American Conference on Diversity Board of Trustees, ACOD President & CEO Elizabeth Williams-Riley, and 2015 Humanitarian Award honorees (center): Working Mother Media Founder Carol Evans, Springboard Consulting Finance Director Elizabeth Ladu, Investors Bank President & CEO Kevin Cummings, and gender-rights advocate Babs Siperstein
On April 2, more than 250 guests filled the ballroom at the Pleasantdale Château in West Orange, NJ, in support of the American Conference on Diversity’s youth education programs. The annual event helps generate funds to provide more than $65,000 in scholarships for students and schools throughout New Jersey to participate in the yearlong Lead For Diversity (LFD) initiative. LFD impacts an estimated 20,000 people each year.
The LFD program, which prepares youth to deal with the current discourse our country faces with race relations and other issues of injustice, is more important than ever. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, New Jersey has the fourth highest number of hate groups in nation.
“Our work is crucial to make sure that we are reaching as many young people as possible so they don’t become targets of hate or before they’re recruited to participate in hate groups,” said American Conference on Diversity President and CEO Elizabeth Williams-Riley. “Your support helps us fight bias, bigotry, and discrimination.”
This year, the nonprofit paid tribute to five remarkable leaders who helped further the organization’s mission:
►Grammy Award-Winning Music Legend Dionne Warwick (Legacy Humanitarian Award) –Ms. Warwick is a gifted artist and generous philanthropist who has bridged the gap with her soulful blend of pop, gospel, and R&B music loved by a diversity audience across the globe. “Music is able to transcend all racial and ethnic boundaries,” said her spokesperson.
►Working Mother Media Founder Carol Evans (Diversity Ambassador Award) – Ms. Evans’ involvement with Working Mother magazine dates back to 1978, when she played a critical role in the launch as VP Publisher for the first decade. Today, Working Mother Media includes a family of diversity-focused organizations: Working Mother magazine, workingmother.com, National Association for Female Executives, and Diversity Best Practices. “We need more citizens like you who stand up to racism,” said Ms. Evans, ”who stand up to the terrible divide that makes one group feel like they cannot trust another.”
►Investors Bank President and CEO Kevin Cummings (Corporate Humanitarian Award) – Prior to joining Investors Bank, Mr. Cummings had a career in accounting and community banking – and he remains an active NJ community member devoting time to numerous boards and organizations. During his acceptance speech, Mr. Cummings urged the audience to give of their time, talent, and treasure to support the American Conference on Diversity. “Diversity is an intangible asset,” he said. “Let’s help to grow this asset.”
►Transgender-Rights Advocate Barbra “Babs” Siperstein (Advocacy Humanitarian Award) – As Executive Committee Member of the Democratic National Committee, Deputy Vice Chair of the NJ Democratic State Committee, and Political Director of the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of NJ, Ms. Siperstein has taken a leading role in amending NJ’s Law Against Discrimination to protect transgender people. “Discrimination because of ignorance and bias is a tax on all human beings,” she said.
►Springboard Consulting CEO Nadine Vogel (Bridge Builder Award) – Not only is Ms. Vogel founder of Springboard Consulting, a Mendham, NJ-based company that works with national and multinational corporations, governments, and agencies around the world to successfully mainstream disability, she is the mother of two beautiful girls who have special needs. “Every day when I go to work, it makes me proud to do the work that Springboard Consulting does,” said Finance Director Elizabeth Ladu, accepting on Ms. Vogel’s behalf.
Other highlights of the evening included a heartfelt vocal performance of People recorded in 1964 by Ms. Warwick by Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Chief Diversity Officer and American Conference on Diversity board of trustees’ member Ryan Parker as well as a silent auction of artwork, sports memorabilia, and fine jewelry.
A special thanks to the 2015 State Humanitarian Dinner sponsors: Investors Bank and Prudential Financial (executive advisory leadership committee), BASF, Berkeley College, L’Oréal USA, New Jersey Natural Gas, NJM Insurance Group, PSEG, Sills Cummis & Gross P.C., Verizon (community underwriters), ADP, Drinker Biddle, Genova Burns, Hartz Mountain Industries, PNC Bank, The Provident Bank, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, and Working Mother Media (justice sponsors).
If you were unable to attend and want to make a donation to sponsor a team of Lead For Diversity students, please visit http://americanconferenceondiversity.org/donate.
About the American Conference on Diversity
The American Conference on Diversity was founded in 1948 as the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Today, the programs, services, and initiatives of the American Conference on Diversity are among the most important work focused on creating a more inclusive society. It is the unfinished business of living in a highly diverse nation: educating and empowering our next generation of leaders; enhancing our workplaces; and helping to create inclusive communities. The American Conference on Diversity builds on an historic mission and creates programs and activities relevant and vital to 21st Century life. It is a journey we can all take together. The American Conference on Diversity operates Regional Community Networks covering all of New Jersey. Visit www.AmericanConferenceonDiversity.org to learn more.
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