--Sun to Honor Akia S. Callum, Jen Fry, Tammy De La Cruz, and Robin Roberts--
Uncasville, CT (August 7, 2023) - The Connecticut Sun is set to host its Women of Inspiration Night presented by Post University on August 31 during a game against Brittney Griner and the Phoenix Mercury at 7:00PM EST. The Connecticut Sun and Post University, the Sun's Official Education Partner, will be honoring four women who have made a difference in their respective industries—Akia S. Callum, Tammy De La Cruz, Jen Fry and Robin Roberts.
Women of Inspiration Night presented by Post University will feature giveaways, donation opportunities and a pregame reception. The first 2,500 fans at Mohegan Sun Arena will receive a 2023 Connecticut Sun team poster. Additionally, Post University will also be presenting its 'Threes for Degrees' scholarship award. One lucky student will receive a $15,000 scholarship to any school of their choice. August 31st also marks the last day to donate to Brittney Griner's Heart and Sole Shoe Drive. Fans can bring any new or gently used shoes to the bins around Mohegan Sun Arena before and throughout the Sun vs. Mercury game. Lastly, the Connecticut Sun will be hosting a pregame reception to honor its 2023 Women of Inspiration, before the 7:00 PM tip. For more information and/or to sign up for the reception, call 1-877-SUN-TIXX to speak with a Connecticut Sun Account Executive.
“Women comprise over 70 percent of our online student enrollment and associate population at Post University, all of whom are an inspiration. Therefore, sponsoring Women of Inspiration night with the Connecticut Sun is a natural fit for us," said John L. Hopkins, Post University CEO & President. "The honorees are extraordinary trailblazers who exemplify strength and confidence. To our own Akia Callum, a Post alumna and current law student, you are our inspiration. You have the gift of curiosity, embrace new ideas, and push the boundaries of what is possible, not what is predictable or probable. You pave the way for others to follow.”
"I am humbled and grateful to receive the title of 'Woman of Inspiration' from Post University and the Connecticut Sun," expressed Akia S. Callum, M.Ed. "As the daughter of immigrants, being a woman of inspiration means embodying strength, resilience, and wisdom to overcome challenges, while maintaining an unwavering commitment to racial equity, as exemplified by my shero, Shirley Chisholm. It also means recognizing the importance of self-care and prioritizing rest. I am immensely thankful to my community for their unwavering support in nurturing my dreams as a social justice advocate and educator. As I move forward, I aim to showcase the boundless power within each of us and continue to inspire and uplift youth and families across the nation."
"Being recognized as a woman of inspiration means to me that I am truly making a difference not just in our community but in the lives of so many people that have lost everyone and everything that matters to them," remarked Founder and Vice President of Community Speaks Out, Tammy De La Cruz. "When my son was killed, I felt like my life was over. But this award shows me that I am a survivor, and I am capable of continuing to build bridges and give hope to those who thought their life was over too. I am honored to be recognized by the Connecticut Sun who has been a great community partner."
"This recognition means the world to me. When I left coaching, my goal was to be a speaker and educator that was authentic, transparent, and someone that people could see themselves in," Jen Fry stated. "I want people to see that professionalism is a Black woman with an afro and a full sleeve tattoo, who speaks boldly about topics important to her. I also want to show people that speaking up doesn't leave you lonely--it's actually the opposite. When you speak up, you build up and activate other people around you to do the same. You create community and find yourself surrounded by folks who love you for who you are and the way you move through the world. It's such a gift."
“I’m deeply honored to join the Connecticut Sun’s ‘Women of Inspiration’ game night,” said “Good Morning America” co-anchor, Robin Roberts. “As a superfan of all-things basketball, and of the Sun, to be recognized in this way – on the hardwood and in my adopted home state of Connecticut – is incredibly special. I look forward to celebrating with my fellow honorees in August.”
Akia S. Callum
Akia S. Callum is a highly experienced and accomplished professional with expertise in brand architecture, community organizing, political strategy, results-based facilitation, and social justice advocacy. No stranger to leadership, Ms. Callum has served in several leadership positions, including as a Senior Advisor to Assemblyman Brian-Christopher A. Cunningham of the 43rd Assembly District in Brooklyn, New York. Additionally, as the John P. Burke Professor at Post University, she is dedicated to sharing her knowledge and expertise with the next generation of leaders. Presently, as the Deputy Director at Waterbury Bridge to Success Community Partnership, Ms. Callum spearheads the implementation of a comprehensive and inclusive community engagement strategy that prioritizes building strong relationships.
