Teachers College 125th Anniversary gala

At Teachers College 125th Anniversary gala (left to right): Honoree James Comer, MD; TA Gov. Mario Cuomo; Matilda Cuomo; honoree Laurie Tisch; TC President Susan Fuhrman; honoree Tony Bennett; Dr. Ruth Westheimer; honoree Susan Benedetto; and honoree Jeffrey Immelt (Photo credit: Ann Watt).

*HARLEM, NY – On Tuesday evening, November 12, 2013, Teachers College celebrated its 125th legacy of pioneering new fields in education, health, psychology and leadership and its thriving partnerships with public schools in Harlem and throughout New York City, and visionary philanthropists who have supported those endeavors.

The anniversary celebration took place at the historic Apollo Theater, 253 West 125th Street, Harlem, New York, where Teachers College President Susan H. Fuhrman launched an unprecedented $300 million fundraising campaign.  The campaign represents the largest ever for a graduate school of education.  “Tonight is about the future,” Fuhrman said to the assembled crowd.  “That’s why I’m so thrilled to launch our historic $300 million campaign that sets our course for the next 125 years.”  Fuhrman announced that the college had already raised $144 million.

The stellar event featured a cocktail reception followed by dinner, a tribute show and performances, and culminated with a post-show party on the storied stage where legendary performers – from Duke Ellington to Prince — have performed.  Can you just imagine this scholarly crowd sharing their “real cool” experience at the Apollo with their loved ones including dancing on the legendary Apollo Stage?

Fuhrman received resounding applause when she announced a bequest intention to Teachers College from singer and actress Barbra Streisand which will enable the college to create the Emanuel and Barbra Streisand Scholarship Fund, a general fund that will support Teachers College master’s degree and doctoral students.  Streisand’s father, Emanuel Streisand, was a lifelong educator who was working toward a Ph.D. in Guidance and Personnel at Teachers College when he died.  “Creating the Emanuel and Barbra Streisand Scholarship Fund is Barbra’s way to ensure that her father’s legacy lives on through the work of future teachers and educators,” Fuhrman said.

During the program, Teachers College honored five leaders, advocates and philanthropists, for their contributions to education, the arts, and the betterment of humanity.  The education leaders and visionaries honored included Susan Benedetto ’92 and Tony Bennett for their contributions to arts education through their nonprofit Exploring the Arts; James P. Comer, M.D., for his work in psychosocial development as a key factor in children’s educational success; Jeffrey Immelt for his and GE’s corporate support for, and exemplary impact on, the next generation of learners; and Laurie M. Tisch for her philanthropy and leadership in education, health, the arts and nutrition.

The gala event raised $1.25 million, all of which will support student scholarships at Teachers College, the oldest and largest graduate school of education in the country.

Sponsors of the event included General Electric, the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, FedEx, Offit Capital, JP Morgan Chase, KPMG and The Williams Capital Group, L.P.

Gala chairs included Jody Arnhold ’73 & John Arnhold; Judy & Jamie Dimon’ Lise Evans ’08 & Michael Evans; Susan H. Fuhrman, Ph.D. ’77; Phyllis L. Kossoff; Anne W. McNulty; Enid & Lester Morse; Dailey Pattee, Ph.D. ’04 & Gordon Pattee; E. John Rosenwald Jr.; William Dodge Rueckert; Cynthia D. Sculco ’74; Keith Sherin; Missie Rennie Taylor; and Sue Ann Weinberg ’97.  (Photo by Annie Watt)

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NAACP Mid-Manhattan Branch luncheon attendees (left to right) Tamika Mallory, Hon. David N. Dinkins, Geoffrey Eaton, Hon. Charles B. Rangel, Marion Bondurant, Hon. Billie Holliday Hayes (Photo by Hubert Williams)

*The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Mid-Manhattan Branch hosted their Twelfth Annual Freedom Fund Luncheon on Saturday, October 19, 2013 at the Marina del Rey, One Marina Drive, Throgs Neck, New York, hosted by National Action Network’s executive Tamika Mallory.  Congressman Charles B. Rangel, Hon. Keith L.T. Wright and Dr. Marcella Maxwell served as honorary chairs.

