Distinguished Honorees


Black Professionals of the Year


Mr. Betram E. Gardner - 1981

Mr. Betram E. Gardner - 1981 19 September 2016

Mr. Betram E. Gardner - 1981

Banker, Vice-President, Urban Affairs and Management...

Bertram E. Gardner (1916- ) was Vice-President, Urban Affairs and Management Development, at AmeriTrust Corp. He also served as Executive Director of Cleveland’s Community Relations Board, president of the City Club (1972), and president of the Kiwanis Club.

Ms. Cheryle A. Wills - 1982

Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr. - 1983

Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr. - 1983 19 September 2016

Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr. - 1983

American pastor, theologian, speaker, author, and activist.

Moss was born in and raised in LaGrange, Georgia, the fourth of five children. After being orphaned at 16 he earned his B.A. at Morehouse College in 1956, before earning his Master of Divinity from the Morehouse School of Religion in 1959. At Morehouse Moss was taught and mentored by Benjamin Mays, who was also a mentor to Martin Luther King Jr. While at Morehouse Moss helped lead sit-ins and other activities to protest segregation.

Mr. John H. Bustamante, Esq. – 1984

Mr. John H. Bustamante, Esq.  – 1984 31 October 2016

Mr. John H. Bustamante, Esq. – 1984

Was lawyer, banker publisher and civic leader

John H. Bustamante formed First Bank, headed the Call & Post and represented everything from small businesses to Rev. Jesse Jackson's causes. He chaired Central State University, helped clean up its ledgers and closed it during a riot. He also helped lead many businesses and nonprofits.

Mr. Steven A. Minter – 1985

Mr. Steven A. Minter – 1985 31 October 2016

Mr. Steven A. Minter – 1985

Former executive director/president, The Cleveland...

Minter served as president and executive director of the Cleveland Foundation from 1984 until his retirement in July 2003. Outside the foundation world, Minter spent over 15 years in governmental positions. In 1980, when the U.S. Department of Education was first formed, he served as its first undersecretary. From 1970 to 1975, he was the commissioner of public welfare for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He had a career as a caseworker at...

Ms. Carole F. Hoover – 1986

Ms. Carole F. Hoover – 1986 31 October 2016

Ms. Carole F. Hoover – 1986

President and Chief Executive Officer of Hoover Milstein

Ms. Hoover is President and Chief Executive Officer of Hoover Milstein, a partnership formed in 1999 between Carole F. Hoover and Howard P. Milstein of New York City to provide financial services and real estate development. Prior to establishing Hoover Milstein, Ms. Hoover was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association. Ms. Hoover is also Chairman and Chief of HWH, LLC and a member of the Board of...

Mr. George L. Forbes – 1987

Mr. George L. Forbes – 1987 31 October 2016

Mr. George L. Forbes – 1987

American politician of the Democratic Party

George Lawrence Forbes (born April 4, 1931) is an American politician of the Democratic Party. From 1974 to 1989, Forbes served as one of the most powerful presidents of Cleveland City Council. He is the former President of the Cleveland NAACP and is semi-retired from practicing law. He served a tour in the U.S. Marine Corps and attended Baldwin-Wallace College on the G.I. Bill and graduated with a B.A. in 1957. He received a J.D. from...

Dr. Nolen M. Ellison – 1988

Dr. Nolen M. Ellison – 1988 31 October 2016

Dr. Nolen M. Ellison – 1988

Chairman - Boards of Directors for The Seed Center KC

After Dr. Ellison was elected in 1966 to the Board of Trustees at the Kansas City Community College, he quickly became enthralled with the community college environment. He was eventually recruited by Michigan State University to pursue his Ph.D., and, in 1972, he became president at Seattle Central Community College in Washington. Two years later, after an exhaustive nationwide search

Mr. Charles E. Taylor, PhD. – 1989

Mr. Charles E. Taylor, PhD.  – 1989 31 October 2016

Mr. Charles E. Taylor, PhD. – 1989

Managing Director in the Cleveland Office of Diversified...

Over the past decade, Dr. Taylor has successfully completed more than 125 executive search assignments in the academic, corporate and nonprofit arenas. Dr. Taylor’s assignments have included university presidents and other senior university officials, public school superintendents, foundation and association executives, chief financial officers, chief information officers, chief legal officers, members of boards of directors and public...

