In its second consecutive year, the HBCU Impact Awards stem from the visionary concept of our CEO, Albert Williams. The primary goal is to acknowledge and honor individuals, organizations, corporations, and movements that have notably and positively influenced HBCUs and the empowerment of the African American community.
Offering a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes process of crafting this year’s awards, the 2023 recipients are poised to be unveiled on August 16th.
Asé Design Studio is a collaborative design-build practice based in Baltimore, Maryland founded in 2021 by Lawrence Moore (Heavy Paper Co) and Darryl Patterson (D. Patterson design studio). The Studio produces limited-edition and custom furniture, home furnishings, and wooden serve ware which can be purchased at their retail store—Lottie’s Place. Both founders are self-taught artists and woodworkers.
A native of New York City, Lawrence is a graduate of University at Buffalo where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Services. Prior to the founding of Heavy Paper Co, he taught middle school in Baltimore City. When he is not creating in the Studio, you can find Lawrence roller skating, on a tennis court, or at a ballroom showcasing his latest Chicago Step dance moves.
Darryl grew up in Prince George’s County Maryland and Washington, DC. He graduated from Morgan State University with a degree in Business Administration and Finance, and is a 30-year careerist with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Darryl loves all things ‘art’ and enjoys track and field events.
Lawrence and Darryl can be reached at email@example.com
Graham “Skip” Dillard is the Brand Manager/Program Director for Audacy’s WXBK-FM, 94.7 the Block in New York City. Prior to WXBK, Skip spent 12 years Programming NYC’s legendary Urban AC WBLS and Gospel WLIB. Dillard guided the WBLS brand through the conversion to electronic ratings measurement, attaining the highest ratings in the storied brand’s history.
Skip’s on-air and programming career has taken him to great call letters in big cities including Detroit, Buffalo, San Francisco, Washington DC and New Orleans. In 2003, Skip took a year away from radio to serve as managing editor of Top 40 and Urban radio for Billboard Magazine’s Airplay Monitor publication.
Dillard’s career includes many awards and honors including The Living Legends Foundation – 2011, Best Program Directors in America 2010, 2011, 2012, Certificate of Merit-U.S. Congress 2002, along with honors from the State of New Jersey, NYC City Council, among others.
Dillard serves on several non-profit boards including the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, American Foundation for the University of the West Indies and Advisory Board for the Living Legends Foundation. Skip is currently serving his 2nd term with the Communications Equity and Diversity Council for the Federal Communications Commission; promoting increased opportunities for Minorities and Women in Media Management and Ownership.
Born in Queens New York City and raised in Greensboro NC, the Hampton University Graduate holds a B.A. in Mass-Media. He lives with his wife and teenage son in the Greater NYC Area. In his spare time, Skip enjoys reading, playing the piano, travel, technology and sports.
Jacqie McWilliams-Parker has served as the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Commissioner for over 10 years and has worked for the CIAA for a total of 15 years. Although she is the first female to serve as Commissioner for the CIAA and first appointed African American female Commissioner representing NCAA Division I, II and III, she is pleased that there are currently three other Black women serving as the commissioner at every level.
Mrs. McWilliams-Parker spent nine years at the NCAA managing NCAA championships to include both the men’s and women’s Division I Basketball tournaments. She started her career in coaching, compliance, and administration at Virginia Union University with career opportunities at the CIAA, Norfolk State University and Morgan State University.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Hampton University, and a Master of Arts in Sports Management and Administration from Temple University. She was a two-sport athlete at Hampton and was a member of the 1988 NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Championship team and 1987 and 1990 CIAA Volleyball championship teams. She is in Sierra High School, Hampton University and Virginia Union University Hall of Fames. She was selected in the Temple University Gallery of Success and a recipient of the 2013 Sports Business Journal Game Changers award.
She has served on several boards and committees over her 29 years in college athletics to influence, impact and advocate for others. Mrs. McWilliams-Parker is a motivational speaker, an active member of the Crown Jewels Links Chapter of Charlotte and Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Temple (VA). She is the proud mother of Samone, age 17 and wife to Shaun Parker.
CURRENT COMMISSIONER’S COMMITTEES AND BOARDS
Janice L. Mathis, Esq. was named General Counsel of the National Council of Negro Women in April, 2023, where she advises the organization on compliance, intellectual property, vendor licensing, and contracting. Previously, Janice served as Executive Director of NCNW, where she led development, programs, communications, and special events. During her tenure as Executive Director, Janice initiated social media and expanded NCNW’s program and social justice agenda to include social justice, entrepreneurship, estate planning, and the HBCU College Fair. Janice instituted Good Health WINs, the nation’s largest network of trusted messengers addressing social determinants of health in the Black community.
