Ambassador to Washington D.C. from Nigeria, Hon. Justice Sylvanus A. Nsofor (center), and wife (left), greet former Ambassador to Micronesia, Diane. E. Watson – honoree of the TIS Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award at TIS foundation’s 25th Anniversary. Courtesy Photo.

Longtime friend and confidant of Diane Watson Queen Ahneva Ahneva, also known as Ahneva Hilson, in association with To Inspire Strong Families and Communities, or TIS Foundation, joined hands to honor a public service monarch who has managed to rise to not only one level, but four levels of government service.

Diane Edith Watson, Ph.D. is the sole proprietor of this rich legacy.

Diane has experienced a rich and meaningful career. These days, it is hard to determine how to address her as she has soared to the top of four levels of public service. First, she ran for Los Angeles School Board Member, and won. Then, she set a historic record in 1978 by becoming the first African American woman to win a California State Senate seat. She spent 20 years in the senate creating landmark legislation that has raised the bar for legislators nationwide.

You would have thought she would be happy with those accomplishments, but no, not this relentless “Warrior Queen.” She went on to catch the eye of President Bill Clinton, who summoned her to the nation’s capital to ask her if she would serve as one of his ambassadors. The congresswoman was quickly confirmed as Ambassador to Micronesia.

With these three levels of public service already hallmark material, this legacy maker continued to strike her community with awe when she was elected to serve in Washington D.C. as the Congressional Representative of the 37th District of California. She was a member of Congress for 10 years and served on three committees.

As amazing as this may seem, this “Legacy Lionesses” is the only female congressional leader to ever accomplish such an amazing career, and all in one lifetime.

Former Congresswoman Diane Watson. Courtesy photo

Queen Ahneva Ahneva, lifelong friend of Miss Watson and former Goodwill Ambassador to the TIS Foundation-West Africa, nominated Miss Watson to receive the TIS Foundation’s Inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award. This award was given to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the TIS Foundation.

The Annual Event was held at the prestigious Marriott Marquis in Washington D.C., on Thursday, June 6th. The video tribute read like the “Who’s Who” in the public service community. This stellar tribute could not have happened without the help of my “A-Team” DC, Todd Taylor and Adrian Turner. Tributes were offered by the following members: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority House Leader Steny Hoyer, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Ben Cardin, Senator Chris Van Hollen, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Rep. Gwen Moore, Rep. James Clyburn, Rep. Elijah Cummings and Rep. Karen Bass.

Congresswoman Bass served as Honorary Chair of the event, and in addition, she had the distinguished honor of presenting the TIS Lifetime Achievement Award to Congresswomen Watson.

“Lift as You Claim”! is the mandate Diane Watson gave to me and all the other people whom she has empowered and emboldened to become all that they can be. As a recipient of her Congressional seat, it is my responsibility to continue to do the same!

Los Angeles was also present and accounted for with moving video tributes given by several California public servants, former staff members to Miss Watson, now California State Senator, Holly Mitchell, who currently holds the legacy seat left by of this distinguished dynamo.

Notable participants included, the honorable Herb Wesson, president of the Los Angeles City Council, the Honorable Mark Ridley Thomas, supervisor of the 1st District of Los Angeles County, Earl ‘Skip’ Cooper, CEO of the Black Business Association and longtime friends Elvin Moon, Celestine Palmer, Gloria Allred and many more friends and family. To top off the evening, a surprise and glowing tribute came mid-evening from none other than Los Angeles’ Mayor Eric Garcetti, who praised the former Congresswoman for her tireless efforts, and commended her for helping to make his city a better place for all.

Mr. Emmanuel Irono (center), host to former Congresswoman Diane Watson (right), and Queen Ahneva Ahneva (left), event producer, celebrate the TIS 25th Gala. Courtesy Photo.

TIS founder and President, Mrs. Ogay Irono and Chairman Emmanuel Irono, spared no expense to make Diane Watson’s experience an unforgettable one. The anniversary celebration was a 5-star event; nothing was missing. The Hutchinson Group was the event planner, and plan they did.

With over 5,000 roses and an abundant selection of exotic flowers on display, the table center pieces were like that of a royal family in Africa. Flowers dripping from high above to fall into an incredible bouquet that my eyes had never witnessed — And that’s saying something, coming from a background of event planning and catering. Crystals fell from the sky and the color theme of royal blue and white resonated in the heart of School Board member, Senator, Ambassador and Congresswoman Watson.

International singer, Flavour, wowed the audience with his brand of music straight out of Nigeria, West Africa. The eight female African dancers had the crowed dancing in the aisles.

A highlight of the evening was a one-million-dollar check presented to six Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The presidents of two of the leading educational institutions, Howard University and Morehouse College, as well as the other universities were overwhelmed by the donation from the foundation.

The Irono’s pledge to continue to help secure the Living Legacy of Diane Edith Watson for years to come.

About TIS:
Since 1994, TIS Foundation has provided critical support services and economic empowerment programs to families in crisis in the United States and various African nations. Through our partnership with African Community Bridge Foundation (ACBF) in Africa, TIS has to brought purpose and hope to some of the most impoverished and undeserved individuals in rural African communities – most especially women, children and youth. TIS has raised over $3.1M in cash and material donations to provide critical support services to over 10,000 children and youth every year.

Today, TIS is tackling many of the same issues in high-poverty communities in the United States. The family and youth-centered initiatives are focused on filling gaps in critical community services necessary to move families from crisis to stability. Their goal is to leverage innovative industry partnerships to create seamless pathways to economic opportunity by connecting low-skilled workers to jobs, and offering skills-training and entrepreneurship opportunities while addressing their most critical support needs.
For information on TIS visit