Nicole M. Hines was a community advocate.
She died on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014. She was 38.
She was born July 13, 1975 to Cleopatra Davenport and Kenny Cherry. She was educated in the School District of Philadelphia where she attended the Martha Washington Academic Plus Elementary School and graduated from Overbrook High School.
“From childhood she was immediately deemed as a high-spirited and very outgoing young lady who immediately began to touch the lives of those she encountered along the way,” her family said.
She moved to Hartford, Conn., with her former spouse Percy McKitthen. Two children were born to their union. Hines eventually returned to Philadelphia in 1996 to start work at Greyhound Transportation Lines.
In 2002, Hines began her studies in liberal arts at Community College of Philadelphia.
“Nicole was blessed with many talents, as she charismatically used them throughout her lifetime,” her family said.
Her personal journeys with organizations such as Holy Redeemer Health System’s Project Rainbow/Drueding Center and Women’s Community Revitalization Project (WCRP) landed her spots on their boards and various committees.
She lived and fought for the educational rights of her own children and others, which led her to employment with the School District of Philadelphia in 2008. Hines worked as a parent ombudsman in neighborhood elementary schools around the city of Philadelphia and became an inspirational mentor to budding scholars, single mothers, single fathers and struggling families alike.
In 2001, Hines went on to become a student and parent engagement specialist with Philadelphia Academies Inc. at Abraham Lincoln High School.
In the final years of her life, Hines dedicated herself to working in politics at the city and state government levels. Her family said she took pride in becoming elected as the 49/5 District Committee Woman, where she worked to further the improvement redevelopment of her community. She served as an active member of the Logan CDC’s Neighborhood Advisory Committee.
Hines was involved in various events and organizations including the Philadelphia Center for Art and Technology, Philadelphia Assisting Communities, Community Women’s Education Project, Northwest Community Coalition for Youth and the Philadelphia Track Squad and Social Club.
Hines had started efforts to advocate for the rights of fatherhood and embracing the family as a united front. She aided in the creation of the Father’s Heart and Legacy Empowerment Center, where she was to serve as the organization’s vice president of community affairs and public relations.
In addition to her parents, Hines is survived by her grandmother Sarah Williams; stepfather Bruce Davenport; children Naim and Aminah McKitthen; sisters Tamara Burno and Melanie Hines; brothers Kenny Cherry Jr. and Jamar Kenneth Wheeler and other relatives and friends.
Services were held on Jan. 31 at Triumph Baptist Church, 1648 W. Hunting Park Ave. Burial was in Fernwood Cemetery, 6501 Baltimore Ave., Lansdowne.
Charles H. McAliley was a general contractor.
McAliley died on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013. He was 84.
He was born April 18, 1928 to Grace and Warren McAliley in Philadelphia. He was the fifth child of six siblings.
He was educated in the School District of Philadelphia. At an early age, he served as an alter boy at Our Lady of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church. He became a member of the Greater Mt. Olive AME Church in the 1950s.
McAliley helped provide for his family during his adolescence. He worked delivering newspapers for four Black-owned newspapers – The Tribune, The Independent, The Pittsburgh Courier and The General Guide. At night, he worked at the Gold Medal Baking Company as a baker, making bread until 6 a.m. and was still able to attend school. When he was a little older, he worked as a wall paper hanger and painter. His family said he would unselfishly bring his pay to his mother, who in turn would give him what she wanted him to have.
As a young adult, McAliley served as a paratrooper in the United States Army. He achieved the rank of sergeant. He became a mason while serving in the Army. He later received an honorable discharge.
McAliley was employed as a roofer supervisor with the I. Alper Roofing Company in New Jersey and the S. Kane Roofing Company in Philadelphia. While at the S. Kane Roofing Company, he supervised a large crew of workers putting roofs on government buildings of the FBI, CIA, Pentagon, Supreme Court and the main post Office in Washington, D.C. McAliley received several letters of commendation for his excellent quality of work and received monetary bonuses for the completion of contracts in a timely manner.
After retiring from the roofing business, McAliley operated his own company as a general contractor for interior and exterior homes for many years.
He loved to entertain family and friends at his home. McAliley spent time socializing with friends at the American Legend Club and was also a member of The Young Men’s Vacation Club. His family said he was a leader and a mentor to many.
“He was known for his unconditional kindness and was always willing to help others,” his family said.
Services were held Jan. 3 at Impacting Your World Christian Center.
Savin Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Outreach efforts are being ramped up to link people to health insurance through the federal and state-based marketplaces.
While the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have announced that three million Americans have enrolled in health insurance plans since the enrollment period opened Oct. 1, there are still many who need coverage.
To help meet the need, the Free Library of Philadelphia is now offering certified application counselors to help residents sign up for health insurance. More than 30 certified counselors are available to work one-on-one with customers to offers assistance in signing up for a health care plan on online, via phone or with a paper application.
“The Free Library is committed to ensuring that all Philadelphians are empowered to navigate the Affordable Care Act and sign up for health insurance before open enrollment ends on March 31,” said Siobhan A. Reardon, Free Library president and director.
