Vernard V. Wilkerson, an accountant, died on Sunday, May 5, 2013. He was 55.
He was born Jan. 19, 1958 to Richetta Battle and the late Herbert V. Wilkerson in Philadelphia.
Wilkerson was a graduate of John Bartram High School. He served in the United States Army from 1976 to 1980 where he achieved the status of specialist-five and was honorably discharged.
His family said he thrived on knowledge and education. He attended Temple University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in August 1983. He continued his education at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a master’s of science degree in professional management in May 1988.
He then enrolled in Wilmington University in Wilmington, Del., where he earned a master’s in public administration in May 2001. At the time of his passing, he had completed his dissertation and was a month away from earning a doctorate in business administration from Argosy University.
Wilkerson was a deputy principal assistant in the Delaware state Department of Finance. Before that, he was the fiscal administrative officer with the Delaware Racetrack Division. Other previous positions included accounting supervisor at E.I du Pont de Nemours in Philadelphia; accounting manager for the South Jersey Transportation Authority in Hammonton, N.J., senior accountant for the New Jersey Casino Control Commission; financial analyst for the Casino Control Commission; corporate accounting analyst for Atlantic Refining and Marketing Corp. and associate accounting analyst for Systems Development Corporation.
Wilkerson was an adjunct professor at Wilmington University in Wilmington, Del., where he was well known and respected by his students and colleagues.
He was a member of the North America Gaming Regulators’ Association, Government Finance Officers’ Association and National Association of Black Accountants, Philadelphia division. He also served on the board of directors at the West Philadelphia branch of the YMCA.
Wilkerson’s interests included golfing, scuba diving, swimming, DJ-ing, shopping and spending time with his family.
In addition to his mother, he is survived by his sisters, Greta Wilkerson-El, Iris Washington and Wanda Wilkerson; nieces, Lauren Washington, Lisa Washington, Nia Wilkerson and Nicole Wilkerson; nephews, Dwayne Washington II, Darren El and Darrius El; brother-in-laws, Dwayne Washington and Carl El and other relatives and friends.
Services will be held May 14 at First African Baptist Church, 901 Clifton Ave., Sharon Hill. Viewing is at 9 a.m. Services will follow at 11 a.m.
Yarborough and Rocke Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
This week served to mark the essential contributions made by nurses throughout the healthcare arena.
National Nurses Week, which is observed May 6-12, comes at a time when the nurses are slated to play a critical role in health reform.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the Affordable Care Act’s emphasis on keeping people healthy, preventing illness and managing chronic conditions opens new opportunities for nurses to shape and lead the future delivery of healthcare.
“The Obama administration is committed to workforce development and education and training for nurses. Through the Affordable Care Act, the number of training and educational opportunities for nursing students and graduates to acquire the skills necessary to enter the health workforce is expanding,” Sebelius said.
“Through the Advanced Nursing Education Program, the law provides support for advanced nursing education to increase the primary care nursing workforce. Through several different advanced nursing education initiatives, an additional 2,800 nurse practitioners and nurse midwives will enter the primary care workforce over the next five years.”
The HHS department has made significant investments in building the nursing workforce through scholarship and loan repayment programs. For instance, the National Health Services Corps, which offers scholarship and loan repayment in return for practice in underserved areas has tripled from 3,600 in 2008 to nearly 10,000 in 2012, including more than 1,600 nurses.
The NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program, which has approximately 3,000 registered nurses and advanced practice nurses, helped to repay the loans of more than 700 nurses in fiscal year 2012.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the nation will need 1.2 million more nurses by 2020. In an effort to help boost the nursing workforce ranks, the Independence Blue Cross Foundation has been funding nursing education for the past 10 years. Under its “Nursing for Tomorrow” initiative, IBC and the IBC Foundation provided more than $10 million in funding to support nursing education. Approximately $7 million of that funding supported more than 1,100 scholarships for students attending schools such as University of Pennsylvania, Community College of Philadelphia, Temple University and Thomas Jefferson University.
The IBC Foundation believes that providing accessible affordable care in the communities will require an increase in the current number of licensed practice nurses, nursing educators and advanced practice nurses.
“We’ve made a committment to nursing and it really has become a cornerstone of who we are,” said Lorina Marshall-Blake, president of the IBC Foundation.
