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Speakers List

MG Robert L. Nabors
Gwendolyn E. Boyd
Kathryn B. Freeland

Ronald E. Blakely
Delegate Aisha Braveboy
Shannon Cloman
Elton Dean
Cassandra Duncan
Bea Forniss
Cromwell Handy
Charlie E. Hardy
William H. Harris
Brenda Brown Hunter
Beverly Johnson
John Knight
Kimberly Marcus
James McNeil
Juliette McNeil
Rita A. Knight-Smith
Janet Harris Sutton
Darius Thomas
Deborah Scott Thomas
Oatice Thomas
Reginald K. Thornton
Erick Wright

Ronald E. Blakely

Mr. Blakely currently serves as an Associate Director, White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Mr. Blakely joined the White House Initiative staff in 2007. His primary duties involve worked with Federal Agencies, HBCU Presidents and Sponsored Program Officials on procurement, contracting and program issues.

He served as the Department of the Army’s HBCU/MI Program Manager in the Army Small Business Office for 10 years, where he developed highly successful HBCU/MI initiatives that consistently exceeded the Army contracting goal.

He has worked closely with federal agencies, HBCU advocacy groups and private sector organizations to implementing policies and programs that increase federal funding to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions and Tribal Colleges and Universities.

Mr. Blakely previously served as an EEO Manager at the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Civil Rights with responsibilities for the Affirmative Employment and Special Emphasis Programs. He created EPA’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities Program with the support of senior managers and significant input from HBCU presidents. The HBCU Program focused on Research and Development, Faculty Fellowships, Internships and Equipment Transfer Programs.

He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work at Tuskegee and Master’s of Arts in Human Resources Management, Pepperdine Universities and a Certificate in Contracting and Procurement from the University of Virginia.

Mr. Blakely retired from the USAF Reserves in 2000 as a Lt. Col. He is an active member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and a 33° Prince Hall Mason. He currently resides in Prince George’s County, Maryland with his wife and daughter.


Delegate Aisha Braveboy

Delegate Aisha Braveboy is an accomplished lawyer with over ten years of real estate, legislative and government contracts experience.   Currently, Delegate Braveboy is in private practice and represents clients in corporate and real estate matters.  Formerly, Ms. Braveboy served as in-house counsel for the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation (AWC), where she provided legal support for many complex real estate projects, including: the Southwest Waterfront Redevelopment project, the development of the Anacostia Metro Station, and the construction of Washington Canal Park.

Prior to joining AWC, Ms. Braveboy served as Manager, Land Acquisition and Real Property Division for Prince George’s County Government; and as the Legislative Advisor to the Prince George’s County Executive.

In 2006, Ms. Braveboy was first elected to represent the 25th Legislative District in the Maryland General Assembly, and then again in 2010.  She is assigned to the House Economic Matters Committee, where she serves as Chair of the Consumer Protection Subcommittee, and member of the Business Regulations and Banking, Economic Science and Technology Subcommittees. 

Delegate Braveboy has received numerous recognitions for her work as a lawyer and as a legislator.  Recently, she received the 2011 Rising Star award in Super Lawyers Magazine, a publication that features lawyers who have made significant contributions in their field.  She has also been honored by the NAACP, the Family Crisis Center, the Washington DC Building Trades Council, the National Coalition if 100 Black women and many other organizations.

Ms. Braveboy currently serves as Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, and is also a member of the Women’s Caucus.

Ms. Braveboy is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park, where she joined the Eta Beta Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. in the spring of 1996. She is also a graduate of Howard University School of Law.


Gwendolyn E. Boyd

Gwendolyn Elizabeth Boyd is a native of Montgomery, Alabama. She was educated in the public schools and received a four-year scholarship to attend Alabama State University where she graduated summa cum laude with a B. S. degree in Mathematics with a double minor in Physics and Music. Boyd was awarded a fellowship to pursue graduate work at Yale University, where she was the first African American to earn a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering.  In 2005, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Lincoln University (PA) and that same year was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Bennett College for Women. In December 2009, President Obama nominated her to serve as a member, Board of Trustees of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation and she received Senate confirmation in March 2010. 

