*Cheryl Gentry and Sherry Snipes, who have been friends since 1995, met while both were working as HR Specialists at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
After working together on several projects over the years, and often discussing the success and failure of corporate diversity initiatives, the two friends established The Diversity & Inclusion (DandI) Awards in 2012 to celebrate the contributions of any individual, group or organization that is truly making a difference toward creating a more diverse and inclusive world.
The annual DandI Awards celebration will recognize and honor those who represent exemplary commitment and focus on diversity and inclusion. The first ever DandI gala was held on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at the New York Times building and honored several organizations and individuals for demonstrating outstanding commitment.
After a warm welcome and thanks from the executive producers Gentry and Snipes, the evening started with opening remarks by Janet Torres, senior policy analyst in the executive chamber for the Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and The Reverend George Edward Holmes, member, President Barack Obama’s National African American Clergy Leadership Working Group.
Dr. Benjamin Chavis, a 43-year veteran of the Civil Rights Movement and former executive director and CEO of the NAACP, is recipient of the first social justice award. Chavis serves as president and chief executive officer of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN) which is dedicated to harnessing the cultural relevance of Hip-Hop music to serve as a catalyst for education advocacy and other societal concerns fundamental to the empowerment of youth.
HSAN is a non-profit, non-partisan national coalition of Hip-Hop artists, entertainment industry leaders, education advocates, civil rights proponents, and youth leaders united in the belief that Hip-Hop is an enormously influential agent for social change which must be responsibly and proactively utilized to fight the war on poverty and injustice.
Other recipients of the first-ever DandI awards included: Edie Fraser, STEM Connector (lifetime achievement award); Greg Hinton, Democratic National Committee (impact award); Honorable Carolyn Maloney, Congress of the United States, 14th District, New York (commitment award); and Dr. Michael Joyner, Touchless Flatware (diversity in innovation award).
Other nominees recognized for their diversity initiatives included: Clinton Global Initiative (legacy); NBA (sports); Georgetown College (education); MSNBC (media); L’Oreal (consumer goods); Showtime Networks (entertainment); EMC (science, technology, engineering & math); NFTE (non-profit sector); McKissack & McKissack/Dr. Jackson (MLK Jr. Memorial arts/culture); Sheila Johnson (entrepreneur); Coca-Cola Company (environment/sustainability); Gucci (fashion); American Express (financial services); Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care & Prevention (healthcare); McDonald’s (international); Whole Foods (social responsibility); Hire Disability Solutions (workforce); and Global Novations (focus).
The inaugural event was hosted by lifestyle expert & social entrepreneur Tai Beauchamp who has appeared as a style expert on ABC, BET, CNN, NBC Today, TV One, and Soapnet, and frequently contributes to the Wendy Williams Show, blackenterprise.com, the STYLE Network, Inside Edition, E! and other networks.
DandI principal founder Sherry Snipes is the founder and president of Global Diversity Collaborative, a start-up 501(c)3 focused on enhancing collaboration among peers, activists and educators. She has lead diversity initiatives in public and non-profit organizations where she has been responsible for all aspects of diversity and inclusion from design and implementation to re-engineering.
Snipes is passionate about the changes facing the world. She is a 2011 recipient of the The Network Journal 25 Influential Black Women in Business Award and 2009 NAAAHRGNY Leadership Award. Snipes is a sought after global speaker who has been quoted or featured in numerous publications.
DandI principal founder Cheryl Gentry is the founder and president of Glow Media, founded in 1998. Gentry has a distinguished history in organizational development, project and event management for numerous high profile clients. She has been the recipient of countless awards throughout her 14 year career. Glow Media was nominated for Best Corporate Event in 2007 and received the Big Apple Award from The International Special Events Society (ISES).
Also in 2007, she was recognized by Boston’s Cambridge University’s Who’s Who for showing dedication, leadership and excellence in all aspects of event management. In 2008 and 2009, she was nominated and won the ISES Esprit Award for Best Meeting/Conference. In 2010 she was nominated for Best Corporate Event, Best Meeting, Best Non-Profit Event and Best Association Event for the New York Chapter of the International Special Events Society. (Photos by Margot Jordan)
Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.