10 Year Diamond Celebration

Location: Spectrum Center

Attire: Black tie, tennis shoes and diamonds! Yes, Tuxes and Tennis, Gowns and Diamonds or feel free to mix and match! Strut your stuff on our sneaker walk and then try on some glamorous diamonds.

You may win one of our sneaker awards for best decorated tennies, most Hornets-inspired tennies or best Jordans! So, let your imagination run wild!

Parking: Complimentary valet parking will be located on the 5th Street side of Spectrum Center.

06:30 PM – Doors Open, Cocktail Reception and Silent Auction
07:00 PM – VIP Tipoff Reception
08:00 PM – My Hero Gala Program
09:30 PM – Club Swarm Afterparty
11:30 PM – Farewell

Master of Ceremonies

Michael Wilbon

Pardon the Interruption, Co-Host | Columnist, ESPN.com and ESPNChicago.com

Michael Wilbon is a co-host of ESPN’s award winning show Pardon the Interruption and a contributor to ESPN/ABC coverage of the NBA. PTI earned Sports Emmy awards in 2009 and 2016 in the “Daily Studio” category and the show continues to increase its viewership, reach and impact each year. Previously, Wilbon worked 30 years as a reporter then columnist for The Washington Post. Wilbon’s columns in The Post and his commentary for ESPN deal as much with the issues of the day as they relate to what happens on the fields or courts. During his career, which began at The Post in 1980, Wilbon edited two New York Times best-selling books with Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, was a regular contributor to ESPN’s “The Sports Reporters” and weekly contributor on WRC-TV 4 for more than a decade to George Michael’s “Redskins Report” and “Full Court Press.”

In 2009, Wilbon was honored by the National Association of Black Journalists with the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and two years later received The Post’s Eugene Meyer Award. In 2001, he was recognized by Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists, as the top sports columnist in America and has been inducted into the D.C. Sports Hall of Fame, the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame and is one of the newest members of the Northwestern University Athletic Hall of Fame.

Wilbon, born and raised in Chicago, is a trustee of his alma mater Northwestern, a member of the faculty at its prestigious Medill School of Journalism, and resides in Bethesda, Maryland, with his wife Sheryl and their son, Matthew.


Education Hero

Joan F. Lorden

Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs | University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Joan F. Lorden was appointed Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at UNC Charlotte in 2003. Since then she has overseen dramatic expansion in the University’s student body, instructional programs, and research funding. This growth has occurred in parallel with increasing campus diversity and national recognition for community engagement.

As a senior leader at Charlotte’s urban research university of over 29,000 students, Lorden has promoted university-community collaboration through research and service learning. She was instrumental in establishing the Charlotte Engineering Early College with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and the Charlotte Teacher’s Institute, a collaborative provider of teacher professional development. UNC Charlotte’s strong commitment to community has earned the University recognition from the Washington Center, the Carnegie Foundation, and the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities. In addition to her work at the University, Lorden was an active participant in Crossroads Charlotte and has served on the Board of Directors of the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Discovery Place, and the Echo Foundation. Lorden received the Plater Award for Community Engagement from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and was named Charlotte’s 2016 Woman of the Year.

Lorden is a long-time advocate for access to higher education and has served as the program director for a series of projects funded by the National Institutes of Health, the US Department of Education and the National Science Foundation designed to bring women and underrepresented minority students into programs and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. As a first generation college student herself, she has been particularly concerned about student success across all socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. She takes special pride in UNC Charlotte’s recognition by the Education Trust of having closed the achievement gap for both black and Hispanic students and the fact that UNC Charlotte outperforms its peers in student outcomes while serving some of the largest populations of low-income and first generation college students in the UNC System.

Before beginning her faculty career at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), Lorden earned a BA degree from the City College of New York and MS and PhD degrees from Yale University. At UAB she conducted research in animal models of human neurological disease with support from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation and for which she was awarded the Ireland Prize for Scholarly Distinction. She was a founder of the university-wide graduate program in neuroscience and was later appointed Dean of the Graduate School and Associate Provost for Research. As Dean she established robust programs of professional development for graduate students, expanded fellowship opportunities for women and minorities, opened an Office of Postdoctoral Studies, and promoted interdisciplinary research centers at the University.

