25th Anniversary

American Journey Awards 2024


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.

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American Journey Award 2024 Honoree

Ms. Sheila Johnson,
Founder and CEO Salamander Collection

American Journey Award for Emerging Leadership

Brandon L. Nicholson, PhD,
RBS 2001,
Chief Executive Officer, The Hidden Genius Project

Christopher A. Pilaro Fellowship in the Arts

Margaret Ivey,
RBS 2007,
Actor and Teaching Artist

Robert B. Binswanger Communitarian Award

Carmelle T. Norice MD-PhD,
RBS 1997,
Clinical Director, Infectious Diseases Clinical Research,
Merck Research Laboratories

Earvin “Magic” Johnson congratulates the RBSP on celebrating 25 years of changing lives and honors our Ron Brown Scholars. 



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Ms. Sheila Johnson

Founder and CEO Salamander Collection

Sheila Johnson is Founder & CEO of the Salamander Collection. The company operates luxury properties centered around unique destinations in the US and the Caribbean that includes Salamander Middleburg which has achieved the Forbes Five-Star ratings for both its accommodations and spa.

As a Partner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, Johnson is the only African American woman to have ownership in three professional sports teams: the Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals, and the Washington Mystics.

She spearheaded the formation of WE Capital, a venture capital consortium to support and invest in female-led enterprises.

Ms. Johnson is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences where she serves on the Education Committee. She also serves as chairman of the College of Performing Arts at The New School. The Sheila Johnson Fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School supported a cohort of 50 fellows. She is also a board member of the Metropolitan Opera, Jackie Robinson Foundation, Simon & Schuster Publishing Advisory Board, PBS Foundation and a committee member of the NeuroArts Blueprint: Advancing the Science of Arts, Health and Well-Being.

A powerful influence in the entertainment industry, she was the co-founder of Black Entertainment Television, served as executive producer of documentary and feature films and is founder and chair of the Middleburg Film Festival.

Ms. Johnson’s memoir, Walk Through Fire, was published by Simon & Schuster in September 2023.

Brandon L. Nicholson, PhD

RBS 2001
Chief Executive Officer
The Hidden Genius Project

An Oakland native, Chief Executive Officer Brandon Nicholson, Ph.D. has always felt a deep sense of commitment to promoting equity in the public realm, particularly in the education space. Previously, he was a Senior Associate at Social Policy Research Associates (SPR), where he conducted research, evaluation, and analysis across a range of key social policy areas. Brandon has conducted substantial research in the areas of education and youth development, with a particular focus on issues of equity and access in K-12 education for underserved populations. He has considerable experience investigating linkages among race, class, and youth development.

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. 

Margaret Ivey

Actor and Teaching Artist

Margaret Ivey is an actor based in New York City. Dedicated to using her talents in service of others, as a teaching artist Margaret spends her time off-stage empowering students from underserved communities. She also serves as a speaking coach, leveraging performance techniques to help clients win over their own audiences.

Hailing from Kennesaw, Georgia, Margaret grew up seeing mesmerizing Black female performers and knew she wanted to be a part of that vital representation on stage and screen. After attending The Westminster Schools, she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Southern California’s School of Dramatic Arts. Margaret’s television credits include: The Blacklist on NBC, Madam Secretary on CBS, and Prodigal Son on FOX. Her stage work has taken her across the country, and recent favorite plays include: The Winter’s Tale at the Alley Theatre, The 39 Steps at Merrimack Repertory Theatre, and The Misanthrope with Molière in the Park. She has workshopped new plays at Off-Broadway companies such as The Fire This Time Festival, Manhattan Theatre Club, and Roundabout Theatre Company.

Margaret is passionate about diverse representation on stage and screen. As a woman of color, she is proud to have performed such archetypal characters as Elizabeth Darcy in Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, Belle in A Christmas Carol, and the title role in Jane Eyre. She has also originated roles in The Niceties and The Wedding Gift, two plays that expand the canon of roles for Black women. As a teaching artist with Theatre For A New Audience and Epic Theatre Ensemble, her work focuses on helping students feel seen; including mentoring young Black and Brown students and directing and performing in their original works. Her ongoing mission is to continue to tell stories that explore the richness of the Black experience.

Carmelle T. Norice, MD-PhD

RBS 1997
Clinical Director, Infectious Diseases Clinical Research
Merck Research Laboratories

Dr. Carmelle T. Norice is a Clinical Director of Infectious Diseases at Merck Research Laboratories. Prior to her appointment at Merck, she served as a Medical Officer of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health (NIAID, NIH). Carmelle volunteers at Community of Hope in Washington, D.C., where she provides infectious diseases specialty care to underserved patients. Carmelle earned a BS degree in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology cum laude with college and departmental honors from the University of California, Los Angeles. She obtained a dual MD-PhD degree in Medicine and Cellular, Molecular and Biomedical Studies at Columbia University in New York City. She completed internship and residency training in internal medicine at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, followed by a clinical fellowship in infectious diseases and postdoctoral research at NIAID, NIH. Carmelle leads the prison and re-entry mission at National Community Church in Washington, D.C., and serves on the Boards of Directors for The Frederick Douglass Project for Justice and Christian Legal Aid of DC.


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)