Local Business Leaders Join the Museum to Explore Philadelphia’s Legacy of Black Entrepreneurship at Evening Panel Discussion, Oct. 19September 18, 2023
Admission Includes Access to Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia Special Exhibition
Panel Discussion and Q+A Also Will Be Livestreamed Online
A panel of five Philadelphia-based Black business leaders will join the Museum of the American Revolution on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023, from 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. for “AmRev Presents: A Black Founders Legacy of Entrepreneurship,” a panel discussion on the history of Black entrepreneurship in Philadelphia. Panelists will explore the experiences of contemporary Black business owners and draw connections to those of James Forten, a successful Black sailmaker and entrepreneur whose life and legacy is chronicled in the Museum’s special exhibit Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia. The discussion will be moderated by CEO and owner of Electro Soft, Inc. Karla Trotman, who also serves on the Museum’s Board of Directors and Black Founders Exhibition Committee.
The event will begin at 6 p.m. in the Lenfest Meyer Theater with opening remarks from African-American Chamber of Commerce President Regina A. Hairston, Museum President and CEO Dr. R. Scott Stephenson, and Museum Curator of Exhibitions Matthew Skic. Trotman will then facilitate a panel discussion and Q+A with special guests Steven Scott Bradley, Jason M. Coles, Nia Eubanks-Dixon, Chef Kurt Evans, and Derek S. Green to explore how James Forten’s successful enterprises, philanthropic mission, and influential networks connect with Black founders of Philadelphia businesses today. The discussion and Q+A also will be livestreamed for online audiences.
Admission to this event includes access to Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia, and a reception in the Museum’s Rotunda. Onsite tickets include Zoom access and are $20 for general admission or $15 for Museum Members. Online-only tickets are $12 for general admission or $10 for Museum Members. Tickets can be purchased here.
5:15 - 6 p.m. – Black Founders access
6 - 7:30 p.m. – Panel Discussion
7:30 - 8:30 p.m. - Reception & Black Founders access
The African-American Chamber of Commerce of PA, NJ & DE (AACC) is a promotional partner for this event.
About Steven Scott Bradley
Steven Scott Bradley serves as the Principal & Senior Client Executive at OneDigital Inc, of which his firm, Bradley & Bradley Associates, LLC, is a member. His team specializes in commercial insurance and risk management services for businesses across the Greater Philadelphia area. Passionate about his community, Bradley also serves as Chair of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, where he leads with the imperative of community-building – attacking issues of poverty, quality education and equal opportunity – as integral to building a thriving business community that advances the African American agenda. Bradley’s commitment to service expands beyond the business community: he currently serves on the boards of several civic, social and religious organizations and commissions, including the Philadelphia Foundation, Foundation of Delaware County, Philadelphia Education Fund, and Frontiers International (President Emeritus), among others. His accomplishments have been rewarded by numerous organizations, most recently with the 2023 African American Chamber of Commerce Vanguard Award, the 2023 Philadelphia Business Journal’s Diversity in Business Lifetime Achievement Award, the Philly Power 100 Award, and the Philadelphia Tribune’s Most Influential African American Leaders award.
About Jason M. Coles
Jason M. Coles is the founder and CEO of Katika, an app that connects individuals with local events and information from non-profits and Black-owned businesses. Coles is deeply engaged in the Philadelphia community through several organizations. As a member of the U.N.I.A. and N’COBRA, Coles actively participates in community activism, mentors children and young adults, and holds a position on the board of Progress Plaza Trust Inc. He is a proud alumnus of Howard University and also holds memberships in Delta Sigma Pi and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Rho Chapter.
About Nia Eubanks-Dixon
Nia Eubanks-Dixon is the founder and creator of Creative Praxis, an art-infused, healing-informed, and anti-racist training program borne from over 20 years of research and experience working with diverse communities worldwide. Eubanks-Dixon is a globally renowned trainer and facilitator, counselor, professional dancer, storyteller, teacher, and therapeutic restorative community artist who is dedicated to the craft of interactive, transformational facilitation. She is certified in life coaching, crisis intervention, the dialogic process, restorative practices, interactive mediation, restorative arts, trauma healing, trauma-informed spaces, and de-escalation techniques. Each year, Eubanks-Dixon trains thousands of people worldwide and has collaborated with numerous international organizations, including American Friends Service Committee, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, The Harmony Project, The Aspen Institute, Jobs for the Future, and Urban Bush Women. Her liberation-centered pedagogy has been incorporated into classrooms, community centers, and nonprofit organizations throughout the Philadelphia region and beyond.
About Chef Kurt Evans
Born and raised in Philadelphia, chef and activist Kurt Evans found his culinary spark cooking southern style dishes alongside his grandmothers as a child. Since then, he's gone on to hone his skills in some of Philadelphia’s most esteemed kitchens. In 2017, Evans decided to use his culinary skills to rally his community around ending mass incarceration and center his work around criminal justice reform in America. Through his groundbreaking End Mass Incarceration (EMI) dining series, Evans orchestrates dinners themed around the criminal justice system. By combining his revolutionary restaurant business model with his community-focused activism, Evans is driving change across the culinary landscape and far beyond.
