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"The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund is simply the best civil rights law firm in American history." -- President Obama

LDF's 28th Annual National Equal Justice Award Dinner (NEJAD)

Event Date(s): 
Thursday, November 6, 2014 - 6:30pm

On Thursday, November 6, 2014, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) hosted its 28th annual National Equal Justice Award Dinner (NEJAD) at the Hilton Midtown Hotel, 1335 Avenue of the Americas at 53rd Street. This year's dinner culminated a year-long series of events commemorating the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of EducationSee event highlights, our honorees, videophoto gallery, and press coverage below.

 

Also, see our video tributes to Bernard J. Tyson,
and David Lindau and Dr. Kenneth Edelin

 

Highlights from LDF's 28th Annual National Equal Justice Award Dinner 2014

Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF President and Director-Counsel

Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF President and Director-Counsel; and Debra L. Lee, 2014 National Equal Justice Award Recipient; Chairman & CEO, BET Networks

Geoffrey Canada, 2014 Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient; President, Harlem Children's Zone, and Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF President and Director-Counsel

Deborah Roberts, NEJAD Mistress of Ceremony; Correspondent, ABC News 20/20; Bernard J. Tyson, 2014 Spirit of Justice Award Recipient; Chairman & CEO, Kaiser Permanente; and Gerald Adolph, LDF Board Co-Chair; Senior Partner, Strategy&

Deborah Roberts, NEJAD Mistress of Ceremony; Correspondent, ABC News 20/20

David Dinkins, Former Mayor of New York City

Hank Aaron, Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee, Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient

John Amos, Stage and Screen Actor, Primetime Emmy Award Nominee

Debra L. Lee, 2014 National Equal Justice Award Recipient; Chairman & CEO, BET Networks; Gerald Adolph, LDF Board Co-Chair; Senior Partner, Strategy&; and Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF President and Director-Counsel

Star Jones, Lawyer, Journalist and TV Personality

Billye Suber Aaron, wife of Hank Aaron, Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee, Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient

Tasha Smith, Actress; and NEJAD dinner guest

Jon Batiste, Musician and Entertainer

Gabriella Morris, LDF Board Member and NEJAD Chair; Senior Vice President UNICEF Bridge Fund; David Dinkins, Former Mayor of New York City; Angela Vallot, LDF Board Member and NEJAD Vice Chair; Principle Vallot Karp Consulting; and Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF President and Director-Counsel

Marva Smalls, Executive Vice President of Global Inclusion Strategy, MTV Networks Company

Debby Greenberg and Jack Greenberg, LDF's 2nd Director-Counsel

Peter Lacks, LDF Information Services Assistant/Switchboard Relief Operator; Janai Nelson, LDF Associate Director-Counsel; and Ryan Haygood, LDF Deputy Director of Litigation

David Dinkins, Former Mayor of New York City; and Angela Vallot, LDF Board Member and NEJAD Vice Chair; Principle Vallot Karp Consulting

Phillip Wells, son of Ted Wells, Jr.; Hank Aaron, Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee, Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient; and Ted Wells, Jr., LDF Board Member; Partner and Co-Chair of Litigation, Paul Weiss

Angela Vallot, LDF Board Member and NEJAD Vice Chair; Principle Vallot Karp Consulting; and Charles Nuckolls, NEJAD videographer and documentary filmmaker

Dennis Brownlee, Vice President and Managing Director, Clear Channel Communications; and Gabriella Morris, LDF Board Member and NEJAD Chair; Senior Vice President UNICEF Bridge Fund

NEJAD dinner guests

Ted Wells, Jr., LDF Board Member; Partner and Co-Chair of Litigation, Paul Weiss;  Judith Scheide, LDF Board Member; Philanthropist; President of The Scheide Fund; and Phillip Wells, son of Ted Wells, Jr.  

