New York Urban League's 51st Frederick Douglass Awards

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Former NYC mayor David Dinkins with Arva Rice: Photo by Margot Jordan

The New York Urban League held its 51st Anniversary Frederick Douglass Dinner on Tuesday, May 19 at Pier Sixty. The organization led by President and CEO Arva Rice bestowed its Frederick Douglass Medallion on Michael Cardozo and Amalgamated Bank.
The Frederick Douglass Award for Service was presented to Deutsch and Sherry B. Bronfman was the recipient of the Ann S. Kheel Award. The event was attended by over 400 guests including Mayor David Dinkins, former NBA Commissioner David Stern, Revs. Michael and LaKeesha Walrond, Reggie Van Lee, Noel Hankin, Lauren Mailian, Ben, Vanessa and Hannah Bronfman; York College President Marcia Keizs and John Jay College President Jeremy Travis, and Rynthia Rost.
The black tie event began with a reception and cocktails provided by event Co-Chair Moet Hennessey USA brands. Violinist Henri Star set the tone for the evening with a soul stirring instrumental of “Lift Every Voice.” The evening was accompanied by the jazz sounds of the Cal James Orchestra concluded with a dessert and dancing after party. The milestone event was hosted by Mistresses of Ceremonies, NBC4-NY Chief Meteorologist Janice Huff, and NYUL Board Member and Carmen Rita Wong, President of Malecon Productions.
In her remarks, Rice reflected on the responsibility and privilege of leading a legacy organization. “Every day I wake up knowing that the work that my staff, our board, our Young Professionals and volunteers do every day will either be a pivotal chapter in the story of this organization or a time when we maintained the status quo,” she said.
Rice specifically described how her and her staff’s STEM, college access, employment and advocacy efforts are serving as a bridge to possibilities for our communities. She closed by asking what the audience was doing in the grand tradition of Frederick Douglass to make the earth quake: “What is their legacy?”
The Frederick Douglass Dinner is the New York Urban League’s annual spring fundraiser which raised $500,000 to support its employment and education programs and operations. Fundraising efforts were led by business leaders and philanthropists Carmen Rita Wong, Dennis Walcott, Rynthia Rost, and corporate partner Moet Hennessy USA who served as Gala Co-Chairs.
NYUL Board Member and event Co-Chair Carmen Rita Wong presented the evening’s first award. Wong acknowledged the creative vision of this year’s Frederick Douglass Award for Service honoree, Deutsch. As a result of Deutsch’s volunteer efforts, NYUL has a beautiful new website that has truly brought the organization into the 21st century, and made their online presence as robust as their real-world one.
NYUL President and CEO paid tribute to the tireless efforts of Congressman Charles B. Rangel. Since Congressman Rangel was in session, he was not able to accept the award personally but he sent congratulatory remarks and Mayor David Dinkins accepted the award on his behalf.
Frederick Douglass Corporate Citizenry honoree Keith Mestrich, CEO of Amalgamated Bank received his award from Young Professional President and Vice President Chad Roberson and Erika Beckles. Beckles said: "Amalgamated is a bank that lives its values, Keith is a leader who lives his and he is a role model for how corporate leaders can support community change.”
Business leader and philanthropist Reggie Van Lee presented the Ann S. Kheel Award to Sherry B. Bronfman. Van Lee noted Bronfman’s work to help countless New Yorkers and contribute to organizations such as the National Urban League, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Children’s Museum. In Bronfman’s moving acceptance speech she prompted everyone to take an un-selfie and use social media for social justice. "Let art save a life today," she said.
The final award of the evening was presented by NYUL’s own Whitney M. Young, Jr Scholar Lauren Dorvil to Michael A. Cardozo. Lauren shared her own leadership journey in her roles as Vice President Elect of her school’s Black Student Union, student ambassador, peer mentor and a resident assistant.
She shared that she hopes to have as much impact as Michael whose work in and public sector on judicial reform, mentoring future leaders at Proskauer and working in local public schools has been transformative.
Photos and additional information on the event can be found at www.nyul.org. The mission of the New York Urban League (NYUL) is to enable African Americans and other underserved communities to secure a first class education, economic self-reliance and equal respect of their civil rights through programs, services and advocacy.
Each year, NYUL serves nearly 8,000 residents through education and employment programs, access to technology classes and financial empowerment workshops, while providing over $250,000 to support HBCUs and college scholarships to NYC students.

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