About Derek S. Green
Derek S. Green, Esq. is a Philadelphia-based attorney and civic leader who currently serves as Of Counsel at the law firm of Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel, LLP, and Special Counsel at Bellevue Strategies. He previously served as Assistant Philadelphia District Attorney. He was elected to Philadelphia City Council in 2015, where he served in high-ranking capacities on several boards and committees. He was re-elected in 2019 but resigned in September 2022 to run for Mayor of Philadelphia. In addition to his expansive professional and civic career, Green and his wife, Sheila, co-founded the first Autism Support Class at Houston Elementary School, which aims to support local students with autism – like their own son – and aid local families affected by autism. Green has served leadership roles within numerous civic and professional organizations, including President of the Center in the Park, Inc. and East Mount Airy Neighbors, Inc., First Vice President of the Germantown YMCA, Vice President of Young America Political Action Committee, Co-Vice Chair of the PA Bar Assoc.’s Legal Services to the Public Committee, and others. He is also a member of the Center for Progressive Leadership’s inaugural class of Political Leadership Fellows. Green has been rewarded extensively for both his professional and community contributions, and has been named one of the region’s key connectors and leaders by Leadership Philadelphia; one of six new young political leaders by Metro Philadelphia; one of 10 under 40 rising political stars by the Philadelphia Daily News; and was included on City and State PA’s Philly Power 100 list.
About Karla Trotman
Karla Trotman is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Electro Soft, Incorporated (ESI), an electronics manufacturing and engineering firm in the United States. The breadth of her experience in business extends to supply chain logistics, purchasing, global scheduling, and e-commerce, and she has served in key roles in companies including Honeywell, Gap, and IKEA. Her tenacity for learning, assessing, and fulfilling the needs of local and international communities culminated with her establishing Belly Button Boutique, a successful online business selling products for prenatal and postnatal women, while on maternity leave. Over 8 years, her business expanded to celebrity and international clientele and was featured on NBC 10 News, People Magazine’s Celebrity Baby Blog, CBSNews.com, Huffington Post Live, several radio shows, books, and countless blogs. Karla identified her success navigating Belly Button Boutique in both online business and logistics spaces as an opportunity to propel Electro Soft, Incorporated (ESI), established in 1986 by Karla’s parents, Jim and Sheila Wallace, forward. Over the past fifteen years she has served as ESI’s Special Projects and Marketing Manager, Executive Vice President, and Chief Operating Officer, and currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer. Through her leadership at ESI, Karla was named an Influential Woman in Manufacturing, Enterprising Woman of the Year, Transformational Woman in Business, and a Top 25 Leader Transforming Manufacturing. Karla is dedicated to serving her community as a board member for the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation, Museum of the American Revolution, African Women’s Entrepreneurship Collective, Forum of Executive Women Foundation, and Team PA Foundation. She is Co-Chair of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Manufacturing Alliance (SEPMA) and is a member of both the Drexel University Board of Governors and Drexel’s President’s Council. Her most important roles in life are wife to husband Thane and mother to her two teenage sons, Dylan and Bryce.
About Regina A. Hairston
Regina A. Hairston is President & CEO of the African-American Chamber of Commerce of PA, NJ & DE (AACC), the region’s premier Black business advocacy organization. She has made it her top priority to create a wealth-generating system for Black communities in Metropolitan Philadelphia which includes neighboring cities in New Jersey and Delaware. Regina has launched two signature programs, Coaching to Capital cohort and a Peership series, to address disparities in Philadelphia’s Black population compared to its share of business ownership. Most notably, Hairston, a former lobbyist, was instrumental in lobbying Philadelphia City Council to vote for a reduction in the Business Income & Receipts Tax (or BIRT). Hairston has been named one of Philadelphia Business Journal’s Women of Distinction 2022; City and State’s 2023 Power of Diversity: Black 100 List; Philadelphia Magazine’s 2021 Most Influential People in Philadelphia, Philadelphia Business Journal’s Power 100, and Metro Philadelphia’s Power Women list. She serves as a member of the CHOP Corporate Council and sits on the boards of directors for the Fund for Girard College, the Philadelphia Theatre Company, the City Year Philadelphia, the Johnson Manor of Faith and Education Board, and Natural Lands.
About Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia
The Museum of the American Revolution’s groundbreaking special exhibition, Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia, brings together – for the first time – more than 100 historical artifacts to tell the inspiring story of free Black Philadelphian James Forten and his remarkable family, from the Revolutionary era through the Civil War and Reconstruction. Black Founders explores the Forten family’s roles in the Revolutionary War, business in Philadelphia, and the abolitionist movement from 1776 to 1876, including their roles in helping to start both the American Anti-Slavery Society and the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society in 1833. The exhibition runs until Nov. 26, 2023, and is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Black Founders is included with regular Museum admission.
Black Founders is presented by Bank of America, Comcast NBCUniversal, and George C. and Esther Ann McFarland Foundation, with additional support from Independence Blue Cross, Morris W. Offit, Pennsylvania Lumbermens Mutual Insurance Agency, The Richard C. von Hess Foundation, American Heritage Credit Union, Claudia and Richard Balderston, Ballard Spahr LLC, Aliya Browne and Reginald M. Browne, Electro Soft Inc., The Haverford Trust Company, Neubauer Family Foundation, PECO, Philip Syng Reese, Visit Philadelphia, and WSFS Bank.
About Museum of the American Revolution
The Museum of the American Revolution uncovers and shares compelling stories about the diverse people and complex events that sparked America’s ongoing experiment in liberty, equality, and self-government. Through the Museum’s unmatched collection, immersive galleries, powerful theater experiences, and interactive elements, visitors gain a deeper appreciation for how this nation came to be and feel inspired to consider their role in ensuring that the promise of the American Revolution endures. Located just steps away from Independence Hall, the Museum serves as a portal to the region’s many Revolutionary sites, sparking interest, providing context, and encouraging exploration. The Museum, which opened on April 19, 2017, is a private, non-profit, and non-partisan organization. For more information, visit www.AmRevMuseum.org or call 877.740.1776.