Ahmeenah Young, 69, former Pennsylvania Convention Center president and CEO
By John N. Mitchell, Philadelphia Tribune
Ahmeenah Young, a former president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority who was well-known in the hospitality industry and, according to U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, “a true renaissance person and a champion for the city of Philadelphia,” died on Friday, June 2, 2017 after a long battle with cancer. She was 69.
At her request, a janazah will be held Sunday at 1 p.m. at Mosque of Shaikh M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, 5820 Overbrook Ave.
On Oct. 7, 2016, Gov. Tom Wolf appointed Young to a three-year term as a commissioner on the Pennsylvania Gaming and Control Board. Prior to that, Young served for more than 20 years in management positions with the Pennsylvania Convention Center where she became its first African American and first female president and CEO.
“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. Young, Meryl Levitz, now president & CEO of Visit Philadelphia, and former Gov. Ed Rendell were among the city leaders who helped 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 Young 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.
Before joining the convention center, Young was general manager at the Independence Visitors Center and vice president of corporate diversity at SearchWide, LLC.
In recent years, according to close friend Frances Jones, she formerly served as the assistant general manager of governmental affairs for SEPTA.
“She is going to be greatly missed,” said Jones. “She had a heart for people — all people.”
Young was named just two weeks ago to serve on the Board of Directors at The Philadelphia Tribune. Her death shocked board member Robert L. Archie.
“I’m stunned by this,” said Archie. “She was bright, intelligent, thoughtful and talented. She would have brought a wealth of talent and experience from the multiple talents that she possessed. We have been friends for more than 20 years. I’ve lost a friend and a colleague.”
On several occasions, Young hosted or co-hosted the Tribune’s Philadelphia’s Most Influential African Americans Banquet.
Young was involved in many charitable endeavors. She belonged to the Governor’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs, along with the boards of Hahnemann University Hospital, the Philadelphia International Airport Advisory Committee, Temple University School of Hospitality and Tourism, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Philadelphia Eagles Oversight Committee for Affirmative Action and the African American Museum in Philadelphia.
Young and Evans worked on a number of initiatives together. According to Evans, Young played a huge role in getting African Americans and women involved in the hospitality business. Evans said Young was a “renaissance woman” in the city whose name should be mentioned alongside former late mayors Joseph Clark and Richardson Dilworth “because of what she has done for the city.”
“She worked tirelessly trying to get Black conventions to the city,” said Evans. “She was a real civic leader. She was involved in so many different ways. She mentored. She helped. She did so much and she always wanted more for Philadelphia. She cared for the city and how the city was viewed.”
Young attended Triumph Baptist Church, where she was a member of the trustees board. Pastor James S. Hall was saddened of the news of her death, saying that it was a loss for her family, friends and the city.
“She was extremely progressive and very cooperative — she was a calming presence whenever she was around,” said Hall. “She was just an all-out great person.”
Young is survived by: a daughter, Asiya Young; a son, Pakeso Young; and grandsons, Kumasi Mandela Young and Ayinde Young.
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