In celebration of the 15th annual McDonald’s® 365Black® Awards, the company will honor celebrities and everyday heroes who make positive contributions to the community. To date, this year’s roster of remarkable honorees includes popular Political Commentator Symone Sanders, renown actress/activist Sheryl Lee Ralph, Black Girls CODE CEO Kimberly Bryant and next generation McDonald’s Owner/Operator Monique Vann-Brown. Additionally, college junior Tishauna Wilson will be recognized alongside this lineup to receive the McDonald’s HBCU Forward $10,000 Scholarship, for her exceptional efforts to impact the community.
Hosted for a second year by actress Essence Atkins, the awards ceremony will be held on Sunday, July 8, 2018, during the 24th annual ESSENCE Festival™ presented by Coca Cola® in New Orleans.
The annual McDonald’s 365Black Awards honor outstanding individuals who are committed to making positive contributions that strengthen the African-American community. McDonald’s 365Black Awards is known for attracting various top celebrity attendees, many of whom will grace the signature gold carpet prior to the ceremony. The luncheon will feature performances by award-winning R&B swooner Dave Hollister and gospel heavy-hitter Le’Andria Johnson.
“I am thrilled that McDonald’s will recognize women leaders who are courageous newsmakers and pillars of inspiration, who consistently empower others to follow their dreams,” said Kenny Mitchell, McDonald’s U.S. Vice President of Brand Marketing and Content. “They embody the essence of exceptional leaders that work every day to make a difference in the communities by moving Black culture forward.”
Symone Sanders is a champion for women, communities of color and those in need. Sanders is a go-to political commentator, a Spring 2018 Resident Fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics and the Strategist for Communications and Political Outreach at Priorities USA. Symone rose to prominence during her tenure as the National Press Secretary for U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. At 25, Symone demonstrated an uncanny command of the issues earning her a place in history as the youngest presidential press secretary on record and a spot-on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of 16 young Americans shaping the 2016 election.
Sheryl Lee Ralph is an acclaimed veteran of film, television and the Broadway stage. Her award-winning work includes creating the role of Deena Jones in the legendary Broadway musical, “Dreamgirls” and earning Best Actress nods for Tony and Drama Desk Awards. Ralph is also the creator of the Jamerican Film and Music Festival. Ralph has been one of Hollywood’s biggest voices.
Kimberly Bryant is the founder and CEO of Black Girls CODE, a non-profit organization dedicated to “changing the face of technology” by introducing girls of color (ages 7-17) to the field of technology and computer science with a concentration on entrepreneurial concepts. Bryant enjoyed a successful career in pharmaceutical and biotech industries for more than 20 years. She has helped Black Girls CODE grow from a local initiative to an international organization serving more than 7,000 students. She was named a White House Champion of Change and received a Social Progress award from the Smithsonian Institute for her national work in increasing opportunities for women and girls in technology.
Monique Vann-Brown is the owner of seven McDonald’s franchises in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area and managing partner of her parents’ two Detroit restaurants. Her career began at the age of 14 as a crew member at one of her parents’ McDonald’s locations. She transitioned into the automotive industry at 17 as an engineering intern. After several years in supply chain management, she pursued her dreams of entrepreneurship in the McDonald’s Corporation Registered Applicant & Next Generation Programs. She soon became Co-Chair of the National Black McDonald’s Operator’s Association. This committee produced events designed to serve as a forum for future leaders within the McDonald’s Owner-Operator community.
HBCU Forward Scholarship award recipient: Tishauna Wilson is a rising junior majoring in computer science at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University. She learned how to code in high school where she graduated at the top of her class. Earlier this year, Wilson revived the computer science research program at her university, where she is working on four Artificial Intelligence projects. The research projects consist of detecting fraud through conversations, identifying credit card fraud, as well as developing a voice-activated, self- driving drone and a basketball referee system. Wilson has hopes of pursuing a PhD in Computer Science, founding an autonomous automotive manufacturing company, developing into a distinguished engineer and research- er and becoming a future CEO of a Fortune 500 technology company.
This year’s McDonald’s 365Black Awards will be hosted by actress Essence Atkins. The luncheon will feature an all-star line-up of musical performances by R&B swooner Dave Hollister and gospel heavy-hitter Le’Andria Johnson. Some presenters are Larenz Tate and Lil Rel.