germaine-smith-baugh_web.jpgFORT LAUDERDALE — The Urban League of Broward County is getting ready to host its annual Red Gala in mid-September, promising “a blast of color and excitement.” According to a League release, guests “will dine on culinary delights infused with exotic flavors throughout the grand ballroom” and get a sneak preview of the organization’s new Community Empowerment Center. They will also be able to place bids during a silent auction and dance the night away to the sounds of the Dee Dee Wilde Band.

“The Empowerment Center represents a 10-year journey for the Urban League and its vision to transform the landscape of opportunity for all Broward County residents,” said Colin Brown, a co-chairman of the event who is president and CEO of JM Family Enterprises.

“Our [company] founder, Jim Moran, established a partnership with the Urban League more than a decade ago and I know he would be celebrating with all of us today as we look forward to the completion of this center where children and families are provided with the tools and resources necessary to succeed,” Brown said.

Mike Jackson, another event co-chairman, who is chairman and CEO of AutoNation Inc., said his company “proudly supports the Urban League’s unwavering commitment to Broward County.”

“The construction of the new Community Empowerment Center is a landmark achievement, one which stands proudly alongside the Urban League’s many highly significant accomplishments,” said Jackson.

According to an Urban League announcement, the organization’s president and CEO, Germaine Smith-Baugh, sought the help of corporate leaders such as Brown and Jackson to help it fulfill a promise to the community to construct the center in Fort Lauderdale’s Community Redevelopment Agency zone.  The center will provide easier community access to its education, jobs, housing and health programs, the statement said.

“The Red Gala ‘Carnival’ celebrates our movement. It is a colorful tribute to a unified community of supporters that have helped us create the ‘new’ Urban League,” Smith-Baugh. “We are excited to give our guests a preview of the CEC which allows us to envision a place that helps more children, more families and more businesses blossom in Broward County.”

Each year, as a part of the Red Gala celebration, the league honors individuals and corporations that exemplify its mission of improving communities, education and training, corporate responsibility, entrepreneurship and diversity in the workplace.

This year, the Margaret Roach Humanitarian Award will go to attorney Burnadette Norris-Weeks. The award honors an individual “who has demonstrated ongoing leadership in the areas of social justice, race relations and active compassion through dedicated community service.”

In naming her for the honor, the league cites Norris-Weeks’ “ongoing efforts to uplift and improve the community as a legal professional and co-owner of the Avenue of the Arts Executive Suites—a place where professionals, small businesses and traveling regional executives can host meetings, or house traditional office space for business.”

The Diversity Champion Award will be presented to Filemón López, regional senior vice president of operations for Comcast’s Florida East Coast Region. This award honors an individual “who has demonstrated efficacy in creating, increasing and/or incorporating diversity strategies and plans into his or her company’s normal business practices to improve relationships that foster inclusion and receptiveness to different ideas and values.”

The league says López’s “commitment to the community is recognized throughout South Florida,” adding, “ Comcast has been a long time friend and community partner of ULBC by supporting youth development and education programs for low-income families.”

Photo: Germaine Smith-Baugh


WHAT:  Urban League of Broward County’s annual Red Gala

WHEN:  7 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 17

WHERE: Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, 3030 Holiday Drive in Fort Lauderdale

COST: $200 per person; sponsorships begin at $1,000.

CONTACT: For more information, call Rhonda Felder at 954-584-0777 or e-mail