UNCF Celebrates 75 Years of Impact at Inaugural Virginia Governor’s Luncheon

Hosted by Gov. Ralph Northam, event raises more than $62,000 for historically black colleges and universities


RICHMOND, VA—During the past 75 years, UNCF (United Negro College Fund) has helped nearly half a million students earn college degrees. As the largest and most effective minority education organization in the United States, UNCF also actively supports 37 private historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and advocates for minority higher education. To help mark its 75 years of work, UNCF hosted the inaugural Virginia Governor’s Luncheon April 29 at The Jefferson Hotel. Nearly 200 faith and educations leaders came out to support UNCF, including Gov. Ralph Northam, state Sen. Rosalyn Dance, Petersburg Mayor Samuel Parham and Petersburg City Manager Aretha Ferrell-Benavides. City and government officials representing Chesterfield County, Henrico County and the cities of Hampton Roads, Charlottesville, Fredericksburg and Richmond were also in attendance.

“I am humbled from the overwhelming number of UNCF supporters who attended the inaugural Virginia Governor’s Luncheon in support of Virginia HBCUs and their students and working to earn a college degree,” said Robin Byrd, area development director, UNCF. “Many guests praised UNCF’s mission and stressed the importance of continuing to support our organization because there is yet much more work to be done.”

Fred Mitchell, Frank Hinckle, Gov. Northam, Robin Byrd, Dr. Hakim Lucas, and Maurice Jenkins,

From Left: Fred Mitchell, UNCF VP, Dev., Mid-Atlantic and Midwest Div.; honoree Frank Hinckle, Dominion Energy; Gov. Northam; Robin Byrd, UNCF Area Dev. Dir.; Dr. Hakim Lucas, Pres. and CEO, Virginia Union Univ.; Maurice Jenkins, UNCF Exec. VP/CDO

Other key attendees instrumental in raising awareness of UNCF’s mission of getting students to and through college included event keynote speaker Johnathan M. Holifield, executive director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs; Dr. Hakim J. Lucas, CEO and president, UNCF-member institution Virginia Union University; and UNCF Gates Millennium Scholar Danyelle Honoré, senior at University of Virginia and incoming graduate student at Harvard University. John Reid, morning news anchor, WRVA 1140AM, served as master of ceremonies.

For being beacons of hope and advocates of a quality education for all, UNCF awarded the 2019 Virginia UNCF Flame Bearer of Education awards to Dr. Billy K. Cannaday, former Virginia State Superintendent of Instruction; corporate recipient, Dominion Energy, accepted by Frank Hinckle, a longtime member of the UNCF Richmond Leadership Council; and annual faith contributor, the Second Baptist Church of Chester because of its 10 percent ministry church campaign, accepted by the Rev. Johnnie Fleming, Jr.

GEICO and The Jefferson Hotel contributed as Lighting the Way sponsors. Dominion Energy and SunTrust as Old Dominion sponsors. First Baptist Church, Centralia, Virginia Union University and Virginia Premier as VIP table sponsors. Media sponsors were 106.5 The Beat and WRVA 1140AM. Media partners were M2M Events, Beyond the Bottom Line, II, LLC, and M2M Events. The Richmond Leadership Council, co-chaired by Dianna Ruffin, and chair of the program planning committee, Kimberly Conley, were also integral to the success of the event.

“Working with Gov. Northam and his administration was a delightful experience. Because of the overwhelming energy and excitement from our attendees, plans are already underway to celebrate once again with community partners in September 2020—continuing to raise the bar to help students have equal access to a college education,” Byrd added.

See images from the event:


For information on how you can support the local Richmond office of UNCF, please visit UNCF.org/Richmond or contact Byrd at robin.byrd@uncf.org or 804.203.2166.


Cynetra McMillian
UNCF Communications


About UNCF
UNCF (the United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, supports and strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 21 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark, A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at UNCF.org or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.