Drexel University College of Medicine’s Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership honored Laurada Byers, founder of the Russell Byers Charter School, last month as the 12th annual Woman One recipient.
The Woman One program recognizes outstanding women leaders in the Philadelphia community and raises scholarship funds for talented under-represented women medical students at Drexel University College of Medicine.
“Laurada has made outstanding contributions to improve Philadelphia’s educational system and the civic well-being,” said Lynn Yeakel, director of the Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership. “Her mission and accomplishments are the reasons that I am proud she has been recognized with the Woman One award.”
In 2001, Byers founded the Russell Byers Charter School with her children, Dr. Alison Byers and W. Russell Byers Jr., as a tribute to her late husband and Daily News columnist, Russell Byers. The school at 1911 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103 serves 410 students from 40 different neighborhoods, in grades K through 6.
Since 1971, she has been a board member of International House Philadelphia, a cultural, educational and social program-center that encourages cross-cultural understanding while assisting 400 students from over 65 countries in their adjustment to American society and life in Philadelphia. As chair of the board of International House in the early ‘90s, Byers helped found the Festival of World Cinema, which later became the Philadelphia Film Festival.
Byers is also an advocate for women’s equality, as she has worked with Women’s Way for the past 30 years. She is also a member of the Women’s Financial Services Network Advisory Board for PNC Wealth Management, serving the Philadelphia region, and a co-founder of the 56% League, an organization that advances women’s political issues in Philadelphia.
Byers has received numerous awards for her work, including Philadelphia magazine’s “Volunteer of the Year” award in 2004 and the Girl Scouts of Southeastern Pennsylvania’s “Take the Lead” award in 2006.
In the past 11 years, the Woman One program has raised more than $2.5 million and has supported scholarships for 24 current and former scholars in Drexel University College of Medicine. Each of the 2014 scholars, Cherish Page of Phoenix, Ariz., and Christel Francois of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, receives $80,000 in tuition support over four years.
Honorary co-chairs of the 2014 Woman One award were Dr. Alison Byers, W. Russell G. Byers Jr., Adelaide Beecham, 6ABC journalist and Woman One 2013 Lisa Thomas-Laury, and dean of Drexel University College of Medicine Daniel V. Schidlow, MD.
Past Woman One Award recipients include Estelle Richman (’03), Leslie Anne Miller (’04), Dawn Staley (’05), Suzanne Roberts (’06), Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD (’07), Stephanie Naidoff (’08), Jane Pepper (’09), Eliana Papadakis (’10), Sara Manzano-Díaz (’11), Dianne Semingson (’12); and Lisa Thomas-Laury (’13).