Gwendolyn Boyd is an engineer and the Executive Assistant to the Chief of Staff at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Early in her career at APL, she was an analyst in the Strategic Systems Department that provided engineering teams to conduct independent analysis and operational performance evaluation of the Strategic Weapon System (SWS) on Polaris, Poseidon and Trident Submarines prior to deployment, during strategic deterrent patrols, and during operational follow-on operational testing.  This included developing estimates of performance factors, evaluation and determination of the readiness of individual SSBNs, and identification of SWS and subsystem issues to permit timely corrective action and effective system deployment.  Additionally as group software coordinator, she was responsible for analysis software development from concept evaluation to implementation. In addition to her current responsibilities at APL as Executive Assistant to the Chief of Staff she is also responsible for coordination and development of HBCU initiatives which includes the implementation of the APL Technology Leaders Summer Internship Program identifying students as ATLAS Scholars from HBCU/MIs and HSIs with 3.5 GPA or higher, who aspire to careers in Engineering or Computer Science.

Ms. Boyd serves by appointment from the President of Johns Hopkins University as a member of the Johns Hopkins Institutions Diversity Leadership Council since 1996 and  as Chair of the Council since 2001. Ms Boyd serves on the Advisory Council for the College of Engineering, Architecture, and Physical Science for Tuskegee University.  She is member of the Society of Women Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers and the Metropolitan Area Network of Minority Women in Science.  Additionally, Ms. Boyd is immediate past Chair and still currently serves on the Board of Directors of the APL Federal Credit Union.

Rev. Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd is an ordained itinerant elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  She serves on ministerial staff at Ebenezer A.M.E. Church in Fort Washington, Maryland. She earned her Master of Divinity degree with Honors from Howard University School of Divinity and earned her Doctorate in Ministry also at Howard University School of Divinity.

From 2000-2004 Gwendolyn Boyd served as the 22nd National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., an international service sorority with over 200,000 members in over 950 chapters throughout the world.

Ms. Boyd is a member of the Washington, D.C. Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc, the Capital City Chapter of The Links, Inc. and serves as National Chair for Education Across the Miles; a Life Member of NAACP; National Council of Negro Women; Alabama State University Alumni Association and the Association of Yale Alumni. 


Elton Dean

Elton Dean Sr. is the Chair of Alabama State University’s Board of Trustees. The Montgomery native graduated from George Washington Carver High School, he earned his Associate in Science from Selma University in 1969, Bachelor of Science in Business and Economics from Alabama State University in 1971, and completed his Real Estate Pre-License requirements for Real Estate Brokers from the American Real Estate Institute in 1995.
Dean serves as Chairman of the Montgomery County Commission. He initially was elected to the Commission in November 2000, was re-elected for a second term in 2004 and for a third term in 2008. He was elected Vice Chairman at the Commission's organizational meeting on November 9, 2004 and then elected to the position of Chairman in March 2009.
His career has included management positions at Western Electric, AT&T, and Lucent Technologies, Firestone Tire and Rubber Company.
An active and dedicated member of his community, Dean is married to the former Lillie Hardy and they have three children, Dawneese Bowen, Elton Dean Jr., and Brandon Dean.

Shannon Cloman

Shannon Cloman is a Program Manager at the Office of Personnel Management.  He has 20 years in workforce developments working with state, local and federal officials. He has more than 10 years in financial positions with state and federal government, charitable organizations, civic and church ministry.

A proud ASU graduate, Shannon and his wife, Kamaron reside in Silver Spring, MD and have a son Chandler.


