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Contributed by:  Nechelle Harris

The Village of Empowerment 2nd Annual Women’s Honors Awards .

‘The Pink is in the Ink’

Come out and help us all celebrate and Honor The Village of Empowerment Women Honorees at the Astor Ballroom in the Hyatt in Allentown PA. on June 30th from 5pm to 9 pm Tickets are $60 on sale on Eventbrite. D J Luis Ivan Moreno , Talented Kari On singing , Poem By Nechelle Harris , Special Guest Speakers are Allentown City Council President Cynthia Mota and Allentown School Board President MsPhoebe Harris . Special Guests will be Executive Director Julio Guidy of The Allentown Housing Authority and Last Year’s Honoree Phenomenal Lehigh County Commissioner April Riddick .You do not want to miss this Trailblazing Cultivating Inspirational Social Event!!

AWARD HONOREES The Village of Empowerment Honorees exemplify successful and sustainable leadership with a deep commitment to developing their career paths, positive lives , as well as impacting their community. We are proud to recognize the accomplishments of each award recipient who consistently demonstrate their values by modeling Action, innovation and the tenacity for others to emulate from their stories, and unique experiences throughout their lives . The Village of Empowerment mission is to highlight the communication, consistency, unification, upliftment, inspiration, kinship, and celebration of the women of our community. The purpose of these stories is to introduce you to hard working women that grew up in the Lehigh Valley . The Village of Empowerment wanted to honor and give back to these women from the simplest hug to the hardest fight of making others realize their level of ability ,focus,barrier breaking vision and their polarizing potential to meet their own goals, achievements and dreams. Despite what is seen, heard or said in front of them about the rest of the Lehigh Valley, these Natural Productive Leaders have a determined passion, a thriving force, to give back to those in the community in which they live. Let’s start applauding each other’s achievements, success, triumphs, and goals, but let’s also hold each other’s hand when our women have falls, failures, doubts, mental health issues and fears of new experiences. As a trailblazer, I see new trails and avenues that need to be blazed with consistency, unity, education, leadership, experience, self-care, career skills, engagement and empowerment. Where a setback will be nothing more than an erased track , We want to embark on empowering each other to become our Super Power!!!!



Elizabeth Martinez was raised in Allentown where she attended school in the Allentown School District, and is a proud graduate of William Allen High School. After graduation she worked part time while furthering her education, by studying at both Northampton Community College and Lehigh Carbon Community College simutainously, where she became certified in administrative work and related fields. After graduating college, Elizabeth found that creating accessible and reachable goals were attainable and Community Leadership and Government was her affirmation in inspiring and leveraging the power to transform lives, the community, and her family.

In 2014 Elizabeth was appointed to the Allentown school board, and in 2015 she was successfully elected to serve a four-year term. She currently serves on the Lehigh Valley Children’s Centers (LVCC) and Downtown Allentown Business Alliance (DABA) boards. Elizabeth Martinez began her career with state government 32 ½ years ago at the Allentown Community Corrections Center and during that time she also served our inner-city youth as an Outreach Counselor in Alliance All for both the YMCA and the City of Allentown. Understanding the holistic, rather than merely overt needs of the community and the City of Allentown, Elizabeth would successfully transition into serving as a Legislative Assistant to State Representative Peter G. Schweyer for the last past 10 years.

While holding many hats, Elizabeth is also a successful RealEstate Agent for Century 21 Ramos Realty in Allentown. Fully remaining devoted to long-term transformation, perseverance and change Elizabeth is a mother of two sons who she raised as a single parent. Implementing tenacity, consistency, faith, values and respect. Where her ideology of self- determination Elizabeth’s driving force would keep replaying “we” would not be average or a statistic, so she worked hard to provide for her family, setting the example for them. Both sons are now fathers to her grandson and granddaughter, and are truly a blessing to witness the extension of her family within our communities. Elizabeth states, as members of the very communities we serve, we have a bond of trust, something that can take foreign years to establish . Her faith is an important part of her life. She is currently an active member of Life Church in Allentown. Elizabeth embodies the philanthropic spirit that belief is the key to building a stronger, more flourishing youth and individual . Her longtime commitment to education and pursuing her own achievements and her unquestionable dedication to her friends and family was proof that Elizabeth was not a Statistic , she was a Champion!! . My passion is to serve people, and within my career, I have been honored to serve in numerous capacities. I also enjoy volunteering whenever I can. Martinez has earned community trust and plays a vital role in the success and sustainability of her continued humanitarian interventions.  Elizabeth Martinez is a Super Power!!



