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Lynette Brown-Sow, vice president of Marketing and Government Relations, described Philadelphia as a city built on diversity where many different views come together to create a shared vision of hope. She was among business and community leaders who were invited to use art to express what makes and keeps a city hopeful. Her artwork is among the pieces displayed in Defining a Hopeful City Through Art, an exhibition that runs June 26 through August 29 on the 4th floor, northwest corner of City Hall. Brown-Sow, a lifelong Philadelphian not formally trained as an artist, created a piece titled, City of Hope. “I built my City of Hope out of different colors, materials, symbols and textures and brought them together to mirror the diversity of Philadelphia and illustrate that with a shared history and a shared vision of the future, our differences can bring us together rather than set us apart,” she says in her artists’ statement. “Like the infinite circle of a rounded stool, knowledge and wisdom come from all around us, and we become our wisest selves when we open our eyes, minds and souls to the wisdom of others…. Together, and with the roots planted by generations before us, we have reason to be hopeful…”


The business and community leaders were originally asked to create the artwork for the annual Hopeful City gala held November 2013, which supported BuildaBridge International, a nonprofit organization that uses art to bring hope and healing to children and families in crisis. The City’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, and BuildaBridge International are exhibit sponsors.

The College honored employees for outstanding service during the April 30 Honors Tea in the Mint Building Rotunda.

The League for Innovation in the Community College gave Tara J. Timberman, assistant professor of English, and Kathleen M. Smith, J.D., professor of Paralegal Studies and director of the Fox Rothschild Center for Law and Society, the Innovation of the Year Award for Community College of Philadelphia for their Reentry Through Higher Education Achievement program. Dr. Judith Gay presented the award.

Jenavia Weaver, coordinator for Student Life and Leadership, received the Presidential Award for Distinguished Service for an Administrator.

Gilberto Gonzalez, graphic designer in the Division of Marketing and Government Relations and host of Entre Nosotros on CCPTV, received the Presidential Award for Distinguished Service for Diversity.

Lisa Burns, of the Northeast Regional Center, received the Presidential Award for Distinguished Service for a Classified/Confidential Employee.

Deborah D. Rossi, professor of Medical Assisting and Head Department of Allied Health, received the faculty Presidential Award for Distinguished Service.

Environmental services employees Paula Perry-Gable, Felipe Cruz; and assistant professor of Nursing, Petrina McFarlane, received certificates of appreciation and honorary nursing pins for their efforts this past fall to help a faculty member who collapsed and needed medical attention.

Fourteen employees who trained in the Leadership Institute developed projects intended to enhance the student experience and strengthen the institution. The Leadership Institute nurtures leadership among employees while also fostering collaboration and a deeper understanding of the College mission. Working in teams, the employees developed four different projects intended to address an institutional challenge or improve the student experience. Those who are interested in contributing ideas to their projects are encouraged to contact the project members.
Allan Kobernick, Yvonne Ellis, Monique Black and Osvil Acosta-Morales developed a project called Sound Off. The project offers a sound-off booth for students to express their opinions about their experience at the College. Feedback will be directed to the appropriate departments and will be used to raise awareness of student issues.
Anela Gjika, Angela Miles and Carlos Diaz developed a project called Culture of Advocacy. The project aims to determine why certain students are not using the services in place to help them succeed. The project seeks to identify areas for improvement across the College to help foster a culture of student advocacy.
Lynsey Grace, Jeffrey Haines and Desiree Rivers developed a project called CCP 101 designed to provide information, resources, support and continuous training to Student Affairs staff. CCP 101 will demonstrate how various departments are interdependent.
Rainah Chambliss, Wanda Gibson, Maria Littles, and Billy Love developed a project called Steps on the Path, which seeks to provide resources for students on emotional well-being.
The employees were acknowledged with completion certificates during the April 30 College Honors Tea.

 Firefighters risk their lives to save life and property, and prevent tragedies from striking families in Philadelphia, which has the fifth largest fire and emergency services department in the country.

That responsibility rests with Derrick Sawyer, a 2004 graduate of the Fire Science program who stepped into the job of Philadelphia Fire Commissioner on June 14.

