Russell Simmons, John Ridley among awards presenters
For the 23rd year, the T. Howard Foundation (THF) brought together top media industry leaders at its annual Diversity Awards Dinner—but this year was different. Nearly 800—a record—media and entertainment professionals attended and supported THF and its programs for minority college students and young professionals seeking careers in media.
At the Diversity Awards Dinner, which took place on Wednesday, March 23 at New York City’s Cipriani Wall Street, THF recognized HBO and ABC for outstanding leadership in the area of diversity. Additionally, THF saluted its most recent internship program class and new hires, and acknowledged the internship host companies and employers.
“In 2015, THF placed 106 students in paid internships in the industry. The same year, 43 THF Internship Program alumni were hired into the industry, with an additional hired outside of media by such respected companies as Accenture, KPMG and Deloitte,” said Jo Pamphile, THF President & CEO.
Jasmine Shockness (THF ’11), Manager of Sales and Business Development at Viacom, spoke to attendees about her journey from THF intern at NBCUniversal to a full-time employee in the media industry. Shockness was acknowledged as THF’s 2016 Rising Star.
Russell Simmons, entrepreneur, author, activist and philanthropist, presented THF’s Corporate Excellence Award to his friend and colleague, Richard Plepler, Chairman & CEO of HBO. Simmons recounted his long-standing friendship with Plepler and professional relationship with HBO.
Accepting the Corporate Champion Award on behalf of Channing Dungey, President of ABC Entertainment, was Academy Award winner John Ridley. Dungey is the first African American to head a major network, and Ridley is the creator and executive producer of ABC’s “American Crime,” for which he has received an Emmy.
Additionally, THF presented two Diversity Partner Awards to Crown Media Family Networks and Microsoft Corporation. Bill Abbott, Crown Media’s President & CEO and Martin Sacchi, General Manager, Business Development, Media & Entertainment Group at Microsoft Corporation accepted the awards. Both companies have supported the Diversity Awards Dinner for more than four consecutive years.
During the evening, THF presented a silent auction with more than 30 items and exciting experiences donated by companies supporting the dinner, including tickets to a seven-day Disney Cruise, 2017 Super Bowl, season finale of “Project Runway,” and tapings of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”
Diversity Awards Dinner emcee, Juju Chang, Co-Anchor of ABC News’s “Nightline” led a live auction during dinner, featuring tickets to the 2017 college football championship game and a private 10-person dinner at the Food Network Kitchen and Studios.
A spontaneous live auction surprise happened when Mark Kang, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Distribution at INSP, took to the stage and auctioned off tickets to a Rihanna concert at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. The generous winner gave the four tickets to THF interns.
Earlier in the day, THF hosted its 2nd annual Diversity Meet & Greet for New York-based Internship Program alumni who are actively seeking full-time positions in the media industry. Human resources representatives and recruiters from AMC Networks, Disney and ESPN Media Networks, Grey Group, HBO, Reuters and Viacom gave presentations and networked with more than 30 THF alumni.