Heather Milhouse’s desire and know-how of fostering her compassionate heart combined with her purpose driven leadership has not only led her to be a business owner it led Heather to excel in community kinship. Heather is the extraordinary founder of Conscious Beautiful Salon Spa where her focus is Customer Care, Freedom of Beauty and Self-Love of Self ,by consciously exemplifying each of these attributes Heather is not only a business owner but also a passionate advocate for empowering women and utilizing her platform for philanthropic endeavors.

As a mother of two daughters and a grandmother of one granddaughter, Heather deeply understands the significance of uplifting and supporting women. She has dedicated her time to volunteer and mentor at the Caring Place Youth Development Center in Allentown, PA, leaving a lasting impact on the lives of young individuals. Heather’s involvement at the center includes hosting a youth entrepreneur development workshop, inspiring and guiding young minds to pursue their dreams of entrepreneurship.

One of Heather’s most notable initiatives is her annual event for high school seniors interested in attending prom. Recognizing the financial challenges that some students face, she provides resources to purchase tickets and prom dresses, ensuring that young ladies have the opportunity to experience this milestone event. Heather’s act of kindness has brought joy and boosted the confidence of many deserving individuals.

Heather’s philanthropic efforts extend beyond prom events. She organizes a breast cancer survivor spa day, honoring nominated ladies by providing them with uplifting spa services. This initiative not only supports their physical well-being but also uplifts their self-esteem during their journey of recovery. Additionally, Heather collaborates with local business owners to support community campaigns such as blood drives, blanket donations, and food drives, demonstrating her dedication to making a positive impact in her community.

Heather Milhouse’s commitment to empowering women and her philanthropic contributions are truly commendable. She serves as an inspiration to others, reminding us of the power we hold to create change and make a difference in the lives of those around us. Heather’s transcending effective leadership and continuous polarizing philanthropic consistency in the community makes Heather Milhousea Super Power!!



Gwen Smith was born and raised in the Lehigh Valley and grew up in Cumberland Gardens where she was raised by a strong single stylist women along with her 2 brothers..Growing up in a single parent home there were times that I had to watch my younger brother and cook while my mom had to work and we struggled at times but we survived . Living a life full of challenges , I demonstrated my ability to challenge existing paradigms, think outside the box, and identify creative or breakthrough solutions. As time went on the years flew by and I realized how much I enjoy what I do. When I was of age I started my first job working at McDonalds. As I got older I started a new journey working as a daycare teacher for nine years. I absolutely loved it,that was my favorite job. I worked both jobs to make ends meet. .As my life played out I suffered multiple miscarriages. I wanted to work one job so I wouldn’t have to go through that again because I was working a lot. Serving as internal/external champion to successfully shepherd new opportunities in the workforce I knew and understood Change was not only needed it was imperative for Me as a whole. I wanted a career and I decided to fill out an application for Cetronia Ambulance Corps at the time it was a small corporation. I got hired in August 1999 as a paratransit operator.

With the potential for longer-term growth and/or wider promotion within the organization Gwen would not only excel at her new organization, she would love what she does. Now 25 years later Gwen is the Lead Crew Chief of the Platoon Paratransit Division and her nickname is “The Princess of Cetronia.” Gwen serves as an FTO (Field Training Officer). Gwen has earned that nickname and is on the safety and hiring committees, and has been an instructor. Gwen trains new hires, participates and facilitates on multiple committees and was promoted 2 years ago to lead her peers in my line of duty. I realized what an impact I made on the community I serve and it’s a humbling experience to be able to express it .As I look back in time and where I am now as a worker,mother,friend,sister,daughter I see clearly that I am doing what I was always meant to do.In my free I enjoy spending time with my son and vacationing with my family in Georgia and catching up with friends and even stepping out of my comfort zone and exploring what the world has to offer and scratching things off of my bucket list.We only live once so I will enjoy what time I am given. There really isn’t a limit to what a woman can accomplish,I am still striving everyday. Today Gwen continues to exemplify exceptional leadership, motivation and inspiration to her peers and community. Gwen Smith You are a SuperPower!!



Kindness and Compassion has always been deeply embedded in Naeemah Davis -Roundtree. She has always been a leading positive force of change and creating tangible impact throughout her relationships, family and communities she served. Naeemah exemplifies social responsibility and many other strengths, such as kindness, genuineness and open-mindedness. “Her heart is big and she is a kind person. As a native of Allentown K-12 Naeemah always had a desire to help others. Her initial plan was to be a pediatrician.But Shifted her mindset and high school to focus more on education. Her inspiration was her only teacher of color until she entered college. Her second grade teacher, Lois Mobley. Although very passionate about her collegiate path, she switched her major to Law. Her experience was fulfilling, but she realized her passion remained in education and, after a year, changed her major back. Naeemah successfully graduated from the 1st HBCU in Pennsylvania, Cheyney University, with her degree in education. She pursued finding employment right away and was initiated into the world of Residential Treatment Centers. With many experiences, opportunities of growth, positions, and thousands of children later, Naeemah was yet satisfied and pouring into our youth.