“Community College of Philadelphia helped me to re-engage in higher education after being out of school for 20 years. The Fire Science program helped me sharpen my firefighting skills while improving my study habits, which helped me with promotional exams,” Sawyer said.

His preparation for the job was 29 years in the making. Since entering the 2,300-member fire department in 1985, Sawyer, of Northeast Philadelphia, has acquired experience as a first-responder in an urban environment where safety planning requires critical training and analytical decision making. He credits the College with providing him essential skills along the way.

Sawyer earned an Associate in Applied Science after completing the Fire Science program. The curriculum includes courses on fire prevention strategy and tactics, pre-fire planning and code enforcement, risk management, and other standard protocols and skills for fire and public safety professionals. After graduating with honor, Sawyer transferred to Holy Family University where he received a bachelor's degree in Public Safety Administration. He also graduated from the National Fire Academy's Executive Fire Officer Program and The Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute. He holds certifications as a fire officer, fire instructor and fire inspector, and is pursuing a graduate degree in homeland security from the Naval Postgraduate School.

n taking the Fire Department’s top post, Sawyer said he would continue fire prevention efforts aimed to keep residents safe.

“My unique experiences and skill set will allow me to help develop strong partnerships which will help spread the fire and life safety message. I believe that fire is everyone’s fight and with the whole community working together, we will reach our goal of zero fire fatalities,” Sawyer said.

Alongside Sawyer’s appointment, which Mayor Michael Nutter announced June 4, were promotions that included the first female deputy commissioner and the first Latino executive chief. “Going forward, I think it is important to leaders to give them an opportunity to grow and I think that diversity helps us reach new heights,” Sawyer said.

Left to right: Dr. William Hite, Jr., Dr. Donald Generals, Arne DuncanSeated around a table with Mayor Michael Nutter and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan listening intently, Community College of Philadelphia students spoke from the heart.

They, along with a number of other Philadelphia students, shared stories of their struggles and victories with the men and offered recommendations on ways to empower their peers.

On July 11, the College hosted Secretary Duncan’s roundtable convened by President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, a new effort to help young men of color reach their potential and address persistent opportunity gaps.

Jason Mays, 30, president of the Student Government Association and the 2014 Student Leader of the Year, shared that he dropped out of high school as a youth because he didn’t like the school. Later, after he enlisted in the U.S. Army, Mays found several mentors who persuaded him to focus on getting an education. "They had expectations for me," said Mays, who graduated from the College in May with an associate’s degree in Business Administration.

The event was attended by more than 60 observers, including the College’s president, Dr. Generals; Philadelphia School District superintendent, Dr. Hite; Director of the College’s Center for Male Engagement, Derrick Coleman; and former Commonwealth Judge Doris Smith-Ribner, an advisory board member of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

The young men at the table represented neighborhoods from across the city. In addition to Mays, Quaris Carter, another May graduate; Jose Quintero, Aneury Rodriguez and Nicholas Gross, participated from the College.

Discussion topics included:

  • The importance of mentorship.
  • The need for mentors to affirm positive behaviors during difficult transitions.
  • The relationship between academic achievement, workforce preparedness and trauma.
  • Greater financial support for institutions that support young people.
  • The need to promote the practical importance of a post-secondary degree, credential or certificate.
  • The need for out-of-school activities and opportunities to learn and develop.

Secretary Duncan highlighted the need for the U.S. Department of Education to do a better job of disseminating information about federal and other resources to help with college costs.

The My Brother’s Keeper Initiative will hold another discussion during the fourth 2014 Summit on Educational Excellence for African Americans at the University of Pennsylvania, October 17 and 18.

Delialah, 25, grew up in subsidized housing in Kensington and now lives in an apartment in Lawncrest. During the week, she works a day-shift in center city as an administrative assistant and takes night classes at Temple University towards her bachelor's degree.

In early July, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics and the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence of African Americans convened several young men from the Philadelphia area for a roundtable discussion with Secretary Arne Duncan and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

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After releasing her first self-published young adult (YA) novel as an e-book in 2012 while teaching English in South Korea, Atlanta resident and Philly native Mya Kay Douglas re-released “A Song For Jordan” this spring.