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VOL. 125 | NO. 247 | Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Urban League Honors ‘Agents of Change’

By Aisling Maki

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With a panoramic view of city lights from the 33rd floor of the Clark Tower, 300 Memphians gathered Friday night to honor outstanding young minority professionals during the inaugural Agents of Change Awards Gala.

Organized and hosted by the board of the Memphis Urban League Young Professionals (MULYP), the formal dinner and ceremony honored individuals in eight categories, including those who’ve made contributions to the community in the fields of health, education and the arts.

One nonprofit and one Greek letter organization also were honored.

“We’re really privileged just to have the opportunity to host an event like this,” said MULYP president Tarrin McGhee. “You feel like there are tons of events that exist in the city of Memphis, but none really that honor and pay tribute to the young professional demographic, particularly minority leaders. Our primary mission is to support, attract and empower young professionals in the Greater Memphis community.”

Founded in 2003, MULYP is an all-volunteer group and the local affiliate of the National Urban League Young Professionals.

Its purpose is to support the mission of the Memphis Urban League and National Urban League, which works to assist African-Americans and other ethnic groups to expand economic opportunities and secure parity, power and civil rights.

“We exist to support the initiatives of our affiliates through the efforts of talented, enthusiastic, civic-minded young professionals,” McGee said. “Our board of directors works to set the vision and implement all of the initiatives we develop to support the Urban League.”

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. was among those who attended Friday’s sold-out event at the Tower Room atop the Clark Tower in East Memphis.

“Look at the breadth of the awards,” Wharton told The Daily News. “It’s not who made the most money or who made senior partner in a law firm. It’s who made a contribution to the community. I just feel good about the future of Memphis.”

Also in attendance was Memphis City Councilman Edmund Ford Jr., who, at age 31, is the council’s youngest member.

“It shows that you have a particular group in Memphis that wants to nurture our community,” Ford said. “If you look at the ones who were nominated, they’re in the group between 21 and 40, and that’s the group that you want to have involved in the community in every capacity. They will be our future leaders. … It shows that we really have the capacity to do so many wonderful things in the city. We have that youthful drive.”

The evening’s winners included Methodist Healthcare North assistant administrator Jonathan Watkins, his cousin Christina Watkins of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital Community Outreach and Cardell Orrin, principal at Linx Consulting and a MULYP founding member.

“Memphis Urban League Young Professionals is close to my heart, as one of the founding board members,” Orrin said. “It’s great to see the organization rise to this level of being able to award people in our community and continue that forward. It means a lot to me be nominated for being viewed as an agent of change.”

The evening included a dance tribute by Bridging Souls, a musical performance by Tonya Dyson and Tim Terry, and remarks from National Urban League Southern Region vice president Brandi Richard and Memphis Urban League President Tomeka Hart.

Hart praised both the current and incoming boards members, including current chapter and public relations chair and president-elect Lori Spicer and vice president-elect Andre Gibson, for their work in organizing the gala.

The winners:

A Healthier You – Jonathan E. Watkins

Agent of Change – Cardell Orrin

Change Artist – Shalisha Petey Franklin

Committed Doer – Kenya Bradshaw

Innovator of the Year – Ladell Beamon

Schooling of Our Future – Roblin Webb

YP to Watch – Christina Watkins

MULYP Legends (over age 40) – Herman Strickland

Helping Hand – Baptist Operation Outreach Program

Talented Tenth – Alpha Eta Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.

PROPERTY SALES 61 262 16,169
MORTGAGES 28 132 10,054
BUILDING PERMITS 88 424 38,360
BANKRUPTCIES 36 92 7,564