At the start of covid in 2020… As so many were affected, Naeemah was forced to teach from home remotely. This was the start of her transition back to the Lehigh Valley.

Naeemah noticed slight changes in her parents and monitored daily from a distance. It was during one of her many drive-by visits that she insisted her mother go to the hospital. Naeemah did not return to work and spent the week in the hospital with her parents. The initial diagnosis was stroke, but after many tests, some unbearably physically painful, the diagnosis was changed to ALS. Once her parents were diagnosed, permanent residency and a game plan was very quietly and swiftly set into motion. Unbeknownst to her extended family and close friends, Naeemah had been living and caring for her parent for months, all while under the radar. When asked why she didn’t share, her response was, ” it’s not my place to tell or expose the frailty of her parent, it’s just to protect.”

Naeemah packed her home, and all her belongings put them in a storage facility where they remain to this day. The next few months proved very difficult navigating required services. But the Lord blessed in the 11th hour, and the fight felt more prepared. Naeemah moved into her mother’s home, sleeping on the couch, organizing apps, therapy, medication, and each stage of this progressive disease. May 26th, 2022; 911 had to be called. While in hospital care, Naeemah witnessed her mother Code Blue. As traumatic as it was, what followed became the standard for what remains a true test of Faith. From Code Blue to Intubation, to Sepsis, Pneumonia, Lung Infection, then Trachea, Feeding tube and eventual transfer to 10 weeks total of rehab. Including training for the family on trachea care and feeding tube function. Then it was just Naeemah and her Mother alone at home. After a terrifying first night, mother and daughter have been fighting together for the last few years. Now, with a new home, new wheelchair accessible vehicle, and Continued Feisty Mindset, some adventures are created and shared on social media for friends and family to celebrate . Neemah and her Mother are both Super Powers!!



Rachel has always exemplified ambition, motivation and knowledge throughout her life. As a married mother of two she continues to demonstrate impressive redefining moments. Growing up in Philadelphia and Cumberland Gardens Rachel demonstrated a broad range of interest. She was instrumental in taking the advancement of her life as a whole by actively excelling in academia, going to college and making the decision to move back to Philadelphia from Allentown . Rachel removed any barriers and took her ambitious Journey forward. After graduating college Rachel was a longtime para-legal in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office before choosing to study Nursing at Thomas Jefferson University. While attending Nursing School Rachel has taken on a Herotic dedication to a program through Thomas Jefferson Hospital called CHANCE. CHANCE is a Complex Head and Neck Care and Education program where the Jefferson Hospital Physicians in Otolaryngology collaborate with other physicians across the globe , share knowledge and experiences , and address healthcare challenges in order to provide life-changing care for patients in low and middle income countries. Rachel has shown exceptional dedication and commitment to their work and made significant contributions at sharing insights, engaging in research, instituting systemic change or redefining industry standards and wants to encourage more conversation and awareness around inclusivity in healthcare . Rachel has been on 3 trips with Jefferson CHANCE(complex head and neck care and education) with Dr. Malambro and Dr. Banda of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. going to Africa and experiencing Zambia on her last recent mission trip. Rachel is an exceptional heroic contribution in improving public health where she provides specific examples of driving positive and significant impact beyond her immediate role. Rachel Sanders Willaiam is a Super Power!!



Ana was born in the Dominican Republic, later moving to Brooklyn, New York where she would grow up. Growing up in Brooklyn ,New York with a tough upbringing in an inner-city environment Ana learned to turn every challenge into an opportunity and to make every opportunity worth it. Ana Tiburcio now lives in Allentown, PA where she is a single mother of four and lives and serves by the ideology that education, housing, and financial assistance can foster change in lives. Ana is committed to advocating for our youth and the community. Ana states that the love and support from her grandmother helped shape her life’s journey, and she knows firsthand how important it is to have someone to rely on and trust. Her continuous leadership and actions to improve change and teach others how to design and direct their own lives contribute to the initiatives that facilitate a wide range of activities. Through community education, leadership development and advocacy, she continues to develop local leadership to improve the community’s educational and social well-being and provides a platform for students to move up together, helping them achieve their goals. Anna T states” I’ve been fortunate enough to work with organizations like Community Action Lehigh Valley, where she assisted families who couldn’t afford home upgrades and repairs. She also works at Cohesion , Fine Feathers Foundation Inc., where she helps young people with behavioral challenges find their path. Today Ana is a newly elected School Board Director in Allentown because I believe that education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty. I want to ensure that every child has access to quality

education, regardless of their background. Ana is also a co-founder of a young ladies; mentor group called Grow & Glow where the mission is to inspire young women to face everyday challenges head-on and not be afraid to make mistakes.strengthening existing and creating new social engagement. which promotes the well-being of her students and their families. Ana’s dedication, loyalty, innovative ideas , valuable skills, exceptional service and experience prepared her for an extraordinary future. Ana is a Super Power!!



