Don your prettiest and most fashionable chapeau and join the ladies of the South Suburban Chapter of Jack & Jill of America Inc. as they salute two “Trailblazing Women” at the Fairmont Chicago Hotel at their second Hat Luncheon on April 19.

Don your prettiest and most fashionable chapeau and join the ladies of the South Suburban Chapter of Jack & Jill of America Inc. as they salute two “Trailblazing Women” at the Fairmont Chicago Hotel at their second Hat Luncheon on April 19. The honorees: Barbara McKinzie of Olympia Fields, international president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and Gwendolyn B. Lee of Homewood, national president of The Links Inc. Keynoting the $100 per person spring event themed Finding Your Passion and Fulfilling Your Purpose will be Valorie Burton, much sought-after life coach, speaker and author of Listen to Your Life, What’s Really Holding You Back?, Rich Minds, Rich Rewards and Why Not You? 28 Days to Authentic Confidence, all published by divisions of Random House. Her newest is How Did I Get So Busy? The 28-Day Plan to Free Your Time, Reclaim Your Schedule & Reconnect with What Matters Most.

Members of the host chapter, led by its president, Tracey Alston, reside in the south suburban towns of Chicago Heights, Flossmoor, Frankfort, Hazelcrest, Homer Glen, Homewood, Matteson, Olympia Fields, Orland Park, South Holland and Tinley Park. Jack and Jill of America, Inc. is the largest African-American family organization in the country, and this chapter is dedicated to providing educational, cultural and social activities that stimulate and expand the minds of young children to enable them to become leaders and productive members of society. The chapter also provides scholarships and supportive services to the underserved. Over the years, more than $150,000 in scholarships have been awarded to students who otherwise may not have the means to pursue a college education.

For Openers – An exciting mix of classic and new works by Alvin Ailey, Robert Battle, Hope Boykin, Mauro Bigonzetti, George Faison and Elisa Monte will be featured tonight through Sunday at the Auditorium Theater as the renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater celebrates its 50th anniversary of showcasing African-American cultural expression and the American modern dance tradition. The genius of Alvin Ailey forever changed the perception of American dance. Today the legacy continues with Artistic Director Judith Jamison’s remarkable vision and the extraordinary artistry of the company’s dancers. Opening night features a live on-stage performance by the Grammy-winning female vocal ensemble Sweet Honey In The Rock. Ticket prices for the five-day run are $30-$82 each; purchase at the box office, call Ticketmaster, (800) 982-ARTS or (312) 902-1500 or log on to

Toyota Venza has partnered with the company’s anniversary celebration by paying homage to Ailey’s extraordinary artistry, providing a unique retrospective of the company’s development. An art installation features Ailey archival footage coupled with sculptural elements from the African Diaspora.

Newsy Names – Congrats to a fave media sistah, the Defender’s “Brenda Starr” reporter, Kathy Chaney, one of three finalists for the 2008 Peter Lisagor Award for “best in-depth reporting in a general interest publication” for her August 2008 story, "Gang Wars Make South Side City’s Deadliest." The Lisagor Awards Banquet for Exemplary Journalism is April 24 at the Union League Club. Here’s hoping, girlfriend!

Another fave media sistah, Mary Mitchell, Sun-Times’ editorial board member and columnist, was honored at the Chicago Foundation for Women’s 2009 Impact Awards, which recognizes advocates’ work on behalf of women and girls, both in Illinois and nationally. The salute was held in Macy’s Narcissus Room. Proceeds benefited CFW, a nonprofit that supports women’s and girls’ human rights through grants and advocacy.

Celebrating Women’s History Month, the Black Ensemble Theatre Co.’s founder and executive director, Jackie Taylor, got her own day when Gov. Pat Quinn proclaimed Friday “Jackie Taylor Day” in Illinois at a ceremony in the Thompson Center followed by a live snippet of "I Gotcha: The Story of Joe Tex and the Soul Clan," currently playing at BET.

And a fave brutha, Greg Hinton, U.S. Cellular’s senior director of Diversity Strategies, accepted his company’s 2009 National Corporate Advocate of the Year Award from the Child Welfare League of America. When asked what the company did to deserve the national honor, Greg answered: “We did what comes naturally to us. We lived our values.”

Maze with Frankie Beverly come to town June 20 for N’Digo’s Gala.

Nielsen’s communications maven Cheryl Pierson McNeil picked up yet another award Friday at the 21st Annual Boys & Girls Club MLK Legacy Gala at the Hyatt Regency.

Happy b’day to Hiram Jackson, head honcho of Real Times Media Inc., parent company of the Chicago Defender, among several other African-American newspapers; to Ariel Capital Management’s major domo John Rogers Jr., and Hazel Bond, retired educator and golf and tennis enthusiast, who celebrated with kin and friends in her suburban South Holland home.


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