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Former Senior Vice President
Bank of America
Dorothy B. Brothers, a former senior vice president of Bank of America, was a pioneer in fostering and promoting higher education and diversity within communities and the corporate sector. Ms. Brothers was a 30-year employee with Bank of America and the national director for the supplier diversity and development group from 1993 until her death in 2002. The group works with minority- and women-owned businesses to ensure they are afforded maximum opportunity to participate in Bank of America’s competitive contracting and procurement processes.
Under Ms. Brothers's leadership, spending with minority- and women-owned businesses increased from $11 million in 1990 to over $400 million in 1999. In addition, during her leadership Bank of America received 60 regional and 10 national awards for its efforts in raising the bar in minority business development. In 1994 and 2000, Bank of America received the National Minority Development Enterprise Week Distinguished Corporate Award—the first financial institution to be recognized. The National Minority Supplier Development honored the bank as the Corporation of the Year for two consecutive years (1996-1997).
Ms. Brothers was also the recipient of the coveted Chairman’s Crystal Hand Granade in 1995, the NMSDC’s 1997 MBE Coordinator of the Year Award, and the 1996 Outstanding Service in Business Award form the Hampton Roads Black Media Professionals. She was also the recipient of the NationsBank Lend Award, the Women of Distinction Award from the Girl Scout Council of Colonial Coast, and recognized as one of the Women Who Mean Business by Minority News USA. She served on the faculty of the Stonier Graduate School of Banking and was on the board of the National Supplier Development Council, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, and Minority Business News USA at the time of her death.
Ms. Brothers was an inspiration to all who knew her with a fighting spirit and unwavering commitment to development and success of diverse businesses.
Director, Supplier Diversity Development
Ford Motor Company
Renaldo M. Jensen, director of Ford Supplier Diversity Development (SDD), has held this position since 1987. SDD works to enrich and expand Ford's business relationships with its minority suppliers.
Previously, Jensen was supervisor of Advanced Concepts, Advanced Engineering Design Staff. He joined Ford in 1978, working in the Design Center as a principal design engineer in aerodynamics.
A former Air Force officer, Jensen has a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Howard University in Washington, D.C. He has a master's degree in aerospace engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology in Dayton, Ohio. He was awarded a doctorate in aerospace-mechanical engineering from Purdue University in 1970.
During his 20 years with the Air Force, Jensen held several command and staff positions at the Pentagon. Additionally, he was an assistant professor of aerospace-mechanical engineering at the Air Force Institute of Technology and held an adjunct professorship of mechanical engineering at Howard University. Jensen attained the rank of lieutenant colonel when he left the service to join Ford.
He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and The Combustion Institute.
Wayne State University
Timothy Bates, an authority on minority business development and entrepreneurship, formerly served in a joint appointment as professor of economics and professor of labor and urban affairs at Wayne State University in the College of Urban, Labor and Metropolitan Affairs.
Bates has written several landmark books on minority business, including Race, Upward Mobility and Self-Employment and Banking on Black Enterprise (now in its fifth printing). Recent shorter monographs include Evaluating the Performance of the Minority-Oriented Venture Capital Industry and Venture-Capital Investments in Minority Businesses.
He earned doctoral and master's degrees in economics from the University of Wisconsin and a bachelor's degree in economic history from the University of Illinois. He chaired the economics department at the University of Vermont and served as chairman of the urban policy analysis graduate program at the New School for Social Research in New York City. Bates has also held short-term appointments at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Often sought out by national media for expert comment, Bates has been published in numerous journals including the recent article, “Utilizing Affirmative Action in Public-Sector Procurement as a Local Economic Development Strategy” for Economic Development Quarterly, and a forthcoming article titled, “Alleviating the Financial Capital Barriers Impeding Business Development in Inner Cities,” for the Journal of the American Planning Association.
Bates was elected to membership at the Academy of Scholars, Wayne State, in 2002, and has received research grants from such agencies and organizations as the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation; U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division; the U.S. Small Business Administration; the Chicago Transit Authority; the State of New York and the Ford Foundation.
He is a consultant to many government agencies including the U.S. Department of Justice, Chicago Public Schools, the White House Conference on Small Business and the Governor's Commission on Discrimination in Public Procurement, State of New Jersey. He is a member of the Scholars Network, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies; Minority Enterprise Development Advisory Council for the U.S. Secretary of Commerce; and the President's Task Force on Small Business.
