NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 15: (L-R) Shannon LaNier, Ninja Devoe, Mona Scott-Young, Rotimi, and Clifton Powell attend the 2016 Circle Of Sisters Expo at Jacob Javits Center on October 15, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)

Circle of Sisters Expo Attracts Thousands with Performances, Pop-Up Shops & More

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Annual Circle of Sisters Expo Is Another Success In 2016

The 12th annual Circle of Sisters EXPO was held at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan this past weekend. “Circle of Sisters is one of our key, annual events,” declared Charlie Morgan, Market Manager of Emmis New York. Last year, an estimated total of 50,000 people attended, and enjoyed the two-day event. This past weekend, did not disappoint. Attendees were able to shop among 250+ vendors, heard inspirational speeches from guest speakers, watched cooking demonstrations, viewed live performances, among other things.

This year’s event took place October 15-16th, and was presented by the AARP New York. Circle of Sisters is the largest EXPO in New York City geared to celebrate, motivate and unite women of color.  Emmis New York WBLS-FM 107.5, your #1 source for R&B, 1190 WLIB-AM, your home for Gospel & Inspiration, and WQHT-FM  HOT 97, Where Hip Hop Lives, hosted the EXPO where some of the biggest names in entertainment, health, food, and business, came together to celebrate women.

The two-day event kicked off with events taking place in all parts of the center. The Brooklyn Steppers Marching Band conducted a performance on the EXPO floor and Chef Vonda McPherson held a Healthfirst Culinary Corner cooking demonstration that taught of the importance of eating healthy, but with a little spice.

However, the EXPO wasn’t all fun and games. It did take a serious turn at a couple parts of the day. In the special events hall, the Red Carpet Panel, who consisted of Clifton Powell of Saints & Sinners; Rotimi singer and actor in the show Power; Mona Scott Young, CEO of Monami Entertainment and Producer of Love & Hip Hop; Ninja Devoe, starring in the show Queen Sugar featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network and in Marvel’s Luke Cage on Netflix; and Television host Shannon LaNier, discussed available opportunities for African-American actors in the film and television industry. Those who attended the panel were also able to witness Rotimi serenading all of the ladies in the room.

Later on in the day, two panels on the State of Black America took place. The first panel, Stop the Killing, which consisted of the Mothers of the Movement, discussed the issue of Police Brutality within the African-American community. This conversation continued in the second panel, “How to Change the Current Paradigm” panel discussed how the current election is affecting the state of black America. Panelist member Ebro from HOT 97 stated that “until we get active in our local communities…we are not going to see the change that we want. It’s going to take us a generation to make the changes we want to see.”

The second day of the event started off with a very enlightening and energetic Gospel service that was led by WLIB’s own Bishop Hezekiah Walker. The beginning of the day consisted of informative sessions by SONYMA and the American Heart Association. The morning panel started off with a discussion on women’s health, given by psychologist & professor, Dr. Jeff Gardere; activist & author, Terrie Williams, military captain & Miss USA, Deshauna Barber; actress & producer, Vanessa Bell Calloway; HIV/AIDS activist, Maria Davis; and the Midwest Regional Director for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Tracy Jones. The panel provided various health topics African-American women face in their daily lives.

Circle of Sisters Expo
The EXPO continued into the afternoon, where WBL’s own Shaila hosted a special one-on-one with bestselling author and co-anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America, Robin Roberts, and discussed some of the challenges that women face, as well as her extinguished career. Robin Roberts was asked what interview has stuck out in her career.  Robin stated that there were too many to name, but she “really enjoyed the conversations” that she had with Michelle and Barack Obama over the past eight years.

The event commenced with a sold out MetroPCS Gospel Explosion that featured performances by Hezekiah Walker, Ty Tribbett, VaShawn Mitchell, JJ Hairston, and special guest Luenell, who opened the event with some of her amazing comedy.

To see more from Circle of Sisters, including exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews with the celebrity guests, head to

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AARP New York’s Circle of Sisters Expo was presented by EmblemHealth, and made possible by AT&T, Healthfirst, Consumer Reports, Ashley Stewart, MetroPlus Health Plan, MetroPCS, Fidelis Care, StateFarm, SONYMA, Maybelline, SheaMoisture, InVite Health, Disney Destinations, MTA, MajorWorld, McDonald’s All Day Breakfast, American Heart Association, AIDS Health Foundation, EXPG, Nyack College, Center for NYC Neighborhoods, The Color Purple on Broadway, NYC Health+| Harlem, Nubian Heritage, FOX 5 NY, Village Voice, and Black Enterprise.

Image Credits:

Main Image: (L-R) Shannon LaNier, Ninja Devoe, Mona Scott-Young, Rotimi, and Clifton Powell attend the 2016 Circle Of Sisters Expo at Jacob Javits Center on October 15, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)

Robin Roberts Image:  Alec Turner

Raqiyah Mays & Common Image:  Hayden Greene

Luenell Image:  Pete Monsanto

Mario Image:  Hayden Greene

Joe Image:  Pete Monsanto

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Kristen Debler

Kristen Debler is a proud member of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria (Coast Miwok). She is a political / social activist, owner of an online ghostwriting company, and a freelance writer. She has over ten years of organizing and writing experience. Her poetry and short stories have been published in various journals and magazines. She graduated college with a Certificate in Pre-Tribal Law, A Bachelor's of Science in Communications, A Master's of Science in Legal Studies , and is currently obtaining a Master's of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. She currently lives in Sacramento, California.

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