By Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor, mgreen@afro.com

Ladies in glamorous gowns and men in tailored tuxedos gathered in the Marriott Marquis on June 6 for the 25th anniversary gala of the TIS (To Inspire Strong Families and Communities) Foundation, with the theme, “Celebrating Women in Leadership,” particularly honoring former U.S. Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA).  The glitz and glam was an evening to celebrate the long, hard work and effort put into working in disadvantaged communities.

TIS Foundation is a subsidiary arm of Motir Services and was founded by its President Ogechukwu (Ogay) Irono.  Ogay Irono is the wife of Motir Services President and CEO Emmanual Irono. Mr. Irono, whose office is in Ward 8, shared why an organization such as TIS is so vital to D.C. residents and the world at large.

Emmanuel O. Irono, chairman TIS Foundation and Founder and President of the TIS Foundation Ogechukwu (Ogay) Irono. The TIS Foundation celebrated 25 years of bringing change to Washington, D.C., neighboring communities and the world at large. (Photo by Rob Roberts)

“As a business owner in Washington, D.C. nearly 30 years, I have witnessed the dramatic changes in D.C. that have greatly improved opportunities for a lot of people.  But certainly we are seeing a major divide between the wealthy and the poor. Good housing is no longer in the city. It is nearly impossible to find homes. Everyday the idigenous Washingtonians are leaving the city to be able to find a place that is affordable where they are able to raise their children.  That is a big loss to our city. A city that has celebrated and benefited from diversity,” Mr. Irono told the audience. “We must stop the bleeding. I knew that 30 years ago when I started my company that something must be done to engage people that are less fortunate.”

Over the past 25 years, TIS Foundation has worked to help those less fortunate in D.C., and by extent the larger world stage.

“We remain committed to serving the Washington, D.C. region where we have built strong community relationships.  Our work has taken us across the globe to the highest areas of poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa and the most economically disadvantaged urban centers,” Mrs. Irono wrote in the 25th Anniversary program.

To continue making an impact, TIS now hopes to expand their work of providing, “evidence-based, comprehensive programs that serve the whole person regardless of their education and income level and recognizes their individual barriers,” according to Mrs. Irono.

“We want to reduce the intergenerational poverty by creating great jobs, not just any job, real businesses, real impact,” Mr. Irono said.

Mr. Irono emphasized that the organization needs help in order to continue changing lives and communities.  “It is important we have come today, 25 years doing it on our own, but we need your help,” he said.

Per the organization’s inspirational work and mission, there were a lot of well-known influencers at the gala to lend a helping hand, including: TV and radio host Dr. Renee Allen, who emceed the event, WPGC News Director and Fox 5 host Guy Lambert, Real Housewives of Potomac’s Gizelle Bryant, international recording artist Flavour, who performed with his protege Semah G. Weifur, and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobooks.  

“Thank you for embracing TIS foundation and your gift of music,” Mr. Irono told Flavour.

County Executive Alsobrooks spoke about the change TIS has brought to D.C., neighboring Prince George’s County and the world.

“Thank you so very much for caring,” Alsobrooks said.

“[This] reminds me of that very wise saying of Sojourner Truth who spoke these words many years ago, when she said, ‘If the first woman created by God, was strong enough to turn the world upside down, then these women ought to be able to come together and turn it right side up.’ And we know that this is what is happening in the tremendous work, here and across the world.  We are standing tall,” the Prince George’s County Executive said.