Previously, Janice was General Counsel and Vice President of Rev. Jesse L. Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the Citizenship Education Fund (CEF), where she led efforts to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act and implemented a shareholder education program resulting in new employment, contracting and board seat opportunities for African Americans. Janice was appointed to Georgia Power and Coca-Cola Company diversity councils. For nearly two decades, Janice practiced law in Athens, GA, served issues director for the Dukakis 1988 presidential campaign, was a member of the Rules Committee of the Democratic National Committee, and a member of the national board of the League of Women Voters. Janice and Davida Mathis host Sisters in Law, a public interest radio program of Praise 96.9. Together the biological sisters are strong advocates for HBCUs, hosting national tours and college fairs focused on the HBCU experience over the past decade.
Davida Mathis is a practicing attorney and was the first Black female prosecutor in Greenville, SC. Both sisters are members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Davida Mathis, in her role as Chair of Rainbow PUSH, helped to spearhead the campaign for recognition of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday in Greenville, County, South Carolina. Janice earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in both Economics and Public Policy Studies at Duke University and earned a law degree from the University of Georgia. Davida majored in history at Oberlin College and earned a law degree from the University of South Carolina.
Marlon Myers; 29 years of age, is a graduate of New York City College of Technology (City Tech), with a Bachelor of Technology in Computer Engineering Technology, and an associate degree in Electro- mechanical Engineering Technology. While enrolled at City Tech, he was the president of the Black Male Initiative Club and program ambassador for 3-4 years, where he mentored and tutored both young men and women of the black and brown community. In 2015 Marlon Myers designed, built a Quadcopter Drone from scratch; using parts he had salvaged from online stores. Marlon is currently employed as the “I.T and Operations Manager” at Brooklyn Community Foundation.
He is a board member of “500 Men Making a difference,” where he has been a member for the past 8+ years and served as their director of Collegiate engagement. He is the organization’s youngest recipient of the “Man of The Year Award 2016” that he received in 2017. 500 Men Making A difference is a New York based Non-profit that provides mentorship, community service, and civic engagement opportunities, that assist with growth of the back and brown communities of New York.
Marlon is the President/Basileus of the Zeta Psi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated. He spends his free time creating programs, events, and workshops that both educate and assist in the building of the neighborhoods with Brooklyn. He has been the president of the chapter since Fall of 2020.
Dia Simms serves as the Executive Chairwoman of Lobos 1707 Tequila & Mezcal, an award-winning, independent spirits brand that launched in November 2020. In May 2021, Simms Co-Founded Pronghorn. Simms leads Lobos 1707 alongside Founder and Chief Creative Officer Diego Osorio with early backing by sports and cultural icon, LeBron James. Lobos 1707 Tequila & Mezcal is named after the Spanish word lobos, meaning “wolves”, and dedicated to celebrating the strength of the pack. Simms brings an impressive track record of building successful brands, combined with her entrepreneurial spirit and deep expertise in the spirits industry to Lobos 1707. In May 2021, Simms Co-Founded Pronghorn, a 10-year initiative to drive diversity, equity, and inclusion in the spirits industry.
Pronghorn is a template on how to effectively diversify any industry by cultivating the next generation of Black entrepreneurs, employees and executive leaders within the spirits industry through sustainable investment, incubation and recruitment. The goal is to generate $2 billion in economic value in the U.S. Inspired by its namesake, the pronghorn is the fastest North American land mammal that can endure speeds for miles. Pronghorn believes creating real change is a marathon, not a sprint. Simms spent almost fifteen years working alongside Sean “Diddy” Combs at Combs Enterprises, starting in 2005 as his executive assistant. She grew within the company while building multiple brands and businesses under the Combs Enterprises umbrella.
In 2017, Simms was named President of Combs Enterprises, making her the first president in the company ’ s thirty-year history other than Sean Combs himself. In her role as President, she oversaw multi-billion-dollar brands under the Combs empire, including CÎROC Ultra-Premium Vodka, Blue Flame Agency, AQUAhydrate, Bad Boy Entertainment, Sean John and Revolt TV. Of note, Simms led the transformation of CÎROC Ultra-Premium Vodka from infancy to a multibillion dollar value brand.
Along with a lengthy list of accolades, Simms is also board Chair of Pronghorn, Board Vice Chair of Saint Liberty Whiskey and Advisor to Touch Capital. She graduated with a bachelor ’ s degree in psychology from Morgan State University and obtained a master ’ s degree in management from the Florida Institute of Technology. Simms now resides in Georgia where she lives with her husband, daughter and dog.
Robert F. Smith is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners. Vista manages equity capital commitments of over $100Bn with a portfolio of over 80 companies that employ more than 95,000 people.
Smith has been named one of the TIME 100 Most Influential People in the World (2020) and recognized by Forbes as one of the 100 Greatest Living Business Minds. In 2019, Smith eliminated the student debt of 400 Morehouse College graduates and later founded the Student Freedom Initiative to relieve the burden of student debt for STEM students at HBCUs.