Friday, September 21, 2012

4th Annual Thurgood Marshall College Fund Awards Set for Oct. 4

The "Who's-Who" in Charlotte will fill the room on October 4, 2012 at the 9th Annual Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) "Awards of Excellence." This highly anticipated event will be held at Founder's Hall /Booth Playhouse located inside the Bank of America building and will feature a strolling supper and cocktail reception that will begin at 6:00 p.m., followed by an awards program at 7:45 p.m. Sterlin Benson Webber will be the host for the evening and the event co-chairs are Ann Caulkins, Publisher & President, The Charlotte Observer and Nicole W. Dean, VP of Corporate Human Resources & Chief Diversity Officer.

The 9th Annual Charlotte "Awards of Excellence" is part of a nationwide effort to inform the broader community about TMCF, its member schools/programs, and to raise funds to aid scholars who attend TMCF institutions/law/medical schools. The "Awards of Excellence" honorees are outstanding local individuals who are deserving of community recognition for their efforts in the Charlotte area, as well as in their career fields. The honorees are chosen by the local committee and TMCF consultants as individuals who exemplify Thurgood Marshall's passion for justice and civil rights, by continuing his principles, promoting diversity initiatives, addressing civil rights issues across different disciplines, and serving as significant role models to the next generation. "These community leaders serve as role models for the nearly 300,000 young men and women who are matriculating on our 47-member school campuses," said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., TMCF's President & CEO. "They not only exemplify what Justice Marshall stood for, but they understand our mission and are each committed to cultivating future generations of leaders."

2012 Honorees

Dianne Ward English, Executive Director, Community Building Initiative

Since May 1997, Dianne English has served as the Executive Director of the Community Building Initiative, a non-profit organization whose mission is intensifying the commitment and increasing the capacity of individuals and organizations to build an inclusive and equitable community in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

She has guided the development of innovative models that provide strategic assistance to individuals, organizations and institutions in addressing issues of race and ethnicity and has partnered with numerous community organizations and leaders in collaborative civic efforts.
From 1991 to 1997, Dianne served as Executive Director of Mecklenburg Ministries, an interfaith advocacy organization, and has served as a board member for numerous civic and non- profit organizations, including the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, Center for International Understanding, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership, Charlotte Outward Bound, Florence Crittenton Services and the Urban Ministry Center.

Ms. English has received awards for her advocacy efforts, including Creative Loafing's Citizen of the Year (1996), the Martin Luther King Jr. Silver Medallion (1997), the Catholic Social Services' Colonel Francis J. Beatty Award (1998), Charlotte's Woman of the Year (2000), Charlotte Business Journal's Diversity in Business Award (2005), the YMCA's Willie J. Stratford Sr. Diversity Award (2008) and Leadership Charlotte's Lifetime Achievement Award (2009). She is a graduate of the American Leadership Forum Class IV.

Dianne is married to Roger English and has two sons, David and Christian, and one daughter, Wesley. She attended Emory University, received a B.A. in Education from UNC-CH and has pursued fine arts and graphic arts work at both the University of Georgia and Central Piedmont Community College.

James E. Ferguson II, Esq., Founding Partner, Ferguson, Stein, Chambers, Adkins, Gresham & Sumter, P.A.

James E. Ferguson, II, (known as "Fergie") is a founding partner of the firm Ferguson, Stein, Chambers, Gresham and Sumter, P.A. and has served as President of the firm since 1984. He currently heads the firm's catastrophic injury and wrongful death team, concentrating in medical malpractice, personal injury and products liability.

Recognized by the National Law Journal as one of the nation's top ten litigators, Mr. Ferguson has been listed in every edition of The Best Lawyers in America in two categories: personal injury litigation and criminal defense. He is a member of the Inner Circle of Advocates, an exclusive organization of plaintiffs' lawyers whose membership is limited to 100 of the nation's top trial lawyers.

Since the late seventies, Mr. Ferguson has concentrated his practice in catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases arising out of medical malpractice, personal injury and products liability. Under his leadership, the firm has successfully resolved cases for injured plaintiffs in an aggregate amount in excess of one hundred million dollars. In addition to his catastrophic injury cases, Mr. Ferguson continues to handle civil rights and criminal cases. Not only has he distinguished himself as a trial lawyer, he has achieved distinction as a teacher of trial skills and a leader of the profession.

