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Special Commemorative Event Saluting Influential Leaders And Advocates For Change Will Honor: Tom Joyner, Donna Richardson-Joyner And U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin

Event To Feature Surprise Performance From A Special Guest

September 19, 2011 (New York, NY)—ESSENCE & Southern Company, in partnership with Perennial Strategy Group, will host their 3rd annual Evening of Excellence—a special awards reception as part of the 2011 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s (CBCF) 41st Annual Legislative Conference. The annual reception honors some of today’s most influential leaders and advocates of change. This year’s honorees include: Tom Joyner, host of The Tom Joyner Morning Show; Donna Richardson-Joyner, top fitness guru; and Dr. Regina Benjamin, U.S. Surgeon General.

Hosted by CNN news anchor Fredricka Whitfield, this invitation-only event will take place on Friday, September 23rd, in Washington, D.C., at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. The evening will include music by DJ D-Nice as well as a surprise performance from a special guest. The event will also feature a special tribute to the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Project.“

ESSENCE looks forward to our Evening of Excellence each year as we honor thought leaders and influencers whose mission is aligned with ours—to always uplift and empower the community in all that we do,” said Constance C.R. White, ESSENCE Editor-in-Chief. “All of the honorees have used their platforms not only to raise our consciousness about the critical issues impacting our communities, but also to affect lasting change both locally and across the country. ESSENCE is very proud to pay tribute to each of our esteemed honorees during this event.”

“It is such a privilege to partner again with Southern Company for our third annual Evening of Excellence ceremony,” said Michelle Ebanks, President, Essence Communications, Inc. “Historically, the Congressional Black Caucus weekend has been a time to reflect on the accomplishments of our leaders who are fighting daily for those who are disenfranchised and have no voice. In the same spirit, each of our honorees has demonstrated their dedication and fierce loyalty to the community throughout each of their endeavors. We are so pleased to honor Tom and Donna Richardson-Joyner and Dr. Regina Benjamin for their phenomenal achievements and their selfless spirit. We especially applaud Southern Company and Perennial Strategy Group for their vision and commitment to highlighting their great accomplishments during this event.”

"It's an honor to salute the people who take action in addressing the critical issues impacting our communities," said Chris Womack, executive vice president and president, external affairs, Southern Company. "Bringing change where change is needed is never easy, so paying tribute to those who have made that contribution is a privilege for our company, which itself has a long history of community involvement and of being a citizen in the truest sense. We also take pride in that two of the honorees—Tom Joyner and Dr. Regina Benjamin—have roots in Alabama and the Southeast where we serve. We thank them and Donna Richardson-Joyner for all they do."

“Every year we proudly recognize several leaders among us who bring positive change to our communities and our country,” said Lamell McMorris, Founder and CEO of Perennial Strategy Group. “The honorees for 2011 are talented agents for change in the fields of health and human services, education, and fitness, and we are proud to join Southern Company and Essence in recognizing them.”


Tom Joyner, known as 'The Hardest Working Man in Radio', has distinguished himself as one of the most influential, inspirational, and dynamic media personalities in the country today. As host of the leading nationally syndicated morning radio show, The Tom Joyner Morning Show—which features a who's who in celebrities, political figures, newsmakers and comedians—Joyner has won virtually every top radio award. Joyner has become a motivating and organizing force for the country. He has led voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, major fundraising initiatives to help families and students affected by Hurricane Katrina. This national pacesetter resides in Dallas with his wife, fitness guru Donna Richardson.

Donna Richardson-Joyner’s purpose and passion over the last 25 years has been to educate, empower and energize children, women, and families about living a healthy lifestyle. She has the #1 inspirational fitness video in America, Sweating in the Spirit, followed by Body Gospel, which was released in April 2010. She has starred in more than 25 award-winning videos including the best-selling, “Buns of Steel”, ESPN, and Nike. Donna was recently appointed to the Presidential Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition under President Obama. This is her second term serving under this capacity. Donna also was recently appointed to the National Advisory Board of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity. She will serve as a spokesperson to champion the cause to Reverse Childhood Obesity Epidemic by 2015.

Regina Benjamin, MD, MBA is the 18th Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service. As America’s Doctor, she provides the public with the best scientific information available on how to improve their health and the health of the nation. Dr. Benjamin also oversees the operational command of 6,500 uniformed health officers who serve in locations around the world to promote, protect, and advance the health of the American people. Dr. Benjamin is Founder and Former CEO of the Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic in Alabama, former Associate Dean for Rural Health at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in Mobile, and Past Chair of the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States. She attended Morehouse School of Medicine and completed her family medicine residency in Macon, Ga. She established a clinic in a small fishing village in Alabama to help its uninsured residents. Dr. Benjamin persevered through Hurricane Georges in 1998, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and a devastating fire, in 2006, often putting up her own money to cover expenses. She also became nationally prominent for her business acumen and humane approach to preventive medicine.


Essence Communications Inc. (ECI) is the number one media company dedicated to African-American women, with a multi-platform presence in publishing, live events, and online. The company’s flagship publication, ESSENCE magazine, is the preeminent lifestyle magazine for African-American women; generating brand extensions such as the Essence Music Festival, ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood and Black Women in Music, Window on Our Women and Smart Beauty consumer insights series, the Essence Book Club,, and ventures in digital media (mobile, television and VOD). For 41 years, ESSENCE, which has a brand reach of over 8 million, has been the leading source of cutting-edge information and specific solutions relating to every area of African-American women’s lives. Additional information about ECI and ESSENCE is available at


With 4.4 million customers and more than 42,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is the premier energy company serving the Southeast. A leading U.S. producer of electricity, Southern Company owns electric utilities in four states – Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi -- and a growing competitive generation company, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications. Southern Company brands are known for excellent customer service, high reliability and retail electric prices that are below the national average. Southern Company is consistently listed among the top U.S. electric service providers in customer satisfaction by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Visit our Web site at


Perennial Strategy Group is a strategic advisory firm that provides government relations and public affairs services for Fortune 500 companies, national non-profits, trade associations, and public-sector clients on a wide range of public-policy issues. The firm specializes in the areas of corporate-government collaboration, banking and financial services,community and economic development, grassroots development, and corporate global diversity. For more information,please visit


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