Defender Newsmakers no strangers to success

The Chicago Defender’s 2008 class of Newsmakers is a stellar group. Success is not a prerequisite for inclusion, but these Newsmakers have not only tasted success, but, in many cases, have made entire meals.

The Chicago Defender‘s 2008 class of Newsmakers is a stellar group. Success is not a prerequisite for inclusion, but these Newsmakers have not only tasted success. In many cases, they have made entire meals.

Take John Rogers, the founder and CEO of Ariel Capital Management. Rogers has built his company into one of the most respected money managers in the business, and he is still growing. Or young Keke Palmer, the Robbins native who has become a soughtafter actress, especially after her star turn as Akeelah, the spelling bee winner in Akeela and the Bee. Now she is spreading out her success to the recording industry with a new hit album.

The Rand brothers, Timothy and Everett, have built their companies into local icons, and they have found time to give back to the community with the Chicago Football Classic.

Pamela Allen-Meares, the new chancellor at the University of Illinois-Chicago, heads up one of the largest university systems in the nation, and Michael Baisden has traveled from the CTA bus to becoming one of the most influential men on television and radio.

The Rev. Willie Barrow is an icon not only in Chicago but worldwide. Her civil rights credentials stretch back to the Rev. Martin Luther King.

Dr. Damon Arnold, the new head of the state health department, has begun an aggressive program to inform the Black community about the importance of good health.

Col. Eugene Scott, former publisher of the Chicago Defender, puts on the largest Black parade in the world, Chicago’s own Bud Billiken Parade.

Comedian Bernie Mac was a success even before he was crowned a king of comedy, and his untimely death this past August meant that the world became just a little less funny.

The Newsmaker of the Year, Michelle Obama, follows in the footsteps of her husband, Barack Obama.

While campaigning with her husband, Michelle was making news all year, and we look forward to her making news for at least four more years from the White House.

d1.jpg Bernie Mac

Lifetime Achievement (posthumous)

Born Bernard Jeffrey McCullough, Bernie Mac skyrocketed to comedy fame with his side-splitting appearance in Spike Lee’s The Original Kings of Comedy. He became an overnight success after many years of hitting and missing in comedy clubs and on television. He refined and developed his comic abilities on the tracks of the city’s El trains and in local parks. In 2001, he debuted the family sitcom The Bernie Mac Show, and it was a success, running for five seasons. Bernie Mac had a recurring role in Ocean’s 11 and the two Ocean’s sequels. Upon his death in August due to complications from pneumonia, Bernie Mac had just completed filming Soul Men, in which he stars alongside Samuel L. Jackson. The movie is due out in the coming months. Bernie Mac is survived by his wife, Rhonda, and a daughter and granddaughter.

d2.jpgDr. Damon Arnold

Health Award

As director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Dr. Damon T. Arnold oversees an agency comprised of more than 1,100 employees who are responsible for protecting the state’s 12.4 million residents, as well as countless visitors, through the prevention and control of disease and injury. The agency operates out of headquarters in Springfield and Chicago, seven regional offices and three laboratories, and its 200 programs touch virtually every age, aspect and cycle of life. Dr. Arnold was named the 16th director of the Illinois Department of Public Health on October 1, 2007 by Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich. Prior to his appointment, Dr. Arnold was the medical director for bioterrorism and preparedness for the Chicago Department of Public Health. He has served in the Army National Guard for 23 years, holds the rank of colonel and currently is the guard’s commander of the Joint Task Force Medical Command in Springfield and the Illinois State Surgeon. Dr. Arnold received his M.D. and M.P.H. degrees from the University of Illinois.

d3.jpgCol. Eugene Scott

Community Service Award

A dynamic leader and manager, Col. Eugene Frederick Scott was born October 14, 1939 in Miami, Florida. Raised in Chicago, he attended A.D. Sexton Elementary School and Englewood High School where he was a sharpshooter in the ROTC. Scott graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in Miami, Florida in 1957. He continued in ROTC at Florida A&M University where he graduated with a B.A. in political science in 1961. He entered the United States Army as a Second Lieutenant in 1962. In Germany, he commanded tank forces and was the principal staff officer for Training and Operations for the 8th Infantry Division Combat Ready Forces. Scott was responsible for the training of 27,000 soldiers. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam from 1965 to 1966 and from 1969 to 1971. Scott completed his 28-year military career as a Post Commander for two major U.S. Army installations with budgets in excess of $200 million. A favorite of General Norman Swartzkopf, Scott retired just prior to the Gulf War in 1990.

d4.jpgJohn Rogers

Corporate Citizenship Award

John W. Rogers Jr. is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ariel Capital Management LLC and the Chief Investment Officer of Ariel Mutual Funds. The firm has over $14 billion in assets under management. Prior to founding Ariel, Rogers worked for two and a half years for the investment-banking firm of William Blair & Company. Rogers serves as a corporate board member of the Aon, Exelon and McDonald’s corporations. His civic affiliations include serving as a director of the Chicago Urban League and trustee of the University of Chicago. He received a B.A. in Economics in 1980 from Princeton University, where he was captain of the varsity basketball team. Rogers has made guest appearances on several television programs, including Louis Rukeyser’s Wall Street and The Oprah Winfrey Show. In 1995, he was profiled in The Mutual Fund Masters alongside Peter Lynch and John Templeton. In 1994, he was named by Time magazine as one of its “50 for the Future,” a roster of the country’s most promising leaders under 40.

