Runaway Spoon

Promise Night Takes Center Stage

April 24, 2016

Basketball great and Hall of Framer Earvin “Magic” Johnson, in accepting a Promise of America award at Howard Theater Wednesday night,  marveled that he was in the company of Mrs. Alma Powell, who herself has gathered so many honors.

“Mrs. Powell has gotten so many awards that I have to go home and tell my wife Cookie that she has to step up her game,” Johnson chuckled.

Magic Johnson, Patricia de Stacy Harrison, Angela Diaz, Alma Powell, Colin Powell, Brian Cornell & John Gomperts, president & CEO of America's Promise (Photo by: Michael Bennett Kress Photography) Magic Johnson, Patricia de Stacy Harrison, Angela Diaz, Alma Powell, Colin Powell, Brian Cornell & John Gomperts, president & CEO of America's Promise

Johnson, who played collegiately at Michigan State and professionally with the Los Angeles Lakers, was one of four outstanding honorees at the 2016 Promise Night gala hosted by America’s Promise Alliance.  Mrs. Powell is the organization’s board chair. Her husband, retired Gen. Colin L. Powell, is founding chair.

While accepting his award, Johnson said he was so moved with the organization, which is dedicated to the education of young people, that he is personally writing out a check for $100,000. His extensive work as chairman and founder of the Magic Johnson Foundation to benefit children includes the Taylor Michaels Scholarship, now supporting 160 students, HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention programs, and community empowerment centers.

Accepting her honor, Patricia de Stacy Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, recalled how her grandfather highly valued education.  She said he came from Italy at age 15, and later was a barber by profession.  “He would always tell young people:  “Don’t be stupid! Stay in school!”

In his remarks, Colin Powell noted that a video produced by America’s Promise highlighting Mrs. Harrison’s career featured a young girl in the role of a growing-up Mrs. Harrison. “If you think the young woman in the video bears a striking resemblance to Pat, you’re not wrong – that was Pat’s granddaughter, Skylar Spain.”

Mrs. Harrison initiated American Graduate: Let's Make It Happen, a nationwide public media initiative to help communities across the country identify and implement solutions to the high school dropout crisis. To date, 128 stations in over 40 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, are working with more than 1,400 local partners and schools to encourage students to stay on track to graduation.

Honoree Dr. Angela Diaz, director of the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center in New York City, recalled her own troubled childhood and how she overcame depression.  She went on to pull herself upwards and now heads the largest adolescent health centers in the United States. It provides free service to more than 10,000 primarily low income young people each year.

“Angela has dedicated her career to helping young people experience the promises of safe places and a healthy start,” said Mrs. Powell.

Honoree Brian Cornell, chairman and CEO of Target, is responsible for the company’s global business of nearly 1,800 stores and Target.com, more than 341,000 team members and millions of guests. This year through its corporate social responsibility efforts, Target reached its goal to give $1 billion for education, providing books, school supplies, food, field trips and more to students and schools across the U.S. and around the world

In her talk, Mrs. Powell recognized Dr. Mary Johnson, a math teacher who mentors at the Washington Tennis and Education Foundation.  She said Dr. Johnson has developed a diagnostic test that she believes can identify specific gaps in students’ math knowledge in only minutes. “Dr. Johnson, on behalf of America’s Promise, I want to formally recognize you as a Promise Hero, and let you know we’re donating $5,000 to the foundation to further your work.”

Patricia de Stacy Harrison (2nd from left) accepts her award from Mrs. Alma Powell & Gen. Powell.  At far left is Bruce Harrison, Mrs. Harrison's husband. (Photo by: Michael Bennett Kress Photography) Patricia de Stacy Harrison (2nd from left) accepts her award from Mrs. Alma Powell & Gen. Powell. At far left is Bruce Harrison, Mrs. Harrison's husband.

America’s Promise Alliance leads the nation’s largest network of national organizations dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth. GradNation, the organization’s signature campaign, mobilizes Americans to increase the on-time high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020 and prepare young people for postsecondary enrollment and the workforce.

Magic Johnson with university students, staff & journalism students (Photo by: America's Promise Alliance) Magic Johnson with university students, staff & journalism students


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It's Magic For America's Promise Alliance Gala

April 5, 2016

America’s Promise Alliance, the largest network of national organizations dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth, will honor the CEO of a company that has given $1 billion for education; the director of the largest adolescent health center in the U.S., the CEO of a public media organization dedicated to increasing the nation’s high school graduation rate; and a former NBA player and philanthropist whose work benefits underserved youth and communities.

Patricia de Stacy Harrison (Photo by: America's Promise Alliance) Patricia de Stacy Harrison

Hundreds of business, civic and community leaders will attend the 2nd annual Promise Night on Wednesday, April 20, 2016 at the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C.

General Colin L. Powell, founding chair of America’s Promise, and Mrs. Alma J. Powell, current board chair, will present the Promise of America Awards.

“Our honorees are extraordinary leaders in their fields, pulling out all the stops to make the promise of America real for every child,” said Mrs. Powell. “We look forward to celebrating their successes, following their careers and their example as they continue to do all they can to help children reach their full potential.”

 The honorees:

Brian Cornell, chairman and CEO, Target – Mr. Cornell is responsible for Target’s global business, including more than 1,800 stores and Target.com, more than 347,000 team members and millions of guests. This year through its corporate social responsibility efforts, Target reached its goal to give $1 billion for education, providing books, school supplies, food, field trips and more to students and schools across the U.S. and around the world.

