ESSEX COUNTY, NJ - Emerald and ivory lights illuminated the breathtaking grand ballroom of The Hanover Marriott in Whippany, New Jersey, as over 400 distinguished guests from near and far, arrived for the 13th Biennial Emerald & Ivory Debutante Cotillion, hosted by the Essex County (NJ) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated.  The esteemed event is the culmination of the chapter’s Debutante Leadership Program; the debutante’s twelve-month journey. 

The Debutante Leadership Program is designed to provide experiences that will prepare the debutantes for leadership with a focus on the African American community.  The program has been offered every other year, for the past 27 years, by invitation only, to outstanding high school sophomore and junior girls in northern and central New Jersey, who have demonstrated academic excellence and a commitment to community service.  Seventeen girls from four New Jersey counties were selected to participate in this year’s notable program. 

Dr. Cynthia A. Cuffie, Co-chair of the Debutante Leadership Program and Cotillion stated, “During the past year, the debutantes participated in educational, cultural, social and community service activities, including a Mother-Daughter Tea; community service activity at a local food bank; a Power Luncheon; a Father-Daughter Dinner; a trip to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; a trip to the UN to participate in a youth global conference on the Transatlantic Slave Trade; and a trip to the Harlem School of the Arts.  And, there were also weeks of dance rehearsals for the debutantes, escorts and fathers.”

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The illustrious event opened with a welcome by Co-Chairs Ethelyn S. Bowers, National Financial Secretary, The Links Foundation, and Dr. Cynthia Cuffie, Program Coordinator; invocation by Leidene C. King; and the program hosted by Mistress of Ceremony, Michelle Miller, award-winning CBS News national correspondent.  The Presentation of the 2017 Debutantes began with individual video and narrative.  One by one, dressed in a formal white princess gown, gloves and adorned in pearls, each beautiful and elegant debutante strolled onto the stage with style and grace, was introduced, took her bow and stepped into society. 

Their handsome and charming escort, dressed in black tails and white gloves, led them down the steps and were joined by her parents and again formally introduced.  While guests enjoyed dinner, they were captivated by the Cotillion to follow. The debutante’s enchanting dances had the audience mesmerized.

The debutantes danced to “Anthem of Praise recorded by Richard Smallwood, followed by the poignant debutantes and fathers dance to “Love My Life” recorded by Brian McKnight, and finally the amazingly flawless debutantes and escorts dance to “Miss Independent” recorded by NeYo.  All choreographed by Professor Clarissa Newby Phillips and Reverend Crystal M. Newby-Reynolds. Guests were in awe.

Then came the crowning of the Emerald Princess, Kathryn Alease Jones of South Orange, and the two runners-up, the first Ivory Princess Perri Alexis Easley of Denville and second Ivory Princess Chyna Alexa Brodie of West Orange.  Miss Spirit of the Links was Chyna Alexa Brodie of West Orange, selected by the other debutantes, as consistently demonstrating friendship, integrity and dependability. All four will receive scholarships.

The amazing Debutante Leadership Program and Cotillion committee gave their passion and hard work in coordinating the year-long program Chaired by Ethelyn S. Bowers, Dr. Cynthia Cuffie, and the Honorable ShawnDya Simpson. “All of our chapter members contributed to the incredibly successful production. This was a truly magical, spectacular evening, as we congratulated and acknowledged the extraordinary achievements of this year’s Emerald and Ivory debutantes, their debonair escorts and their families”, expressed Constance S. McAllister, Esq., President of the Essex County (NJ) Chapter of The Links, Inc..  Proceeds from the Emerald and Ivory Cotillion provide college scholarships for the debutantes and support Essex County (NJ) Chapter’s award winning community service programs.

Debutantes

Alanza Zidane Blake

Chyna Alexa Brodie*

Avani Jaelyn Cort

Hodiah Armani Rosalind Davidson

Perri Alexis Easley*

Cassidy Alexis Ferrell

Hannah Elena Fleming

Kathryn Alease Jones*

Madison Elysse Lee

Sanai Sade Newell

Kristian Anita Reynolds

Jessica Anne Scott

Zoe Noelle Singleton

Nia Janae Sorbino

Jordan Hawkins Taylor

Mirlande Gabrielle Zamor

*Heir-O-Links

Escorts

Kendahl Brown

Zachary Dees

Keon Harris

Ryan Henry

Gary Zaire Hinds, Jr.

Harrison L. Johnson

Frederick Lampley

Judah Marable

Brandon Morrison

Austin Phillips

Dwight Levy Samuel

Christian Samuels

Kyle Taylor

J. Harrison Walker

Ashton Williams

Taj Wilson

Junior Escorts

Macon Cotton IV

Langston Scott

About The Links, Incorporated

The Links, Incorporated is an international, not-for-profit corporation, established in 1946. The membership consists of nearly 14,000 professional women of color in 284 chapters located in 41 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. It is one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of extraordinary women who are committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry. Essex County (NJ) Chapter, The Links, Incorporated was established in 1986. Constance S. McAllister, Esq., President, Essex County (NJ) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated.