Celebrating Women International

Telephone: (242) 325-5731- (242)-326-8358

Celebrating Women International Two
CWI 2015 Global Honourees
Please click each name to read The biography


H.E. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi

Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni

Joiyce Banda

Sister Linda Bevilacqua, OP, PhD

Catherine Samba Panza H.E. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi

Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni

Donna E. Shalala H.E. Joyce Banda H.E. Sandra Granger Dr. Muriel A. Howard Sister Linda Bevilacqua, OP, PhD

Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis

   Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis Dr. Elmira Mangum Nontombi Naomi Tutu The Honourable C.V. Hope Strachan Dr. Emily Cissy Houston Whitney Elizabeth Houston H.E. Deolatchmee Ramotar Grace Gealey
Regina Bell
Sheryl Lee Ralph

 Regina Belle



2015 Women of Distinction Global Award

Her Excellency Catherine Samba-Panza
President of the Central African Republic 

Her Excellency Catherine Samba-Panza (born 26 June 1954) is president of the Central African Republic and the first woman to hold the post. Prior to becoming Head of state, she was appointed Mayor of Bangui from May 2013.

Samba-Panza was born in Fort Lamy, French Equatorial Africa, to a mother from the Central African Republic (CAR) and a Cameroonian father. Prior to politics, she was a businesswoman and corporate lawyer. She moved to the CAR at the age of 18. She was trained in law at Panthéon-Assas University.

She was appointed Mayor of Bangui, the capital of the CAR, by the National Transitional Council (CNT) during the 2012–13 conflict 14 June, 2013.

Her appointment was accepted by both sides in the conflict, as well as by French President Francois Hollande. She is a non-partisan.

Following the Central African Republic conflict under the Djotodia administration and President Michel Djotodia's resignation after a CEEAC summit on 10 January 2014, Alexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet served as acting president until the CNT elected her as interim president from a list of eight candidates who had to prove they had no links to either the Séléka or the Anti-balaka.

She will lead the country to the 2015 election. Of the MPs who voted in the election, 129 of the 135 MPs were in parliament. After beating Desire Kolingba in a second round ballot, she said:

"I call on my children, especially the anti-balaka, to put down their arms and stop all the fighting. The same goes for the ex-Séléka - they should not have fear. I don't want to hear any more talk of murders and killings. Starting today, I am the president of all Central Africans, without exclusion."

Her call for talks between both sides to the conflict was welcomed by the parties. She was sworn in as president on 23 January 2014.

André Nzapayeké was appointed as prime minister to serve during her tenure, and he was replaced by prime minister with Mahamat Kamoun in August 2014.

United Arab Emirates The Cabinet
Her Excellency Sheikha\ Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi
Minister of International Cooperation and Development

H.E. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi joined the Federal Government in 2004 as Minister of Economy, becoming the first woman to assume a cabinet position in the UAE. She was later appointed in 2008 as Minister of Foreign Trade, and then in 2013 as Minister of International Cooperation and Development, with the responsibility of boosting the UAE’s role as a major donor and key player in global human development.

Besides her ministerial responsibilities, H.E. Sheikha Lubna is also a Board Director at the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, a member of the Governing Board of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy – National University of Singapore, a member of the Board of Trustees for Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of International Management, Phoenix Arizona, a Board Director at the Emirates Foundation for Youth Development, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Dubai School of Government and Co-Founder and Board Member of the Friends of Cancer Patients. During her two previous posts, the country enjoyed its most economically prosperous period and highest volumes of foreign trade.

H.E. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi

H.E. has been honored by several countries for her role in enhancing their relations with the UAE. In 2013 Forbes Magazine recognized her as the most powerful Arab woman and the world’s 67th most powerful women. H.E. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi obtained a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science from California State University of Chico (CSUChico) in 1981 and an Executive MBA from the American University of Sharjah in 2002. She also has an Honorary Doctorate in Science from California State University at Chico (US), an Honorary Doctorate in Law from the University of Exeter (UK) and an Honorary Doctorate in Economics from the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (Korea). Sheikha Lubna was born on 9th of January 1958.

Her Excellency The Honourable Janet Kataaha Museveni 
First Lady of the Republic of Uganda

Name:  Janet Kataaha Museveni

Date of Birth:             24th June, 1948

Place of Birth:            Ntungamo District, Uganda

Marital Status: Married to H.E. Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni President of the Republic of Uganda.

Family: Four grown children and 14 grandchildren

Education Background:  Completing a Masters Degree in Organizational Leadership and Management- Working on a thesis on the causes of maternal deaths in the country, Bachelor of Education, Makerere University (1995 – 1997)  and Diploma in Childhood Development from Sweden

Work-related Experience and Achievements:
• Minister for Karamoja Affairs - Involved in supporting Government Development Programmes in Karamoja Sub Region.Providing oversight and supervisory role of all government projects and programmes in the area. 


Janet Kataaha Museveni

• Member of Parliament for Ruhaama County Ntungamo District re-elected in 2011. She has made a tremendous contribution to the transformation of the livelihoods of the people of Ruhaama County through her various interventions.

•  Founder and Patron ofUganda Women's Effort to Save Orphans (UWESO)an indigenous NGO which cares for war-related and HIV/AIDS affected orphans in all the Districts of Uganda..  

• Founder and Patron of National Strategy for Advancement of rural Women in Uganda (NSARWU), an indigenous NGO which works with poor rural women to empower them economically through various interventions like micro credit.

