Our second event for Wednesday, November 28th, was the 64th Annual Humanitarian Award Dinner of the Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio, which took place at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel.
As is written in both the program notes and on its website, the Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio “was founded in 1927 as the National Conference on Christians and Jews. As an education and advocacy organization, our mission is to eliminate bias, bigotry and racism in Northeast Ohio. We are the premier organization in our region offering comprehensive diversity programs and training for all people. The Diversity Center is a member of the National Federation for Just Communities.”
In addition, “the Diversity Center promotes understanding and respect and institutional equality on matters of race, age, religion, sex, ethnicity, culture, ability, gender identity, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. We achieve this through youth programming and by promoting diversity and addressing institutional bias in the workplace.”
Our friend, Mr. Russ Mitchell, The Diversity Center Board Director and New Anchor for WKYC-TV3, acted as the evening host. In the course of the evening program, we were addressed by both Mr. Cipriano S. Beredo III, Chair of the Diversity Center Board of Directors and Partner at Squire, Patton, Boggs, LLP; and Ms. Peggy Zone Fisher, President and CEO of the Diversity Center, who spoke of the need for such programs and services that the Diversity Center has to offer, especially in these divisive times, as evidenced by such actions as the shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Of course, the highlight of the evening was the honoring of several deserving individuals/entities who lead and inspire people to lead lives of purpose including Mr. Dean Bryson, a science teacher at New Tech Collinwood High School (Diversity Educator Leadership Award); Ms. Courtney Fugate, Senior Financial Analyst at Shearer’s Food (2018 PwC LeadDiversity Alumni Award); and the Warrensville Heights High School Diversity Team (2018 Diversity Student Citizenship Award).
Along these lines, the two Humanitarian Award Honorees for 2018 were Ms. Enid Rosenberg, a community leader who has served as the chair of several nonprofits including the Mandel JCC, Menorah Park and The Oakwood Club; and Mr. Marc S. Byrnes, Chairman of the Oswald Companies. They were given heartfelt introductions by their good friends (and past Humanitarian Award honorees) Mr. Bernie Moreno, President of Bernie Moreno Companies, and Ms. Beth Mooney, Chairperson and CEO of KeyCorp.
(for bios see https://www.oswaldcompanies.com/byrnes/ and https://www.clevelandjewishnew.com/differencemakers/2015differencemakers/enid-rosenberg/article_abefdca-8863-11e5-845a-bb8af6867eaf.html/)
In her remarks, Ms. Rosenberg spoke of the dangers of pre-judging others based on their outward appearance and urged us all to get to know get to know people personally before forming an opinion. In other words, “look inside and then decide.” She recalled her own experiences involving pre-judgement and, as painful as they were at the time, she believed that these experiences “pushed us to be the leaders that we are today.”
Mr. Byrnes stated that he believed that what matters most is that a person “sincerely cares” and does his/her utmost to be a force for the positive in all areas of life including family, community, and business activities; for him (i.e. and for us), such a person is a true leader. He noted that all recipients of the Humanitarian Award, over the years, share a common trait of being “battery charges” in terms of initiating genuine progress for the betterment of all (as opposed to being self-serving “battery drainers”) and thus he was very proud to be included among them.
We, ourselves, were pleased to be a part of this celebration which was attended by a record number of 870 people, and proud to represent Margaret W. Wong and Associates, LLC which was one of the “Unity Partners” for the evening.
(see https://www.wkyc.com/mobile/article/news/local/outreach/3cares/though-provoking-video-shown-at-diversity-center-dinner/95-618732657/ for more information about the dinner itself and the video noted below)
Upon arrival, we were greeted by Ms. Sarah Allsbrooks, Development Director of the Diversity Center, and Ms. Peggy Zone Fisher who posed for a photo with her husband, former Lt. Governor Lee Fisher who is now Dean of Cleveland Marshall School of Law.
Throughout the evening we got to visit with several young people who quite pleased to have taken part in programs initiated by the Diversity Center including the before-mentioned LeadDIVERSITY program that, according to the program notes, “that engages a select group of Northeast Ohio professionals with regional leaders and the greater community to raise awareness of diversity issues, build their leadership skills, and enhance their networks…”
Perhaps the essence of the evening was best captured by the showing of a video titled “Rethink Beauty” produced by Goldfarb Weber which contained testimonials by young people who suffered from by judged by their outward appearance. As Mr. Tony Weber, who presented the video said, “It’s upon us to listen to them, to have open communication and really have nonjudgmental acceptance.”
Mr. Weber went on to say that, “we need to set an example. With their peers constantly judging them every day, they need that support system. I think that we, as adults, need to give that to them.”