NEJAD dinner guests

Debra L. Lee, 2014 National Equal Justice Award Recipient; Chairman & CEO, BET Networks; Denise Tyson and Bernard J. Tyson, 2014 Spirit of Justice Award Recipient; Chairman & CEO, Kaiser Permanente

Jonathan Soros, LDF Board Member; C.E.O. of JS Capital Management; Senior Fellow, Roosevelt;  and Gwen Adolph, wife of Gerald Adolph, LDF Board Co-Chair 

NEJAD dinner guests and Gay McDougall, widow of John Payton, LDF's 6th President and Director-Counsel; Civil Rights Attorney and First U.N. Independent Expert on Minority Issues

Debra L. Lee, 2014 National Equal Justice Award Recipient; Chairman & CEO, BET Networks ; and Gay McDougall, widow of John Payton, LDF's 6th President and Director-Counsel; Civil Rights Attorney and First U.N. Independent Expert on Minority Issues

Cheryl Brown Henderson, a daughter of Oliver Brown, Kansas Plaintiff in Brown v. Board of Education; Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF President and Director-Counsel; and Osceola Brown, widow of Oliver Brown

Bernard J. Tyson, 2014 Spirit of Justice Award Recipient; Chairman & CEO, Kaiser Permanente; and Denise Tyson

Yvonne Canada and Geoffrey Canada, 2014 Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient; President, Harlem Children's Zone

NEJAD Guest and Laurie Robinson Haden, LDF Board Member and NEJAD Vice Chair; Senior Vice President and Associate General Counsel , CBS

Geoffrey Canada, 2014 Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient; President, Harlem Children's Zone; and Judith Byrd, LDF Board Member and NEJAD Vice Chair; President, Byrd Retail Group, LLC

Deborah Roberts, NEJAD Mistress of Ceremony; Correspondent, ABC News 20/20; and John Carr, Retired Partner, Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett

Angela Vallot, LDF Board Member and NEJAD Vice Chair; Principle Vallot Karp Consulting; Deborah Roberts, NEJAD Mistress of Ceremony; Correspondent, ABC News 20/20; and Judith Byrd, LDF Board Member and NEJAD Vice Chair; President, Byrd Retail Group, LLC

Ted Wells, Jr., LDF Board Member; Partner and Co-Chair of Litigation, Paul Weiss; and William Lighten, LDF Board Member, Managing Director, Eland Capital Partners

Edward Lewis, Co-founder of Essence Magazine, Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF President and Director-Counsel; and Charles J. Hamilton, Senior Counsel, Windels Marx

Bobette Gillette, BET Director of Corporate Relations; Gina Stikes, BET Director of Corporate Communications; and guests

Khary Lazarre-White, Executive Director and Co-Founder Brotherhood-Sister Sol; and Lumumba Akinwole-Bandele, LDF Senior Community Organizer

Edward Lewis, Co-founder of Essence Magazine; and Tonya Lewis Lee, LDF Board Member, former NEJAD Chair, author and filmmaker

Kevin Keenan, LDF Chief Operations Officer and General Counsel; and Temitope Yusuf, Associate, Arent Fox

Marcus Miller, Musician

Star Jones, Lawyer, Journalist and TV Personality; and Frank Ahimaz, Chief Investment Officer, The Museum of Modern Art

Tawanna Tibbs and  Bruce Gordon, Former President of the NAACP

Shavar Jeffries, Civil Rights Attorney; Janai Nelson, LDF Associate Director-Counsel with her husband Benjamin Talton, Associate Professor, College of Liberal Arts, Temple University;  and Ryan Haygood, LDF Deputy Director of Litigation

Rachel Kleinman, LDF Assistant Counsel; Veronica JoiceLDF Fried Frank Fellow and Monique Lin-Luse, LDF Special Counsel

Geoffrey Canada, 2014 Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient; President, Harlem Children's Zone; and Darren Walker, President, the Ford Foundation

Bruce Gordon, Former President of the NAACP; Tonya Lewis Lee, LDF Board Member, former NEJAD Chair, author and filmmaker; and Charles Atkins, President, Atkins Capital

Rev. Michael Waldron, Senior Pastor, First Corinthian Baptist Church

Deborah Roberts, NEJAD Mistress of Ceremony; Correspondent, ABC News 20/20

Gabriella Morris, LDF Board Member and NEJAD Chair; Senior Vice President UNICEF Bridge Fund; and Gerald Adolph, LDF Board Co-Chair; Senior Partner, Strategy&

Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF President and Director-Counsel; and Debra L. Lee, 2014 National Equal Justice Award Recipient; Chairman & CEO, BET Networks

