UNCF Celebrates 75 Years of Impact at 7th Annual Masked Ball

The United Negro College Fund (UNCF),  held their annual Masked Ball on Friday, June 7th at the Cedar Hill Golf & Country Club in Livingston, New Jersey. It was an evening of dignitaries, former NFL players, and philanthropist supporters who came together to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the UNCF.  Honored with the Masked Awards was Kevin Cummings, President and CEO of Investors Bancorp, Beverly Jennings, Head Office of Supplier Diversity & Inclusion of Johnson & Johnson, George D. Martin, Retired NY Giant Defensive End, and Rick Thigpen, Senior VP, Corporate Citizenship/Chairman, PSEG Foundation.

Michael Reuter, Patricia Cummings, Honoree Kevin Cummings, Gala Chair Lissa Jean Ferrell
Gratis Images courtesy of UNCF Committee by Douglas Sharpe LLC

The evening started with a cocktail reception at the elegant Cedar Hill Golf & Country Club as guests were dressed in black tie and elegant masks in keeping to the tradition of this special event. Guests enjoyed champagne and signature cocktails while meeting honorees of the evening and distinguished dignitaries.

Guests attending included, Congressman Donald Payne, Jr., Former Cleveland Brown Braynard “Bobby” Brown, Vice Chair and Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, Mayor Andre Sayegh, Mayor of Paterson, Essex County Prosecutor Ted Stephens, David Wikstrom, Marilyn Davis, Carolyn J Simon, Monica Council, Robert L. Johnson, Sylvia K. Alston, and Tiffany Hawkins to name a few.

Eric Kahn, David Wikstrom and Lena Cohen.

After cocktails guests were escorted into the Main Ball Room where grand chandeliers sparkled as the sun set across the greens which made for a magical evening. A musical performance by Grammy award winning artist Kameron Corvet serenaded guests while dinning on a scrumptious meal of Filet Mignon, Scottish Sea Bass and decadent desserts and short program. Chair Lissa Jean Ferrell welcomes guest and expressed her excitement marking the 7th annual gala and feeling proud to celebrate the 75th anniversary of UNCF, and it’s long legacy of providing scholarships to college-bound students of color. Ms. Ferrell introduces MCEE Bobby Braynard Brown to the stage. Mr. Brown was thrilled to be back and to get the audience ready for a fabulous evening. A video played with a welcome from Senator Booker and celebrity shout outs. After the heart warming video, and musical performance, the award portion of the evening begins. John Harmon, President/CEO of African American Chamber of Commerce of NJ is called the stage to warmly introduce honoree Kevin Cummings. Kevin humbly accepts his award and states how proud he is to be honored by such an important organization. Kim Boerrigter, a featured student speaker of the evening, enthusiastically introduces honoree Beverly Jennings. Beverly expresses her gratitude for the dedication the UNCF has for its students. Lissa Jean Ferrell took the stage to graciously introduce honoree George D. Martin. George was quite moved by the honor and thanked the UNCF for 75 years of empowering black youth to earn college degrees. Madeline Thigpen lovingly introduces her father honoree Rick Thigpen to the stage.  Rick was quite moved by the evening and could not be more proud. Auctioneer Allen Newman is asked to the stage and the bidding begins. After the auction, UNCF NJ Leadership Council Co-Chair Joyce Dudley introduces student speaker Kim Boerrigter. A rising junior at Harvard College and recipient of one of the 400 scholarships that is offered through UNCF. Kim expresses how grateful she was for receiving the scholarship and the impact it has had on her life.  Bobby and Allen introduce the Paddle Raise Gift and a call to action.  UNCF NJ Area Director Ngozi Emenyeonu takes the stage to thank the guests for attending this special anniversary evening and for all their continued support. Bobby introduces DJ Rob Dinero and asks guest to get up off their feet and dance the night away. Guests enjoyed the dancing till after midnight.

Robert L. Johnson, Gibbons PC and Host committee member with guests

UNCF is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, supports and strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 21 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark, ‟A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at UNCF.org or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.

Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, NJ Legislative District 35 with wife Kimberlynn, son Justin and guest

During the past 75 years, UNCF has empowered nearly half a million students to earn college degrees, while supporting the nation’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and advocating on their behalf through the federal government. The Ball raises awareness of our mission and equip more students of color with the resources necessary to transition into college, graduate and ultimately expand and diversify America’s highly educated workforce. Events like the Masked Ball enabled UNCF to provide more than $1.7 million in scholarships last year to area students from many communities in New Jersey.

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