Beyond the bright lights: Observations, pictures and insights from the 2013 ICABA Black Tie Gala
From VF Williams
Miami, FL – In stunning gowns, handsome black tuxedos and beaming smiles, they started arriving at Florida International University promptly at 5:30 in the evening: South Florida’s Most Accomplished Blacks. In all, 32 would be singled out for recognition as a 2013 Professional of the Year or a Rising Star in fields ranging from Academia to Medicine, Sports to Law. Topping the list: A salute to Living Legends, Dr. Brenda Snipes, Broward Supervisor of Elections and Miami noted Attorney George Knox.
“We are so proud to be hosting this very special event at FIU because we know how important it is to have deserving people like you to be working and living here in our community,” said Dr. Rosenberg.
A virtual ‘Who’s Who’ of Black South Florida launched the event at a VIP reception, joining Florida International University President, Dr. Mark Rosenberg in a toast to the hardwork of the honorees and to the vision of ICABA, a social media company focused on delivering information, opportunities and events to support the career, business and lifestyle aspirations of Black professionals and entrepreneurs.
“It was a powerful display of talent! Instantly, upon entering the room, you knew that this is big!,” said Bonnie Mc-Donald, owner of Esther’s Home Health Services, who flew in from Texas to attend. She added, “It was clear, from the very beginning of the night with the sponsors, the FIU President and the business people in the room, that ICABA wanted us to connect with each other and to provide a platform for us to engage. I got the message that: This is what we do here.’ So, it was comfortable and fully received. It was great!”
More than 500 people mixed, mingled and networked in the Graham Ballroom on the Mitch Maidique campus of FIU before dining on a meal of seafood-covered salmon, scalloped chicken, coconut rice and vegetables.
CBS4 morning anchor Summer Knowles announced the Rising Stars under 40: Kareem Coney, director of Community Outreach & Retention – FMU; Dhaima Lindo, founder/CEO – Starlent; Henri Crockett, president/CEO – Crocket Foundation; Tomi Rose, real estate agent, Sotheby’s; Paul V. Wilson, director, Labor Relations, Miami Dade Public Schools; Hon. Shevrin D. Jones, State Representative, District 101; Peter Bailey, CEO, IamPeterBailey.com; Brian Brackeen, founder/CEO, Kairos; Dr. Belinda John, D.D., Editor-in-chief, Shulamite Women Magazine; Shaheewa Jarrett Gelin, asst. chief counsel, Homeland Security; Dr. Ebony B. Whisenant, Associate professor, Florida International University; Yolanda P. Strader, Attorney, Carlton Fields; Gregory Lee, executive sports editor, Sun-Sentinel; James & Destiny Jones, James Jones Le-gacy Foundation and James Taylor, CEO, Taylored Athletes, Inc.
Jerome Hutchinson is the founder of ICABA Media Group, a social media company that integrates print and digital publications with signature events like the ICABA Honors Black Tie Gala to profile and connect accomplished Black professionals and entrepreneurs.
“We want to stress that is a beginning and not a one-off occasion. ICABA’s mission is to activate productive relationships that support Black professionals in their career, business and lifestyle aspirations,” said Hutchinson.
The 2013 Professionals of the Year honorees: ACADEMIA – Athornia Steele, J.D., Nova Southeastern Law School Dean; ARTS – Linda Houston Jones, Ashanti Cultural Arts, Inc.; COMMUNITY– Gepsie M. Metellus, Executive Director, Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Clinic;
CORPORATE – Mark Kent, CEO, CAC Florida Medical Centers; EDUCATION – Steve Gallon, III, Ph.D., Tri-Star Leadership, Inc.; ELECTED OFFICIALS – Oliver Gilbert, Mayor, CIty of Miami Gardens; ENTERTAINMENT – Bigg D and Cainon Lamb, Co-Owners, 12 & Collins Entertainment, LLC; ENTREPRENEUR – Robert G. Beatty, Sr., Esq, South Florida Times;
FAITH-BASED – Dr. Derrick Hughes, Sr Pastor, First Baptist Church PineyGrove;
GOV’T ADMINISTRATOR – Bertha Henry, County Administrator, Broward;
HEALTHCARE – Dr. Carmel Barrau, M.D., Founder, Unihealth of South Florida; LEGAL – Jaret L. Davis, Managing Co-Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig; MEDIA – Doug C. Lyons, Senior Editorial Writer, Sun-Sentinel; PHILANTHROPY – Larry R. Handfield, Esq,, The Handfield Firm; SPORTS – Earnest Ellison, Jr., Director of Business/Community Relations, PGA
According to ICABA Market President Vickie Frazier-Williams, “One trait seemed to run through the veins of our 2013 Professionals of the Year and that’s service”, she said. “They work hard to succeed in their respective fields while doing what they can to uplift their community as a whole.”
The energy and excitement of the evening swelled to a fever pitch each time the finalists for Professional of the Year were announced followed by a video presentation profiling the winner.
Bethune Cookman University Alumni rallied around their fellow alum, attorney Larry Handfield who was named 2013 Philanthropist of the Year as did Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. members to applaud their soror, Dr. Brenda Snipes presented as a 2013 Living Legend.
“I was so surprised, when I was told I was selected, I said, ‘Oh Lordy!”, recalled Dr. Snipes who has held the office of Supervisor of Elections in Broward County for the past decade. “I am truly honored by this recognition.”
That was the overriding sentiment of the honorees who said they were just pleased to be in the company of such notable people.
“It was not only enjoyable but inspirational to see so many people of color who have achieved at their level”, said Doug Lyons, Senior Editorial Writer for the Sun-Sentinel and the 2013 ICABA Professional of the Year in Media. “I was humbled and surprised to win.”
The Black Tie Gala moved ICABA forward in its quest to, ultimately, leverage the collective power and influence of the Black community in South Florida and to set the stage for mentoring the next generation of professionals.
In the words of Ken Burroughs, President of the South Florida Black Professionals, “The gala’s agenda wasn’t about elections or public policy, although each of the attendees certainly understands “power politics.”
A unique aspect of the evening was the culmination of a month-long social media campaign to raise awareness of Black Professional Organizations that are serving the community in ways most residents don’t know. For a month, 10 non-profit organizations have been engaging the public online to learn about them and to vote for the top organization.
The Professional Organizations were: Ashanti Cultural Arts, Inc.; Association of Haitian Doctors Abroad; Center for Family and Child Enrichment; F. Malcolm Cunningham Bar Association; National Association of African Americans in Human Resources; National Association of Black MBAs; National Association of Black Women in Construction; National Sales Network; Urban League of Broward County, Young Professionals Network; W.D. Ferguson, Jr. Bar Association
In the end, the Association of Haitian Doctors Abroad took the top honor as 2013 Professional Organization of the Year, collecting more than 11-thousand votes that came in through Facebook and the Internet. For their effort, Dr. Barrau’s organization received a one-thousand dollar check to advance their work as well as professional services from ICABA to aid in their growth and development.
“We worked exceptionally hard to win the ICABA Organizations Showcase because we were able to tell people what we’re doing to save lives and enlist their help at the same time,”, said Dr. Carmel Barrau, Internist/Founder of UniHealth Medical.
All 10 organizations can benefit from their participation through the ICABA Crowd Fund which was launched at the end of the gala and will allow their supporters to donate much-needed funds directly to their favorite organization.
As Host Sponsor of the Gala, Florida International University paid homage to the thousands of Black Alumni who live and work in South Florida, including FIU Trustee Gerald Grant and Al Dotson, Sr. as well as the Black professors who are part of the fabric of FIU.