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2020 Awards Gala – Nominees
The “Lowell Hawthorne” Business Community Service Award recognizes deserving businesses for service to the community through their support of not-for-profit organizations (schools, churches, etc.)
- • Grace Kennedy GAPS
- • Caribbean International Shipping GAPS
- • Tassa Roti Shop
The Tassa family are as passionate about their community and giving back as they are about food and hospitality. They have served the greater Atlanta area as philanthropists and community organizers, with equal love for all kinds of people. In their view, a vibrant community and good food go hand in hand.
Tassa has donated food to the Black Arts Festival, Food for the Poor, Zoo Atlanta as well as catered the NBA Legends Ball and various Caribbean-American events around the Atlanta area. They have also teamed up several times with Go /Eat /Give to showcase Caribbean food culture to Atlantans looking to try a new cuisine.
Supporters of both the Marietta and Alpharetta fire departments and the Cobb County and Alpharetta school systems.
Ria Edoo (owner) sits on the Board of Directors for the True Colors Theatre and the Caribbean-American Movers and Shakers Networking Series.
- • Stone Oak Mortgage
Founder: Christopher Stewart
We have built a strong reputation as an outstanding mortgage brokerage firm, serving the lending needs of real estate professionals, builders and individual homebuyers throughout the state.
We’re a full-service mortgage broker with an experienced staff offering expertise in every area of mortgage lending…from purchase to refinance to construction lending. We have access to a full range of mortgage sources and all of our lending specialists are dedicated to finding the right loan-with the best rates, terms and costs-to meet your unique needs.
Stone Oak Mortgage have chosen particular organizations that address issues they care about and provide value in the lives of our community. They donate a portion of their closings each year and their time each month throughout the year.
Here are a few of their scheduled events for 2020.
Ronald McDonald House at Egleston
795 Gatewood Rd. NE, Atlanta, GA 30329
Prepare and Serve Breakfast
2836 Springdale Rd. SW, Atlanta, GA 30315
Prepare and Serve Dinner
Boys and Girls Club
875 Six Flags Dr. Bldg 3, Austell, Ga 30168
Garden Club- Set up new supplies
Sickle Cell Foundation of GA
2777 East Point Street, East Point, GA 30344
41st Annual Sickle Cell Road Race: Run/Walk
Success Story: The Stewart Team Taco Bar
The Stewart Team Taco Bar was a great hit once again. As we were able to serve 70+ individuals of the Solomon’s Temple Women and children’s shelter. It is always a pleasure to be able to give back to the community and get to see new faces, spreading love abroad. We are so honored to have this opportunity and would love for you to join us next time. Each Year Stone Oak gives a portion of it closings to 7 organizations, and each month as a team we serve one of 7 organizations. These days are known as Planned Acts of Kindness (“PAK”).
- • Jerk Fest GAPS
We celebrate and support nonprofit leaders in our community for their dedication to service and the welfare of others.
- • Friends on the Corner …GAPS
- • The Generational Wealth Foundation: Shari Oliver (http://www.genwealthfoundation.org)
The Generational Wealth Foundation’s mission is to foster wealth principles among socio -economically diverse populations, drive wealth accumulation, and reduce the wealth gap.
The Generational Wealth Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, headquartered in Atlanta, GA, which uniquely offers a holistic approach to supporting wealth generation, through financial literacy programming coupled with lifestyle skill development among youth and adults. All-inclusive programming provides fiscal, philosophical, artistic, academic, athletic, social, civic and cultural principles implemented by the ultra-successful, all housed within one program.