• Founder and Patron of Uganda Youth Forum (UYF) an NGO that engages the youth of Uganda for character and behavior formation particularly with regard to HIV/AIDS prevention. This NGO was founded in 1992 and provides a platform for open dialogue on issues and challenges of growing up, such as sexuality, relationships, adolescence, and career choices.

• Goodwill Ambassador for Safe Motherhood in Uganda on behalf of the Ugandan Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) with a major role of advocating for reduction of maternal mortality and morbidity.

• National Champion for the Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV/AIDS.

• National Champion for ending HIV/AIDS among adolescents in the country

Hon. Janet Museveni is a professed and active Christian whose work and life is driven by her faith in God.


The President of the University of Miami

Former United States Secretary of Health and Human Services



Donna E. Shalala became Professor of Political Science and President of the University of Miami on June 1, 2001. President Shalala has more than 30 years of experience as an accomplished scholar, teacher, and administrator. 

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, President Shalala received her A.B. degree in history from Western College for Women. One of the country’s first Peace Corps Volunteers, she served in Iran from 1962 to 1964. She earned her Ph.D. degree from The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She has held tenured professorships at Columbia University, the City University of New York (CUNY), and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She served as President of Hunter College of the City University of New York from 1980 to 1987 and as Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1987 to 1993.

During her tenure, UM has solidified its position among top U.S. research universities. The University’s two successful Momentum campaigns raised $3 billion in private support for the university’s endowment, academic and research programs and facilities.

In 1993 President Bill Clinton appointed her U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) where she served for eight years, becoming the longest serving HHS Secretary in U.S. history. At the end of her tenure, a Washington Post article described her as “one of the most successful government managers of modern times.” In 2008, the Council on Excellence in Government named her one of the greatest public servants of the past 25 years. She served in the Carter administration from 1977 to 1980 as Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

In 2007, President George W. Bush handpicked Shalala to co-chair with Senator Bob Dole the Commission on Care for Returning Wounded Warriors, to evaluate how wounded service members transition from active duty to civilian society. In 2009, she was appointed chair of the Committee on the Future of Nursing at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Most recently, she was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations Independent Task Force on The Emerging Global Health Crisis. She was elected to the Council on Foreign Relations in 1982.

President Shalala has more than four dozen honorary degrees and a host of other honors, including the 1992 National Public Service Award and the 1994 Glamour magazine Woman of the Year Award. In 1992 BusinessWeek named her one of the top five managers in higher education and U.S. News & World Report named her one of “America’s Best Leaders” in 2005. In 2008 President Bush presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, and in 2010 she received the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights, which recognizes individuals for outstanding dedication to improving the health and life chances of disadvantaged populations in South Africa and internationally.

In 2011 she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York, and in 2014 she was recognized by the Harry S. Truman Library with the Harry S. Truman Legacy of Leadership Award and received the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s highest honor, the Sand in My Shoes Award, for her significant contributions to the community.

One of the most honored academics of her generation, Shalala has been elected to seven national academies: National Academy of Education; the National Academy of Public Administration; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the American Philosophical Society; the National Academy of Social Insurance; the American Academy of Political and Social Science; and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. 

H.E. Joyce Banda
Former President of the Republic of Malawi


Her Excellency Joyce Banda
Former President Of the Republic of Malawi

-Africa's Second Female President
-President of the Republic of Malawi (2012-2014)
-Activist and Philanthropist

An entrepreneur, activist, politician and a philanthropist, Her Excellency

Dr. Joyce Banda is the Former President of the Republic of Malawi, having ruled Malawi from 2012 – 2014.  She is Malawi’s first female President and Africa’s second. Voted as Africa's most powerful woman by Forbes magazine for two

Years running and voted as one of the most powerful women in the world, Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda is a champion for the rights of women, children, and the disabled and other marginalized groups.

Before becoming President of Malawi, Dr. Joyce Banda served as a Member of Parliament; Minister of Gender and Child Welfare; Foreign Minister and Vice President of the Republic of Malawi.  While serving as Minister of Gender and Child Welfare, Dr. Joyce Banda championed the enactment of the Prevention of

Domestic Violence Bill in 2006 which provides a legal framework and instrument for elimination and Prevention of all forms of Violence against Women and Girls.

President Dr. Joyce Banda is credited for turning around Malawi’s ailing economy which was on the verge of collapse when she became president in April 2012.  She instituted a number of economic reforms which did not only bring the economy back on the right track but also saw the economy growing from 1.8% in 2012 to over 6.2 % in 2014; improved the operational industrial capacity from 35% in 2012 to 85% in July 2014; enhanced Malawi’s foreign exchange import cover from one week in 2014 to three and a half months in July 2014; and also turned around Malawi’s fuel cover from 1 day in 2014 to 15 days in 2014

At any given time. In the areas of democracy, good governance and rule of law President Banda repealed a number of draconian laws that infringed on people’s civil liberties, media freedom and weakened institutions of good governance and rule of law.

Dr. Joyce Banda’s unwavering commitment to the promotion women’s maternal health and reproductive rights saw her establish Presidential Initiative on Maternal Health and Safe Motherhood which spearheaded the fight against high maternal mortality and promotion of safe motherhood in Malawi.  Remarkably during the two year period of her presidency, Malawi registered considerable success in the areas of maternal and child health and reproductive health in general as the country reduced maternal mortality ratio from 675 deaths per 100,000 live births to 460. The achievement is attributed to the model which President Banda introduced which was a balanced act of both traditional and technical dimensions and approaches.

