The Apollo Theater announced yesterday the election of seven new members to its Board of Directors: Marcus Samuelsson, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds , Leslie Uggams, Luis A. Miranda Jr., Maya Harris, Marcella A. Jones, and Ingrid Saunders Jones. The new directors will help guide the nonprofit Theater’s artistic and community programs, fundraising efforts, and strategic planning. Currently celebrating its 75th anniversary season, the legendary Apollo Theater has been a driving force in shaping America ’s musical and cultural landscape since its inception in 1934. A truly American landmark, it is one of the only institutions in the nation where the nurturing of emerging talent is given equal priority with the presentation of legendary performers.
The newly elected board members expand the Apollo’s board from twenty to twenty-seven. The Apollo Board of Directors, the governing body of the nonprofit foundation that operates the Apollo Theater, is charged with stewardship of its mission and preservation for future generations. The 27-member Board is composed of key leaders in the business, civic, philanthropy, and arts and culture sectors.
“We are pleased to welcome these seven new members to the Apollo’s distinguished Board of Directors,” said Jonelle Procope, President and CEO of the Apollo Theater. “As a nonprofit organization, we depend on the vision and expertise of our board leadership to help guide us to fulfill our mission, and all of them bring a set of experiences and connections that complement those of the rest of our board.”
“This is a pivotal moment in the Apollo’s history, and I know that their knowledge and insight will be invaluable in guiding the Theater to realize our full potential as a nonprofit cultural institution,” said Richard Parsons, Chairman of the Board.
The Apollo Theater Foundation welcomes the following new directors:
Born in Ethiopia , Marcus Samuelsson grew up in Sweden where he began cooking at a young age. A graduate of the Culinary Institute in Gothenburg, Sweden, Samuelsson was hired as the executive chef at New York’s Aquavit in 1995, receiving further accolades including a 3-star review from The New York Times, the James Beard Foundation “Rising Star Chef” award, “Best Chef, New York,” and was celebrated as one of “The Great Chefs of America” by the Culinary Institute of America.
Samuelsson serves on the board of directors of Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) and is an ambassador for the US Fund for UNICEF. In 2005, Samuelsson was appointed visiting professor of International Culinary Science at the Umeå University School of Restaurant and Culinary Arts, and received an honorary doctorate of culinary arts from Johnson & Wales University in 2006. In November 2009, Samuelsson served as guest chef for the first state dinner of the Barack Obama presidency. Samuelsson reportedly sought to combine sustainable and regional foods which reflect the best in American cuisine yet evoke the flavors of India . Also in 2009, Samuelsson competed in Bravo’s hit series “Top Chef Masters”, winning a total of $115,000 for UNICEF’s Tap Project.
Marcus is a Harlem resident and lives near the site of his soon-to-open restaurant, Red Rooster.
In a relatively short time, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds has reached icon status as a poignant tunesmith, prolific hit maker/producer, superstar recording artist, and revolutionary label owner. A 10-time Grammy award winner with 11 solo albums of his own, Edmonds’ impeccably crafted explorations of love, romance and relationships have made an indelible imprint on the evolution of contemporary pop music throughout the world with over 125 Top-10 R&B and Pop hits which have produced single and album sales in excess of over 500 million units worldwide. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including Soul Train Music Awards, BMI Awards, NAACP Image Awards, and American Music Awards and will receive a star on Hollywood ’s legendary Walk of Fame on August 3, 2011.
Edmonds’ charitable work is as impressive as his professional accomplishments. His caring and generosity have garnered him several awards, including the Essence Award for Excellence, The City of Hope Award, and Variety Magazine’s “Top of the Town” Honoree Award. He was National Spokesman for Boarder Babies, and personally helped raise over $500,000 for a transitional home, The Little Blue House, located in Washington D.C. He continues to contribute to a host of other worthwhile organizations, including the VH-1 Save the Music program and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF).
Tony and Emmy Award winner Leslie Uggams recently starred as Lena Horne in a pre-Broadway run of “Stormy Weather” at the Pasadena Playhouse. Ms. Uggams’ Broadway appearances have included starring alongside James Earl Jones in “On Golden Pond” and co-starring in the Broadway hit “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” In 2001, her Broadway portrayal of Ruby in August Wilson ‘s “King Hedley II” was nominated for a Tony Award. “Headley” followed two other Audelco Award-winning, critically acclaimed, off-Broadway performances: “The Old Settler” and Keb Mo ‘s blues musical “Thunder Knocking on the Door.” Leslie co-stars in the soon-to-be-released independent film, “Toe to Toe.”
At the legendary Apollo Theater, 9-year-old Leslie opened for such legends as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington. She also made appearances on “Your Show of Shows,” “the Milton Berle Show” and “The Arthur Godfrey Show.” In 1970, she had her own musical variety television series on CBS-TV, “The Leslie Uggams Show,” becoming the first black woman to host a network musical variety show and she signed a new recording contract with Atlantic Records. In 1972, she made her dramatic film debut opposite Charlton Heston in the MGM film “Skyjacked,” followed by “Black Girl,” the acclaimed film directed by Ossie Davis. However, it was Leslie’s portrayal of Kizzy in the most watched dramatic show in TV history, Alex Haley’s “Roots,” that won her worldwide recognition as a dramatic actress – including the Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1978, an Emmy nomination for Best Leading Actress and coveted Golden Globe Nomination from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
Luis A. Miranda, Jr. is a founding partner of the MirRam Group, LLC, a New York State-based marketing and political consulting firm which assists corporations, nonprofit institutions, and elected officials with strategy, communications, lobbying, and fundraising, with a special emphasis in the Latino market. Mr. Miranda has served in three New York City mayoral administrations. A special advisor for Hispanic Affairs to former Mayor Edward I. Koch, Mr. Miranda served as director of the Mayor’s Office for Hispanic Affairs from 1984 to 1987. In addition to his public service, Mr. Miranda has consulted on a number of successful political campaigns.