A national advocate for the role of graduate education and research, Lorden was elected President of the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools, chaired the Board of Directors for both the Council of Graduate Schools and Oak Ridge Associated Universities, was appointed Dean in Residence at the National Science Foundation, and named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. During her career she has served on review boards for the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, and the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation.

Hunger Hero

Kay Carter

CEO | Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina

Kay joined Second Harvest Food Bank as CEO in January of 2004. During Kay’s tenure at the Food Bank the total pounds of food and household items distributed have increased from 7 million pounds to close over 54 million pounds annually.

Kay has established a set of key goals that have served as a guide for the staff as they work to end hunger in the 19 county region of North and South Carolina served by Second Harvest. Nutrition pounds including fresh produce, meat and dairy products have grown by 374%, an average of 27% per year. Pounds in these categories, which people living in poverty can least afford but need to stay healthy, are vitally Important in improving the overall health of our community.

Volunteer hours at Second Harvest have increased by 64% per year since 2004. During the most recent fiscal year, volunteer hours donated to Second Harvest totaled over 265,000. These hours saved the Food Bank over 5.7 million in labor costs, funds that are being redirected to feeding more people in need.

The number one goal of Second Harvest during Kay’s tenure has been to end child hunger in our region. These programs including the backpack program, Kids Café programs and the school based mobile pantry program have grown an average of 68% every year since 2004.
Today, Second Harvest is the largest nonprofit in the health and human services in the greater Charlotte region with annual revenues including food donations of 91 million dollars.

Prior to joining Second Harvest, Kay served as the Director of the York County Department of Social Services for seven years and as a City Manager for ten years. Kay holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Winthrop University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of South Carolina.

Wellness Hero

Bert Scott

Senior Vice President Population Health and Value Based Care | Novant Health

After retiring as President and CEO of Affinity Health Plan, Bert recently joined Novant Health as Senior Vice President Population Health and Value Based Care. Under his leadership the population health team aims to integrate population health capabilities and techniques across the Novant Health system, so it creates value for patients, families and consumers. By creating alignment across the system, Novant Health will be even more equipped to deliver a “remarkable patient experience.”

Bert served as President, CEO and a Member of the Board of Directors of Affinity Health Plan. Affinity is a 2.5 Billion New York based Health Plan serving over 400,000 customers.

Prior to this role Bert served as President-US Commercial Markets for CIGNA, a health services company serving over 11 million customers. He had oversight over the $15 billion U.S. Operations profit and loss statement. The role included responsibility for all client-facing segments, marketing, underwriting, product development and management.

Until 2010, Bert served as Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer at TIAA-CREF, a Fortune 100 retirement company. During his 10 years with TIAA-CREF, he held several other senior leadership positions, including Executive Vice President Strategy, Integration and Planning where he was responsible for leading the development and implementation of the company strategy and all merger and acquisition activities. During that time, he led the first acquisition in the company’s history. He was also Executive Vice President of Product Management, responsible for the company’s $10 billion profit and loss statement. His first role at TIAA-CREF was President and CEO of the TIAA- CREF Life Insurance Company.

Bert came to TIAA-CREF from Horizon-Mercy where he was President, CEO and a member of the Board of Directors. This public-sector HMO grew from 5,000 members to over 100,000 members with revenue of $800 million to become the largest plan in the state of New Jersey. During his tenure, the health plan had 20 consecutive quarters of exceeding profit expectations.
Previously, Bert was with Prudential Insurance Company where he served as Regional Vice President of Managed Care, responsible for health plan operations in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. That role included all aspects of health plan operations, including commercial, Medicare, and Medicaid products and services.

Bert serves on the Board of Directors of Becton Dickinson (BDX), a Fortune 500 medical technology company. He is a member of the Audit (chair) and Compensation committees. He serves on the Board of Lowes Company (LOW), a fortune 100 home improvement company. He serves as a member of the Audit and Corporate Governance Committees. He also serves on the board of AXA-Equitable a leading US Insurance company where he also serves on the Audit and Compensation Committees.