Dr. Angela Diaz (Photo by: America's Promise Alliance) Dr. Angela Diaz

Angela Diaz, MD, MPH, director, Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center – A renowned professor of pediatrics and preventive medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, Dr. Diaz, a former White House fellow, also directs the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center. The Center provides comprehensive, confidential, and integrated primary, sexual and reproductive, mental, dental, and optical health care, as well as health education, to adolescent and young adults. Under her leadership, the center has become one of the largest adolescent-specific health centers in the U.S., providing free services to over 10,000 primarily low-income young people each year.\

Patricia de Stacy Harrison, president and CEO, Corporation for Public Broadcasting - Ms. Harrison has strengthened public service media through the strategic focus of CPB in three important areas -- digital diversity and dialogue -- particularly investing in local community engagement, partnerships and service. In 2011, Ms. Harrison initiated American Graduate: Let's Make It Happen, a nationwide public media initiative to help communities across the country identify and implement solutions to the high school dropout crisis. To date, 128 stations in over 40 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, are working with more than 1,400 local partners and schools to encourage students to stay on track to graduation.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson, chairman and CEO, Magic Johnson Enterprises – As one of the most powerful African-American businessmen in the world, Mr. Johnson has successfully parlayed his skills and tenacity on the basketball court into a company that provides high-quality products, services and initiatives that focus primarily on ethnically diverse and underserved urban communities. His extensive work as chairman and founder of the Magic Johnson Foundation to benefit children includes the Taylor Michaels Scholarship, now supporting 160 students, HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention programs, and community empowerment centers.

Brian Cornell (Photo by: America's Promise Alliance) Brian Cornell

“Recent gains in graduation rates are the result of hard work by millions of young people, their parents, educators and people from every sector, including our honorees, who have come together to create brighter futures for young people all across the country,” said John Gomperts, president & CEO of America’s Promise and gala host.

The Promise of America Awards honor champions who have answered the call of every American president for the past 40 years to fulfill the Five Promises for children and youth: caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, an effective education, and opportunities to serve. 

Last year’s recipients included Lamar Alexander, U.S. Senator; Wes Moore, founder, Bridge EdU; Randall Stephenson, chairman & CEO, AT&T, Inc.; and Beatrice & Anthony Welters, co-founders, AnBryce Foundation. 

Learn more at www.Promise Night 2016.org

Major sponsors of Promise Night  include State Farm, AT&T, Boeing, Land O’Lakes, National Cable and Telecommunications Association, National Retail Foundation and PepsiCo.  America’s Promise Alliance leads the nation’s largest network of national organizations dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth. GradNation, the organization’s signature campaign, mobilizes Americans to increase the on-time high school graduation rate to 90% by 2020 and prepare young people for postsecondary enrollment and the workforce.

Gen. Colin L. Powell & Alma J. Powell (Photo by: America's Promise Alliance) Gen. Colin L. Powell & Alma J. Powell


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Monaco's Ambassador Hosts Event for New Smithsonian Institution Secretary

March 30, 2016

A springtime diplomatic reception to introduce the newest Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution --  Dr. David J. Skorton -- to 70 VIP guests was hosted by Monaco Ambassador Maguy Maccario Doyle at her Kalorama residence Tuesday night.

Dr. Skorton had been president of Cornell University and the University of Iowa.  He is a cardiologist and expert in adult congenital disease and cardiac imaging. He was appointed to the Smithsonian post last year.

Among the guests were the U.S. Department of State’s Chief of Protocol Ambassador Peter Selfridge and his wife, Parita Shah.  Senior Smithsonian Institution officials included John McCarter (Chair, Board of Regents), Kirk Johnson (Director of the National Museum of Natural History), Julian Raby (Director of the Freer/Sackler Galleries of Art), and Molly Fannon (Director of International Relations).  

Senior diplomats attended from countries - many of which have a partnership with the Smithsonian - as diverse as France, Belarus, Bulgaria, Chile, Croatia, Gabon, Grenada, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Korea, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Mozambique, The Netherlands, Slovenia, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Special guests included  Arvind Manocha(CEO of Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts), Alicia Adams (VP, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts), Joan Wages (President and CEO of the National Women’s History Museum), and Maestro Philippe Auguin, music director of the Washington National Opera and the Kennedy Center Orchestra who is also music director of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice.

In her remarks, Monaco’s ambassador said: " … During my two years in Washington, I have found that the history, culture, art and science of the Smithsonian Institution provide compelling windows into the essence of America. In 2009 His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco visited the Natural History Museum and signed an agreement for his Foundation to work with the Smithsonian on areas of conservation and sustainability.”

She continued:

“Dr. Skorton brings impeccable credentials to this esteemed institution, having presided over Cornell University and the University of Iowa. His tenures as a university president demonstrated his commitment to higher education and also to making connections around the world, as his projects in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, India, Israel, and elsewhere can attest.

“The Smithsonian has always been a remarkable international organization, which I know will flourish under his leadership.”

In chatting with guests, Skorton noted the recent honor for his former colleague, Marilynne Robinson who has taught for years at the famed Iowa Writer’s Workshop.

This week, she was named the 2016 winner of the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. She is the author of four award-winning novels, including “Gilead,” which won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Critics Circle Award.   

In his conversation with another Hawkeye (this reporter who graduated from Iowa’s School of Journalism), Dr. Skorton proudly said he and his wife Dr. Robin L. Davisson, are friends of Robinson, who is slated to be in town for the Library of Congress National Book Festival at the Washington Convention Center on Sept. 24.


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