Staying fast to her humanitarian convictions, President Banda sold the multi-million Dollar presidential jet, donated 30% of her salary to Malawi Council for the handicapped (MACOHA) an organization for people with disabilities during her two years of presidency.

A recipient of more than 15 international accolades including “Hunger Project Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger” shared with President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique in 1997, President Banda is a strong advocate for women and girls’ emancipation and empowerment and a prominent civil rights campaigner.  She founded the Joyce Banda Foundation International, which has guided projects from empowering women, rural communities to providing orphans education.  Currently the Joyce Banda Foundation International has benefitted over 1.3 million people in Malawi through

various programs and interventions ranging from economic empowerment, agriculture and food security, education, water and sanitation, youth development just to mention a few.  Among many other organizations, she established the National Association of Business Women, which lends women start-up cash to build small businesses, and the Young Women's Leadership Network, which mentors female students in schools.

On the international scene President Dr. Banda was instrumental in the formation of such organizations as the African Federation of Women Entrepreneurs (AFWE) currently running in 41 countries in Africa, Council for the Economic Empowerment of Women in Africa (CEEWA) and Americans & Africans Business Women’s Alliance (AABWA) of which she served as First President.

President Banda sits on a number of international organization bodies.  These include Executive Advisory Committee of UNIFEM, Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health and Scientific Advisory Board of the Programs in Global health and Social change for Harvard Medical School.

President Joyce Banda has been a panelist and motivation speaker at a number of international conferences and forums, including the International Conference on Women in Beijing, the American and African Business Women's Africa Conference in London, and the Women Deliver Conference in

Washington, DC.


Her Excellency, Sandra Granger
First Lady of Guyana
Her Excellency, Sandra Ganger was born in Georgetown, Guyana and attended Sacred Heart Primary School
and St. Joseph’s High School, and has two Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Guyana, in English Literature and in Portuguese.  She also holds a Master of Arts degree in Brazilian Literature and a Graduate Certificate in Latin American Studies from the University of Pittsburgh, USA.

She has worked as a scriptwriter at Radio Demerara; as a Lecturer in the Department of Modern Languages at
the University of Guyana, where she also served as Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Arts; and was subsequently,
at various times, a Research and Conference Officer, Senior Project Officer, Deputy Programme Manager
and Executive Management Officer at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat.  She retired from
the Secretariat in the position of Programme Manager, Conference Services.



The President of American Association of State Colleges and Universities

Dr. Muriel A. Howard was named president of AASCU in April 2009. She is the first African-American to lead one of the six presidentially based higher education associations in Washington, D.C. She is also AASCU’s first female president.

As AASCU president, Dr. Howard is an advocate for public higher education at the national level, working to influence federal policy and regulations on behalf of member colleges and universities; serving as a resource to presidents and chancellors as they address state policy and emerging campus issues; developing collaborative partnerships and initiatives that advance public higher education; directing a strategic agenda that focuses on public college and university leadership for the 21st century; and providing professional development opportunities for presidents, chancellors, and their spouses.
As a college president, Dr. Howard was an active member of AASCU for many years. Her volunteer involvement with AASCU includes serving as chair of the board of directors (2006–2007) and committee and commission memberships that include the Voluntary System of Accountability Presidential Advisory Committee, the Millennium Leadership Initiative, the Commission on Public University Renewal, and the Alliance for Regional Stewardship. Dr. Howard continues to serve as a faculty member for AASCU’s New Presidents’ Academy.

Her professional and scholarly interests include educational leadership, women and minorities in the academy, and a long-standing personal commitment to public service. Dr. Howard serves on a number of boards including Air University (Chair); the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance; Merchants Insurance Company; The Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association, and the Association Mutual Health Insurance Company.

Formerly the president of Buffalo State College, State University of New York from 1996 to 2009, Dr. Howard led a campus of more than 11,000 students, approximately 1,700 faculty and staff, and a financial operation of more than $214 million. Prior to joining Buffalo State, she was the vice president for public service and urban affairs at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, where she served in various leadership capacities over a 23-year period.

A graduate of the City University of New York’s Richmond College, Dr. Howard holds a master’s degree in education and a doctor of philosophy in educational organization, administration, and policy from the University at Buffalo. She earned a certificate from the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University.

She has also received six honorary degrees and many awards for her contributions to public higher education, for service to the community, and for her commitment to diversity. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta and the Washington D.C. Chapter of Links, Inc.

She and her husband, Albert “Mickey” Howard reside in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Sister Linda Bevilacqua
The President of Barry University

Sister Linda Bevilacqua, OP, PhD returned to her Alma Mater as Barry University's sixth president in July 2004. Her inauguration was truly a homecoming since throughout her diverse and distinguished career in higher education she has always been rooted at Barry.

When Sister Linda began her Barry experience in 1958 as a full-time undergraduate student, her leadership skills quickly emerged. She was a student leader holding various club and class offices, including junior class president. As a senior, she served as Sodality Prefect, an elected position of high honor at Catholic colleges and universities.

After graduating magna cum laude from Barry in 1962 with a bachelor's degree in elementary education, she entered the Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Michigan, making final profession in 1968. Sister Linda taught first grade for five years and completed her master's degree in guidance and counseling at Siena Heights College (now University) in 1969. She then returned to Barry, her Alma Mater, as assistant dean of students, and was promoted to dean of student affairs in 1970, a position she held until 1978, when she left Barry to pursue doctoral studies.

