Strong Women, Strong Girls Honors Female Leaders & Organization Making an Impact in the Western Pennsylvania Region
Strong Women, Strong Girls (SWSG) announced the honorees of the 2022 Strong Awards, an annual signature event and fundraiser hosted by SWSG that honors three exceptional women and girls and one organization that are making an impact in the Western Pennsylvania region. The 2022 recipients included: Pennsylvania Organization for Women in Early Recovery (POWER) as the Organization honoree; Ja’Lisa L. Brown at the Professional honoree; Isabella Wegner as the Young Professional honoree; and Grace Lee as the Elementary Girl honoree.
Hosted at the Westin Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh, this was the first in-person Strong Awards breakfast since the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to recognizing this year’s honorees, the event was emceed by Celina Pompeani of KDKA and the Pittsburgh Penguins and featured Dr. Angela Reynolds, the Executive Director of the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh, as the keynote speaker.
“It’s phenomenal to bring the Pittsburgh community together to celebrate these inspiring honorees who embody the mission of SWSG to empower women and girls to be strong, loud and proud,” said Kimmi Baston, Managing Director of SWSG, who oversees the organization’s Pittsburgh operations. “While the pandemic certainly posed unprecedented challenges for our mentees and our organization, it’s been extremely uplifting to see how agile and committed our team has been to adapt to a fast-changing environment and serve our girls. Even more, I’m filled with gratitude by the support that the Pittsburgh community continues to provide SWSG over the years as we expand our services and organizational reach as we start our next year of programming.”
The annual breakfast hosted more than 295 attendees both virtually and in person and raised more than $106,000 in funds from corporate sponsors and individual donors to power SWSG’s mentorship programming with elementary school girls for the upcoming school year. In Pittsburgh, SWSG serves 600 girls at nearly 40 sites with 10 weeks of afterschool programming each semester that is facilitated by college mentors hailing from six local colleges and universities.
Learn more about each of the 2022 Strong Awards recipients, all of whom embody the SWSG values of perseverance, character, and commitment to the community:
ORGANIZATION HONOREE: Pennsylvania Organization for Women in Early Recovery (POWER) — POWER’s mission is to help women reclaim their lives from addiction and related emotional health issues and improve the well-being of future generations. As the Pittsburgh region’s leading provider of gender-responsive, trauma-informed drug and alcohol services, POWER helps women build a strong foundation to sustain their recovery. Visit www.power-recovery.com to learn more in depth about their services including screening & assessment, detox & rehab, residential treatment, outpatient therapy, and peer mentoring.
PROFESSIONAL HONOREE: Ja’Lisa L. Brown, MBA — Ms. Brown is a Pittsburgh native and Benefits and HRIS Manager for the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh. While completing her MBA, she created ‘A Queen with Purpose, LLC’, a brand geared towards helping women design a purposeful life with God first and create financial stability. Brown currently serves as the President of the Urban League Young Professionals of Greater Pittsburgh.
YOUNG PROFESSIONAL HONOREE: Isabella Wegner — Ms. Wegner is the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator of the Strong Women, Strong Girls chapter at the University of Pittsburgh, where she studies biological sciences. She is also president of Days for Girls, an University student organization that combats period poverty through education as well as sewing menstrual products to be delivered around the world.
ELEMENTARY GIRL HONOREE: Grace Lee — Ms. Lee is a rising sixth grader at CAPA Middle school of Creative and Performing Arts in the Cultural District in downtown Pittsburgh. Grace attended Pittsburgh Westwood Elementary School, where she was a member of Strong Women, Strong Girls, as well as the Instrumental and School bands. She stands out among her peers as a great leader, helper and motivator.