Student from The Ailey School and AAADT Artistic Director Robert Battle presents Honoree and AAADT Board of Trustee Member Robert Kissane with an award as his wife Angela Kissane looks on

*The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) — founded by Alvin Ailey in 1958 to carry out his vision of a company dedicated to enriching the American modern dance heritage and preserving the uniqueness of the African American cultural experience — hosted its 2013 spring gala featuring dancers from the entire company dancing in tandem in front of over 900 festively dressed guests on Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at the world-famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, NYC.

Ailey, who died on December 1, 1989, presence could be felt when it was announced that the benefit was the most successful event in Ailey’s history having raised a record breaking 1 million dollars to benefit student scholarships to The Ailey School and the organization’s Arts In Education & Community Programs, including AileyCamp.

The dazzling dance program featured a spectacular one-night-only performance starring Ailey’s future and present stars in performances by all tiers of AAADT: rising stars of Ailey II, gifted young dancers from The Ailey School, and talented students from AileyCamp.  Stellar performances included excerpts from Virtues (Ailey II); Grace (AAADT); Rennie Harris’s Home (AileyCamp New York); Synthesis (The Ailey School); Strange Humors (AAADT); and culminated in excerpts from Revelations (“Take Me to the Water” and “Move, Members, Move”)

The benefit honored “un-danced” hero Robert Kissane, Ailey Board of Trustees member, for his outstanding leadership, unwavering commitment, and boundless generosity to the Ailey organization and to the broader cultural community.

AAADT’s Artistic Director Robert Battle and Associate Artistic Director Masazumi Chaya welcomed Honorary Chair Kimberly Chandler, Honorary Co-Chairs Lynne & Anthony M. Carvette, Leslie & Tom Maheras, David E. Monn, Almaz & Marc Strachan; and Vice Chairs Michele & Timothy Barakett, Judith Byrd, Eboni Marshall Turman & Rossie E. Turman III and Yelberton R. Watkins.

The newly appointed Executive Director Bennett Rink acknowledged the attendance of Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison and extended special thanks to the evening’s generous benefactors; the benefit committee; Ailey at the Apollo ambassadors committee chaired by John Campbell, JCINTIME Events; and the Artistic Director’s Circle Co-Chairs Simin & Herb Allison.

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater also wishes to thank Diageo for providing the wine and spirits for the gala reception; David E. Monn for providing the concept and design of the gala reception; printing of the programs and inserts that were kindly donated by BlueOcean Worldwide, a division of Peeq Media; and special thanks to gift bag donors American Airlines, The Araca Group, BET Networks, CS, FOX Audience Strategy, L’Oreal USA, Penguin Group (USA), Inc. and the Upper West Side Whole Foods Market.  Also, kudos to lighting by Al Crawford, catering by Sonnier & Castle and sound equipment provided by PSL Productions

At the conclusion of the exhilarating show, guests were pumped up to the max as they cheerfully filed out of the theater to the adjacent Apollo Tent to attend the pumping post party with dance driven music by DJ Kiss(Photo by Christopher Duggan)

rangel lewis dinkins

Congressman Charles B. Rangel, Honoree Byron E. Lewis, Sr., Hon. David N. Dinkins

*Byron E. Lewis, Sr., chairman emeritus and founder of UniWorld Group, Inc. (UWG), the longest-standing full-service multicultural advertising and communications agency in the U.S., was honored Tuesday, April 30, 2013, at 7pm at The Schomburg Center, 515 Malcolm X Boulevard, Harlem, New York.

Entitled “A Tribute to Byron E. Lewis, Sr. — Celebrating an Industry Icon,” the event featured a host of industry, community and political leaders who gathered to pay tribute to a revered industry giant who changed the course of advertising.

“A Tribute to Byron E. Lewis, Sr.” took place on the evening following his induction into the 64th Advertising Hall of Fame — the advertising industry’s most distinguished honor.  The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies & gala dinner was held in the Grand Ballroom of New York’s historic Waldorf Astoria hotel.

“UniWorld Group treasures the legacy built by our founder, and we are overjoyed to pause and honor him for his contributions to the industry and to the community,” said Monique L. Nelson, chairman and CEO, UniWorld Group.  “Byron’s induction into the Advertising Hall of Fame, complemented by this tribute, indicates not only how he has changed advertising, but how he has influenced the way businesses see people of color.”

Known as one of the “founding fathers of multicultural advertising and marketing” in the United States, Lewis built a company out of necessity and ended up changing an entire industry in the process.  The evening will include a roast as well as a video tribute to the advertising pioneer.

The distinguished co-chairs for the evening included Tom Joyner, Richard D. Parsons, Robert Townsend and Monique L. Nelson.  The host committee members included Len Burnett, Jeff Friday, Don Jackson, Linda Johnson Rice, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Debra Lee, Ed Lewis, Voza Rivers and Alfred LigginsGeorge Fraser was the evening’s host.

“A Tribute to Byron E. Lewis, Sr.” served as a fundraiser benefit for the Long Island University Byron Lewis Entrepreneurial Institute.

Lewis founded UWG in 1969 at a time when minorities were not represented in a positive manner in mainstream media.  Nor were minorities employed in major Fortune 500 companies or Madison Avenue advertising agencies.  Centuries of negative and stereotypical portrayals of minorities severely damaged minority and mainstream audiences alike.

During the late 1960s and ’70s, the federal government initiated a series of Affirmative Action mandates for major corporations and communications companies to hire minorities to help offset these negative social conditions.  Lewis was able to take advantage of these mandates and launch UWG.

Headquartered in Brooklyn, UWG has satellite offices in Atlanta, Georgia, and Dearborn, Michigan.  Throughout the years, the agency has created award-winning and pivotal campaigns for such clients as the Ford Motor Company, U.S. Marine Corps, Eastman Kodak, AT&T, Burger King, Colgate-Palmolive, Pepsi-Cola and The Home Depot, to name a few.  Lewis retired as UWG’s chairman emeritus in May 2012 when Monique L. Nelson became the new chairman and CEO.

Lewis is also known for creating successful media properties, including the nationally syndicated television news program America’s Black Forum, which airs in 100 markets; Sounds of the City, a nationally syndicated radio program created for Quaker Oats; and the highly successful American Black Film Festival.

Founded in 1969 by Byron Lewis, UniWorld Group, Inc., is the longest-standing full-service multicultural marketing agency in the United States.  The agency continues to be a trendsetter, poised to connect forward-thinking brands to the $2 trillion spending power of multicultural consumers while pushing the envelope with innovative ideas and fresh solutions for the general market as well.

UniWorld Group also has a strategic alliance with WPP, one of the world’s largest communications services groups.  For more information on UniWorld Group, Inc., visit www.uniworldgroup.com(Photo by Terrance Jennings)

Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.

audrey bernard

Audrey J. Bernard