“Our certified application counselors are pleased to be able to assist customers in such an important process.”
“One of the reasons that the library has gotten involved is because there has been a research study that demonstrates that patrons really come to the library for health research and health needs,” said Nani Manion, a certified application counselor who is providing assistance at Parkway Central Library.
Certified application counselors are available at the following locations: Charles L. Durham Library, Joseph E. Coleman Northwest Regional Library, Kensington Library, Lillian Marrero Library, Lucien E. Blackwell West Philadelphia Regional Library, Northeast Regional Library, Ramonita G. de Rodriguez Library, Walnut Street West Library, Whitman Library and Wynnefield Library.
“At those 11 locations, people can call in advance to make an in-person appointment to work with a certified application counselor,” Manion said.
The Tech Lab at the Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine St., will offer regular open hours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., during which time individuals can drop in for ACA assistance without an appointment. Certified application counselors will be available on a first come, first served basis. This drop-in service will be available on the following dates: Feb. 3, 14, 17 and 28; March 3, 10, 14, 17, 21, 24, 28 and 31.
For information call (215) 686-5310 or visit www.freelibrary.org.
In other ACA-related news, Independence Blue Cross has announced that it is showing a strong enrollment of individual consumers who purchased health insurance.
For coverage effective Jan. 1, 27,528 people have enrolled in IBC’s new individual health plans through the federal marketplace. In addition to the members enrolled through the marketplace, another 24,750 individual members enrolled directly with IBC through the website ibx4you.com, brokers, telesales agents, or by visiting the Independence Express, the insurer’s mobile education and retail health care center. IBC offers 13 different health plans on the new health insurance marketplace.
“We are working around the clock to ensure that we are delivering affordable health plan options that provide access to superb care when our members need it. We are thrilled that these members have found a new health plan that works for them,” IBC President and CEO Daniel J. Hilferty said in a release.
“There is still work left to be done and we are continuing our community outreach to make sure consumers are enrolled successfully in the health plan of their choice before open enrollment ends on March 31.”
According to IBC officials, the total enrollment of 52,278 includes only individual members who have coverage effective Jan. 1. Many of these members have not yet paid their first month’s premium, which is the final step in the enrollment process. The deadline for the first premium payment is Jan. 28.
The National Medical Association, an organization representing African-American physicians, said more must be done to reach the millions of African Americans who do not have coverage.
A report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 18.8 percent of African Americans under 65 years of age are without a health plan and that 14.2 percent of African Americans of all ages are in fair or poor health.
“It is absolutely imperative that we help reach the millions of African Americans, particularly the young people, and let them know why it is so important for them to have health insurance coverage,” NMA President Dr. Michael A. LeNoir said in a press release.
“We want to take a message of hope and concern to those within the African-American community and help to educate them about the Affordable Care Act. Everyone, young and old, must understand that having health insurance is an absolute necessity.”
The NMA notes that more than 50 percent of the approximately 40 million African Americans live in the South with the remainder living in the major urban areas of the Northeast and Midwest. Many of the states with large African-American populations and with individuals who need health insurance coverage are opposing the Affordable Health Care Act and have used a variety of tactics to impede roll-out of state health exchanges and the federal program.
George R. Burrell has joined Universal Companies at a time when the nonprofit corporation is experiencing significant growth.
As the new chief operating officer, Burrell oversees Universal’s communications, technology and human resources departments. He is charged with rebranding the corporation in the marketplace and helping generate third-party financial support through charitable gifts and individual donations.
“For me, at this stage in my career, being at Universal is a phenomenal opportunity to do good and it’s also an opportunity to work with leaders who are committed to fundamental change,” said Burrell, who came on board in November.
Burrell has led a distinguished career in law, politics and the private sector. Prior to joining Universal, he was a government relations attorney at Kleinbard Bell & Brecker LLP.
He has served as president of Sturdivant & Company, general counsel and executive vice president for business development at PRWT Services, Inc., and as the former CEO of Innovation Philadelphia. Burrell was also a partner in the law firms of Obermayer, Rebmann, Maxwell and Hippel; Fox, Rothchild, O’Brien and Frankel and Burrell, Waxman, Donaghy and Lee, a minority firm he founded in 1985.
Burrell has been a public sector leader for more than 25 years, serving as deputy mayor to Mayor William Green, an at-large member of city council and as secretary of external affairs in the administration of Mayor John F. Street.
“I think he’s a strategic thinker. In both the private and public sectors he is a proven leader. The addition of George strengthens Universal in so many different aspects. Clearly his longevity in the public [sector] and his ability to forge relationships with so many people is a real treasure for us,” Rahim Islam, president and CEO of Universal said of Burrell’s joining the corporation.
In addition to Burrell, Universal has bolstered its management team by bringing on Penny Nixon, senior vice president of education; Jonas Crenshaw, executive vice president of leadership, talent and development and Dr. Patrick Oates, vice president of science.
“We’re rebranding ourselves. The rebranding of the organization is about bringing in a broad base of talent to bring greater visibility, to bring greater capacity and to produce better outcomes,” said Burrell, who is a native of South Jersey.