Cassandra D. Duncan

Cassandra D. Duncan is Chief Operating Officer for Data Solutions & Technology Incorporated (DST). Data Solutions & Technology, headquartered in Lanham, Maryland, provides a full spectrum of professional services in Information Technology, Aviation Management, Logistics and Operations, Management Support, and Scientific and Technology Support that result in cost-effective solutions of strategic value to its customers and a rewarding work environment for its greatest assets, its employees.  DST provides support services to state and federal agencies as well as private industry clients by helping them to successfully manage, staff, develop, and operate their programs.  This emphasis on customer satisfaction has resulted in DST having over 200 Federal contracts and major task efforts and 250 employees worldwide.

Ms. Duncan joined DST in 2001, initially serving as Vice President of Contracts Administration where she coordinated, established and monitored the company’s contractual activities.  She was also responsible for corporate management functions of several large federal agency contracts for the organization.  Ms. Duncan was promoted to Chief Operating Officer (COO) in 2010 to establish a sharper focus on business execution and efficiency while gaining an edge in client relationships by more effectively aligning internal operations and technology teams.  She assumed responsibility for day-to-day operations and reports to the president and chief executive officer.

In her 32 years in the industry, Duncan has gained extensive knowledge in defense contracting and has a thorough command of management theories. She consistently applies quality improvement techniques to exceed quality standards.  Since 2007 DST has been certified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the world’s largest developer and publisher of International Standards.  Ms. Duncan conducts ISO internal process audits to ensure the company’s continued compliance with ISO standards of which DST was recertified in June 2010 for another three years (until 2013).  She has also led DST in achieving CMMI-SVC Maturity Level 3. CMMI was developed by government, industry and the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute (SEI), and is recognized as the standard for independent benchmarking within industry for maturity in critical technical and managerial processes.

Before joining DST in 2001 she worked at several companies in Huntsville, Ala. to include: Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc.; Barrios Technology Incorporated; New York Life Insurance Company; and USBI/UTC. Duncan has a multidisciplinary background; she has served in the capacity of systems analyst, programmer, auditor, accountant, program support manager, staff engineer, and operations engineer. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Alabama State University and her Masters of Administrative Science degree from the University of Alabama Huntsville. Duncan lives in Bowie, Md.


Bea Forniss

Bea Forniss serves as the Division Chief after serving as the Director of REAP (The Governor’s Resources and Economic Assistance Programs) at the Department of Economic and Community Affairs for the State of Alabama. Specifically she supervises the Renewal Communities Program, the Enterprise Zone Community Program, the Delta Regional Authority Program, the Minority Business Program, Housing Opportunities for people with AIDS, and provides technical assistance for Community and Economic Development projects in  distressed areas.

Bea is a native of Mobile, Alabama. She graduated in 1968 from Blount High School in Prichard, Alabama. She attended Mobile State Junior College (now Bishop State Community College) before transferring to Alabama State University (ASU). She graduated from Alabama State University in 1972, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Library Science. She completed her Master’s degree in Counseling from ASU in 1974.

Bea taught Public School for several years and also served as a School Counselor in the Lowndes County and Montgomery Public School system before leaving to work with the State of Alabama; at the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs as the Special Projects Director.

She is a member of several professional and community organizations. Some of these include: Alabama State Employees Association, Civil Justice Foundation, the Volunteer and Information Board, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Leadership Montgomery, Alabama State University’s Foundation, and the Montgomery Area United Way Board of Directors, just to name a few. She has won recognition with Economic Development components for the State of Alabama and has received numerous awards.

Bea spends the majority of her free time serving her alma mater as President of the Alabama State University National Alumni Association.  However, she still finds time to volunteer within her community, for these noble efforts, she has received numerous awards. Some of which include the Bishop Barron State Employee Public Service Award, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy Community Service Award, the Outstanding Women Award, Montgomery Advertiser Journal, the Commerce Young Woman Leadership Award, the 2013 Tullibody Award (ASU),  and the 2013 University of West Alabama Center for Business and Economic Services Director’s Award.  Bea takes pride in being a member of First Congregational Christian Church where she serves as Church Moderator, Sunday school teacher, and choir member.

