Deerfield Beach, Fla. – Four inspiring community leaders will be honored for their contributions to South Florida at the 23rd annual African-American Achievers awards ceremony on Wednesday, April 15 at 6:15 p.m. at the Broward County Convention Center.
The 2015 African-American Achievers are:
Melton Mustafa - Arts & Culture
Lou Ella Jordan - Business & Entrepreneurism
Rodney Baltimore - Community Service
Barrington Irving - Education
In recognition of this year’s Achievers and their efforts to improve the quality of life in our community, JM Family and subsidiaries Southeast Toyota and JM Lexus will make a contribution of $10,000 in each Achiever’s name to the charity(ies) of his or her choice, totaling $40,000. Including the contributions to be made this year, JM Family has donated more than $400,000 to charitable organizations in the names of its African-American Achievers.
The 2015 honorees were selected by an independent panel of community leaders, including former Achievers, from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. The selection committee reviewed more than 200 nominations received from around South Florida after an extensive public outreach campaign.
“In continuing the legacy of the African-American Achievers Awards created 23 years ago by our founder Jim Moran, we look forward to recognizing these inspiring leaders who give selflessly in order to make a significant difference in the lives of others,” said Colin Brown, President and CEO of JM Family. “Every year we are privileged to celebrate them and say ‘thank you.’”
Look for the 2015 Achievers and their stories in public service announcements by media partners WPLG Local 10, WPTV Channel 5, WEDR-FM 99 JAMZ, WHQT-FM HOT 105, WMBX-FM 102.3, and in print advertisements throughout South Florida.
About the 2015 Honorees:
Arts & Culture: Melton Mustafa
An accomplished musician and composer, Melton Mustafa’s talents have taken him around the world performing with notable acts like the Count Basie Orchestra, Duke Ellington Orchestra and Jaco Pastorius. He is an extraordinary trumpet player and can be heard on recordings across many genres, in addition to releasing four albums with his own orchestra and jazz ensemble. Since 1996 he has served as the director of jazz studies and an associate professor at Florida Memorial University, where he teaches the next generation music composition and the rich history and culture of jazz. He inspires his students to strive for greatness, and many have become noted musicians in their own regard. His commitment to the arts extends into the community as well. Melton works with at-risk youth in South Florida, helping ensure their access to instruments while fostering a passion for music.
Business & Entrepreneurism: Lou Ella Jordan
Lou Ella Jordan learned early in life about the challenges – and rewards – of hard work. Born to migrant farmers, she toiled in the fields throughout elementary school. While balancing high school studies and taking on increasing responsibilities at a local store, Lou Ella realized the power knowledge could have in breaking the cycle of poverty. In pursuit of that goal, she invested what money she could spare to ultimately purchase a neighborhood grocery store. In 1984, Lou Ella became the first minority-owned retail concessionaire at Palm Beach International Airport. Today, she and her daughter lead Tarra Enterprises, a partner in 60 stores and restaurants at five airports. Lou Ella is also committed to the development and advancement of minority entrepreneurs. She is the vice president of Girls II Women, a nonprofit that educates, inspires and motivates underprivileged girls to pursue educational and professional opportunities.
Community Service: Rodney Baltimore
Rodney Baltimore may be known best as a veteran of the radio industry, but if you ask him about his true passion, you’ll learn of his dedication to supporting non-profit organizations across South Florida. As executive producer and co-host of the Tom Joyner Morning Show, he leverages the power of the airwaves to create awareness and provide a voice to those striving to improve their communities. Through his popular Community Spotlight segments, Rodney interviews local leaders and educates the public about available resources and events. His reach has elevated the platform of numerous causes, helping them earn valuable funding and the support they deserve. In addition to his public persona, Rodney is also involved in more than a dozen organizations and initiatives dedicated to enriching education, family services and hunger relief across South Florida.
Education: Barrington Irving
Raised in Miami’s inner city surrounded by poor economic conditions and limited access to resources, Barrington Irving beat the odds and became the youngest person and first African-American to fly solo around the world. He completed his historic flight, graduated magna cum laude from an aeronautical science program and founded a dynamic educational nonprofit – all before turning 28. He has even transformed a jet into the world’s first flying classroom. His organization, Experience Aviation, provides learning opportunities to children interested in aviation and other science and math-related careers. Inspired by his life experiences, Barrington established the Build and Soar program that brought together 60 students from F-rated schools to construct an airplane from the ground up in 10 weeks and then watch him pilot it. His accomplishments are proof that sky-high achievements are possible even in the face of humble and challenging beginnings.