AAAA Summer 2016

President's Message
Reach Back, Raise Up

image of Linda Sharpe-Taylor

Reach Back, Raise Up is a chance to make a difference in the lives of African American students at Case Western Reserve University. Many are struggling to obtain the high-quality education CWRU offers. You can help.

Logically, deciding how to finance a college education would begin with a high school senior and their parents discussing the available choices. For many families, especially those with substantial financial need, this is not always what is done. Typically, they hold their breath for those desired acceptance letters and anxiously await financial aid awards. After much consideration, they select the best offer and relax. They are on their way to a great experience. What could go wrong?

Unfortunately, many things can go wrong. One problem is cash flow. A student with limited income is not likely to have the cash flow to cover expenses until the financial aid arrives. Another problem is learning experiences that are not part of the original budget. An out-of-town conference, a semester abroad or an additional lab class are all part of an enhanced college experience that can separate the haves from the have-nots. These are just a few examples of the stress associated with financing a college education, and this type of stress can have real consequences. In fact, financial stress is linked to negative health effects and can impact mental resources necessary to maximize learning, such as concentration and attention.

The Reach Back, Raise Up campaign is a way for African American Alumni Association members and friends to support students from diverse backgrounds. Your contribution can help reduce stress and enhance the college experience of deserving students.

As the African American Alumni Association Board moves fundraising goals to the finish line, it is important that you contribute annually. The CWRU Board of Trustees matches your donation, making your participation even more essential to our success. Please help by visiting our webpage and selecting the pledge drive icon.

—Linda Sharpe-Taylor, PhD (WRC '78)

Season of Celebration

‌Unity Banquet – April 15, 2016

image of AAAA members

“Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise, I rise, I rise!” -Maya Angelou

“Still I Rise” was the theme for the 26th annual Unity Banquet and Scholarship Benefit. At the event, which honored the academic and social achievements of more than 400 CWRU underrepresented seniors and underclassmen and awarded $15,000 in scholarships and prizes, Student Affairs Associate Vice President G. Dean Patterson reminded attendees that we must rise together.

Addressing the question “How did you turn a hashtag into a powerful social movement?” keynote speaker Alicia Garza, co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter, responded, “I didn’t. The movement was built by people ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired’ (a famous quote from civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer).” Rather than co-creator, Garza sees herself as a participant in the movement, standing on the shoulders of others. She encouraged the audience to “stay woke,” aware of and determined to correct systemic injustices. “What will you do?  Who will you do it with?  What’s stopping you from doing it right now?”

To Garza, Black Lives Matter is a love note. “Black people, I love you; I love us. Our lives matter.”

(Pictured: Alicia Garza and honorees. Photograph by Randall Blackford)

Multicultural Student Graduation Reception – May 9, 2016

image of Multicultural Student Graduation Reception

Case Western Reserve University’s belief in diversity as a vital component of its intellectual and social fabric was evident as more than 90 graduates of varied backgrounds were celebrated for their achievements in 30 fields of study. President Barbara R. Snyder welcomed the graduates to the elite group of more than 100,000 CWRU graduates worldwide. Pippa Carter (LAW ’88), African American Alumni Association (AAAA) member and mother of one of the graduates, invited them to stay connected by joining the AAAA or another CWRU Alumni Association. Dr. Marilyn Mobley (GRS ’87, English), vice president for inclusion, diversity and equal opportunity, left them with the words of Bessie Anderson Stanley, “He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much…who has filled his niche and accomplished his task…who has left the world better than he found it.”

(Photograph by Eric Benson)

Black Graduation

Janice Eatman-Williams (MGT ’01, MNO ’01)

Case Western Reserve University’s African American Society, Office of Multicultural Affairs and Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity collaborated to hold the first-ever Black Graduation, a celebration of the achievements, contributions and impact of students of the African diaspora on the CWRU campus and community. At the request of the students, Dr. Rhonda Williams was the keynote speaker.

More than 50 undergraduate, graduate and professional school students participated on May 13, 2016. They were presented with authentic Kente stoles to be worn with their caps and gowns at commencement.  Scores of family members, friends, faculty, staff and students cheered them on. Hats off to the Class of 2016! We are extremely proud of all that you have accomplished. Keep climbing!‌                                                                                                                      

image of black graduation

(Photograph by Randall Blackford)

Advice for the Class of 2016

Be flexible and keep striving. -Pippa Carter (LAW '88)

If you want it, go get it! -Cheyenne Chambers (CWR '11, GRS '11)

Take each day one day at a time and never let your pride get the best of you. It's important to ask for help. -Stacey Staten-Flenory (CWR '06)

Reach out to it forward. Share your experiences and knowledge. Develop bonds. They may last a lifetime or result in professional contacts for the future. -Karryl Lindsey (CWR '95)

Enjoy life! "Enjoy" doesn't mean throw caution to the wind. It is possible to have fun and still be diligent in your comings and goings. Respect and maintain your physical, psychological and spiritual self. Nurture and guard your self-confidence. Be a good steward of your relationships and resources. Most importantly, when you begin and end every day, give God thanks and praise. -Violet Banks Broomfield (FSM '71)

Please join us for an exciting Homecoming weekend!
Marian Bryant (CWR ’10)

Friday, October 14, 2016

Signature Welcome Reception 
6:30-11 p.m., The Linsalata Alumni Center
Our Signature Welcome Reception unites alumni from across the country. Enjoy a fun-filled night of games, great food and connections.  A candlelight vigil at the Stephanie Tubbs Jones statue honors our dearly departed ones.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Board Meeting
9-11 a.m., The Tinkham Veale Center
Join us for a breakfast business meeting as we plan upcoming initiatives for the association. Learn about what we've accomplished the past two years.  Get involved by voting on the next set of board members, running for a position, or offering programming ideas for the next fiscal year.

