when he joined his father’s real estate business. Elfant subsequently split the company into two separate businesses-Martin Elfant, Inc., which specializes in property management, and Elfant Wissahickon Realtors, which today has four locations, 70 office and sales staff members and sales of more than $140 million dollars. Additionally, Elfant is president of Direct Mortgage Loan Company, one of the founders and significant stockholders of Valley Green Bank and a member of its board of directors and loan committee, and part owner of the Trolley Car Diner. He also serves on the board of the Mt. Airy Business Improvement District as treasurer and is a member of the organization’s Clean and Safe Committee.

  • Education - Barbara Bloom, creator of the Mt. Airy Learning Tree School, has been educating individuals of all ages for more than 40 years. For the past 10 years, Bloom has led a group of adult volunteers at Henry H. Houston elementary school in Mt. Airy, which offers one-on-one tutoring to young students one day a week. In 1981, she founded the Mt. Airy Learning Tree, serving as its director until 1990. The center started with 17 classes, which attracted 125 registrants. Now, Mt. Airy Learning Tree offers 275 classes in everything from yoga and acupuncture to wine tasting and conversational French. The program has more than 1,500 students and more than 200 faculty members.

  • Elected Official - Shirley Gregory is district director for U.S. Rep. Robert A. Brady and the 49th Ward Leader .Before joining Brady’s staff in 1998, Gregory served as special assistant to the late U.S. Rep. Thomas Foglietta and participated in the political campaigns of the late state Sen. Hardy Williams, former Mayor Wilson Goode, state Rep. Dwight Evans and Philadelphia Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco. Gregory has been a committeeperson of the 49th Ward, 7th division, since 1974 and has been the 49th Ward leader since 1984. Over the years, she has been a member of dozens of organizations, including a board member of the National Political Congress of Black Women, Philadelphia Neighborhood Housing Service, Germantown Community Council, Franklin Learning Center and the Southeastern Pennsylvania chapter of the American Red Cross.

  • Faith-Based - The Rev. Alfred W. Jones, director, Mary L. King Food Ministry, Holsey Temple C.M.E. Church, has served parishioners in Harrisburg, Camden and Northwest Philadelphia for more than 25 years. The Mary L. King Food Ministry provides food and clothing to those in need, partners with Philabundance for its senior citizen food commodity program and helps citizens with housing issues. As a former director of the church’s board of directors, he is the author of two handbooks to help guide other church trustees and leads training courses in New York, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. Previously, he worked at the IRS for 33 years, earning two congressional citations for his years of service.

  • Community Service - Derek S. Green, Esq., is special counsel to Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco. Green has held leadership positions in many civic and professional organizations, including as president of East Mount Airy Neighbors, Inc., co-vice chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Legal Services to the Public Committee, board director of the Urban League of Philadelphia, board director of West Oak Lane Charter School and board manager of the YMCA of Germantown.

  • Youth - Thomas Haley, a senior at Saint Joseph’s Preparatory School, has been an honor roll student since first grade. Haley participated in several scholars programs in school to sharpen his academic skills. His extracurricular and volunteer activities include playing in a basketball summer league, participating in the Feed the Homeless for Thanksgiving program at Saint Joseph’s Prep and being a member of school’s Black and Latino Culture Club. He is certified in CPR and First Aid. Haley also works at Kumon Learning Center, where he tutors children in math and reading.

West Regional Center

  • Business - Margo L. Davidson is co-founder and board president, African-American Female Entrepreneurs Alliance. Founded in 1998, AFEA has served nearly 500 businesses through nine conferences, bi-monthly workshops, networking events and computer classes. AFEA also offers micro-loans through its partnership with Community Capital Works. Davidson, an ordained minister, also co-founded Anti-Drug & Alcohol Crusaders. The non-profit organization is part of her ministry to children whose parents were addicted to alcohol and other drugs and to the parents themselves. The former broadcast journalist was trained at LaSalle University’s Non-Profit Management Center. She founded Davidson & Company Strategists, which provides consultation services to help small non-profits better serve their constituents.

