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Tuskegee Airmen annual fundraiser features Toyota’s Wil James as keynote

Will James, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Kentucky Inc.
Will James, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Kentucky Inc.

LOUISVILLE (Oct. 11, 2017) – An upcoming gala will honor the heralded Tuskegee Airmen of World War II fame while raising scholarship money for deserving Kentucky high school seniors who are headed to college.

The 4th annual Tuskegee Airmen scholarship fundraising dinner will be held on Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, 311 S. Fourth St., in downtown Louisville. The event is hosted by the Brigadier Gen. Noel F. Parrish Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen Inc., which is based in Kentucky.

The Kentucky chapter is part of the national Tuskegee Airmen Inc. organization, which works to honor and sustain the legacy of the group of daring African American aviators who served in the U.S. military during World War II.

The keynote speaker at this year’s gala will be Wil James, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky Inc.  James has worked for Toyota for 30 years and has been in his current post since 2010.

He is the top executive at Toyota’s largest automotive manufacturing plant in the world, which is located in Georgetown, Ky.

The $6 billion operation employs more than 7,500 people and produces Toyota’s Camry and Avalon sedans as well as the Lexus ES 350, the only Lexus produced in the United States. James also champions quality initiatives for Toyota’s 14 North American manufacturing plants.

In addition to his senior leadership positions with Toyota, James has been an involved community servant as well. He served as 2016 Chairman of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce board of directors. He is a board member of the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement, Central Bank & Trust Co. and the National Urban League. He was named one of the Top 100 Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America in 2016 by Savoy Magazine.

James is a Norfolk, Va., native who earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Old Dominion University in 1978. In 2013, he received an honorary doctorate of engineering from the University of Kentucky, and in 2015, he received an honorary degree from the University of Pikeville.

The evening begins with a meet-and-greet with cash bar from 6-6:30 p.m. followed by dinner and the program from 6:30-9 p.m. Veteran radio and television personality Tony Vanetti of WHAS-TV and iHeart Radio will be the emcee, which also includes recognition of 2017 spring scholarship winners and the opportunity to meet one of Kentucky’s last surviving legends of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Musical performances will feature Sydney Finley and Kevon Baker of DuPont Manual High School as well as the Louisville-based Ladies for Liberty singing troupe. The evening will conclude with dancing and music featuring Yancy Entertainment.

Items in the silent auction will include an original painting and artist prints as well as many donations from Louisville and Lexington businesses.

The public is invited to attend in the fund-raising gala. The cost is $60 per person. Tickets can be purchased online at https://tuskegeeairmen.brushfireapp.com. For more information, contact Ron Spriggs at (859) 576-3636 or Andre’ Wilson at (502) 836-0509.

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