Happenings UNCF 80th Anniversary Banner

Published on February 17th, 2024 | by Dr. Jerry Doby


UNCF Honors Essence CEO Caroline Wanga

Bravo to UNCF which has announced that alongside commemorating its 80th year, the organization will also celebrate a media icon as a highlight of its 11th annual UNCF Mayor’s Masked Ball. Set to take place at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans on Saturday, March 2, this happening is not just a social gathering; it’s a celebration of dedication and support for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and their students. This year, UNCF is recognizing Caroline Wanga, President & CEO of Essence Ventures and Co-Founder of WangaWoman LLC, for her unwavering commitment to equity in higher education. Here’s a take on the momentous announcement:

UNCF 80th Anniversary Banner

Championing Equity and Authenticity

Caroline Wanga’s remarkable journey and profound impact on education and community resonate deeply with UNCF’s mission. As the recipient of the MASKED Award, Wanga’s dedication to purpose, equity, and authenticity shines through. Her love for the community and the city of New Orleans, the home of the Essence Festival of Culture, further underscores her profound connection to uplifting and empowering others.

A Legacy of Support for HBCUs

Wanga’s ties to HBCUs run deep. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Texas College, an HBCU, where she also received an honorary doctorate. Her commitment to HBCUs led her to serve on the board of trustees at Talladega College, another UNCF-member institution. Her transformative experiences with UNCF-member institutions, including receiving a scholarship from the Minnesota UNCF, have fueled her lifelong dedication to ensuring educational opportunities for all.

Trailblazing for Change

In addition to receiving the MASKED Award, Wanga will accept the New York UNCF Trailblazer Award on behalf of ESSENCE, recognizing the brand’s remarkable legacy and impact spanning nearly six decades. Wanga’s advocacy for education and equity reflects her belief in empowering future generations to achieve their full potential.

Investing in Future Generations

Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of UNCF, emphasizes the importance of investing in HBCUs and their students. Events like the New Orleans UNCF Mayor’s Masked Ball serve as a vital platform for celebrating achievements, fostering community support, and providing essential resources to ensure the success of Black college students and institutions.

Supporting Educational Excellence

The New Orleans Mayor’s Masked Ball wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of sponsors like the Gayle and Tom Benson Charitable Foundation, Ochsner Health, Entergy, and the Four Seasons & Private Residences. Together, they contribute to scholarships and programs that empower students and advance the mission of UNCF.

Uniting for Change

As Therese Badon, senior vice president of development at UNCF Southern and Special Events Divisions, affirms, events like the New Orleans Mayor’s Masked Ball are instrumental in uplifting HBCUs and their students. Through collective efforts and community support, UNCF continues to make a meaningful difference in the lives of students and the future of education.

Join the Celebration

Entertainment at the New Orleans Mayor’s Masked Ball will feature the Legendary Funk Band, The Bar-Kays, along with actress and comedian Kim Coles as mistress of ceremonies. Supporters can also contribute to UNCF’s mission by texting UNCF33 to 41444 or visiting https://uncf.org/neworleans for more information and sponsorship opportunities.

Stay connected with UNCF and the New Orleans Mayor’s Masked Ball on social media @UNCF and @UNCF_NOLA using hashtags #UNCF and #UNCFNEWORLEANS. Let’s come together to support educational excellence and empower future generations.

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About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, Media and SEO Consultant, Journalist, Ph.D. and retired combat vet. 2023 recipient of The President's Lifetime Achievement Award. Partner at THM Media Group. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, the United States Press Agency and ForbesBLK.

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