Girls, women share stories of empowerment during Philly summit

Students M’niyah DeVaughn and with Tatiana Amaya share their stories of empowerment during a discussion panel (Abdul R. Sulayman/The Philadelphia Tribune)

Students M’niyah DeVaughn and with Tatiana Amaya share their stories of empowerment during a discussion panel (Abdul R. Sulayman/The Philadelphia Tribune)

Though just as qualified as her male counterparts, when Alison Williams Bruno began her career she had to do double the work to supplement her job as an lacrosse coach.

“When I got my first job at a university, not only was I a lacrosse coach, but I also had to take on different roles in order to make a full-time salary,” Bruno said. “I was also the equipment manager, the director of intramural and recreation, I coached dance team, I washed uniforms. I mean I did everything to get my foot in the door and to continue to work hard.”

Alison Williams Bruno moderated a panel discussion “Never Too Young to Break Barriers,” on Friday afternoon during the third annual Summit for Women and Girls hosted by the Philadelphia Commission for Women (The Philadelphia Tribune)

Bruno, a Temple University graduate and former lacrosse player, shared her story while moderating the panel discussion, “Never Too Young to Break Barriers,” during the third annual Summit for Women and Girls held Friday at LaSalle University. Approximately 300 to 350 women and girls attended the summit hosted by the Philadelphia Commission for Women.

Jovida Hill, the executive director of the Philadelphia Commission for Women (The Philadelphia Tribune)

“I think what has been very important is to be advocates,” said Jovida Hill, the executive director of the PCW. “To be advocates to advance issues like health and wellness, wage equity. We were very active in the fair work advocacy. Advancing the lives of women and girls is really important because when we win, the whole world wins.”

Bruno shared the stage with M’niyah DeVaughn, a football player with the Overbrook Monarchs, and with Tatiana Amaya, who holds a position on the Philadelphia Youth Commission.

Bruno, who has coached at several colleges including Villanova, Georgetown, Philadelphia and Towson universities, said her hard work eventually paid off.

“I kept my eyes on the prize knowing that eventually my goal would be reached to become just a lacrosse coach,” she said. “It took a while, there were lots of obstacles to overcome, but I also knew that when it was my time when to speak up and when to speak up about things that were not fair and things that were not equal.”

M’niyah, a left tackle who just wrapped her first football season with the Overbrook Monarchs, is the only girl on the team and credits the sport with boosting her self-confidence.

“It has helped my life because win or lose a game, we’re still a team,” the 13-year-old girl said. “When you’re in the classroom, you’re a team. There’s no one better or less (important).”

Tatiana, a senior in high school at Mastery Charter School — Shoemaker Campus, discussed how not being chosen to serve as a student board representative on the Philadelphia Board of Education was a disappointment, but serving in another capacity is rewarding.

Mayor Jim Kenny gave opening remarks and several women spoke during break-out sessions and panels that centered around topics from money to maternal mortality.

“Although I didn’t get that school board position, I still serve on an elected board in Philadelphia and I’m honored to do that,” said Tatiana, who plans to major in political science in college.


rpersinger@phillytrib.com (215) 893-5724

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