University of Memphis' Hooks Institute Honors Brownsville, Tenn., Native and JCPenney CEO Marvin R. Ellison

April 21 Gala Will Highlight Contributions of African-American Men

March 9, 2016 - The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change will honor West Tennessee native Marvin R. Ellison, CEO of JCPenney, at the Institute's annual "Join Hands for Change" gala on April 21. The gala's theme, "Empowering, Supporting and Celebrating African American Men: Triumph through Perseverance," highlights the contributions of men such as Ellison, a UofM alumnus who has achieved significant personal and professional success. The gala will also highlight the Hooks Institute's innovative programs that are intended to help eliminate racial, educational, economic and other disparities in the Mid-South, such as the Hooks African-American Male Initiative, a program that focuses on increasing the retention and graduation of African-American students at the UofM.

"As a University of Memphis alumnus, I couldn't be more proud of the mission that the Hooks Institute is leading, and I am truly humbled to be honored at this year's gala," said Ellison. "I believe hard work, strong faith in God and a commitment to education are keys to achieving the success one desires in life. I hope my story can serve as an inspiration to others and help shine a light on the important work the Institute is doing to increase the retention and graduation rates of African-American males attending the University of Memphis."

The gala will begin at 7 p.m. at the UofM Holiday Inn, 3700 Central Ave. Tickets may be purchased online from Eventbrite at memphis.edu/benhooks. For sponsorship information or for additional information about this event, contact the Hooks Institute at 901-678-3974.

Ellison has nearly 30 years of experience in the retail industry. Prior to joining JCPenney in 2014, he spent 12 years at Home Depot, where he rose to become executive vice president of retail stores. Before joining Home Depot, Ellison spent 15 years with Target in a variety of operational roles, including corporate director of asset protection.

Ellison is actively involved in philanthropic efforts, including inner-city school renovations, as well as mentoring programs aimed at developing inner-city youth. He earned a business administration degree in marketing from the UofM and a master of business administration degree from Emory University. Ellison's wife, Sharyn, is also a graduate of the UofM.

In 1996, UofM officials received approval from the Tennessee Board of Regents to create the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change in the College of Arts & Sciences. The mission of the Institute is teaching, studying and promoting civil rights and social change. The Hooks Institute archives include Hooks' personal papers, which are housed in the Mississippi Valley Collection in the University's McWherter Library. To learn more about the Hooks Institute, visit memphis.edu/benhooks.

Daphene McFerren