Founder, Shari Oliver, having worked for Delta Airlines and having been selected as 1 of 30 participants in Delta Air Lines’ premier 10 month leadership development program, Shari was inspired by what she was exposed to and couldn’t help but wonder, what if she was exposed to this at 14, how would life be different? That thought propelled her to take a leave of absence from her almost decade long career and step into her purpose to create The Generational Wealth Foundation. Gen Wealth’s goal is focused on the application of wealth pillars to drive wealth accumulation among socio-economically diverse populations. “We expose our serviced populations to financial literacy, coupled with life skills. Programmatic elements are presented within one concise and comprehensive program, where we partner with subject matter experts to expose those we serve to golf, real estate, etiquette, art, entrepreneurship, graduate degree opportunities, sexual education, philanthropy, financial literacy, rights & legal regulations, etc.,”
The inaugural one week program was held at The Booker T Washington High School, on June 24-28, 2019. Participants included, 14 youth, ages 13 to 17, representing 9 cities across metro – Atlanta. Programming provided fiscal, philosophical, artistic, academic, athletic, social, and cultural principles implemented by presenters who are leaders in their fields. The program was a success! With a NPS score of 90 and program results yielding double digit improvement in all knowledge areas taught. Shari looks forward to improving on these wins in 2020!
Shari is also a licensed realtor with Keller Williams Atlanta Midtown. She has a M.S. in Communication from North Carolina State University. Her undergraduate degrees are in Communication Management and Tourism, from St. Leo University. Originally from Kingston, Jamaica, a former Head Girl at Immaculate Conception High School; Shari enjoys tennis, the gym, learning golf and sunny days laughing with family, friends and her mini – Australian Shepard, Pepper.
- • The Jamaica Project
The Jamaica Project USA was founded in March 2015 by Jacquel & Shun Tucker who executed their first mission trip to Jamaica in June 2015. This ministry officially became a 501(c) (3) in February 2016. Jacquel grew up watching her mom (Lydia Edwards) ship barrels and distribute items to as many community residents as possible and was inspired to do the same. The younger generation needs to be given better opportunities to succeed and the older generation needs to have their basic needs met now that most can no longer work.
The Jamaica Project USA’s mission is to transform rural schools and communities in Jamaica though the following initiatives:
- • Working with schools to provide educational resources and facilitate improvement projects such as painting exterior and classrooms, establishing computer labs and improving libraries.
- • Providing basic necessities such as food, clothing and hygienic needs to community residents and identifying improvement projects that would be beneficial to the community.
- • Showing care to the elderly residents / shut-ins through home visitation and providing basic necessities, a hot meal, fellowship and prayer.
The Jamaica Project USA conducts two annual mission trips to rural communities in Jamaica, the largest trip being in June. Our goal is to positively impact at least four rural communities and schools during the course of the year.
In June 2019, we were able to provide over 1,800 residents with medical care by partnering with a medical team for this annual mission trip. The residents serviced included close to 500 students from the schools we were working with. The medical team was based out of the community church and were able to service both the Higgins Land and Duanvale communities.
In addition, we are now able to provide local organizations here in the USA with resources through our new donation partnership with Walmart.
JACQUEL TUCKER – EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Jacquel is a native of Jamaica and Founder of The Jamaica Project USA. She is Founder and CEO of Global Hospitality Expert Solutions, a hospitality consulting company. She was formerly a Director of Sales and Marketing for various hotel brands such as Hilton, Starwood and Wyndham. She has over 25 years of experience in the hotel industry and is a graduate of the University of Maine, Orono ME. She is an International Advisory Board Member for Caring For Other, Inc and also gives back by working with Gwinnett Technical College to help in developing the students in their hospitality program. Jacquel released her first book in January 2019, It’s Time for YOUR Transition, available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Books A Million. She is a member of Victory World Church, Norcross GA, and currently resides in Duluth, Georgia, USA.
SHUN TUCKER – CHAIRMAN
Shun is co-founder of The Jamaica Project USA. He has over 30 years of experience in the electrical and electronic engineering field and is currently CEO of Tucker Industrial Solutions. He is also Chairman of the Advisory Committee for Georgia Piedmont Technical College. He was raised in Kansas City and is a graduate of Dekalb Technical College in Clarkston GA. He is a member of Victory World Church, Norcross GA and currently resides in Duluth, GA, USA.
We recognize our businesses as the backbone of our community. We especially focus on courage, innovation and leadership in service to the community.
- • Jamaica Broilers (Best Dressed Chicken)
- • VAAS Professionals LLC – Steve Julal
Steve S. Julal is the Principal and founder of VAAS Professionals LLC. Julal has consulted with small to large sized businesses and federal agencies with respect to their financial, management and business needs.
