American Journey Award for
Sheila R. Adams James
Partner, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Sheila R. Adams James
Partner, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill
400 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Friday, March 17, 2023
Reception: 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dinner: 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
25 Years of the Ron Brown Scholar Program
The Ronald H. Brown American Journey Award was established in 2009 to honor outstanding Americans who exemplify the vision and transformative ideals of Ronald H. Brown (1941-1996). Ronald H. Brown American Journey Awards are granted to individuals who have developed opportunities and fostered the achievements of others. Like the late Ron Brown, these role models demonstrate through their life experiences the importance of mentoring, service and nurturance of a network of leaders in America. They embody the spirit of the Ron Brown Scholar Program mission and serve as a model to which Scholars should aspire.
All proceeds from the event go directly towards providing scholarship and mentoring support to Ron Brown Scholars.
Sponsors will be recognized in the 2023 Ronald H. Brown American Journey Awards Tribute Booklet, on the Ron Brown Scholar Program website, and through social media platforms.
To purchase tickets, please select below or contact Anita Karadia at 434-964-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tribute booklet ad reservations and artwork will be accepted until February 1, 2023. Please send all color camera-ready artwork to Anita Karadia at email@example.com.
Ron Brown Staff will determine final placement of all ads in the booklet.
2,500 Specifications for half page ad: 4.0625” x 5.25”
The program is named for Ron Brown, who became the nation’s first Black secretary of commerce during the Clinton administration in 1993. Three years later, Brown was killed in a plane crash …
Earvin “Magic” Johnson congratulates the RBSP on celebrating 25 years of changing lives and honors our Ron Brown Scholars.
The Latest from our Scholars, Programs and Impact
Abby Phillip is CNN’s senior political correspondent and anchor of Inside Politics Sunday, an hour-long in-depth conversation on the week’s most important political storylines, with a diverse set of analysts and news-making interviews. She joined the network in 2017 to cover the Trump Administration and served as White House Correspondent through 2019. In January 2020, she moderated CNN’s Democratic Presidential Debate in Iowa. She also anchored special coverage of Election Night in America surrounding the 2020 election, which lasted several days until CNN was the first news outlet to project Joe Biden as the winner. In January 2021, she anchored the CNN Special Report: Kamala Harris: Making History about the Vice President’s barrier-breaking career and the childhood experiences that helped shape her.
Phillip joined CNN from The Washington Post where she served as a national political reporter, covering the White House. Before joining the Washington Post, Phillip was a digital reporter for politics at ABC News. She has also covered the Obama White House for POLITICO as well as campaign finance and lobbying.
Phillip was named to the Time 100 Next list in 2021 and she was the recipient of the National Urban League’s Women of Power award.
Phillip was raised in Bowie, Md. and is a graduate of Harvard University with a degree in Government. She currently lives in Washington with her husband, daughter and their pup Booker T.
Jack Leslie is former Chairman of Weber Shandwick, a leading global communications network that delivers next-generation solutions to brands, businesses and organizations in major markets around the world. A strategic communications executive, political consultant and international development activist, Jack brings a long track record of helping clients integrate global political, economic, cultural and communication trends to create innovative, forward-looking strategy and plans. Some of the companies he has counseled include American Airlines, Bank of America, GE, HP, Johnson & Johnson, MasterCard, Merck & Co, Microsoft, Nestle, Novartis, Coca-Cola, Pfizer, Siemens and Unilever.
Jack was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2003 to serve on the Board of Directors of the US African Development Foundation. He was named Chairman of the USADF Board by President Barack Obama in 2009, and was re-confirmed for the position by the U.S. Senate in 2016. He was also appointed to the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa in 2016. Jack is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a member and former Chairman of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid, member of Duke Global Health Institute’s Board of Advisors and of the Ron Brown Scholar Program. He is also Chairman of the board of directors for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatrics AIDS Foundation, a member of the Water.org Board, a member of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation Board, a trustee of the Circumnavigators Foundation, and former Chairman of the Board of USA for UNHCR (the UN refugee agency).
Jack began his career as an aide to Senator Edward Kennedy, serving as his political director and as Executive Director of the Fund for a Democratic Majority. He joined Sawyer Miller Group, a prominent political consulting firm, in 1983 and became president of the company in 1985. During the 1980’s and 1990’s, Jack provided political counsel to dozens of presidential and statewide campaigns in the United States, Latin America, Asia and Africa.
