50 N.O.-area women to embark on life-changing transformations at Essence
28th June 2011 · 1 Comment
Music legend Chaka Khan joins the 2011 Essence Music Festival, not only as a main-stage performer on Saturday, July 2, but also to significantly impact the lives of 50 women, ages 18-35, from the greater New Orleans area. Chaka Khan’s The Chaka Khan Foundation in conjunction with the Institute of Women & Ethnic Studies along with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, Congressman Cedric Richmond, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, and the 2011 Essence Music Festival began an in-depth life- and community-altering transformation process for 50 women beginning June 4.
The results-oriented program will provide a structured way for each woman to reach her goals; carried out with the help of community partners, agencies, and mentors.
The year-long process will commence with one-on-one counseling and mentorships for each woman to map out her goals (e.g. continuing education, job development, securing housing, etc.) followed by a VIP experience at the 17th annual Essence Music Festival during Fourth of July weekend. The selected women will meet with Chaka Khan, as well as author/inspirational speaker Iyanla Vanzant, at the festival and then continue on their path to personal and community improvement. Next year, at the 2012 Essence Music Festival, each woman will return to celebrate her achievements at a special graduation ceremony before embarking on another journey where they will pay forward what they have received and learned for a new group of women.
“As mothers, as life-givers and the first teachers of our children, it is important that women are empowered and have the confidence to know that they can change any situation,” says Chaka Khan, 10-time Grammy winner and founder of The Chaka Khan Foundation. “I see this collaboration with Essence and the Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies as a powerful means to provide each of these women the resources to live into their God-given destiny.”
“Improving the lives of women of color and that of their families has long been a driving force behind the Essence brand,” says Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence Communications, Inc. “This year’s collaboration with The Chaka Khan Foundation and the Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies perfectly mirrors this mission and further expands upon our Essence Empowerment Experience theme of ‘Transformation’ by allowing us to spotlight and honor deserving women, follow their progress and track their results that will change their lives forever.”
“It is very important that institutions within a civil society take action to help survivors regain their resiliency and optimism after widespread disasters. Women in particular need such support, for research shows that they are disproportionately traumatized during and after disasters,” said Dr. Denese Shervington, founder and president of the Institute of Women & Ethnic Studies (IWES). “I applaud Essence and the Chaka Khan Foundation for embracing this role and helping to bring transformative healing to 50 such women from the Greater New Orleans community.”
Dubbed the “party with a purpose,” the Essence Music Festival started in 1995 as a one-time event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the magazine and has since become a yearly music-focused spectacular, as well as a catalyst for community progression for the city of New Orleans and national empowerment for African Americans from coast to coast.
This article originally published in the June 27, 2011 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.