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Five Community Leaders Honored at the 22nd Annual African-American Achievers Awards

The Jim Moran Foundation Presents Blanche Ely High School Senior with FSU Scholarship

Five remarkable individuals were recognized at the 22nd annual African-American Achievers awards ceremony on April 9th at the Broward County Convention Center. Nearly 1,000 guests attended the event, sponsored by JM Family Enterprises, Southeast Toyota Distributors and JM Lexus.

The 2014 African-American Achievers are: Marshall Davis, Arts & Culture honoree; Barbara Sharief, Business & Entrepreneurism honoree; Estella Pyfrom, Community Service honoree; James F. Griffin II, Education honoree; and Blanche Ely High School senior Kenny Alexis, recipient of the Jerome Edmund Gray Youth Achiever Award presented by The Jim Moran Foundation.  

“More than 22 years ago, our company’s founder Jim Moran had a vision to celebrate unsung heroes in our community who are doing extraordinary things,” said Colin Brown, president and CEO of JM Family, about the event. “The African-American Achievers awards ceremony gives us an opportunity to say thank you to those who are making a difference in others’ lives and transforming a community without looking for acknowledgement."

The event was hosted by Calvin Hughes, evening news anchor for WPLG Local 10, and featured moving performances by the Everglades High Legacy Choir, directed by Shanpatrick Davis. The invocation was delivered by Tony Thompson, the 2006 Arts & Culture Honoree.

Every year, JM Family, Southeast Toyota and JM Lexus donate $40,000 – $10,000 per category – in each adult honoree’s name to the charity(ies) of his or her choice. The companies also donate $500 to the charity(ies) of choice of those whose nominee was selected as an African-American Achiever. More than $365,000 has been awarded on behalf of 134 African-American Achievers since the program was created in 1992.

Organizations chosen by the honorees to receive donations include the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, Spiritual Guidance Temple of Truth, Susan B. Anthony Recovery Center, Estella’s Brilliant Bus, Free the Children, Grenada Cultural Association of South Florida, Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County, Palm Beach State College Foundation and Lauderdale Lakes Middle School.

About the Jerome Edmund Gray Youth Achiever Award
The Jim Moran Foundation, in partnership with Florida State University (FSU), annually recognizes a South Florida high school senior who qualifies for financial aid and has applied and received admission to FSU. Named in memory of 1995 African-American Achiever Jerome Edmund Gray, Esq., the four-year, needs-based scholarship is provided with funding through The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship at FSU.

“Kenny exemplifies what it means to be a Youth Achiever through his hard work and determination to succeed while facing difficult life challenges,” said Jan Moran, chairman and president of The Jim Moran Foundation. “We are very proud to provide this opportunity to help him reach his greatest potential.”

When Kenny Alexis and his sister left Haiti five years ago to join their mother in America, he struggled to adjust while learning English -- but made a conscious choice to overcome hardships in order to achieve a brighter future. Now a senior at Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach who attends dual-enrollment classes at Broward College, Kenny finds motivation in wanting “to be great at something,” and adds that he “would not let weakness steer [him] away from success.” He ranks in the top 3 percent of his graduating class and is involved in several extra-curricular clubs including Beta Delta Sigma Math Club, Ely Scholars Association, Future Business Leaders of America and the French Club. Additionally, Kenny volunteers at his local library and tutors middle school students in math at an after-school program in Margate. As a first-generation college student with a goal of becoming an actuary for a major insurance company, Kenny plans to graduate from Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science and pursue a master’s degree in financial mathematics.

“Receiving this scholarship symbolizes that the hard work and sacrifice that I have made in school were not in vain,” said Kenny Alexis in his acceptance speech. “I look forward to representing [The Jim Moran Foundation] as I take another step to achieve my dreams at Florida State University.”

About the 2014 Adult Honorees
Arts & Culture: Marshall Davis
Marshall Davis’ love for the arts started at a young age and has carried him through a widely successful and influential career in South Florida. For the past 30 years, Marshall has served as managing director for the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center where he helps residents experience history through unique educational programs. The center has undergone state-of-the-art improvements under his leadership, offering the community a place to gather for concerts, gallery exhibits and special events. Marshall’s enthusiasm was also the driving force for initiating the first Black Music Month and Jazz Month celebrations in his beloved hometown of Miami. Through his tireless work, Marshall shares his deep appreciation for African heritage and inspires future generations to enrich their lives through the arts.

