MOFOIREFUNIBEJI ATI EGBE!!ASE! Attire: African Formal/Formal Color Theme: red, blue, gold, white
COVID-19 GUIDELINES We are all aware that the present endemic continues to affect the way we gather and connect.
Out of concern for the health of our children, immunocompromised, and larger community, there are precautions we’d like our guests to consider taking.
Please consider testing yourself for COVID-19, 72 hours before attending the gala on June 5th and refrain from being in large groups after testing to maintain sure your results so you can party freely!
We also ask that you consider masking at the Gala when you are not eating or drinking.
Following these basic precautions will allow us to enjoy ourselves safely. We want to send you home with joy and a smile on your face, only!
Greetings Family, Friends, and Community,
EGBE IWA Inc. is a year-long rites of passage, and cultural mentoring program dedicated to cultivating good character, and essential life skills in young people. Serving our community since 2002, the program has graduated over 85 alumni who have flourished in the fields of arts, education, medicine, and business.
Built on a foundation of “paying it forward”, our graduates' and mentors' skills and professional expertise are being utilized to serve youth within the greater New York community, Georgia, Texas, New Jersey, Connecticut & Pennsylvania. Egbe Iwa’s mission is to lay the foundation for future generations worldwide regardless of race, religion, ethnic origin, gender, or orientation.
On Sunday, June 5th 2022, Egbe Iwa will proudly graduate our tenth group of youth in the Gala Ite Siwaju (Commencement) Ceremony, with the triumph of sending another generation into the community as exemplars of morality, courage, strength, honor, and iwa pele (good character)!
We invite you to join us in the celebration of our graduates!
Dress Code: African Formal/Formal Attire Dressed to the NINES! Be ready for your paparazzi close ups!!
June 5, 2022 3:00 PM - 8:00 PM Seating begins at 2:30pm Please arrive early!
Amma Oloriwaa! Cheryl DB Murphy Amma Whatt Justin Haynes
The very first two graduates of Egbe Iwa return on our 20th Anniversary to host the celebration of our 10th class of graduates.
Senior Graduate MEMBER OF ADMINISTRATIVE BOARD
Amma Whatt John is the eldest graduate of Egbe Iwa. She is proud to serve on the board of directors, and contribute her experience as an akeko, fundraiser, and supporter of the program, since its inception. Recognized by the New York Times for her “…silk-infused vocals…” the songwriter, vocalist, and Brooklyn, NY native has a unique musical talent that has taken her all over the globe. She was recently featured as lyricist and vocalist on the two-time, Grammy-nominated jazz album “Nate Smith + KINFOLK: Postcards from Everywhere” and continues to write and tour with the band internationally. When asked where her inspiration comes from, Amma harkens back to her experiences born into a musical family that immersed her in various African and Black American cultures.
Ademola Kierstedt is the first initiate and graduate of the Egbe Iwa Odo Kunrin. He later served as a mentor in 2012 with double duty and was awarded Corporate mentor of the year. Ademola was initiated as a priest of Oshun in 1994. He attended Stuyvesant High School in New York and studied at The George Washington University in Washington DC. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity Incorporated and continues to mentor and volunteer. With over 20 years of experience in global corporate finance, he now is a senior manager at SGS Incorporated. He continues to train for leadership through his photo booth business (VIP EVENT BOOTHS) since 2017. He owns, manages, and operates a successful black business. He currently employs both past graduates and current Akeko of the Egbe. Currently Ademola resides in New Jersey with his wife and son who join him today. He continues to mentor financial literacy and believes that financial freedom is the key to living the life you’ve always dreamed.
Alade S. McKen, Ph.D.
Dr. Alade S. McKen is a native New Yorker and diversity, equity, and inclusion thought-leader with more than 15 years of developing, managing, and evaluating initiatives to enhance policy, programming, belongingness, and equity. He has taught youth as a rite of passage instructor and as an adjunct professor at undergraduate and graduate levels. Through his research and publications, Dr. McKen examines the social dynamics of education and culture within society and their impact on race and equity issues. Dr. McKen brings forth new opportunities to examine and address the broader cultural, economic, political, and social structures, policies, and practices around admissions, diversity, equality, and inclusion.
While at Iowa State University, he was Editor of the Journal of Critical Thought and Practice, an Asa G. Hillard III and Barbara A. Sizemore Fellow, and awarded a Teaching Excellence Award. Dr. McKen’s research interests include critical race theory, inclusive educational design, community-school partnerships, and engaging in a thoughtful, rigorous, and sustained inquiry into social justice struggles in educational systems. He received his B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Binghamton University, Masters in Higher Education from Baruch College, and his Doctorate in Education with a Social and Cultural Studies emphasis from Iowa State University.