Julal received his B.S. in Accounting and MBA in Finance from Oral Roberts University. Serving as board member on several councils, Julal remains an active member of local professional organizations such as The National Black MBA Association, 100 Black Men of Atlanta and the Nationals Contract Management Association.
Julal had one vision for VAAS Professionals: to provide excellence and personalized services to advance his client’s bottom line.
The Person of the Year Award is given to an individual who has demonstrated exceptional leadership through his/her professional endeavors, community involvement, ethical sensitivity and social responsibility thereby supporting and advancing their community and respective fields.
- • Dr. Harcourt Fuller: Historian/Professor
Assistant Professor of History in the Department of History at Georgia State University in Atlanta.
Historian of Africa and the African Diaspora
PhD in International History and an MSc (with Merit) in History of International Relations from the London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE).
MA in History, a BA in International Studies
Certificate in Latin American Studies from the City University of New York (CUNY).
Conducted research, given invited lectures and presented conference papers in Africa, Europe, North and South America, and the Caribbean.
Interdisciplinary and interrelated research interests include International History; Nations and Nationalism; the International History of Africa; West Africa; Ghana; the Akans; the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade; the Atlantic World; Colonialism; African Nationalism; the Cold War in Africa; African Political Economy; the African Diaspora in Latin America & the Caribbean; Marronage in the Atlantic World (particularly Jamaica, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia); African-Diaspora Genealogy and Genetics; Oral History; Indigenous History; Visual History; and Africana Films.
At GSU, Dr. Fuller’s undergraduate courses include Survey of World History – 1500 to Present, Africa and the World, and Western Africa.
Teaches graduate Seminar in African History.
Founder and director of the Jamaica Study Abroad & Maroon Immersion Program.
Publications include the monograph Building the Ghanaian Nation-State: Kwame Nkrumah’s Symbolic Nationalism (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), and the co-edited book Money in Africa (London: Trustees of the British Museum, 2009).
Peer-reviewed academic journals such as African Studies Quarterly, Nations and Nationalism and African Arts. Contributed several articles to popular print and online media publications, and has been quoted in prominent newspapers such as the New York Time, the Christian Science Monitor, and Le Monde (France).
A scholar of Maroon descent, Dr. Fuller is currently undertaking a major interdisciplinary, collaborative and multi-faceted research project to interrogate the Maroon experience in the Americas. Beginning with the history and contemporary dynamics of the Jamaican Maroons, this international research project, which is being conducted in Ghana, Jamaica, Britain, Canada and the United States, includes the publication of books, journal articles, and the production of documentary-films, digital humanities content, as well as web and social media material. In collaboration with Hollywood stuntman and film director Roy T. Anderson, Dr. Fuller created and produced the documentary-film Queen Nanny: Legendary Maroon Chieftainess, which was premiered at the United Nations Headquarters and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City, as well as the University of the West Indies-Mona and the Maroon community of Moore Town in Jamaica’s Blue & John Crow Mountains UNESCO World Heritage Site, in October 2015.
- • Jacqueline Hawthorne-Robinson, Co-Founder of Golden Krust Caribbean
Jacqueline Hawthorne Robinson, astute businesswoman and visionary leader, is one of the co-founders of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery, the largest and most respected Black business chain in the USA. Jacqueline was among the siblings as they met with her brother, Lowell Hawthorne, in 1989 to cast the vision for what has become the Golden Krust empire. She is a humanitarian at heart who has received several awards for her service to the community. She the proud mother of four beautiful adult children and a member of the Springfield Baptist Church. Jacqueline is a Caribbean American Cultural Arts Foundation, Inc., 2019 Captains of Industry Honorees.
- • Connie Witter
Constance Witter was born in Hanover, Jamaica and later raised in St. Ann and Kingston. Upon graduating high school, she received an internship with the Jamaica Gleaner to serve at Gordon House as a reporter and stenographer.
At the end of her internship she attended the BBC World Service, Busch House in London where she began the early years of honing her craft as a journalist. Upon leaving Busch House, Ms. Witter joined the Jamaica High Commission followed by the Nigerian High Commission serving as a member of each consular team.
