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Voices of Hope Press Release 2022

Press Release


Joy to take center stage as six Philadelphians are recognized for their commitment to positive change in the community

PHILADELPHIA (April 19, 2021) — The Mann Center for the Performing Arts will again amplify messages of empowerment, compassion, and positive change in Philadelphia with its annual Black History Month celebration, Voices of Hope, returning in-person on May 6, 2022, 6:00-8:00 p.m. in the TD Pavilion at the Mann. Voices of Hope is a free community event that celebrates African American culture and iconic Philadelphia innovators who are contributing to and changing the community of Greater Philadelphia. The honorees for this year’s ceremony are R&B artist Carol Riddick, culinary entrepreneurs Benjamin Bynum Jr. and Robert Bynum (The Bynum Brothers), real estate developers and partners Leslie Smallwood-Lewis and Gregory Reaves of Mosaic Development Group, and community leader and advocate Valarie Cofield, CEO of Eastern Minority Supplier Development Council. Voices of Hope is powered by TD and sponsored by Independence Blue Cross, Rivers Casino, Jefferson Health, The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, American Heritage Federal Credit Union, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Einstein Healthcare Network, and The Bellwether District.

“The Mann is thrilled to be able to honor these outstanding individuals who are actively creating change in Philadelphia through music and culture, the culinary arts, and business and economic development, while also inspiring young people, particularly in our Black community, to carry the torch and enact change as well,” said Catherine M. Cahill, president and CEO of the Mann.  “The central theme for this year’s Voices of Hope ceremony is joy, as our honorees consistently spread joy to their fellow Philadelphians by uplifting the community, creating meaningful opportunities for progress and change, and leading by doing what is right and good.”

Carol Riddick will receive the Mann’s Innovation Award for Artistic Excellence at the event. Riddick, born and raised in Philadelphia, is a fixture in the Philadelphia music community and continues to elevate her talent. She has serenaded audiences in her hometown and across the globe, touring with the likes of Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith, Jill Scott, Musiq SoulChild and more. Her passion for music education is demonstrated in her efforts as a mentor and educator, as she is a current National Trustee and former Chapter President for The Recording Academy®, a Philadelphia Creative Ambassador, a member of the Philadelphia Music Industry Task Force, and a Board member for the Philadelphia Music Alliance.

The Bynum Brothers will receive the Mann’s Innovation Award for Culinary Excellence. Benjamin and Robert Bynum, under the leadership and influence of their late father Benjamin Bynum Sr., have successfully run several restaurants in Philadelphia while infusing jazz culture and performance into the atmosphere for restaurant guests. One of their most prominent businesses is the South Restaurant and Jazz Club, which serves Southern cuisine and cultivates a network of internationally recognized jazz artists who perform at the restaurant and other venues in Philadelphia. The Bynum Brothers most recently opened Green Soul in Spring Garden, with a modernized health-focused soul food menu. 

Leslie Smallwood-Lewis and Gregory Reaves, partners and co-founders of Mosaic Development Partners, will receive the Mann’s Innovation Award for Community Impact. The pair established Mosaic Development Group in 2008 with the intention to help revitalize neighborhoods and marginalized communities with small- and large-scale commercial and mixed-use real estate. Smallwood-Lewis and Reaves focus on building new ideas, especially in locations where solutions aren’t obvious. With community and cultural sensitivity in mind, Mosaic Development Partners hires professionals and others who have been historically excluded from this industry.  

Valarie Cofield, receiving the Innovation Award for Community Advancement, is the President & CEO of the Eastern Minority Supplier Development Council, where she connects minority-owned businesses to larger business opportunities. Throughout her career, Cofield has worked proactively on all sides of the issues surrounding supplier diversity and inclusion, including advocacy at the highest levels of government and industry. Currently, she serves on many boards and communities including Governor Tom Wolf’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Inclusion, and Small Business Opportunities and the City of Philadelphia’s Rebuild Oversight Board. Cofield has also been a Girl Scout leader for 10 years. 

The 2022 Voices of Hope emcee will be Brandon Pankey, vice president of business development and operations at Live Nation Urban and founder of APEX Video Network. Rev. Dr. Lorina Marshall-Blake, president of Independence Blue Cross Foundation and 2021 Voices of Hope honoree, will provide the keynote address. Musical guests for the celebration are Riddick; Chill Moody, a Philadelphia hip-hop artist who is also an entrepreneur under his clothing, craft beer, consulting and recording brand “nicethings”; and Eric Wortham II, GRAMMY Award-nominated, classically trained pianist, composer, songwriter, and producer who toured with award-winning artists including Vivian Green, Aloe Blacc, Musiq SoulChild, and more. 

Voices of Hope was created by Naomi Gonzalez, chief education community engagement officer and the Mann’s Community Engagement Committee of the Board. The free program is open to the public, providing open access to music and inspiration. Space is limited and registration is required

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About the Mann
As one of the foremost outdoor music centers in the country, the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, a leading non-profit organization, has a historical legacy of artistic excellence as a world-class entertainment destination presenting premier artists, now in association with Live Nation Entertainment. Each summer season, renowned symphony orchestras, iconic rock stars and the latest touring artists in indie rock, hip hop, R&B and pop take the stage here. The Mann is the summer home of The Philadelphia Orchestra and has presented critically acclaimed performers in every decade since the 1930s. Located in the heart of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park, the Mann hosts more than 200,000 visitors annually. Signature concert experiences are surrounded by Philadelphia’s stunning skyline and include seats beneath the Mann’s acoustically acclaimed TD Pavilion; picnics, blankets and music under the stars on its Great Lawn or at the top of the hill at the Skyline Stage; and dining in Crescendo, the venue’s spectacular tented restaurant. In addition, the Mann’s Education & Community Engagement Program reaches tens of thousands of young people annually through free programming and educational initiatives as well as its virtual Mann Music Room. For more information, visit

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