Dr. McKen currently works at Columbia University, where he is the Assistant Dean of Recruitment, Diversity, Inclusion in the Graduate School of Architect, Planning, Design, and Preservation. He is also a lifetime member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., A Master Mason of Joppa Lodge No. 55, of Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge in the State of New York. He has also completed several traditional rites of passage “programs” as an initiate of Ogun in the Yoruba Lukumi tradition and as an Awo of IFA within the Isese traditional practice in Nigeria,which refers to a tradition in Ifa spirituality and refers to the wisdom passed down from our ancestors and spiritual progenitors. Dr. McKen is a proud husband and father of two little girls, which is his pride and joy.
Ogun Sheriki Citizenship Award 2022 Honorees
Dr. Bernadith Russell, MD
Egbe Iwa 2022 Honoree
Dr. Bernadith Russell, MD, is a board-certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist. Dr. Russell has partnered with women in her private practice to support honest and enlightened paths to wellness in New York City for over twenty years. She is an Attending Physician at the New York Presbyterian Health System. She attended medical school at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and completed her residency and role as Chief Resident at the North Shore University Hospital of the Northwell Health System. Dr. Russell completed medical school as the mother of three children, three and under, thereby engaged firsthand with the complexities of career and motherhood. Dr. Russell's experience as a mother would later inform her empathetic approach to partnering with patients as they navigate their relationships to creative agency in the world while exploring their connections to parenting. These concerns remain the cornerstone of her practice which provides comprehensive women’s health services. Prior to attending Medical School, Dr. Russell engaged in the care of the “worried well” as a health peer educator involved in small group discussion-based explorations of care with Black women in the early years of the HIV epidemic. Upon completing residency, Dr. Russell returned to her “hometown” of Brooklyn, New York, where she established a clinic for HIV-positive women while starting her private practice. Her professional focus expanded to include trauma-informed care as Dr. Russell initially trained as a Sexual Assault Examiner. She then worked as Director of Sexual Assault Services that partnered with City government to establish criteria for establishing Centers of Excellence for the care of sexual assault survivors. Trauma and its various manifestations in relation to women’s health remain a continued focus of Dr. Russell’s practice. Since Egbe Iwa's inception in 2002, Dr. Russell continues to lead the Obirin's (young women's) Puberty Rites Workshop.
Baba Omowale Kierstedt
Egbe iwa 2022 honoree
Philip “Omowale” Kierstedt was born in Manhattan, New York on 18 January 1941. He was one of four male children gifted to Mamie Kierstedt, ibaye.
As a young man his very busy mind and hands led him to trouble, and he spent some time as a guest of the state of New York in Juvenile Detention facilities. Believe it or not this is where Baba Omowale began to learn that he was an African citizen of the world, not just a little Black boy from the Bowery.
Baba Omowale has a unique blend of talents and skills -- tailor, plumber, farmer, electrician, carpenter, and cook, He is a natural learner. He sets his mind on knowing something and then he moves to doing it. He is truly that jack of all trades and has lived long enough to become the master of many.
Yemonja chose him as her son and blessed him with eight beautiful children plus three. The youngest, Ademola was the first male graduate of Egbe Iwa. He is also Baba to Ebony, Dwana and Sauda. Omowale is Baba of twelve, grandfather of 27 and great grandfather of 3.
Omowale was initiated (to the surprise of many) as a priest of Yemonja (Okun Tolade) on 19 July 2009 from the hands of Joseph Smith (Baba Segun) and Oseye Mchawi (Orisaiye).
When Omowale recognized the need for African people to declare their Africaness. he joined the EAST Cultural Institution. Here he used and fine-tuned his many talents. He was the all-around guy. “Ask Omowale?” became a very familiar phrase. During his tenure at the EAST, he began to travel the world that he had read so much about. His travels have taken him from the EAST beginning settlement in Guyana to Anguilla, Tortola, Tobago, St Thomas, St. Maarteen Egypt, Mexico, Puerto Rico, The Ivory Coast, Haiti, The Dominican and Ghana just to name a few.
Baba O as he is known to many, presently spends his days making life magic for his wife, Isoke and those who love him and whom he loves. He is the retired manager of Ile Oya Sango and is the driver for All Write Literacy Consultants. But neither of these titles truly describe the day to day work of Omowale. He is the lifeforce and the backbone for his wife and grandchildren. He is crucial to the crowning and clothing of many in Ile Orisaiye and Ile Oya Niyi. He is a workshop leader for the Egbe Iwa and is not only the father of the first Okunrin graduate. but five grandchildren have also successfully graduated from Egbe Iwa. The sixth, Dakari- is a graduate in the present historic class.
Omowale Philip Kierstedt continues to believe, “that it takes a village to raise a child,” and Egbe Iwa is a most important part of his village,