To view speeches and poems from our event please click the following links:
Listen to poetry from Zora Hoard at our Voices event Click Here.
Listen to speech from Trevor Walsh at our Voices event Click Here.
Listen to speech from Executive Director & Co-Founder Khary Lazarre-White at our Voices event Click Here.
Listen to poetry from Elizabeth Acevedo at our Voices event Click Here.
What is Voices?
Voices is our signature annual celebration of our youth and our life changing programming. Voices provides a platform for our members to share their personal journeys, often through spoken word performances. Voices is also the time when we celebrate and highlight the accomplishments of our honorees – individuals who embody the ideals of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol: Positivity, Community, Knowledge and Future.
For more information please email: Events Associates Inc
Richelieu DennisFounder, CEO and Executive Chairman, Sundial Brands;
Founder and Chairman, Essence Ventures
Soledad O’BrienAward-winning Journalist, Speaker, Author and Philanthropist
Rahsan-Rahsan LindsayCo-Chair, Board of Directors, Bro/Sis
Clara MarkowiczCo-Chair, Board of Directors, Bro/Sis
Marcy Grau* & Bennett Grau
Marti Meyerson* & Jamie Hooper
Michelle Ores* & Charles N. Schorin
Fundraising Vice Chair
Tiffany R. Warren*
Paul E. Butler*
Ravi J. Mallik*
Nicole G. Valentine*
Linda & Paul Barnett
Laura & Lloyd Blankfein
Elizabeth & Stuart Bohart
Bobby Cannavale & Rose Byrne
Donna & Derrick Cephas
Ulrika & Joel Citron
Jacqueline Clements & Gregory Astrachan
Lori Cohen & Christopher Rothko
Heather Corbett & William Amenta
Rabbi Rachel Cowan*
Cynthia Dames & Tamar Podell
Annie Dickerson & Dr. Soumi Eachempati
Mayor David N. Dinkins
B. Alan Echtenkamp*
Katja Goldman & Michael Sonnenfeldt
Stephen C. Graham*
Lynelle C. Granady
Joanna Hagan & Matthew Rego
Ann & Weston Hicks
Carol M. Joseph
Emma & Michael Kerins
James A. Krauskopf*
Rashida K. La Lande*
Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands
Pedro A. Noguera*
Catherine Lieber Shimony*
Susan L. Taylor
Reverend John Vaughn*
Nina M. & Theodore V. Wells
Douglas H. White*
Michael K. Williams
Founder, CEO and Executive Chairman, Sundial Brands;
Founder and Chairman, Essence Ventures
Entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist Richelieu Dennis has a passion for entrepreneurship and innovation that traces back to his family’s roots in Africa and that is sustained by a vision to fill unmet consumer needs around the world. As the founder, CEO and Executive Chairman of Sundial Brands, his passion has resulted in the 27-year-old family-founded, run & operated manufacturing company’s success today as the maker of top hair, natural, bar soap and bath and body brands via its SheaMoisture and Nubian Heritage lines, as well as its newest brands and forays into prestige beauty via its Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture hair care line and Nyakio skin care line.
After being widowed at a young age, Richelieu’s grandmother – Sofi – sold handcrafted Shea butter soaps and salves in Sierra Leone to support her family. She became known as a healer throughout the countryside and taught these recipes to her grandson. In 1991, upon graduating from renowned business school Babson College and unable to return to his home country of Liberia because of civil war, Richelieu partnered with his college roommate, Nyema Tubman, to pursue a bold concept: address specific skin and hair care issues that had been traditionally ignored by mass market skin care companies. Drawing from deep family traditions, Richelieu incorporated four generations of recipes and wisdom into natural bath and body care products and co-founded Sundial Brands with his mother – Mary Dennis – and Nyema.
With a foundation of family heritage and his own cultural experiences, Richelieu leads Sundial's vision to serve under-served consumers through problem/solution products made with natural and certified organic ingredients. As a result, he has become recognized in the market for research innovation because of his continual testing and incorporation of culturally authentic and globally-sourced ingredients into his formulations. By focusing on the unmet skin care and hair care needs of a diverse range of consumers, Richelieu has led the beauty and personal care manufacturer from selling its products on the streets of New York City to selling in and co-creating a comprehensive portfolio of product offerings with America’s largest retailers across mass, prestige, drug, grocery, beauty supply, natural and other specialty channels, as well as extending its direct distribution to the UK, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, and the Caribbean, with more to come.
