Joe Adams was born on April 11, 1924 in Los Angeles, California; he spent his childhood in Watts, a suburban area of Los Angeles. He realized at a young age that he wanted to go into radio as an announcer during a time when it was unheard of for African Americans to succeed in the industry. Determined to overcome racial barriers, he taught himself the art of public speaking by practicing aloud in vacant lots. His hard work paid off in the 1940s, when Art Grogan, owner of the Santa Monica Station KOWL, gave him the opportunity to go on the air.
Two years later his daily radio show was the #1 rated deejay show in Los Angeles. He accrued 56 sponsors for his airtime on KOWL, marking the beginning of an auspicious radio career that eventually spanned twenty years. Meanwhile, he taped shows for KWBR in San Francisco and deejayed his own show for KDAY, making him the number one radio personality in both L.A. and San Francisco.
During the late 1940s, he branched out into television with two shows of his own, “Adams Alley” for KLAC with a cast of twenty-eight people, and “Joe Adams Presents.” Joe Adams was one of the pioneers of that era, using top-name stars and musical greats.
Joe Adams also enjoyed success as a film actor, appearing in more than 26 motion pictures. Among his most notable roles is Husky Miller in Carmen Jones and as Frank Sinatra’s psychiatrist in The Manchurian Candidate. His talent as an actor earned him the Foreign Correspondence Award as the Outstanding New Actor Award in 1958. He was the first African American man to win this award.
In the late 1950s, Ray Charles, a friend from his radio days, asked him to join him for a month-long tour. This relationship spanned for more than 4 decades, the longest artist/management in history, until Ray Charles’ death in 2004. As Vice President/CEO in charge of RPM International, Joe Adams supervised the many activities of the parent company, including its business holdings and publishing companies, Tangerine and Racer Music; as well as Ray Charles Enterprises, which covers the activities of the Ray Charles Orchestra and the Raelettes. In addition, Joe Adams serves as producer of the Ray Charles Show, overseeing everything from lights to wardrobe, which he personally designs for both Ray Charles and the Raelettes.
Joe Adams was at the helm of the Ray Charles Corporation until his retirement in 2008, he now serves as Chairman of the board appointed by Ray Charles.
REV. CECIL L. MURRAY
Reverend Cecil L. Murray was born on September 26, 1929 in Lakeland, Florida to Janie Belle Williams Murray and Edward Wilder Murray, Sr. His mother passed away when Murray was only four years old. He, his brother, Edward, and sister, Louise, would be raised by his father and stepmother, Minnie Murray, whom his father married three years later. Growing up in the segregated South, he and the family experienced profound racism firsthand.
Murray earned his undergraduate degree from Florida A&M University, but joined the United States Air Force after graduation where he served during the Korean War as a jet radar intercept officer in the Air Defense Command and as a navigator in the Air Transport Command. Murray retired as a reserve major in 1961 after ten years and was decorated with a Soldier's Medal of Valor. After he left the U.S. Air Force, Murray attended the School of Theology at Claremont in California, where he earned his Rel.D in religion.
Murray's first church was in Pomona, California, where he helped grow a congregation of just twelve members to a group of 150. He then served at Trinity A.M.E. in Kansas City from 1966 to 1971, then at the First African Methodist Episcopal (FAME) Church in Seattle, and Los Angeles' FAME Church in 1977 after Bishop H.H. Brookins recruited him to join.
Under Murray, the congregation grew from several hundred members in 1977 to roughly 18,000. Murray became a nationally known figure in the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. He became actively involved in the issues of job-training, homeowner loans, affordable housing, condom distribution and HIV/AIDS awareness. He also started FAME Renaissance, a non-profit organization that focuses on economic development.
Murray retired as Senior Pastor from the FAME church on September 25, 2004. In 2005, Murray became a senior fellow at the Center for Religion and Civic Culture (CRCC) and has since worked as a liaison to the Los Angeles area, as well as to African American and Latino constituents. He has also worked on the "Passing the Mantle" project, which aims to train clergy from African American churches across California in effective community development and organizing skills. In addition, the Center for Religion heads up The Institute for Gang Prevention and Intervention (IVP), which works with the African American/Hispanic American communities on the issue of gang violence. Secondly, plans are fermented for the Cecil Murray Center for Community Endowment (CMCCE), a business incubator and support program for at-risk persons seeking all kinds of assistance.
Stewart Alpert was born and raised in New York. Throughout his professional career, Stewart has traveled the world and has seen first-hand the plight of disadvantaged youth around the world as well as close to home. Yet, he has experienced the benefit of hard work, education and determination. He has always had a love for music and as a child, he taught himself to play the guitar, a lifelong passion that continues to this day. He has always had a passion for music yet a gift for technology. As a technology and methodology consultant to many Fortune 500 companies over the years, he is a natural problem solver. He is currently the Director of Ecosystems Engineering at VMare, Inc., one of the world’s leading technology companies.
According to his colleagues, he is a visionary technologist with an unusually strong background in technical management and architecture, software design and engineering. As an expert in his field, he has been a speaker at many conferences and forums. His need to give back to the community has drawn him to serve as a Board Member of The Foundation through which he fulfills the need to help the underserved and underprivileged youth.
RAMSEY JAY, JR.
Ramsey Jay, Jr. is a widely recognized leading expert on leadership development and motivational speaking who has been featured on nationally-syndicated television and radio programs and has delivered moving messages to audiences of all types, both youth and corporate, domestically and internationally.
Named by EBONY Magazine as one of the top “30 Young Leaders Under 30,” Ramsey possesses a rare combination of accessibility, intellect, practical insights, inspirational messages, and engaging presentation skills. His professional Wall Street background and Ivy League education have enabled him to bridge the gaps between education, business and civic duty in a unique method. He is an advisor to prominent business leaders, a sought-after keynote speaker, author of Weekly Life Lessons in Leadership, and will be releasing his highly anticipated book this year. He was the recipient of UCLA’s Riordan’s Program inaugural “Excellence in Civil Engagement & Leadership Award” in April 2015. Ramsey is an exceptional financial executive who is well versed in the complexities of the dynamic 21st century capital markets.
The combination of his professional financial experience and active civic engagements have made him a leader comfortable in moving fluidly from “Wall Street to the Street”. He not only works in the financial industry but he is the Director of the National Association of Securities Professionals SoCal FAST Track program, and the founder of the “Dreamers 2 Achievers” Academy. He has created a teaching methodology called the 3P’s (Possible, Probable, Predictable) that has provided the functional platform that has enabled him to inspire others to achieve academic, professional and civic centered success.
Of his own life story, Ramsey says “My journey has been blessed and afforded me the opportunity to be a blessing to others”.
Diana Treister is a member of the Board of Directors of the Ray Charles Foundation.
She brings to the Board experience and a broad background in teaching tolerance and understanding of the lives of under privileged children and teenagers. She is a strong activist in opposing bullying, intolerance and gang membership. She has sought to counsel youngsters against activities which lead to teenage pregnancies and the use of drugs and narcotics.
For the past 14 years, Diana has served as a lecturer, docent and to the public at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. Over that time, she has guided groups of school children and teenagers through the exhibits at the Museum, which has resulted in hundreds of letters to the Museum of praise for Diana’s leadership and expertise as a docent.
In addition, Diana has lectured and advised students at Cerritos College, local churches and religious facilities.
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