MIAMI, June 18, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — On Thursday, June 7, 2012, the atrium of the Westin Colonnade in Coral Gables, FL was filled with some of South Florida’s most prominent attorneys, entrepreneurs, politicians and professionals who each came out to support the Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s (TMCF’s) 2nd Annual “Distinguished Young Leader” Awards which raised over $50K to support higher education.

The 2nd Annual South Florida Distinguished Young Leader Awards (DYL) is part of a nationwide effort to inform the broader community about TMCF, its member-schools and programs, and to raise funds to support the nearly 300,000 students attending public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), medical and law schools. The award recipients are outstanding local individuals under 45 years old who are deserving of community recognition for their efforts in the South Florida area, as well as who exemplify Thurgood Marshall’s passion for justice and civil rights and serving as significant role models to the next generation.


Crystal M. Connor, Esq. of The Connor Group Miami and Kirk Wagar, Esq. of Wagar Law, P.A., Saif Ishoof, Esq., Executive Director of City Year Miami; Sze Lee, CEO of Social Capital Management, L.L.C.; and Germaine Smith-Baugh, Ed.D., President & CEO of the Urban League of Broward County. Each honoree acknowledged the hard work and many accomplishments of the late Justice Thurgood Marshall and stressed the importance of education and equal opportunity for all.

Calvin Hughes of ABC Local Channel 10 and 2011 “Distinguished Young Leader” award recipient, was the host for the evening and the event co-chairs were Shelia Dudley, Burger King’s Director of Inclusion & Community Engagement and Ira Hall, retired financial executive. Bacardi U.S.A, Inc. served as the lead sponsor of the event for the second year. Other sponsors included Jeremy W. Alters, Esq., Burger King Corporation, Morgan Stanley, PRAXAIR, Inc., American Express, Brown-Forman and Haliczer Pettis & Schwamm, Portal, Urban League of Broward County, Ver Ploeg & Lumpkin, P.A., and Wagar Law, P.A.


Rod Vereen, candidate for Miami-Dade State Attorney; John W. Ruffin, Jr., Chairman & CEO, J.D. Ruffin & Associates, Inc.; 2011 Distinguished Young Leader Award recipient Attorney Marlon Hill, delancyhill; Bill Diggs, President & CEO, Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce; and Eric Knowles, Senior Director of Government Relations, Miami Dolphins.

The South Florida “Distinguished Young Leader” Awards is the second of five regional events that will take place in 2012. Upcoming events are scheduled in Charlotte, Los Angeles, and Chicago. For sponsorship opportunities and ticket information, please email Mary V. Jones at or call 201-227-8427.


The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is named for the U.S. Supreme Court’s first African-American Justice. Established in 1987, TMCF supports and represents nearly 300,000 students attending its 47 member-schools that include public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), medical schools and law schools. TMCF helps students with a clear intention and the motivation to succeed and acquire a high-quality college education at an affordable cost. TMCF also efficiently connects high performing, world-ready students with top tier employment opportunities—access that students or employers might not have on their own. Through its scholarships and programs, TMCF plays a key role in preparing the leaders of tomorrow. TMCF is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, charitable organization. For more information about TMCF and its initiatives, visit: