YMCA honors local residents

The event kicks off at 6:30 p.m. at the Bank of Kentucky Center on the campus of Northern Kentucky University.

Cost is $100 per seat, and the event is designed to celebrate the success of young people when positive adult role model inspire young minds and to raise funds for the YMCA Black and Latino Achievers Program.

Among those who will be recognized are: Torre’ Cook (West Chester Twp.); Louise Gissendaner (Mason); Maisha Gray-Diggs, Ph.D. (Liberty Twp.); Rolanda Johnson-Wilkerson, Ph.D. (Fairfield); Tamara Jordan (Fairfield); Tomas Mendez (Mason); and Doronna K. Vickers (Fairfield).

• For Cook, who believes in leading a life balanced with integrity, responsibility and caring, it is a natural fit to have a job that involves finding fair and objective solutions to situations.

Cook was hired by Macy’s in 2005, and within nine months, he was promoted to a supervisory position that grew into a coaching role and eventually to manager of Steps 2 Claims employee relations.

Cook has always believed the most important gifts one can share are time, friendship, perseverance and character. He also has sought opportunities to give back as a participant of many Macy’s fundraisers and community service projects.

• Gissendaner, the Vice President and Manager of Bancorp Outreach and Strategic Initiatives at Fifth Third Bank, is responsible for developing community strengthening programs with 18 affiliates in 12 states.

She is a leader who knows how to cultivate collaboration and results; and has lent those talents to numerous boards, including the Center for Families & Children, Deaconess Community Foundation and the Women of Color Foundation.

Additionally, Gissendaner spends countless hours mentoring young professionals and serving on an array of committees. For all of her efforts, she has received numerous accolades such as the National Black MBA Association ‘Community Impact in Business’ Award.

• As the Doctoral Recruiting Manager for P&G, Gray-Diggs manages all facets of the Ph.D. full-time, post doctorate and doctoral intern recruiting process.

Gray-Diggs is a dedicated volunteer with organizations that improve the lives of young people, women and minorities.

Her involvement includes serving as Vice President of the board for iSPACE (a nonprofit that offers hands-on learning of STEM), planning and leading STEM exposure opportunities at Cincinnati Hughes STEM High School and sharing her tissue transplant story at LifeCenter (the Cincinnati affiliate of Donate Life Ohio) speaking engagements.

• A seven-year veteran of P&G, Johnson-Wilkerson is a scientist whose research helps the global company test and develop new personal beauty products.

She has a passion for inspiring young women to pursue their own strengths and co-founded Beauty and Brainz, a mentoring program for young girls.

Professionally, Johnson-Wilkerson serves on the board of the Nutrition Council of Cincinnati, and is a member of the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce WE LEAD program and 100 Wise Women of Cincinnati. Her scientific work has been published in key peer-reviewed journals and she has presented at several professional and scientific meetings.

• A product specialist for Sears Optical, Jordan has been an associate of Luxottica for 10 years.

She is a member of the LuxTigers Mentoring Program Steering Committee and the Luxottica Women of Vision Culture Team, and is secretary of the company’s African American Culture Team.

However, her favorite activity has been serving as a Cycle of Sight captain for Luxottica’s OneSight Foundation where she attended two numerous local and national missions. Outside of work, Jordan has engaged many youth in strengthening life skills as coordinator of mime ministry at New Jerusalem Baptist Church.

• Raised by parents who worked the coffee and sugar cane fields in Puerto Rico, Mendez grew up in inner-city streets while his parents provided him the experience of attending a private Catholic school where community service was encouraged.

His job at Duke Energy is as distribution planner for the Downtown Underground Network; however he has also served as president and community outreach chair for the company’s LUCES.

Additionally, Mendez is a board member for Students with Special Smiles, a nonprofit that supports Olyer Elementary School locally and operates a free school in Paraguay for children with disabilities.

• Vickers has participated at Winton Woods High School’s job fair, Fairfield High School’s career day and Cincinnati Financial Corp.’s annual World of Work tour for students.

She is a member of Higher Ground Global Ministries, where she previously served as director of the REACH mentoring program, administrator for the Education and Scholarship Committee and as a mentor with the Daughters of Noble Character Ministry.

Vickers is an IT communications analyst at CFC and is a member of the company’s Wellness Committee and CIC Speaks, a Toastmasters club.

• Featured at this year’s Gala will be artist David Garibaldi, known for his unique stage entertainment combining rhythmic music with hip-hop moves as he transforms a blank canvas into a graffiti-style masterpiece.

• For additional Gala information, visit www.myy.org. To reserve a seat, contact Toni Miles at tmiles@cincinnatiymca.org or call (513) 362-YMCA (9622).

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