The Diamond Empowerment Fund has elected two new board co-presidents: Neal Goldberg, Zale Corp. CEO, and Dr. Benjamin Chavis, president/CEO of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network.
The Diamond Empowerment Fund’s mission is to help Africans help Africa through funding educational programs in African nations where diamonds are a natural resource. The outgoing president of the Board is Sally Morrison, director of the Diamond Information Center, New York. D.E.F. was founded in 2007 by Russell Simmons and members of the jewelry industry
Simmons, chairman and CEO of Rush Communications and co-chairman of Simmons Jewelry Co., is chairman of the D.E.F. Advisory Board.
The Diamond Empowerment Fund Governing Board consists of (in addition to Morrison, Goldberg and Chavis) Edward Hrabak, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of Sterling Jewelers Inc.; Varda Shine, managing director of the Diamond Trading Company, London; and Jaci Wilson Reid, managing director of Westin Rinehart, Washington, D.C./New York. The D.E.F. Advisory Board consists of (in addition to Simmons) Phyllis Bergman, president of Mercury Ring Corp., New York/New Jersey; former Botswana president Festus Mogae; Linah Mohoholo, governor, Bank of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana; Scott H. Rauch, president of the Simmons Jewelry Co.; and Hedda T. Schupak, editor-in-chief of JCK Magazine. Non-board officers are Ellen Haddigan, vice president and executive dirctor of D.E.F, Rich Slomovitz, treasurer, and Nahshon Craig, secretary.
The Diamond Empowerment Fund’s first beneficiary is the community and Individual Development Association (CIDA City Campus) in Johannesburg, the only free college in South Africa. A substantial portion of the money donated to CIDA came from an initial grant from DeBeers. CIDA is further supported from the sale of the Green Bracelet, the signature D.E.F. piece created by Simmons Jewelry Co.