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Lisa Thomas Laury captivates a packed house at Yangming.

Pictured above: Yangming’s Michael Wei with financial advisor Langston Laury of Plymouth Meeting and his mom, the Emmy Award-winning new anchor Lisa Thomas Laury; Tasty Talk Host Realtor Michelle Leonard; Britt Carpenter of Philadelphia; 6abc Action New Team journalist Christie Ileto, and Kim Wright of “Nothing Bundt Cakes.”

Lisa Thomas-Laury, one of an elite group of local African-American anchorwomen, launched her TV career as a weather girl at a West Virginia station while studying journalism at Marshall University. After graduation, she worked for the NBC affiliate in Oklahoma City, was a co-anchor in Baltimore, then moved to Nashville, where Oprah Winfrey was anchoring the news, and they became friends.

Her career at WPVI-TV began in 1978 as co-anchor and reporter at noon. (Much later, she learned that Oprah had applied for the same job.) In 1983, Lisa was promoted to co-anchor of the 5pm news with Marc Howard. She met presidents and covered the Royal Wedding of Princess Diana and President Clinton’s second inauguration. She and her crew had passes to the White House grounds, went into the wrong gate, and found themselves among celebrities, including Michael Douglas, John F. Kennedy Jr. and Whoopi Goldberg. Her viewers adored her.

In 2002, painful health problems forced Lisa on medical leave for almost a year. After her return in September 2003, the problems soon returned, and Lisa was diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic with a rare syndrome which increases plasma cells, damaging nerves and vital organs. Called POEMS – an acronym for the features of the syndrome – it is often misdiagnosed because the symptoms mimic other disorders.

“After I returned in 2007 from my first bone marrow transplant, I was reporting full time and filling in as an anchor. There wasn’t a day that I didn’t meet someone who told me that they prayed for me. Faith, and the power of prayer, kept me going.”

Lisa fondly recounted her rough beginnings at WPVI-TV. “There were lots of things they wanted to change about me. They even hired a woman to work on my West Virginia twang. I was mispronouncing words like “Conshohocken” and “Schuylkill” on air until one day Jim O’Brien helped me practice them.”

Lisa was deeply affected by the death of O’Brien from a skydiving accident, and later, the loss of Gary Papa, who had inspired her with his courage as he battled cancer. Lisa kept a journal of her experiences with POEMS, and her son Leeland encouraged her to turn it into a book to help others. Lisa plans to continue speaking to groups about her experiences, and to volunteer with charities.

On April 24th, Tasty Talks host Realtor Michelle Leonard welcomes local news legend Pat Ciarrocchi.

Native Philadelphian Pat Ciarrocchi has been a local TV news anchor longer than any other woman. She joined Eyewitness News in 1982, and in 2001 was promoted to co-anchor of CBS3’s evening news. The first female inducted into the PA Broadcasters Hall of Fame considers her reporting on Pope Francis’s visit to be the culmination of her distinguished career.

Pat has chosen Gaudenzia, a leader in addiction treatment, as the beneficiary of her Tasty Talk. Gaudenzia serves over 17,000 individuals and families annually affected by drug and alcohol dependency.

Tickets to see Pat Ciarrocchi are sure to go quickly.

Just $25 in advance ($30 at the door, if available) includes hors d’oeuvres, a hearty family-style lunch, dessert, tax, tip and charitable contribution. Call 610-527-3200 now to reserve your seats or table via credit card, or reserve via PayPal on the Yangming website.

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Kyree Terrell, founder myNEWPhilly.com

Jim Donovan, CBS3 anchor

Marilyn Russell, WOGL host

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Jim Donovan, CBS3 anchor

Marilyn Russell, WOGL host

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