Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund (MBELDEF)
Anthony W. Robinson has dedicated his professional career toensuring that the gains made by the civil rights movements of the last century will be sustained for generations to come. Robinson’s passion for stimulating growth in minority-owned businesses has shone through every area of his professional career and has made wealth creation and capital formation a reality. Upon his graduation from Washington College School of Law in 1973, he immediately embarked on his career as one of the country’s primary advocates for minority-owned businesses as associate legal counsel for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Since then and throughout his career, Robinson has tirelessly devoted his skill to providing prime legal support to MBEs across the country. Over the years, Robinson has acted as a litigant or Amicus for dozens of cases, including cases before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of dozens of MBEs. Since 1984 Robinson has served as president of Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund (MBELDEF) and at its helm has brought America ever closer to the ultimate goal of parity.
MBELDEF is a unique organization founded by Parren Mitchell, one of our original inductees. He was a Congressman from Maryland who was miraculously able to pass legislation that really started supplier diversity. Public Law 95-507,requires proposals from contractors to spell out their goals for awarding contracts to minority subcontractors. This law potentially provided access to billions of dollars for minority businesses.
Founder and Chairman
Bill Imada’s dedication to the promotion of and support of minority owned and operated businesses resoundsthroughout his career. His devotion to encouraging growth, especially in Asian American owned businesses, is prevalent in the span of his career and can be seen across his many and diverse business ventures. In 1990, he founded IW Group, a minority owned and operated full service communications firm that focuses especially on growing Asian-American and other multicultural markets in the US. As a strong promotor of business education, Mr. Imada works closely with the Asian American community to share skills and expertise to promote better business practices for current business owners. His dedication to the education of present and future minority business leaders has led him and the IW Group to help develop and sustain the first Asian Pacific Islander American national college scholarship fund. A renowned national speaker on multicultural issues, Mr. Imada presents to trade associations, universities, and companies all on the behalf of growing multicultural markets and building a better future for minority businesses across the nation. Mr. Imada and the IW Group have worked tirelessly to promote fairness in the media, speaking out strongly against defaming depictions of minorities in advertising and addressing the lack of Asian Americans in prime time television programming.
Native American Activist
Billy Frank Jr. spent his life fighting to preserve the sovereignty of Native American Tribes and defending the right of Native Americans to live according to their heritage and ancestry. A member of the Nisqually tribe, Frank was 14 when Washington State officers began confiscating fishing gear and arresting tribal members for fishing in the Nisqually River, among them a young Billy Frank. Thus began Frank’sjourney towards ensuring justice and creating opportunities for Native Americans.
As a young man active in the fish wars of the 1960s and 1970s, through his chairmanship of the NW Indian Fisheries Commission from the early 1980s, until his death at age 83, Billy Frank opened opportunities for Native American families to fish and for tribes to manage fisheries. Over the course of his career, Frank was arrested more than 50 times, not for acts of belligerence or destruction, but for his staunch belief that preserving the truths and traditions of the past is important for the good of the future. He was instrumental in the 1974 “BoldtDecision” (U.S. v Washington) that said Indians would have a share “in common with” the salmon catches made by non-Indians. The new ruling opened the door to immense opportunities for Native American-owned and operated businesses.
Frank understood the centrality that salmon play in the culture, traditions, lives, and economies of Native peoples in the northwest. His work led directly to the growth of business opportunities for Native families and for tribes across the U.S. From family-owned fishing businesses to tribally owned hatcheries and fish processing plants, thousands of jobs for Native and non-Native people have been created.
On hearing of his passing, President Obama said, “Billy fought for treaty rights to fish the waters of the Pacific Northwest, a battle he finally won in 1974 after being arrested many times during tribal “fish-ins.”. Today, thanks to his courage and determined effort, our resources are better protected, and more tribes are able to enjoy the rights preserved for them more than a century ago.”
Migration Policy Group
Dr. Jan Niessen has used his incredible and unique skill set to achieve a world-wide impact on the way minority owned businesses are successful in the marketplace.In 1995, Dr. Niessen founded the Migration Policy Group (MPG) an independent policy agency. Basedin Brussels, MPG is a driving force advocating for minorities and their dignity, safety, and right to pursue life fully across nations. Through MPG, Dr. Niessen has fought ceaselessly for equality and mobility across borders to create a level playing field for immigrants that will enable them to build a life that matches their skills and aspirations. He has written widely on issues related to international migration and anti-racism and advises organizations on these issues both in the public and private sectors and at local, national, and international levels. He created Supplier Diversity Europe, the first supplier diversity organization in the UK, France, and Germany, which fosters co-operation among multi-nationals, large companies, public organizations, SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) and diverse and under-represented businesses. Through studies and research, Dr. Niessen continues to break down any barriers inhibiting equality and to procure opportunities and perpetuate respect for minorities across nations.
Ralph Moore and Associates (RGMA)
Throughout his career, Ralph Moore has made an international impact on supplier diversity, transforming the practices of hundreds of businesses across the world. In 1979, eight years after graduating from Southern Illinois University Carbondale College of Business and earning his CPA, Mr. Moore founded RGMA, a supplier diversity and minority business development consulting firm that has counseled and impacted more than a thousand MBEs in the United States alone. Prominent among his accomplishments is the presentation “Raising the Bar,” which is nowtoday’s gold standard for supplier diversity practices.“Raising the Bar”consists of the 5 Levels of Performance when it comes to developing effective and actionable strategies for implementing meaningful supplier diversity practices. In the 1990’s through the sponsorship of the National Minority Supplier Development Council, Mr. Moore conducted workshops in South Africa to assist in the development of strategies for previously disadvantaged businesses in the country and has since conducted similar workshops in various countries throughout the world. A gifted and sought after speaker and presenter, Ralph Moore has been the recipient of numerous awards attesting to his monumental contributions to minority businesses throughout the world.