The city’s oldest human relations organization, the New Orleans Council for Community and Justice — founded as the National Conference of Christians and Jews — has announced the recipients of the 57th annual Weiss Awards.
Chosen for their exceptional civic and humanitarian contributions to Greater New Orleans, the honorees are Gayle M. Benson, a philanthropist and former interior design business owner; Dickie Brennan, a third-generation New Orleans restaurateur; Edward Paul Cohn, rabbi of Temple Sinai; Dr. Karen DeSalvo, national coordinator for health information technology in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Irvin Mayfield Jr., founding artistic director of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra; and Ashton Ryan Jr., founder, president and CEO of First NBC Bank.
The awards will be presented Nov. 5 at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans.
The chairman for the awards event is lawyer Harry Rosenberg, a partner at Phelps Dunbar and co-chairman of the NOCCJ.
Funds raised from the event will support local, innovative programs for the community, including the Anytown Institute, the Great Health Race and NOLA United.
The Anytown Institute, which began in 1957, is a weeklong summer institute for high school students that brings teenagers of various racial and ethnic backgrounds together. It is based upon the premise that respect is gained by the opportunity to meet and interact with others.
The Great Health Race Initiative is an innovative health education program designed to provide a holistic, scholastic and intrinsically motivated approach to wellness. It aims to educate and empower local youth to be agents of change and leaders in their communities.
NOLA United, an initiative created by NOCCJ, is a citywide invitation to further peace, wellness, policy and culture in New Orleans. It seeks to bridge relationships throughout the community by bringing people together around positive action that leads to measurable outcomes.
“The annual Weiss Awards event is the major fundraising effort of NOCCJ,” Rosenberg said. “Monies raised are essential to the continued success of outreach programs which have a direct impact on the entire community. These programs change lives, and the financial assistance they receive through this event can make a tremendous difference.”
While the individuals being honored “have received many awards for their outstanding work in the community, we believe that the Weiss Awards uniquely recognize their devotion and programs that promote respect for self and others — the cornerstone to achieving change in our community and in the world,” Rosenberg said.