Bea is happily married to Warden Leon Forniss, Staton Correctional Facility, and has two daughters; Dana F. Holmes and Taryn Francis; and two grandchildren.


Kathryn B. Freeland

Kathryn B. Freeland is Chief Executive Officer of A-TEK, Inc., a Maryland based company that provides enterprise solutions, services and staffing across multiple line of business in the areas of Information Technology, Homeland Security, Healthcare, Intelligence, Law Enforcement, and Life Sciences. Freeland is also Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Freeland & Associates, LLC, a consulting services firm whose focus is partnering with businesses in the areas of: executive advisory services, interim executive support, strategic planning/mapping, market analysis/penetration, financial/accounting management, business integration/transition, and business development.

A serial entrepreneur, she is also the Founder and Former Chief Executive Officer of RGII Technologies, Inc., an Information Technology, Systems Integration and Engineering Solutions Company who’s myriad of customers included nine presidential cabinet agencies of the federal government. Mrs. Freeland successfully built and sold RGII to Computer Horizons Corp in 2003. After fulfilling a three year transition period with Computer Horizons, she retired in 2006 from the brain child she started in a basement office in search of her next entrepreneurial venture, Freeland & Associates, LLC.

As the former CEO of RGII, Mrs. Freeland was directly responsible for developing goals, operating plans, and policies for the corporation and implementing board approved plans. She directed the company with a highly strategic business plan in order to optimize profits and return on invested capital. During her tenure as CEO, Mrs. Freeland played a vital role in business development, customer satisfaction, financial stability, and employee relations. Under Mrs. Freeland’s leadership, RGII more than tripled in size with revenue growing 4800% over an 11 year period. She looks to leverage that same success as she builds her latest entrepreneurial venture, A-TEK, Inc.

Prior to founding RGII, Mrs. Freeland spent over seven years supporting various Federal Government agencies in the areas of Financial, Information and Program Management Support. Mrs. Freeland is a visionary leader who has made her mark in the business community.

Mrs. Freeland holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Financial Management from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She published her first book, Navigating Your Way to Business Success: An Entrepreneur’s Journey which was released in July 2009.

A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Mrs. Freeland resides in Pasadena, Maryland with her husband of 27 years, R. Gregory Freeland, President of FI Holdings, Inc. and their 19 year old twin daughters: Brya Simone and Brynn Nicole. They are also the proud parents of one deceased son Richard Gregory II, for whom RGII Technologies, Inc. was named.


Cromwell Handy

Cromwell Handy is currently the Director of Alumni Relations at Alabama State University following a career with the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations (CI). An Honor Band and All-State Alternate trumpet player in high school, Handy was recruited on a music scholarship and attended ASU as a music major and a Mighty Marching Hornet. He changed his major to accounting and graduated with a BS Degree in Accounting in 1980. He has extensive training and acumen in Executive Leadership, Team Leadership and Media/ Business experience.

Handy began his IRS career as a Special Agent Coop Student in Mobile, Alabama and upon graduation was assigned as a Special Agent in Birmingham, Alabama. His management career began in Birmingham, AL as a Group Manager from August 1990 until June 1995. From 1978 to 2007, he was promoted to ever increasing responsibilities including Senior Analyst, Southeast Region, Atlanta, Georgia; Branch Chief, (Assistant Special Agent in Charge) North Florida District, Jacksonville, Florida; and Special Agent in Charge (SAC), Cincinnati Field Office where he was nominated for the Special Agent of the Year Award.

