In the past 50 years, NEED has awarded $23 million in scholarships to 20,000 minority students who have attended more than 200 colleges and universities across the country. That's something to celebrate, and Saturday's bash at the August Wilson Center brought together many longtime supporters for its 50th Anniversary Gala.
The two-tiered evening began with cocktails on the second floor of the center, followed by an elegant dinner catered downstairs by Rania's for 200 heavy hitters. Guests were welcomed by NEED's new CEO, Marcia Sturdivant, who introduced Dorothy Browne, a former NEED recipient who went on to get a doctorate from Harvard. The gala also recognized seven individuals for their leadership and advocacy: Evan Frazier, Rabbi Harold Silver, Herman Reid, Pete Mendes, Goldia Dargan Hodgdon, the Rev. Robert James representing Mt. Ararat Baptist Church and, posthumously, past NEED president Sylvester Pace. His wife, Rhonda, and daughters Rachel and Stephanie were present to accept. After the brief ceremony emceed by Harold Hayes, more guests arrived for an after-party with DJ Grandmaster Flash and a cabaret with singer Alice Smith.
The center glowed under the creative direction of event planner Sean Gray Intl and LUXE Lighting by Martin Potoczny, with stunning white florals from Bill Chisnell Productions. The galleries were awash in dramatic lighting -- the dance floor was especially cool -- bathed in pale greens, all the better to entice gala-goers, including gala chair Janis Burley Wilson, board chair Candi Castleberry-Singleton, Cecile and Eric Springer, Scott and Sue Lammie, Ian Rawson. Ann Hoover, Greg Spencer and Eustace Uku.