1. The 51  WOE Honorees . . . Hiram E. Jackson, CEO Real Times Media with Linda Johnson Rice Chairman of JPC, Publisher of Ebony and Jet.
2. Mayor Rahm Emanuel addressing the audience
3. Hiram E. Jackson, CEO Real Times Media, Cheryl Mainor, Publisher  Chicago Defender, Andrea Zopp, CEO of the Chicago Urban League, and Kai EL’ Zabar, Chicago Defender, Executive Editor

Good Friday was in fact a very good Friday when fifty women were honored at the Chicago Defender’s Women Of Excellence Awards Luncheon held at the Hyatt Regency, 151 E. Wacker Drive in Chicago. The women are selected for their professional success and achievements but also for their individual contributions they make to their communities. The women are nominated by Chicago Defender readers and their applications are then read by a committee. Each application describing and listing the accomplishments as well as their unique attributes is read thoroughly, discussed and then voted on until there are fifty women to be recognized for their outstanding professional and charitable community work.  This year the exception was number fifty-one, The  Honorary Woman of the Year, Ms. Theresa Fambro Hooks.

The final selected  women are those who inspire others through their vision and leadership, exceptional achievements and participation in community service. They are women who exemplify, stature, poise grace and inner beauty. They do it all while maintaining the delicate balance of managing their various leadership roles as professionals, partners, wives, mothers and teachers. They are leaders, motivators and educators. They are entrepreneurs, corporate executives, civil servants, and other professionals. They are women who have made their mark in society and are reaching forward by reaching back to assist those who want to move ahead.

The day began early as the honorees arrived and were donned with a corsage. Guests arrived shortly after and mixed and mingled during the reception allowing the honorees the opportunity to become acquainted with one another as well as meet and greet their families and friends.  Photographers, news stations and cellphones were busy capturing all of the beautiful women.

Assembled in the banquet hall the women were greeted by Darlene Hill, a Women of Excellence, alum as well as an award-winning reporter and first-rate anchor on Fox 32’s “Good Day Chicago,” who was the Mistress of Ceremony joined by WVON’s Matt McGill.  Chicago Defender Publisher, Cheryl Mainor made powerful insightful remarks regarding  ‘this time as  that of the divine feminine,’ when women will lead the charge to transform the world where we create a community of women who can build upon their legacy of service and contribution to assist one another in making a difference in the world. She mentioned that in this 110 benchmark year for the Chicago Defender as they go forward making new history, she in fact stands as the first woman publisher along with the first woman Executive Editor, Kai EL’ Zabar.  She then introduced the CEO of Real Times Media Hiram Jackson, who left us thinking about “celebrating the achievements of Black people.”

Dyanna Knight Lewis, Director Advertising Sales acknowledged the sponsors and was followed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel who actually wowed the crowd.  It was a moment of intimacy experienced between the WOE and the Mayor. He was rather charismatic, funny and very on point. He was received with appropriate applause and laughter ending on a high note. Entertainment was provided by the La Cerna String Quartet and Kim Stratton also one of the awardees. Finally the honorees were presented with their awards. The Honorary Woman of Excellence, Theresa Fambro Hooks known affectionately as ‘Teesee’ addressed the audience.  Awarded for her long time career at the Chicago Defender that spanned from 1961 until the present.  Friday marked her farewell.  Her classy style has been captured in her column TEESEE’S TOWN for five decades and is pursued by all the society who’s who to cover their events. She humored the audience when she said,” I am tired and old and I am tired because I am old.”

And then there was Linda Johnson Rice, Chairman, Johnson Publishing Company who pulled it all together telling of the magnificent journey of the Black Press–the good, the bad and the ugly. The ups and downs the Black Press faces in these times and the necessity of the Black community to support Black publications because the Black Press is their voice.

Some 1500 women and men were in attendance for the fabulous occasion. Among the distinguished guests were Desiree Rogers, Robin Beaman, Kevin Brookins, Amy Hilliard, Dr. Carol Adams, Midge Kimberly, Kathleen Strand, Art Norman, Morris Smith, Andrew Mansfield, Angela Faison, Representative La Shawn K. Ford, Marlow Colvin, and many others.

Contributing sponsors were Comcast NBC Universal, Coca Cola, ComEd, The Chicago Cubs and AT&T.


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