Chairman and CEO
Earl G. Graves LTD
Earl G. Graves is a nationally recognized authority on Black business development and the founder and publisher of Black Enterprise magazine, a business-service publication targeted to black professionals, executives, entrepreneurs and policy makers in the public and private sector. Today Mr. Graves serves as Chairman and CEO of Earl G. Graves LTD., parent corporation for the Earl G. Graves Publishing Company, which publishes Black Enterprise .
Mr. Graves received his B.A. degree in economics from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. After graduating from the school's ROTC program, he attended Airborne and Ranger School and finished his Army career as a captain in the 19th Special Forces Group of the Green Berets. He is also the recipient of the U.S. Army Commendation Award. Mr. Graves has received honorary degrees from more than 60 colleges and universities -- including his alma mater.
Mr. Graves was an administrative assistant to the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy from 1965 to 1968. After Sen. Kennedy's assassination, Mr. Graves formed a management consulting firm to advise corporations and major multinational companies on urban affairs and economic development. In 1972, he was named one of the 10 Most Outstanding Minority businessmen in the country by the President of the United States, and received the National Award of Excellence in recognition of his achievements in minority business enterprise. Time Magazine named him one of its 200 Future Leaders of the country in 1974. He is also listed in Who's Who in America .
In 1999, Mr. Graves received the 84 th NAACP Springarn Medal -- the highest achievement award for African Americans. In 2002, Fortun e Magazine named Mr. Graves one of the 50 most powerful and influential African Americans in corporate America. In 2004, Mr. Graves was honored with the Business Pioneer Award from the 50 th Anniversary Commemoration Committee for Brown v. Board of Education .
Mr. Graves serves as a director of Aetna, Inc., AMR Corporation (American Airlines), DaimlerChrysler AG Corporation, Federated Department Stores, Inc., Rohm & Haas Corporation, and is chairman of the Pepsi African-American Advisory Board.
Elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000, Mr. Graves is continually sought after as a keynote speaker by small and large corporations, as well as the public and non-profit business sectors. His autobiographical book titled "How to Succeed in Business without Being White" was released in April 1997 and made the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal Business Best Sellers lists. The book was also selected as a finalist for the 1997 Financial Times/Booz-Allen & Hamilton Global Business Book Award.
Mr. Graves was born in Brooklyn, New York and currently resides in Westchester County with his wife of 44 years, Barbara. Mr. and Mrs. Graves have three sons -- all successful professionals who work in the family's businesses.
E. G. Bowman Company
When Ernesta Procope founded E.G. Bowman Company as a small insurance agency in Brooklyn in 1953, few African Americans--particularly women--were in the business. But with her drive and entrepreneurial spirit, she beat the odds, grew the business and broke into the mainstream of the American economy. In 1979 the firm became the first major black-owned business on Wall Street.
E.G. Bowman is now a powerhouse--America's largest minority-owned and woman-owned insurance brokerage--that serves Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits nationally. Its clients include many of America's largest and most distinguished corporations, such as Philip Morris, Tiffany and Pfizer.
Ms. Procope was a driving force behind the creation of the FAIR Plan in 1968. In the 1960s, when insurers were redlining minority neighborhoods and canceling the firm's customers, she personally lobbied Gov. Nelson Rockefeller to support legislation that made homeowners insurance available to all homeowners in the state.
Most recently, Ms. Procope became the founder and president of Bowman Specialty Services, LLP, which provides engineering and safety services, with an insurance-prevention focus, to a number of major accounts.
She has received dozens of awards and citations, including Essence magazine's "2004 Power Award;" one of the"25 Most Innovative Agents in America" from The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research (2004); Turner Broadcasting System's "2002 Trumpet Award;" enshrinement in the African American Business Hall of Fame (2003); Business Insurance's "Leading 100 Women in the Insurance Industry;" Ernst & Young's "Entrepreneur of the Year," the U.S. Small Business Administration's "Small Business Person of the Year," and the Institute for Community Development's "Community Leadership Award." In 1972 First Lady Patricia Nixon named her "Woman of the Year."
She has served on many corporate and nonprofit boards, including The Chubb Corporation, Avon Products, Columbia Gas System, New York Urban League and Cornell University, and chaired Adelphi University's board. She holds Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from Howard University, Adelphi University and Marymount Manhattan College as well as a Doctor of Humane Letters from Morgan State University.
More than 30 years after arriving in the United States, Firoz H. Lalji has lived the ultimate American success story. Born of Indian ancestry in the East African country of Uganda, Lalji became the principal provider for his household at 24 when Idi Amin ousted his family from their home and their sugar-cane processing and coffee plantation business. Lalji immigrated with his family to Canada in 1971, completely impoverished. He banked on his finance skills honed while earning his degree at the London School of Economics to navigate the sea of obstacles in his entrepreneurial ambition.
