This category recognizes the groundbreaking achievements and societal contributions of cutting-edge entrepreneurs, executives, and small business owners across industries.
A former history teacher, Symonette is a direct challenge to “those who can’t, teach.” He can do both. Recognizing that student success was directly tied to community and economic success, he set his sights on the bigger picture, working for Teach for America and founding the South Bronx Community Charter High School before becoming a hedge fund manager and then joining the C-suite at major corporations. In the food and beverage industry, his strategic abilities have yielded huge returns for Continental Grain Company and currently for Lady M, a luxury confections brand, where he leads as chief of staff.
As Head of Product Inclusion & Equity at Google, Jean-Baptiste is changing the industry by creating products that are more inclusive and equitable across the board. Her efforts are ensuring that historically marginalized users feel validated throughout the product design and development process. Jean-Baptiste’s team has pioneered transformative tech, which includes the latest Pixel devices, Google Meet, Monk Skin Tone (MST) Scale, Real Tone, Google Business Attributes, emojis and more.
LaNiear has been a behind-the-scenes presence making things happen at Procter & Gamble for the Black community and media for over 20 years. She has also been an ardent champion for Black creators, media and advertising companies during her career, understanding that the power of a message involves the messengers and mediums. This March, as a result of her tireless work and lifelong belief that representation matters, P&G committed to doubling spend year on year until the percent spend is reflective of the percent of the Black population. Charlotte is leading P&G in consistently being the number one spender in Black media in an effort to create more diversity in the advertising industry.
With stints at such diverse companies as D.C. Comics, the New Jersey Devils, and DIAGEO, Cherry has been a true disruptor across a variety of industries. Working with renowned firms Anomaly and Wieden+Kennedy with brands such as Cole Haan, Budweiser and Motorola, Cherry has distinguished himself as a premier marketing executive. One of his most memorable campaigns is a Grammy Award-winning collaboration between Kanye West, Nas, Rakim and KRS-One. Today, Cherry is still making an impact as the senior vice president and general manager of adidas, with a specific focus on the company’s Originals, Basketball, & Partnerships group.
Grier’s father, Bobby, worked in the front office for two NFL teams, his elder brother Chris is general manager for the Miami Dolphins and NFL legend Rosey Grier is his uncle. Football may be the family business, but the National Hockey League all-star charted his own course in another sport, eventually spending 14 seasons as a player in the NHL. Playing vital roles behind the scenes as a scout and assistant coach, he was named hockey operations advisor to the New York Rangers in 2021. And in July, he broke through as the first Black general manager in NHL history for the San Jose Sharks, one of his former teams.
In 2021, Howard Douglas became the first female senior vice president and general counsel of The Coca-Cola Company, where she oversees their global legal function. Prior to her historic appointment, she served as legal director for Coca-Cola Southern and East Africa and then general counsel for Coca-Cola North America. Spreading good to others, she currently serves on the board of Cool Girls, Inc. and oversees The Coca-Cola Company Pro Bono committee that provides support to the community.
Cole is the owner and operator of Slutty Vegan, a plant-based burger restaurant chain birthed in Atlanta. In May, she received a $25 million investment, part of which is from a group co-founded by Shake Shack’s Danny Meyer. With plans to expand her four-year brand to 10 new locations by the end of this year and another 10 in 2023, Cole’s empire is on fire. Her first cookbook, Eat Plants, B*tch: 91 Vegan Recipes That Will Blow Your Meat-Loving Mind, hits stands this November, and features simple recipes that highlight the signature vegan comfort food that has become beloved by celeb fans including Viola Davis, Gabrielle Union, Tyler Perry and Snoop Dogg.
An advocate for Black wealth and prosperity, Busby is the president and CEO of the U.S. Black Chambers (USBC). Bringing business management skills and a lifetime of community development experience to the organization, he oversaw the launch of the ByBlack platform, which compiles Black-owned businesses that are certified by the USBC into one database. Over the course of his career, Busby has shown his dedication to Black-owned enterprises through his work on the Pfizer Small Business Council, the White House African American Leadership Council, and the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Council on Underserved Communities.
Douglass Morgan, a Las Vegas native, has long been a trailblazer in the sports and betting arena and is also used to being one of the firsts. In July, she was named president of the Las Vegas Raiders, making her the first Black woman hired for the position by a major NFL team. Prior to this, Douglass Morgan was the first person of color to serve as chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. In addition, she was the first African American city attorney in the State of Nevada.
Murdock, the newly named chief impact officer at Kith, a streetwear lifestyle brand, spearheads its diversity and social impact initiatives. In her position, she established The Kin Foundation, a nonprofit providing paid apprenticeships for underprivileged aspiring creators. A multifaceted force, Murdock is also co-owner of Liberty Fashion and Lifestyle Fairs and CEO of ENVSN Festival, a multidimensional community committed to the professional and self-development of Gen Z and millennial achievers.
Driving change and doing good has always been Pickard’s hallmark. During her tenure as president of the General Motors Foundation and director of corporate relations, she distributed more than $350 million supporting various initiatives, including sending kids to college, promoting diversity, supporting nonprofits and more. Today, as the president and CEO of the Pickard Group, she consults Fortune 500 companies and nonprofits on corporate responsibility, strategic planning and diversity. Pickard is currently advising Kyyba Tech, Sterling Insurance Group and the Motown Museum, which she helped raise $43 million for its expansion. She also sits on several boards, including The Links Inc. and Black Women’s Agenda.