Third annual Black Excellence award ceremony honors 11 who make an impact on racial inequality

Suffolk University honored 11 students and alumni at the third annual Black Excellence event on Oct. 22.

While this year’s event was held over Zoom, instead of in a grand ballroom with hundreds of guests, it continued to show what Black excellence really means.

“Tonight we celebrate a group of individuals, alumni, faculty, students and staff, who are working in various ways to help us continue to combat racism in all its forms, here in our community and outside of it,” Suffolk President Marisa Kelly said.

The keynote speaker of the night, Keith Ellison, who is the 30th attorney general of Minnesota, honored the recipients and shared remarks regarding success within the Black community.

“African American people have always achieved in these United States… when unburdened, and even when they’re burdened they have done amazing and miraculous things,” Ellison said.

Ellison also spoke on the oppression Black people continue to face at the hands of politicians, specifically alluding to President Donald Trump.

“We needed to enslave African Americans for America to be great, and that makes it particularly interesting when people use the term ‘Make America Great Again,’” Ellison said.

Ellison then took questions from the audience regarding specific topics. He touched upon ending police brutality and ending the ideologies of racism within society.

One of the topics brought up during the question and answer portion of the webinar was how police brutality is at an all time high across the country, even though there are Black people holding positions of power within police forces.

Ellison spoke on how representation does not solve the complex problem of racism within society.

“There is nothing about a high concentration of melanin that automatically makes you know how to solve a complex socioeconomic cultural problem,” he said. “I think that Black representation is important but it is not the answer, it is only part of the answer.”

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the honorees of the Black Excellence award were only able to be recognized via webinar.

Jenny Joseph-Hayle, chair of the Black alumni network, introduced the 11 honorees as well as spoke about how they exemplify Black Excellence.

“The celebration of Black Excellence planning committee felt it was important this year more than ever to honor Suffolk community members on the forefront of the fight for racial equity. These 11 honorees are outstanding members of our community,” Joseph-Hayle said.

“They champion racial equity and inclusion and their positive influence reaches farther than our university,” she continued. “They serve as an example for others to follow, each in their own way making Suffolk, their communities and the world a better place.”


Crystal T. Chandler, B.A. ’15, founder and media producer of The Crystal Lens Productions.

Mohamed A. Djingo, B.A. ’13, M.P.A. ’16, counselor, Niger Permanent Mission to the United Nations

Tamela E. Bailey, J.D. ’04, senior counsel, National Grid


Dr. Tryan L. McMickens, M.Ed. ’07, associate professor of Education

Dr. Brenda J. Bond-Fortier, professor, Institute for Public Service

Kim M. McLaurin, associate dean, Suffolk Law Experiential Programs


Sabrina Succes, College of Arts & Sciences

Niru Dhawan, Sawyer Business School

Dayana Donisca, Suffolk University Law School


Joyce C. Miller, B.S. ’97 associate director of Advancement Services

Dr. Joyya P. Smith, vice president of Diversity, Access and Inclusion