African American Soulfest 2019. Market Square, Pittsburgh PA 

African American Soulfest 2019. Market Square, Pittsburgh PA 

Interfaith Group Urges Senator Wagner to Commit to Pennsylvania’s Children

PHILADELPHIA, PA - Last month POWER, the state’s leading interfaith movement, led hundreds of students, parents, community activists and leaders from different faith traditions to the State Capitol to demand support for recently introduced legislation which will put 100% of the state’s Basic Education Budget through Pennsylvania’s Fair Funding Formula to end widespread, systematic educational inequality throughout Pennsylvania. Earlier this week the Republican Party of Pennsylvania issued a press release distorting the purpose of our rally, and falsely claiming that Governor Wolf, in conversation with our Executive Director, Reverend Greg Holston, supports $1.2B in school funding cuts. We are deeply disappointed that our day of support for school funding and civic engagement has been abused to imply that Governor Wolf supports education cuts. As people of faith, we affirm the infinite value of each human being, and we are committed that the blessing of education be available to all the children of our commonwealth.

In 2016, based on recommendations from a bipartisan funding commission, Pennsylvania passed a new formula for distributing basic education funds to districts around the state. This well designed formula takes into consideration factors which affect the real cost of educating children such as poverty, local taxing capacity, English language learners and the challenges faced by rural districts. Currently, only nine percent of state basic education funding goes through the fair funding formula because the legislature decided that only “new money”, added to the budget since the formula was established, would be distributed according to the formula. By law, the rest of the money continues to be distributed in the old unfair way that was in place before the new formula was passed. In order for the state to distribute basic education funding in a fairer and more equitable way across all districts, more money has to go through the formula. If all of the money budgeted for state basic education funding was distributed using the formula, every district would receive its fair share of the funding. Accompanied by an increase in overall state funding, this fair distribution would eliminate Pennsylvania’s racial bias in school funding and ensure adequate resources for all schools.

Governor Wolf has not proposed a $1.2B cut, but has continued to support full and fair funding, which experts say would require at least a $3B increase in state funding. Pennsylvania currently ranks at 50th out of 50 states in the gap between the wealthiest school district funding versus poorest school district funding. Governor Wolf agreed with POWER’s position which is, and always has been, for both fair and full school funding.

“The NAACP has every faith in Governor Wolf’s intentions. He has been stalwart in his efforts to restore funds that were cut under previous administrations, ” said Dr. Joan Evelyn Duvall-Flynn, President of POWER ally NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference of Branches, “And he has been clear that he believes in fair and equitable funding for all districts and that that will require an increase in funding to improve schools across the Commonwealth.”

We applaud Governor Wolf’s openness to discuss the quality of the Commonwealth’s education. In doing so he has made it clear that he is an advocate for education. We are not sure where Scott Wagner stands on advocating for education and invite him to meet with us and hear the voices of the people that he seeks to represent and serve. We ask Scott Wagner to acknowledge that ALL of our state’s children deserve an excellent education, and that significantly more funding is required to ensure that each district has enough resources to educate its students. We also ask Senator Wagner to join in our call for both fair and full funding to ensure quality education for all Pennsylvania’s children.

Reverend Greg Holston, POWER Executive Director said “We are outraged that a rally for people of faith fighting for fair funding would be reduced to a political tool to attack a Governor that has always supported education. We invite Senator Wagner to come to the table and share his ideas for how to provide the best education for our children.”

POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild) is an interfaith organization committed to implementing systemic change for the betterment of Pennsylvania. We represent populace from across the Greater Philadelphia area, transcending borders across race, faith, income level, and neighborhood. Learn more at

Georgia physician elected as AMA President-Elect


A SMILE SAYS it all as Patrice A. Harris, M.D. accepts congratulatory applause after being elected the 174th president of the American Medical Association. Harris is the second African American to hold this office, and the first African-American woman.

Patrice A. Harris, M.D., a psychiatrist from Atlanta, GA., was elected as the new president-elect of the American Medical Association (AMA) by physicians gathered at the Annual Meeting of the AMA House of Delegates in Chicago on June 12.

