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National Business League
Booker T. Washington Foundation
Berkeley Graham Burrell was born in 1919 in a small house in Northwest Washington, not far from where, several decades later, he would locate the Booker T. Washington Foundation. Educated in Washington schools, he attended Howard University and was pressed into service as World War II began. Returning from war, he was dedicated to never working for anyone else again.
He used to say that he “stumbled into the dry cleaning business” with his wife A. Parthenia, but the “stumbling” act produced a thriving establishment that was a landmark on Georgia Avenue and the foundation for other future profitable enterprises.
In 1962, he became president of the National Business League, the nation’s oldest business organization, founded by Booker T. Washington. Working from the back of his cleaning establishment, Mr. Burrell transformed NBL into a nationally recognized advocate for minority business development. Under its auspices, he convened the National Council for Policy Review, a coalition of more than 50 minority business, professional and trade organizations.
Mr. Burrell founded the Booker T. Washington Foundation, a public operation foundation with a highly interrelated set of programs in telecommunications, public policy research, science and technology and research development. He also founded the Council of Small and Independent Business Association as one of several forums to ensure minority participation in business making processes.
He was constant in his commitment to unity among black leaders and organizations and helped to form the Black Leadership Forum. Although an advisor to six U.S. presidents: Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter, he remained a champion of the “little people.” He persistently called for increased minority participation in the nation’s economic mainstream based on his compassion for the elderly, the poor, those on fixed incomes and the millions of minority Americans excluded from the benefits and resources of this country.
In his speech at the Diamond Anniversary of the National Business League in 1975, Mr. Burrell said, “I say to America, as this nation embarks on the multi-billion dollar revitalization of the nation’s railroads, as we begin to contemplate the billions to be spent on revitalizing our centers of commerce, as we continue to spend billions through our Defense Department each year, I repeat: This nation can no longer afford this heavy drain on its wealth, its productivity, its growth, its potential national competence, indeed its world leadership as the price for excluding minorities.”
Mr. Burrell passed in 1979.
Office of the Secretary of Defense
Office of the Secretary of the Army
Boeing Defense, Space and Security
Tracey L. Pinson Dennis was a native of Washington, D. C. She received a bachelor of science in political science from Howard University and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. She was a member in good standing with the Maryland Bar Association and the National Contract Management Association.
From 1982-1986, Ms. Pinson Dennis served as counsel to the Committee on Small Business, U.S. House of Representatives for chairman of the House Small Business Committee, Congressman Parren J. Mitchell. From 1986-1995, she served as assistant to the director, Office of Small Business Programs, Office of the Secretary of Defense. In April 1995, she was appointed by Secretary of Defense, the Honorable Togo West, as director, Office of Small Business Programs, Office of Secretary of the Army. She was a principal member of the Army Secretariat and was the highest-ranking female civil servant in the Army acquisition field. Under her leadership, the Army awarded over $300 billion in contracts to small businesses. Ms. Pinson Dennis also managed the Army Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MIs) Program and ensured these institutions were afforded an opportunity to participate in Army-funded programs. Under her leadership over $100 billion was awarded to HBCUs/MIs.
In 2014, Ms. Pinson Dennis joined The Boeing Company as director of Small/Diverse Business and Strategic Alliances for Boeing Defense, Space and Security. She was responsible for ensuring that contractual obligations were met by driving strategy for work placement with small/diverse businesses in alignment with business agreements that deliver the best value to Boeing and its customers.
Throughout her career, Ms. Pinson received numerous awards and accolades, including the Department of the Army Award—Decoration for Exceptional Service in 1998; the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executive in 2002 and for Distinguished Executive in 2009; and the Department of the Army Award for Meritorious Civilian Service in 2014.
In conjunction with her professional accomplishments in government, Ms. Pinson Dennis served on a number of boards and commissions, most notably on the Board of Directors of the African American Federal Executive Association, an organization she co-founded.
Ms. Pinson transitioned quietly on December 14, 2014 after a brief illness. She leaves a strong legacy in her daughter Maya Helene and her devoted husband Darryl Dennis.
