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Black Tie International:
The Independent School Alliance for Minority Affairs
Impact Award honorees Jeffrey and Maria Harleston, Joshua Hamilton and Baron Davis
Impact Award honorees Jeffrey and Maria Harleston, Joshua Hamilton and Baron Davis
Photo by:  Vince Bucci







Singer, songwriter and actress Taylor Dayne performed;

Actress Shondrella Avery hosted


Los Angeles – (March 23, 2016) The Independent School Alliance for Minority Affairs (The Independent School Alliance) honored outstanding members of the Los Angeles community at its annual Impact Awards gala, March 22, 2016 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.  NBA veteran Baron Davis; Joshua G. Hamilton, Partner, Paul Hastings LLP; Jeffrey Harleston, General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Business & Legal Affairs, Universal Music Group and Maria Harleston, CPA, were honored.  Brian Laibow, Managing Director, Oaktree Capital Management; Benjamin Nazarian, Managing Partner, Omninet and Nina Shaw, founding partner, Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein & Lezcano, Chaired. 

Students from UCLA’s United Voices vocal group ushered the more than 500 guests in to the ballroom.  Event chairs Brian Labow, Ben Nazarian and Nina Shaw welcomed guests, thanked supporters and introduced the evening’s emcee Shondrella Avery who touched upon the importance of diverse education and giving students the tools to make their dreams come true.  Entertainment featured singer/songwriter and actress Taylor Dayne. 

Executive Director Keishia Gu thanked the evening’s co-chairs, Alliance Board of Directors, staff and supporters before noting, “Our mission is to do everything we can to assure the brightest possible future for the children of Los Angeles by giving them the best possible education.  I’ve seen children thrive and the light that enters their life when they’re given that golden key to freedom that George Washington Carver called ‘education.’”

A highlight of the evening included the presentation of Azaliy Hekymara Memorial Scholarships to five outstanding seniors who embody the mission and spirit of the Independent School Alliance and who endeavor to take full advantage of their independent school education. Each of the scholarship recipients spoke poignantly about life-changing high school experiences and their goals for the future.

Bob Riddle, Head of Crossroads School and Board Member, presented Baron Davis with the 2016 Impact Award.  A native of Los Angeles and a 13-year NBA veteran and a two-time All-Star, Davis was drafted third overall in the 1999 NBA draft after an All-American season at UCLA.  A true renaissance man off the court, Davis has been an investor, entrepreneur and advisor in a variety of entertainment, technology and consumer product endeavors, including VitaminWater, Popchips, and Songza. He has made a name for himself in the world of film and television, as the producer of the Emmy-nominated documentary Crips and Bloods: Made In America, and most recently as producer/director of the upcoming documentary The Drew: No Excuse, Just Produce.  A true champion of youth, Baron has supported charitable endeavors across Los Angeles, from the Boys and Girls Club of Venice to his childhood elementary school, South Park.

Joshua G. Hamilton is a partner in the litigation practice of Paul Hastings LLP and is based in the firm’s Los Angeles office. He was presented the 2016 Impact Award by his wife Marissa and children Jane and Grant.  A complex litigator and trial lawyer, Hamilton concentrates his practice on securities and corporate governance related litigation and investigations, defense of class actions, and representation of investment firms and their portfolio companies in high-stakes disputes. He has been recognized for his legal achievements, including being named one of the Top 20 Lawyers under 40 in California by the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journals and is consistently named a Super Lawyer in Securities Litigation by Super Lawyers Magazine. Mr. Hamilton has proudly served on the Board of the Alliance for many years and is currently the Board Secretary. 

Jeffrey and Maria Harleston received the 2016 Impact Award from their children Miles, Zachary, Chase and Kai.  Jeffrey Harleston, General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Business & Legal Affairs for Universal Music Group is a key member of the senior executive team and responsible for overseeing all business transactions, contracts, and litigation related to UMG’s operations.

Maria Harleston is a CPA who spent her corporate career with positions at Price Waterhouse, The Coca Cola Company, DreamWorks and Showtime. A generous amount of time was also spent at home raising their children.  Both Maria and Jeff are very active in the independent school community with children who have attended The Center for Early Education and Harvard-Westlake. Their oldest is now matriculating at Tufts University.

Established in 1985 by a group of Southern California school heads, The Independent School Alliance is an organization of 54 private, independent elementary and secondary schools that endeavor to increase their diversity. It is the mission of The Independent School Alliance to inform members of racial communities presently underrepresented in independent schools of the option of independent school education; to identify applicants from these communities and assist them in the application process; to provide on-going support programs for students and their families; and to act as a resource to member schools assisting them in their individual efforts to address issues of racial diversity and multicultural education.  Over the past 14 years, The Independent School Alliance students have received nearly $70 million in financial aid from member schools. For further information on The Independent School Alliance, please visit


Gerard Mc Keon and Joyce Brooks.  Photo by:  Rose Billings/

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