Handy retired in Washington, DC as the Director of Review & Program Evaluation (RPE). This National Office position had supervisory and management responsibility for the independent review of CI administrative and investigative operations including effective usage of Information Technology (IT) in all CI Field Offices nationwide. He was a recipient of the Albert Galatin Award (2007) which is named after the 4th United States Secretary of the Treasury and is the highest career service award given by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Throughout his career, Handy has been known as a coalition builder who specializes in transition, project coordination, problem solving through quality improvement processes, and motivational speaking. His achievements and servant-leadership activities include being the recipient of a Certificate of Proclamation from the Cincinnati, OH Mayor’s Office proclaiming October 22, 2003 as Cromwell A. Handy Day”. He held officer roles in the ASU NAA and in the Association for the Improvement of Minorities (AIM-IRS) in several city chapters; was a Keynote speaker for the “George F. Calloway Distinguished MLK Lecture Series” for Black History; Member in N.O.B.L.E (National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives), 100 Black Men of Montgomery and the NAACP; Community Representative of Mason City Schools Race Consortium and Diversity Council, Mason, OH ; and he is currently the pastor of the historic Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, AL.

Handy is married to Cynthia Johnson Handy, a Tuskegee University and ASU graduate, with two daughters, Candice, a 2008 ASU graduate, and Casey, a 2011 ASU graduate.


Charlie E. Hardy

Alabama State University alum (Class of 1962) Charlie E. Hardy is President and CEO of Centre for Excellence, LLC. A motivational speaker, he draws on his 40 years as a sales and marketing professional as he shares strategies on the art of engagement and the law of abundance. Mr. Hardy currently serves at the Chairman of the Faculty Senate at Alabama State University

A retired MetLife Senior Partner, Hardy is a Life Member of the Million Dollar Round Table and currently serves as Sam Walton Fellow and Professor of Marketing and Management at Alabama State University. Hardy received his Master of Arts Degree in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix in 2005.

Community service plays a strong role in Hardy’s life. He serves in the following capacities: Secretary Board of Deacons Greenwood Missionary Baptist Church, Sunday school Teacher, Music Worship Leader/Senior Choir Director, Chairman Church Web Ministry, 33rd Degree Mason and Shriner, Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and Life Member of NAACP-Economic Consultant Macon County Chapter.

Hardy is married to the former Lillie Curry, retired Media Specialist. He has two children, a son, Randall Charles Hardy and a daughter Christa Valencia Hardy, Ph.D.


William H. Harris

Dr. William H. Harris' career in higher education is both long and distinguished. He is a well renowned academician who has contributed to his field of study as a historian and served the higher education community as the president and chief executive officer for both public and private post-secondary institutions.

After studying and completing his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in history at Indiana University, Dr. Harris began his professional educational career at Indiana University as an assistant professor of history. He quickly rose through the ranks to become a full professor of history as well as the associate dean of Indiana University’s graduate school and director of its minority fellowships program. Harris also was a Fulbright Professor and visiting professor of history at the University of Hamburg, Germany from 1977 to 1978.

At the age of 37, Dr. Harris assumed the presidency of Paine College in 1982, becoming one of the youngest college presidents ever appointed at that time. He served as the college’s chief executive officer for six years and subsequently led Texas Southern University as its president from 1988 to 1993.

In 1994, Dr. Harris came to Alabama State University as its tenth president and served with distinction until his retirement in 2000. Never one to shirk the call to serve, he briefly left retirement in 2005 to assume the role of interim president at Fort Valley State University and did the same thing in 2008 when he assumed the presidency of Texas College.

Awards, distinctions and accolades have been bestowed upon Dr. Harris during his many years as an educational leader. Such honors include being named a Distinguished Son of Fitzgerald, Georgia, his birthplace, one of only 10 individuals so honored during the city’s centennial celebration; recipient (with his wife Wanda) of a Trustees Special Leadership Award from the Paine College board of trustees; recipient of the Alumni Association Charles G. Gomillion Award; recipient of honorary Doctor of Laws and Doctor of Humanities degrees and recipient of the Trustees Special Service Award from Paine College. Harris also has been recognized by Indiana University with its Distinguished Alumni Service Award, the highest honor an alumnus can receive. He was also designated as one of the Fifty Most Influential Black Georgians.