In 1972 she went back to Jamaica and began her journalistic path with the Jamaica Information Service (JIS). Then in 1980 she moved on to the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC). Her journey in the field of journalism lasted upwards of 20 years, when she managed satellite offices across Jamaica. During that time, her journalism proved impactful as she brought an awareness of an outbreak of Leptospirosis in the inner cities in Kingston. The Ministry of Health acted swiftly to terminate the spread of the disease.
In the 1990’s Ms. Witter moved to the United States. While here in the US she taught English at the Lovett Private High School, while continuing her work as a freelance journalist.
In recent years here in Atlanta, Connie has taken on the role of Advocate. She is grounded in the Jamaican Diaspora and provides community service at Metro Atlanta Juvenile Centers. She is a certified psychologist. She operates a Foundation A.E.A.C named after her parents Adina, Elizabeth and Alexander Cole. The foundation provides scholarships to needy children in the parish of St. Ann, Jamaica.
Finally, Ms. Witter in early to mid-20’s, Ms. Witter began her quest to fight for what is now dubbed the Dream Act. She began a Facebook petition signed by millions of immigrants and advocates of immigrants, placing pressure on the then Obama administration to allow children of immigrants to remain in the US. In June 2012, the then President signed the Dream Act and lauded Ms. Witter for her courage to fight for those who lost the chance to become productive American Citizens. President remarked, “It makes no sense to expel talented young persons who are for all intents and purposes Americans.”
Members of Congress thanked her for her courage and the role she played in the fight for those would be deterred from their American Dream.
Ms. Witter received the Congressional Award, the Grace Kennedy Award for Community Service as well as the Caribbean Heritage Award. She plays the drums for the local folk singers, The Sugar Canes.
The Next Generation Award celebrates the accomplishments and influence of young professionals in the workplace and community.
- • Rockers Unlimited
Rockers Unlimited is a creative agency that curates experiences to unify the Caribbean diaspora in Atlanta. In 2014 Rockers Unlimited was founded by André Ruddock and Allan Williams, two natives of Jamaica, to showcase the innate talents of individuals within the growing diaspora while breaking barriers to interact within the community. They’re committed to taking the Caribbean culture in Atlanta from the sidelines of the suburbs to the heart of the city. Rockers Unlimited specializes in digital marketing, event production, branding, and experience design. Since inception the agency has created several social and community service events with thousands of attendees that span across cultures. Their most recent philanthropic effort coined, “Unite & Rebuild” mobilized the community to support people impacted by Hurricane Dorian by delivering emergency supplies like food, water, and medicine. Other fundraising initiatives in the last five years have benefitted Caribbean islands impacted by natural disasters and collecting school supplies for all-ages of school children.
In the social sphere, their portfolio includes innovative events unifying over 15,000 Caribbean people in Atlanta. In the spirit of inclusiveness the majority of their events are free to the public. They are the organizers of the Jamaica Independence Street Dance, an annual event in the historic Martin Luther King District, with a record number of 5,000 people in attendance. They organized and produced the first Soca Block Party in Atlanta — Soca de Mayo, celebrating Caribbean culture, Soca music, and the spirit of carnival. Their most celebrated event is a weekly Caribbean brunch, The Rum Punch Brunch. They’ve provided a platform for thriving small businesses to showcase their products and services, while providing basic business startup aid to young Caribbean entrepreneurs.
Rockers Unlimited is currently partnering with Jackie Pommels and the Atlanta Counts Census team to raise awareness around the census initiative within the Caribbean community and to drive participation.
Allan Williams Assoc. AIA
Co-Founder Founder Rockers Unltd.
Project Director – SEA Studios Architects
Ardenne High School and Louisiana Tech Alum (B-Arch.)
Co-Founder Founder Rockers Unltd.
Cloud Operations Engineer – Logisticare.
Wolmer’s Boys School and Georgia Southern University Alum (B.Sc. IT)
- • Ryan Campbell, ran for Mayor of Smyrna, lost by less than 200 votes after runoff…GAPS
- • Melissa Procter: Chief Marketing Officer, Atlanta Hawks (Jamaican/Virgin Islander)
Joined the Atlanta Hawks in June of 2014 and is the Chief Marketing Officer for the Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club and State Farm Arena. She oversees the day-to-day operations of marketing teams, including marketing integration and direct response, digital content and advertising and promotions.