Bernard J. Tyson, 2014 Spirit of Justice Award Recipient; Chairman & CEO, Kaiser Permanente

Debra L. Lee, 2014 National Equal Justice Award Recipient; Chairman & CEO, BET Networks

Geoffrey Canada, 2014 Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient; President, Harlem Children's Zone

Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF Associate Director-Counsel; and Geoffrey Canada, 2014 Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient; President, Harlem Children's Zone

Jon Batiste, Musician and Entertainer

Jon Batiste, Musician and Entertainer; and Marcus Miller, Musician

Anthony Kendall, President and CEO, Mitchell & Titus; Janai Nelson, LDF Associate Director-Counsel; and Kevin Thomson, LDF's Chief Financial Officer

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This year, LDF honored three extraordinary business leaders:

Geoffrey Canada, President, Harlem Children's Zone (HCZ) will receive the Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award 

Debra Lee, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, BET Networks will receive a National Equal Justice Award

Bernard J. Tyson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Kaiser Permanente will also receive a National Equal Justice Award


Geoffrey Canada

Geoffrey Canada


President, Harlem Children’s Zone

Having worked with the Harlem Children’s Zone® for more than 30 years, Geoffrey Canada is renowned around the world for his pioneering work helping children and families in Harlem, and as a thought leader and passionate advocate for education reform.

In 1990, Mr. Canada became the President and Chief Executive Officer for Harlem Children’s Zone, which The New York Times Magazine called “one of the most ambitious social-policy experiments of our time.” In July 2014th, Mr. Canada passed the position of CEO to Anne Williams-Isom, but continues as President.

Under Mr. Canada’s visionary leadership, HCZ has become a national model and the subject of significant media attention.  Mr. Canada and HCZ have been featured in the documentary Waiting for “Superman,” as well as on 60 Minutes, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Anderson Cooper 360°, Black in America 2, The Charlie Rose Show, This American Life, and in articles in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and The Associated Press. In 2008, Houghton Mifflin published Whatever It Takes, by Paul Tough, a detailed look at the work of Mr. Canada and HCZ.

Mr. Canada grew up in the South Bronx in a poor, sometimes violent neighborhood.  Despite his troubled surroundings, he achieved great academic success, receiving a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College and a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. After graduating, Mr. Canada began his life’s work helping children who, like himself, grew up in poor, distressed neighborhoods.

Mr. Canada has written two books: Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America (1995; reissued as a graphic novel in 2010) and Reaching Up for Manhood: Transforming the Lives of Boys in America (1998). A strong voice in public debates on education, he also has written for a number of publications, including op-eds for The New York Times and Daily News; gave a TED Talk on our failing schools and the need for innovation that was broadcast on PBS; and has spoken to audiences around the world about what it takes to help children succeed, from evaluation to early childhood education and beyond.

In 2006, Mr. Canada was selected by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to serve as co-chair of the Commission on Economic Opportunity, responsible for formulating a plan to significantly reduce poverty.  In 2011, he was appointed to the New York State Governor’s Council of Economic and Fiscal Advisors. He is also an advisor to and board member of several nonprofit organizations.

 

Debra Lee

Debra Lee


Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
BET Networks
 

Debra Lee is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BET Networks, a unit of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB) and the leading provider of entertainment for the African-American audience and consumers of Black culture globally.

Ms. Lee oversees one of the most influential multiplatform media companies in the world, including several cable television networks, digital offerings, and a home entertainment business. BET Networks is committed to providing its audience with quality entertainment that speaks to where they are in their lives and where they want to go.   Under her leadership, Ms. Lee has led the company’s successful reinvigorated brand and successful programming vision that has created hits such as Let’s Stay Together, The Game on BET, Black Girls Rock!, The Mo’Nique Show, BET Honors, Sunday Best and many more, resulting in consistent increases in viewership and revenue.  In addition, Ms. Lee has helped guide BET’s reinvigorated approach, which is built on supporting families, embracing and encouraging their dreams, focusing on the issues that are important to them and presenting the freshest talent and entertainment.  In September 2009, Ms. Lee managed the launch of CENTRIC, the 24-hour entertainment network featuring the artists, music, series, movies and reality programming that reflects the lifestyle and sophistication of today’s African-American and multi-cultural adult.  She also oversees the company’s current growth initiatives, including international distribution of the brand in Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.