Ms. Gloria Pace King – 1990

Ms. Gloria Pace King – 1990 31 October 2016

Ms. Gloria Pace King – 1990

Former Chief executive of United Way of Central...

A passionate and driven fund-raiser, she boosted United Way’s annual campaign total to $45.3 million in 2007 from $18.5 million in 1993, the year before she became CEO. “Gloria was a very strong fund-raiser and led a strong fund-raising campaign,” says Janet Singerman, president of Child Care Resources Inc., a United Way partner agency.

The Honorable Louis Stokes, Esq. – 1991

The Honorable Louis Stokes, Esq. – 1991 31 October 2016

The Honorable Louis Stokes, Esq. – 1991

Was an attorney and politician for Cleveland, Ohio

Louis Stokes (February 23, 1925 – August 18, 2015) was an attorney and politician from Cleveland, Ohio. He served 15 terms in the United States House of Representatives – representing the east side of Cleveland – and was the first black congressman elected in the state of Ohio. He was one of the Cold War-era chairmen of the House Intelligence Committee, headed the Congressional Black Caucus, and was the first black on the...

Mr. George C. Fraser – 1992

Mr. George C. Fraser – 1992 31 October 2016

Mr. George C. Fraser – 1992

Chairman and CEO of FraserNet, Inc.

It was some 20 years ago that God unveiled His real purpose for George. Mr. Fraser went on to author of two critically acclaimed books: Success Runs in Our Race; The Complete Guide to Effective Networking in the African American Community and Race for Success; The Ten Best Business Opportunities for Blacks in America. Mr. Fraser is also the publisher of the award-winning Success Guide Worldwide: The Networking Guide to Black Resources. He is...

The Honorable Michael R. White – 1993

The Honorable Michael R. White – 1993 31 October 2016

The Honorable Michael R. White – 1993

An American politician of the Democratic Party

White, began his political career early on during his college years at Ohio State University, when he protested against the discriminatory policies of the Columbus public bus system and was subsequently arrested. White then ran the following year for Student Union President and won, becoming the college's first black student body leader. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1973 and a Master of Public Administration degree in 1974.After...

The Honorable Stephanie Tubbs Jones...

The Honorable Stephanie Tubbs Jones... 31 October 2016

The Honorable Stephanie Tubbs Jones...

A Democratic politician and member of the United States...

Stephanie Tubbs Jones (September 10, 1949 – August 20, 2008)[1][2][3] was a Democratic politician and member of the United States House of Representatives. She represented the 11th District of Ohio, which encompasses most of downtown and eastern Cleveland and many of the eastern suburbs in Cuyahoga County, including Euclid, Cleveland Heights, and Shaker Heights. She was the first African-American woman to be elected to Congress from...

Ms. Claire Freeman, Esq. – 1996

Ms. Claire Freeman, Esq. – 1996 31 October 2016

Ms. Claire Freeman, Esq. – 1996

Former public housing director

 Ms. Freeman was one of the highest paid housing directors in the country when she was hired in May 1990. By 1997, her compensation totaled more than $400,000.

The Honorable Steve D. Bullock – 1997

The Honorable Steve D. Bullock – 1997 31 October 2016

The Honorable Steve D. Bullock – 1997

The chairman of the Mandel Center for Non-Profit...

Mr. Bullock has enjoyed a distinguished career with the American Red Cross. He was named chief executive officer and chapter manager of the Greater Cleveland Chapter in 1982. Prior to assuming this position, he worked for the Red Cross in military installations in the United States, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Mr. Bullock also previously served as executive director of the agency's St. Paul, MN chapter. Mr. Speaker, in 1988, Steve Bullock was...

Mr. Wayne Embry – 1998

Mr. Wayne Embry – 1998 31 October 2016

Mr. Wayne Embry – 1998

A retired American basketball player

He played in the NBA All-Star game for five consecutive seasons (1961–1965) and won the NBA Championship with the Celtics in 1968. Embry was originally drafted by the St. Louis Hawks in 1958. He was then traded closer to home weeks later to the Cincinnati Royals. The Royals were rebuilding due to the collapse of the team following the hospitalization of team star Maurice Stokes. Star center Clyde Lovellette was traded to St. Louis for...

Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton – 1999

Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton – 1999 31 October 2016

Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton – 1999

Former president of Cuyahoga Community College

Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton, Ph.D. served as the President of Cuyahoga Community College since 1992. Dr. Thornton served as Corporate Secretary of Greater Cleveland Partnership. From 1985 to 1991, Dr. Thornton served as the President of Lakewood Community College in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. Dr. Thornton has been a Director of Applied Industrial Technologies, Inc. since 1994, Barnes & Noble Education, Inc. since August 2, 2015 and...

Rev. Dr. Marvin A. McMickle – 2001

Rev. Dr. Marvin A. McMickle – 2001 31 October 2016

Rev. Dr. Marvin A. McMickle – 2001

President, Professor of Church Leadership, Director of...

Marvin is a 1970 graduate of Aurora University in Aurora Illinois with a B.A. in Philosophy. He earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, NJ in 1983. Princeton later named him a Distinguished Alumnus in the school’s bi-centennial year of 2012. He was awarded the Doctor of Philosophy degree (Ph.D.) from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio in 1998. In 2010 he was awarded the...

Dr. Barbara Byrd-Bennett – 2002

Dr. Barbara Byrd-Bennett – 2002 31 October 2016

Dr. Barbara Byrd-Bennett – 2002

An American educator and the former Chief Executive...

Barbara Byrd–Bennett (born April 12, 1951) is an American educator. Byrd–Bennett is the former Chief Executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools district and the Cleveland Municipal School District. Byrd–Bennett served as CEO of the Cleveland Municipal School District from 1998 to 2006. From 2009 to 2011, she was the academic and accountability officer for the Detroit Public Schools system. She was hired as the Chicago...

Mr. Danny Cameron – 2003

Mr. Danny Cameron – 2003 31 October 2016

Mr. Danny Cameron – 2003

Head of the pioneering National City Community...

Cameron was raised in Hogansville, Ga., came to Cleveland to visit a sister, liked the town and stayed. He graduated from the International Institute of Data Processing in Cleveland and attended Trenton State College and Cuyahoga Community College. He served in the Army in South Korea. He married Dorothy L. Mason in 1965 and moved with her the next year to Warrensville Heights. He joined National City in 1968 as a data processing trainee. He...

Mr. Hilton O. Smith – 2004

Mr. Hilton O. Smith – 2004 31 October 2016

Mr. Hilton O. Smith – 2004

Senior Vice President for Corporate and Community...

As Senior Vice President for Corporate and Community Affairs at Turner Construction Company, Smith’s duties include managing the company’s corporate affairs, minority and woman owned business enterprise program, and their equal employment and educational programs. He coordinates business development and strategic marketing programs with Turner’s senior executive officers as well. Smith has actively led Turner’s efforts...

Mr. David Whitehead – 2005

Mr. David Whitehead – 2005 31 October 2016

Mr. David Whitehead – 2005

Member of the Advisory Board at ASW Global, LLC

Mr. David W. Whitehead Solon served as Vice President of FirstEnergy Corp., and its subsidiary Jersey Central Power & Light Company until July 1, 2007. Mr. Whitehead also served as the Vice President, Corporate Secretary and Chief Ethics Officer of FirstEnergy Service of FirstEnergy Corp until July 1, 2007. He served as Secretary of Jersey Central Power & Light Company, FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. and Pennsylvania Power Company until...

Ms. Margot James Copeland – 2006

Ms. Margot James Copeland – 2006 31 October 2016

Ms. Margot James Copeland – 2006

Executive Vice President, KeyBank Chair, KeyBank Foundation

Corporate executive Margot James Copeland was born on December 4, 1951 in Richmond, Virginia. She was the only child to her parents, Reverend William Lloyd Garrison James, a Baptist minister, and Thelma Taylor James, an eighth grade math teacher. Copeland earned her B.S. degree in physics from Hampton University, and her M.A. degree in educational research and statistics from The Ohio State University. Copeland began her corporate career at...

Mr. Arnold R. Pinkney – 2007

Mr. Arnold R. Pinkney – 2007 31 October 2016

Mr. Arnold R. Pinkney – 2007

Arnold R. Pinkney is the former Chief Operating Officer...

His extensive management, educational, political and entrepreneurial experiences have a proven record of excellence. His visionary leadership and innovative spirit have led to more than 39 years of providing quality insurance products and services for many Cleveland residents. Mr. Pinkney has been instrumental in the organization of several successful levies, campaigns and area development projects. Mr. Pinkney managed the extension of the...

