Lillian M.J. Dixon

The James F. Graham
Woman of Courage Award 2013

Lillian M.J. Dixon had a stellar career with the City of Philadelphia. In her 35 years of employment, she worked at the Philadelphia County Prisons, the Department of Finance, the Sheriff's Office and finally the Court of Common Pleas as a Court Administrative Officer.

After surviving her battle with breast cancer, however, Mrs. Dixon changed the focus of her life and began working with those less fortunate. She started a new career as a teacher and ignited a passion for learning in her students. In addition, as a member of the Haven Peniel United Methodist Church, she spearheaded the creation of the Haven Peniel Senior Citizens Facility, a $10 million dollar project funded by HUD. Mrs. Dixon is a past president of the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice (NABCJ), a member of the NAACP, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the National Teachers' Association, the YWCA and is secretary of the Haven Peniel Development Corporation (HPDC). Congratulations to Lillian for receiving this year's James F. Graham Woman of Courage Award.


During Karen's fight, The Joan Karnell Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital was an integral partner in helping Karen to manage her illness, by providing exceptional treatment and personalized care. Karen was so impressed by the supportive staff and the quality of service they provided that she created The Karen Graham Endowment Fund to support their efforts. This money was designated to provide financial support for women who are not equipped to manage the substantial costs associated with battling this disease, including co-pays, rent subsidy, transportation, food vouchers and other critical needs that in turn allow patients to focus on their health and wellness and alleviates some of the stressors of maintaining their homes and lives.

The services provided by JKCC are extraordinary and I encourage you to support them as they continue their good work. As an example, JKCC in support of one of their patients who was no longer able to work utilized proceeds from The Karen Graham Endowment Fund to cover housing expenses for two months which allowed her to remain in her home. Given the extended time it takes to secure disability, this financial support was critical to helping this patient maintain her quality of life, while in the midst of the battle for her life. Fortunately, there are many of us who have the capacity and the willingness to extend a hand in helping others.

Mrs. R. is a 46 year old mother of 3 who was recently widowed and treated for breast cancer. She has had to decrease her work hours as a waitress due to the side effects of her treatment and recently received an eviction notice. Funding from the Karen Graham Fund will allow her to pay her rent and other household expenses and maintain her home for her children.

"A heart-filled and heart-felt thank you for your strong support during this very rough time. Your warm reception and ready ear for my fears and problems were welcome support through my very hard second breast cancer treatment and recovery. You worked with me to put my life back together and found funds to help me repair my house. That check became the bridge that supported me – physically and spiritually- during those critical first weeks. Thanks also to the wonderful, wonderful people who provided me the money. You are absolutely the best."
Breast cancer patient

"I think it is extremely important to the health community that there is some place to address the needs of the cancer survivor, that person who is no longer undergoing treatment for cancer, but requires medical, physical, and emotional support in order to regain some quality of life. I am that person and you are that place. Thank you for being there."
CARE Clinic patient (Cancer Appetite and Rehabilitation Clinic)

"There are no words, gifts or actions that could adequately thank you for the work you do at the Cancer Center. Each and every person here is someone who makes a difference in the lives of others – the patients and their caregivers. The smiles, hugs and words of encouragement are as powerful and healing as the chemotherapy. I know I have had the best treatment available given by dedicated professionals."
Chemotherapy patient

"There is a holistic component to the healing from cancer, that I believe, you recognize in your generosity of spirit…So in addition to your medical support for me, you have also demonstrated that irrepressible goodness within humanity. Through your gifts to my family, you have upheld the essential recognition that I am more than my isolated body struggling against cancer."
Chemotherapy patient

The James F. Graham Woman of Courage

When Jim Graham planned The Karen Graham Inaugural Golf Classic, he always described his late wife as being a warrior in the face of her cancer. Karen knew, however, that being a warrior didn't mean not being afraid. It meant facing your fears and courageously living your life in spite of them.

Women of courage come from all walks of life: they are young and old, rich and poor, sick and healthy. Last year's recipient of the Woman of Courage Award was Pennsylvania State Senator Shirley Kitchen. The Senator is a woman who puts herself on the line every day to improve the lives of her constituents.

Now that Jim has passed away, we have decided to honor his memory -- and his own particular brand of bravery -- by renaming the award after him. The James F. Graham Woman of Courage Award will given each year to a notable woman who, like Jim and Karen themselves, inspires others and changes lives.