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AARP Michigan 'Sisters and Friends' event strives to lift voices of African American women

CeCe Winans.jpg
CeCe Winans

Hundreds of voices, including a few celebrities, will join forces to set a forward-looking policy agenda for older African American women in Michigan at “MI Sisters and Friends: Conversations that Count,” a free, virtual event open to everyone.

The conversation will be 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17. Register at aarp.org/mi

“This event is about lifting the voices of women, particularly women of color, to create our own agenda centered on health and wealth,” said Paula D. Cunningham, State Director of AARP Michigan, who will be a speaker in the program. “Pollsters have said this election will be decided by women. So rather than just sitting around and having women figure out which platform we want to embrace, let’s create our own policy platform for candidates to embrace.

‘And we all know that women don’t always use the power of their voices. So we’ve invited a few celebrities to help,” Cunningham said.

Heightening the conversation will be:

  • CeCe Winans, legendary gospel singer and 12-time Grammy Award winner;
  • Martha Reeves, of the Motown super-group Martha Reeves and the Vandellas;
  • Regina Belle, celebrated singer-songwriter and actress.
  • Jacky Clark Chisholm, of the Grammy-winning gospel group The Clark Sisters;
  • Dr. Johnnetta Cole, anthropologist, educator, museum director and first female president of Spelman College.

Participants will create a 2020-2024 agenda around healthcare and financial security issues. The agenda will be shared each year with state and federal officials and progress will be reviewed each year.
Discussion panels will explore health and personal caregiving, and wealth and economic impact.

Speakers also will include:


  • Staci Alexander, AARP Director of Thought Leadership Outreach;
  • Edna Kane-Williams, AARP Senior Vice President of Multicultural Markets & Engagement;
  • Crisette Ellis, First Lady of Greater Grace Temple in Detroit;
  • Gail Perry Mason, financial industry authority and best-selling author;
  • Marilyn French Hubbard, author and founder of the National Association of Black Women Entrepreneurs;
  • Sandra Gaddy, CEO of the New Women’s Resource Center.

“We’ve been having these conversations for a long time, in living rooms, around kitchen tables. But we’re not necessarily having them in ways that count,” Cunningham said. “Having a united agenda we can share with candidates and monitor its progress annually will help create the change we need to see."

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