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Society: Rhonda Walker Foundation honors STEM women

Chuck Bennett

A sold-out crowd of more than 300 people filed into the Sound Board at MotorCity Casino on Sunday afternoon in support of the Rhonda Walker Foundation’s annual Moving with Success Empowerment Brunch.

Rhonda Walker, left, with Judge Roberta Archer and Dr. Jennifer Fuller.

The event that honors Metro Detroit’s powerful women celebrated its 11th year, this time saluting successful women in STEM fields — educators, doctors, engineers and scientists.

Walker, WDIV-TV’s morning anchor, who founded the foundation that gracefully ushers eighth-12th-graders through the “Girls into Women” program, greeted guests wearing a fitted hot pink, V-neck dress with bell sleeves, coordinating with the 50 teenaged girls who were dressed in all-black, adorned with bright pink scarves.

Gail Perry-Mason was the event’s mistress of ceremonies.

The afternoon included exciting performances from a youth mime/dance troupe from Detroit’s Fellowship Chapel and the Urban Violinist, Kym Brady. Teen emcees from Cass Tech and Renaissance high schools joined the delightful Gail Perry-Mason in hosting responsibilities, while guests enjoyed a delectable brunch that included made-to-order omelets, grilled salmon, grilled steak, penne pasta, roasted veggies and bottomless mimosas.

“We have lost our names, Harriette,” teased Walker’s father, Ronald Gillum, a board member who delivered the invocation, addressing his wife of 55 years. “We are now known as ‘Rhonda Walker’s parents.’ ”

After brunch, an empowering panel discussion ensued where the 18 dynamic honorees talked about opportunities in STEM for women, how to overcome intimidation in the field, and how to navigate being the only female in the room when working in this field.

Student Le’La Barnes and artist Tony Roko show off artwork.

The day also included a live art auction of paintings created by foundation teens under the direction of renowned artist Tony Roko.

To date, the foundation has graduated 11 senior classes of its Girls into Women program, with a 100-percent high school graduation rate, a 100-percent college enrollment rate and a 95-percent college graduation rate.

Tickets to the event were $150. For information, visit

Chuck Bennett is the creator of and hosts “Chuck’s World” from 4-5 p.m. Saturdays on 910AM Superstation.