By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire
Senior National Correspondent

WASHINGTON, DC — Millennials and a younger generation were the targets of the fourth installment of The HeroZona Foundation’s Bridge Forum, which took place in late August at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Phoenix Tempe.

The event was an addition to the Foundation’s series discussing systemic racism in America, and the special segment did include young leaders from various public and private Arizona organizations advocating for change. The invitation-only event was again moderated by National Newspaper Publishers Association President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.

Supported by the City of Tempe and Greater Phoenix Leadership, the forum was live-streamed to the public on

“When it comes to a major policy change, too often we only speak with elected officials like me,” Tempe Mayor Corey Woods stated in a news release. “It’s important that when we talk about the needs of the next generation, we actually include them in these conversations. That is why I am proud to support the Next Generation Bridge Forum. This event placed a much-needed spotlight on the voices of young leaders who are out in the community making a change in unique ways. I looked forward to learning the different perspectives of these six exceptionally impressive panelists.”

HeroZona Foundation Founder and U.S. Army Desert Storm Veteran Alan “AP” Powell, said the point of the Bridge Forum series was to be as forward-thinking as possible when addressing these difficult issues. “These young voices are the ones who are going to lead us into the future, which is why this installment was so impactful. We are excited to give them the platform to voice their ideas on how to spark change,” Powell declared.

Not only were these discussions timely but “having this group of young leaders presenting solution-oriented ideas is crucial in inspiring change,” said Ted Trembath, general manager of the Embassy Suites by Hilton Phoenix Tempe. “We were honored to be the host of an event that is truly pushing us toward a better future.”

The event included a mix of panelists from young community members to policy experts, Powell said.

It included West Mesa Precinct Judge Elaissia Sears, Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries Allen Kevin Hunter, Arizona NAACP Youth & College President and organizer of several Phoenix Black Lives Matter protests Armonee D. Jackson, Phoenix Suns Community & Player Programs Senior Coordinator Shaquin Albrow, Arizona Coalition for Change Civic Engagement Director Sena Mohammed, and 100 Black Men of Phoenix Health & Wellness Committee Chairman Navarro Whitaker. 

During the event, 19-year-old poet Jasmin Artaisha read poetry titled “Can’t Breathe,” based on the murder of George Floyd.

“The voices of young Black leaders in the Valley are crucial to how we move our community forward in Arizona,” Judge Sears stated. “Bridging the gap between seasoned leaders and those who are coming after them allows us the opportunity to achieve greater objectives together.”

The forum was supported by City of Tempe Mayor Corey Woods, Arizona State Representative for District 9 Greg Stanton, Arizona State Representative for District 26 Athena Salman, Maricopa Country District 1 Supervisor Jack Sellers, and Greater Phoenix Leadership President and CEO Neil G. Giuliano.