“If you look at all that is going on in health care reform right now nurses are on the front line, so we feel that it’s a major investment for us to invest in nursing and making sure that there is a qualified workforce that’s out there.”
The foundation is also working to increase the number of nursing educators. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) report on 2011-2012 Enrollment and Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in Nursing notes that U.S. nursing schools turned away 75,587 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2011 due to insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space and budget constraints. Almost two thirds of the nursing schools cited faculty shortages as a reason for not accepting all qualified applicants into entry-level baccalaureate programs.
Juanita Bennett was a celebrity makeup artist for more than 30 years.
She died on Sunday, May 5, 2013 after a sustained illness. She was 56.
Bennett specialized in creating looks for entertainers, politicians, and media personalities. President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, General Colin Powell, Lou Rawls, Helen Gurley Brown, Bill Cosby, Harry Belafonte and Alex Trebek were among her clientele.
She was born Aug, 23, 1956 to Ella Mae Bennett and the late Le Ernest Pompey in Troy, N.Y.
Bennett received her formal education in the Philadelphia school system. She graduated from Germantown High School in 1974. Upon graduation, she attended North Carolina A&T of Greensboro, N.C., where she earned her associate’s degree. When she returned to Philadelphia, Bennett went on to graduate with a certification in cosmetology.
Strong willed and determined to be one the best in her profession, Bennett went straight into the entertainment field where she began to travel worldwide, working with celebrities from all statures of life.
Her family said Bennett worked with many celebrities that most people would never have the opportunity to meet. One of her greatest success stories was working President Obama.
Bennett’s first celebrity client was Kathy Sledge, along with her sisters who formed the pop group “Sister Sledge,” famous for their song, “We Are Family.”
“Nita was a person that you were drawn to by her high spirited personality. She never complained about anything, not even in her last days. She was kind and caring to all she came into contact with. Juanita was a giving person to anyone in need. Her accomplishments go without saying,” her family said.
“Those that knew her well, knew that politics, networking, and socializing were her prized gifts.”
In addition to her mother, Bennett is survived by her great aunts and uncle, Rosa Frierson (Isaiah) of Troy N.Y., Richard Reid and Lila Mae Crawford of Philadelphia; aunts and uncles, Creola Newman (Paul), Joe Robinson of Philadelphia, Henrietta Bennett of Manning S.C.; godson Justin Norwood; special friends, Venetta Robinson, Vallery Norwood, and Willimema (Mema) Battle and other relatives and friends.
Services will be held May 10 at 11 a.m. at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, 1530-38 N. 11th St. Burial will be private.
Alfonso Cannon Funeral Chapels handled the arrangements.
Services were held May 9 for Myrtle Perry.
Perry died on Thursday, May 2, 2013. She was 81.
She was born Aug. 2, 1931 to Elder Enoch Thomas and Connie Sims in Charlotte, N.C. She began her early education in the North Carolina public school system, but continued and completed her education in Philadelphia after her parents moved there in 1938.
She was a graduate of the Philadelphia High School for Girls on 17th and Spring Garden Streets, actively participating in the annual gymnastics competition where she honed her competitive spirit.
She later went on to pursue higher education from Victor Business School and the Philadelphia Community College.
She married Cleveland Charles Perry in the 1950s and from this union there were five children — three sons and two daughters.
“She was a very caring and devoted mother who stressed the importance of education and being the best you could in any endeavor,” her family said.
Perry’s name was placed on the United House of Prayer for All People’s roll as a baby. Perry began playing the piano at the House of Prayer at the age of 13 becoming the pianist for many groups including The Gospel Singers, The Young People’s Choir, and The Echoes of McCollough. She later became the director of the Echoes of McCollough.
She was a diligent worker at the House of Prayer where she created bulletins, wrote letters, and played the piano during services. She especially enjoyed being the Chair Lady of Women’s Day.
Her family said as a young child Perry was always told by her mother to give God her best and that is why she loved to dress in her finest.
Perry was a hard worker, often working at multiple jobs to support her family. She was employed by Gimbels Department Store as a comptometer operator, moving on to Triangle Publications as an accounting clerk and ultimately retiring from Smurfit Stone Container Corporation.
