AARP announced that Lester Strong, vice president and CEO of AARP Experience Corps was honored for his commitment to community service at the Harlem YMCA 44th Annual National Salute to Black Achievers in Industry (bai) Awards Ceremony.
The event was held March 20 at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel.
Lester Strong was the recipient of this year’s Leo B. Marsh Award for his work with AARP Experience Corps, a national program that engages adults 50-plus in providing literacy coaching and caring attention for elementary school students.
“We are extremely proud that Lester Strong has received the Leo B. Marsh Award for his unparalleled dedication to improving the lives of others, while at the same time connecting the generations to help them succeed,” said AARP CEO A. Barry Rand. “Under Lester’s direction, AARP Experience Corps developed a unique approach resulting in a significant gain in reading skills, increased attendance and fewer disciplinary problems among children from kindergarten through third grade. The program helps also to enhance the lives of its older adult volunteers by engaging them in meaningful and rewarding community service.”
Since 1971, Annual Black Achievers in Industry Awards Ceremony has celebrated black achievers in industry, both for their corporate leadership and for their service to the community and has helped foster professional development and networking opportunities among honorees.
The annual event convenes the Harlem YMCA, corporations, and local organizations to promote their collective efforts to cultivate and provide quality mentoring programs, scholarships, and other opportunities to support the development of tomorrow’s black leaders and professionals. For more than four decades, these endeavors have been instrumental in nurturing future leaders among the youth and teens of New York City’s historic and diverse Harlem community.
“The Black Achievers in Industry program is critical to the Harlem community and its youth in providing mentoring programs, college scholarships, college tours, corporate internships and year-round community outreach,” says Tiffeny Forrest, Vice President of Operations, YMCA of Greater New York. “Each year the bai gala recognizes exceptional black leaders across the United States and celebrates our corporate partners who support this incredible program. This gala is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to the leaders and organizations who make all of that possible.”
Joyce Roche, author and former CEO of Girls, Incorporated, provided the keynote address, drawing from her experience as a trailblazer in the corporate world for over 25 years. Other distinguished honorees included Jim Gordon, Group Vice President, Corporate Brand & Reputation, who received this year’s Deloitte Corporate Community Award on behalf of Time Warner Cable.
For the fourth year in a row, DeMarco Morgan, Atlanta-based news anchor for WXIA-TV, NBC, served as the evening’s master of ceremonies. Recording artist Alyson Williams provided entertainment for this year’s gala attendees, which in the past have included luminaries such as Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey, Star Jones, and Al Roker, making this event a major date on New York’s social calendar.