In Vancouver, BC, he swiftly built a life for his family, founding the successful Kits Cameras photographic retailer chain in 1973 that eventually numbered 225 locations in both Canada and the Unites States. Lalji moved to Washington state in 1981 and, following the sale of Kits in 1997, he co-founded Zones, Inc. in 1988--a nationwide provider of progressive technology solutions to business and public sectors. In 1989, he found the real estate investment company Fana Capital Corporation.
Lalji had reinvented and revolutionized Zones, shaping the company into the fifth largest private company headquartered in Washington for 2013. In hopes of fueling success for other emerging minority entrepreneurs, Zones, under Lalji's leadership, was a founding corporate partner of the University of Washington's annual one-week immersive Minority Business Executive Program. Lalji additionally established the Program for African Leadership, a public charity which supports the development of the next generation of African leaders by providing funding for 15 participants at the London School of Economics annually, as well as other programs to benefit his home continent of Africa.
George C. Fraser founded FraserNet company some 20 years ago with the vision to lead a global networking movement that brings together diverse human resources to increase opportunities for people of African descent. He is considered by many to be a new voice for African Americans and one of the foremost authorities on economic development, networking and building effective relationships.
While Mr. Fraser's accomplishments are significant, his beginnings were very humble. He was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., into a family of 11 children. He was orphaned at 3 and spent 14 years in foster homes. Growing up on the streets of New York he had little hope and no expectations.
Ignoring the advice of a guidance counselor to drop out of high school, he graduated with a vocational diploma in woodworking because the school system did not consider him college material. He mopped floors on the midnight shift at LaGuardia Airport, while paying his way through college, and.the rest is history.
Mr. Fraser went on to leadership positions with Procter & Gamble, the United Way, and Ford Motor Company, eventually becoming the author of three critically acclaimed books: Success Runs In Our Race; The Complete Guide to Effective Networking in the African American Community, Race For Success; The Ten Best Business Opportunities for Blacks In America and the most recent, Click: Ten Truths to Building Extraordinary Relationships.
Mr. Fraser is also the publisher of the award-winning SuccessGuide Worldwide: The Networking Guide to Black Resources. He is the founder of the annual PowerNetworking Conference, where thousands of African American professionals, business owners, and community leaders gather to discuss and do business with each other.
Mr. Fraser is the chairman of Phoenix Village Academy, a compilation of three afro-centric charter schools that serve Cleveland and Akron inner city children. A popular speaker and author, George C. Fraser's inspiring talks on success principles, effective networking, wealth creation, business ethics, and valuing diversity, are as popular among corporate professionals as they are among college students.
Media as diverse as CNN and the Wall Street Journal solicit his views. Over the past decade, the prestigious publication, Vital Speeches of the Day, has selected, reprinted and distributed worldwide, five of Mr. Fraser's speeches-a first for any professional speaker in America, regardless of color.
UPSCALE magazine named him one of the Top 50 Power Brokers in Black America. Black Enterprise Magazine called him Black America's #1 Networker and featured him on a cover issue. Personal growth "guru" Stephen Covey called Mr. Fraser a "masterful teacher."
TV host and journalist, Tavis Smiley called him a "visionary with the rare combination of leadership and management skills." Mr. Fraser was featured in the New York Times-bestseller, Masters of Networking, along with former Secretary of State Colin Powell. He was awarded an honorary doctorate degree of humane letters from Jarvis Christian College
Mr. Fraser has been married to Nora Jean for 35 years. They have two sons, Kyle and Scott.
The Diez Group
Gerald Frank Diez Sr. is the founder of The Diez Group, a Hispanic minority-owned holding group for steel sales, service and stamping companies. His companies currently employ over 600 people.
Delaco Steel Corporation, part of The Diez Group was founded in 1973 and is 100 percent owned by Mr. Diez. It is a steel sales and service center that specializes in precision slitting and blanking both exposed and unexposed for the North American automotive industry. Delaco is located in a 550,000-square-foot facility in Dearborn, Mich. Delaco Processing is a 140,000-square-foot facility also in Dearborn. Three other divisions are located in Woodhaven, Mich., and Buffalo, N.Y. Delaco-Kenwal, another joint venture, will soon select a site in Tennessee.
In 1988, Mr. Diez purchased controlling interest in Lapeer Metal Stamping. LMS specializes in the manufacturing of high-quality metal stampings and assemblies for the automotive industry. LMS is comprised of three separate facilities, located in Dearborn, Lapeer, and Sebewaing, Mich. LMS manufactures a wide range of metal stampings and assemblies.