Reunion Dinner Dance
6 p.m. to Midnight, Cleveland Skating Club
Enjoy a grand dinner with music and dancing to follow.  A brief program celebrates our students and honors alumni awardees.  A celebratory group photo will be taken at 6:30 p.m.  Milestone class photos will be taken later in the evening.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Inspirational Breakfast
9-11 a.m., Cleveland Skating Club
Join friends at a catered breakfast with keynote speaker. Pour libations and spiritually connect with prayers for our future. 

Stephanie Tubbs Jones GospelFest
Plan to conclude the weekend at the 11th annual Stephanie Tubbs Jones Gospelfest Celebration. More details will be forthcoming.

Visit the Homecoming website

African American Alumni Association Awards
Previous Recipients


image of Stephanie Tubbs Jones

Stephanie Tubbs Jones Leadership Award

2010      Robert Madison (ARC ’48)

2012      May Wykle, PhD (NUR ’62, NUR ’69, NUR ’81)

2014      Harold McCrae (ADL ’65)



Ella Mae Johnson Leadership Award

2010      Fred Gray (LAW ’54)

2012      Judge Annette Butler (FSM ’66)

2014      Joan Southgate (SAS ’54)

Rising Star Award

2010      Alicia Graves (CWR ’05)

2012      Paul D. Adams, PhD (GRS ‘00)

2014      Gayle Williams-Byers (CWR ’96, LAW ’00, MNO ’00)

We are the only CWRU affinity group to bestow awards on our alumni.  Please click on the applicable link(s) to nominate one or more candidates for the 2016 African American Alumni Association Awards.  Nominations must be received by July 15, 2016.

The Stephanie Tubbs Jones Leadership Award
Recipients of the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Leadership Award are African American CWRU graduates who provide service to the broader community and demonstrate loyalty to the university through participation and/or financial support. They demonstrate strong, effective leadership and resilience in the face of adversity.
Nominate for Stephanie Tubbs Jones Leadership Award

The Ella Mae Johnson Service Award
Recipients of the Ella Mae Johnson Service Award are African American CWRU graduates who have made a difference in the lives of others. They have provided direct service to the university and the community through volunteerism and civic engagement.
Nominate for Ella Mae Johnson Service Leadership Award

The Rising Star Award
Recipients of the Rising Star Award have graduated within the past 15 years and demonstrated the potential for long-term distinction.
Nominate for Rising Star Award

Questions? Email us at

Nominations now being accepted

The CWRU African American Alumni Association will hold elections for Board of Director positions at its biennial membership meeting on October 15, 2016. The nomination process is now open.

Please help us identify future leaders by making nominations. Self-nominations are encouraged! The deadline is midnight, August 19. If you nominate more than one member for a position, please separate the names with a comma. No one may run for more than one position on the ballot. The term of office is two years, and officers may serve only two consecutive terms. After their terms have expired, officers serve another two-year term as members of the Board of Directors.

A brief description of positions is provided below:

  • President: Calls and presides over the Board of Director (BOD) meetings and performs other duties pertaining to that office. In consultation with and with approval of the BOD, the president appoints the chairpersons of all committees and fills any vacancies on the board. The president serves ex-officio on all committees.
  • Vice President: In the event of the absence, disability or resignation of the president, performs the duties of president. The vice president may serve as chairperson of a committee, other than membership or program.
  • Secretary: Records minutes of the BOD meetings and business meetings of the association and preserves copies of publications and documents of special importance to the association. Sends out meeting notes to all members of the BOD.
  • Treasurer:  Submits financial reports to the BOD.

Directors at Large: Duties of the directors at large are detailed throughout the CWRU African American Alumni Association Constitution and By-laws. For additional information, please visit our webpage.

You must be a member to vote in the upcoming election. Whether you are currently a member or seeking to become a member, it is important for all to update their membership.


Valissa Turner Howard, Esq. (LAW ’07), 2016-2018 President of the Norman S. Bar Association, was selected as one of three finalists for the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association Women Honoring Women Award in the Rising Star category. Howard was recognized for leadership and innovation in the profession.

 Dr. Ronald Hickman, Jr., PhD (NUR ’06, GRS ’08, philosophy, NUR ’12), associate professor at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, is one of four full-time faculty members to earn a 2016 John S. Diekhoff Mentoring Award for exemplary contribution to the education and development of graduate students.

LarKesha Burns Askew (CWR ’09) is one of the exceptional men and women recognized with an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. This award is given to those who create products and services that keep our economy moving forward.

University friend Amanda King, alumna Brittany Chung (CWR ’16) and current students Terrence Weeden, Keniece Gray and Lacie Parham have been selected for the 11th edition of Who's Who in Black Cleveland.

Makela Hayford is OIDEO's 2016 Undergraduate Student Achievement Award Recipient.

In Memoriam

image of a rose

Andrew A. Venable, Jr. (YSL ’78)


Want to see who else is involved with the AAAA? . It is easy to become a member. Visit membership.

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