Business & Entrepreneurism: Barbara Sharief
Barbara Sharief’s younger brother suffered from complex medical conditions, and as a child, she witnessed the difficulties he had with quality in-home health care. The experience sparked a life-long devotion to caring for others, one that she pursued through education and working at local hospitals. More than a decade ago, Barbara started South Florida Pediatric Homecare Inc., which employs 600 professionals and is regarded as one of the area’s most respected home health care operations. The strong emphasis Barbara places on caring for patients and comforting their families helps her company succeed, and it also influences her other passion – public service. As Commissioner of District 8 and Broward County Mayor, Barbara uses her professional savvy to focus on job creation and economic development, further strengthening the community where she lives and works.

Community Service: Estella Pyfrom
In one selfless act, Estella Pyfrom invested a large portion of her pension fund – one that she had earned working for the Palm Beach County school system for 50 years – to pursue her life-long dream of helping underprivileged children and their families. Today, Estella’s Brilliant Bus is a one-of-a-kind mobile learning center that travels to economically disadvantaged areas to help over 20,000 students achieve their academic potential and empower families to get involved in their education. Estella addresses other community issues as well, and has even turned her Brilliant Bus into a food pantry on wheels by partnering with Feeding South Florida to distribute essential needs to more than 3,000 individuals each month. Her dedication to serving others and commitment to giving back is changing lives for the better, one bus stop at a time.

Education: James F. Griffin II
James Griffin knows children have limitless potential – as long as they are given the proper resources and support to achieve greatness. During his tenure as an educator, he has transformed classrooms into international hubs where students connect with the world using the latest technology. James also strives to prepare youth for life beyond school through vigorous academic programs. Algebra U offers students an accelerated path for high-school level math and the Innovative Program centers on college readiness and vocational aptitudes. He has been awarded Principal of the Year accolades from Broward County and the state of Florida, as well as grant money to continue implementing virtual classrooms in area schools. James’ pursuit of providing children with the keys to success is shaping a brighter future for South Florida and beyond.

Independent Selection Committee
The 2014 honorees were selected by an independent panel of community leaders from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties that included former achievers. The selection committee reviewed nearly 300 nominations after an extensive public outreach campaign.

  • • Rodney Baltimore, Radio Host at Hot 105 FM, Cox Media Group
    • Edith Bush, Executive Director - MLK, Jr. Coordinating Committee, Inc. and 2012 Arts & Culture Honoree
    • Kervin Clenance, General Sales Manager at Palm Beach Broadcasting
    • Keondra Pierre-Eafford, HRD Program Specialist at Broward County Schools and 1997 Youth Achiever
    • Omar Kelly, Sun-Sentinel Sports Reporter
    • Glenna Milberg , WPLG Local 10 News Reporter
    • Newton B. Sanon, President & CEO – OIC of South Florida and 2013 Community Service Honoree
    • Dinizulu Gene Tinnie, Artist and 2013 Arts & Culture Honoree

Click here to download high-resolution photos with captions from the African-American Achievers awards ceremony and headshots of the 2014 Achievers.  

To learn more, visit www.africanamericanachievers.com or like us on Facebook

About JM Family Enterprises, Inc.
JM Family Enterprises, Inc., founded by Jim Moran in 1968, is a $12.5 billion diversified automotive company ranked No. 27 on Forbes’ list of “America’s Largest Private Companies.” JM Family is also ranked No. 37 by FORTUNE® as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For,” its 16th consecutive year on the list. Primary subsidiaries include: Southeast Toyota Distributors, World Omni Financial Corp., JM&A Group, JM Lexus, and JM Service Center LLC. Headquartered in Deerfield Beach, Fla., JM Family has major U.S. operations in Jacksonville and Margate, Fla.; Commerce and Alpharetta, Ga.; Mobile, Ala. and St. Louis, Mo., in addition to offices in Mississauga, Ontario and Montreal, Quebec. Interact with JM Family at Facebook.com/JMFamilyEnterprises.

About The Jim Moran Foundation
Founded by automotive pioneer Jim Moran, the mission of The Jim Moran Foundation is to improve the quality of life for the youth and families of Florida through the support of innovative programs and opportunities that meet the ever-changing needs of the community. The Foundation has invested more than $45 million in education, elder care, family strengthening, after school and youth transitional living initiatives since its inception in 2000 -- with efforts currently focused in Broward, Palm Beach and Duval counties. Through a long-term Grant Agreement, The Foundation's significant funders are JM Family Enterprises, Inc., and its subsidiaries, including Southeast Toyota Distributors, LLC. It is located at 100 Jim Moran Blvd., Deerfield Beach, Fla. 33442. To learn more, visit www.jimmoranfoundation.org or call (954) 429-2122.