UNCP’s virtual Women’s Empowerment Summit is Friday – The Robesonian


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PEMBROKE — Several speakers will share personal stories of resiliency, balance and overcoming adversity during the upcoming Women’s Empowerment Summit.

The free virtual experience is scheduled for 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and is being presented by The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. To register, visit uncp.edu/womenempowerment.

“Each year our Women’s Empowerment Summit is always such a great event. Our participants come to fellowship with their friends and family, and leave feeling inspired. Although this year’s event is virtual, our presenters will give talks on topics that will still resonate with our audience,” said Mary Beth Locklear, director of UNCP’s Office for Regional Initiatives.

Keynote speakers are Hilary Cooper, assistant general counsel at AvePoint, and Julia Beach Pierce, associate general counsel for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Public Health Division.

In her role, Pierce oversees more than 100 attorneys and support staff who represent the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health programs, such as the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Public Health and Science Branch programs and the Indian Health Service. Previously she was an attorney in the IHS Branch for 22 years, 11 of which she served as the deputy associate general counsel. She is the first woman and minority to serve in these roles.

In 2010, she was the first American Indian to become the deputy associate general counsel for the Indian Health Service Branch. In 2018, Pierce was awarded the Shaping Justice Award for Extraordinary Achievement for her work with HHS in American Indian country. In 2021, she was chosen to lead the OGC Public Health Division during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Pierce and her team provide legal advice to every level of government, including Congress and the White House. A native of Robeson County, Pierce is the daughter of Julian T. Pierce, the attorney and Robeson County civil rights leader who founded Lumbee River Legal Services.

Cooper previously served as senior legal counsel at SAS Institute in Cary. Prior to that, she served as a senior attorney with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services representing the Indian Health Service. She has spent almost 15 years studying and engaging in discussions concerning violence against women. Currently, she serves as a member of the North Carolina Domestic Violence Commission.

In addition, she recently served on the Orange County Rape Crisis Center board of directors, where she began as a volunteer in college. She also remains an active volunteer with Legal Aid of North Carolina, where she started in law school working on domestic violence cases. This work contributed to her completing the most pro bono hours in her law school class. Cooper has spent most of her life in a political family that advocates for fairness and works toward prosperity for all, regardless of gender.

The summit presenters include Crystal Moore, director of Student Health Services at UNCP; LynnDee Horne, director of Counseling and Psychological Services at UNCP; Charla Suggs, associate director of the UNCP Brave Health Center; Veronica Hardy, associate professor in the Department of Social Work at UNCP; UNCP alumna Brittany Chavis, supervisor and instructor at Southeastern Lifestyles Fitness Center; and Kim Pevia, life coach and motivational speaker.

Also offering greetings on behalf of UNCP will be Jasmine Coleman, assistant director of Academic and Military Outreach, first lady Rebecca Cummings, interim Provost Zoe Locklear and Student Government Association President Cotrayia Hardison.

There will be virtual break-out sessions for summit participants. Participants will also be given an opportunity to view prerecorded presentations and engage with speakers in a live Zoom Q&A.

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