The festive event began with a cocktail reception followed by lunch and a stellar program that featured a musical tribute by Lauren Reilly and an invocation by Rev. Dr. Thomas D. Johnson, Sr.  Entertainment and dance music was provided by the soulful sounds of the Warren Daniels Band.  Libations flowed freely throughout the entire event.  During the program, the coveted Roy Wilkins Awards were presented to individuals whose “accomplishments embody the spirit of the NAACP and its enduring legacy that the fight for civil rights is a lifetime commitment,” stated Geoffrey E. Eaton, president, NAACP Mid-Manhattan Branch and district director for Congressman Charles B. Rangel.

This year’s exemplary honorees included: Roy Wilkins award was presented to Voza Rivers, executive producer, New Heritage Theatre Group (lifetime achievement award presented by Hon. Keith L.T. Wright); Dawna Michelle Fields, national program manager, Colgate-Palmolive Co.’s Bright Smiles, Bright Futures (corporate leadership award presented by Dr. Marcella Maxwell); Hon. William Franc Perry, Civil Court Judge, Civil Court of the City of New York (community service award presented by Hon. Robert Reed); Denise C. Soares, R.N., M.A., senior vice president, Generations/Northern Manhattan Health Network, executive director, Harlem Hospital Center/The Renaissance Health Care Network (outstanding service award presented by Hon. Inez Dickens); George Gresham, president, 1199SEIU (outstanding leadership award presented by Hon. Gale A. Brewer); Betty Park, president & owner, Mannas Restaurants (service award presented by J. Machelle Sweeting, Esq.); Rayne Dorsey (branch service award presented by Geoffrey E. Eaton); Geoffrey E. Eaton (branch leadership award presented jointly by Congressman Charles E. Rangel and Hon. David N. Dinkins); and “Mama I Want To Sing” stars Ahmaya Knolle Higginsen and Elijah Ahmad Lewis (arts & culture award presented by Geoffrey E. Eaton).

President Eaton also received a medal of honor from the NAACP National Board presented by NAACP Mid-Manhattan Branch Second Vice President J. Machelle Sweeting, Esq. as his proud parents Delores and Don Eaton looked on.

The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.  The NAACP Mid-Manhattan Branch continues its important work under the leadership of its distinguished officers and executive committee.

Mid-Manhattan Branch officers are:  President Geoffrey E. Eaton, First Vice President Garry Anthony Johnson, Second Vice President J. Machelle Sweeting, Esq., Secretary Kristal Theobalds, Assistant Secretary Eleanor Jackson, Treasurer Claire Theobalds, and Assistant Treasurer Ulma Jones.

Mid-Manhattan executive committee members are: Reina Allen, Marion Bondurant, Pauline Bostic, Monica Brown, Rayna Clay-Cuffee, Joseph Copeland, Rayne Dorsey, Hon. Carol Edmead, Harriett Fortson, Marie Hawkins Hon. Billie Holliday Hayes (past president), Barbara Howard, Joseph L. Hughes, Hon. Tanya R. Kennedy, M. Janielle Lattimore, Anna Lewis, Esq., Edith Matthews, Ruther D. Miller, Yolanda Payne, Edgar Ramsey, Hon. Robert R. Reed, Dr. Dottye Seales, Hon. George Silver, Jean Dixon West, Sylvia White and Mary Louise Williams.  (Photo by Hubert Williams)

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AAI Chair Kofi Appenteng (Photo courtesy Getty Images)

*The Africa-America Institute (AAI) is a New York-based international organization dedicated to advancing higher education and professional development training for Africans, and promoting engagement between Africa and America through education, training and dialogue.

What began as a small program to assist African students in 1953 expanded rapidly with the dramatic pace of change in Africa.  Each year, more alumni returned home educated with the necessary skills to stand at the forefront of Africa’s rapid social and political change.  Today, AAI remains committed to strengthening human capacity for Africa’s development through education, skills training, dialogue, convening activities and research.

On Wednesday, September 25, 2013, AAI celebrated its 60th anniversary awards gala at the Hilton New York Hotel in New York City attended by nearly 500 distinguished U.S. and African leaders and top diplomats.  This event has become one of New York City’s premium events celebrating African achievement held annually during the opening week of the United Nations General Assembly.  ABC News’ Byron Pitts served as Master of Ceremonies.

The Reverend Canon Petero A.N. Sabune, State Chaplain for Re-entry New York State Department of corrections and Community Services, delivered the invocation followed by a flavorsome dinner in which guests were delightfully entertained by Broadway star Thuli Dumakude with her soul-stirring South African rhythms.