  • Education - Jerry C. Johnson, MD, is chief of the Division of Geriatric Medicine University of Pennsylvania Health System. He also is co-principal investigator of EXPORT, a comprehensive center of excellence for outcomes research and training focusing on obesity in minority populations and principal investigator of the Center of Excellence for Diversity in Health Education and Research. His research focuses on defining and understanding the relationship between physicians and African-American patients and evaluating models of cultural competence education. He helped develop the School of Medicine’s two-year curriculum of educating physicians in culturally appropriate care.

  • Elected Official-The Late Honorable Hardy Williams, State Senator 8th Legislative District, was a visionary that committed his life to breaking down barriers and serving the people of Philadelphia. Sen. Williams was the first African-American basketball player at Penn State University, and he led the team as captain to the school’s first tournament championship in 32 years. After moving on to the University of Pennsylvania and earning a Law degree, he entered the U.S. Army, where he earned the National Defense Service Medal, the Republic of Korea Presidential Merit Citation and the United Nations Service Ribbon, as well as the rank of second lieutenant. After his election to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives as an independent Democrat, Sen. Williams unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Philadelphia. The 1971 race was rife with the racial and gender politics of the era and drew national attention. The then-state representative returned to Harrisburg, where he organized the Pennsylvania Black Legislative Caucus. After serving five State House terms, he successfully ran as a Democrat for State Senator. He focused on several issues, including violence, police brutality, business opportunities for African Americans and the arts. Sen. Williams founded the Organized Anti-Crime Community Network and was integral to the creation of the Crisis Intervention Network and numerous other beneficial organizations. He retired from the Senate in 1998 after 30 years in public life and his son, Anthony, replaced him in the same Senate seat. Sen. Williams died on Jan. 7, 2010.

  • Faith-Based - The Rev. Jonathan E. Ford, pastor of Taylor Tabernacle, uses his business and technology expertise to assist the needy. In 2009, Rev. Ford was ordained an Elder in the Lord’s Church and subsequently assumed the pastorate of Taylor Tabernacle. He also serves as the executive director of Turning the TIDE, a technology and employment training center operated as a separate nonprofit subsidiary of the church. Turning the TIDE has received a number of federal grants to support Project ECHO, which focuses on providing job training and job placement services, along with entrepreneurial training for ex-offenders. Turning the TIDE also has become one of the leading faith-based organizations providing HIV/AIDS education, including counseling and rapid-testing services, in the city of Philadelphia. Most recently, Turning the TIDE launched a Christian-based, after-school youth program. Rev. Ford also is chairman of the board of directors for The Partnership CDC, an organization dedicated to proving affordable housing and employment opportunities to low-income individuals and families throughout the Delaware Valley.

  • Community Service - JoAnn Weinberger is president and executive director of the Center for Literacy (CFL), the nation’s largest community-based non-profit adult literacy organization. CFL also provides a range of diverse literacy services for in-school and out-of-school youth. Weinberger serves as chief executive officer of CFL, is a member of its Board of Trustees and its executive committee. As legislative chair of the Pennsylvania Association of Adult Continuing Education, Weinberger provides leadership to the adult education community on legislation, policy development and advocacy. She also is a member of the Philadelphia Council on College and Career Success.

  • Youth - Hadessa Abraham, a student at Parkway West High School, is active in sports, school and volunteer activities. Abraham is a senior with a 3.1 grade point average. She ran track for two years and played volleyball for five years, serving as team captain for two years. Abraham is also the school photographer and editor-in-chief of the school’s yearbook. In the community, she has been active in the West Philadelphia EPIC Stakeholders organization, raising money for the community and participating in events such as Toys for Tots. She also helped children complete their homework and chaperoned field trips at summer camp. Interested in a career in education, she will be attending West Chester University of Pennsylvania in the fall.