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Actress/activist to address issues of diversity

March 6, 2014
Sheryl Lee Ralph

Sheryl Lee Ralph

Sheryl Lee Ralph, an award-winning actress, activist, and author, will deliver a keynote address during An Evening of Diversity & Empowerment, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 28, at the University of Rochester’s Alumni and Advancement Center (300 East River Road).

The program, which is the brainchild of Rochester alumna Melanie Silas, builds on the momentum of the University of Rochester’s fifth annual diversity conference, taking place earlier that day. The event aims to encourage guests to engage in ways to advance issues of diversity and empowerment at the University and in the community.

Using her own life story to illustrate her vision, Ralph will share her perspective on feminism, LGBTQ concerns, multiculturalism, and other issues of diversity. Ralph, who is perhaps best known for her performance as Deena Jones in the original Broadway production of Dreamgirls, has had a successful career as a film and television actress and singer. Most recently, she appeared on NBC’s Smash, playing the mother of Jennifer Hudson’s character, and on Nick at Nite’s sitcom, Instant Mom.

The evening also includes a question and answer session with Ralph, a proclamation from Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, and artistic performances by MJS Productions and FuturPointDance. Five community organizations, the In-Control Program, the STAR Program, the Good Fellas Program, the Women’s Foundation of Genesee Valley, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, will receive Empowerment Awards for their work uplifting and empowering Rochester youth. Additionally, Trillium Health will be recognized with the Community Empowerment Award.

Tickets, which are $10 for University of Rochester students, $25 for University faculty and staff, and $35 for the general public, can be purchased at the Common Market in Wilson Commons or at Rochester area Wegmans. For more information, call 585.210.2422585.210.2422 or visit

Several University departments, including the Alumni and Advancement Center, the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership, the Office for Faculty Development and Diversity, and the Intercultural Center serve as sponsors for the evening. Additional sponsors and partners include Trillium Health, Me Time Massage & Wellness Center, DM Williams Funeral Home, Breakthru Magazine, Advantage Federal Credit Union, Minute Man Press, Afficial, Francis Clement of Northwestern Mutual Financial, Beauty By LaCassa, ETIL, Exclusively Maisha, Our Voice Magazine, Caring and Sharing Child Care Center, Caring and Sharing Junior Academy, Todd Elliot Media, the Office of Human Resources-Organizational Development and Staff Diversity at Monroe Community College, the City of Rochester, and WDKX.

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Category: University News