“We are looking to broaden the reach of the organization and build an institution that’s going to be here well beyond those of us who are currently steering the ship.”
Based in South Philadelphia, Universal works in the areas of education, real estate, urban planning, finance, social services and preventative health.
Kenneth Gamble, legendary songwriter and founder of Philadelphia International Records founded Universal in 1993.
Since its inception, Universal has been working to reverse urban decline and assist in community revitalization. Islam said the corporation’s overall growth is connected to its focus on addressing problems in the African-American community.
“We are constantly looking to solve some the problems in the African-American community, so the growth is just a natural,” Islam said.
“The problems that we face in our community are astronomical. You have to have a deep seated infrastructure to be able to compete against some of these issues of poverty, unemployment and incarceration rates. Universal is just responding to that need, so our growth is a reflection of that.”
While Universal has historically been viewed as an organization that works in South Philadelphia, it has expanded its footprint into other areas.
Last November, the corporation cut the ribbon on a Nicetown Court II, a $19 million mixed use development in the 4400 block of Germantown Avenue. Universal has developed 1,500 affordable and market rate housing units and manages K-12 schools in the city’s Nicetown/Tioga section, West Philadelphia and Milwaukee. The corporation recently submitted a request for proposal (RFP) to manage schools in Camden, N.J.
“We believe that the Universal education model can educate children who confront the challenges that our children confront every day, but we also believe that we have a responsibility to not only teach those young people, but help remove some of those impediments,” Burrell said.
“So our community development efforts are directed not just at the physical improvements that we can make in communities, but the interaction that we can have with people in the community.”
Burrell said they are seeking to connect to a broader audience.
“We have a broader reach as an organization today, than we did several years ago. So we now have new audiences that we weren’t communicating with in the past and define for them who Universal is and what our mission is.”
Burrell said that one of the things that attracted him to Universal was Gamble’s and Islam’s passion, devotion and commitment to improving the community. He was also drawn to the corporation’s focus on ensuring that African Americans are in key leadership roles and conducting business with minority firms.
“Universal has not gotten enough recognition and credit for a 20-year history of traveling a pretty tough road to get to where they are,” he said.
An initiative to train minority women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers has been launched in Philadelphia.
UST Global, a Los Angeles-based information technology solutions and services company, has brought its Step IT Up America initiative to the city. The program seeks to train and find jobs for 1,000 minority women in 10 of the nation’s largest cities. The long term goal is to create 5,000 new technology careers for minority women.
“Our goal with this program is to not only change the lives of these women but future generations as well,” said CEO of UST Global Sajan Pillai.
“Right now, women make up just one fourth of the STEM workforce and our goal is to help increase that number. This program will profoundly affect these women and the communities they come from by offering the girls an opportunity to find successful careers.”
Politicians, academic and business leaders turned out for the launch event held Jan. 21 at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business.
Various speakers were on hand for the launch including Mike Gibbons, deputy dean, Wharton School; Carlos Gutierrez, vice chair of Albright Stonebridge Group and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce; Willie L. Brown Jr., former mayor of San Francisco; Deidre Woods, executive director University of Pennsylvania’s Open Learning Initiative; Jamira Burley, executive director Philadelphia Youth Commission; Elleanor Jean Hendley, television news journalist and founder of Teen Shop and the Rev. Lorina Marshall Blake, president of Independence Blue Cross Foundation. Mayor Michael Nutter sent a video message welcoming Step IT Up to Philadelphia.
During the launch, Economist Bernard E. Anderson highlighted how the initiative will address income disparities in America.
“I am really thrilled that this program is being brought to the city of Philadelphia because it will address one of the searing problems this city faces and indeed that we face in this country and that is racial inequity in American economic life. The inequity is reflected in broad disparities in employment, income and wealth,” said Anderson.
Anderson said the rate of unemployment among African Americans has been twice that of general unemployment for the past three decades.
“We don’t have a labor shortage in America. We have a skills shortage in America and this program is laser-like focused on that issue and that is one of the reasons it’s going to be a success,” he said.
Step IT Up is being launched at a time when STEM jobs are the fastest growing category of jobs in the United States. A report by the U.S. Commerce Department indicates that throughout the next decades STEM occupations are projected to grow by 17 percent, compared to a 9.8 percent growth for other occupations.
The Step IT Up initiative targets women who have displayed the commitment to education by attending a community college. Participating students will choose one of three tracks to pursue including quality analysis, business analysis or software development. After the women undergo training, UST Global will help them obtain jobs with partner organizations around the country.
UST Global is partnering with academic institutions in various cities to provide training. UST Global officials are currently in negotiations to partner with local institutions, including the Community College of Philadelphia, Drexel University, Temple University, Peirce College Wharton School of Business and University of the Sciences. A partnership has been formed with ITT Technical Institute.
Philadelphia is the second city to welcome the Step IT Up program. The initiative was first launched in Atlanta, Ga., with the inaugural class of 33 women beginning their training at Clark Atlanta University last week.