The holidays bring a swirl of fun parties and gatherings. While there is always a reason to be merry in December, not every gathering is media-worthy.
If you’re like me, maybe as a child you also dreamed of one day dressing up and attending fancy red-carpet events and having a lot to celebrate in a luxurious venue. We encourage our children to dream big, and as a society, we encourage the chasing of dreams in general. After all, you could be the next person who makes a huge impact or a big difference, and it’s never too late. Everyone has something very special to offer this world. As Roosevelt Williams III of Young Black and N’ Business shares as his organization’s motto, “Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.”
In this spirit of community and celebrating the best of the best together, came the swirling excitement of a formal evening in San Diego. Even at my beautiful age of 66, I never get tired of this kind of event, and I enjoy the chance to celebrate the accomplishments of people doing great things. At the recent Black and Gold Awards Gala, held at the Sycuan Casino and Resort in early December, everyone dressed to the nines. This event certainly met my dreams head-on. The live music, the dresses, and the media; so much talent and heart all in one perfectly elegant gathering.
I not only attended but I got to be an interviewer on the red carpet, along with Moirar Leveille, as part of the media onsite. With my TV show, The Karen Comba Show, I regularly talk to fascinating people about a variety of topics, current news, and headlines, and I highlight the Best Reads out there. I love the opportunity to meet as many people as I can, and this Gala gathering was full of accomplished people. It was a privilege to be able to speak with and spotlight so many fascinating people from my place on the red carpet, and the meaning that came with this Gala was so powerful. As advertised, it was an evening of synergy and sexy, affluent as well as artistic, and the energy was full of life.
Event Organizers, Esteemed Guests, and Sponsors
The event was put on by three amazing organizations: Young Black and N’ Business (YBNB), The Los Angeles Tribune, and Top Talent Agency. This was an evening to honor and celebrate individuals and organizations serving the world in 2023. The evening was to bring awareness and honor people and their organizations for both personal and professional excellence. The event was also attended by one of Dante T. Pride, Founder of one of San Diego’s leading law firms, The Pride Law Firm. Another esteemed guest included event sponsor La’tesha Nicole Fields of Heart of San Diego, 805 South, LLC. The hosts Roosevelt Williams III, David T. Fagan and Moe Rock ushered us through the evening, as well as the emcees, who included Moses Small of ABC 10, and Lori Jefferson of YBNB.
There was a DJ of course, but there were special musical entertainers, too. The evening featured performances by the talented group Men of Valor. The evening’s program officially kicked off with the National Anthem sung by April Diamond. In addition, an outstanding performance was enjoyed when saxophonist Erisa Nicole passionately demonstrated her skill and talent to guests. C.L. Claus and Mrs T. Claus were also in attendance and available for photos.
To further enhance the evening, there were two different fashion shows from designers who had been featured in Fashion Week San Diego. The spectacle of designs displayed by the professional models was a picture-perfect scene of creativity and style. The runway was full of new designs shown with poise, the cameras were flashing as the new styles were being shown off. Both fashion shows that occurred during the elegant dinner were delightful entertainment.
- Special Recognition includes Gwendolyn Bates – Fashion Week San Diego
- Fashion Show Designers: Jumpball – Danny Essix
- Top Designer: Caroline Williard, CW Couture
- Fashion & Innovation Award Winner Award – Randy Moss Ortega, Jr.
Women’s Influencer Fashion Show
There was a special Women’s Influencers Fashion Show, organized by Top Talent Agency, that showcased women displaying different aspects of themselves: their brand as entrepreneurs, different sides of how they show up in the world, and the transformations they have made in their personal and professional lives. The sophisticated women who strutted their stuff included Caramie Ann, Alisha Liliane, Camille Robb, Deborah Myers, Ruth Barclay, Joy Willett, Loretta Wetzel, Leslie Lew, Karissa Adkins, Dagmar Fleming, Karen Comba, Emley Sowell, Alex Courson, Angela Legh, Shena White, M. Teresa Lawrence, Angela Burt, Cheri Sotelo, and Jenny Carrington.