Jack is a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.
Sheila is a partner in the Antitrust & Competition Group and Litigation Department of Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP in New York. Sheila represents clients in a variety of civil litigation and government investigations, and her practice focuses on antitrust investigations and litigation. Her clients have included firms in the media and entertainment, technology, pharmaceutical, financial services and manufacturing industries, as well as individual corporate directors. She has also devoted substantial time to representing individuals on a pro bono basis, including several military Veterans seeking disability benefits and a client who was granted clemency by President Barack Obama in January 2017. In 2017, she was recognized for her pro bono work with the Brooklyn Bar Association’s Champion of Justice Award and Davis Polk’s Pro Bono Award. In 2019, Sheila received a National Bar Association “40 Under 40 Nation’s Best Advocates” award, as well as one of the association’s five individual “40 Under 40” awards for Excellence in Leadership. She is a Co-Chair of the Spring Meeting of the ABA Antitrust Law Section and a member of the Board of Directors of the Columbia Law School Association.
Prior to joining Davis Polk, she served as a law clerk for the Honorable Raymond A. Jackson of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, and the Honorable Carl E. Stewart, former Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. A native of Harlem and Washington Heights in New York City, Sheila is a first-generation college graduate who received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University and law degree from Columbia Law School.
Jack Leslie is Chairman of Weber Shandwick, one of the world’s leading public relations firms. He is a veteran communications strategist, having advised corporations and governments on high-profile campaigns over the past three decades.
Jack served as a senior aide to Senator Edward Kennedy in the late 1970s, and later became President of Sawyer Miller Group, a pioneer in the political media consulting business. In the 1980s, he served as political consultant and media advisor to dozens of candidates for U.S. Senate and Governor, and to presidential candidates in the U.S., Latin America, Africa and Asia. Political and business leaders alike have sought his counsel during significant crises, including American Airlines following the attacks of September 11th. He later testified before the House International Relations Committee on U.S. public diplomacy programs directed at the Muslim world.
In 2009, Jack was appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate to serve as Chairman of the U.S. African Development Foundation. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Chairman of the U.S. Agency for International Development Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid, former Chairman of USA for UNHCR and a member of the Board of Advisors of the Duke Global Health Institute. Jack is a graduate of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.
Atty. Julian D. Miller is the Senior Supervisor Attorney for Children’s Rights practice at Southern Poverty Law Center, where he focuses on impact litigation and policy advocacy for issues of educational equity and children’s rights. He is also the Co-Founding Director of the Reuben V. Anderson Institute for Social Justice and Assistant Professor of Political Science at historic Tougaloo College. He is an advocate, educator, and community activist who is committed to economic, social, and racial justice through grassroots-led efforts that would shift policy in a direction that would uplift all poor and working people.
He was born and raised in the Mississippi Delta region in Winstonville, MS. He matriculated at Harvard University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in government in 2007. While at Harvard, he co-authored policy white papers addressing redistricting reform and poverty, taught politics and civics to inner-city kids in Boston, and was a staff writer for the internationally-published Harvard Political Review. During his junior year, he served as a policy director for a congressional campaign. After college, he returned home to the MS Delta to do anti-poverty and community development work there before entering law school.
He graduated from the University of MS School of Law in December 2012 with honors. He is served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Presiding Judge T. Kenneth Griffis, Jr. of the Mississippi Court of Appeals. He was formerly a senior associate attorney at some of the most prestigious law firms in Mississippi, where he successfully litigated several multi-million-dollar cases at the trial and appellate levels in complex governmental litigation, administrative, commercial litigation, products liability, and labor and employment matters in state and federal court.
He has served as lead counsel and argued cases before the Mississippi Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, most recently arguing a first-of-its-kind special education matter on behalf of a disabled child in Mississippi.
He is the founding director and adjunct professor of the Education Law & Policy Clinic at Mississippi College School of Law. In that capacity, he works with law students, attorneys, and advocates to litigate on behalf of low-income public school students of color. He represent them in administrative matters, disciplinary hearings, youth court hearings, and special-education due-process matters across the state. Additionally, he engages in legislative policy advocacy and well as conduct impact litigation cases on issues of educational equity. He has drafted legislation to ban corporal punishment in Mississippi as well as to make school disciplinary and truancy statues compliant with federal special education law. He was also special counsel to the Office of Special Education of the Mississippi Department of Education.