Mr. Frederick R. Nance, Esq. – 2008

Mr. Frederick R. Nance, Esq. – 2008 31 October 2016

Mr. Frederick R. Nance, Esq. – 2008

Frederick R. Nance serves as Squire Patton Boggs’...

Frederick R. Nance serves as Squire Patton Boggs’ Regional Managing Partner, operating out of the Cleveland office.  Squire Patton Boggs, which was founded in Cleveland in 1890, now serves clients from 44 offices around the globe.  Fred’s legal practice focuses on sports and entertainment law, commercial litigation, client counseling and public-private partnerships.  Much of his practice in recent years has included...

Ms. Louise J. Gissendaner – 2009

31 October 2016

Ms. Louise J. Gissendaner – 2009

Serves as Senior Vice President and Director of...

Ms. Louise J. Gissendaner serves as Senior Vice President and Director of Community Development for the Northeastern Ohio affiliate of Fifth Third Bank, a state member bank headquartered in Cincinnati with assets over $105.8 billion and a presence in ten states. Ms. Gissendaner serves on the management team and is primarily responsible for managing the bank's community reinvestment reporting and goal setting. She is also responsible for...

Mr. Randell McShepard – 2011

Mr. Randell McShepard – 2011 31 October 2016

Mr. Randell McShepard – 2011

Vice President – Public Affairs for RPM International Inc.

Randell McShepard was elected vice president - public affairs in October 2007. He is primarily responsible for coordinating external and governmental affairs for the company. His duties also include managing the corporate philanthropy program and facilitating corporate purchasing initiatives. Mr. McShepard began his career at RPM in 2001 when he joined the company as director of community affairs. He previously served as executive director of...

The Honorable Frank G. Jackson – 2012

The Honorable Frank G. Jackson – 2012 31 October 2016

The Honorable Frank G. Jackson – 2012

An American attorney and politician. He is currently the...

Jackson is the son of an African-American father and an Italian-American mother. Jackson grew up in the Kinsman and Central neighborhoods. After graduating from Max S. Hayes High School, Jackson served in the United States Army. After his discharge, Jackson attended Cuyahoga Community College where he earned an associate degree He later attended Cleveland State University (CSU), earning a bachelor's degree in Urban Studies and History and a...

Dr. R.A. Vernon – 2013

Dr. R.A. Vernon – 2013 31 October 2016

Dr. R.A. Vernon – 2013

founder and senior pastor of The Word Church

Dr. R. A. Vernon is the founder and senior pastor of The Word Church, the largest and fastest growing church in the history of Cleveland, Ohio and one of the fastest growing churches in America. With over twenty-five years in ministry and nearly two decades in the pastorate, Dr. Vernon has enjoyed a prolific, storied career in pastoring, but consciously chooses to never stop growing, personally or vocationally. 

Mr. Leon Bibb - 2014

Mr. Leon Bibb - 2014 31 October 2016

Mr. Leon Bibb - 2014

An American news anchor for WEWS-TV in Cleveland, OH

Raised in Cleveland's Glenville area, and a graduate of Glenville High School on the city's east side, Bibb’s broadcasting career began during his student days at Bowling Green State University (BGSU). Following graduation, he worked as a newspaper reporter at The Plain Dealer. After a year at WTOL-TV (Toledo), he accepted a news position at WCMH-TV in Columbus. Prior to joining WEWS-TV, Bibb worked at WKYC-TV as the weekend News Anchor...

Dr. Charles S. Modlin - 2015

Dr. Charles S. Modlin - 2015 31 October 2016

Dr. Charles S. Modlin - 2015

A Kidney Transplant Surgeon, Urologist and Founder and...

In 1983, Dr. Modlin graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., with a degree in chemistry. He received his medical school education at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, graduating in 1987. He then moved to New York City, where he completed a six-year residency in urological surgery at New York University in 1993. He came to Cleveland in 1993, where he completed a three-year fellowship in basic science...

Lifetime Achievers

 

Ms. Zelma Watson George – 1985            

Mr. Booker T. Tall – 1987            

Mr. William F. Boyd, Sr. – 1995            

Mr. Virgil E. Brown – 1997            

The Honorable Jean Murrell Capers – 2000
 
Mr. Bracy E. Lewis – 2009

Dr. Daisy Alford-Smith - 2015

Dr. Linda Bradley – 2015

Dr. Julian M. Earls – 2015

Judge Sara J. Harper - 2015