During the evening I had the honor to interview and have conversations with many intriguing and amazing people. In particular, I was thrilled to speak to such intelligent women as those in the royal court of Miss California. Miss Black CA USA MeKayla Burnett was in attendance along with her court consisting of Miss Black CA USA Talented Teen Zoe Abdul-Mailk, and Ms. Black CA USA Dedra Tufon. These young women inspired me so much, they are truly a gift to this world, and I know they will make a huge impact on our country for the good. I was also able to interview many of the those who received awards during this prestigious event.
Shyanne Smith: Inspirational Example
The audience was filled with professionals from all walks of life, and they were all coming together to be an example of how excellence and progress are achieved. While many of those honored were adults, there was an impressive young woman, Shyanne Smith, one of YBNB’s Shining Stars who spoke during the event. Smith is an Honor Student of Holly Drive Leadership Academy and a YBNB Alumni. Shyanne earned her commercial drone pilot’s license at just 16 years old; she is an exemplary scholar and does service work in her local community. It was wonderful to see Shyanne and learn more about her and her accomplishments. To me, I see how this can encourage more youth to pursue their goals and achieve them all.
Community Business Service Award – Chamber of Commerce
This award recognizes business leaders, including individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the local community through volunteer work, charitable donations, and or other forms of community service.
- East County – Rick Wilson
- North County – Chris Throne
- SDHHC – Josie Flores-Clark
- Asian Real-Estate Jocelyn Lomahan
- SDBC – Daniel Fitzgerald
Excellence in Business and Entrepreneurial Awards
- The Harvest Award – Shena White
- Trailblazer of the Year Award – Kristina Buckner
- Business Coach of the Year Award – Glynis Brewster
- DJ of the Year Award – Larry “Preacherman” Thompson
- Unstoppable Award – Aaron Halderman
- The Phoenix Award – Alex Courson
- Business of the Year Award – Jamar Williams
- Executive Chef of the Year Award – Kania “Chef K” Burnette
- Barbershop of the Year Award – Elijah Gentry & J.r. Gentry
Los Angeles Tribune – Speaker Hall of Fame
The Los Angeles Tribune inducted three members into their Speaker Hall of Fame. Those individuals were also awarded a special certificate during an Awards Ceremony. They included: Dame Doria Cordova, Baron James Dentley, and Michael Silver.
Speaking, Writing & Media Awards
- Catalyst of Courage Award – Janice Burt
- Rising Star Award – Karen Comba
- Kenya Keynote Speaker Award – Karissa Adkins
- Book of the Year Award- Melissa Osorio
- Writer of the Year Award – Angela Legh
- Power Couple Award – Loretta and Perran Wetzel
Advancements in Science & Wellness Awards
- Advancement in Quantum Science Award – Mas Sajady
- Quality of Life Award – Jim Poole
- The Legend Award – Deborah Myers
- Champion of Health & Wellness Award – Moirar Leveille
- The Maverick Award – Julie Olson
- Innovation in Holistic Healing Award – Darren Starwynn
- “Dr. Weight Loss” Award – Dr. Ariel Soffer
Legacy & Lifetime Achievement Awards
- Charlie Hustle Award – Geoff Cole
- Game Changer Award – Janice Niederhofer
- The Legacy Award – Andrew Strong
Humanitarian and Societal Impact Awards
- Cultural Intelligence Award – Dr. LaWana Richmond
- Civil Rights Defender Award – Dante T. Pride, Founder of the Pride Law Firm
- Philanthropy Award – Pat Delaney & Quelda Wilson, Bright Futures
- Non-Profit of the Year Award – Reginald Washington, Founder of Project Aware Enterprise
From the Office of Nora Vargas, Special Certificates
The following individuals were also honored with Certificates of Recognition from the office of San Diego County Supervisor, Nora Vargas: Jim Poole, Karen Comba, Janice Niederhofer, Dr. Soffer, Mas Sajady, Angela Legh, Deborah Myers, Christine Smith, Moe Rock, David Fagan, Ava Manuel.
The program also included recognizing the book launch celebration of the bestseller Guerrilla Education: Unconventional Ways to Learn, Profit and Grow. This anthology book is about the ways to improve that cover everything outside the traditional classroom.
Overall, this Gala was a beautiful event to show well-deserved appreciation and recognition of achievement, and so much more. You’re never too old or too young to accomplish your goals. There is a reason everyone is here. Remember what I always say: The world is a better place with you in it. Enjoy life, make it fun, and share your talents; along the way you can make a difference for your community and within our society as a whole.