Prior to her being named Chairman and CEO, Ms. Lee was President and Chief Operating Officer of BET Networks for almost 10 years, during which she guided the company to consistent increases in viewership, revenue and earnings.   She first joined BET as Vice President and General Counsel in 1986 after serving more than five years as an attorney with Washington, D.C.-based Steptoe & Johnson, a corporate law firm.  Prior to that, she served as a law clerk to the late Honorable Barrington Parker of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Named one of The Hollywood Reporter’s 100 Most Powerful Women in Entertainment, Debra Lee’s achievements in a 25-plus year career at BET Networks have earned her numerous accolades from across the cable industry, as well as recognition as one of this country’s most respected business executives. Ms. Lee was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, the Washington Business Hall of Fame, and was honored with the Distinguished Leadership Vanguard Award by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. She serves on the corporate board of directors of Revlon, Marriott, Washington Gas & Light, the Ad Council and previously served on the corporate board of Eastman Kodak. Her business acumen and strategic approach to management make Ms. Lee a popular speaker and lecturer on a range of business topics.

Affiliated with a number of professional, civic, and cultural organizations, Ms. Lee is also a member of the national board of directors for the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Economic Club of Washington and the Kennedy Center’s Community & Friends Board.  She is also a member of the Board of Trustees for Brown University and also serves on the boards of the Paley Center for Media, the Ad Council, the Grammy Foundation, and was appointed by the White House to the President’s Management Advisory Board and is a member emeritus of the Federal Communications Commission’s Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age.

Ms. Lee earned her juris doctorate at Harvard Law School, while simultaneously earning a master’s degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government.  She graduated from Brown University with a bachelor’s degree in political science with an emphasis in Asian politics.

Ms. Lee resides in Washington, D.C., with her two children.

 

Bernard Tyson

Bernard J. Tyson

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Kaiser Permanente

Bernard J. Tyson is the chairman and chief executive officer of Kaiser Permanente, one of America's leading integrated health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. With annual operating revenue of more than $50 billion, Kaiser Permanente serves more than 9.3 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia.

Tyson assumed the role of chairman in January 2014 and has served as CEO since July 1, 2013. His career at Kaiser Permanente has spanned nearly 30 years, and he has successfully managed all major aspects of the organization. He had previously served as president and chief operating officer of the Oakland, California-based health care organization since 2010.

Under Tyson’s leadership, Kaiser Permanente has delivered on its “Thrive” promise by bringing an innovative and fully integrated approach to health care and health care coverage that is helping members achieve their aspirations of total health. Tyson believes Kaiser Permanente’s demonstrated ability to deliver high-quality and affordable health care through a combination of prevention, innovation, and integration can serve as the model for the future of health care in America. In fact, the strength of Kaiser Permanente’s approach is evident today in the significant increase in partnerships between health plans, hospitals, and medical practices across the health care industry.

As Chairman and CEO, Tyson is dedicated to highlighting Kaiser Permanente’s role as an industry leader in preventive care and in treating serious health conditions. For example, Kaiser Permanente’s 175,000 employees and 17,000 physicians consistently deliver some of the best cancer care, cardiovascular care, and neuroscience outcomes in the nation while also leading the country in infection prevention, cancer screenings, patient safety, and quality. Tyson has been a strong advocate for the elimination of health care disparities among individuals by promoting the use of aggregated data from members’ electronic health records to determine the most effective treatments for optimal clinical outcomes. He is also dedicated to upholding Kaiser Permanente's mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services for the organization’s members and to improve the health of its members and the communities it serves.

Tyson has served in roles from hospital administrator to division president, leading Kaiser Permanente’s business in California and in its other regions. During his tenure as executive vice president for Health Plan and Hospital Operations, Tyson was responsible for both the care and health care coverage for members within one of the nation’s largest health plans and hospital systems — now 38 Kaiser Permanente-owned hospitals and more than 600 medical offices across America.

A San Francisco Bay Area native, Tyson earned a Bachelor of Science in health service management and a Master of Business in health service administration from Golden Gate University in San Francisco. He earned a leadership certificate from Harvard University. He serves on the board of directors of the American Heart Association. He recently completed service as chair of the Executive Leadership Council in 2012-2014.

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