In celebration of the 11th Annual 365Black Awards, McDonald’s honored extraordinary African Americans who have made positive contributions in the community. See below for the esteemed list of African Americans that were honored at this year’s award show.
Founder & President of the National Action Network, Rev. Al Sharpton was honored for his years of social movement service as this year’s Humanitarian Honoree.
Founder and CEO of KWL Enterprises, Liles was honored for his business savvy and as one of the music business’ entertainment icons, Liles is this year’s Business Entrepreneurship Honoree.
Speaker, author, and television personality and the star of OWN’s Iyanla: Fix My Life, Dr. Vanzant was honored as this year’s Inspirational Honoree.
“The Fresh Prince of Street Art,” Skyler Grey, is an international urban artist and philanthropist. Grey was honored as one of this year’s Community Choice Youth Award Honorees.
Producer Will Packer is one of Hollywood’s blockbuster hit makers, with SIX of his films opening number one at the box office. His productions have included Ride Along, Stomp the Yard, Obsessed, This Christmas, About Last Night, and Think Like A Man, the film adaptation of Steve Harvey’s best-selling book, Act Like A Lady, Think Like a Man. In 2014, he accomplished the rare feat of producing two films in the top six. Later this year, he will premiere his films No Good Deed starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson and the highly anticipated Think Like A Man Too. He has also produced Screen Gems’ The Wedding Ringer starring Kevin Hart and Josh Gad, which will debut in 2015. Collectively, his films have grossed over a half billion dollars.
After graduating magna cum laude from Florida A&M University with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1996, Mr. Packer decided to capitalize on his entrepreneurial instincts and passion for filmmaking. In 2007, Daily Variety magazine selected Mr. Packer as one of their “10 Producers to Watch.” He has also been acknowledged on several high profile lists including Black Enterprise magazine’s “Most Powerful Players Under 40” and “10 Most Bankable Producers in Hollywood,” Jet magazine’s “Who’s Hot To Watch,” Giant magazine’s “Giant 100.” and Ebony magazine’s prestigious “Power 100” list. Mr. Packer is a dynamic and inspiring speaker who delivers educational and motivational speeches to film industry groups, as well as youth and community organizations nationwide.
Kevin Liles is Founder and CEO of KWL Enterprises, a strategic holding company anchored by the noted brand and talent development firm, KWL Management, and comprised of a portfolio of businesses ranging from entertainment content to online education and telecommunications. KWL Management works with entertainers, athletes and models to develop brands, forge partnerships, and cultivate successful careers. Liles has had one of the most storied careers in entertainment, rising from unpaid intern in 1991 to President of Def Jam Recordings by 1998. During his seven-year tenure as President, revenues doubled to $400 million through the diversification of the Def Jam brand and channels. Its artist roster included of many of the biggest names in hip-hop and R&B: Jay Z, Kanye West, Mariah Carey, LL Cool J, Ludacris and other stars. In 2004, Liles joined Warner Music Group as Executive Vice President and served on the executive team that took WMG public.
Mr. Liles is a committed philanthropist and advocate for youth empowerment and education. He is the founder of Kevin Liles for a Better Baltimore, which empowers disadvantaged youth in his home town, and the Make It Happen Foundation, which provides underserved youth with entrepreneurship skills and exposure to higher education. He serves as a board member or advisor to several other organizations focused on empowerment, diversity, and social justice. He is the best-selling author of Make It Happen: The Hip-Hop Generation Guide to Success, and a producer for the critically acclaimed Broadway play The Trip To Bountiful, which earned Cicely Tyson her first Tony Award.
Henry Coaxum began his career with McDonald’s as a manager trainee in 1984, and now owns seven restaurants in the New Orleans area. He has received some of McDonald’s highest honors, including the prestigious Ronald Award, which recognizes owner/operators’ exemplary operations, marketing, employee relations practices, and commitment to their local communities. Just one example of Henry’s support for others occurred in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina: even though he had lost his own home, his focus was on helping his employees rebuild their lives. In 2008, McDonald’s selected Henry to attend the National African American History Month celebration at the White House for being an “outstanding ambassador in his community and for his excellence in leadership.” He has received numerous other awards for his leadership and community service, including the Franchisee Star Award from Nation’s Restaurant News, the Phoenix Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the highest honor of the United Way of the Greater New Orleans Area, the Alexis de Tocqueville Award. Henry offers two education incentive programs for his student employees with good grades: pay raises for those in high school, and financial help for books and tuition to college students. For the past four years, Henry has been serving as chairman of the New Orleans Business Alliance -- an appointment by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, launching the city’s first-ever public-private partnership for economic development. He also is serving as treasurer of the city’s Hospital Service District Board that is overseeing the development and operation of a full service hospital in Eastern New Orleans. Henry serves on the board of GNO, Inc., a regional economic development alliance serving the 10-parish region of Southeast Louisiana. He also serves as a member of The Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation and The Committee of 100 Louisiana, which assists the state in attracting and retaining industry and ensuring quality jobs for Louisianians.