Mr. Miranda worked to elect Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer to the U.S. Senate, was part of the lead consulting team on the 2001 and 2005 Fernando Ferrer mayoralty campaigns, and served as lead consultant to many candidates to the New York City Council and the New York State Assembly. Mr. Miranda is the founder and former president of the Hispanic Federation, a membership organization of health and social service agencies dedicated to address human services and health needs of the Hispanic community. Mr. Miranda currently chairs the board of directors of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, Audubon Partnership for Economic Development, and The West End Day School and Amber Charter School . Mr. Miranda is also the board treasurer of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone. Additionally, Mr. Miranda served as a board member of Acción New York, the Bronx Council of Economic Development, RAIN, Inc., and Mosaica, as well as the Community Advisory Boards of JP Morgan Chase and WellCare, a national managed health care company; and the advisory boards of Pace Poll at Pace University and the Wagner School of Public Policy at New York University. He hosts a weekly radio program, Linea Informativa on Mega 97.9 and AMOR 93.1.Mr. Miranda is married to Dr. Luz Towns-Miranda and has two children, Luz, 36, and Lin-Manuel, 30.
Maya Harris is Vice President of the Democracy, Rights and Justice Program at the Ford Foundation, focusing on strengthening the rule of law, improving government performance and accountability, and creating opportunities for civil society to thrive and fulfill the promise of human rights. Before joining the Ford Foundation in 2008, Harris was the Executive Director of the ACLU of Northern California, the largest ACLU affiliate in the United States . In 2006, Harris served as lead counsel for the ACLU-NC in League of Women Voters v. McPherson, a successful lawsuit restoring the voting rights of over 100,000 Californians who were wrongfully disenfranchised. Previously, at PolicyLink, Harris conducted research and policy advocacy on policing issues. While there, she authored the national publications “Community-Centered Policing: A Force for Change” and “Organized for Change: The Activist’s Guide to Police Reform.” Prior to that, Harris served as Dean of Lincoln Law School of San Jose.
Harris has served as an adjunct law professor at several Bay Area law schools, and worked in civil litigation at the San Francisco law firm of Jackson Tufts Cole & Black, LLP immediately following law school and the completion of her clerkship in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Harris is a contributing author to the “Covenant with Black America,” a collection of essays by African-Americans that climbed to No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list. She has published commentary in numerous media outlets, and wrote a regular column in The Post, an African-American newspaper distributed throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Harris received the Junius W. Williams Young Lawyer of the Year Award from the National Bar Association and was named one of California ’s “Top 20 Under 40” lawyers. Harris grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California-Berkeley, and her Juris Doctor degree conferred with Distinction from Stanford Law School , where she served as an Associate Editor of the Stanford Law Review.
Born and raised in Chicago , Marcella A. Jones is an active and outgoing member of the Washington , DC community. Mrs. Jones worked with the ICA ( Institute of Cultural Affairs ), a nonprofit worldwide community reformulation organization for ten years, first in communities across the U.S. and later moving to East Africa where she continued working in community renewal, taught school, and was a fundraiser for agricultural and other local village projects. Service has always been a high priority for Marcella Jones. Her personal community involvement has included: Urban Development Planner and Fundraiser with ICA in the United States and East Africa, Chair of the American Society for Psychoprophylaxis in Obstetrics’ (ASPO) International Committee for Underserved Women during pregnancy and childbirth, Executive Director of Big Sisters of the Washington Metropolitan area, Vice President of Neighbors, Inc., National Vice President of Jack and Jill of America Foundation, Co-Chair of the 9/11 Relief Victims Campaign, President of the Capital City Chapter Links, Founder and Co-Chair of the Parents’ Council and Fundraising Campaign for Spelman College, and Fundraiser for numerous other local and national-community-related organizations.
Ingrid Saunders Jones is senior vice president of Global Community Connections for The Coca-Cola Company and chair of The Coca-Cola Foundation. She leads the global community engagement function of The Coca-Cola Company. Under Ms. Jones’ leadership, Global Community Connections works to make a unique and sustainable difference everywhere The Coca-Cola Company sells products, one community at a time, by focusing on four global priorities areas: Water Stewardship, Fitness and Active Lifestyles, Sustainable Packaging and Education. As chair of The Coca-Cola Foundation, Ms. Jones leads the Company’s philanthropic commitment to sustainable communities. Under her leadership, The Coca-Cola Foundation has contributed more than $300 million to education and other community initiatives. The Foundation continues to provide scholarships to high school students from across the country, and supports initiatives which increase the academic success of students in public and secondary schools. Previously, she worked for the Honorable Maynard Jackson, then Mayor of Atlanta, and as legislative analyst for the president of the Atlanta City Council, Mr. Carl Ware. She is a former executive director of the Detroit Wayne County Child Care Coordinating Council and also taught in the public schools of Detroit and Atlanta.