d5.jpgKeke Palmer

Rising Star Award

Keke Palmer, born Lauren Keyana Palmer, in south suburban Robbins, is an actress/singer who won a small role in the feature film, BarberShop 2 – Back In Business, at the tender age of 9. That role led to a series of guest-starring roles on television shows like Strong Medicine, Cold Case, ER, and Law & Order SVU. Keke (a nickname given to her by her sister), is perhaps best known for her starring role in the feature film, Akeelah and the Bee. She also starred in an Emmy-nominated made for TV movie, The Wool Cap. Her amazing performance earned her an NAACP Image Award nomination for Best Actress in a Movie Made for Television, as well as a Screen Actors Guild Nomination in the Best Leading Actress category. Keke is also an accomplished singer/songwriter and just recently released her first album, So Uncool.

d6.jpgPaula Allen-Meares

Education Award

Paula Allen-Meares, formerly dean of the nationally top-ranked school of social work at the University of Michigan, is the new chancellor of the University of Illinois at Chicago, effective at the start of the new year. The chancellor serves as the executive officer of the UIC campus and reports to the president of the University of Illinois in a system that includes campuses in Urbana-Champaign and Springfield, and the university’s online Global Campus. Allen-Meares would take office effective Jan. 16, 2009, and will assume the helm of a UIC campus that ranks 47th nationally in federally funded research, enrolls 25,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students, employs 12,000 faculty and staff, and operates with a total annual budget of about $1.7 billion. It is the largest university in Chicago. Allen-Meares has been dean of the school of social work at the University of Michigan since 1993 and is the Norma Radin Collegiate Professor of Social Work as well as a professor of education at the university.

d7.jpgMichael Baisden

Communications Award

When it comes to entertaining, enlightening and educating, no one in talk radio compares to Michael Baisden. His high-octane energy and love for interacting with his listeners is just one reason for the popularity and success of The Michael Baisden Show. The Bad Boy ignites heated discussions with explosive episodic themes like: Living Your Dream, Your Body Is Your Temple, and Pimps In The Pulpit. His radio career began in 2003 when KISS FM/98.7 in New York City offered him a position as the afternoon drive-time host. Because of budget constraints, the station was unable to offer him a salary. Michael’s response was, “Just give me the damned mic!” And sure enough, within six months, their afternoon drive ratings went from No. 9 to No. 1. His vibrant personality on and off the air has made him a people magnet. He began attracting attention with primarily female followers as author and publisher of the highly successful provocative books: Never Satisfied: How and Why Men Cheat, Men Cry in the Dark, The Maintenance Man, and God’s Gift to Women.

Everett and Tim Rand

Entrepreneurship Award

Timothy Rand, along with his brother, Everett, head up Midway Airport Concessions, a Chicago-based management company that has operated the food and beverage program at Midway Airport since 1995. The company operates a 4,300-square-feet Harry Carey’s restaurant in the Concessions Triangle. MAC One also operates six popular Chicago restaurants at Midway Airport. The brothers also head up the Chicago Football Classic, held at Soldier Field each year, featuring Black College football teams. This year’s game featured Central State (Ohio) University and West Virginia State University. Everett is also president and CEO of Midway Wholesale Beverage, Inc.

d8.jpgMichelle Obama

National Newsmaker Award

Lawyer, Chicago city administrator, community outreach worker and perhaps the next First Lady of the United States, Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama was born January 17, 1964, in Chicago. Raised on Chicago’s South Side, her father, Frasier Robinson, was a city pump operator and a Democratic precinct captain. Her mother, Marian, was a Spiegel’s secretary. Michelle Obama graduated from Whitney M. Young Magnet High School. After high school, she attended Princeton University, graduating cum laude in 1985 with a B.A. in Sociology. She went on to earn a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1988. Following law school, Michelle Obama worked as an associate in the Chicago branch of the law firm Sidley Austin in the area of marketing and intellectual property. There in 1989, she met her future husband, a summer intern, whom she was assigned as an adviser. They married on October 18, 1992. She sits on six boards, including the prestigious Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools.The Obamas have two daughters, Malia and Sasha.

d9.jpgRev. Willie Barrow

Lifetime Achievement Award

Nicknamed “The Little Warrior” for her tireless work as a social and spiritual activist, the Rev.Willie Barrow has spent her entire life on the front lines of the civil rights struggle. She grew up in Burton, Texas, where as a student in the 1940s, she led a demonstration of rural African American schoolchildren against a segregated school system that refused them bus service because of their race. The success of that early campaign taught Barrow that determination and organization could bring about positive social change. Barrow attended Warner-Pacific Theological Seminary in Portland, Oregon, and as a student built a church in that city. After graduation, she was ordained a minister and began her career as both a spiritual and social activist. One of Barrow’s key roles was as field organizer for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the major civil rights marches and demonstrations of the 1950s and 1960s. Currently, Barrow serves as co-chairperson of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the organization that grew out of Operation BREADBASKET. She coordinates the activities of the national organization and serves as an aide to the Rev. Jesse Jackson, with whom she has shared a partnership since the first days of BREADBASKET. The Rev. Barrow also serves as associate minister of the Vernon Park Church of God in Chicago. She has been honored with a doctor of divinity degree from Monrovia, Liberia and a certificate in leadership from Harvard University.

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