For the past 15 years, however, his main focus has been developing anti-poverty projects in the areas of economic justice, public health equity, educational equity, and criminal justice equity that will have a transformational impact on public policy in Mississippi. He co-founded an organization called Delta Fresh Foods Initiatives that developed sustainable, community food systems throughout the Mississippi Delta as means of both food equity, public health equity and economic justice and interdependence. He parlayed that work into co-founding the Reuben V. Anderson Center for Justice, which was established to honor the life and legacy of Reuben V. Anderson, who was the first African-American graduate of the law school and the first African-American county court judge, circuit court judge, and Mississippi Supreme Court Justice.
The Center would be the first of its kind in Mississippi to address the intersection of race, poverty, educational inequity and economic injustice through grassroots community development projects, policy advocacy, and impact litigation. In partnership with Tougaloo College through the establishment of the Reuben V. Anderson Institute for Social Justice, he has raised several million dollars in grants to develop a worker-owned community food system on campus to address issues of economic and food justice; started the largest after-school mentoring, arts, and academic enrichment program serving local public-school students in the Jackson, MS area; implement a policy campaign in partnership with a statewide coalition of organizations to reform the TANF welfare grant program to support a State Earned Income Tax Credit for working families in Mississippi; lead a coalition of reentry services organizations to advocate for statewide criminal justice reform; and initiated a multi-million dollar NIH grant program to implement a food as medicine initiative to address preventative health and infant mortality in the Mississippi Delta. Additionally, he founded the Bennie G. Thompson Delta Leadership Development Program at Tougaloo College. The program is working collectively with local organizers and social entrepreneurs, elected officials, and Tougaloo student fellows in three Delta counties (Bolivar, Coahoma, and Sunflower Counties) to develop sustainable, worker-owned food economies in those counties through leadership training, technical assistance, capacity mapping, strategic planning and implementation, and programmatic and policy evaluation. The project will create a replicable model for the development of sustainable food systems in Mississippi.
He chronicled some of his anti-poverty work in the Mississippi Delta in a chapter in a book entitled, Problem Solving for Better Health: A Global Perspective. His most recent work is chronicled as part of an interview for a book entitled The Moment: Changemakers on Why and How they Joined the Fight for Social Justice published this past November. He also has other publications to his credit related to public policy and economic justice, most recently in an article for Non-Profit Quarterly discussing a statewide strategy in Mississippi to develop worker-owned cooperative-based food systems. He serves as Chairman of the Board of Greater Jackson Arts Council, Secretary of the Board for the 100 Black Men of Jackson, and a board member of the Mississippi Food Policy Council along with several other organizations and non-profits.
Aaliyah Williams is founding partner of Adventure Media where she manages emerging & established writers and directors. She is a Peabody Award nominated television & film producer whose credits include the series Gentefied & film Really Love (you can stream both on Netflix!). Williams launched Just A Rebel to create signature content that centers Black women and people of color—shifting the culture forward. The company’s first look deal at CBS Television Studios was renewed for a third year where Williams has several series in active development.
Just A Rebel’s feature film slate includes Tiffany Johnson’s (Mike, Black Monday) feature directorial debut THE LAST CLASS starring Marsai Martin based on the incredible true story of writer Kimberly Nicole Walker’s survival of a very special senior year of high school. Williams is currently in post on BLACK BARBIE: A DOCUMENTARY directed by Lagueria Davis and financed by LinLay Productions.
Originally from Arkansas and Oklahoma, Williams graduated from Harvard and is a 2023 UCLA School of Law MLS candidate. She is an active alum of Film Independent’s Project:Involve, Sundance, and the Ron Brown Scholar Program. Aaliyah can generally be found running around Los Angeles with her hilarious pit bull, Blue.
A limited number of rooms are available to be reserved at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill (400 New Jersey Avenue, NW) at the discounted rate of $209 (single or double) plus taxes. This rate will expire on February 24, 2023. To make your reservations, please visit: Hyatt or call 877-803-7534. Please mention you are booking under the Ron Brown Scholar Program courtesy room block.
Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill Valet: $46 (2-10 hours), $62 (24 hours)
Yotel Capitol Hill, 415 New Jersey Avenue, NW: $23 (1-10 hours)
America’s Square, 300 New Jersey Avenue, NW: $26 (2-10 hours)
An Online Resource Directory for Ron Brown Scholars, Captains and Alumni.