Urban League to hold annual awards gala

Wave Staff Report

CENTURY CITY — Noel Massie, chairman emeritus of the Los Angeles Urban League, will receive the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award May 30 when the Los Angeles chapter holds the 49th Whitney M. Young Awards gala at the Fairmont Century Plaza.

Massie retired in 2019 from UPS where he served as vice president of U.S. operations. 

Other award recipients will include Robert and Anne Biondi Symonds, who will receive the John Mack Legacy Award; Sandra Jackson-Dumont, who will receive the Trailblazer Award; and Ron Frierson, who will receive the Visionary Award.

David A. Thomas, president of Morehouse College, will be the keynote speaker. 

“We are thrilled to be celebrating the contribution of our honorees,” said Cynthia Mitchell-Heard, president and chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Urban League. “Not only are they some of the best individuals who contribute immensely to our community, but their largess help empower the Los Angeles Urban League.”

Earlier this year, Mitchell-Heard became the first woman president and CEO in nearly a century to lead the Los Angeles chapter of the civil rights organization. 

Massie is a longtime member of the Los Angeles Urban League Board of Directors. After a lengthy career at UPS he now serves as a business consultant and mentor to future leaders while also serving as an advocate for early childhood education programs.

Robert Symonds is the founder and chairman of STX Entertainment and Anne Biondo Symonds is the founder and CEO of Muse System Enterprises.

Sandra Jackson-Dumont is the director and CEO of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which is scheduled to open next year in Exposition Park. Ron Frierson is the director of economic development for the Western United States for Amazon.

The Whitney M. Young Jr. Awards Dinner raises funds for the Los Angeles Urban League and its community outreach programs. 

It is named for Whitney M. Young Jr., who served as president of the National Urban League for 10 years from 1961 to 1971. During his tenure, Young brought the National urban league to the forefront of the civil rights movement, becoming an adviser to President John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. 

When he took over as head of the Urban League, the organization  had 38 employees and an annual budget of $325,000. Four years later, the league had 1,600 employees and a budget of $6.1 million.

He serves as head of the Urban league until his death in 1071 when he drowned on a rip to Lagos, Nigeria.

President Nixon gave the eulogy at his funeral. 

Past honorees of the Urban League awards include sports legends such as the late John Wooden and Earvin “Magic” Johnson, entertainers such as Stevie Wonder, Denzel Washington, the late Natalie Cole and Sidney Poitier, businessman and media mogul Byron Allen; political commentator and author Van Jones; educator and historian Lonnie G. Bunch III, and community leaders from organizations such as Toyota, Disney, NBC Universal, the Los Angeles Police Department and Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Serving as ambassadors for this year’s dinner are Kathy Ireland, Jason Collins, Mattie McFadden Lawson and Paula Madison. The honorary committee includes Liza Minnelli, John Feltheimer, Irena and Mike Medavoy, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Carol Biondi, Lesie and Cliff Gilbert-Lurie, Tom Rothman, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr., and Michael Feinstein and Terrence Flannery. 

Sponsors include U.S. Bank, Amazon, American Airlines, Intuit, AT&T, Bank of America, UPS, the Annenberg Foundation, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, Honda, Lionsgate, NBC Universal, Ziffren Brittenham LLP, Los Angeles World Airport, California Community Foundation, Amgen, Cedar Sinai Medical Center, City National Bank, J.P. Morgan Chase, SoCal Gas, Health Net, Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, Los Angeles Rams, Macy’s, TPG Capital, Southern California Edison, Unibail, Rodamco, Westfield and many more.

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Urban League to honor Noel Massie with Whitney Young Award

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