A sad loss for the Pennsylvania Convention Center and our Region’s Hospitality Community
The Pennsylvania Convention Center deeply mourns the loss of Ahmeenah Young, its trailblazing first African American and first female president and chief executive officer. She passed away June 2 after an illness.
“Ahmeenah Young dedicated her life to serving the hospitality and meetings industry in Philadelphia and across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania," said Gregory J. Fox, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority's Board of Directors. "Ahmeenah’s legacy continues in the footsteps of other women in our industry, our breathtaking art collection, and in the robust life and prosperity of the Convention Center.”
Her impact on the Pennsylvania Convention Center spans its existence. Ahmeenah, Meryl Levitz, now president & CEO of Visit Philadelphia, and former Gov. Ed Rendell were among the city leaders who helped to launch the opening of the Convention Center during 12 days of special events that coincided with the first Welcome America celebration in 1993. A highlight of those events for Ahmeenah came when anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela and President F. W. de Klerk of South Africa received Liberty Medals at a ceremony where they were joined by President Bill Clinton.
Ahmeenah served in various positions at the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority, including Executive Vice President & General Manager and Executive Vice President of External Affairs. Ahmeenah also worked in the private sector as an entrepreneur before she became the fifth president of the Center in September 2008, serving through December 2013.
As President, Ahmeenah stewarded the opening of the $787 million expansion In March 2011, ensuring that women, minorities, disadvantaged and small business owners received almost one-third of the project’s contracts. The expansion was the largest project in the history of the Commonwealth and it made the Convention Center the leading economic engine for the region's hospitality industry.
At the Center, Ahmeenah had oversight of the day-to-day operation of the 2-milllion-square-foot facility and fiscal management of its $35 million budget.
After leaving the Convention Center in 2013, she participated on the Center’s Expansion Art Project Committee, working with fine arts organizations throughout the Commonwealth to select and oversee the installation of 70 additional pieces of art in the building. Governor Tom Wolf appointed Ahmeenah to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board last October.
“Ahmeenah is a part of our legacy of fair employment, diversity and inclusion," Fox said. "She will be deeply missed by the staff at the Center, as well as her many friends throughout the region and state in the hospitality industry."