Friday, February 20, 2015

The Apollo Theater Holds Fifth Annual Dining with the Divas Luncheon

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Yvonne McNair, Aisha McShaw, Michelle Gadsden-Williams, Jeanine Liburd and
Harriette Cole attend Apollo Theater’s 2015 Dining with the Divas Luncheon

Fundraiser Celebrating the Achievements of Extraordinary Women in Media, Music, Fashion and Business Raises $325,000 For Non-Profit Theater’s Artistic Education and Community Programs

Harlem, NY – On Thursday, February 12th, the world famous Apollo Theater hosted its fifth annual Dining with the Divas luncheon, a fundraiser celebrating the extraordinary accomplishments of women in the arts and in business. This year’s event raised $325,000 and will support emerging artists, education, and community programs that reach underserved children and students, and enable the Apollo to continue to serve as a town hall that both celebrates the community’s accomplishments and spotlights it challenges.

Jonelle Procope, Apollo president & CEO, kicked off the afternoon with welcome remarks and an introduction of this year’s event co-chairs, Carolyn Minick Mason, Jacqueline Nickelberry and Michelle Gadsden-Williams. The focus of this year’s Divas event was women, the arts, and activism. Debra Martin Chase, television and film producer; Lisa Quiroz, Time Warner’s Chief Diversity Officer & SVP of Corporate Responsibility and actress Tamara Tunie each gave insightful presentations about the importance of arts and activism.

Held on the Apollo’s iconic stage, where legendary Divas such as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight have enchanted audiences, Divas offers participants an opportunity to connect with some of the country’s most powerful, accomplished, and influential women. Attendees included Yolanda Ferrell-Brown, Majora Carter, Mercedes Cotchery, Lesley Goldwasser, Carla Harris, Adrienne Johnson, Star Jones, Erika Liles, Crystal McCrary, Geraldine Moriba, Brooke Neidich, Dr. Holly Phillips, Karen Phillips, Deborah Roberts, Jennifer Scully-Lerner, Bevy Smith, Susan Taylor, and Josie Thomas.

“For many reasons, Dining with the Divas is one of my favorite events of the season. This is a moment for the Apollo to spotlight women impacting the world through their work,” said Jonelle Procope, President & CEO, Apollo Theater. “This year, the Apollo’s programming will bring many extraordinary women to the Theater in a variety of arts forms, which is very exciting and today we kicked off a year of celebrating women.”

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Bevy Smith, Caralene Robinson, Wendy Washington and Renee Billy

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Dr. Amelia Ogunlesi, Pamela Newkirk, Tracey Kemble, Debra Martin Chase, Joan
Morgan and Carol Sutton Lewis

The Apollo also announced during the event the official launch of the Apollo Women’s Committee, a new initiative that will engage a dynamic and diverse group of women year-round with activities that address issues which affect women and children and educate members on Apollo artistic and community programs. The Committee is entirely volunteer driven and each year the membership will choose the Apollo program(s) to invest in. More information about the Women’s Committee will be available at a later date.

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Stacy McCann, Michelle Green, Lori Fouche, Laura San Miguel and
Carolyn Minick Mason 

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Brooke Garber Neidich, Daniella Vitale and Monique Péan

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Sponsors for Divas include Barneys New York, Citi, Credit Suisse, Hearst Corporation, Prudential and Morgan Stanley. Visit the Apollo Theater website at

Press release/Photo credit: Nicholas Hunt, PatrickMcMullan

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