USA, Affiliates Salute Eight Who Help 'Characters Unite'

USA Network has chosen eight "Characters Unite Award" recipients to single out for successful efforts in combating prejudice and discrimination while promoting tolerance and acceptance.

Selected from hundreds of nominations submitted by the public throughout the year via Charactersunite.com, the eight will be acknowledged during a hometown award ceremony in their honor. Each will receive a $5,000 grant from USA and participating local cable operators to donate to a project or related nonprofit organization.

The honorees also will be featured on air and online on in a public service announcement featuring actress Reshma Shetty, of Royal Pains.

The honorees and their projects are: Elke Kennedy of Greenville, S.C., founder of Sean's Last Wish; Michael Arterberry of New Fairfield, Conn., founder and executive director of Youth Voices Center; Jessica Estevez of Riverview, Fla., director of programs for Community Tampa Bay; Amy Lazarus (pictured) of Washington, D.C., executive director of Sustained Dialogue Campus Network; Milia Islam-Majeed of Chino, Calif., executive director of South Coast Interfaith Council; Jan Lilly-Stewart of Charleston, West Va., director and a founder of Fair Shake Network; Ryan Roemerman of Des Moines, Iowa, executive director of Iowa Pride Network and Kyshun Webster of New Orleans, La., founder of Operation Reach.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.