From welfare mother to New York Times best-selling author, from the Brooklyn projects to Emmy Award winner, from broken pieces to peace, Iyanla Vanzant is one of the country’s most celebrated writers and public speakers. She is among the most influential, socially engaged, and acclaimed spiritual life coaches of our time.
Host and Executive Producer of the breakout hit "Iyanla: Fix My Life" on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), Iyanla is also a frequently featured guest teacher of Oprah’s Lifeclass on OWN. The author of 16 books, her focus on faith, empowerment, and loving relationships has inspired millions around the world. In the year 2000, she was named one of the “100 Most Influential Black Americans” by Ebony magazine, which said that “her books, lectures and television appearances have made her a multimedia high priestess of healthy relationships.” In 2012, Iyanla was listed at #7 on Watkins’ Mind Body Spirit magazine list of the “100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People.” She attended Medgar Evers College and Virginia Union University, and is an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
Dhani Jones began his career as an NFL linebacker, playing with the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, and Cincinnati Bengals. For most football players the NFL is a career, but for Dhani it was just a jumping off point for his other pursuits: entrepreneur, philanthropist, author, host, and explorer.
In 2010, he launched his philanthropic endeavor, BowTie Cause, designing signature bow ties for organizations around the country. He has also since become partner of two advertising agencies, PROCLAMATION based in Cincinnati, and VMG-Creative in New York. His entrepreneurial spirit has continued to push him in new directions, adding Qey Capital and Hyur Staffing Services to his roster. The well-spoken Jones is also the author of a travelogue/memoir, The Sportsman: Unexpected Lessons from an Around the World Sports Odyssey. It recaps his rise to NFL fame, as well as his experiences as host of the Travel Channel’s original series “Dhani Tackles the Globe”, which allowed him to discover that sports have the universal ability to open windows into culture, define a destination, and unlock common passions in people that are as different as they are familiar. He is currently the host of “Playbook 360” and “GT Academy,” both on Spike TV.
Gabrielle Jordan is a 14-year-old with a mature, yet youthful mix of business savvy and poise. She is the owner of Jewelz of Jordan, a business she started at the age of nine, designing and selling jewelry made of precious metals and gemstones in classic pieces that represent her desire to develop a sense of ageless beauty and elegance. With her sights set on business, motivational speaking and publishing, she is the author of The Making of a Young Entrepreneur: A Kid’s Guide to Developing the Mind-Set for Success. Gabrielle is the youngest member of the Great Black Speakers bureau, and her “outside-of-the-box” thinking and hands-on approach to learning helps audiences of all ages connect with her messages to pursue their dreams and push aside their limitations. She has been recognized as “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” by Stiletto Woman magazine, and has appeared on television, radio and online media, including NPR, NBC, Fox News and ABC’s “Good Morning Washington.” A generous, service-oriented teenager, Gabrielle believes in lending a helping hand and heart to others. As a young philanthropist, she donates a portion of the profits from her book to her favorite charities. She also volunteers as a Youth Ambassador for the Tigerlily Foundation, supporting its mission for breast health, education, wellness and empowerment for girls and women. Though she is only an eighth grader, Gabrielle’s accomplishments prove that she has what it takes to leave a significant mark on the world and the people she meets.
From tragedy to triumph: that has been the journey of 14-year-old Skyler Grey. After his mother died when he was two, his father put him in therapy, which included drawing. Through hard work, research and networking, Skyler has become one of the most popular young artists in the United States. Though he had no formal training in traditional art techniques, his work became noticed when he attended an aerosol workshop at Self Help Graphics in East Los Angeles, producing the first paintings he ever sold. He later donated thirty canvases to the organization and then teamed up with celebrity jeweler Jason of Beverly Hills to create diamond art time pieces, also contributing a portion of the proceeds to Self Help. His first solo exhibition was attended by eight hundred people, and since then Skyler’s work has been exhibited in top galleries in Los Angeles, New York, Switzerland, South Africa, and London, where he was the first African American artist to exhibit at the Graffik Gallery. Known as “The Fresh Prince of Street Art,” Skyler continues to actively mentor young people as an Alumni Celebrity Ambassador for After School All Stars, a charity founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger. He also partners with actor Malik Yoba and his lifestyle company and innovation studio Iconic 32 to spread the mantra, “I Pledge Allegiance to Creativity.” His inspirational message to young people, particularly those from the inner city, is that no matter what situations they face, they can succeed to unimaginable heights through art.