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Chicago Urban League's 53rd Golden Fellowship Dinner Celebrates Opportunity, Community, Impact

Chicago Urban League's 53rd Golden Fellowship Dinner Celebrates Opportunity, Community, Impact

“It always seems impossible until it’s done,” motivating words from Chicago Urban League President/CEO Andrea Zopp, inspired by Nelson Mandela, during her speech to over 1,500 guests in attendance for the 53rd annual Golden Fellowship Dinner Gala Saturday(11/15) night.

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Guests made their way to The Hilton Chicago’s grand ballroom draped in their finest furs, tuxes and gowns ready to take in the night that honored the incomparable Jessye Norman, activist Clyde Ross as well as performance from Vanessa Williams.

Jessie Norman_Stephanie Bechteler_Chicago Urban League GFD53
Jessye Norman | Stephanie Bechteler


From Chicago’s top corporate leaders like Northern Trust CEO Rick and Cate Waddell, Jason and Yolanda Tyler, Lyle Logan and Shawnelle Richie, BMO Harris US Head of Diversity & Inclusion Cedric Thurman, past CUL President James Compton,  the evening did not disappoint in the the amount of high powered who’s who in Chicago in attendance.

Guest-D'Rita Robinson_Robbie Robinson-GFD53 Chicago Urbal League_
Guest, D’Rita Robinson, Robbie Robinson

Chicago Urban League Golden Fellowship DInner 53

Guest, Cedric Thurman_CHicago Urban League GFD53
Guest, Cedric Thurman
Yolanda Tyler_Chelsea Smith_Jason Tyler(Northern Trust)_CHicago Urban League GFD53
Yolanda Tyler, Chelsea Smith, Jason Tyler(Northern Trust)


Co-chaired by Cheryl Pearson-McNeil (Nielsen Senior VP, U.S Strategic Community Alliances) and Stephen Thomas (Comcast Area VP Field Operations), the 53rd annual Chicago Urban League Golden Fellowship dinner, themed Opportunity, Community, Impact, celebrated the non profit organizations accomplishment through the years as well as insight to what’s to come ahead.

The night began with cocktail reception before guests were led to the ballroom to be seated for a 3 course dinner.

Emcee for the evening, Chicago’s own Damon Williams, kept guests laughing through the night.  Although CUL Vice Chairman James “Jim” Reynolds, Founder and CEO of Loop Capital,  was unable to attend the gala, he did offer up a  challenge to guests via a recorded message that he would match up to $50,000 donations made that evening.

Guest, Governor Pat Quinn, Damon Williams
Guest, Governor Pat Quinn, Damon Williams

Chicago urban League Golden Fellowship Dinner 53

Joining the honored guests and co-chairs for the evening were outgoing IL Governor Pat Quinn, Cheryl Whitaker, LaRue Martin, Paula Yates, Darlene Hill, Ryan Baker, Dawn Hasbrook, Andre Guichard and many more.

This gala, which is one of Chicago’s must attend social event of the year saw current industry leaders mixing and mingling with some of Chicago’s promising next generation-ers such as Taryn Williams-Clark,  Rebecca Roussell,  Tarrah Cooper, Antoine Jennings, Ashley Hooks Williams to name a few.

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One of the touching stories shared that night on how the Urban League has affected and helped generations of African Americans was that of a one Mr. Joe Moore. Through the Urban League, they were able to get him a job at the playboy mansion years back, which he worked for 10 years and in doing so was able to afford his children to  a good education. Fast forward and one of those children is Joe Moore Jr, of Shell Oil Corp, whose daughter is Natalie Moore of WBEZ.

Upon presenting the Edwin C. “Bill” Berry Civil Rights Award honors to Clyde Ross and then Jessye Norman, she treated the audience to an impromptu performance that made sure we knew why she was, is still one of the opera worlds best singers and diva.

Vanessa Williams then took the stage and performed some of her most recognized hits while showing that though she’s got ger AARP card, she can still move onstage.

The evening capped off with an afterparty where guests kept the party going, dancing to music from DJ Vince Adams. Some lucky VIP guests though, had a more relaxed experience letting their hair down to chat about life while noshing on one of Chicago’s iconic food.

*images: Onasis Odelmo

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