*(New York, NY) – ESSENCE & Southern Company, in partnership with Perennial Strategy Group, will host their 3rd annual Evening of Excellence-a special awards reception as part of the 2011 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s (CBCF) 41st Annual Legislative Conference.

The annual reception honors some of today’s most influential leaders and advocates of change. This year’s honorees include: Tom Joyner, host of The Tom Joyner Morning Show; Donna Richardson-Joyner, top fitness guru; and Dr. Regina Benjamin, U.S. Surgeon General.

Hosted by CNN news anchor Fredricka Whitfield, this invitation-only event will take place on Friday, September 23rd, in Washington, D.C., at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. The evening will include music by DJ D-Nice as well as a surprise performance from a special guest. The event will also feature a special tribute to the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Project.

“ESSENCE looks forward to our Evening of Excellence each year as we honor thought leaders and influencers whose mission is aligned with ours-to always uplift and empower the community in all that we do,” said Constance C.R. White, ESSENCE Editor-in-Chief. “All of the honorees have used their platforms not only to raise our consciousness about the critical issues impacting our communities, but also to affect lasting change both locally and across the country. ESSENCE is very proud to pay tribute to each of our esteemed honorees during this event.”

“It is such a privilege to partner again with Southern Company for our third annual Evening of Excellence ceremony,” said Michelle Ebanks, President, Essence Communications, Inc. “Historically, the Congressional Black Caucus weekend has been a time to reflect on the accomplishments of our leaders who are fighting daily for those who are disenfranchised and have no voice. In the same spirit, each of our honorees has demonstrated their dedication and fierce loyalty to the community throughout each of their endeavors. We are so pleased to honor Tom and Donna Richardson-Joyner and Dr. Regina Benjamin for their phenomenal achievements and their selfless spirit. We especially applaud Southern Company and Perennial Strategy Group for their vision and commitment to highlighting their great accomplishments during this event.”

“It’s an honor to salute the people who take action in addressing the critical issues impacting our communities,” said Chris Womack, executive vice president and president, external affairs, Southern Company.  “Bringing change where change is needed is never easy, so paying tribute to those who have made that contribution is a privilege for our company, which itself has a long history of community involvement and of being a citizen in the truest sense.  We also take pride in that two of the honorees-Tom Joyner and Dr. Regina Benjamin-have roots in Alabama and the Southeast where we serve.  We thank them and Donna Richardson-Joyner for all they do.”

“Every year we proudly recognize several leaders among us who bring positive change to our communities and our country,” said Lamell McMorris, Founder and CEO of Perennial Strategy Group.  “The honorees for 2011 are talented agents for change in the fields of health and human services, education, and fitness, and we are proud to join Southern Company and Essence in recognizing them.”



Dana Baxter/ESSENCE
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Sheila Harris/ESSENCE
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