Women of Color at Penn (WOCAP) is more than a campus support and advocacy group. For some of its members it’s a family affair, a sisterhood of black, Asian and Latina women at the University and the Health System.
This group, joined by friends, colleagues, and community members, will celebrate the 25th Annual Women of Color at Penn Day on Friday, March 16, with a conference and awards luncheon at the Philadelphia University City Sheraton Hotel at 36th and Chestnut streets.
The event is designed to raise awareness about the talents, achievements, and concerns of women of color in the Penn community and the Delaware Valley, and will address the theme “Women of Color Then and Now: An Examination of the Roles and Experiences of Women of Color over the past 25 years and Visions for the Future.”
The luncheon will feature the presentation of WOCAP awards recognizing women of color whose special commitment and service to their workplace, or to the Delaware Valley, have made a difference. Renee Chenault-Fattah, an NBC10 Philadelphia anchor and Penn alumna, will deliver the keynote address.
This year’s community honoree is Elder Marietta Melton of the Helping Hands Ministry. The staff honoree is Nicole Maloy, director of multicultural outreach in Alumni Relations. The undergraduate honoree is Diana Olivos, who has served as vice president and president of Asociación Cultural de Estudiantes Latinoamericanos (ACELA), the oldest Latino student group at Penn. The graduate student honoree Khadijah White, a Ph.D. candidate in communication in the Annenberg School, and the Helen O. Dickens honoree is Loretta Sweet Jemmott, a professor of nursing and director of the Center for Health Disparities Research at the Penn School of Nursing. Tickets for the event are on sale now. Information is available at the Women of Color Day website.
Planning this year’s event became a family reunion of sorts for current and former WOCAP members. Everyone who chaired previous executive planning committees for WOCAP Days from 1987 through 2011 was invited to chair once again this year.
Valerie Dorsey Allen, director of Penn’s African American Resource Center (AARC), has the unique honor of being what she calls the “chair of chairs of the executive planning committee.”
For Dorsey Allen, WOCAP is a family affair, literally. Her mother, Orneice Dorsey Leslie, who retired from Penn as assistant director at the School of Social Work (now the School of Social Policy and Practice), introduced her to the group years ago. In 1999, WOCAP honored Dorsey Leslie with the Helen O. Dickens Lifetime Achievement Award, citing her "work with and for the African American community in particular, the special needs of girls and women of color.”
Dorsey Leslie was one of the strongest advocates for the establishment of the AARC, which opened its doors in 1989.
In the WOCAP Day 25th Anniversary program book, Dorsey Allen writes: “My mother taught me that culture is a rock in a hard place, and heritage gives direction that will help you move forward. At the luncheon, we stand on the rocks of our ancestors, remember the heritage of our people, and celebrate the advancements and accomplishments of today.”
Originally published on March 8, 2012