The Sixth Annual Power Lunch, sponsored by The Philadelphia Chapter of Chums Inc. and hosted at the Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District on Thursday, connected high school girls to professional women in an intimate setting that encouraged networking and mentorship.

The lunchtime mentors included Philadelphia Chum members Gisela Johnson-Smith, Dr. Darlene Adams, Gloria Toxey Jones, Mary Livingston, Margaret Livingston. They were joined by a host of other dynamic women.

The keynote speaker of the event was the Rev. Lorina Marshall-Blake, president of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation. She appeared with a bagful of her favorite books and offered inspiration to the rapt audience of more than three dozen students.

After a call-and-response in which the girls declared, “I’m a CEO,” Marshall-Blake affirmed: “That means you are the chief executive officer of your life, so it is important that you make a determination of what you’re going to do and where you are going to go.”

To date, The Evoluer House has graduated more than a thousand girls from its programs, which were developed for girls between the ages of 13 and 18. Participants receive opportunities to achieve their dreams and build their futures.

According to TEH’s statement, “100 percent of those graduates have gone on to attend college or some form of post-secondary education/training. Many have gone on to earn advanced degrees.”

The girls attending the special summer event are all enrolled in Evoluer’s Personal Development Workshop and the Youth Workforce Development program.

Evoluer House founder Cheryl Ann Wadlington applauded the high-achieving women in attendance for demonstrating to the teens how to be a bold and confident female leader in the world of tomorrow.

“They are sharing real-life experiences and tips on how they made it through the ranks of success,” said Wadlington.

“Considering the climate in today’s time when we really haven’t heard anything at a national level or on the table about advancing efforts for girls of color. Here today we have a group of professional women who are committed to make sure these girls have access to, not just scholarship information, but to job information. They have committed to make sure these girls succeed.”

Like many of her fellow attendees, 15-year-old Arial “China” Porter was excited and empowered to glean information from the mentors.

“This means I am planning opportunities because I’ve come across experienced people – and I am surrounded by my sisters,” she said.

The 10th grader at Girls High School is currently enrolled in the TEH’s young entrepreneur program and is applying the lessons she’s learned this summer to her online business, “Arial’s Nursery,” a line of therapy dolls.

Porter also added, “Keep your head up and always keep going – steady and slow always wins the race.”

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