Black Women's Expo

July 28, 2009 The 16th Annual Black Women's Expo (TBWE), a national destination event designed by women for women, takes place from Thursday, July 30 to Saturday, August 1 at McCormick Place West. TBWE offers a family-friendly environment in which to enjoy seminars, entertainment, shopping, product sampling, and more. This year's Expo has partnered with the National Urban League's 99th Annual Conference and anticipates an estimated 25,000 women from across the nation - wives, mothers, students, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and community leaders - along with men and youth to participate in the three-day event that offers African American-focused topics and themes.

The Expo also will present the Phenomenal Woman Awards on Friday, July 31 during the Annual Gala at the Chicago Hilton Hotel beginning at 6:30 p.m. This aspect of the Expo pays tribute to 10 outstanding Chicago area women whose excellence in a variety of fields commands recognition. Susan L. Taylor, former editorial director at Essence magazine and founder of National CARES Mentoring Movement, will deliver the keynote address. The popular motivational speaker will inspire and encourage women to greater heights. Multi-platinum selling R&B artist Brian McKnight will provide musical entertainment.

Phenomenal Woman awardees were nominated by members of the community and selected by an advisory panel of The Black Women's Expo based on their qualifications and service. Awardees include the following:

  • Brenda Palms Barber, CEO, North Lawndale Employment Network and Sweet Beginnings, LLC, for community service
  • Javette C. Orgain, M.D, MPH, assistant dean and associate professor, University of Illinois College of Medicine, for health
  • Robin E. Beaman, president, Beaman Public Relations, for communications
  • Debra Sawyer, CEO, Environmental Design International, for business
  • Pamela McElvane, publisher, Diversity MBA Magazine, for entrepreneurship
  • Dr. Blondean Davis, superintendent, Matteson School District 162, for education
  • Bishop Connie Crawford, founder, The Jericho Walk Against Violence, and pastor, Living Church of God, for faith
  • Eratharin Cousin, president, The Polk Street Group, for politics
  • Elizabeth Thompson, board member, Ronald McDonald House Charity and chair, Purdue University Minority Engineering Programs Advisory Panel, for philanthropy
  • Tania Stanford, 2009 graduate, Queen of Peace High School, for youth organization In addition, a Special Launa T. Thompson Spirit Award will be presented.

Featuring seminars and workshops that will empower, inspire, and motivate, Expo topics will include economic empowerment, health and wellness, business ownership, male/female relationships, education, urban living and decorating, financial literacy, and teen life. Attendees will have the opportunity to dialogue with and learn from such national experts as television Judge Glenda Hatchett, radio personality Michael Baisden, decorating and relationship expert Lauren Lake of HGTV and the Dr. Phil Show, women's health expert and author Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, civil rights activist Dick Gregory, motivational speaker Les Brown, and business networking guru George Fraser. Headlining the entertainment stage on Saturday will be R&B artists Dru Hill. Other performers include Slique, Phoenix Phenom, and B Hamp. Daily fashion shows, poetry readings, a comedy showcase featuring Damon Williams, and the Best Unsigned Talent Show round out the entertainment.

One of the highlights of this year's Expo will be the Town Hall Meeting, a powerful panel discussion featuring national influencers on issues that impact the African American community. Panelists for Preserving Our Black Heritage, Legacy & Pride include Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Dr. Julia Hare, Dr. Conrad Worrill, and Dick Gregory.

To identify and assist new and emerging entrepreneurs, the Expo is sponsoring the 2009 Business Plan Competition. The competition will help to prepare entrepreneurs in the development of a business plan and strategies to market entry. Co-sponsors for the Business Plan Competition include Diversity MBA Magazine, Chicago Minority Business Development Council, Minority Business Enterprise Council, and Chicago Community Ventures (CCV). Although applicants for the business competition have pre-registered and submitted their materials to a judging panel, the winners will be announced on Thursday, July 31 at the Expo. Prizes include cash awards of $3,000 and $1,500.

Attendees of The Black Women's Expo are being asked to help feed Chicago's hungry by bringing non-perishable food items with them to McCormick Place as they participate in the number one destination event for the summer. Those bringing food items will be given a $2 discount on their admission. "This request is precipitated by the continuing high unemployment rate and the weakened economy that is taking a heavy toll on many families and individuals in the Greater Chicago area, as elsewhere in the country," said Merry Green, founder and executive producer of the Expo. The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division in Chicago reports that assistance with groceries is the number-one request from people coming to the Army for help. There is a great need for the public to pitch in to assure that families and individuals in need will not go hungry. Dominick's is a participating partner in the food collection.

"There's something for everyone at The Black Women's Expo," explained Ms. Green. "Its an established event that women, men, and youth return to year after year because they can count on us to provide information, entertainment, and inspiration." Green added.

For additional information on The Black Women's Expo, call 312-243-3554 or visit .

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