Celebrating our CEO and Founder Amanda Ebokosia: Russ Berrie 2021 Making a difference Honoree
” Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” – Warren Bennis
Our CEO and founder Amanda Ebokosia has recently been awarded the Russ Berrie ” 2021 Making a difference Honoree Award.” Amanda reflects this quote in such a special way as she is the backbone and leader behind these talented fellows and their achievements. We know there are thinkers and doers in the world but it is very rare to find someone who can successfully do both. Amanda is one of the few people who can and is passionate about her work and her fellows. The Russ Berrie Foundation is a non-profit organization specialized in expressing the values and passions of the late Russel Berrie, Chairman and CEO of Russ & Berrie Company. Berrie believed everyone has the ability to make a difference in the world and the value in having community support to make the vision a reality. He once said, “There is nothing more important in life than helping a fellow human being.” The 2021 Russ Barrie Making a Difference Award celebrates its 25th Anniversary with a group of outstanding individuals who put others and service first. Out of a pool of over 330 nominations that were submitted between 2020 and 2021, Amanda was one of the recipients nominated by the Advisory Board.
The Russ Berrie Foundation was established in 1997 by Russel Berrie and continues to be hosted and managed by Ramapo College of New Jersey. The Making a Difference Award commemorates Garden State residents with outstanding community service and heroic acts contributing to the lives of others. Since its beginnings in 1997, 380 New Jersey’s dedicated citizens were honored with this prestigious award. Recipients from 21 counties have been recognized across New Jersey and we are so excited Amanda was one of them in representing Bloomfield, NJ. Honorees are gifted with more than 3.75 million in cash awards for their hard work and compassion to serve others. The award continues to carry the great legacy of Russ Berrie and his everlasting impact on recipients and New Jersey.
Amanda was featured in the 25th Anniversary Russ Berrie Making a Difference Awards Virtua Ceremony where she was joined by many other amazing recipients. Angela his wife and son Scott speaks about his legacy and what the award meant to him. 19 awards are presented to the first group of recipients including Amanda who are providing young people with opportunities to reach their full potential. Amanda and many others are recognized for making a huge difference in the lives of young people through combatting issues of social equity and racial injustice. Amanda shares how the idea began as peers educating peers and how the Gem Project has transformed into focusing on leveraging the power of young people (ages 16-24) through youth fellowship. Fellows from different states such as New Jersey, Florida, and Virginia thanks to the virtual opportunities have been able to connect with fellows all over and work together in youth organizing. Together towards the end of the summer, fellows were able to kick off a successful online rally which received over 2,000 views and community support.
We congratulate Amanda on her continuous powerful work with the Gem Project and with the fellows. This is only the start to even more awards, recognition, and incredible work both Amanda and her fellows will continue to do. A sincere thank you to Russ Berrie Foundation and the Advisory Board for selecting Amanda and The Gem Project.
“We champion on time graduation through peer mentoring, youth organizing, employment, and service-learning initiatives, with a social justice approach.”
Sierra Cole is a communications and public relations professional. In 2021 she joined The Gem Project as an inaugural Story Corps Fellow, capturing the stories and work of our youth organizers.⠀