Unmasking Education

Over 800 guests clad in ball gowns and black-tie wearing elaborate masks entered a ballroom adorned with spectacular decorations compliments of Mardi Gras Productions.

Receiving the UNCF Masked Award for his 47-year tenure as president of UNCF member institution Xavier University of Louisiana was Dr. Norman C. Francis.

Host Mayor Mitch Landrieu presented a key to the city to Mistress of Ceremonies Hoda Kotb of NBC’s “Today Show.” Actress and Louisiana native Lynn Whittfield was also in attendance.

New Orleans celebrity chefs John Besh, Leah Chase, Kelly Fields and Brian Landry whipped up the outstanding four-course menu for the event. Comedian Jonathan Slocomb kept the audience engaged with his comedic relief throughout the night, and Grammy Award-winning Nicholas Payton Trio and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly provided live entertainment.

In keeping with the theme there was a parade, and Stephanie Burks took home the prize for having the best mask of the night.

Auctioneer Mark Romig urged the audience to bid on exciting items such as tickets to the 2015 “American Idol Results Show” and a once-in-a-lifetime trip to New York Fashion Week, along with a raffle for a new Nissan Maxima. Silent auction pieces included hotel stays, weekend getaways to neighboring states, memorabilia and exquisite jewelry pieces.

Michael Smith, General Manager of the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, served as Event Chair. The Host Committee included Major Mitch Landrieu; Dr. Michael Lomax, President and CEO; Therese Badon, Vice President of Development; and LaJuana Chenier, Regional Development Director.

This year’s UNCF “Mayor’s Masked Ball” raised $1.5 million. The funds assist students at UNCF member institution schools Xavier and Dillard Universities, investing in better futures for students and providing the opportunity for many students to realize their dream of a college education. 


What: “Mayor’s Masked Ball,” benefiting the United Negro College Fund
When: Saturday, March 14
Where: Hyatt Regency New Orleans


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