Dr. Harris is the author of two books: Keeping the Faith: A. Phillip Randolph, Milton P. Webster, and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, published in 1977 and reissued in 1991 by the University of Illinois Press; and the Harder We Run: Black Workers Since the Civil War, published in 1982 by Oxford University Press.

Dr. Harris is married to Wanda Fillmore Harris and the couple has two children, Cynthia and William J. Harris.


Brenda Brown Hunter

Brenda Brown Hunter is the Science Advisor in the Office of Defense Programs at the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). She assists the Deputy Administrator in directing the Stockpile Stewardship Program (SSP) which is responsible for maintaining the safety, security, and reliability of the Nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile. The NNSA’s nuclear weapons complex includes three national research laboratories, the Nevada Test Site, and four production plants. Ms. Hunter is the representative on the Science Council for all of the production plants. NNSA approximately $5.2 billion program, with over 25,000 people around the country, encompasses operations associated with manufacturing, maintaining, refurbishing, and dismantling the nuclear weapons stockpile. Defense Programs also provides oversight and direction of the research, development, and engineering support to maintain the safety and reliability of the nuclear weapons stockpile in the absence of underground testing, and assures the capability for maintaining the readiness to test and develop new warheads, if required.

Prior to her current duties at NNSA, Ms. Hunter served as the NNSA Headquarter Liaison for Y-12 where she coordinated all flow of information regarding Y-12 nuclear operations to NNSA and Department of Defense officials and to the United States Congress.

Ms. Hunter has held prior positions as Director of Internal Audit at Y-12 in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Vice President of Internal Audit and Ethics on the Yucca Mountain Project in Las Vegas, Nevada; Project Manager and Auditor in the Office of the Inspector General at the Tennessee Valley Authority in Knoxville, Tennessee; and Auditor/Evaluator of the United States General Accounting Office in Huntsville, Alabama. In addition, Ms. Hunter has been a successful entrepreneur by owning her own travel agency.

Ms. Hunter holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Alabama State University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Tennessee. Among numerous other awards, she is most proud to have received the Levi Watkins President’s Award while attending Alabama State University. She is the recipient of the 2008 YWCA Tribute to Women in Business and Government award. Her talents and drive are visible within the organizations she serves. She expends her energy and leverages her network of contacts to raise funds to support the mission of organizations such as the American Cancer Society and United Way. Brenda Brown Hunter can be summarized as a real person of compassion and deep desire to effect positive impacts on her community and its citizens.

Ms. Hunter takes great pride in her relationship with her lifelong partner and friend, James Hunter and her children James Jr. (Jay) and Dana Lynn. Jay is in the United States Navy and Dana works for the NNSA as a Site Office Liaison in Washington, DC.


Beverly Johnson

Gospel Artist Beverly Johnson is known for her evangelistic, anointed voice throughout the Northern Virginia, DC, and Maryland area. She is known for setting the atmosphere for praise and worship through song. She is the Founder and Minister of Music for My Praise, My Worship Music & Arts Ministry, which consists of singing, praise dancing, sign language and mime. Bev Johnson, My Praise, My Worship Music & Arts Ministry annually host a “Praise and Worship” workshop and concert featuring top college gospel choirs including Virginia Commonwealth University Black Awakening Gospel Choir, Virginia State University Gospel Choir and Howard Gospel Choir of Howard University along with dynamic gospel artist amongst the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia, and Maryland area.

In 2011, Bev Johnson created a scholarship called the “Bev Johnson My Praise, My Worship Music & Arts Scholarship” presented to high school seniors who showed commendable service and leadership to the Northern Virginia Community. In 2012, Beverly released her first Christmas single “Have Yourself a Merry Christmas with a Little Love and Jazz”. Beverly’s sophomore CD entitled “A Soulful Praise” is due to be released in 2014. To learn more about Beverly, visit her website www.bevjohnsonmypraise.com.


