NEW YORK, October 14, 2009 – The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), the premier education organization dedicated to preparing a new generation of leaders, has announced a distinguished roster of honorees for its 22nd Anniversary Dinner, TMCF@22: Lighting the Path for Tomorrow’s Leaders.  TMCF is proud to bestow the 2009 Community Leadership Award to Charles Merinoff, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Charmer Sunbelt Group, a leading distributor of fine wines & spirits.  Continuing a tradition that began more than 20 years ago in the name of civil rights activist and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, TMCF’s annual dinner is designed to raise funds for the organization and to support its mission while shining a spotlight on those who formulate positive contributions in the lives of our nation’s future activists and leaders. 

“Community leadership is the cornerstone of a successful and viable society,” says Dwayne Ashley, President and CEO, Thurgood Marshall College Fund.  “Charles Merinoff is a consummate community leader whose contributions and commitment advance that success.  The Thurgood Marshall College Fund is proud to bestow the award of Community Leadership on Charles Merinoff.”

“I am very fortunate to be in a position to help others,” says Merinoff.  “It is an honor to receive this award from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund which does so much to promote education and provide resources to young people nationwide.”

The 2009 Honorees share the common theme of hope and motivation.  The awards will celebrate their achievements and recognize the honorees as the country’s foremost visionaries who have selflessly utilized their status to impart a positive impact on the lives of our next generation of leaders.  The TMCF@22 honorees will be recognized in five categories, including the Founders Award, Community Leadership Award, Corporate Leadership Award, Educational Leadership Award and The Breaking Barriers Award.  Acclaimed actor, director and humanitarian Danny Glover will serve as master of ceremonies.

Community Leadership Award: Charles Merinoff
Charles Merinoff is Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Charmer Sunbelt Group (CSG), one of the nation’s leading distributors of fine wines and spirits.  In his youth, Mr. Merinoff began working for his family’s company, known then as Charmer Industries, in the warehouse during the summers.  After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 1980, Mr. Merinoff joined the family business fulltime.  Mr. Merinoff rose quickly through the ranks and was named President in 1991.  In 1994, the Merinoff family acquired Sunbelt Beverage Corporation, and thereafter the family’s distributorships became known as The Charmer Sunbelt Group.  Charles was named Vice Chairman and CEO in 2002.  Today, CSG is a group of affiliated companies operating in 15 markets across the United States.  Together these companies employ more than 7,000 associates.

Mr. Merinoff is a board member of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.  He also serves on the boards of Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Metro New York and the Culinary Institute of America.  Mr. Merinoff has been a member of the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation since 1999 and is currently the Treasurer and an active member of its Board of Directors.  Currently, Mr. Merinoff is the Vice President of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers Association of America (WSWA).

About the TMCF@22 Awards Dinner
The Thurgood Marshall College Fund 22nd Anniversary Awards Dinner, TMCF@22: Lighting the Path for Tomorrow’s Leaders, will take place on Monday, October 26, 2009, at The Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers, New York City.  The evening’s proceeds will benefit the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.  The success of this event will enable TMCF to continue its work as a critical link between deserving students having greater access to higher education and the opportunity to become a part of a new generation of leaders.  This year’s dinner, co-chaired by John Esposito, President and CEO of Bacardi USA and Bacardi North America, and Carl C. Dalstrom, President and CEO of USA Funds, will also honor philanthropist “Queen of Hip Hop Soul” Mary J. Blige along with other notable professionals in the fields of education, law and business such as Brent O. E. Clinkscale, James Mitchell Jr., and Dr. Mary Evans Sias.

About the Thurgood Marshall College Fund
The Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Inc., named for the late U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice, was established in 1987 and represents 47 public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and 6 law schools located in 22 states and the US Virgin Islands with a population of over 235,000 students. Over the last 22 years, TMCF has awarded more than $100 million in leadership development, programmatic and capacity support, and scholarships enabling more than 12,000 students to attend public HBCUs. It is the only national organization of its type that provides merit-based scholarships and programmatic support to students attending the nation’s public HBCUs. TMCF also provides internship programs and joins corporate and foundation partners in providing leadership training and support to students preparing for undergraduate and professional schools. TMCF is a 501(c) (3), tax-exempt organization. Please visit the Thurgood Marshall College Fund at

About The Charmer Sunbelt Group
The Charmer Sunbelt Group (CSG) is one of the nation’s leading distributors of fine wines and spirits.  A group of privately-held companies, CSG operates local distributor and/or brokerage houses in 15 markets – Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York (Metro and Upstate), Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and The District of Columbia.  Together, these companies employ more than 7,000 associates who bring to market some of the most valuable and well-known consumer brands in the world.  CSG is a family-owned business that proudly serves as the critical link between wine and spirit suppliers, and the retail outlets where alcoholic beverage brands are legally and responsibly sold and enjoyed.  For more information about CSG, please visit