For Immediate Release
August 22, 2023
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(BPRW) TMCF Honoring Impactful Trio, Including NBA Champion Shaquille O’Neal, During Leaders & Legends Awards Gala

(Black PR Wire) WASHINGTON, D.C. – Thurgood Marshall College Fund is proud to announce the distinguished honorees for its upcoming 36th Anniversary Leaders and Legends Awards Gala at the Washington Hilton on Saturday, September 23, 2023. This highly anticipated event marks the culmination of an impactful week for TMCF, including the Wells Fargo-sponsored Leadership Institute from September 20-23.

During this prestigious black-tie affair, TMCF will honor three remarkable individuals who have significantly contributed to society. NBA Hall of Famer and four-time NBA champion, Shaquille O’Neal, will receive the esteemed Breaking Barriers Award. Thasunda Brown Duckett, the Chief Executive Officer of TIAA, will be recognized as the CEO of the Year. Additionally, the outstanding achievements of Dr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr. President of Alabama State University, as the Educator of the Year will be celebrated.

Headlining the celebratory evening will be rhythm & blues legend Chante’ Moore, who will be performing. Moore is known for her chart-topping hits “Love’s Taken Over” and “It’s Alright.” In 2022, Chanté returned to the BET SoulTrain Awards with a retrospective soul-stirring performance of her many hit songs. Aside from her success in music, Moore became a television personality in 2013, being involved in TV One’s reality series R&B Divas: Los Angeles for three seasons. 

“We are privileged to acknowledge Shaquille O’Neal, Thasunda Brown Duckett, and Dr. Quinton Ross, who, through their passion, commitment, and excellence, have tirelessly worked to make the world a better place,” remarked TMCF president and CEO Harry L. Williams. “The Gala is a momentous occasion that allows us to showcase the remarkable impact and legacy of justice, Thurgood Marshall. We look forward to honoring this exceptional group of leaders and continuing our mission to advance equity and inclusion for all.”

The awards bestowed reflect the enduring values of Justice Thurgood Marshall, promoting equal opportunities irrespective of race, creed, religion, or origin. These acclaimed honorees serve as role models for future generations of leaders and legends alike.

The TMCF Annual Gala draws philanthropists, elected officials, and socialites nationwide. The proceeds generated from this remarkable event will provide vital support to TMCF’s programmatic efforts and its commitment to empowering the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), where 300,000 students thrive and excel.

Attendees should be prepared to be inspired as TMCF celebrates excellence, elevates voices, and champions change during this extraordinary occasion.

Here’s more about each award and its 2023 recipient.

The Breaking Barriers Award is presented to a bold and spirited individual who has had a national and international impact in paving the way in education, business, entertainment, arts, public service, or the legal field for future generations to follow.

As a Basketball Hall of Famer, O’Neal’s playing career was legendary, where he won four NBA championships and was named NBA Finals MVP three times. O’Neal was a 15-time NBA All-Star. He was named the 2000 NBA MVP, and the Olympic gold medalist was selected as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.

However, O’Neal’s post-playing career has been as successful and impactful as his time in the NBA. The current TNT analyst has proven to be more than just a basketball player but a true champion both on and off the court. O’Neal’s extensive business portfolio includes food chains, nightclubs, car washes, and partnerships with companies such as General Auto Insurance and his fast-food chain, Big Chicken. READ MORE

The CEO of the Year Award honors a corporate chief executive officer who has made a groundbreaking contribution to their organization, exemplifies the spirit of leadership, demonstrates a profound respect for education and professional development, and has a significant public service and philanthropy background.

Brown Duckett is president and chief executive officer of TIAA, a leading provider of secure retirement and outcome-focused investment solutions for millions of people and thousands of institutions. She leads a company whose mission is defined by financial inclusion and opportunity – goals and values she has upheld throughout her career. READ MORE

The Education Leadership Award is the highest individual award presented annually to an extraordinary president or educational leader of an HBCU who has demonstrated outstanding business, academic, and visionary leadership through unwavering action and highly effective management of their institution.

A distinguished career educator with more than 25 years of experience in higher and K-12 public education, Ross has been the president of Alabama State University since 2017. National media has engaged him as an expert on the future of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Ross’ growing prominence as an educational leader was recognized in November 2019 with his election as vice-chairman of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education’s Council of Presidents. READ MORE

Tables and Seats for the Gala are still available. For more information about Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the Gala, or this year’s honorees, please visit TMCF’s website at