In the wake of rebuilding New Jersey communities after superstorm Sandy, the American Conference on Diversity Atlantic County chapter will cast the spotlight on four community activists who have been driving forces behind numerous youth, senior, religious, and other diversity-related organizations at our Annual Humanitarian Awards Dinner.

“This is a great opportunity to join our community in unity and recognize outstanding individuals who have helped promote our similarities, not our differences,” says Eric Reynolds, Atlantic County chapter chair and vice president of community and employment initiatives at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City.

The chapter’s signature event, to be held at the Atlantic City Country Club on December 6, will kick off with a cocktail reception at 5:30 pm, followed by dynamic guest speaker and civil-rights attorney Clare Geller at 6:30 pm.

Geller, who grew up in Atlantic County, attended Yale University, and earned a juris doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania law school, will share her insights on the progress of civil rights in America. Geller attended Atlantic City High School, where she was exposed to global diversity on a trip to Senegal, Africa, and Israel co-sponsored by the National Conference of Christians of Jews (now the American Conference on Diversity). Geller clerked for the Honorable James Giles, Chief Judge of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, before joining the civil-rights division as an honors attorney in 2002. Her experience working on numerous lawsuits alleging that state or local governments have unlawfully discriminated against employees on the basis of race, religion, sex, and national origin will enlighten attendees and help build solidarity throughout the devastated Atlantic County region during the awards dinner.

“Rebuilding New Jersey communities across cultural divides has been the focus of the American Conference on Diversity for nearly 65 years in New Jersey,” says President and CEO Elizabeth Williams-Riley. “During this time of disaster, as we reach out to help people who have lost everything, remember we are different people on common ground.”

This year’s Humanitarian Award recipients are:

► Virginia A. Gormley

An Atlantic City native, Gormley has dedicated her life to positively impacting those around her. Her lengthy career includes serving as director of Child Health and Wellness for AtlantiCare Foundation, division manager for the Family Part of Superior Court of New Jersey, Atlantic-Cape May, and working for the New Jersey Department of Corrections Juvenile Services. Currently, she volunteers with the Shirley Mae Breast Cancer Fund and is a member of the Downbeach Juvenile Conference Committee, the AtlantiCare Art Committee, and the Atlantic City Friends of Music. Along with her dog, Harley, Gormley is a certified pet therapist who regularly visits area nursing homes. She has also volunteered with the ESL program of Literacy Volunteers of America and served on the board of the American Red Cross of Atlantic County.

► Rabbi Aaron Krauss

Rabbi Krauss has been the spiritual leader at Beth El Synagogue in Margate, NJ, for nearly three decades. Previously, he served at the Community Synagogue in Atlantic City and was a Navy Chaplain with the Third Marine Division. Rabbi Krauss is also the founder and first chairman (1964 -1968) of the Greater Atlantic City Human Relations Forum, dedicated to breaking barriers and giving a voice to underrepresented and low-income populations in Atlantic City for better housing, jobs, and education. The organization is credited for bringing Head Start, the Neighborhood Youth Corps, and Cape Atlantic Legal Services to the area. It was also critically instrumental in creating what’s now known as the Martin Luther King Center, a community support and services facility. In addition, Rabbi Krauss secured a seed grant for senior-citizen housing, which helped build the 300-plus Community Haven apartment complex, and he provided support for the much-needed four-year Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in Galloway.

► Patrick & Diane Tucker McKoy

Husband-and-wife team Patrick and Diane McKoy believe strongly in the need to give back to the community. Throughout Patrick’s 30-year career in the casino gaming industry and continuing today, he has remained actively involved in worthy organizations, including serving as audit committee chair and sitting on the development committee of the Alzheimer’s Association Delaware Valley Chapter. Since 1984, Patrick has been affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America Jersey Shore Council. He also supports in various capacities the following: Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City, the Miss America Organization, AtlantiCare Health Plans, the United Way of Atlantic County as well as the Rowan University Foundation.

Diane has been equally engaged within the community, volunteering with various youth organizations while working for Deloitte & Touche in Philadelphia. Today, while maintaining her private accounting practice, Diane is in her second term as president of the Atlantic Cape Community College Foundation. In addition, she serves as vice president of The Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City as well as vice president of The New Jersey Shore Arts Association. Other diverse organizations Diane dedicates her time and skills to: The Links Atlantic City Chapter, the Atlantic County Advisory Commission on Women, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Jack and Jill of America, the Girl Scouts of USA, among other youth-focused groups.

Tickets for the event are $125 per person. To attend or inquire about sponsorship opportunities, call 732-745-9330 or visit http://2012atlanticcountydinner.kintera.org/faf/home/defa…. The Atlantic City Country Club is located at 900 Shore Road, Northfield, N.J.