Philanthropist and 1976 Miss USA Winner, Barbara Burwell, was among the ninety outstanding Americans who received the 2016 Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations-NECO on Saturday, May 7th.
2016 marks the Ellis Island Medal of Honor’s 30th Anniversary. The ceremony featured a significant military presence and patriotic performers as well as notable speakers, and was followed by a black-tie Gala Dinner in Ellis Island’s historic Great Hall.
Upon completing her Miss USA 1976 reign, Barbara Burwell graduated from St. Olaf College with degrees in Speech Communications, American Studies and Political science, and pursued a career in public relations. She has since committed herself to philanthropy and charitable efforts in her hometown. She currently serves on the boards of Breck School, Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota History Center, University of Denver Parent Council, Lundstrum Center for the Performing Arts and the Children’s Theater. She is also former president of the American Lung Association.
Barbara has been recognized for her charitable efforts and for her leadership as one of America’s Outstanding Women of Achievement, the American Lung Association’s Volunteer of the Year, and one of University of Minnesota’s 25 most Distinguished Women. She also continuously donates to educational and charitable organizations through the Rodney and Barbara Burwell Family Foundation. Ms. Burwell resides in the Minneapolis area with her three sons, Rodney, Blake and Michael.
“I am delighted to accept the Ellis Island Medal of Honor this year,” said Barbara Burwell. “Ellis Island reminds us that we are a nation of people that have welcomed newcomers for many years. I greatly appreciate the honor symbolized by the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and am happy to be a part of this community united by NECO.”
NECO is the sponsor of the Ellis Island Medals of Honor which are presented annually to American citizens, both native born and naturalized, who have distinguished themselves within their own ethnic groups while exemplifying the values of the American way of life. The Ellis Island Medals of Honor embody the spirit of America in their celebration of patriotism, tolerance, brotherhood and diversity. The Medal recognizes individuals who have made it their mission to share with those less fortunate their wealth of knowledge, indomitable courage, boundless compassion, unique talents and selfless generosity; all while maintaining the traditions of their ethnic heritage as they uphold the ideals and spirit of America. Since the Medal was founded in 1986, we have honored such distinguished and diverse Americans including: six Presidents of the United States; Nobel Prize recipient Elie Wiesel, Generals Norman Schwarzkopf and Colin Powell, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Hon. Hillary Clinton, Bob Hope, Muhammad Ali, Frank Sinatra, Rosa Parks, Yue-Sai Kan, Mike Wallace and Mia Farrow, all who have distinguished themselves through their significant contributions to this country.
The National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations – NECO- was created on the conviction of its founders that the diversity of the American people is what makes this nation great. Its mission is to honor and preserve this diversity and to foster tolerance, respect and understanding among religious and ethnic groups. Additionally, NECO continues its commitment to the restoration and maintenance of Ellis Island, a living tribute to the courage and hope of all immigrants.
Chairman of NECO Nasser J. Kazeminy stated, “Today, there is so much negative rhetoric about immigration. We forget that the great majority of our citizens celebrate a second heritage in addition to being Americans. I believe that anyone who reaps the rewards of living in America must also take on the responsibilities of citizenship. Those responsibilities include being informed, being engaged and voting for our leaders. This is the small price we pay for such enormous freedom. When we talk about immigration, let’s not forget the men and women who we have honored who are highly-skilled workers, college graduates, and entrepreneurs and who contribute so much to our society and our economy. America is a nation of immigrants and it is what makes us great.”
The Ellis Island Medal of Honor ranks among the nation’s most prestigious awards. The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have officially recognized the Ellis Island Medals of Honor, and each year the recipients are listed in the Congressional Record.
On Friday, May 6th a panel of 6 judges in both New York and Beverly Hills conducted web interviews with finalists for the #FindingMiss52 Contest. The judges have narrowed down the applications and have selected the 10 Finalists.
Alessandra has been modeling for four years. A Los Angeles native, she currently calls New York home after graduating from The New School with a bachelor in film studies. As a plus-size model, Alessandra has been an advocate for body diversity in fashion and wants to inspire women to be confident and happy at any size. Aside from fashion, Alessandra also has a passion for cooking. Her idea of an ideal night is cooking for friends and family with good music and wine.
