(Columbia, SC – Allen University will host the 18th Annual UNCF “A Mind Is…” Scholarship Gala and Richard Allen Awards Ceremony on Friday, February 9, 2024, at the Cantey Building on the State Fairgrounds. The event will begin with a reception at 6:00 p.m., followed by a formal program at 7:00 p.m.

The 2024 Richard Allen Award Honorees are Ms. Cherie Carter, Dr. Belle Wheelan, Attorney Shannon Davis, and Mr. Monti Valrie. The Richard Allen Awards recognize trailblazers who have made exceptional contributions to education and their communities.

Cherie Carter is the Vice President of Boeing Global Engagement (BGE), a position she assumed in October 2019. She is responsible for the development and execution of The Boeing Company’s charitable giving and employee volunteerism engagement strategies – directing programs and resources that impact key issues. She works across the Boeing enterprise to build positive relationships with organizations and communities in which Boeing has a presence. Prior to her current role, Mrs. Carter has had a lengthy career as a top-level public and private sector executive, political advisor, and development professional to non-profit organizations. In addition, Mrs. Carter was formerly the founding executive director of the PBS Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the Public Broadcasting System in the United States.

Dr. Belle Wheelan currently serves as President of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS). She is the first African American and the first woman to serve in this capacity. Her career spans over 40 years and includes the roles of faculty member, chief student services officer, provost, college president, and Secretary of Education.  In several of those roles, she was the first African American and/or woman to serve in those capacities. 

Shannon Davis Calloway is an entrepreneur and legal professional. She is the Founder of Shannon Davis Legal Entrepreneurial Law Firm, and Principal of ATSA Global Inc., an International Trade Consultancy with offices in Kenya and the U.S. With a profound commitment to community service, Mrs. Davis actively pays it forward through pro-bono work facilitated by her firm, and through volunteer engagement with many organizations- including Operation Hope, MicroMentor, and Atlanta Legal Aid. Through these initiatives, Mrs. Davis aims to empower individuals and businesses, fostering a culture of growth and success within marginalized communities. 

Monti Valrie is a Principal and Managing Partner at 50 Plus 1 Sports, leading all project financing, governmental affairs, and strategic efforts for the firm whose motto is “Culture Matters.” Standing firm on the core belief that diverse experiences lead to fresh ideas, perspectives and business values, Monti created the “50 Plus 1 Initiative” making the 50 Plus 1 Sports the first minority-owned national sports financing and development firm to require 50% participation in every project financed. The 50 Plus 1 Sports also provides 100% of financing with zero participation from State and local governments on all projects we are partnered in. Currently, 50 Plus 1 Sports has over 7 billion dollars proposed to teams in the NFL, MLB, and college sports. Mr. Valrie also oversees the company’s efforts in government affairs and strategic management for projects nationwide, implementing stakeholders and community relations, and procurement strategies that will lead to a higher success rate for project financing, completion, and greater corporate social responsibility.