The Equal Opportunity Awards Gala

The Gala is our most significant fundraising event of the year. More importantly, it affords us the opportunity to celebrate our Volunteer of the Year, Minority Business, Corporate Leadership and Whitney M. Young Jr. Lifetime Achievement award winners.

And, the evening is always a celebration to remember, with good food and fellowship and top-flight music provided by acts such as Jeffrey Osborne, The Whispers, The Spinners, The Temptations, The O’Jays, En Vogue, Boney James, Morris Day & The Time, James “JT” Taylor, formerly the voice of Kool & The Gang, and Tower of Power!

The Gala also provides an excellent opportunity for networking with top area business professionals, and an investment in a corporate table is a good investment for local businesses.

The Equal Opportunity Awards Gala is a lot of fun, and we hope to see you there! Held the fourth Thursday of October each year, the gala is a must-do business event.

What an incredible night recognizing some of our communities most amazing people.  A great time was had by all during our "Party with a Purpose" to "Build Back Better"! 

Watch the video of the evening!
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Congratulations to our 2021 Equal Opportunity Award Winners!

Corporate Leadership

Recognizes a company, governmental agency or entity that has shown sensitivity to diversity, employment trends and/or special program involvement and support of the Urban League and its mission.


2021: Brent Ball, FirstBank

2019: Debi Welch, Covenant Health

2017: Mintha Roach, Knoxville Utilities Board
2016: Mayor Madeline Rogero, City of Knoxville
2015: Randy Boyd, TN Commissioner of Economic & Community Development
2014: Pinnacle Financial Partners

Minority Business

Recognizes a minority-owned business that has made an economic as well as a social impact in the community.


2021: Boston Government Services

2019: Gam's Hair Fashions, Gary Gamble

2017:  B&B Services Inc., Baffin Harper
2016: Jarnigan & Son Mortuary, Beal Bourne
2015: East Tennessee Mechanical Contractors
2014: Marc Nelson Denim

Volunteer of the Year

Salutes an individual who has made a significant impact on the programs and services of the Knoxville Area Urban League and the community.


2021: Cynthia Finch, New Direction Health Care Solutions 

2019: John Nolan, Truist (SunTrust Bank)

2017: Dr. Joseph Kendrick

2016: Sanford Smith
2015: National Achievers Society Advisory Committee
2014: Nicholas Jones, Lonnie Jones Insurance

Whitney M. Young, Jr. Lifetime Achievement

The most prestigious of all Urban League Awards, this award is named to honor the fourth executive director of the National Urban League (1961-1971). Mr. Young worked tenaciously to forge new alliances and coalitions to build bridges of understanding among the races.


2021: Fran Ansley and Jim Sessions

2019: "The Clinton 12"
2016: Reverend Dr. Gordon and Mrs. Judy Gibson
2015: Theotis Robinson, Jr.
2014: Rita Geier


*2018: 50th Anniversary recognition of all Whitney M. Young Jr. Lifetime Achievement Awardees