Dr. Harris has diverse experience as a private practicing physician, public health administrator, patient advocate and physician spokesperson. During her entire career, Dr. Harris has been a leader in organized medicine to ensure the voice of physicians and patients is represented in health care transformation.

“It will be my honor to represent the nation’s physicians at the forefront of discussions when policymakers and lawmakers search for practical solutions to the challenges in our nation’s health system. I am committed to preserving the central role of the physician-patient relationship in our healing art,” said Dr. Harris. “The American Medical Association has well-crafted policy concerning the changing health care environment in this country and I look forward to using my voice to help improve health care for patients and their physicians.”

Dr. Harris is the first African-American woman to hold the office.

First elected to the AMA Board of Trustees in 2011, Dr. Harris has held the executive offices of AMA board secretary and AMA board chair. Dr. Harris will continue to serve as chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force, and has been active on several other AMA taskforces and committees on health information technology, payment and delivery reform, and private contracting. She has also chaired the influential AMA Council on Legislation and co-chaired the Women Physicians Congress.

Prior to her AMA service, she was elected to the American Psychiatric Association Board of Trustees and president of the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association. She was also the founding president of the Georgia Psychiatry Political Action Committee. In 2007, Dr. Harris was selected Psychiatrist of the Year by the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association.

As chief health officer for Fulton County, GA., Dr. Harris spearheaded efforts to integrate public health, behavioral health and primary care services. Dr. Harris also served as medical director for the Fulton County Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.

Currently, Dr. Harris continues in private practice and consults with both public and private organizations on health service delivery and emerging trends in practice and health policy. She is an adjunct assistant professor in the Emory Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

Dr. Harris received her medical degree from the West Virginia University School of Medicine and completed a psychiatry residency and child psychiatry fellowship at Emory University School of Medicine. She was inducted in 2007 to the West Virginia University Academy of Distinguished Alumni.

Following a year-long term as AMA president-elect, Dr. Harris will be installed as the AMA president in June 2019.

CMU, others launch initiative to make diversity a priority among region's leadership

Pittsburgh may be in the national spotlight as a growing, trendy market, but the region has been falling behind in one key aspect — diverse leadership that can represent more voices in the area.

Now, a new effort is underway to bring more people of color to leadership positions in the area.

Carnegie Mellon University, corporations and city officials are launching The Advanced Leadership Initiative and the Executive Leadership Academy. Officials unveiled the program Thursday morning at CMU’s campus in Oakland.

“The Advanced Leadership Initiative will not only help to encourage greater diversity in the executive leadership of the corporate, nonprofit and entrepreneurial communities in this region, but innovations like this will also help Pittsburgh continue to grow as a world class city with top notch diverse leadership at the helm,” Mayor Bill Peduto said in a statement released before the event.

African Americans represent 24 percent of the city’s population and 13 percent of Allegheny County’s, yet African Americans represent less than 0.1 percent of executive leadership — “significantly disproportionate to the population,” officials said.

The Executive Leadership Academy will provide academic instruction, executive coaching, and facilitate sponsor relationships. Recruitment has already begun and classes will begin January 2019, CMU said.

“This is the bold solution needed to rebuild confidence among rising African American leaders that Pittsburgh is a city that supports them as high‐impact contributors in business and civic leadership,” says Greg Spencer, Advisory Board Co‐Chair The Advanced Leadership Initiative and President and CEO of Randall Industries.

So far, participants and sponsors include, CMU, The Poise Foundation, EQT Foundation, Highmark Health, PNC, UPMC, Richard King Mellon Foundation, The Pittsburgh Foundation, BMe Community, Giant Eagle Foundation, Eat’n Park Hospitality Group, Gateway Health, Henderson Brothers, Corporate Equity and Inclusion Roundtable, Leadership Pittsburgh, and Vibrant Pittsburgh.

Stephanie Ritenbaugh:; 412-263-4910.