She was preceded in death by three brothers, Harvey, Enoch T “Bubba,” Charles J, and sister, Ruby Bolden.
Perry is survived by her sons, Charles “Eddie”, Darryl, Michael (Claudia); daughters, Denise “Nee’C” Brown and Cheryl Curry (Samuel) of Piscataway, N.J.; 13 grandchildren; 18 great grandchildren; sisters, Birdell S. Kennedy and Geraldine S. Dunn of Stone Mountain, Ga.; brother-in-law, Joseph Perry; sister-in-laws, Carol Sims, Juanita Bacon, Ida Perry and other relatives and friends.
Services were held May 9 at The United House of Prayer for All People, 742 S. 16th St. Burial will be held May 10 at 11 a.m. at Rolling Green Memorial Park, West Chester.
Slater Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Clothing chain Wet Seal has settled a lawsuit alleging that it unjustly fired African-American employees.
The retailer agreed to settle a national class action lawsuit filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) and co-counsel. Cogdell vs. The Wet Seal, Inc. charged that former top executives at Wet Seal directed senior managers to get rid of African-American store management employees for the sake of its “brand image” and to hire more white employees.
The lawsuit alleged Wet Seal had a policy of denying equal pay and promotion opportunities and terminating African-American employees across the country.
Under the settlement, Wet Seal has agreed to pay $7.5 million in monetary relief, including damages to current and former African-American managers of at least $5.58 million.
“With this settlement Wet Seal is attempting to right its wrongs. It has agreed to address our claims challenging the treatment of Black workers in its retail stores,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, the president and director-counsel of the LDF.
“The fight for equality in the workplace is far from over in America. No one should have the cards stacked against them on their job simply because of their race.”
Last December, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined that former Wet Seal executives racially discriminated against store manager Nicole Cogdell, the lead plaintiff in the class action being settled.
In a three-year investigation, the commission found evidence that Wet Seal corporate managers openly stated that to be profitable the retailer had to retain workers with “the Armani look” — meaning thin, blond and blue-eyed.
Cogdell learned she was being terminated after a former senior vice president visited her store in King of Prussia and discovered she was African American.
“Being targeted for termination from a job I loved because of my race was a nightmare,” Cogdell said in regard to the settlement.
“It was important for me to be a force for change, but I could not have done it without the support of other employees who spoke out against discrimination. Wet Seal has now committed to strong, fair policies because we took a stand. I hope these changes will create opportunities for all deserving employees, regardless of their race.”
Wet Seal’s new CEO John Goodman and board of directors have agreed to make numerous changes to address the discrimination charges.
“From the moment I became CEO of Wet Seal in January, I made clear that we value a diverse work force and believe that a dynamic and representative employee base allows us to best serve all of our customers,” Goodman said in statement on Wet Seal’s website.
“We appreciate the insights we have gained from plaintiffs’ counsel and the EEOC for our best-practices initiatives. We are pleased to put this matter behind us as we continue to be committed to nondiscriminatory employment practices that create a welcome environment for people of all backgrounds.”
Under the settlement agreement, Wet Seal will track applications to ensure diversity in applications and hiring, expand Wet Seal’s human resources department to better investigate complaints of discrimination, and post store management and district director openings. The settlement calls for Wet Seal to hire experts to develop updated job-related hiring, promotion and compensation policies and practices, maintain a diversity and inclusion council made up of a diverse group of current employees that will advise the company on topics including equal employment in recruiting, hiring and compensation.
The company also has reflected its commitment to use diverse models in its marketing and to partnerships with organizations dedicated to the advancement and well-being of African Americans and other diverse groups.
The lawsuit was filed in July 2012 in federal court in Orange County, Calif. and the settlement is subject to court approval.
In addition to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the plaintiffs are represented by two law firms, Lewis, Feinberg, Lee, Renaker & Jackson, P.C. of Oakland, Calif. and Gallagher, Schoenfeld, Surkin, Chupein & DeMis, P.C. of Media.
“This brings a sad chapter to a close. We are proud to have had the opportunity to represent the courageous employees of Wet Seal who stood up for what was right,” said Nancy DeMis of Gallagher, Schoenfeld law firm.
Headquartered in Foothill Ranch, Calif., Wet Seal has more than 7,000 employees at its 550 Wet Seal and Arden B. stores.