hutchinson-icaba-headshot_web.jpgMIAMI – A networking organization whose name is embedded in its mission handed out awards to 15 veteran professionals and “rising stars” during an elegant black-tie gala at the Graham Center Ballroom of Florida International University’s Modesto Madique Campus.

ICABA Media Holdings Group also recognized as “living legends” long-time Miami attorney George Knox and Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes.

ICABA president/CEO Jerome Hutchinson Jr. said his Weston-based organization plans to hold a meeting of all the honorees. “This is the beginning of the journey, not the end,” he said.

Hutchinson said he hopes the professionals will mentor the rising stars, with the aim that they can learn from one another. ICABA –an acronym for Identify, Connect and Activate Black Achievers – is an umbrella for some 10 groups which, in some way or other, promote the achievements of blacks and the networking that it says they need to achieve and maintain success.

The inaugural ICABA Honors Black Tie Gala is the latest addition to that list.

“Now is a critical time for our most accomplished men and women to be intentional in leveraging our vast human resources and financial wealth,” Hutchinson said in a message printed in the gala’s souvenir booklet.

“With an increasingly connected digital world, never before has the opportunity been greater for blacks to activate productive relationships,” he said.

Professionals of the Year winners, finalists and rising stars reflect some of the crème de la crème of black achievers:

• Academia: Athornia Steele, dean, Shepherd Broad Law Center, Nova Southeastern University. Finalists: Jaffus Hardrick, vice president, Human Resources, Florida International University; Jeanne F. Jacobs, president, Homestead Campus, Miami Dade College. Rising Star: Kareem J. Coney, director, Community Outreach & Retention, Florida Memorial University
• Arts: Linda Houston Jones, founder/president, Ashanti Cultural Center. Finalists: George Gadson, owner, George Gadson Studios; William Nix, retired vice president, Marketing & Governmental Affairs, Palm Beach County. Rising Star: Dhaima Lindo, founder/CEO, Starlent
• Community/Civic: Gepsie M. Metellus, executive director, Sant La, Haitian Neighborhood Clinic Inc. Finalists: R. Joaquin Willis, senior pastor, Church of the Open Door, United Church of Christ; Joe Ann Fletcher, CEO, St. Laurence Chapel Day Shelter. Rising Star: Henri Crockett, president/CEO, Crockett Foundation
• Corporate: Mark Kent, CEO, CAC Florida Medical Centers. Finalists: Christie Grays, director, Community Relations, Baptist Health South Florida; Jasmin Shirley, vice president, Broward Health. Rising Star: Tomi Rose, real estate agent, Sotheby’s
• Education: Steve Gallon III, president/CEO, Tri-Star Leadership Inc. Finalists: Jacqueline Del Rosario, president/CEO, Recapturing the Vision; Robert Runcie, superintendent, Broward County Schools. Rising Star: Paul V. Wilson, administrative director, Labor Relations, Miami-Dade County Public Schools
• Elected Officials: Oliver Gilbert, mayor, Miami Gardens. Finalists: Dale V.C. Holness, commissioner, District 9, Broward County; Priscilla Taylor, vice mayor, Palm Beach County. Rising Star: Shevrin D. Jones, state representative, District 101
• Entertainment: Bigg D & Lamb, co-owners, 12 & Collins Entertainment LLC. Finalists: Iaan “DJ Irie” Grocher, owner, Irie Music Corp; Randy Corinthian, CEO, RC Music Group. Rising Star: Peter Bailey, CEO,
• Entrepreneur: Robert G. Beatty Sr., CEO, Beatty Media, publisher, South Florida Times. Finalists: Todd Billings, president/CEO, U.S. Debt Ventures; Carole Ann Taylor, owner, Miami To Go. Rising Star: Brian Brackeen, founder/CEO, Kairos
• Faith-Based: Derrick Hughes, pastor, First Baptist Church of Piney Grove. Finalists: Wayne Lomax, senior pastor, The Fountain of New Life; Arthur Jackson III, senior pastor, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church. Rising Star: Belinda John, editor-in-chief, Shulamite Women Magazine
• Government Administrators: Bertha Henry, county administrator, Broward Bounty. Finalists: Rick Beasly, president/CEO, South Florida Workforce; Hans Ottinot, city Attorney, Sunny Isles Beach. Rising Star: Shaheewa Jarrett Gelin, assistant chief counsel, Homeland Security
• Healthcare: Dr. Carmel Barrau, internist, founder, Unihealth of South Florida Inc. Finalists: Dr. Lanalee Araba Sam, obstetrician & gynecologist, Elite Obstetrics & Gynecology; Dr. Cheryl Holder, associate professor, Florida International University. Rising Star: Dr. Ebony B. Whisenant, associate professor, Florida International University
• Legal: Jaret L. Davis, managing co-shareholder, Greenberg, Traurig LLP. Finalists: Jerry Hamilton, managing partner, Hamilton, Miller & Birthisel LLP; Salesia V. Smith-Gordon, attorney, Law Office of Salesia V. Smith-Gordon. Rising Star: Yolanda P. Strader, attorney, Carlton Fields
• Media: Doug C. Lyons, senior editorial writer, Sun-Sentinel. Finalists: Jim Berry, sports anchor, CBS-4; Victor C. Kendall, president/CEO, Friends of WLRN Inc. Rising Star: Gregory Lee, executive sports editor, Sun-Sentinel
• Philanthropy: Larry R. Handfield, managing partner, The Handfield Firm. Finalists: Gerald C. and Jennifer Grant; Bill and Beverly Parker. Rising Star: James and Destiny Jones, James Jones Legacy Foundation
• Sports: Ernest Ellison Jr., director, Business & Community Relations, Professional Golfers Association of America. Finalists: Derek A. Jackson, general counsel, Miami Marlins; Michael McCullough, executive vice president, The Heat Group. Rising Star: James Taylor, CEO, Taylored Athletes Inc.