Women of Power & Faith Celebrated at 26th Annual First Ladies High Tea


      More than 700 attendees—including celebrities, elected officials, faith leaders, tastemakers, and civic officials—gathered at the Beverly Wilshire on May 18 for the 26th Annual First Ladies High Tea. Hosted by award-winning actress Wendy Raquel Robinson and KTLA reporter Jasmine Simpkins, the two-and-a-half-hour ceremony celebrated the impactful role women of faith play in their communities while inspiring the next generation of achievers.

            Actress Yvette Nicole Brown received the “Spirit Award” from L.A. Mayor Karen Bass, who remarked, “We are surrounded by remarkable women today, each contributing wonderfully to our community. But today, I have the distinct pleasure of presenting a spirit award to an exceptional individual in Yvette Nicole Brown.

            Highlighting her political activism and careful choice of roles as a Christian woman, Yvette Nicole Brown stated, “I believe that anytime a light is shining on you, it is your job to focus that light on something that really matters. We all like our fascinators, our hats, our beautiful dresses, and our lip gloss, but it’s not about any of that. It’s about what you tell people that matters. So, every platform you have—whether it’s five people, 500, or 5 million—use it for good.”

            AIDS Healthcare Foundation Vice President Anita Castille was honored with the Focus Award for her corporate outreach, and L.A. County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, along with Planned Parenthood representative Margot Taylor, presented the Gamechanger Award to Congresswoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove.

            In her 8-minute acceptance speech, Kamlager-Dove highlighted her freshman-year accomplishments in Congress, including securing over $1.5 billion in grants, while also noting its dysfunction. She left the audience with these words: “As leaders in our community, we are often asked to shoulder more than our broad shoulders can bear. I am here to receive this award but also to remind us to practice self-love and self-protection. We, as Black women and you as First Ladies, are continually asked to provide, protect, and prop others up. Every now and then, I think we have an obligation to hold our heads high and say, ‘My turn.’”

      First ladies being honored for the work they do in their churches and surrounding communities included Hanelory Molina (Co-pastor of Restore L.A. Church), Karen Coston (Grant AME) and Shonta Hilton, wife of the City of Carson Mayor Pro Tem, and Bishop Dr. Jawane Hilton (Brister Baptist Church) and Patricia S. Weaver (Atherton Baptist Church).

      “I’m just so honored and grateful to God for this opportunity,” said Weaver.  “And I just wanted to add that I really feel blessed to be a blessing and saved to serve as long as I live.”

      Yet another highlight of the annual high tea is the First Ladies High Tea Essay Contest for girls 15 through 18. Ijeoma Nwafor (Archer School for Girls) was awarded the grand prize scholarship for her essay on the theme: “Loving Ourselves, Empowering Each Other” from actress Christina Elmore (“Insecure”, “The Girls on the Bus”) and Greater Ebenezer Baptist Church First Lady Michelle Porter. Additional scholarship awards were presented to Kennedy Chow, Nevaeh Milburn, Reyna Drew, Kyla Gillard, Joy Jones, Ashlynn Nicole Messenger, Cielle Gamyn Amos Hughing, Ocean Pierson, Lauren Portis, Briahna Small, Nejela Thomas, and Raven Melvin

      “I’m grateful to L.A. Focus and Ms. Wendy [Raquel Robinson] who encouraged me to apply for the First Ladies High Tea Essay Contest”, said 16-year-old Raven Melvin. “She is so encouraging and empowering.”

      The program included a fashion show and was spiked by powerful performances from gospel sensation Lena Byrd Miles and Grammy-nominated soul singer Major.  Sponsors included the County of Los Angeles, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, CVS, Walmart, Compassion International, the United Faith Collaborative, Planned Parenthood, L.A. Councilmembers Heather Hutt and Curren Price, and the L.A. Department of Water & Power.

“The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power values the contributions of women of faith as our commitment to the First Ladies High Tea is part of a larger effort to partner with a community we view as vital in our efforts to advance equity and inclusion as we work to build a stronger and greener Los Angeles,” said Latonya Bogin, Director of Partnership Development and Strategic Engagement.

      “The 26th Annual First Ladies High Tea is more than an event; it’s a heartfelt testament to women’s indomitable spirit and leadership in our community,” Lisa Collins said. We’re not just celebrating what has become a community tradition; we’re acknowledging the trailblazing efforts of women who’ve helped to transform the communities they serve.”

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