John Knight

Alabama State University alum Dr. John Knight has served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Alabama State University since 1993.

He is also a distinguished member of the Alabama State House of Representatives where he serves as a member of the following legislative committees: Health, Montgomery County Legislation, Subcommittee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Health Care Costs and the Ways and Means General Fund.

Representative Knight received his B.S., with Honors, in Business Administration from Alabama State University and holds an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Alabama A&M University.

Knight is on the Board of Directors for the Kershaw YMCA, the Montgomery Housing Authority, the Montgomery Improvement Association, the Southern Development Council, Inc., and the Cleveland Avenue YMCA. Additionally he is the Chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Conference.

Knight is the father of two, Tamara and Tehrik.

Kimberly Marcus

Kimberly Marcus was appointed in July 2012 to serve as Associate Director for the Office of Legislative, Education & Intergovernmental Affairs (OLEIA) at the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). In this capacity, she leads all Agency efforts in the areas of communications, public affairs, external relationships, outreach, research, and policy development. She also oversees the Agency's relationships with elected officials, as well as its advocacy and outreach strategies. Mrs. Marcus focuses primarily on stakeholder outreach, with an emphasis on global business development. Fortune 500 stakeholders, both domestic and international, are key to her outreach methodology.

Mrs. Marcus comes to MBDA with over 15 years of combined experience in both the corporate and non-profit worlds, having concentrated in the areas of public policy and corporate, community, and media relations. She also brings outstanding capabilities in the areas of strategic planning, economic and business development, fundraising, and corporate philanthropy. Mrs. Marcus has been responsible for building new territories, managing projects, and increasing profits and revenues through creative marketing initiatives. A special emphasis on diversity and inclusiveness is the hallmark of Mrs. Marcus’s professional life.

Prior to her appointment with MBDA, Mrs. Marcus was National African American Outreach Director for the Democratic National Committee (DNC). In this high-profile role, she worked closely with the African American community to emphasize the importance of the African American vote.

Mrs. Marcus considered her position as Director of Economic Development for the NAACP to be an exciting turning point in her career, as it gave her the chance to tackle issues of immediate relevance to equal opportunity for people of color. In this position she was responsible for conducting research on over fifty-five Fortune 500 companies, in accordance with the NAACP’s Economic Reciprocity Initiative. She streamlined and targeted the efforts of companies in five different industries, enabling them to better reach diversity initiative goals. Mrs. Marcus also managed research initiatives that focused on impediments to minority access to economic resources.

A native of Oakland, California, Mrs. Marcus holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Marketing from Clark Atlanta University. She is happily married, with a twin son and daughter.


James McNeil

James McNeil is the President of the McNeil Family Foundation and formerly the Chief Executive Officer of McNeil Technologies. He is a resident of the City of Alexandria, Virginia and holds a degree from Alabama State University and an M.B.A. degree from Averett University.





Juliette McNeil

Juliette McNeil was born in Birmingham, Alabama. She is a 1975 graduate of Alabama State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and Economics. She is also a graduate of the Federal Executive Institute.

Ms. McNeil had a very distinguished and impressive career with the Federal Government attaining a GS-15 at the age of 38 (Navy Computer and Telecommunication Command), and was selected as a member of the Senior Executive Service in her 40s (Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)). During her career she received numerous awards and commendations for outstanding service and was recognized by President George W. Bush for exceptional service to the EPA. As the EPA Director, Office of Financial Management, Ms. McNeil was responsible for the financial management infrastructure (i.e., accounting system; payroll system; cost accounting system; financial management policies and procedures; Superfund Cost Recovery; and financial reporting, including the financial statement audit) to support an $8 billion annual budget. She retired from the EPA in 2004, missing her goal of retiring at 50 by only 8 months.

