Penn women of color honored for work in their communities

Three members of the Penn community were honored for their service to the University and the surrounding community at the eleventh annual Women of Color Awards luncheon, held March 6 at the Penn Tower Hotel.

LaShanta Johnson, Loretta Sweet Jemmott and Estela de Llanos, the winners of this year's Women of Color Awards

Photo by Saundra Cartwright

Associate Professor of Nursing Loretta Sweet Jemmott (GNu'82/ Gr'87), director of Penn's Center for Urban Health Research, was honored for her work in health education. Jemmott produced with her husband John a landmark curriculum on HIV prevention in youth, which the Centers for Disease Control has adopted as a model. She is also active in a program that promotes good health among single mothers with sons living in Philadelphia Housing Authority projects. (Related article)

Jemmott, whose family was on hand to see her receive the award, said, "It's so exciting that I was even nominated, that the dean believed in me and put my name forward. Then when I was told I got it, that blew me away because of all the wonderful sisters on campus."

Estela de Llanos (L'98) received the graduate student award for her work in community service law. She chose to enter a Law School clinical program that requires 70 hours of pro bono law work each year, twice the 35 hours required of all law students, and has performed clinical externships with the Elderly Law Project of Community Legal Services and the Legislative Clinical Seminar.

Louis Rulli, associate practice professor of law, said, "Estela is an outstanding student who demonstrates how a creative, intelligent and compassionate person can make an important difference in a low-income, impoverished community."

The undergraduate honoree, LaShanta Johnson (EAS'98), was recognized for her work in a wide range of projects. In her native Washington, D.C., Johnson served as a research intern at Citizens for Tax Justice and worked for a department of the Central Intelligence Agency that handled business contracts with local and national merchants.

Locally, Johnson has worked as a volunteer counselor and educator for formerly homeless single mothers and their children, and has assisted Law Professor Lani Guinier in coordinating projects and handling correspondence related to President Clinton's national conversation on race.

The honorees were chosen from over 30 Penn women nominated by members of the University community. A 16-member panel reviewed the nominations, which were voted on by the Women of Color Awards organizing committee.

The awards luncheon celebrates National Women of Color Day (March 1), created in 1988 to promote recognition of the contributions women of color have made to their families, their communities and society as a whole.

Originally published on April 2, 1998