Sister Linda completed her PhD in higher education administration and leadership at Michigan State University in 1980. She returned to Barry in 1981 as director of alternative programs. The following year, Sister Linda became associate vice president for academic affairs and the first dean of Barry's School of Professional And Career Education, then and now Barry's largest school. There she led the creation and administration of degree programs for working adults at various sites throughout the state of Florida.

Sister Linda left Barry in 1986 following election as a member of the leadership team of the Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Michigan. She served as administrator of the congregation for six years and was responsible for overseeing the congregation's administrative, financial, legal, corporate and real estate matters.

She also facilitated the movement of the Adrian Dominicans' two hospitals in California and Nevada into a multi-state, multi-institution, co-sponsored health system known as Catholic Healthcare West. She served as a member of CHW's board of directors for seven years and as chairperson of the board from 1990 to 1994.

From 1993 to 2002, Sister Linda was president of Gwynedd-Mercy College in Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania. During her term, the College constructed four new buildings, doubled its full-time undergraduate population, and raised $10 million, the largest amount of money ever raised.

Sister Linda is active in numerous professional and community organizations, both nationally and locally. These include:

• American Association of Higher Education (AAHE)
• Board of Directors of the Greater Miami Habitat for Humanity
• Board of Governors of Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce
• Board of Directors of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) – currently serving as vice-chairperson
• Executive Committee of Florida Campus Compact
• Florida Association of Colleges and Universities (FACU)
• International Women's Forum – Florida chapter
• National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU)
• Orange Bowl Committee
• Presidents' Council of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF)
• Presidents' Council of the Sunshine State Conference/NCAA Division II
• Presidents' Council of the Dominican Higher Education Association
• South Florida Board of the American Heart Association

Sister Linda is also the recipient of various awards, including the Community Service Award from the South Florida International Press Club and the Excellence in Governance Award presented by the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California.
She was the first recipient of the Barry University Distinguished Adrian Dominican Sister Alumna award and the first recipient of the Leadership Award from Barry's School of Education.

In addition to having earned her bachelor's degree from Barry, Sister Linda was awarded the Doctor of Laws degree ("honoris causa") from the University in 1992.

Sister Linda is a member of four national academic honor societies - Delta Epsilon Sigma, Kappa Delta Pi, Kappa Gamma Pi, and Phi Delta Kappa. As an undergraduate, she was elected to lifetime membership in Barry's honor society, Lambda Sigma.
In addition to her Barry roots, Sister Linda also has deep ties to the South Florida community. Her family has lived in Miami-Dade County since 1958 – the same year she began her education at Barry. She was born on March 7, 1941 in Queens, New York.

The President of Florida Memorial University

Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis is a Trustee Scholar graduate in Higher Education Leadership and Policy from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she earned her Doctorate in Higher Education Leadership and Policy. She received her Juris Doctorate degree from West Virginia University College of Law in Morgantown, West Virginia, and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from West Virginia State College Institute in West Virginia. The consummate professional, Dr. Artis has extensive experience in university fundraising and holds a Certificate of Fundraising Management from Indiana University. She has also earned a Certificate of Mastery in Prior Learning Assessment from DePaul University’s School of Continuing & Professional Education.

Dr. Artis was recently appointed unanimously by the Board as the 13th President of Florida Memorial University. She is the first woman President in the University’s history. During her short stint as Acting President at Florida Memorial University, Dr. Artis has provided immeasurable leadership and direction to the University family at all levels. She has become well-acclimated to the South Florida community, and has been appointed to multiple community and corporate boards and associations, increasing involvement and exposure of the University.
On campus, Dr. Artis has spearheaded a series of new and innovative programs for students and is diligently striving to improve corporate and community relations and endowment initiatives for the institution.

Throughout her career, Dr. Artis’ extensive academic experience and accomplishments have been widely accepted and highly successful. For nearly a decade, she served in numerous roles at Mountain State University; including Director of Legal Studies, Senior Academic Officer for Distance Education, Vice President of University Advancement, Executive Vice President & Chief Academic Officer, and the University’s Provost. Her responsibilities included the management and supervision of all academic courses and programs for the University; including its distance education offerings, branch campuses, sites and centers, as well as Institutional Research and Assessment.

Dr. Artis’ academic interests have included student retention, particularly as it relates to adult and non-traditional students, academic and co-curricular support structures in alternative learning modalities, strategic planning, institutional effectiveness and student learning outcomes assessment.

Prior to embarking on a career in academia, Dr. Artis enjoyed an active general litigation practice for eight (8) years. She served as a partner in Assessment by Design, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in the development and implementation of comprehensive assessment strategies for higher education institutions. The company provided comprehensive assessment planning, implementation and evaluation of graduate and professional programs, including allied health and legal education.

Additionally, she served as an attorney at Wooton Law Firm, and an associate attorney at Brown & Levicoff PLLC, among other notable positions. A strong community activist, Dr. Artis is active in a host of statewide and local organizations. She is the Chair of the Board of Law Examiners for the state and a past president of the Mountain State Bar Association – the oldest minority bar association in the country.
Dr. Artis is married to Selby Artis and is the mother of three: Christopher, Jayden and Jocelyn. 

The President of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Dr. Elmira Mangum began her tenure as the 11th president of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) on April 1, 2014. Making history as the first permanent female president in the institution’s 127-year legacy.

