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Still Tops!–Hats off to Roosevelt Moncure, catering and marketing director at the Hyatt Regency Chicago Hotel, who for the ninth – yes, ninth! – consecutive year has achieved “Hyatt Master” status. And you ask, just what is a

Still Tops!–Hats off to Roosevelt Moncure, catering and marketing director at the Hyatt Regency Chicago Hotel, who for the ninth – yes, ninth! – consecutive year has achieved “Hyatt Master” status. And you ask, just what is a "Hyatt Master?” Well, let me tell ya! The best of the best, a role model, driven to excel, consistent top performer, an exceptional achiever, committed to outstanding service, one who takes initiative, a mentor, worthy of trust, committed to professionalism, committed to personal development. And all that’s according to John Schafer, the Hyatt’s vice president and managing director, and Patrick Donelly, the general manager. Roosevelt, an inaugural “Defender Man of Excellence” (2007), is certainly deserving of our peacock praise and high honor! Please send your congrats to him by e-mail: rmoncure@hyatt.com; voice mail: (312) 239-4702, or U.S. mail: 151 E. Wacker Dr., Chicago 60601. Way to go, my bruthah! There’s absolutely none like you! I love you, and I am proud to call you friend

Gala Guys & Gals–Harris Bank’s Yasmin Bates, Loop Capital’s James Reynolds, WVON’s Melody Spann-Cooper and Exelon’s Andrea Zopp are benefit chairs for Wednesday’s eighth annual benefit, “Building a New Legacy,” for Jackie Taylor’s Black Ensemble Theatre at Alhambra Palace, 1240 W. Randolph, beginning at 5:30 p.m. with cocktails, followed by a buffet of the venue’s most popular menu items and an open bar. The highlight: selections from BET’s recent showcase, The Season of Men, including Memphis Soul (The Story of Stax Records), Sounds So Good Makes You Wanna Holler (Old School vs. New Skool), and its most recent hit, I Am Who I Am (The Teddy Pendergrass Story). There’ll also be a live auction with exciting items such as a walk-on role in a BET production, limited edition lithographs by Margaret Walker with Elizabeth Catlett, the opportunity to sponsor 100 students to attend a Plays with a Purpose production, and many more! The emcee: WVON’s Santita Jackson.

Benefit committee: Allan Bell, Wheeler Coleman, Kareem Dale, Craig Gilmore, Darrel Hackett, Sam Mendenhall, Adrienne Banks Pitts, Diana Rauner, Joyce E. Tucker and Greg Morris, BET board prez. Sponsors: ComEd, Harris Bank, WVON, AON Corp., Loop Capital, American Family Insurance, Boeing, Charity & Associates, Mesirow Financial, BlueCross-BlueShield and Winston & Strawn. Benefit tickets: $350. Call (773)769-4451 or visit http://www.blackensemble.org.

Culture Corner–Our very own Earl Calloway, the Defender’s fine arts editor and baritone vocalist, addresses Art in the Black Community at the inaugural Earl Calloway Fine Arts Lecture this Wednesday, 6 p.m.- 8:45 p.m., in the Defender’s main conference room, 200 S. Michigan Ave., 17th floor. Earl will explore perspectives on the history, contributions, significant achievements of the arts and artists in the African American community. This free informative and entertaining evening hosted by the Defender is presented by God’s Little Acre, and all are invited. Hurry and call (773) 527-8000 or e-mail Alfred_Woods@hotmail.com.

Newsmakers’ Gala–Some 11 outstanding local citizenry receive Newsmakers Awards on Saturday at the Hyatt Regency Chicago Hotel when the Chicago Defender honors them with coveted Newsmakers Awards. The honorees at the black-tie gala: John Rogers, chair/CEO, Ariel Capital Management, corporate citizenship; Everett and Tim Rand, co-owners, Midway Consessionaires, entrepreneurs; the Rev. Willie Taplin Barrow, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, lifetime achievement; Michelle Robinson Obama, wife of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, national newsmaker; Keke Palmer, actress, rising star; Paula Allen-Meares, chancellor, University of Illinois-Chicago, education; Bernie Mac, entertainer, lifetime achievement (posthumous); Dr. Damon Arnold, director, Ill. Dept. of Public Health, health; Col. Eugene Scott, president, Chicago Defender Charities, Inc., community service; and Michael Baisden, syndicated radio host, communications. Partial proceeds from the $200 ticket, which includes a subscription to the Defender, will benefit the Abbott-Sengstacke Scholarship Fund for Journalism Students. Entertainment: Norman Connors and Jean Carne. For more information, call Adrienne Jones, (312) 225-2400, ext. 17.

