Honorees felt ‘valued, appreciated’ at Courier’s Fab 40 Awards Reception

FAB 40 HONOREES SHARISE NANCE, CHARDAE JONES (Photo by J.L. Martello)

by Christian Morrow, Courier Staff Writer

FAB 40 HONOREE JAKIM DONALDSON, right, with father, Jay Donaldson.

With nearly 300 friends, relatives and co-workers filling the ballroom at the Fairmont Hotel, Downtown, to celebrate the achievements of the New Pittsburgh Courier’s Fab 40 Class of 2019, Glenn Grayson Jr., senior program manager for neighborhood development at Neighborhood Allies, said he felt honored to be included.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “I have a new position at Neighborhood Allies and it’s an honor to even be mentioned among these great recipients. You know, you don’t do the work to be recognized—but the recognition still feels very, very nice.”

FAB 40 HONOREE JULLIAN TURNER, with family. (Photos by Courier photograher J.L. Martello)

The July 19 awards reception celebrated the work, commitment and achievements of 40 African American men and women under the age of 40 who excel in their respective fields. DeWitt Walton, vice president of the event’s patron sponsor, the A. Phillip Randolph Institute-Pittsburgh Chapter, said honors like the Fab 40 are critical when American society still struggles to deal with issues of race.

“It’s about supporting and transitioning to the next generation of leadership—this event does that and we are proud to be a part of it,” he said.

Honoree Jullian Turner, owner of Commercial Maintenance & Cleaning Services, embodies that through his Helping Out Our People alliance, which works to heal the trauma of gun violence.

FAB 40 HONOREE GLENN GRAYSON JR., with family.

“This is the first time I’ve gotten an award like this,” he said. “It reassures me that I’m doing the right thing. It’s a big deal for me, for sure.”

Steven Carter said it was a big deal for him too, so much so that when he got the call saying he was an awardee, he wasn’t sure it was real.

“I was like, ‘what?’ But then I got very excited. It makes me very proud,” said the radio host and station manager of Penn State Greater Allegheny’s WMKP. “But I would never have been able to do it without the support of my friends on campus and my family.”

SHAVONDA YOUNG, FAB 40 HONOREE SHANDIA BOOKER, AIRIKA HAYNES

Courier Editor and Publisher Rod Doss had a similar thought when, during his welcoming remarks, he asked the parents of the honorees to stand and be acknowledged for the sacrifices they made to give their children the best opportunities to succeed. The parents got the biggest collective ovation of the evening.

“The talent and diversity of accomplishments and the energy and skill sets of these honorees amazes me,” Doss said. “So as we lift them up, we also encourage them to soar to greater heights.

Celebrity Host and WPXI-TV reporter Michele Newell then introduced the 40 honorees, one-by-one, each cheered by family and friends.

FAB 40 HONOREE SHARISE NANCE, center, with family.

Afterwards, Darnell Bonner, transition and internship manager at Urban Pathways Charter School, said he was stunned to be an awardee.

“It’s overwhelming—but in a good way,” he said. “I feel valued and appreciated.”

Camille Clarke-Smith, EdD, senior strategic analyst for UPMC Health Plan and founder of the Transforming the Health of African American Women nonprofit, said the award is special because the nominations come from the community.

“It’s a really big thing to be acknowledged for the work I’ve done, to be known as someone who’s doing good things. I couldn’t be more honored.”

 

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