A seasoned administrator, Dr. Mangum has served at the executive level of nationally recognized institutions of higher learning for more than 28 years. From 2010 until her appointment at FAMU, Dr. Mangum served as vice president for planning and budget at Cornell University. While at Cornell, she was the senior administrator charged with managing the university's resources and annual budgeting process. 

Prior to her successful tenure at Cornell, President Mangum served in various administrative capacities for nine years at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, including serving as senior associate provost. Her career in higher education leadership began at the University of Wisconsin Extension, Geological and Natural History Survey as an operations specialist. She also served as an assistant dean, associate provost, and vice provost at the University at Buffalo (SUNY)


Dr. Mangum received a bachelor’s degree in geography and education from North Carolina Central University. She graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a master’s degree in public policy and public administration, and earned a second master’s degree in urban and regional planning. She received a doctor of philosophy in educational leadership and policy from the University at Buffalo.

Dr. Mangum’s commitment to public service is exemplified by her service to numerous boards and organizations, including: the American Association of University Women, the American Council of Education, Higher Education Resource Services (HERS), the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc., the National Council of Negro Women, the United Way, and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

Nontombi Naomi Tutu, Race & Gender Justice Activist

Nontombi Naomi Tutu the challenges of growing up black and female in apartheid South Africa have been the foundation of Nontombi Naomi Tutu’s life as an activist for human rights. Those experiences taught her that our whole human family loses when we accept situations of oppression, and how the teaching and preaching of hate and division injure us all. In her speeches she blends this passion for human dignity with humor and personal stories. 

Tutu is the third child of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nomalizo Leah Tutu. She was born in South Africa and had the opportunity to live in many communities and countries. She was educated in Swaziland, the US, and England, and has divided her adult life between South Africa and the US. Growing up the “daughter of…” has offered Naomi Tutu many opportunities and challenges in her life. Most important of these has been the challenge to follow her own path and role in building a better world. She has taken up the challenge and channeled the opportunities she has been given to raise her voice as a champion for the dignity of all.

Her professional experience ranges from being a development consultant in West Africa to being program coordinator for programs on race & gender and gender-based violence in education at the African Gender Institute at the University of Cape Town. In addition Tutu has taught at the University of Hartford, University of Connecticut, and Brevard College in North Carolina. She served as program coordinator for the historic Race Relations Institute at Fisk University, and was a part of the Institute’s delegation to the World Conference Against Racism in Durban. 

She started her public speaking as a college student at Berea College in Kentucky in the 1970s when she was invited to speak at churches, community groups, and colleges and universities about her experiences growing up in apartheid South Africa. Since that time she has become a much sought-after speaker to groups as varied as business associations, professional conferences, elected officials, and church and civic organizations.

As well as speaking and preaching, Naomi Tutu has established Nozizwe Consulting. Nozizwe means “Mother of Many Lands” in Xhosa and is the name she was given by her maternal grandmother. The guiding principle of Nozizwe Consulting is to bring different groups together to learn from and celebrate their differences and acknowledge their shared humanity. As part of this work she has led Truth and Reconciliation Workshops for groups dealing with different types of conflict. She also offers educational and partnership trips to South Africa for groups as varied as high schools, churches, hospices, K-12 teachers, and women’s associations. These trips emphasize the opportunities to share our stories and experiences. Nontombi Naomi Tutu plans to pursue a Masters in Divinity and is the single mother of two daughters and a son.

 The Hon. C. V. Hope Strachan, MP Minister of Financial Services
The Commonwealth of the Bahamas

The Honourable C. V. Hope Strachan was appointed the Minister of Financial Services in January 2015 and, on 25th March, 2015 she also assumed Ministerial responsibility for the Department of Local Government. Mrs. Strachan entered the political arena in 2007 and was appointed to The Senate for the period 2007 to 2012.  She was elected to the Parliament of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas in 2012 and is the proud Representative of the Seabreeze Constituency. Her first appointment was Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport and Aviation from May 2012 to January 2015, then to her present post. 

Mrs. Strachan’s political journey might be attributed to a generational progression as she is the granddaughter of the late Mary Naomi Ingraham who championed the Suffragette Movement in The Bahamas. During the early sixties Mrs. Ingraham along with several other female luminaries fought tirelessly and obtained voting rights for Bahamian women.  As a result, in the 1962 general elections women voted for the first time in The Bahamas.  It is this rich persevering legacy that has inspired Mrs. Strachan to pursue a political career.   

Mrs. Strachan’s educational foundation began at Mother Donaldson’s Pre-school, and the Willard Patton Primary   School. She is a graduate of St. John’s College.  She obtained her Bachelor of Laws Degree from Holborn Law Tutors (University of London) in1989, and was called to the Bars of England and The Bahamas. Mrs. Strachan established HOPE STRACHAN & CO. and is an accomplished Attorney-at-Law in the field of civil and commercial litigation.  She was Acting Circuit and Stipendiary Magistrate from 1995 – 2000.

Her list of civic and professional accomplishments includes - Acting Circuit and Stipendiary Magistrate 1995–2000, Member of the Blue Ribbon      Commission on Constitutional Reform, Member of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, Chairman of the New Providence Port Authority Board, Past Member of the Zonta Club of New Providence, and Member of the St. Agnes Anglican Church Women.  She is the proud parent of three adult children.

Dr. Emily Cissy Houston
International Recording Artist and Musical Legend

Dr. Emily Cissy Houston, an international recording artist and musical legend has seemed to have led several lives. 