Whazup! Whazup!–Ken Bedford and friends are turning their regular afterwork Thursday steppers’ set at Janet Conner’s Marmon Grand, 2230 S. Michigan, into a Halloween Costume (not required) Party with a 70’s theme. Free admission and steppin’ lessons; one-drink minimum. Fun guaranteed!

Movin’ On!–Belated congrats to Marquis Miller, who departed Chicago State University and CSU Foundation several months back to assume the role of vice president of business development at S.USA Life Insurance Company, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of SBLI USA Life Insurance Company, Inc. Since being there, Marquis has hosted an inaugural Women’s Financial Empowerment Roundtable, participated in the Women’s Business Development Council’s Child Care Expo and celebrated their partnership with the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and celebrated the partnership with the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. And earlier this month, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce endorsed S.USA Life as its financial service provider of choice.

The company, Marquis says, is committed to offering America’s working families greater access to the essential tools of prosperity, with particular attention to underserved communities, making a concerted effort in the Midwest and Western market areas to partner with businesses and organizations dedicated to the education and empowerment of these communities with specific attention to the African American, Hispanic and Women’s markets.

SBLI USA and its subsidiaries are licensed in 49 states, The District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. With more than $15.9 billion of insurance in force, $1.5 billion in assets, $129 million in surplus capital, 220 associates and over 300,000 policyholders, the company is also committed to offering affordable, flexible and easy-to-access financial products through a variety of integrated channels, including direct mail, telemarketing, a bilingual Web site, licensed sales and service reps and walk-in Customer Care.

Newsy Names–Condolences to Oscar-winning singer and actress Jennifer Hudson and family on the tragic and senseless murders of her mom, brother and 7-year-old nephew. Please keep them all in your daily prayers.

Also continue to pray for the Barack Obama family as his heart is heavy over his beloved ailing grandmother.

Defender news reporter Wendell Hutson is back at his desk “fit as a fiddle” after emergency surgery.

Same goes for ABC 7’s early morning news anchor, Hosea Sanders, following a hip replacement and to his mom, Ann, who took a tumble and suffered numerous cuts, bruises and broken bones.

Thanks for the prayers and well-wishes as even I was a bit under the weather last week with an annoying case of the sniffles.

Happy b’day to a fave “daughter/niece,” Lola Jenkins, vice president, Westside Association for Community Action (WACA).

Curtain Call!–The world premiere of Lynn Nottage’s Ruined, which starts Goodman Theatre’s “Strong Women, Strong Voice” Owen Theatre Series, runs Nov. 8-Dec. 7 (official opening is Nov. 17). Directed by Kate Whoriskey and co-produced with Manhattan Theatre Club, it was commissioned by the Goodman and first seen in the 2007 New Stages Series. Ruined was developed through Nottage and Whoriskey’s pilgrimage to Uganda where countless interviews and interactions resulted in a portrait of the lives of the women and girls caught in the devastating armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Leading the cast is Saidah Arrika Ekulona. Set in present-day DRC, Ruined is the captivating story of Mama Nadi, the owner of a canteen who serves up everything from a cold beer and warm meal to the company of a woman. Through the eyes of this savvy businesswoman who both protects and profits from the women whose bodies have become battlegrounds, Nottage captures the constantly shirting allegiances and tragic absurdity that marks the civil war in the DRC.

Tickets are $10-$39 and may be purchased online at GoodmanTheatre.org, at the box office, 170 N. Dearborn, or by phone, (312) 443-3800.

Mezztizx are half-price mezzanine tickets available at noon at the box office and at 10 a.m. online on the day of the performance, subject to availability, of course!

Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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