Celebrating all female honorees for the first time in its history, the Awards will begin with

signature, star-studded gold carpet


The 14th annual McDonald’s® 365Black® Awards  are set to acknowledge a group of celebrities and influential women at an elegant luncheon in the Ritz Carlton hotel in New Orleans. The event will take place during ESSENCE Festival® presented by Coca-Cola® and will honor women making a positive impact in the African-American community.


2017 Honorees:

Sanya Richards-Ross is a long-ranked the world’s best 400m runner, Sanya Richards-Ross brought home her first 400m Olympic gold in 2012. In 2009 Richards-Ross finally won the world title that had been eluding her for her entire career. At the 2012 U.S. Trials, she tied the Trials record of 49.28 set by Chandra Cheeseborough in 1984. She has been an imperative leader on the four-time World Championship and three-time Olympic gold medal 4x400m team. Considered one of the world’s fastest women, she has the most sub-50 second 400m races in history. The 2007 USA Outdoor Championships Named Visa Humanitarian of the Year in 2005, her namesake charity, the Sanya Richards Fast Track Program benefits children in need in her native Jamaica. Created in 2007, the program combines literacy, numeracy and promotes an active and healthy lifestyle through sports. She also participates in USATF’s Win with Integrity and awards a scholarship in her name.









Tichina Arnold is an Internationally known Actress and Singer who began her career studying at Performing Arts High School in her hometown of NYC.  Her career has been non-stop since landing her first role in the famous film version of Little Shop of Horrors with Rick Moranis and Steve Martin and continuing in great classics such as Big Mommas House, Wild Hogs and a dramatic turn in the Lena Baker Story. Tichina leapt from the big screen to the TV working on Soap Operas “All My Children” and “Ryan’s Hope.” It is her Iconic role of Pam in the hit show “Martin” that cemented her status with fans across the world as one of TV’s sassiest comedians and she has been creating memorable characters ever since with “Everybody Hates Chris,” “Raising Hope,” “Happily Divorced,” and most recently STARZ “Survivor’s Remorse” and VH1’s “Daytime Divas.”








Margaret (Marty) Gillis is a testament to the contemporary adage, “There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise. Within the McDonald’s system, Marty is a trailblazer and a leader.  She was the first woman to serve as Chair of the African American Consumer Market Committee which directs all national marketing activities targeting African Americans.  Marty served 10 years as chair.  She was pertinacious as she led the committee and successfully advocated for, re-energized and advanced McDonald’s African American marketing programs.  These included McDonald’s sponsorships and activations at the Essence Music Festival, HBCU Football Classics, Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour, 365Black Awards, CIAA Tournament, Black Film Festival, United Negro College Fund, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, NAACP and others. These programs created many opportunities for multiple minority owned companies








Valeisha Butterfield Jones is the Head of Black Community Engagement for Google and the co­founder and CEO of the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN). Valeisha has a deep passion for diversity and inclusion, as evidenced by her work for nearly two decades driving social responsibility campaigns and community engagement programs for corporations, government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Her work received global recognition and in 2009, Valeisha was appointed to serve in the Administration of U.S. President Barack Obama as the Deputy Director of Public Affairs for International Trade and as the National Youth Vote Director for President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, where she helped to deliver one of the highest youth voter turnouts in American history. Valeisha has been recognized as one of our country’s most respected leaders in business and philanthropy, including Forbes, Essence & Ebony. Valeisha is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University and a North Carolina native, but considers New York City her home away from home. She’s married and the mom of one son.








 Chasity Hale has garnered a variety of publications and honors. Her work has been featured in acclaimed journals and anthologies such as the American Poetry Review and Susquehanna University’s The Apprentice Writer. In 2015, she served an ambassadorial year as a Southeastern National Student Poet under the Obama administration. In addition, she is the recipient of four Scholastics Art and Writing medals: one silver medal in creative non-fiction, one gold medal in creative non-fiction, a gold medal in poetry and a gold medal in portfolio, consisting of work in all genres. She has read at various locations including the White House, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library and Miami International Book Fair. During her high school career, she used poetry as a platform to create dialogue about identity with diverse groups of students. She has hosted workshops in New York City, New York, Savannah, Georgia and Miami, Florida. She has partnered with organizations such as Superfriends, Girl Power Rocks and The Betsy Hotel. In the fall, she’ll be attending Stanford University, where she’s excited to continue her career of learning, writing and engaging with the community through the arts.


This year’s McDonald’s 365Black Awards luncheon will be hosted by actress Essence Atkins and feature musical performances from Kelly Price and Jekalyn Carr.




McDonald’s brings together community leaders, television and music entertainers, along with local and national influencers and thousands of consumers for the annual awards event.


WHEN:                                      Sunday, July 2, 2017

                                                      8:00 a.m. — Soundcheck begins

                                                      11:00 a.m. — Gold Carpet begins

                                                      11:45 a.m. — Begin seating

                                                      12:00 p.m. — 14th Annual 365Black Awards ceremony begins


**Interviews are limited to carpet arrivals; media credentials are required for gold carpet access. Please RSVP as soon as possible.**



The Ritz-Carlton

921 Canal St.

New Orleans, LA 70112


McDonald’s 365Black Awards launched in 2003 as an extension of the company’s 365Black platform, which celebrates the pride, heritage and achievements of African-Americans year-round. Follow @365Black on Twitter for updates on the awards show and join the conversation using #365BlackAwards


Chevonne Nash, Burrell Communications, (312) 399-0023,


Micaeh Johnson, Burrell Communications,

(312) 731-0241,



About McDonald’s

McDonald’s USA, LLC, serves a variety of menu options made with quality ingredients to more than 27 million customers every day. Nearly 90 percent of McDonald’s 14,000 U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by businessmen and women. Customers can now log online for free at approximately 11,500 participating Wi-Fi enabled McDonald’s U.S. restaurants. For more information, visit www.mcdonalds.com, or follow us on Twitter @McDonalds and Facebook www.facebook.com/mcdonalds. To learn more about the 365Black initiative, visit www.365Black.com and follow @365Black on Twitter.

Trademarks and/or registered trademarks used herein are owned by their respective companies and organizations.


© 2017 McDonald’s