Michael Skolnik.jpeg

Keynote Speaker: 

Michael Skolnik


Political Director for Russel Simmons and President of Globalgrind.com

Michael Skolnik is a 21st century civil rights leader. As the Political Director to hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons and President of GlobalGrind.com, an online destination founded by Simmons with over 4.5 million viewers per month, Michael is a leading voice for young America 

A trailblazer of social media with 120,000 followers on twitter, Michael has led national conversations about the death of Trayvon Martin and the subsequent trial of George Zimmerman, the Boston Marathon bombings, the rise of violence in Chicago, America’s relationship with race and the Obama presidency, amongst many other topics. His 2012 essay titled, “White People, You Will Never Look Suspicious Like Trayvon Martin” was shared over 190,000 times on Facebook and was credited as one of the catalysts of bringing that story to national attention. Michael regularly discusses the aforementioned topics, current events, and how they affect his generation on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NPR and HLN, to name a few media outlets.

In his role as Political Director, Michael and Russell focus their work around three core themes: violence, poverty and ignorance. As President of GlobalGrind.com, Michael leads a website that serves a multi-racial segment of the 18-34 population, covering entertainment, lifestyle, fashion, style, music and politics.

Michael has delivered keynote addresses and participated in panel discussions at Princeton University, Yale University, UCLA, NYU, Georgetown University, University of Michigan, Tulane University, American University, Southern University, University of Wisconsin, University of Idaho as well as at numerous rallies and private functions.

Michael serves on the Board of Directors for The Trayvon Martin Foundation and the Drug Policy Alliance. He is also active on the Leadership Council of Gen44, the Democratic Party’s group for young professionals, and was an official surrogate for the 2012 Obama campaign.

Michael is the founder of Dot2Dot, an annual summit of the most inspiring young leaders, who gather to engage in a conversation about the future of the generation.

Prior to his work for Simmons, Michael spent over a decade as an award winning film director and producer. He is a graduate of the UCLA School Of Film, Theater and Television.


Thursday, January 22


Join us as we honor we award the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award and the Community Service Awards. Presidential Award for Lifetime Achievement & Commitment to the Dream was established in 1992. The award recognizes an outstanding community servant that has exemplified the character, dedication and goals of Dr. King during their lifelong work and commitment to the New Orleans community. The recipient should be a long time resident of New Orleans.



















The Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award is an award, which acknowledges outstanding student achievement in community service. Recipients of this award exemplify the principles, standards, and ideology of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


This year's Presidential Award nominee is Wendell Pierce.

Actor, businessman and philanthropist, Pierce has worked extensively with legendary directors Woody Allen, Spike Lee, Brian De Palma, Barry Levinson, Sidney Lumet and Taylor Hackford.In addition to his work on HBO's "The Wire" and "Treme," Pierce had regular roles on NBC's "The Weber Show," CBS's "Gregory Hines Show," "Maloney" and "The Brian Benben Show." He also guest stared on "Numb3rs," "Law & Order," "Third Watch," "New York Undercover" and "I'll Fly Away."


Pierce considers himself a "true capitalist" and a "classic entrepreneur." In 2013, Fast Company named Pierce one of the "100 Most Creative People in Business." Pierce started the non-profit, Pontchartrain Park Community Development Corp., to build new affordable solar and geothermal homes in the area for families displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

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Vince Lombardi