2020 ELC Virtual Gala Recap

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Nearly 4,500 people registered for The ELC’s first ever virtual Gala to celebrate that Now is Our Time and share how the organization continues to lead with Bold Moves, Courage and Resilience during this unprecedented year. While we missed seeing everyone in person, The ELC seized the opportunity and created an outstanding experience that allowed us to proudly stay focused on our purpose and mission.

From the kickoff with Kirk Franklin to the after set with Doug E. Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew, the 2020 ELC Gala delivered.

From the steps of the Willie A. Deese College of Business and Economics at North Carolina A&T University, ELC Interim President and CEO Crystal E. Ashby thanked Gala sponsors for their “Bold Moves in continuing to support the ELC this year.”

“Because of your support, we are able to continue to foster Black excellence by giving out the largest number of scholarships in our history,” she said.

Ashby then took participants on a journey through 2020, sharing the impact the epidemics of Covid-19 and racism on our community and organization, and how The ELC pivoted to enhance connectivity with members.

“The need for this connectivity was glaringly apparent during a summer of racial violence that sounded a wake-up alarm, where The ELC pivoted again, taking our stand against racism in America,” said Ashby.

Breaking News

Aligned with the theme of the evening, The ELC announced some exciting new partnerships.

  • To honor his memory and continue his legacy, The American Heart Association has announced the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund. This national fund, led by his widow, Denise Bradley-Tyson, will support evidence-based, locally led solutions to improve access to healthcare and related services for underserved and under-resourced communities.
  • The ELC continues its efforts to expand its philanthropic impact into the United Kingdom where membership continues to grow. To this end, The ELC has awarded a grant to the Amos Bursary, an organization that supports a talent pipeline of men of African and Caribbean descent in the UK by developing and uplifting them through education, personal and professional development, and business opportunities.
  • Also announced was Tyson Foods Inc. pledging a three-year scholarship commitment to The ELC beginning in 2021. Johnson & Johnson, Chevron and Moody’s are also all launching new scholarship programs with The ELC in 2021.

The Scholars

In 2020 The ELC awarded 81 scholarships – the largest number in the history of our organization.

This year’s scholarship distribution totals nearly $850,000 to students across 24 colleges and universities – 11 of which are Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

“These are 81 lives changed – 81 young men and women who will go on to do great things, personifying Black Excellence,” said Willie Deese, Chair of The ELC’s Philanthropic Committee. “And this, ladies and gentlemen, is an investment in our future – our shared investment in our shared future.”

The Awards

The ELC’s 2020 Corporate Award was presented to Walmart, Inc., which was accepted by CEO Doug McMillon. The Corporate Award recognizes companies that value and reward the contributions, talents, and leadership of Black and minority employees. The award was presented by ELC Member and Senior Vice President and Chief Culture, Diversity and Inclusion Officer for Walmart, Inc., Ben-Saba Hasan.

In accepting the award, McMillon said Walmart is on a “learning journey … expecting more of our leaders.”

“Our mindset and process is we’re in this for the long haul,” he added. “Let’s work together to seize this moment in history by putting our hearts and minds to work.”

The ELC’s 2020 Achievement Award went to Herman E. Bulls, Vice Chairman, Americas, JLL. The Achievement Award, which was presented by ELC Member General Les Lyles, recognizes leaders whose personal contributions influence broader corporate America.

In accepting the award, Bulls shared with this year’s scholarship recipients his six characteristics for success:

“Interpersonal skills, analytical skills, communications skills, risk taking, passion,” and how “leaders create opportunities for others to succeed,” Bulls said.

The Future

ELC Board Chair Tonie Leatherberry closed the evening by reflecting on how in 2020 The ELC recalibrated its investments to address global challenges. These include the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic, and the longstanding structural issues in society that have hindered our growth, productivity, and advancement as a Black community.

“We must use our voice to stay at the forefront of systemic change and continue to elevate our stature … by supporting a pipeline of C-suite and board-ready leaders,” Leatherberry said. “No other organization brings together the business thought leadership and social impact leadership in one place. WE are that place.”

The ELC continues to receive positive feedback on social media and we encourage you to follow the #elcgala hashtag to experience it for yourself.

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