News & Events

Annual Conference 2016: Be Your BEST Self

Philadelphia Futures Annual Conference 2016 Opening Session

Philadelphia Futures celebrated a new year at its 2016 Annual Conference – “Be Your BEST Self” – on Saturday, January 9, 2016, at Drexel University, which was attended by more than 550 members of its community – high school students, collegians, parents, mentors, supporters, Board members and staff.

Using the Wellness Wheel as its theme, the day-long Conference helped students consider new ways in which they might think about themselves and their futures in order to ultimately achieve college success. The Philadelphia Futures Wellness Wheel and its five wedges – Academic, Emotional, Financial, Social and Physical – are being utilized throughout this year as a tool to help students take concrete steps to being balanced in all areas of their lives.  

The Annual Conference began with opening remarks from Philadelphia Futures Executive Director Joan C. Mazzotti, who set the agenda for the Conference and the year ahead.

The morning’s keynote address was given by an expert on positive psychology – Dr. James O. Pawelski, PhD, Director of Education and Senior Scholar, Positive Psychology Center, University of Pennsylvania. During his comments, Dr. Pawelski posed a thought experiment to the audience: “If you were offered the choice of being a superhero with only one power, would you want to be a 'red cape superhero' with the power to fight against bad things (such as poverty, violence and injustice), or, would you select to be a 'green cape superhero' with the power to make good things grow and happen (such as harmony, understanding and justice)?” Dr. Pawelski used this as a launching pad to discuss the differences between the two, the takeaway being that, as individuals, we all need a “reversible cape” (there is not a “one-cape-fits-all”) and it is important to know when to use each side. Dr. Pawelski urged the audience to try to use their “green capes” as often as possible and focus on the positive aspects in their life and project positive change.

Philadelphia Futures Wellness Wheel
Conference attendees then visually showed their commitment to being their best self by sharing selfies with their Wellness Wheel resolutions on Instagram and Twitter via the hashtag #PFBeYourBestSelfie. Audience members were delighted to see their photos and messages scroll live on the Conference screen.

Following the Opening Session, students, parents and mentors attended various workshops geared towards different stages of the college-going process and specific constituent groups.

The Conference ended with a networking lunch and a closing celebration, which included the presentation of Philadelphia Futures’ annual Excellence Awards, and a lively musical performance by the Bucket Drumming Ensemble led by Leon Jordan, Sr., which showcased the talents of our students. A clip from the performance can be viewed at

Throughout the day, the Conference buzzed with conversation and collaboration, as the Philadelphia Futures community discussed how they would harness the learnings of positive psychology and the elements of the Wellness Wheel to truly “be their best selves” this year. 

View photos from our 2016 Annual Conference on our Facebook page and by searching #PFBeYourBESTSelfie on Twitter and Instagram.