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2020 Being Brave Gala


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Being Brave Award

Sheryl Lee Ralph

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Sheryl Lee Ralph is a multifaceted artist who continues to blaze trails in the entertainment industry. Whether she appears on TV, film, or the Broadway stage, Sheryl Lee Ralph also sparkles as a director, voice and screen actor, author, singer, philanthropist, community activist, wife, and mother.

She can be seen in the Freeform series Motherland: Fort Salem, performing as US President Kelly Wade and closing out the last season of Ray Donovan as Mickey's love, Claudette. Ms. Ralph recently launched "DIVA Defined," a podcast featuring powerful women making moves in their various career paths, and a new digital talk series, "DIVAS Simply Quarantined," on Facebook LIVE.

Aside from her career pursuits, Sheryl is a fierce community activist and advocate. Ralph produces the annual benefit concert, DIVAS Simply Singing!, which raises awareness for HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening diseases, including COVID-19. This year will mark the 30th year of the event. This year's benefit will be held virtually during the first week of December.

Community Awards

Leslie Maxie, OLY

Maxie Media Group

Outstanding Advocate Award

Photo by Phillip Dowdell

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1988 US Olympian and media professional, Leslie Maxie is a born entrepreneur and no stranger to achievement or pushing herself to optimal performance. Leslie is now inspiring others by sharing her insights on embracing transition, intentionality, work-life balance, and successfully figuring out “what’s next?”

In addition to her media consulting work, Leslie connects with her audiences wherever they may be in their journey, as she is committed to sowing seeds of encouragement and empowerment for all.

Leslie recently lent her expertise in media training and strategic support to #MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke and is currently advising two-time gold medalist, Olympic legend, Dr. Edwin Moses, among others.

Leslie began her media career as a reporter. Over the years she has interviewed some of the biggest names in entertainment and sports, including Brad Pitt, Denzel Washington, Serena Williams, Barry Bonds, and Mike Tyson, among others. She did this all while covering some of the world’s premier sporting events.


Over the last decade, Maxie has executed a strategic move from broadcaster to media maven as principal/owner of Maxie Media Group (MMG), providing media services to BET Networks, the 2014 Super Bowl Planning Committee representing the NFL Commissioner's Office, Toyota Motor Corp, Red Bull GMBH, NASCAR, the NY Jets, MLB, Miss New Jersey Pageant, and several Fortune 500 © executives.


Maxie has built a dynamic business; designing strategic campaigns to help thought-leaders, Fortune 500 businesses, and individual influencers identify and achieve their media goals.


More than being a media powerhouse, Leslie is most proud of her role as mom to daughter Andrea (24) and son Nicholas (22) and bride to attorney Phillip Dowdell.

Det. Danny Gallardo

New Brunswick Police Department

Outstanding Provider Award

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Detective Danilo “Danny” Gallardo is a 27-year veteran police officer with the City of New Brunswick Police Department. Detective Gallardo is an active member of our Community Outreach Bureau, with his primary assignment as the Liaison and Training Officer for the department’s Domestic Violence Unit. In his role as a domestic violence officer, Detective Gallardo investigates reported cases of domestic violence and provides specialized care and support to the victims. Detective Gallardo has dedicated 14 years to the Domestic Violence Unit, and his experience and compassion to the cause is second to none. 


Detective Gallardo also serves the department as a certified D.A.R.E. and G.R.E.A.T instructor and is a fixture at many of the city’s elementary schools, educating our students on the dangers of drugs and gangs. 


Additionally, Detective Gallardo is an active member in the New Brunswick community, is a communicant of local churches, and volunteers countless hours of his own time to community events such as National Night Out, Thanksgiving Turkey Drives, and Christmas Toy Drives. 

Debbie Maddock

Sophie's Bistro

Outstanding Volunteer Award

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Debbie Maddock has worked in the restaurant business in the New Brunswick area for over 30 years.  During her 20s she was in an abusive relationship. As she got older and learned to process this trauma, she hoped to one day be able to do something to help other abuse survivors.

One day, Sherrilynn from Town Clock CDC introduced her to the organization and mentioned they were planning community dinners. Helping with the community dinners led to Debbie sharing her story in a letter with the clients of Sophie’s Bistro (where she is the manager), asking for donations of Christmas gifts for the residents of Town Clock. The success of this first gift drive led Debbie to organize other restaurants to also collect gifts as well as basic essentials every December. 

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