Abraham S. Venable

Abraham S. Venable
Abraham S. Venable

Former Director,
Office of Minority Business Enterprise
(now the Minority Business Development Agency)

Abraham S. Venable dedicated himself to improving the position of minorities in all facets of GM’s operations from employment opportunities to minority supplier and dealers. In his role as executive director of Urban Affairs, he also encouraged the corporation to “more effectively address social and economic issues affecting minorities.

Born in Washington, D.C., Mr. Venable is a graduate of Howard University with a B.A. and a M.A. in economics. From 1968-69, he was nominated by the U.S. Department of Commerce to participate in the Fellow Program at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. In 1983 he was selected by GM to participate in the Senior Executive Program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology which included 50 executives from 20 countries.

Mr. Venable joined the U.S. Department of Commerce in 1963 and served in a number of assignments before becoming the first minority director of the Office of Minority Business Enterprise (now the Minority Business Development Agency). While there he oversaw the beginning of a massive concerted effort to bring minorities into the mainstream of American business.

Among his numerous awards, he has been honored by the Opportunities Industrialization Centers of America with its OIC Humanitarian Award and awards for outstanding service from the NAACP and the National Urban League. One of several awards from Howard University included the Minority Business Advocacy Award from the school’s Small Business Development Center. Recently, the U.S. Department of Commerce awarded Mr. Venable it first Lifetime Achievement Award.

He also holds honorary degrees from Shaw College in Detroit, Grand Valley State College in Michigan, and is an honorary member of Beta Gamma Sigma, a business fraternity at Howard University.

In addition to several trips to African nations to increased trade with the U.S. while with the government, Mr. Venable visited the Republic of South Africa to attend a conference sponsored by the U.S. South African Leadership Exchange Program and to visit GM facilities in Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg.

Mr. Venable is the author of several articles dealing with black businessmen as well as a book, Building Black Business — An Analysis and a Plan . All rights and proceeds from the sale of the book were assigned to Howard University to establish a scholarship fund in his name. As a result of this, two $100,000 endowment have been established — one for the School of Business and one for the Jazz Ensemble in the School of Music.

Currently, Mr. Venable serves a chairman of the Institute for American Business, a non-profit organization which he founded. IAB is primarily concerned with developing non-traditional business opportunities for minorities.

Mr. Venable is married to Dr. Anna G. Venable and they have three children — Karen, Douglas and Stephen.