Exploration of Self Conference

Organization: Garden of Peace Project

Venue: carnegie mellon university s

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

Event Date/Time: Oct 18, 2013 / 7:00 pm - (EST) End Date/Time: Oct 20, 2013 / 12:00 pm - (EST)
Registration Date: Oct 18, 2013 Time: 19:00:00 - (EST)
Abstract Submission Date: Sep 30, 2013
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The Exploration of Self Conference, which has received the support and endorsement of City of Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, seeks to inform community leaders, professionals, service providers, students, and those seeking knowledge with ways to engage the Self, in their own capacity, and to use the Self to empower and enrich their own life experiences. Additionally, the Exploration of Self Conference will explore the ways in which the Greater Pittsburgh area is building tolerance and acceptance through the areas of health, legal, education, employment, entertainment, and faith systems. The conference seeks to provide greater understanding of the LGBTQIA and HIV+ communities, and the ways in which race and faith intersect. This will be accomplished through events, programs, workshops, and presentations of community members and leaders. Exploration of Self Conference will host keynote speaker Sheryl Lee Ralph, speakers The Honorable Tom Murphy, Bishop Tonyia Rawls, Representative Jake Wheatley, Olivia Benson (of the Mayor's office), and performer Jamar Rogers (of the Voice).

The Exploration of Self conference will last for four days, Friday, October 18 through Sunday, October 20, and will consist of events, programs, workshops, and presentations. All of the programming will seek to increase cultural competency and diversity of participants. On Saturday night, there will be a fashion show with diverse models, and a house ball, the Big TeQUEERla, presented by True T Entertainment.


5000 Forbes Avenue
United States


Garden of Peace Project
P.O. Box 8070
United States

Conference Speakers

Pennsylvania House of Representative, Jake Wheatley

The Honorable Tom Murphy

Bishop Tonyia Rawls

Olivia Benson, Youth Policy Manager


Additional Information

On Friday evening, at the William H. Riddick Opening Convocation, we will celebrate his life and his dedication to the empowerment of all people with local entertainers and performers. Rev. William Riddick, 75, departed this life on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 1996, at Sentara Hampton GeneralHospital. A native of Gates County, N.C., he had been a resident of the Peninsula for a number of years. He was a member of Emmanuel Chapel Church of Christ Holiness USA and served as pastor for 23 years. He retired from the Newport News Shipyard and was a veteran of the U.S. Army. As a reverend, William H. Riddick inspired many and preached love and humanity to all people. The opening convocation at the Exploration of Self Conference will include chanting to connect to the Self and a welcome speech, by PA House Representative Jake Wheatley, focused on unconditional love.   

On Saturday, Garden of Peace Project will host our workshops and presentations at Carnegie Mellon University and two events. First, Garden of Peace Project will host its First Annual Irene J. Battle Awards Ceremony to recognize leadersand advocates for the LGBTQIA and HIV+ community. GPP will honor 13 recipients with awards, such as HIV/AIDS research, youth leader award, and ally award. Irene J. Battle was born on April 3, 1928, and dedicated her life to bettering the Northside community in Pittsburgh. Irene served as an Americorp VISTA Volunteer and a Ward Captain of the 25th Ward. Mayor Tom Murphy said that Irene was a “very strong mentor to me.”   Later that night, Mr. Pittsburgh Pride Drag King, Devon Orel, will host Pittsburgh Has Pride, a variety show to celebrate the LGBTQIA and HIV+ communities.

On Sunday, we will close the conference with the Chaney Josephone Riddick Closing Ceremony. Chaney Josephine Riddick was the bedrock of her family, a powerhouse for women. She dedicated most of her life to serving the community and reaching out to the most marginalized groups of society. Sister Riddick passed away on October 13, 1997, and at the closing ceremony, Garden of Peace Project will honor Sister Riddick and her life. She was a faithful member of Emmanuel Chapel at the time of her death. She was a member of the Christian Women Willing Workers, vice president of the Senior Choir and Hospitality Committee, member of the Adult Women Sunday School Class and former treasurer of the Sunday school. Many of the barriers to women empowerment and equity lie ingrained into the cultures of certain nations andsocieties. Garden of Peace Project believes in empowering all women. At the Chaney Josephine Riddick Closing Ceremony local female soul vocalist, Kai Hunter, will grace the conference attendees with her soulful voice.    Local women’s empowerment activist, Meagan Lunsford, and YouthPolicy Manager to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Olivia Benson, will speak about women’s empowerment and the true meaning of sisterhood.Award-winning spoken word artist, Hotep, has been performing in open mic stages and poetry slams since May 2011. Her revolutionary message comes across in a practical, comical, and passionate way and she will performempowering pieces for all Exploration of Self Conference attendees.


Exhibits included

  • Advocacy/Activism
  • Aging/Seniors (55+)
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Faith/Spirituality
  • Gender and Sex
  • Health
  • Discrimination and Access to Care
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy
  • LGBTQIA Health Disparities (Cancer, Drug and Alcohol Abuse, etc.)
  • Mental Health
  • Suicide
  • Depression
  • STD/STIs
  • Stigma
  • Law Enforcement/Safety
  • Legal
  • People of Color
  • The “Q” and “A” of LGBTQIA
  • Transgender/Transsexual
  • Women
  • Youth (29 and under)
  • Bullying
  • Homelessness