The 2017 class of Top 40 under 40 Urban Elite Professionals. (Photo: Wiley Brown)

All Toni Mason, CEO of Dazzle Creative Dance & Movement, needed was the question. She was more than ready to weigh in on the importance of the Top 40 under 40 Urban Elite Professionals gala.

“It gives dynamic individuals and leaders a platform of recognition that we don’t normally get,” Mason said. “It sheds lights on what we have to offer to our city. We are more than the crime rates and negative statistics. …

“We are workers, givers, doers, dreamers, professionals, artists and educators using our gifts, talents and expertise to make an impact not only for our families but for others who want to step out and do something different.”

The second annual Top 40 Under 40 Urban Elite Professionals event was held at the Hilton at 975 Ridge Lake Blvd this past Saturday night (Nov 18). As the evening’s gala was set to kick off, Creator and Chief Event Strategist Cynthia Daniels, said, “I’m always looking to promote positive influence, so I’m excited that it’s here and finally happening. Everyone looks so beautiful.”

Hosted by Hulsey Britt, the sold-out event highlighted 40 Memphians – all under the age of 40 – doing tremendous things in business and entrepreneurship under the ago of 40. Followed by remarks from event sponsors First Tennessee and Hilton Memphis, the event unfolded with a catered meal and live entertainment from singer Keia Johnson.

Keynote speaker and national media contributor Aaron Paxton Arnold, who has worked alongside Bad Boy Entertainment mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs, stimulated the crowd with helpful, to-the-point guidance.

“Never be afraid to walk away,” Arnold said, “because the power we have as human beings is the ability to say ‘no.’”

Also among those honored were Edward Bogard, founder of SoGiv Shoe Design, singer-songwriter Kortland Whalum, and Moziah Bridges of Mo’s Bows.

Mason emerged from the Arts & Education category. She said the future for Dazzle includes expanding into more online services and products, continuing to increase studio enrollment, and doing a city-to-city tour teaching and educating parents on movement and the vital role it plays with their little ones in interactive dance classes.

Jarrett and Jonathan Logan of Castle Black Incorporated were honored in the entrepreneur category for becoming one of Memphis’ leading minority Commercial Contractors.

“In the near future Castle Black Construction will have a full-time staff in our Nashville, Tenn. and Houston, Texas offices, said Jonathan Logan, also envisioning opportunities associated with “the growing demand for construction services in the Memphis market.”

The stellar event eventually spilled into the breezeways of the Hilton as attendees networked until the lavish after-party kickoff.

“I’m so proud of Cynthia and everything she’s done,” said Nina Allen-Johnson, owner of Creative Solutions (event planning) and a TSD associate.

The crowd danced on into the late night.

“We’ll be back November 18, 2018 same place, same time,” said Daniels.

(Tickets for the third annual Top 40 Under 40 gala can be purchased beginning January 1. Visit Top 40 Under 40 Elite Professionals on Facebook or email Cynthia Daniels at Cynthia@cynthiadanielsco.com.)