On Saturday January 7, Philadelphia Futures held its 2017 Annual Conference. Despite an unexpected snowfall, over 600 high school students, collegians, parents, mentors, guests and Board members attended the Conference, which was held on the campus of Drexel University.
The theme of the 2017 Conference, “Taking the Next Step,” not only recognized Executive Director Joan Mazzotti as she steps down from her position, but also the important next steps to be taken by Philadelphia Futures’ students as they advance in school and careers.
The Annual Conference began with opening remarks from Joan who stressed to the audience that we must remain purposeful in our mission, strong in our execution and unyielding in our beliefs. "Philadelphia Futures is a beautifully inclusive community, grounded in the respect we have for each other. Accordingly we must unwaveringly reaffirm that we are one with members of our community who are of color, identify as LGBTQ, and are non-United States citizens or members of religious groups who are threatened with governmental restrictions.”
Following Joan’s opening remarks, Board Member and 6abc news anchor Rick Williams led a panel discussion with members of our community who have taken, or are about to take, the next step in their lives. Joining Joan on the panel were Esther Flavien, College Connection Class of 2016, who is a first-year student at Lafayette College; Kali Avans, Sponsor-A-Scholar Class of 2007, who recently earned a master’s degree in early childhood education and is currently the lead teacher at Discovery Place Pre-School; Christina Santos, who has had several roles at Philadelphia Futures for the past decade and recently assumed the position of Director of the Charles E. Ellis Trust for Girls; and the Honorable Allan Domb, a member of Philadelphia Futures’ Board of Directors, who in addition to being a successful real estate broker, was elected to Philadelphia’s City Council in November 2015.
Conference goers then attended various workshops geared towards different stages of the college-going process and specific constituent groups. To close the day, the Philadelphia Futures community gathered for the presentation of our annual Excellence Awards and a special Legacy 16 celebration in Joan’s honor. It was truly a moving experience as members of the Philadelphia Futures community reflected not only on Joan’s extraordinary impact on their lives, but also the lives of so many students in the City.
"Eight years ago, I met a woman who changed my life forever. Joan is not just a mentor to me. She is my inspiration, role model, teacher and support system, Tatiana Redden, SAS Class of 2013, said. “Thank you, Joan, for being my rock and being there when no one else was.”
Under Joan’s leadership, over 500 students have received their college degrees. A strong believer in educational equality, Joan has lived out her values at Philadelphia Futures every day. During her closing comments at the Legacy 16 celebration, Joan thanked the entire Philadelphia Futures community for all that they have given her and ended with a special recognition of the students, saying, “I am moved by your persistence, grace and dignity. You are my heroes.”
Relive the 2017 Annual Conference and emotional Legacy 16 celebration and reception by searching #TakingtheNextStep and #Legacy16 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or by clicking this link to see the full album.