The Diez Group’s customer base includes General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Johnson Controls Inc., Tower Automotive, T.I. Automotive, and many second tier customers.
Mr. Diez, who attended Walsh Institute from 1964-1969, is on the executive finance board of the Michigan Minority Business Development Council, is the chairman of the Government Relations Committee for the MMBDC, is a board member of the Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, is chairman of the MHCC golf outing for eight years (largest Hispanic outing in the country), and is a board member of the Minority Business Roundtable in Washington, D.C.
His honors include Hispanic Business Man of the Year and the Minority Business Leadership Award by the National Minority Supplier Development Council, the Community Service Award from Ford Motor Company, The Gift of Life Award by the Church of Madonna/Focus Hope, the Lifetime Achievement Award from Life Directions, the Entrepreneurial Award from Ford Motor Company, 2006 Chrysler’s MBE of the Year Award, 2006 National Minority Supplier of the Year, and JCI’s MBE of the Year Award.
Founder and Publisher
Ginger Conrad founded MBE (Minority Business Entrepreneur) magazine in 1984.The Los Angeles-based bimonthly magazine has grown from a circulation of 12,000 to its current distribution of 40,000 to minority and women business owners nationwide, as well as to readers in corporations and government agencies who are concerned with minority/women enterprise development.
MBE examines procurement and contracting programs in the public and private sectors and features success stories of entrepreneurs whose accomplishments may serve to inspire others.
Conrad has more than 40 years of experience in magazine publishing and is the sole proprietor of MBE. Prior to starting MBE, she worked in the publishing industry in various key positions, which include associate publisher for Showcase USA (an export trade publication) and the IEEE Computer Society’s publications.
A recognized expert on business development issues, Conrad has appeared on nationally syndicated television and radio programs. She has been a panelist or speaker at events sponsored by numerous organizations that include the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Institute for Supply Management, the National Association of Minority Contractors, the National Minority Supplier Development Council, the Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund and the New Ventures Conference 2000.
Highly regarded as a dedicated media advocate for minority and women’s enterprise development, Conrad has been honored by the public and private sectors for her many efforts and outstanding achievements. She’s received awards from the Small Business Administration, the National Minority Business Council, the National Association of Purchasing Management and the U.S. Minority Business Development Agency, among others.
Conrad is actively involved in leadership positions in various organizations, including the board of directors for the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council and the Institute for Supply Management’s Supplier Diversity Group board of directors. She is a former member of the Minority Business Resource Advisory Committee for NASA.
She has a bachelor of arts degree with a major in theatre from Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana.
National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC)
Harriet R. Michel is the president of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), a private non-profit organization that expands business opportunities for minority-owned companies of all sizes.
The NMSDC Network, which includes 39 affiliated regional councils, matches more than 15,000 certified minority businesses (Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native American) with its more than 3,500 corporate members that want to purchase their goods and services. In 2002, NMSDC member corporations' purchases from minority-owned businesses reached nearly $72 billion.
Ms. Michel is a noted administrator and public policy expert on minority issues. She has worked for over 30 years in the public sector developing and managing programs that address major social concerns.
Before joining NMSDC in September 1988, Ms. Michel was a resident fellow at the Institute of Politics, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, where she taught a course on politics and public policy issues and wrote about black leadership.
From 1983 to February 1988, Ms. Michel was president and chief executive officer of the New York Urban League -- the first woman to head the New York Urban League, largest of the National Urban League's 113 affiliates, since its founding in 1919.
From 1977 to 1979, Ms. Michel was director of the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Community Youth Employment Programs/CETA in Washington, D.C., where she supervised the allocation of $2 billion for employment and training programs.
As executive director of the New York Foundation from 1972 to 1977, Ms. Michel was the first black woman to head a major foundation. She is a founding member of the Association of Black Foundation Executives and has been a board member of the Council on Foundations. While serving as an assistant to New York Mayor John Lindsay in 1971-1972, Ms. Michel helped coordinate the anti-drug efforts of the city's public agencies.
She was awarded an honorary degree of doctor of humane letters in 1990 from Baruch College in New York. Ms. Michel has lectured at the Harvard Law School, the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, the University of California at Fresno and the University of Florida.
Ms. Michel is the recipient of numerous awards that include inaugural Champion Award during the 2003 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference; 2003 Ronald H. Brown Leadership Award from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency; 2002 Building Bridges Award from the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and the Pioneer Award from Minority Business News USA / Billion Dollar Roundtable.
Ms. Michel and her husband, Yves Michel, are small-business owners. They have two married sons and make their home in Harlem. Born in Pittsburgh, Ms. Michel received a bachelor of arts degree from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Penn., with a major in sociology / criminology