Bert has been active on numerous professional and community boards and committees. He was named in 2002 as one of the top 50 African Americans in business by Fortune magazine and in 2005 and 2010 by Black Enterprise magazine as one of the 75 most powerful African Americans in business. He was recently elected as chairman-elect of the American Heart Association. He earned his BA from DePaul University from which he was awarded an honorary Doctorate. He is also a graduate of the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program (AMP168).

Military Heroes

John Falkenbury

President & CEO | USO of NC

Mr. John Falkenbury was appointed as President and CEO for USO of NC in March 2009. He is responsible for planning, organizing and directing the operations of the state headquarters, six USO fixed centers, three satellite centers, and a mobile center in the areas in and surrounding Jacksonville, Charlotte, Fayetteville, and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. In 2016, these base and airport centers provided nearly 600,000 critical resiliency, transition assistance, financial literacy and children's educational programs; travel assistance, as well as deployment and homecoming operations; Fallen and Wounded Warrior escort services; Holiday feasts; and extensive morale-boosting activities to Active Duty, National Guard, Reserve, military retirees and their families.

Mr. Falkenbury served over twenty years in the U.S. Army, with command and staff assignments throughout the United States and in Germany, including Chief of Operations and Director of Public Affairs, 56th Field Artillery Command, Germany; Battalion Executive Officer, 2nd Armored Division, Fort Hood, Texas; Office of Army Chief of Public Affairs, The Pentagon; and Director of Public Affairs, US Army War College and Carlisle Barracks at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. Upon leaving active service, he returned home to North Carolina to become the president and CEO of Five Oaks Nursing Center in Concord, managing partner of the Falkenbury Family LLC and president of the Stephen D. Falkenbury Jr. Foundation in Charlotte. He was an adjunct faculty member in the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Department of Communication Studies. In Charlotte, Mr. Falkenbury served as WBT-AM radio station’s on-air military analyst and was a credentialed military consultant and frequent guest for News14 Carolina. He was also heard on WPTF-AM in Raleigh.

Mr. Falkenbury received a bachelor’s degree in history from the Citadel, in Charleston S.C., and earned his master’s degree in management from Webster University, in St. Louis, Mo. He is also a distinguished graduate from the Defense Information School and a graduate from both the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.

William Manning

Charlotte Advisory Committee Chair, USO of NC and Senior Vice President, Senior Relationship Manager | Bank of America

Will Manning is a Business Banking Relationship Manager, responsible for managing a portfolio of commercial clients who require financial services and products to meet their needs. In this capacity, he serves Business Banking entities with annual revenues that range from generally $5MM to $50MM.

In addition to his current role, Will serves on the Board of the USO of NC and as the Charlotte lead for the Military Affairs Advisory Council, a select team of Bank of America employees advising the bank’s executive leadership team on military veteran support, volunteerism and recruiting. He also serves as the company’s Campus leader for MBA recruiting at Emory University. He is a recurring speaker & mentor for the Black Professionals Group. For his ongoing work, Manning was selected as a 2012 recipient of Bank of America’s Global Diversity & Inclusion award, among numerous global nominees.

Manning joined Bank of America in 2006 as a Program Manager in Global Wealth & Investment Management. For two years, he served as the Military Segment Sales Executive and served as a Customer Experience Exec in the Community North and Southeast Regions. Until he moved to his current position in June 2013, he served in Business Support and Associate Readiness roles for the Retail Bank.

Manning served with distinction as a Combat Engineer officer in the US Army for five years. He served as an Airborne Ranger and Master Parachutist in the Army’s famed 82nd Airborne Division. Before joining the bank, Manning was a Six Sigma Black Belt and Product Marketing Manager at GE Energy in Atlanta, GA for five years.

Born and raised in Gaffney, SC, Manning graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point where he majored in Mathematics and Electrical Engineering. He earned a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business.

He and his wife live in Charlotte, NC, with their three children.

2017 My Hero Gala Recap




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