Economic Empowerment through Enterprise Development

Monthly Archives: January 2017

A. G. Gaston Community Service Award

Make It Happen Theatre at the A. G. Gaston Conference

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PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 26, 2017

MEDIA CONTACT:
LaShanna R. Tripp
Phone: 205-837-3075
E-mail: Wordz.Rhythmz@gmail.com

MAKE IT HAPPEN THEATRE’S YOUTH ENSEMBLE COMMISSIONED TO PRESENT ITS PLAY

G. GASTON: THE MAN, THE MOGUL & HIS MISSION


Birmingham, AL Make It Happen Theatre Company, Inc. (MIH) is still making it happen. The MIH Youth Ensemble was commissioned by Bob Dickerson of the Birmingham Business Resource Center (BBRC) to present its original play, A. G. Gaston: The Man, The Mogul & His Mission, at the 2017 A. G. Gaston Conference. The performance, which is free and open to the public, will take place at the historic Carver Theatre on Tuesday, February 14 at 6:00 p.m. 

make-it-happen-birmingham-al-1The MIH Youth Ensemble, which staffs certified theatre educators and guest artists, trains young performers who may not otherwise have access to theatre. The Youth Ensemble has been performing in and around Birmingham since the late 1990s, and secured a prominent support system via a partnership with the UAB/ArtPlay Education and Outreach program formerly under Kimberly Kirklin. However, after a strong run of eight years at the Alys Stephens Center, funding for the MIH Youth Ensemble became unavailable and the group sought out other sources of funding. Thankfully, there are arts advocates, such as Mayor William Bell and the City of Birmingham, The Dannon Project, and the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Graduate Chapter who value arts education, and have wholeheartedly supported the efforts of this phenomenal multicultural arts organization.

 

“Words cannot express how thankful we are to Jeh Jeh and Kerri Pruitt of The Dannon Project, who immediately stepped in to provide a place for our young performers to rehearse,” said MIH Founder and Artistic Director, Alicia Johnson-Williams, who also wrote and directed the positively-reviewed production. “These students are extremely talented and dedicated. It speaks volumes to them when they can see that there are others out there who believe in them and truly support them.”

mih-birmingham-alFor details on how to make a tax-deductible donation or sponsorship to this creative and educational organization, please contact Alicia Johnson-Williams at 205-915-0863 or Valerie Reed at 205-907-6986 or visit www.MakeItHappenTheatre.org. For media information, contact LaShanna Tripp at 205-837-3075 or Wordz.Rhythmz@gmail.com.

About Make It Happen Theatre Company, Inc.

Make It Happen Theatre Company, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide on an annual basis, a season of quality theatrical productions, cultural diversity workshops and arts events for adults and children. To bridge the gap among the cultures, promote literacy and provide positive, productive performing arts experiences for adults and children in the greater Birmingham Area. As well as, to establish itself as one of the Southeastern region's premiere multi-cultural theatre companies, to provide quality theatrical productions. Visit MIH at www.makeithappentheatre.org and www.facebook.com/MakeItHappenTC.

©2016 Make It Happen Theatre Co. The 2015-16 MIH Youth Ensemble performing A. G. Gaston: The Man, The Mogul & His Mission at the Alys Stephens Center for Black History Month.

THE HISTORY BEHIND BIRMINGHAM’S ANNUAL A.G. GASTON CONFERENCE

By Donna Francavilla
Special to The Times


A. G. Gaston, Birmingham ALThe A.G. Gaston Conference was born in 2004 when Robert Dickerson Jr. of the Birmingham Resource Center and Gaynelle Adams Jackson of Advanced Planning Services launched it in an effort to focus on economic empowerment. Every year, hundreds visit Birmingham to attend the A.G. Gaston Conference which begins on Tuesday, Feb. 14. Registration is underway. 

The Economic Empowerment Luncheon will be held Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017 beginning at noon at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. The purpose of the conference is to help more businesses become more competitive via workshops, speakers and hands-on demonstrations.

This year’s attendees are slated to hear from three nationally recognized business leaders, Janice Mathis, Dr. Dennis Kimbro and Ramon Ray. Mathis is the executive director of the National Council of Negro Women. Kimbro is a best-selling author and master trainer for the prestigious Napoleon Hill Foundation, and Ray, Editor of Smart Hustle Magazine, and author of the best seller, “Facebook Guide to Small Business Marketing,” which is currently getting rave reviews from across the nation.

The conference was born in 2004 when Robert Dickerson Jr. of the Birmingham Resource Center and Gaynelle Adams Jackson of Advanced Planning Services launched it in an effort to focus on economic empowerment. Their goal was to present an annual conference that would motivate attendees, strengthen entrepreneurs and address concerns of those in the workplace.