Singing since the age of five, touring the country with her family gospel group, The Drinkard Singers, she graced the stage with such Gospel luminaries as Mahalia Jackson and Alex Bradford.  The Drinkard Singers performed at Carnegie Hall and in the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival, which led to a recording contract with RCA.  They went on to record three landmark gospel albums. 

Since the early 60’s her vocal and arranging talents have enhanced the work of almost every important artist of our time.  With the formation of the female quartet, The Sweet Inspirations, Cissy went on to record with Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Van Morrison, Dusty Springfield, Elvis Presley, Chaka Kahn, Luther Vandross, Paul Simon, Bette Midler, Nancy Wilson, David Bowie, Roberta Flack, The Neville Brothers and the late Whitney Houston, to name a few.  The Sweet Inspirations went on to record five albums of their own and received a Grammy nomination. 

As a solo artist, Cissy Houston has recorded 12 albums and garnered two Grammy Awards for Best Traditional Soul Gospel for her albums Face To Face and He Leadeth Me.  She has graced stages around the world, from stadiums to intimate cabaret rooms.  She was awarded the NARRAS Award for Best Cabaret Artist.  Cissy has performed in films including “The Vernon Johns Story” with James Earl Jones, and “The Preacher’s Wife” with Denzel Washington, and off Broadway in plays such as Taking My Turn, This Is My Song, and Your Arms Too Short To Box With God.  She also recorded a children’s album and amazingly found time to pen her autobiography “How Sweet The Sound”. 

Cissy Houston is the recipient of three honorary Doctor of Humanities degrees and an honorary Doctor of Music degree and countless awards including the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation and the Woman in Music Award.  Throughout her career, Cissy has continued to direct the music ministry of The New Hope Baptist Church, where her wisdom and mentorship is an invaluable resource.  She continues to motivate and inspire as she travels the country as a motivational speaker. 

Cissy Houston has recorded over 600 records throughout her career, but perhaps her greatest role is as the proud mother of Gary, Mike and the late superstar Whitney Houston, ensuring that her legacy of talent and influence on American music will continue for years to come.

2015 Posthumous Award

International Recording Superstar and Musical Legend Whitney Houston


Whitney Elizabeth Houston was born into a musical family on 9 August 1963, in Newark, New Jersey, the daughter of gospel star Cissy Houston, cousin of singing star Dionne Warwick and goddaughter of soul legend Aretha Franklin.

She began singing in the choir at her church, The New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, as a young child and by the age of 15 was singing backing vocals professionally with her mother on Chaka Khan's 1978 hit, 'I'm Every Woman'. She went on to provide backing vocals for Lou Rawls, Jermaine Jackson and her own mother and worked briefly as a model, appearing on the cover of 'Seventeen' magazine in 1981.

She began working as a featured vocalist for the New York-based funk band Material and it was the quality of her vocal work with them that attracted the attention of the major record labels, including Arista with whom she signed in 1983 and where she stayed for the rest of her career.


Her debut album, 'Whitney Houston', was released in 1985 and became the biggest-selling album by a debut artist. Several hit singles, including 'Saving All My Love For You', 'How Will I Know', 'You Give Good Love', and 'The Greatest Love of All', were released from the album, setting her up for a Beatles-beating seven consecutive US number ones. The album itself sold 3 million copies in its first year in the US and went on to sell 25 million worldwide, winning her the first of her six Grammies.

The 1987 follow-up album, 'Whitney', which included the hits 'Where Do Broken Hearts Go' and 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody', built on her success but it was the 1992 film The Bodyguard (1992) that sealed her place as one of the best-selling artists of all time. While the movie itself and her performance in it were not highly praised, the soundtrack album and her cover of the Dolly Partonsong 'I Will Always Love You' topped the singles and albums charts for months and sold 44 million copies around the world.

That same year she married ex-New Edition singer Bobby Brown with whom she had her only child, their daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown in March 1993. It was about this time that her much documented drug use began and by 1996 she was a daily user.

Her 1998 album, 'My Love Is Your Love' was well reviewed but the drug abuse began to affect her reputation and press reports at the time said that she was becoming difficult to work with, if she turned up at all. She was dropped from a performance at The 72nd Annual Academy Awards (2000) because she was "out of it" at rehearsals. Her weight fluctuated wildly - she was so thin at a 'Michael Jackson' tribute in 2001 that rumors circulated the next day that she had died - and her voice began to fail her. She was twice admitted to rehab and declared herself drug-free in 2010 but returned to rehab in May 2011.

Her 2009 comeback album 'I Look To You' was positively received and sold well, but promotional performances were still marred by her weakened voice. Her final acting performance was in Sparkle(2012) (a remake of the 1976 movie, Sparkle (1976)), released after her death.

Her Excellency Deolatchmee Ramotar,
Former-First Lady of Guyana

Her Excellency Deolatchmee Ramotar  was born on the Essequibo Coast of Guyana, in the Dutch-named Village of Huist Dieren.  She is the sixth of ten children.  Growing up in a large family, Mrs. Ramotar frequently took the responsibility caring for her younger siblings, taking them to the Clinic and dropping them off to school.  This interaction inspired her to pursue teaching right out of High School.  Mrs. Ramotar spent 3 years teaching children at the Kindergarten in her village.

