The Ad Council held its 65th Annual Public Service Award Dinner and honored Ginni Rometty, chairman, president, and chief executive of IBM. The night also raised $5.3m to support the nonprofit organization dedicated to using communications to drive social change.
Rometty was presented with the 2018 Public Service Award for her longstanding dedication to social change and progress. Throughout Rometty’s tenure at IBM, the company has developed technologies and programs that support community needs as much as they assist business needs. Recent initiatives support building a pipeline of talent to fill the nearly 16m “new collar” jobs to be added in the US by 2024 – jobs that require in-demand skills but not always a bachelor’s degree. Rometty has also empowered her teams to embrace social causes and public service at every level of the organization through volunteer opportunities, the IBM Corporate Service Corps, and impact grants.
Under Rometty’s leadership, IBM cofounded She Can STEM, a new Ad Council campaign designed to encourage young females to pursue their interests in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), which launched in September 2018. Rometty also serves on the Council on Foreign Relations, Northwestern University’s Board of Trustees, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s Board of Overseers and Board of Managers.
Rometty, in her acceptance speech, called for inclusivity in the tech workforce and stated that the industry should be available to everyone. “People of all skill levels should be able to work in this field…always remember that you should be able to explain these technologies,” she said.
She has also championed more women in the workforce, and encouraged more girls to be involved and trained in the sciences, highlighting Karri Mack, a 10-year-old from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who has a genuine passion for science, and spoke to the crowd at the Ad Council event with enthusiasm about her love of science. She said she dreams of becoming a pediatrician who will one day cure cancer. In September 2018, Mack starred in the Ad Council’s She Can STEM campaign.
Other people from prominent Ad Council campaigns were also featured during the evening, including Tiarra Barrera-Hammond (Job Training & Employment/Bring Good Home), who found success as a nurse through Goodwill; Hector Adames (Gun Safety/End Family Fire), a passionate advocate for gun safety; Nikia Hammonds-Blakely (Breast Cancer Risk Education/Know Your Girls), an author, singer, songwriter, and motivational speaker who focuses her message on receiving physical and emotional healing; and Jimmie and Mindy Beall (LGBT Acceptance/Beyond I Do), the targets of workplace discrimination against gay couples and the first same-sex couple in their Ohio county to marry, who today are passionate advocates for LGBT rights.
Trevor Noah, host of Emmy and Peabody Award-winning The Daily Show, was to emcee the event, though his vocal cords were shot and he couldn’t speak, so correspondents Desi Lydic and Michael Kosta took his place. Noah was present, but only managed a Trump joke spoken through a voice-generating speaker, then waved good night.
The evening also featured a live performance from Shine MSD, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students from Parkland, Florida, and Applause, a performing arts program in New York City. The event was held at the New York Hilton and raised an unprecedented $5.3m to support the organization and its social good campaigns.
Attended by more than 1,500 prominent executives from the media, advertising, technology, and corporate communities, the Annual Public Service Award Dinner recognizes the industries and individuals who support the Ad Council and its national public service campaigns. This year’s dinner was chaired by Linda Boff, chief marketing officer of GE and chair of the Ad Council’s Board of Directors.
“This year’s dinner was an uplifting and unforgettable evening that served as a reminder of the progress we make when our industry unites for social good,” said Lisa Sherman, president and chief executive officer, the Ad Council. “The Ad Council is where our shared desires for a better society transform into good ideas, ideas that confront the toughest issues facing our communities. When we come together around purpose, we continue to prove that good works.”