The Best Friends National Conference to Take Place at Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center

Community and Local Residents Are Welcome During Community Hours

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ (Tuesday, July 11, 2017) Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center will host the Best Friends National Conference, presented by Maddie’s Fund July 13-15. This year, the animal welfare-focused conference is promoting complimentary community hours for local residents and individuals interested in the industry to explore the exhibit hall.

Imagine sitting in a room surrounded by people who love animals as much as you do. More than 1,000 attendees from all over the country work in all different areas of animal welfare, organizations, veterinarians, animal shelter board members and volunteer for rescue groups in their local area. Each and every attendee is deeply committed to saving the lives of homeless pets, and each has something valuable to teach and share with others.

The Best Friends National Conference will have exhibit hall community hours for local residents and individuals interested in the industry. Local residents can explore the exhibits and see innovative products from the exhibitors and sponsors. Join informative sessions about microchipping, pet DNA, healthy plant-based meal planning, and more. In addition, meet Animal Planet's Jackson Galaxy and disco diva Gloria Gaynor. The community hours will be held Friday, July 14, 2:30 – 6:00 p.m. and Saturday, July 15, 9:00 – 11:30 a.m., located at Harrah's Waterfront Conference Center, Wildwood 4.

The Best Friends National Conference is a place where you can learn, share and connect with like-minded people from around the country. With workshops and speakers on nearly every aspect of the no-kill movement, the conference has something for everyone.

“We’re excited to bring our conference to Atlantic City,” said Eric Rayvid, director of public relations for Best Friends Animal Society. “For the first time and because of overwhelming demand, we’re offering free admission to our exhibit hall Friday and Saturday to reach more people to educate them about issues surrounding animals in shelters as well as have them connect with all the great vendors and exhibitors from around the country.”

To learn more about the community events, please visit: For more information about Best Friends, please visit Onsite registration is available for the full conference schedule.


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Tuesday, June 20, 2017 - Vetri Community Partnership and Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, more than 40 celebrated chefs from around the world, and over 1,000 guests at Urban Outfitters Headquarters.

Noteworthy newcomers included, Hugh Acheson of 5 & 10 in Athens, GA; Frank Castronovo & Frank Falcinetti of Frankies Spuntino & Prime Meats in Brooklyn; Derek Dammann of Maison Publique in Montreal, QC; Evan Funke of Felix in LA; Sara Jenkins of Nina June in Rockport, ME; and Ryan Poli of The Catbird Seat in Nashville

 Returning chefs included, Paul Kahan of Blackbird, avec,  The  Publican  and  Big  Star  in  Chicago; and Alex Guarnaschelli of Butter in NYC and television personality on The Food Network. For a full list of participating chefs visit,

 The event was hosted by 6ABC’s Alicia Vitarelli and Marc Summers.

 Among the featured speeches were those by Kelly Herrenkohl, COO of Vetri Community Partnership; Liz and Jay Scott, co-Executive Directors of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.

The night was filled with great bites, fabulous drinks, VIP guests, music, mingling, exciting silent and live auctions, and best of all, great causes.

Some of the most popular dishes of the night included Marco Rossi’s quail egg ravioli in butter sage sauce, Kevin Fink’s cascarelli with vegetable broth, Paul Kahan’s rye croissant with charred tomato relish and feta, and Sara Jenkins’ porchetta.

In total, $54,000 was raised in the Live Auction. An in-home dinner with Philly’s 2017 James Beard Award Winners – Greg Vernick, Michael Solomonov, Stephen Starr -- and Marc Vetri went for $23,000.



@GreatChefsEvent @Vetricommunity @AlexsLemonade  #GCE2017




Friends and Colleagues Pay Tribute to Civic Leader Ahmeenah Young


PHILADELPHIA (June 30, 2017) - Several hundred friends of Ahmeenah Young, former President & CEO of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, attended a celebration of her life at the $1.3 billion facility she led.   Young, a trailblazer in the Philadelphia hospitality and civic arenas, passed away on June 2 at the age of 69.

Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell led the tributes by civic, religious, and hospitality leaders as well as family and friends of Young.

”I remember Ahmeenah always had a twinkle in her eye. No matter what the circumstances, she always had an upbeat attitude and made me laugh”, said former Governor Ed Rendell. “Ahmeenah always had great advice that was always spot on. Memories like those and all of the inspiration she manifested will never die.”

Young, Rendell and Meryl Levitz, president & CEO of Visit Philadelphia, were among the city leaders who helped to launch the Convention Center during 12 days of special events that coincided with the first Welcome America celebration in 1993. The tribute to Young, recognizing her more than 30 years of community service and advocacy on behalf of the hospitality industry, was scheduled to coincide with the opening day of events for this year’s annual Fourth of July celebration.


“My mother was a black woman who could rise. And once she reached a position of power, she used it to mentor the next generation. She wore her power with integrity and was always trying to help people,” said Pakeso Young, son of Ahmeenah. “She rarely spoke of her challenges but any challenge she had, she faced with grace and integrity. Anything positive I have done in my life, I have done because of her.”


Among the speakers from the hospitality community were Levitz; Julie Coker Graham, president & CEO of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB); Jim Cuorato, president & CEO of Independence Visitors Center; and William “Bill” Wilson CEO of Synterra Partners and PHLDiversity. Church leaders who spoke included the Rev. James S. Hall, Jr. of Triumph Baptist Church and the Rev. Marshall Mitchell of Salem Baptist Church.


Cherelle Parker, Jannie Blackwell, Mark Squilla, and Kenyatta Johnson of Philadelphia City Council, Kevin Johnson of OIC, Donna Cooper of Public Citizens for Children and Youth; and Kevin F. O’Toole of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board were among the civic leaders who participated in the tribute. 


Young’s longtime friend and partner in community efforts, U.S. Representative Dwight Evans, D-Philadelphia, sent a video tribute. The celebration included musical selections by Kathy Sledge, the Urban Guerilla Orchestra, Romona Riscoe Benson, J. Donald Dumpson and Lawrence Newton.

Young’s Convention Center colleagues were represented by Gregory Fox, Esq., chairman of the Convention Center Authority’s Board of Directors; board members Marian Tasco and Heather Steinmiller, Esq, who worked closely with Young; and John McNichol, president & CEO of the Center.  Former PCCA Board Chairman Thomas “Buck” Riley, Jr. and former Board Member Carl Singley, Esq. also were present. Young served in various positions at the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority, including Executive Vice President & General Manager, as well as Executive Vice President of External Affairs. Young also worked in the private sector as an entrepreneur before she became the fifth president of the Center in September 2008, a capacity she served in through December 2013.

”I knew Ahmeenah for over 25 years and I knew her as a brilliant, eloquent, stylish diva who has a smile and a warmth that just embraced you,” said Carl Singley, former PCC board member and close personal friend of Young. “She will be remembered for her endless optimism, good will, and deep, unwavering faith in human kind. Ahmeenah was truly inclusive until the very end.”



Contact: Deirdre Childress Hopkins, 215-418-4754, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Pete Peterson, 215-893-4297, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..