He has held teaching positions at Harvard Law School and North Carolina Central Law School. He served as a Scholar in Residence at Santa Clara Law School and was recognized as an Honorary Fellow by the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, having been inducted in 1987. Mr. Ferguson co-founded South Africa's first Trial Advocacy Program, offering the program to black and white lawyers, even during the apartheid era. He has taught trial advocacy in London, Cambridge and Stratford-on-Avon, England, as well as throughout the United States, including the first advanced trial advocacy program offered in the United States through the National Institute of Trial Advocacy. He is a past Chair or President of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers and the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers.

In the civic arena, Mr. Ferguson has served as the Chair of the Charlotte Community Building Initiative and as a member of the North Carolina Commission on Alternatives to Incarceration. He served for more than 15 years as General Counsel and member of the National Executive Committee of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Kevin A. Henry, Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer Snyder's Lance, Inc.

Joining Lance Incorporated in January 2010, Mr. Henry is responsible for all of the company's human resources, community affairs, government relations, and employment related legal and communications functions. In December 2010, Lance Inc. merged with Snyder's of Hanover and Mr. Henry was named Chief Human Resources Officer of the merged company which was renamed Snyder's-Lance, Inc. Prior to his current role, Mr. Henry was Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer of Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated, a position he had held since 2001. In this role, he was responsible for all aspects of the company's human resources functions. He has held a variety of human resources positions over a 20+ year career in the consumer products, retail and financial services industries.

Born and raised on Long Island, New York, Mr. Henry is a graduate of Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He is a member of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity – Beta Delta Boulé. Chairing the Board of Trustees for Charlotte Latin Day School and Johnson C. Smith University's Board of Visitors, he also serves on the Board of The Harvey B. Gantt Center. Past community service includes chairing the Board of Directors of the Urban League of Central Carolinas and the Charlotte Chamber's Black Professional Network. Additionally, he is a former Board Member of Junior Achievement, Queens University's McColl School of Business and Teach for America. Mr. Henry has been advisor for The Charlotte Chapter of the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources and PRIDE Magazine.

Appreciation for Mr. Henry's community service includes recognition by the Charlotte Business Journal as a Top 40 under 40 Award Winner, the 2009 Whitney M. Young Jr. Award by the Urban League of Central Carolinas, and as the 2010 Father of The Year by the National Father's Day Council. In 2011 he was recognized by UPTOWN Magazine as a Charlotte Catalyst.

The Henrys, wife Tina and sons Tyler and Taylor, reside in Charlotte, North Carolina and attend the Central Church of God.

Edward P. O'Keefe, Esq., Executive Vice President & General Counsel, Bank of America

Ed O'Keefe is Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Bank of America, the company's chief legal officer and adviser. Mr. O'Keefe leads a global department of 1,100-plus attorneys, paralegals and support staff in 40 U.S. and 20 international cities that manages the bank's legal affairs and legal risks. He leads a dynamic and innovative legal team that has won numerous awards, including Law 360's Innovative Corporate Counsel Award and multiple International Financial Law Review awards. Also an industry leader, Mr. O'Keefe serves on, among others, the board of The Clearing House Association, which he chairs, the General Counsel's Leadership Network, and the Leadership Council for Legal Diversity.

Since joining the company in 2004, he has served as head of litigation; global compliance and operational risk executive; senior privacy executive; and deputy general counsel for staff support. His previous experience includes managing director for Deutsche Bank, Associate General Counsel at Chase Manhattan and private practice.

Mr. O'Keefe holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the University of Rhode Island. He received his law degree from Fordham University School of Law and is a member of the North Carolina, New York and New Jersey bar associations.

A community leader in serving children, Ed O'Keefe has transitioned from managing athletic teams to advocating on behalf of at-risk children. He serves on the board of directors of the Charlotte-based Council for Children's Rights as well as the United Way of Central Carolinas.


The 9th Annual Charlotte "Awards of Excellence" is the third regional event in 2012. Past events include, Miami, and New Jersey and the Chicago event is scheduled to take place November 1. For sponsorship opportunities and ticket information, please contact: Mary V. Jones: or call 201-227-8427 and for media inquiries please contact: Tiffany L. Jones: or 212-573-8493.-----------------------------------------------------------------------
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