At the age of 20 years Mrs. Ramotar decided unlike most of her peers that she wanted to have a career and with the encouragement of her mother, decided to join the nursing profession.  While studying nursing, she also perused a study in Business Administration since she believed that it was important to diversify one’s knowledge base and be prepared as much as possible for any situation that life presents.  In fact, to this day she encourages not only her children but those students she meets, to pursue education, to learn skills and gain knowledge that even they would not think that they would need because one day we would be called to put our knowledge into use

In November 1974, Mrs. Ramotar married the former President of Guyana, Mr. Donald Ramotar.  Together they set out to build a life.  While she was never interested in politics, she was interested and believed that it was important that policies be put in place that would allow everyone to have access to the skills and resources to build a better life and contribute to their society.  Hence, she supported her husband with his political work while herself working in the field of nursing and together supporting their home.

In 1991 Mrs. Ramotar began to work with the Sugar Industry Labour Welfare Fund Committee, eventually becoming the Head of the Organisation and today, the Chairperson. This Organisation looked after the welfare and interest of ordinary sugar workers, ensuring that they get housing for families, that there be basic infrastructure for betterment of their lives, etc.

After her husband ascended to the Presidency of Guyana, Mrs. Ramotar chose as her platform, working with the family and children, since she believed for a a child to succeed and to be given opportunities, the family and the community must also be supported and made stronger.  The work of her Foundation is also focused on supporting autistic children and providing additional classes for underprivileged school children.

Regina Belle
4-Time Grammy and Academy Award Winner Vocalist


Regina Belle is a virtuous woman and she has lived her life and career with an integrity that has always been apparent in her music.  After the chart-topping success of the traditional, foot-stomping record “God is Good” from her gospel debut, Love Forever Shines, Belle is prepared to take her integrity to another level with her newest gospel opus HIGHER (Pendulum Records/Walker Davis Entertainment).

“What happened with ‘God Is Good’ on the first project was just surreal.  I knew that I wasn’t going to have to start to the bottom because I do have a name and a very blessed career, but I had no idea that the church would be as receptive to my music as they were.  I guess they felt safe because my (R&B) music has always maintained the decency factor and there was always integrity in everything I sang about in my songs.”  The intention of her debut into gospel music was 

important, since Belle was raised in church singing gospel from the age of 8.  “ I was purposeful in making sure that the music fans and people who were seeking God, that might not have been churchgoers, were able to see that God was using the same person—Regina Belle.”

Regina Bell

The four-time Grammy® Award and Academy® Award winner vocalist, whose hits have included such stellar offerings as “Make It Like It Was,” “If I Could,” “Dream In Color” and “A Whole New World (with Peabo Bryson) is prepared to offer the world a closer look into her heart and her walk with God with HIGHER.  

As First Lady of New Shield of Faith Ministries in Atlanta, where her husband, John S. Battle III, is senior pastor, Regina Belle knew that the world was watching her transition, but more important to her was her own walk.  “As I continue to flourish and expand in my journey as a woman and a wife, I felt God calling even higher, calling our relationship higher.  There are some places that Regina Belle can go that others, even ‘church folks’ can’t go.  God said ‘I can trust you’ and so here we go!” 

The new project, which features duets with Lowell Pye (Men of Standard), powerhouse vocalist Kathy Taylor and the one and only Pastor Shirley Caesar, is a powerful offering of the best of Regina Belle, both personally and vocally.  Recorded in Houston, TX, under the watchful direction of Chris Walker (“my spiritual brother and sounding board”), HIGHER is a collection of stunning ballads and it takes a few musical turns that will both surprise and please Belle’s loyal and faithful fans.

The lead single—“Make An Example Out Of Me”—is a pure and powerful testimony from Belle, who suffered from an illness recently that caused her to have two different surgeries and kept her from traveling for almost a year.  “After I had gone through the surgery, I didn’t know that God was using me as an example.  But what I did know was that my illness didn’t define my relationship with God but my response definitely would.” She knew it was time to go higher and “Make An Example Out Of Me” was Belle’s forceful declaration as she prepared to get up. 

Another powerful song on HIGHER is “Mighty In Battle,” which Regina co-wrote. “This song reminds me of a war cry.  It’s almost like an anthem.  The cry of ‘Right now now now now now!’ kept speaking to me.  When Chris (Walker) heard the playback of what we had put down in the studio, he broke it open and put that thing back together and it’s anointed.  Lowell Pye gave the song exactly what it needed!” The track is strong and solid, but with a very percussive groove that’s sure to set the church and the charts on fire. 

Songs like “Coming Back” and “God Must Have Been With You” are standout tracks that are perfect for the soaring alto that has made Regina Belle a crowd favorite and anointed vessel since her 1987 debut on Columbia Records.  “Coming Back,” a sweeping ballad of reclamation and restoration, is vintage Regina Belle, offering her pure vocals over a beautiful melody.  “God Must Have Been With You” is also in the vein of the style of the beautiful song stylist.  “These songs are more of who I am…lyrically in the gospel realm, but musically in line with what God has always done with me.”

Being able to finally record with her musical mentor (and “spiritual mother”) Pastor Shirley Caesar is a dream for Belle, one that should have been fulfilled on her last offering, except that Regina was too nervous to reach out to the anointed storyteller.  “When I saw (Pastor) Shirley, she asked me why I never called.  I wasn’t going to miss that opportunity twice.”  The phone call gave birth to “Been So Good To Me,” which is a combination of a traditional quarter-style song, with hints of jazz, bringing together the best of both singers for a powerhouse selection. Belle was initially a bit nervous with the style of the song, because “I didn’t want to get out of my lane, but I felt that thing. The song has jazz influences in it and a little more of me and we married the two.”  Belle and Caesar, who have played mother and daughter in a Vy Higginson production of “Mama, I Want To Sing,” recorded Caesar’s part in North Carolina in a few takes in Caesar’s fiery vocal style that shows why the veteran is still the Queen of Gospel music.  “When she asked me if I was singing my part, I said ‘No, Ma’m. I respectfully decline.’  After she sang that song, I wasn’t about to come behind her in the studio.”  

