18th Annual Awards Gala To Be Held on January 28, 2015 at The Pierre

NEW YORK, NY – George Gresham, President of New York City’s largest labor union, 1199SEIU, is being honored with the 2015 American Foundation for The University of the West Indies (AFUWI) Special Award. The union stalwart, who rose through the ranks to the helm of one of the most powerful trade unions, will be presented with the prestigious award at the glitzy Annual Legacy Awards Gala on Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at The Pierre in New York City.

Now in its 18th year, the annual event, organized under the auspices of Honorary Patron, Dr. The Hon. Harry Belafonte, O.J., seeks to raise funds for the University of the West Indies (UWI), the largest and most longstanding higher education provider in the English-speaking Caribbean.

A strong advocate for the rights of health care workers and their families, Mr. Gresham is the fifth president in the union’s 75-year history. After assuming the top post in April 2007, two years later he directed the successful collective bargaining with the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes on behalf of 135,000 New York metropolitan area members at 87 institutions. In addition to expanding job security for its members, including part-time workers, it also secured a comprehensive health package with improved pension benefits along with a 10 percent compounded wage increase through April 2015.

Mr. Gresham also serves as a Vice President of the Executive Board of Service Employees Internal Union (SEIU) with 2.1 million working members in locals throughout the nation, and co-chairs the 1199SEIU National Benefit Fund, the largest self-insured union healthcare plan in the nation, the 1199SEIU Training and Upgrading Fund, which has employer contributions and grant funding of over $150 million per year, the 1199/Employer Child Care Fund, which covers over 50,000 children of members, and the 1199SEIU Pension Fund, which has nearly $7 billion in assets.

Among the other honorees are Debra A. Sandler, Chief Health and Wellbeing Officer for Mars, Incorporated, Adam Stewart, CEO of Sandals Resorts International and George Willie, Managing Partner of Bert Smith & Co. who will receive the Caribbean Luminary Award; while Paxton Baker, Executive Vice President and General Manager of CENTRIC (formerly BETJ), will be presented with the Vice Chancellor’s Achievement Award. The Legacy Awards are conferred on notable individuals or entities which represent high levels of achievement within their respective fields of industry and enterprise.

Former New York City Mayor Hon. David Dinkins will be this year’s Honorary Dinner Chair, with past awardees Malcolm Gladwell and Jessye Norman serving as Honorary Chairs. Kaye Foster-Cheek, former SVP, Global Human Resources Onyx Pharmaceuticals will serve as 2015 Dinner Patron.

Tickets for the fundraising gala start at $500 and should be reserved by Friday, January 23, 2015.

To reserve or purchase tickets, contact AFUWI by calling 212-759-9345. Proceeds from the gala each year go toward providing scholarships and last year 40 scholarships were awarded to deserving students for the academic year. For information about making a contribution to the Foundation, please visit our website http://www.afuwi.org.

About the American Foundation for The University of the West Indies

The American Foundation for the University of The West Indies (AFUWI) is a 501(c) (3) charitable organization, with a mission to raise funds in the United States to enhance higher education at the University of the West Indies (UWI). The UWI community comprises the 16 member countries of the English speaking Caribbean – Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos Islands.

The AFUWI is a registered US charity and all donations are tax deductible to the full extent of state and federal laws. In supporting the UWI, the AFUWI continues to enhance the University’s ability to play a pivotal role in preparing individuals for continued Caribbean and global thought leadership and action.

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