Honoring Women, Saving Lives

Class Act Productions Awards Area’s Leading Women and Raise Awareness Around Breast Cancer

By PGS Staff

cal 1Strong leaders are what make communities thrive.

They are the ones that use their skill, position of influence, and—most importantly—heart to improve and cultivate the public their serve. They are the ones that move in the background, guiding their village in a positive direction without ever taking credit.

On October 7, fifteen of Prince George’s County tireless leaders were honored for doing exactly that during the Second Annual Community Awards Ceremony.

Presented by Class Act Productions LLC, the Saturday night gala celebrated Prince George’s County distinguished women who not only give back to their community, but change the lives of those in it.

For honoree Carol Schwartz, these types of trailblazers are greatly needed in the county.

“We need good elected officials and you could be one of them. Don’t always think about somebody else,” said Schwartz, a former District of Columbia councilmember, in her acceptance speech. “I wasn’t born with a lot of confidence. I didn’t grow up with confidence. When I first ran for the school board in 1974, I could barely speak because saliva wet my mouth and my lips use to stick to my teeth. It was really embarrassing.”

“I didn’t have confidence. I just knew I wanted to help,” she added.

“It’s very hard to market a product or service that you don’t believe in but when many believe in that product, it’s very easy to market,” stated honoree Dr. Deidra W. Hill of Prince George’s Community College. “I believe that Prince George’s Community College is the number one choice for higher education in Prince George’s County. I love my job…I love what I do.”

cap 2Throughout the energetic night, each nominee echoed Schwartz’s and Dr. Hill’s respected humility.

“I’m very humbled by the company that I’m being recognized in. As I look at your resumes, I’m like, ‘How did I get here again?’ So I truly appreciate it,” said community nominee Lieutenant Colonel Rena’ Marie Batts with a humbling laugh matched by the crowd. “I’m very appreciative because I get a chance to represent those men and women in uniform who served our country. Many have done much more than I have and I’m very proud to be one of them to represent them here tonight.”

“It’s so interesting when you get awards because most of the time you’re out there doing the work and you really don’t want to get awards because you get your joy and your inspiration by helping others and seeing that they’re happy and they’re enthused with whatever their projects are,” said another community nominee Johnine Clark, Esq. owner of Law Offices of Johnine Clark, P.A.

Clark’s sage words precisely defined the atmosphere of the night’s event. The pink and white affair at Newton White Mansion was overflowing with illustrious county members who moved through the room with a spirited air but took the time to intimately connect with their fellow Prince Georgians.

One woman, however, was the star of the night—and rightfully so. Karen McConnell-Jones, founder and CEO of Class Act Productions, was praised for her talent, dedication and overall work in the county by each of the ceremony’s honorees, most of whom have known McConnell-Jones for a long time. Sisters4Sisters Network President Peggy Morris, also a nominee, even called McConnell-Jones her “top doll baby.” (For a full list of honorees, as well as more information on McConnell-Jones’ story, pick up the Suite’s upcoming Fiesta edition, available for sale soon.)

cap 3The ceremony also served as a tribute to breast cancer patients and survivors, a subject close to McConnell-Jones’ heart. During the event, Class Act Productions made a donation to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in memory of Amanda Gullick, who lost her battle to a disease that affects over 200,000 women each year in the United States. Representatives from the renowned foundation were also present to register interested attendees for future Susan G. Komen walks, as well as provide more information on breast cancer awareness.

Lt. Col. Batts knows all too well the toll breast cancer can take, noting in her acceptance speech that the program is “very special to her” because the disease has touched her family. One of her aunts, who accompanied her at the ceremony, is a breast cancer survivor, as well as her mother for 17 years, and a dear friend for five years.

The Second Annual Community Awards Ceremony was sponsored byWashington Afro American Newspaper, Washington Informer Newspaper, A Touch of Class Caterers LLC, Overdue Recognition Art Gallery, and Wake Campbell Entertainment, among many others. Prince George’s Suite also sponsored the event.

To read McConnell-Jones’ story, and to stay on top of the latest county news, subscribe to Prince George’s Suite here.


Photos: Stevie Gaymon
Top, right: Karen McConnell-Jones with Prince George’s Suite Publisher Raoul Dennis.
Published on Prince George’s Suite – Monday, October 15, 2012 under PGS Staff byline
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