Claire is a vice president in global procurement heading up the supplier development program. Ms. Scanlon was instrumental in creating and developing the program for the company, which was established in 1994 to promote the financial viability of minority, women, veteran and GLBT owned companies and other certain qualifying small business enterprises. Ms. Scanlon works to identify BNY Mellon needs for products and services and then identifies minority, women, veteran and GLBT owned companies as well as small businesses that can potentially meet those needs.
She coordinates and host events at BNY Mellon’s facilities for small and diverse businesses events, expo, workshops and training. Ms. Scanlon has been a major supporter of the Women’s Business Committee, which was established in 2002 under the National Minority Business Council and, through the aegis of the company, has hosted its annual conference for the last 11 years. Through Ms. Scanlon’s efforts, BNY Mellon hosts NYC SBS’s Annual Conference and Expo.
Her work includes various levels of committee memberships and officer roles in the organizations including the NY/NJ Council, The Eastern Minority Supplier Development Council, the National Minority Business Council, the National Associate of Veteran Business Owners, Women’s President’s Educational Organization and the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Scanlon serves as chair of the Advisory Committee for the National Minority Business Council; on the board of the NYC Women’s Chamber of Commerce, co-chair of the Marketing Committee of Financial Services Roundtable-Supplier Diversity, and is a member of the NYNJ Council’s Appeals Committee.
Over the years, Ms. Scanlon has received numerous awards and recognitions for her commitment to supplier diversity include the NYC Neighborhood Achievement Award as the MWBE Advocate in 2011 from Mayor Bloomberg and most recently, the LI Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 2014 Minority Advocate of the Year. This year, Ms. Scanlon was named as a Champion of Diversity by Diversity Plus Magazine, received the Arthur Pearlroth Trailblazer Award from the Regional Alliance for Small Contractors, and was named the NYNJ Council Advocate of the Year. In 2016, she received the Special Achievement Award from the National Minority Business Council.
Before joining BNY Mellon, Ms. Scanlon was the compliance officer for the Sequor Group, a second tier holding company subsidiary of Security Pacific National Bank and was a bank examiner for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Ms. Scanlon holds a bachelor of science and a master’s of science in banking.
Chief Executive Officer
Integrated Human Capital
Rosa Santana is a staffing industry entrepreneur who began to make her mark as a staffing industry executive over 35 years ago. After representing the company that pioneered the trade, she went on to a senior executive role of a California-based staffing firm leading the company’s Southwestern U.S. territory.
Ms. Santana was later inspired to branch out on her own and launched the first of several companies. Integrated Human Capital, based in El Paso, Texas, caters to the needs of businesses, ranging frommedium-sized to Fortune 500 companies throughout the United States and Mexico, offering human capital solutions to help companies manage their workforce needs. Her other ventures include Workforce dé México, Diversa and Oveana. Ms. Santana, most recently was named as the first female Hispanic Direct Tier 1 supplier in Toyota’s history where her newest company, Forma Automotive, assembles truck beds for the Toyota Tacoma in San Antonio, Texas.
Ms. Santana takes great pride in serving her community and has held positions on numerous boards, including the U. S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, United Blood Services, University of Texas at El Paso Center for Research Entrepreneurship & Innovative Enterprises, San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, United Way of San Antonio & Bexar County, Workforce Solutions Alamo, Southwest Minority Business Council and Women’s Business Council-Southwest.
Throughout her professional career, both in the corporate arena and as an entrepreneur, Ms. Santana has achieved numerous awards and recognition. Most recently, her group of companies was named as Minority Business Development Agency’s Minority Business Enterprise of the Year for El Paso. She has attained statewide and national recognition that includes Latina Entrepreneurial Excellence Award from the Austin Hispanic Chamber, Entrepreneurial Spirit of the Year Award from the El Paso Hispanic Chamber, Minority Business Enterprise of the Year Award, and was notably honored by Toyota and the U. S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as Hispanic Business Elite.