Proctor began her career with the Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., serving in senior brand development and strategy leadership positions for Turner Entertainment Networks (including TNT, TBS, Turner Classic Movies (TCM), truTV and Peachtree TV), Cartoon Network and Turner Media Group.
She created the first Corporate Social Responsibility Division in Turner’s UK office. Among her accomplishments, Proctor was responsible for managing the naming and identity for the rebranding of Court TV as truTV, and leading corporate culture initiatives to foster employee engagement, collaboration and innovation.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in communication from Wake Forest University and a master’s degree in design studies/branding from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design at The London Institute.
This award is given to a company who has innovated either in product, process or approach to the market in a way that is compelling and has captured the attention of the marketplace.
- • Slutty Vegan ….GAPS
- • Karen Marie Mason Brand Development & Creative Strategy, Producer, Product Manager, Talent Curator. Visionary
After years as a successful record company executive I wanted more. I wanted to make an even bigger impact in the arts, I wanted a family, I wanted more creative collaborations, I wanted more involvement in the community. Social good was on my mind. I wanted change.
I was already well known as a branding expert creating marketing plans for Mary J Blige, Kris Kross, Ziggy Marley, Supercat, En Vogue, Gerald Levert, The Fugees, Busta Rhymes. During my tenures at Sony and Elektra, I cut my teeth with projects from Sade, Michael Jackson and Alexander O’Neal. I knew my shit. But I wanted more.
So I began creating collaborative and innovative programs that combined my love for marketing and branding with my desire to do social good and bring about change. I wanted to create ongoing experiences that would have an impact and build relationships that would last.
I wanted to be able to work with and manage artists and brands and design creative programs and collaborations that would allow both to shine.
Karen Marie Mason |•a•creative•change•agency| was born.
- • Marsha Archer: PR Professional; www.msquaredpr.com/
Archer, who was born and raised in London, England, graduated cum laude from Florida A&M University and began her career as a public relations manager with Habitat for Humanity International, where she was responsible for the promotion of international projects including Women Build, the first building project led by the first ladies of the United States.
When she left the non-profit sector, Archer headed for corporate America and joined The Home Depot as their Southeast public relations manager, where she led the internal and external communications between more than 200 stores, worked with contract negotiations and store openings. She also helped organize the 1,000th store celebration, held at the New York Stock Exchange. “Watching that bell ring on the NYSE still makes me think of Home Depot and their accomplishments,” she says. “I think I still bleed orange!”
This experience positioned her perfectly for her next career move to Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta, where she served as the director of public relations. She made her mark on the luxury industry by keeping the city’s only five-star, five-diamond hotel at the forefront of local and national media. During her tenure at the luxury hotel, Marsha is credited for amassing major marketing and partnership opportunities for the hotel, its restaurant and spa.
In 2008, she formed M-Squared Public Relations, which began as a home-based business. “I love PR and I know that any career change I made would always involve PR.” “It’s in my blood and I’m a firm believer that PR people aren’t made–it’s a personality trait that once activated, positions them to simply make things happen. I guess that’s why they call me ‘the Olivia Pope of PR.’
Archer thrives on the fast-paced world of public relations, and loves the challenge of each new day. “I have the potential to turn everything I experience into a story,” she says. “I love being able to devise and execute new ideas for great client results. It might be cliché to say that I think outside the box, but I do. And I love it.”
As the married mother of two, Marsha divides her time between work and family, but always finds ways to give back to the community that has been so good to her. In 2016, Marsha was awarded the JP’s Recipe for Life Foundation’s Distinguished Service Award for her dedication to giving back to the Atlanta community and for her steadfast commitment to ensuring the success of her firm’s clients. In Sept 2016, Upscale Magazine named Marsha one of 15 ‘Top Players’ in their national roundup of movers and shakers. In Oct. 2016, 17th South Magazine named Marsha one of six PR Powerhouses in Atlanta.