“My desire to develop an event honoring A.G. Gaston began in 1996, the year he passed away,” Dickerson said. “I started doing research, attending business expos and ended up with a folder in my desk drawer labeled A.G. Gaston Expo.”

Dickerson knew Jackson and that she and her husband Vernon had started an event planning business. “I mentioned my idea about an event honoring Gaston,” Dickerson remembered.

Jackson saw his vision right away. She recalled, “Bob and I were sitting in his office when he literally pulled out a folder labeled A. G. Gaston Expo and asked me to look at its contents. I immediately thought it was something I’d be excited about and I eagerly agreed to join forces”.

Dickerson said, “by then I’d transitioned from the idea of an expo with booths, displays, etc. to more of an event that educated and inspired.”  Said Jackson, “Even though we’ve shortened the name, our conference is, and always has been about empowerment.”

What began as an expo has transformed into a vibrant discussion about economic empowerment. The conference serves as a catalyst to inform, educate and inspire business owners and advocates.

Jackson said, “At the center of many conference discussions are lessons leaders can learn to cultivate the next generation of business owners committed to serving the community.”

In Jackson, Dickerson found a partner who had the expertise in putting on events and the passion. “We were both advocates for small, minority, black and historically disadvantaged and underutilized businesses” he said. The plans to honor the Birmingham millionaire and business owner, in part, were inspired by Dickerson’s personal experience having worked for Gaston at Citizens Federal Savings Bank in the late 1980’s.

“Having worked for Gaston’s bank for a few years, I developed a greater admiration for what he had accomplished after seeing it first hand,” said Dickerson.

Dickerson, who said he felt privileged to have known Gaston and is pleased to continue his legacy, and Jackson decided that it was only fitting that a Birmingham conference which was focused on helping the black business community be named for Gaston. The late executive knew that successful business ownership was a key to making communities more viable. Gaston believed that the entire marketplace wins when business owners from all walks of life receive help to become more successful.

Each year, a select group of business owners, civic leaders and educators are honored during the conference for what they’ve done to improve the community. To that end, the conference hosts are seeking unsung community heroes for this year’s Community Service Awards. Nominations will be accepted through Jan. 31, 2017 on the conference website.

Registration for the A.G. Gaston Conference is underway at by clicking here.

Nominations are being accepted for the 13th A.G. Gaston Community Service Awards

Deadline approaching

ArthurGaston-largeBIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The A.G. Gaston Conference is seeking unsung community heroes for the 2017 A.G. Gaston Conference Community Service Awards. Nominations will be accepted through January 31st, 2017 by clicking here. The awards will be presented during the 13th annual conference to be held Wednesday, February 15, 2017 during the luncheon, beginning at noon at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

The two day conference, which begin on Tuesday, February 14th features nationally-known speakers and local leaders and focuses on economic empowerment. The community service awards are presented to individuals who exemplify characteristics of the late black millionaire A.G.Gaston who founded and ran several businesses in the Birmingham area. Nominees for the award should be active in their church, involved in philanthropic activities and impacting Birmingham and the state of Alabama in positive ways.    Past winners of the community service awards include Lisa Riley of Lift Fund for her advocacy about autism and to Kerri Pruitt of the Dannon Project which focuses on presenting opportunities for ex-offenders.  Past conference award recipients represent a Who’s Who among Birmingham civic and educational leaders. Among them are: Dr. Perry Ward, President of Lawson State Community College, Fred McCallum, President of Alabama AT&T, and the late Reverend Abraham Woods.

The conference,  founded in 2005 by Bob Dickerson and Gaynelle Adams-Jackson, serves as a think tank venue discussing enterprise development and how it contributes to economic empowerment. Dickerson said, "Every day someone in our community is making a difference. We seek to discover and honor those individuals who touch and improve lives because it is not only important to recognize the business leaders in our communities but the unsung heroes as well."

Nominations can be made by clicking here.  Finalists for the award will be notified by February, 10th 2017. 

This year’s conference theme is closing the wealth gap through entrepreneurship and policy. Conference attendees are slated to hear from three nationally recognized business leaders, Janice Mathis, Dr. Dennis Kimbro, and Ramon Ray. Mathis is the Executive Director of the National Council of Negro Women, Kimbo  is a best-selling author and master trainer for the prestigious Napoleon Hill Foundation, and Ray, Editor of Smart Hustle Magazine, and author of the best seller, “Facebook Guide to Small Business Marketing,” which is currently getting rave reviews from across the nation.

The Gaston conference draws business leaders from across the state along with a diverse group who gather to honor Gaston’s legacy, discuss current trends in business, honor its community leaders and empower entrepreneurs and business owners. According to Gaynell Jackson, “At the center of many conference discussions are lessons leaders can learn to cultivate the next generation of millionaires committed to serving the community.