Belle felt equally as excited about pairing with gospel trailblazer Kathy Taylor, whose hits include “Oh How Precious” and “Corinthian Song” are keeping her traveling the globe, when the soulful sisters recorded “I Will Bless The Lord.”  The stirring hymn is a glorious offering from two women who are anointed and not ashamed of the gospel and the gifts placed in them.

With HIGHER, Regina Belle has a simple but powerful message. “I pray that each listener has an experience. My whole objective in doing this record is to bring people into the presence of God.  Some of us don’t always get there through the preached word.  The music is only second to that, but I want to be able to know that I did my job and if you don’t have words to say, then use my words.  If you don’t have a voice, then use my voice.  If you don’t have the music or the setting, use mine. I believe that my music helps people get to a special place.”  That place is a closer walk with God, one that is sweeter, deeper, richer and HIGHER!


Grace Gealey

 Grace Gealey Caymanian actress  moved to America to attend the University of South Florida in Tampa, where she received a B.A. in Theater Arts. During her time at USF, acting afforded her the opportunity to communicate viscerally; a desire that came from being a child of deaf adults (CODA). Upon graduating from college, Gealey was accepted into the University of California Irvine's graduate program and obtained her M.F.A in Acting. A successful showcase took her from Los Angeles to New York City, where Gealey performed professionally. Several theater productions, short films and national. 

Sheryl Lee Ralph
Actress, Singer & Producer.


Sherly Lee RalphTriple threat DREAMGIRL, is an acclaimed veteran of film, television and the Broadway stage. 

Her award winning body of work includes originating and creating the role of Deena Jones on Broadway in the landmark musical Dreamgirls, earning her Tony and Drama Desk Award Nominations for Best Actress, and a place in theatre history.

She is an honored AIDS activist who strongly believes that the number one reason most people with HIV/AIDS don't tell people they have HIV/AIDS is because most people don't know they have it. They haven’t been tested.  She is the founding director of the DIVA (AIDS) Foundation 501C3 which she created in memory of the many friends she has lost to HIV/AIDS. She also produces the longest consecutive running musical AIDS fundraiser in America, DIVAS Simply Singing! Which is now in it’s eighteenth year. Ms. Ralph sits on the boards of Project Angel Food and The Black AIDS Institute and is the celebrity spokesperson for the National Minority AIDS Council.


After Dreamgirls, Ms. Ralph turned her attention to music, television and film. She scored a top-ten selling dance hit in the mid-eighties with the infectious anthem In the Evening, which continues to be remixed by DJs around the world.

On television, she has starred in It's a Living, her own series New Attitude, the George Foreman series George and she starred as Las Vegas showgirl turned Anthony's wife in the hit comedy Designing Women. Voted one of TV's Favorite Moms for her portrayal of step mom with the mostest, Dee on UPN's hit series Moesha, she also broke new ground in the SHOWTIME series, Barbershop as the beautiful, post-operative transsexual, Claire; and brought a memorable new face to war on ER.

Her extensive film credits include The Mighty Quinn with Denzel Washington, Mistress with Robert De Niro, Eddie Murphy's Distinguished Gentleman and Sister Act II with Whoopi Goldberg, Piece of the Action with Sidney Poitier and The Flintstones. Sheryl Lee's performance with Danny Glover in To Sleep With Anger won her the Independent Spirit Award for best supporting actress. She has made magic in the HBO original film Witch Hunt, with Dennis Hopper, directed by Norman Jewison and Deterence with Timothy Hutton and Kevin Polack.

As a producer, Ms. Ralph created the critically acclaimed Divas Simply Singing!, an award winning staged evening of song and entertainment featuring some of the most talented females in the entertainment industry. This annual event has raised millions of dollars and become one of the most important and highly anticipated AIDS benefits in Hollywood.  She is also the founding creator of The Jamerican Film & Music Festival which in five years has given birth to five SHOWTIME Filmmaker Finalists.

Sheryl Lee has found new success in writing and directing.  Her critically acclaimed thought provoking one-woman show, "Sometimes I Cry",was inspired by the real life stories of women who are infected and affected by HIV and AIDS. Sheryl Lee breaths life into these culturally diverse women through word, movement, and song exposing how each woman copes with her new reality. 

Ms. Ralph wrote and directed the award-winning film short Secrets. With an all-star cast that includes Oscar nominee Alfre Woodard, Victoria Rowell, La Tanya Richardson, Robin Givens and Ralph herself, this powerful dramedy was a finalist in the SHOWTIME Filmmakers Series, the HBO Film Short Competition in the Acapulco Black Film Festival, the Hollywood Film Festival, the Pan African Film Festival, Urban World Film Festival and the audience favorite at the Outfest Film Festival. Secrets also had the honor of screening in the Toronto International Film Festival.

Mother of two, with a blended family of four, Sheryl Lee married State Senator Vincent Hughes of Pennsylvania in what Entertainment Tonight called, "the most elegant and romantic wedding!" She acknowledges that love is the greatest gift to be given and shared.