Local Black MBA chapter promotes courageous leadership


AND THE SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS GO TO—Stephanie Keenan, James Bady Jr., Sadik Roberts, Langston Wright, Steven Renfro and Courtney Williamson.

“It takes courage to be a leader. One must be determined and willing to take risks,” pointed out Audrey J. Snyder, keynote speaker during the National Black MBA, Inc. Pittsburgh Chapter Scholarship and Recognition Gala. Courageous Leadership: Owning Your Own Success was the theme of the group’s 29th annual event which was a continual theme from the national conference held in Houston, in September.

An affiliate of a national organization, its mission is to lead in the creation of educational opportunities and economic growth for Blacks. The organization provides innovative programs to stimulate their intellectual and economic growth; builds partnerships with key stakeholders who help facilitate the growth and increases awareness and facilitates access to graduate management education programs and career opportunities in management fields.


THANKS FOR YOUR LEADERSHIP—National Black MBA Pittsburgh Chapter award recipients. Thomas A. Jamison of Dream Cream Ice Cream, Allyce Pinchback of the Pittsburgh Public Schools, Aaron Gibson of the Thelma Lovette YMCA, Tom Nist of Duquesne University and Vernard Alexander of the Minority Networking Exchange.

For her two years as president of the Pittsburgh chapter, Jeanine Blackburn, PhD says her desire has been to increase and retain chapter membership as well as enhance the professional development services for its members. “Our membership is 52 percent graduate students and 48 percent professionals so the executive board and I are trying to offer programming and opportunities to provide access to business, career, networking and educational opportunities to enhance the careers of everyone and to create leaders,” said Blackburn indicating the significance of their theme.

Focused on her audience of young professionals, Snyder sharing her human resource management and customer service knowledge said, “Don’t let people put limits on you. You have to own your own success. To make choices to be courageous you need strength and a strategy.” As an attentive audience of over 100 people looked on, Snyder recommended setting goals and knowing one’s self, purpose and abilities. “Success is an award of action. You have to think big, be bold and have a passion for your actions,” she said. “Being a courageous leader is about continuously learning and networking. Have a strong elevator pitch. Say your pitches out loud, know what you want to achieve, and be clear and proactive.”

With more than 40 years of experience in the corporate arena, Snyder, a Pittsburgh native holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in BusinessCommunications and a Master’s in Professional Leadership from Carlow University and is a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh. She serves as an independent consultant, specializing in online web-based training of diversity and interpersonal skills for first line managers and is the author of the book, The Climb: A Black American Woman’s Pursuit of Corporate Success.

Complimenting Snyder on her presentation, former Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Logan, Master of Ceremony of the event pointed out that she hit on all five channels of the engagements the chapter has outlined for its members; education, career, leadership, entrepreneurship and lifestyle.

During the program, six students were awarded scholarships sponsored by the group’s corporate partners. Recipients in the undergraduate category were Sadik Roberts awarded from GlaxoSmithKline, James Bady Jr., and Stephanie Keenan from UPMC and Langston Wright from PNC Bank. On the graduate level was Steven Renfro receiving his scholarship from the University of Pittsburgh and on the doctoral level was Courtney Williamson receiving hers from BNY Mellon.

Other award recipient categories were emerging leader, lifestyle, community, education, entrepreneurship and partner of the year. Emerging leader, Allyce Pinchback is a professional development project manager for Pittsburgh Public Schools.  Considered an inspiring leader in the areas of business, education and workforce development, Vernard Alexander manager of the Reemployment Transition Center and originator of the Minority Networking Exchange received the Lifestyle Award. An asset within the community for more than a century, the newly built Thelma Lovette YMCA received the Community Award. The winner of the Education Award, Duquesne University, has a reputation for producing ethical leaders, providing innovative curricula and attracting the highest caliber of students.  Dream Cream Ice Cream received the Entrepreneurship Award. The business assists individuals and organizations achieve their dreams and offer a unique approach in providing extra cash to move businesses in the right direction. The University of Pittsburgh and Glaxosmithkline were recipients of the Partners of the Year Award.

The National Black MBA Association, Pittsburgh Chapter has existed since 1984. Its current  membership of 285 consist of MBA’s, business students, entrepreneurs and other distinguished leaders in business, education, and other sectors in the community. Other than Blackburn its executive board members are Lisa Garland, vice president of administration; Lynda Brimage, secretary and Shelly Hogans, treasurer. Committee Directors are Leslie Brandon, education; Lachelle Binion, marketing and programming; LaTrenda Leonard, public relations and communications; and Kamar Williams, Leaders of Tomorrow.

Within the next six months Blackburn says the chapter will offer more business service networking events, workshops and strive to involve and recruit more corporations as partners.

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