With over 5 million followers across platforms, fans have been captivated by Lauren Giraldo’s comedic acting abilities and vocal talent. Growing up in musical theater, Lauren has always had a passion for singing and acting but saw it as far-fetched dream. In the past year, Lauren’s work has garnered much attention, leading to her being labeled as “Name To Know” by Teen Vogue, MTV, and Fuse TV. Lauren’s current projects include the release of her debut music in 2016, and her role as an executive producer on a TV docu-series that follows Latina women in America.
Sherri Hill is an American fashion designer and businesswoman. Established in 2008 Sherri Hill, Inc. specializes in evening wear. The Sherri Hill brand has garnered a world wide following. The collection can be found in over 1,000 specialty and department stores in over 50 countries. Sherri Hill’s collections are at once romantically feminine, glamorous and modern. Gowns and cocktail dresses run the gamut from simply elegant to opulently embellished. Sherri Hill maintains corporate headquarters in Austin, Texas.
Andrew Serrano joined IMG in 2009 and is currently the Director of Global Public Relations, IMG Fashion. In this role, Andrew oversees communications for the company’s global portfolio of fashion initiatives, partner campaigns, designer discovery and support programs and events including New York Fashion Week, MADE, Miami Swim Week and fashion weeks in Berlin, Sydney and Toronto.
Serrano supports the growth of the company’s fashion business, identifying key messages for all fashion programs and events, ensuring each property develops its own voice that adheres to IMG’s global communications plan.
On December 20, 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach made history when she became the 64th Miss Universe and third woman from the Philippines to hold the title. For the women who compete at Miss Universe, the opportunity to represent their countries at the prestigious pageant is an honor. This is especially true for the Philippines where the competition is watched in nearly every household when it airs. Though Pia was initially announced as first runner-up, Filipino fans still went wild with cheers of congratulations and she felt satisfied knowing that she made her countrymen proud. Several moments later, host Steve Harvey corrected a mistake which will become known as one of the most talked about moments in live television history – the winner of Miss Universe 2015 was actually the Philippines.
When she is not traveling around the globe fulfilling her duties as Miss Universe, Pia will reside in New York City throughout her reign. Pia’s win has already received an enormous amount attention and she has already provided an incredible sense of pride and hope to the Philippines and beyond.
Ashley Wagner is the 2016 World silver medalist, 2012 Four Continents champion, a three-time Grand Prix Final medalist, winner of four Grand Prix events (2012 Skate America; 2012 and 2013 Trophée Éric Bompard; 2015 Skate Canada), and a three-time U.S. national champion (2012, 2013, and 2015).
Wagner was named to the U.S. team for the 2014 Winter Olympics and won a bronze medal in the team event.
Starting Tuesday, May 10th at 10:00am ET, fans will be able to vote via Twitter using #FindingMiss52 and a contestant specific hashtag as well as on FindingMiss52.MissUSA.com.
Fans are able to vote 10x per day per registered account until May 17th at 6pm ET. The contestant that receives the highest number of votes will be declared the 52nd contestant!
GMANetwork.com – Miss Universe 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach can’t help but gush over meeting Venezuelan beauty queen and Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler this week. On Tuesday, the Filipina beauty queen shared stories about her brief bonding with the former titleholder.
“I still fan girl over the former title holders when I see them. My intro is always ‘OMG I’m a fan!’ This is what happens to you when you watch Miss Universe over and over for years,” she said in an Instagram post.
Pia and Gabriela also talked about their Miss Universe experience, and the Filipina beauty queen’ s long and successful journey to the most coveted crown from the prestigious annual international beauty pageant. See more here.
AmericanPress.com – Lake Charles native Maaliyah Papillion, Miss Louisiana USA, said it was not an easy journey getting to where she is today. She encouraged young women at the Junior Women’s Conference on Sunday to remember that they are strong enough to overcome any obstacle.
She said the most important way she can inspire young women is to lead by example and give them a positive role model.
“Even though I am Miss Louisiana, I still have struggles and sometimes insecurities and worries,” she said. “But that just makes me relatable.” She wants to let every young girl know that she is not perfect and that they can do anything if they just believe in themselves.
The theme of the conference this year was “How do you wear your crown?” Papillion told the young women to think of their crown as their personality. Read the full article here.
Will you be coming to the 2016 MISS USA Competition in Las Vegas on Sunday, June 5th? A Miss USA Friends & Family rate is now available to book your hotel! Click here to receive the discount!
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