Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, will deliver the address at the commencement ceremony for graduate and professional students at North Carolina Central University on Friday, May 10. The ceremony begins at 3 p.m. in McDougald–McLendon Gymnasium.
Taylor has led the Thurgood Marshall College Fund since 2010. It is a philanthropic organization that raises tuition and scholarship money for students attending public historically black universities, medical schools and law schools throughout the United States. The fund has awarded more than $200 million in scholarships and other support since its founding in 1987. It is named in honor of the late Justice Thurgood Marshall, who served on the U.S. Supreme Court 1967 until 1991 and was the first African-American to do so.
Previously, Taylor was a senior executive with IAC/InterActiveCorp, the large media and Internet company led by media mogul Barry Diller. Before that he was a litigation partner and president of the human resources consulting business for the McGuireWoods law firm; executive vice president and general counsel for Compass Group USA, and general counsel and senior vice president for Paramount Pictures Live Entertainment Group, a Viacom subsidiary. In 2011, he was selected as one of the “Power 100,” Ebony Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential African-Americans.
Taylor earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Miami, followed by Master of Arts and law degrees from Drake University. As a volunteer, he is former chairman of the Society for Human Resource Management and a member of the board of directors of the YMCA of the USA. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.
Fredricka Whitfield, a news anchor and correspondent for CNN, will deliver the address at the 121st Commencement exercises for North Carolina Central University on Saturday, May 11. The ceremony will begin at 8 a.m. in O’Kelly–Riddick Stadium.
Based at CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta, Whitfield anchors the weekend edition of CNN Newsroom. She also works as a correspondent for the network, reporting on breaking news events worldwide.
Since joining CNN in 2002, Whitfield has reported from the Persian Gulf region during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Beijing during the 2008 Summer Olympic Games and Washington during the 2009 presidential inauguration.
Previously, Whitfield was a correspondent for NBC News and served as an Atlanta-based correspondent for that network. She has covered such stories as the 2000 presidential race and ballot recount as well as multiple extreme weather events involving tornadoes, flooding and hurricanes across the United States.
She covered the 1996 Olympics, the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta and the subsequent search for bomber Eric Rudolph. She also covered the 1999 refugee crisis in Macedonia during the Kosovo War.
Before joining NBC, Whitfield was a reporter and anchor at WPLG-TV in Miami, an evening anchor for News Channel 8 in Washington and a general assignment reporter at KTVT-TV in Dallas. She began her professional career as a reporter and morning anchor for WCIV in Charleston, S.C.
She has received multiple awards and honors for her broadcasting work from Sigma Delta Chi, The Society of Professional Journalists, and the Associated Press. Other awards include 2002 Howard University School of Communications Alumna of the year, 2005 George Peabody award for live coverage of Hurricane Katrina and aftermath, 2005 Ebony award for Outstanding Women in Marketing and Communications, 2007 Emmy award for outstanding live coverage of a breaking news story long form, 2008 NAMD Communicator of the year, 2008 Howard University postgraduate achievement in the field of Journalism, 2009 NYABJ long form feature.
Whitfield earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Howard University.