Growing up Shalada has always had this beautiful infectious smile and a glisten of determination in her eyes that stood out whenever she entered the room. Her strength has always been in her passion and ability to overcome great obstacles with minimum resources purely through determination and perseverance . Regardless of the obstacles and challenges Shalanda’s perpetual resilience and example empowered a new generation of women to fight through their circumstances to achieve a better live . shalanda’s story serves as a road map for those looking to navigate the complexities of professional evolution while not having the benefit of proper resources or a conventional foundation. Strength, perseverance and devotion to helping others, especially her family is what lead Shalanda’s path to community engagement and entrepreneurship.

Shalanda’s accomplishments and successes demonstrates commitment, tenacity and most importantly natural leadership.

She does her part to contribute to better health outcomes by providing transportation services for families, groups and non-profits. Vista Vans Non Emergency Medical Transportation including wheelchair transport helps to improve physical, mental and spiritual health of individuals and in support families . Toda, Shalanda is the Chairperson of Community Action Allentown Board and a longtime board member of Community Action Lehigh Valley. She’s the owner of Vista Van Transportation specializing in Charter, Shuttle and Non Emergency -Medical transportation . Vista Vans is celebrating its 12 year in 2024 . Through vision, grit, courage, compassion, and community involvement Shalanda Riddick has proven she is absolutely a Super Power!!



Jasmine’s entrepreneurial journey began with her love for creating handmade earrings, which Inspired by her passion for empowering women, she founded PetalsOfAWoman Tribe, a community where women can embrace their authenticity, reclaim their power, and support each other on their journey . Jasmine is a woman who is changing the face of neighborhoods by providing services that benefit women and/or girls.Jasmine Joseph, a devoted wife and proud mother, is the heart and soul behind PetalsOfAWoman and the PetalsWoman Tribe. As the CEO and owner, Jasmine has created a safe haven for women to connect, empower each other, and thrive. With a passion for curating transformative experiences, Jasmine specializes in hosting and planning retreats, events, and brunches that celebrate sisterhood, empowerment, and networking. Her keen eye for detail and love for decor shine through in every event she designs, creating an atmosphere of warmth, beauty, and inspiration. In addition to her event planning prowess, Jasmine is also a certified yoni steam practitioner and holistic healer. Alongside her partner, she offers healing sessions that promote women’s wellness through the power of holistic practices, including yoni steaming and herbal tea foot soaks. When she’s not empowering women or creating beautiful decor, Jasmine can be found crafting exquisite handmade earrings, a nod to her entrepreneurial roots. Her dedication to creating spaces of love, connection, and empowerment is a testament to her unwavering commitment to making a difference in the lives of women everywhere. Jasmine is a Super Power!!



Growing up in Bethlehem pa, Cindy has always had a deep love for Art and performing and expressing herself which led her to a cultivating consistency in achieving our goals. As a leader, mentor, an artistic genius , a talent, and advocate as well as an entertainer. Cindy would come to find that she was a natural born speaker. Cindy used creative outlets such as plays, fashion shows, art, dancing and comedy to not only make laughter a part of our upbringing but she also used comedy as a form of expression, activism and education on subjects like LBGTQ, Art Therapy and The Bob Ross Experience. Cynthia Rodriguez is a recent graduate student from Cedar Crest College with a Master’s in Art Therapy who has just recently been accepted to the PHD program where she started this summer. She has been a professional mixed media & performance artist and activist in the Lehigh Valley for over thirty years. Cynthia is also a musician, writer and paranormal investigator. This year Rodriguez will begin working as an Art Therapist at a local mental health facility and museum and plans on getting her PhD in Expressive Therapies in the near future.Business Owner of The Underworld Art Studio where she provides Mixed Media & Performance Artiste, Professional Vocalist & Voice Over Artist, Art Instructor, Mural Painter, Public Speaker, Community Organizer & Activist and Writer. Cindy continues to bless the community with her artistic and therapeutic gifts! Cindy is a Super Power!!