White House Honor Humbles Youth Expert

Cheryl Ann Wadlington named ‘Champion of Change’ in White House ceremony

Not much seems to faze youth development expert Cheryl Ann Wadlington.

She grew up in a family of activists who demanded better public policies on everything from AIDS Awareness to mental health services. As a model-turned-fashion writer she learned her way around New York City Fashion Week providing coverage for national magazines.

A co-author and contributing editor of “Soul Style: Black Women Redefining the Color of Fashion.” Wadlington took her fashion and style expertise and opened her own image consulting company, complete with an all-star glam squad, whose credits include Beyoncé, Alicia Keys and Mary J. Blige.

But it’s her work, through The Evoluer House, that moves her.

She now heads a youth personal development non-profit which currently counts 1,200 teen girls who it has helped move from troubled and insecure pasts, to pursuing confident and bold futures.

On Sept. 30 she was honored at the White House as one of its “Champions of Change.” Wadlington joined nine other “everyday” recipients recognized in the area of “Extracurricular Enrichment for Marginalized Girls.” Wadlington was amazed at the ceremony and panel discussion, which featured a heavily Secret-Service-guarded guest speaker, and Obama senior advisor, Valerie Jarrett.

Wadlington admits this latest honor — she’s received many —moved her to “a weeping, teary-eyed mess.”

“Leading my non-profit, The Evoluer House, is a God-driven mission and part of my family DNA,” she said in a news release prior to the ceremony.

The Evoluer House hosts workshops and sessions for teenage girls of color who confront any number of social and emotional challenges and barriers to success, Wadlington explains. Its workshops tackle financial literacy, career goals, time management and self-esteem, with science-based curriculum taught by experts and professionals in various fields.

The non-profit seeks, as Wadlington states in a press release, to “equip the most underserved and hard-to-reach girls in Philadelphia with essential tools to become college-bound and career-ready,” and has produced graduates who are now “attorneys, educators, MBAs, journalists, musicians and leaders in their communities.”

Whitehouse.gov notes, “The Obama Administration has forged a number of pathways toward equity for women and girls of color. However, girls of color and their peers are still uniquely challenged by persistent opportunity gaps, structural barriers, and implicit biases.” It states that, “Girls of color are suspended from school at disproportionate rates and become more susceptible to falling behind. They are overrepresented in the foster care, juvenile, and criminal justice systems, yet underrepresented in STEM fields. Black and Latina girls still remain twice as likely as white girls to become teenage parents.”

Wadlington said what she does is “prepare, empower and protect girls to be their authentic, fabulous selves.”

Apparently, the White House agrees.