Diamond Empowerment Fund(TM) Names New Board Members During 2010 JCK Show in Las Vegas

Former Miss Universe Tanzania 2007, Flaviana Matata and Current NBA Player Hasheem Thabeet Recognized as the Newest Diamond Empowerment Fund Africa's Angel Ambassador and Athlete For Africa Member

Jun 02, 2010, 11:09 ET from Diamond Empowerment Fund

NEW YORK, June 2 /PRNewswire/ -- The Diamond Empowerment Fund™ (D.E.F.), an independent organization founded in 2007 by Russell Simmons and members of the jewelry industry, is pleased to announce the election of seven new D.E.F. board members.  New Advisory Board Members are Lita Asscher, President, Royal Asscher of America Inc; Dilip Mehta, CEO & Coordinator, Rosy Blue Group; Elliot Tannenbaum, Partner, Leo Schachter Diamonds.  The new Governing Board Members are Cathy Calhoun, President, Calhoun Jewelers; Rebecca Foerster, Manager, US Representative Office Diamonds Sales and Marketing, Rio Tinto; Anna Martin, Managing Director, Diamonds & Jewelry Origination & Client Coverage, Standard Chartered Bank; Yancy Weinrich, Industry Vice President, JCK.  We will be welcoming the new board members at a breakfast presentation to the Industry on "Empowerment through Education for Africa," on June 4th at the Pinot Brasserie at The Venetian Hotel, during the JCK conference in Las Vegas.  

D.E.F. will also be recognizing Flaviana Matata, former Miss Universe Tanzania as D.E.F.'s new Africa's Angel Ambassador as well as NBA player for the Memphis Grizzlies Hasheem Thabeet as D.E.F.'s new Athlete for Africa Ambassador.  

In her first assignment, Flaviana visited with students at African Leadership Academy and CIDA City Campus in South Africa in the spring, and blogged about her experience for D.E.F. Flaviana intends to blog for D.E.F.'s website and Facebook page regularly, acting as a correspondent for D.E.F. in sharing the stories of the students at the programs D.E.F. supports. In his role, Hasheem will develop a program with D.E.F. to help raise awareness and support for the cause of empowerment through education for Africa, which will also highlight his is philanthropic work to help the people of his native Tanzania.

D.E.F. (www.diamondempowerment.org) is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising money to support education initiatives that help empower economically-disadvantaged people in African nations where diamonds are a natural resource.  Established by individuals and businesses in the diamond and jewelry industries and others committed to the empowerment of Africa, D.E.F. believes education is one of the most critical elements that powers society and empowers individuals to realize their full human potential.  

"The international diamond jewelry industry has a great opportunity for enlightened self interest to align with the rising global consciousness of consumers," commented D.E.F. Founder and Advisory Board Chairman Russell Simmons.  "With sixty percent of the world's diamonds coming from Sub-Saharan Africa, helping empower young Africans through access to education is a perfect fit. I am thrilled we have seven industry leaders joining D.E.F.'s Board who I know will make a tremendous positive difference for this cause so near to my heart."

The Diamond Empowerment Fund Governing Board currently consists of co-Presidents Neal  L. Goldberg and Dr. Benjamin Chavis; Edward Hrabak, Senior Vice President and General Merchandise Manager of Sterling Jewelers Inc.; Sally Morrison, U.S. Director, De Beers Account, JWT; Varda Shine, Managing Director of the Diamond Trading Company, London; and Jaci Wilson Reid, Washington, D.C./New York. The Advisory Board consists of Chairman Russell Simmons; Phyllis Bergman, President of Mercury Ring Corporation, New York/New Jersey; Mike Kaplan, President, Rocket Redbox; former Botswana President Festus Mogae; Linah Mohohlo, Governor, Bank of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana; Scott H. Rauch, President of the Simmons Jewelry Co. and Hedda T. Schupak, Jewelry Market and Retail Analyst. Non-board officers include Ellen Haddigan, Vice President and Executive Director of D.E.F.; Rich Slomovitz, Treasurer and Nahshon Craig, Secretary.

"A strong Board of Directors is essential to every non-profit organization and cause," remarks Ellen Haddigan, D.E.F.s Executive Director. "With the addition of this extraordinary group of new members who are true leaders in the industry joining our visionary founders and committed current Board members, D.E.F. is poised to make great things happen. We are very excited to have each of them on board."

The Diamond Empowerment Fund's first beneficiary is CIDA City Campus. In 2000, CIDA City Campus was launched in Johannesburg, South Africa as Africa's first virtually free college to provide opportunity for the huge numbers of students who had no access to furthering their education. The school combined self-development initiatives with an academic focus on a business degree program, along with skill-building programs for students not yet prepared for higher education. Student service to the school and the student's own community was also a fundamental principle. In 2009, D.E.F. selected a second beneficiary organization, the African Leadership Academy (ALA). Founded with the belief that ethical leadership is the key to transforming the African continent by developing, connecting and supporting its future leaders, the ALA is based in Johannesburg, South Africa but with a truly Pan-African approach. They are an innovative two-year college-prep school with a student population drawn from all 54 African countries and a unique focus on leadership, entrepreneurship and African studies, designed to prepare each student for a lifetime of leadership on the continent. D.E.F. provides scholarship support to students attending ALA from diamond producing nations.

About the Diamond Empowerment Fund:

Founded in 2007, The Diamond Empowerment Fund™ (D.E.F.) is a non-profit international organization established by the individuals and businesses in the diamond and jewelry industry committed to the empowerment of communities and countries where diamonds are a natural resource.  For more information about D.E.F., go to www.diamondempowerment.org.

SOURCE Diamond Empowerment Fund