“AAI is privileged to celebrate our extraordinary 60-year history of building Africa’s human capacity and is energized to reach greater heights in our next 60 years,” said Amini Kajunju, AAI president & CEO.

The distinguished event presented AAI’s first-ever award, the AAI Institutional Legacy Award, to African Union.  “AAI has worked alongside the Organization of African Unity/African Union since its inception 50 years ago,” said AAI Chair Kofi Appenteng.  “Together, we supported the liberation of African countries and fostered development, peace and security in Africa.”

H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma, first female chair of the African Union Commission, accepted the award on behalf of the AU, and called for a “skills revolution” for Africa’s development.  The award was presented by Carlton Masters, president & CEO, GoodWorks International.

The event also honored two outstanding African leaders for their contributions to Africa and the world, and recognized Chevron’s corporate social responsibility efforts in Africa. “AAI is also pleased to honor two outstanding African leaders, who are among the vanguard in contributing to Africa’s economic and social development transformation,” stated AAI Chair Kofi Appenteng.

Tony O. Elumelu, chairman, Heirs Holdings, Ltd., and founder, Tony O. Elumelu Foundation, received the 2013 AAI Leadership Award in Business and Philanthropy for his dedication to strengthening the African private sector and to creating a culture of Africa-based and African-funded philanthropy.  Honoree Elumelu, dedicated his coveted award to young African entrepreneurs.  The award was presented by Amini Kajunju.

AAI was also proud to honor one of its own, Dr. Kandeh K. Yumkella, special representative of the UN Secretary General & CEO of Sustainable Energy for All, with the 2013 AAI Distinguished Alumnus Award for his body of work involving universal access to sustainable energy, poverty alleviation, and climate change impact reduction.  In accepting the esteemed award, honoree Yumkella said, “AAI gave me the biggest break of my life.”  The award was presented by Steven Pfeiffer, partner, Norton Rose Fulbright.

Chevron received the AAI Award for Corporate Leadership and Philanthropy for its social investment programs focusing on leadership and skills that lead to economic empowerment and better health and education outcomes in African countries.  Ali Moshiri, president, Chevron Africa and Latin America Exploration and Production Company, accepted on behalf of Chevron.  The award was presented by H.E. Manuel Vicente, Vice President of Angola.

A highlight of the evening was presented by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield who delivered an official congratulatory letter from President Barack Obama where the president reiterated Africa’s importance to America, to rousing applause.  Another highlight of the evening was a press briefing held prior to the gala with gala honorees.

African Heads of State and top diplomats exchanged perspectives on Africa’s past, present and future in an exclusive, unscripted conversation moderated by Ben Dotsei Malor, chief executive producer of United Nations Radio.  The conversation included H.E. Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and chair of the African Union; H.E. Hifikepunye Pohamba, president of the Federal Republic of Namibia; The Honorable  Hannah Tetteh, Ghana’s Minister for Foreign Affairs who represented H.E. John Dramani Mahama, president of the Republic of Ghana; and The Honorable Bernard Membe, Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs who represented H.E. Jakaya Kikwete, president of the United Republic of Tanzania.

The 2013 major corporate sponsors included Chevron, Norton Rose Fulbright, SNR Denton, Schlumberger, Exxon Mobil, Shell, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women, The Coca-Cola, Company, GoodWorks International, Heirs Holdings Ltd., Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, DMG Events, Mai Family Foundation, Sasol Limited, UBA (United Bank for Africa), Lazare Kaplan International, and Arik Air.  This event was produced by The Diasporan Touch LLC with SBG Communications (communications & media) and Concept Link (social media).

About the Africa-America Institute

Founded in 1953, the Africa-America Institute, a leading New York-based international education and policy organization, is dedicated to advancing education and professional training for Africans, and promoting engagement between Africa and America through education, training and dialogue.  Today, more than 23,000 individuals from 54 African countries have benefited from AAI’s higher education scholarship and professional training programs.  AAI alumni are at the forefront of Africa’s public, non-profit, and private sectors.  For more information, visit www.aaionline.org.

New York based award-winning journalist Audrey J. Bernard covers entertainment, fashion & beauty, film, lifestyles and travel for the Electronic Urban Report and other outlets.  Contact her via: ajbernardster@gmail.com

audrey bernard

Audrey J. Bernard