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The Howard University Alumni Association of Chicago recognized and paid tribute to a couple of its very own members – the honorable Roland W. Burris and Donna Miller – during its second annual fund-raiser, the “Who’s Who Gala,” a special evening of fine dining, dancing and entertainment, at Crystal Light Banquets, 84th St. and S. Cicero Ave., located in southwest suburban Hickory Hills.

HUAAC members admit that they are committed to investing in the legacy of their alma mater and its local student body. No other investment, they believe, yields as great of a return as their investment in education. The goal this year was to raise a minimum of $25,000 to be utilized as an endowment for student scholarships, according to Danielle A. James, HUACC president, and Tiffany Watkins, HUACC vice president.

Tribute tickets were being sold at $60 per person and could be purchased via http://www.huacc.org or by sending a fax to (773) 846-2383 or (773) 567-0526. All sponsorships were considered as 501 © (3) contributions. For additional info, readers may contact Sirena Watkins at (773) 567-0526.

About the Honorees: Burris, an alumnus of the Howard University School of Law, was the first African-American elected to a statewide office in Illinois, as Illinois Comptroller. He went on to be elected the 39th Illinois Attorney General and has also served as a United States Senator for Illinois. An advocate for a national handgun ban, he helped to organize Chicago’s first successful Gun Turn-In Day.

Sen. Burris is involved in a number of organizations, including the Howard University Law School Alumni Association, the Southern Illinois University Foundation, the Mental Health Association of Greater Chicago, the Chicago Area Council of Boy Scouts, the NAACP and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., among several others. He is married to Berlean M. Burris, PhD, and they are the parents of two children, Dr. Rolanda S. Burris and Atty. Roland W. Burris.

Donna Miller, a native of Chicago and a third generation Howard University graduate, is the current National Director of Multi-Cultural Markets with the American Heart Association, a position that combines her passion, professional experience and altruistic values.

Throughout Miller’s career, her colleagues confirm that she has made a decided difference to improve the lives of others based on her corporate experiences, professional organizations and community involvement proportionately affected by and disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS and Sickle Cell Anemia.

Miller, who has interned on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC and has also served as a Red Cross volunteer since early on during in her high school days, is married to Dr. David E. Daniel and they are the parents of two sons, Daniel and Don.

Celebrating 38 Years – Seven graduating high school seniors each picked up a check for $1,500 from the Ora Higgns Youth Foundation Board of Directors headed by Ruth M. Slaughter, president, a couple of weekends ago during its 38th Anniversary Awards Dinner staged at The Lexington House out in Hickory Hills. The event marked the finale of many hours, days and months of planning, dedication and preparation by a hard-working board of directors.

The 2012 Outstanding Leadership Awardees: Mark B. Lewis, Dr. Althea Allen Stanford, Dr. Sandra Smith, Samuel C. Jordan, and this columnist. The seven student recipients and their high schools are Kisha Simpson, Kenwood Academy; Marcellus Burt, Providence-St. Mel; Antoine Clark, Dunbar Vocational; Alexa Washington, Harlan; Jeremy Staples, Harlan Community Academy; Brando Riley, Morgan Park; and Maria Shelton, George Washington College Prep. Additional board members: Jesse Reed, Lirlene McCoy, Wilbert Smith, Murrell Higgins Duster, Gloria Jackson, Alice Pennamon, Ashly Terrell, Barbara Cox, Rev. William Higgins and Dr. Luverta Hart.

The late Ms. Higgins was employed at Spiegel’s – the big mail order biz — for many years and was responsible for the hiring of a number of African-American and other young minority women in the work place. When she finally did retire some 38 years ago it has been widely reported that she converted all of her retirement funds and established what is now known as the Ora Higgins Youth Foundation. What a treasure! What an outstanding treasure!

Race Day Derby! – Jonquil Byers and Irma Denton co-chaired this year’s “Day at the Races,” the 13th Annual Scholarship Fundraiser hosted by The Women’s Support Group of The Rat Pack‘s Charles E. Curry Foundation in the Turf Club of the Hawthorn Race Course out in Cicero. Non-stop line dancing, wagering on the ponies, awarding of lots of door prizes and lunch were the order of the fun-filled afternoon. Hostesses: Maria Bohacsik, Geralyn Hopson, Wilma Dee Brown, Cynthia Neely, Beverly Curry, Cynthea Daniels, Dr. Sandy Davis, Mary Ella Hart, Angela Harris, Danielle Daniels, Dorothy Williams, Sylester Williams, Victoria Dixon, Beverly Owens, Cynthia Williams, Tori Ritchie-Wilson, Sharon Ross, Dr. Rose Thomas, Bernice Singleton, Denice Stroud and several others. Emcee: Steve Hopson!

Newsy Names – “First Lady” Michelle Robinson Obama is this month’s “cover girl” on Redbook mag — helping female vets and sharing how we can all give back … Myiti Sengstacke-Rice, granddaughter of the late John H.H. Sengstacke, the late Chicago Defender editor and publisher, says the book, The Images of The Chicago Defender, which she helped edit, is being used in the African-American Studies courses at Kennedy-King College for the fall and spring semesters … A Meet/Greet was held on Sunday for Rev. Dr. David B. Thornton, new pastor of Sixth Grace Presbyterian Church, 600 E. 35th Street.

Fashion Focus – Jermikko, a favorite fashion designer specializing in outerwear and jackets, can be found both nationally and locally in such stores as Macy’s, My Sister’s Circus, Essential Elements and Miglio Di Mario Uomo. The collection was designed in soft plush wools and Italian faux fur. The showing was held at Gallery Uom o, 436 E. 47th St., Level 3.; (312) 536-1877. Like Jermikko on Facebook.

Happy B’Day Wishes – to the Chicago Defender’s hot-shot senior account exec Alvita Rhone, who celebrated with kin and friends Sunday at the newly-opened Epiphany (“A Taste of New Orleans”), 734 W. Fullerton, in Lincoln Park … Also to “Cousin Curtis Clay,” a no-nonsense Geek Squad technician at Best Buy on Roosevelt Rd., and to Dr. Frank Horton, a retired CPS principal (South Shore High School} and to William Love, Via Thomas and Lorenzo Clemons.

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