In November 2017, Richelieu architected a first-of- its-kind deal in the beauty and personal care industry – marking a continuum of almost three decades of demonstrating how business can be done differently and creating new paths to building a lasting legacy. With the landmark acquisition of Sundial Brands by Unilever, Richelieu negotiated the largest natural personal care deal ever in the U.S. and also the largest consumer products deal by a majority black- owned company. Most critically, as part of this purpose-driven agreement, he and Unilever created a groundbreaking US$100 million New Voices Fund to invest in and empower women of color entrepreneurs.
Richelieu is also an innovator in the identification of and response to the cultural shift in the U.S. which has resulted in the New General Market, which Sundial defines as an amalgamation of cultures, ethnicities, and demographics aligned against commonalities, need states and lifestyles, e.g. an inclusion approach rather than a traditional segmentation approach. Through his vision and the company's Community Commerce business model, its purpose-driven way of doing business, Sundial equips underserved people and communities with access to the opportunities and resources that enable them to create lasting value for themselves and others. Extending from the company’s shea butter and coconut supply chains in Ghana, to executive education and investment for girls and women of color entrepreneurs at institutions including Darmouth/Tuck School of Business and Babson College in the U.S., to organizational partnerships including the Jackie Robinson Foundation and WACO Theater Center, to support of Todee Mission School, the Smart Liberia – GET program and UNIFORM in Liberia, Sundial’s Community Commerce efforts are building stronger, self-sustaining communities and enterprises around the world.
Under Richelieu’s leadership, Sundial has been certified as a B Corp company and holds a Fair for Life social and fair trade certification. Additionally, in 2015 Sundial was named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in the United States and received the 2015 Corporate Social Responsibility of the Year Award from WWD/Beauty Inc, while Richelieu and Nyema received the Lewis Institute Changemaker Award from Babson College for their efforts in challenging the status quo, creating positive social change and making the world a better place. Sundial has also previously received Black Enterprise’s “Emerging Business of the Year Award,” which recognizes businesses that have poised themselves for growth, and in July 2017, the company made its debut at #10 on the Black Enterprise BE 100s list – recognizing the largest black-owned companies in the U.S. In addition, SheaMoisture received the 2016 Ad Campaign of the Year Award from WWD/Beauty Inc for its “Break the Walls” efforts, and both SheaMoisture and Nubian
Heritage have garnered awards from publications including Allure, Better Nutrition, Ebony, Esquire, Essence, Family Circle, Life & Style, Natural Health, Parents, Prevention and Real Beauty, among others.
In 2017, Richelieu founded Essence Ventures, an independent African-American owned company focused on merging content, community and commerce to meet the evolving cultural and lifestyle needs of women of color. In January 2018, the company announced that it had acquired Essence Communications Inc. from Time Inc. – reestablishing ESSENCE as a 100% black-owned independent company. Richelieu currently serves as the chair of Essence Ventures.
Richelieu has been named by OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network to its inaugural “SuperSoul 100” list celebrating a dynamic group of 100 trailblazers using their power to move the world forward and whose vision and life’s work are bringing a higher level of consciousness to the world around them and encouraging others to do the same. He has also been named by Fast Company as one of the “Most Creative People in Business.”
In December 2017, the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, conferred upon him one of the nation’s highest honors – the distinction of Knight Commander – and admitted Richelieu into the Most Venerable Order of the Knighthood of the Pioneers.
Journalist, Speaker, Author and Philanthropist
Soledad O’Brien is an award-winning journalist, speaker, author and philanthropist who anchors and produces the Hearst Television political magazine program “Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien.” O’Brien, founder and CEO of Starfish Media Group, also reports for HBO Real Sports, the PBS NewsHour, WebMD and has authored two books. She has anchored and reported for NBC, CNN and others, winning numerous awards, including three Emmys, the George Peabody award, an Alfred I DuPont prize and the Gracie. Newsweek Magazine named her one of the “15 People Who Make America Great.” With her husband, she is founder of the PowHERful Foundation that sends 25 girls to and through college. Follow her on Twitter:@soledadobrien