In 2015, Callum founded the Black Student Union at Post University and subsequently held various leadership positions within the NAACP at the state and national levels. In recognition of her remarkable dedication, Akia was honored with the NAACP Region II Youth Organizer of the Year award in 2019. Throughout her tenure in the organization, she has served as the President of the Connecticut State Conference NAACP Youth & College Division, Chair of National Initiatives and Development for the NAACP National Youth Works Committee, and played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Connecticut Black Caucus in 2021. In that same year, Akia was named the inaugural recipient of the John Lewis Youth Leadership Award by former Connecticut Secretary of State, Denise Merril.
A proud lifelong learner, Akia was selected as one of 20 inaugural Yale Law School 'Access to Law' fellows in 2020. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Legal Studies and a Master of Education with a concentration in curriculum and instruction from Post University, and she is a Juris Doctorate Candidate at the University of Connecticut School of Law.
Tammy De La Cruz
Tammy De La Cruz is a native of Groton, CT, and Founder and Vice President of Community Speaks Out, a non-profit helping individuals and families seeking treatment and recovery from substance abuse. De La Cruz started her non-profit after witnessing her son's struggle with addiction. She spoke out about his recovery, starting a conversation that wasn’t being had. De La Cruz's son was shot and killed coming to the aid of a woman who was being assaulted on December 11, 2016. De La Cruz left her paying job in healthcare to run Community Speaks Out in a non-paid capacity. Community Speaks Out has been able to help thousands of individuals and their family members seek the help and support they need. Community Speaks Out is a fully volunteer, nonpaid organization that is concentrating on closing the gaps in treatment and recovery. De la Cruz was a part of starting a Youth Empowerment group that concentrates on supporting young people impacted by addiction in their family. Prevention has been on the forefront since the beginning, and Tammy has spoken at many schools to spread the importance of educating ourselves on the dangers of substance use.
Dr. Jen Fry (she/her) is a Sports Geographer, 3x founder, and sought-after speaker and educator. She owns JenFryTalks, a social justice education firm that explores the intersection of conflict and DEI. Jen facilitates conversation and skill-building with organizations, leadership and C-suite groups, small and large teams, affinity groups, and more. She advises on best practices that create more equitable organizations, communities, and teams, where each person feels a sense of belonging.
Jen is a veteran volleyball coach with over 15 years of experience coaching at the collegiate level. She received her PhD in Sports Geography from Michigan State University (GO GREEN!). Jen also holds degrees from Arizona Western College, University of Montevallo, Tiffin University, and University of North Carolina Greensboro. Recently, Jen co-founded Hyreable, a career development company helping BIPOC professionals in the world of sports. She is also moving her group movement platform, Coordle, to market. Coordle is an intuitive, feature-rich app and web platform that serves as a central hub for all your real-time information, communication, logistics and needs as you move your group.
Jen was a TEDxDuke Speaker and an NCAA Champion of Diversity and Inclusion honoree
Co-Anchor, “Good Morning America”
President, Rock’n Robin Productions
Robin Roberts is co-anchor of ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Under her leadership, the broadcast has won numerous Emmy Awards for Outstanding Morning Program, and the 2017 People’s Choice Award for Favorite Daytime TV Hosting Team.
In 2014, Roberts launched Rock'n Robin Productions, an independent production company creating original broadcast and digital programming. Projects include the award-winning “Thriver Thursday” digital series, the “Robin Roberts Presents” banner of scripted and documentary projects for the Lifetime Television Network, and the Emmy award winning “Turning the Tables with Robin Roberts” for Disney+.
Roberts began contributing to “Good Morning America” in 1995 and was named co-anchor in May 2005. Prior to that, Roberts was a host of ESPN’s “SportsCenter” and contributed to “NFL PrimeTime.”
Roberts graduated cum laude from Southeastern Louisiana University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications. She was a standout performer on the women’s basketball team, ending her career as one of the school’s all-time leading scorers and rebounders. In 2012, Roberts was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
Roberts is the author of From the Heart: 7 Rules to Live By and Everybody’s Got Something. Her third book Brighter By The Day: Waking Up to New Hopes and Dreams was released in April 2022.
Established in 2003, the Connecticut Sun is a professional women’s basketball team in the Women’s National Basketball Association that takes residence at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. For more information or to purchase season tickets, visit www.connecticutsun.com or call 1-877-SUN-TIXX.