Rosa has attended the Minority Business Programs atthe Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Nina Vaca’s dynamic leadership over the past 19 years has propelled the company from aniche IT services firm to the workforce solutions powerhouse it is today, with a suite ofbusiness lines that address the range of human capital challenges companies face today.
Watershed moments came in 2001, when Vaca took full control of thecompany and re-engineered its service offerings in response to the changing landscapepost-9/11, then again in 2007 when Vaca saw an opportunity to enter the managed servicessector with an ambitious $100 million program. In 2009, Vaca diversified Pinnacle's business inresponse to the economic downturn by expanding into Canada and offering additional services.
Then in 2011, Pinnacle expanded into the VMS (vendor management software) space when it acquired Provade, Inc., whichoffers enterprise-class VMS that enables clients to manage theircontingent workforce spend. Pinnacle further broadened its managed service offerings in2011-2012 by adding payrolling and IC compliance to its portfolio.
Pinnacle's evolution and astronomical growth is not only the result of Ms. Vaca's fearless approach toovercoming challenges the business has faced, but is due in equal measure to her intense focuson two core values — delivering impeccable service to clients and putting people at the heart ofeverything Pinnacle does. In Vaca's own words, "Our growth is rooted in our people. It is vitalthat they feel as empowered and impassioned as possible."
Because of her many successes with Pinnacle Group and the respect she has earned within thebusiness community, Ms. Vaca has been elected to serve as a director of three publicly tradedcompanies, and has won numerous awards both for the company and as an individual. She hasbeen named one of the most influential Latinos in the United States for the past eight years, andhas also been called one of the country's 100 most intriguing entrepreneurs by Goldman Sachs.
In addition to her varied business pursuits, Ms. Vaca is a committed civic leader and philanthropist.She is a passionate advocate for women and entrepreneurs, especially within the Hispanic andminority communities. In 2014, the White House appointed Ms.Vaca as a Presidential Ambassadorfor Global Entrepreneurship. She is also Chairman Emeritus of the United States HispanicChamber of Commerce. For her contribution to the community as well as in business, she hasbeen awarded three honorary doctorates and is the youngest alumni in her alma mater's historyto be honored as a distinguished alumna.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
The Switzer Group
Lou Switzer, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of The Switzer Group, is an acclaimed interior designer, successful business leader and cultural trailblazer. Since establishing The Switzer Group in NYC in 1975—then among the few minority-owned design entities—he has steered the firm’s growth and steadfastly created one of the most prestigious interior architecture companies in the nation, consistently ranked among America’s 100 Design Giants in annual revenues.
Forward-thinking and with keen insight, incomparable standards and a sharp focus on client needs, Mr. Switzer has built and maintains a client base of Fortune 500 companies. Representative clients include IBM, Wells Fargo Bank, JP Morgan Chase, MasterCard, Columbia University, Weill Cornell Medical College, St. John’s University, AMC Networks and Vice Media. He oversees all of the company’s operations, ensures project goals are met, and is the force behind the firm’s new business development efforts.
His signature design style—contemporary, clean and elegant with productivity and performance at its center—informs and provides the foundation for The Switzer Group’s aesthetic. He takes a hands-on role in project development, guiding the work of his designers and nurturing client and teaming relationships to deliver exceptional projects.
Mr. Switzer is an Interior Design Magazine Hall of Fame inductee (1993), and is the recipient of numerous community and industry awards and honors. Among his achievements: the 1994 Ellis Island Medal of Honor by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations in New York; the National Association of Black Accountants’ 1987 Entrepreneur of the Year; and the ACE Mentor Program’s 1995 Man of the Year for distinguished achievement and support for the organization, of which he was a trustee and founding member.
His participation in the community includes terms on the Board of Trustees of the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS, the Board of Directors of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, the Metro New York Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Browning School. He currently serves on The Windward School Board of Directors. Professional affiliations include membership to the Young Presidents Organization (YPO), Real Estate Board of New York, and the New York Building Congress.
Hailing from Orangeburg, South Carolina, Mr. Switzer moved north in the mid-1960to attend Pratt Institute and launch his career in New York City.
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.
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.
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.”
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.