Through lots of dedication and hard work, the Young Caribbean Professional Network (YCPN) held its 5th Annual International Awards and Scholarship Awards at Estia Restaurant in downtown Philadelphia on April 5.

This year, the group wanted to recognize individuals who have, over the span of many years, worked hard to have a positive impact on the community at large and to reward deserving minority students who are working toward a college degree. Dr. Kingsley R. Chin, Javier Suarez, Dr. Chetachi Nwoga-Ecton and Jannie Blackwell were the candidates chosen to receive this honor.

Chin is originally from Portland, Jamaica, and is a well-accomplished surgeon. He attended Columbia University and graduated from there with a dual degree in engineering and mathematics with honors. He attended Harvard Medical School where he specialized in spinal surgery.

Chin later became chief of spine surgery and professor at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. He Chin has leveraged his medical and business skills to be renowned internationally as the expert in minimally invasive spine surgery and in new medical devices and techniques. His career in healthcare technology has spanned over 28 years.

Today, Chin has over 40 patents, has treated more than 25,000 patients, completed more than 5,000 procedures, published more than 80 peer-reviewed articles, and is a professor and public speaker who dedicates three days per week to practicing medicine, and the rest of his time to the Business of Medicine. He is the author of the acclaimed book “Prove Yourself — Life and Business Lessons for Success,” available on

Dr. Chetachi Nwoga-Ecton is the president of When in Need Foundation (WIN). WIN was born out of Chetachi’s lifelong virtues of selflessness and compassion for the powerless and downtrodden. Prior to establishing WIN, she founded a healthcare agency providing compassionate services to disabled individuals in Philadelphia.

As chief executive officer of WIN, she brings her tenacity, inspiration, relentlessness and a knack for excellence to ensure that the organization achieves its goals. WIN and its Mission of Mercy program assist individuals in need with tuition and educational scholarships, basic amenities, food, medical supplies, emergency supplies, healthcare and basic resources globally.

The program has positively impacted thousands of people in Nigeria, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, Chile, Argentina and other countries. Two examples of WIN’s impact are the installation of a potable drinking water system in Imo state, Nigeria, and the medical mission to Abuja, Nigeria, to fight malaria and diarrhea in 2016.

Suarez is vice president of strategic partnerships at the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, he is executive producer of the Hispanic Choice Awards, Philadelphia’s premier red-carpet event honoring Latino professionals in the region.

Suarez serves on the Advisory Board of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Association of Latino Professionals for America. He is a board member at Public Citizens for Children and Youth. He serves on the Board of Advisers for PHL Diversity, a division of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and is chair of the Latino Marketing Advisory Board for Visit Philadelphia.

In 2014, Suarez received the Minority Business Leader Award from the Philadelphia Business Journal and the Brillante Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence from the National Society of Hispanic MBAs. He holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from La Salle University. Suarez is originally from Philadelphia and is of Colombian descent.

Jannie L. Blackwell, a seven-term council member for the Third District, was born and raised in Philadelphia. She is an advocate for social change with a solid reputation for serving community members, the poor and the underprivileged in Philadelphia, making her a leader in our city with her own vision.

Blackwell received a bachelor of science in education from Cheyney University and a master of arts in education from St. Joseph’s University. She became a City Council member in 1992 after her late husband, Lucien Blackwell, was elected to the U.S. Congress.

Blackwell serves as chair of the Committee on Finance and chair of the Education Committee. She is vice chair of the Committee on Housing, Neighborhood Development and the Homeless, and was appointed to the Committee on Appropriations and the Committee on Commerce and Economic Development, just to name a few.

Additionally, she serves as a board member for Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. Blackwell is co-founder and commissioner on the Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrants and founder of Echoes of Africa. For over 30 years, Blackwell has been a tireless advocate for the poor, the disenfranchised and the immigrant communities.

“The 5th Annual International Award was a huge success,” said Blane Stoddart, the founder of YCPN. “We also bestowed four awards and six scholarships to needy university students. YCPN is really committed to diversity as part of our DNA. We are particularly interested seeing the relationship between the Afro/Caribbean and Latino communities grow and flourish.

“I think up to now those communities have functioned in their individual silos, but the hostile environment will force us to work closer towards mutual strategic goals,” Stoddart added. “We also plan on launching YCPN chapters in New York City and Washington, D.C., in 2019. Our motto is “Connect, Give Back, Have Fun.” After all, the name starts off with the word ‘Young.’”

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.