*On Saturday, August 19, 2012 the quaint town of Sag Harbor was taken over by many movers & shakers who were there specifically to attend the Third Annual Diversity Affluence Brunch & Awards at the popular watering spot for swellegant people, B. Smith’s, with its sweeping view of the harbor where millionaires and billionaires moor their yachts.
What a perfect setting for the rich event happening inside where the organization was honoring a trio of distinguished leaders in civil rights activism, business and media who have “achieved success as a minority or who have advanced the diversity agenda in America.”
Well dressed guests were greeted with pristine waiter service featuring butlered social drinks – Belvedere Bloody Marys and Chandon Mimosas as well as wines of their choice — as they hung out on the handsome winding deck overlooking the water.
Once the program started, seated guests brunched on mixed green salad (appetizer); brioche French toast (with smoked ham, warm maple syrup & fresh fruit compote) or summer vegetable frittata (with fontina cheese), or grilled chicken paillard (with sautéed garden vegetable, minced arugula & tomato salpic), or pulled pork sandwich with French fries (entrée); and trio of sorbet (dessert). Belvedere Bloody Marys, Chandon Mimosas and wines continued to be served throughout the brunch.
Sponsored by Baume & Mercier, JPMorgan Chase, Draftfcb and Belvedere (the world’s first luxury vodka) the event recognized Marc H. Morial, CEO, National Urban League; Donna Byrd, publisher, theroot.com; and Laurence Boschetto, CEO and president, Draftfcb, for their accomplishments in their respective fields. Each honoree received an exquisite Baume & Mercier watch.
“The work, drive and determination of Marc, Donna and Laurence is the light and legacy that future generations will follow,” stated Andrea Hoffman, CEO and founder of Diversity Affluence. “These three leaders, in their extraordinary vision, could be referred to as outliers, a term referring to things or phenomena that lie outside normal experience. This year’s honorees have enriched life’s moments in such a significant way that future generations will be impacted.
‘It is also evident,” Hoffman says, ” that Marc, Donna and Laurence already know the following to be true, as spoken by Malcolm Gladwell, ‘Hard work is a prison sentence if it does not have meaning.'”
Morial, a former mayor of New Orleans, is one of the most accomplished servant-leaders in the United States. As the CEO of the National Urban League since 2003, he operates the nation’s largest civil rights organization, where he has been the primary catalyst for change. His energetic and skilled leadership has expanded the League’s work around an empowerment agenda.
“Marc’s work at the League is redefining civil rights in the 21st century,” Hoffman says, “with a renewed emphasis on closing the economic gaps between Whites and Blacks as well as rich and poor Americans.”
Byrd founded theroot.com, a daily online magazine with more than 2 million readers, to be a platform to help engage the Black community and provide a forum to showcase a myriad of African American perspectives. The content is meant to inform and, ultimately, motivate its audience to mobilize behind specific issues.
This year, with Byrd’s leadership, theroot.com has focused on the issue of obesity in the Black community, sponsoring seminars and carrying articles on the topic. Upon accepting her award, Byrd challenged the audience, consisting primarily of affluent African Americans to effect change. “Affluence,” Byrd said, “provides the means for influence.”
Boschetto is a passionate advocate of business results, equality and inclusion for all with a vision of “dignified intolerance” against those who discriminate. Twenty years ago, according to Boschetto, his executive team consisted primarily of balding white men in their 50s. “They looked like me,” he said. Today, the Draftfcb executive team is 20 percent African American, 20 percent gay, 20 percent Asian and 50 percent female.
Last year, the Draftfcb leader received AdColor and GLAAD’s Inaugural Advocate Award for leadership and influence in the industry. He has played a major role in the creation of Draftfcb’s “It Gets Better” video and was recently featured in USA Today on a special section designed to help kids tune out hatred and bullying. As a featured speaker at the World Diversity Leadership Summit at the United Nations last year, Boschetto illustrated how inclusion makes sense and cents.
At the end of the amazing awards program, Noel Hankin, a consultant for Moet Hennessy USA , led the beautiful people in a classy Belvedere toast to the honorees.
A.J. Calloway, New York City correspondent on “Extra,” and former host of popular B.E.T. show “106 & Park: B.E.T.’s Top 10 Live” returned as host of the event which was created by Diversity Affluence, the New York-based consultancy specializing in diversity marketing communication, research and business development.
The afternoon affair attracted Johnnie Cochran widow Dale Mason Cochran; Ralph Dawson, partner, Fulbright & Jaworski; style icon Shala Monroque; philanthropist Sherry Bronfman; entertainment attorney Kojo Bentil; Steven Board, executive director,100 Black Men of America Inc.; Lola C. West, managing director, WestFuller Advisors LLC; Reginald Van Lee, executive vice president, Booz Allen Hamilton; Susan L. Taylor, Essence Magazine editor-in-chief emerita and founder and CEO of National Cares Mentoring; designer Kevin Michael Barba; and Justin Troy of the New York Giants were among the guests in attendance at the exclusive, invitation-only event.
Inspired by the highly-touted book, Black Is The New Green: Marketing to Affluent African Americans, co-written by Hoffman with Len Burnett, the brunch provides the corporate sector with access to some of the most influential leaders and key tastemakers of the affluent African and African American communities. Kudos to event publicists Crystal Caviness and Dan Lambdin, managing partners, Signature Promotions Today, LLC; and Edmond Valpoort for Influence Events who produced the successful brunch.
Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.