Media - Newsroom/Press

CHARLOTTE, NC (September 5, 2012) - The "Who’s-Who" in Charlotte will fill the room on October 4, 2012 at the 9th Annual Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) "Awards of Excellence." This highly anticipated event will be held at Founder’s Hall/Booth Playhouse located inside the Bank of America building (100 North Tryon Street) and will feature a strolling supper and cocktail reception that will begin at 6:00 p.m., followed by an awards program at 7:45 p.m. Sterlin Benson Webber will be the host for the evening and the event co-chairs are Ann Caulkins, Publisher & President, The Charlotte Observer and Nicole W. Dean, VP of Corporate Human Resources & Chief Diversity Officer, Belk, Inc.

The 9th Annual Charlotte “Awards of Excellence” is part of a nationwide effort to inform the broader community about TMCF and to raise funds to aid scholars who attend TMCF member-schools. The “Awards of Excellence” honorees are outstanding local individuals who are deserving of community recognition for their efforts in the Charlotte area, as well as in their career fields.

This year's honorees include: Dianne Ward English, Executive Director, Community Building Initiative; James E. Ferguson II, Esq., Founding Partner, Ferguson, Stein, Chambers, Adkins, Gresham & Sumter, P.A.; Kevin A. Henry, Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer Snyder's-Lance, Inc., and Edward P. O'Keefe, Esq., Executive Vice President & General Counsel, Bank of America.

The honorees are chosen by the local committee and TMCF consultants as individuals who exemplify Thurgood Marshall’s passion for justice and civil rights, by continuing his principles, promoting diversity initiatives, addressing education issues across different disciplines, and serving as significant role models to the next generation. "These community leaders serve as role models for the nearly 300,000 young men and women who are matriculating on our 47 member-school campuses," said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., TMCF’s President & CEO. "They not only exemplify what Justice Marshall stood for, but they understand our mission and are each committed to cultivating future generations of leaders."

The 9th Annual Charlotte “Awards of Excellence” is the third regional event held this year. Past events include, Miami, and New Jersey and the final regional event of the year will take place in Chicago November 1. To date, TMCF have invested more than $200 million in scholarships, programmatic and capacity support and leadership development to the public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) it serve. The lion’s share of the student population that attends public HBCUs relies on financial support to pursue a degree, and events like this graciously salute our very deserving honorees, along with the supporters and individuals, who continue to attend them.

For sponsorship opportunities and ticket information, please email Mary V. Jones at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 201-227-8427. For media inquiries please email Tiffany L. Jones at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 212-573-8493.

2012 Honorees

Dianne Ward English, Executive Director Community Building Initiative

Since May 1997, Dianne English has served as the Executive Director of the Community Building Initiative, a non-profit organization whose mission is intensifying the commitment and increasing the capacity of individuals and organizations to build an inclusive and equitable community in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Dianne is married to Roger English and has two sons, David and Christian, and one daughter, Wesley. She attended Emory University, received a B.A. in Education from UNC-CH and has pursued fine arts and graphic arts work at both the University of Georgia and Central Piedmont Community College.

James E. Ferguson II, Esq., Founding Partner Ferguson, Stein, Chambers, Adkins, Gresham & Sumter, P.A.

James E. Ferguson, II, (known as “Fergie”) is a founding partner of the firm Ferguson, Stein, Chambers, Gresham and Sumter, P.A. and has served as President of the firm since 1984. He currently heads the firm’s catastrophic injury and wrongful death team, concentrating in medical malpractice, personal injury and products liability. In the civic arena, Mr. Ferguson has served as the Chair of the Charlotte Community Building Initiative and as a member of the North Carolina Commission on Alternatives to Incarceration. He served for more than 15 years as General Counsel and member of the National Executive Committee of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Kevin A. Henry, Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer Snyder’s-Lance, Inc.

Joining Lance Incorporated in January 2010, Mr. Henry is responsible for all of the company’s human resources, community affairs, government relations, and employment related legal and communications functions. In December 2010, Lance Inc. merged with Snyder’s of Hanover and Mr. Henry was named Chief Human Resources Officer of the merged company which was renamed Snyder’s-Lance, Inc. Prior to his current role, Mr. Henry was Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer of Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated, a position he had held since 2001. In this role, he was responsible for all aspects of the company’s human resources functions. He has held a variety of human resources positions over a 20+ year career in the consumer products, retail and financial services industries. The Henrys, wife Tina and sons Tyler and Taylor, reside in Charlotte, North Carolina and attend the Central Church of God.

Edward P. O’Keefe, Esq., Executive Vice President & General Counsel Bank of America

Ed O’Keefe is Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Bank of America, the company’s chief legal officer and adviser. Mr. O’Keefe leads a global department of 1,100-plus attorneys, paralegals and support staff in 40 U.S. and 20 international cities that manages the bank’s legal affairs and legal risks. He leads a dynamic and innovative legal team that has won numerous awards, including Law 360’s Innovative Corporate Counsel Award and multiple International Financial Law Review awards. Also an industry leader, Mr. O’Keefe serves on, among others, the board of The Clearing House Association, which he chairs, the General Counsel’s Leadership Network, and the Leadership Council for Legal Diversity. Mr. O’Keefe holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the University of Rhode Island. He received his law degree from Fordham University School of Law and is a member of the North Carolina, New York and New Jersey bar associations.


The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is named for the U.S. Supreme Court's first African-American Justice. Established in 1987, TMCF supports and represents nearly 300,000 students attending its 47 member-schools that include public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), medical schools and law schools. TMCF helps students with a clear intention and the motivation to succeed and acquire a high-quality college education at an affordable cost. TMCF also efficiently connects high performing, world-ready students with top tier employment opportunities—access that students or employers might not have on their own. Through its scholarships and programs, TMCF plays a key role in preparing the leaders of tomorrow. TMCF is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, charitable organization. For more information about TMCF and its initiatives, visit: www.ThurgoodMarshallCollegeFund.org