In her private life she is devoted and committed to the community, with a special interest in helping children. She serves on the Trustee Board of Hopkins House (HH), a learning center for children ages 5 weeks to 5 years old, and on the HH Budget and Personnel Policy Committee. Ms. McNeil also is an active member of the historic Alfred Street Baptist Church (ASBC) and currently serves as an officer on the ASBC Nominating Committee, which is responsible for selecting candidates for select church leadership positions. She is also the former Vice Chair of the ASBC Trustee Board and former Chair of the ASBC College Ministry. Ms. McNeil is also honored to serve as a volunteer in First Lady Michelle Obama’s Correspondence Office, and recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Northern Virginia Urban League.

In 1976 Ms. McNeil married her husband James L. McNeil, also an ASU graduate, and is the proud mother of a 29 year old daughter, Ashley.


MG Robert L. Nabors

MG Robert L. Nabors, US Army, Retired MG Nabors is an Executive Advisor within the Booz Allen Hamilton’s Defense market and he supports the US Army account, the firm’s largest and most geographically dispersed. His focus areas are Information Technology; Command & Control (C2); Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR); and Cyber.  

Among Nabors foremost responsibilities are to assist in the development of market strategies; the management of key client relationships; the identification, shaping and pursuit of business opportunities; the interpretation of DOD and Army policy; the correlation of Army requirements with our firm’s cutting edge technological innovations; and to assist with proposal development and promulgation. Prior to his tenure at Booz Allen he served for six years as a senior Vice President and Director at Electronic Data Systems, Inc. (EDS), and was successively responsible for managing federal civilian, Homeland Security and Army accounts. 

MG Nabors has been an Information Technology professional for more than 46 years—35 years within the military and 11 years in the private sector. Nabors served as the   Commanding General of the US Army Communications Electronics Command, the Army’s premier IT research and development, enterprise project management, software maintenance, and logistics support organization. As the Commanding General of 5th Signal Command in Europe, he lead the IT operation and maintenance support to a combined US military, US Department of State, and a NATO customer base of more than one hundred thousand military and civilians located throughout Europe. While serving in this capacity, Nabors played a pivotal role in planning and executing communications support to the 37 nations involved in enforcing the Dayton Peace Accords—at the time, the most complex communications mission ever undertaken by the US Army. Nabors was also the first director of Pentagon IT Services and Single Agency Manager. Nabors oversaw the architectural design, engineering and implementation of the massive IT/C4ISR modernization, as part of the Pentagon’s historic renovation and which proved so vitally important in ensuring continuous command and control following the attack on the Pentagon on 9-11. Nabors also served as the Deputy Commander, White House Communications Agency in support of the President of the United States and White House staff. Nabors has been the recipient of scores of prestigious military, civilian and corporate awards—and most recently was selected as a 2011 recipient of the Fed 100 Award by Federal Computer Week.

Nabors is a graduate of: the University of Arizona with a BS degree in Systems Engineering; the University of Southern California with an MS degree in Systems Management; Senior Fellow, at the JFK School of Government, Harvard University; National Security Program, Harvard University; and numerous military educational programs. He is a member of Mensa.  

Rita A. Knight-Smith

Rita A. Knight-Smith is a native of Evergreen Alabama.  She graduated from Evergreen High School in 1982 and was accepted to Alabama State University.  Rita graduated Cum Laude from ASU in 1986 with a degree in Criminal Justice. She relocated to New York immediately after graduation from Alabama State University and began her career as a teacher in a private elementary school.  After working there for a year she took a position with the New York City Human Resources Administration as a Casemanager.  In 1994 Rita became Program Director at the Harlem Children’s Zone, Inc. under the leadership of Geoffrey Canada and remained there until 2003. She was selected by former Deputy Chancellor, Michele Cahill, to be part of a New York City Department of Education initiative called the Office for Family Engagement and Advocacy. Rita’s role while with this initiative has been Parent Support Officer, District Family Advocate and is now the Borough Family Advocate working alongside the Manhattan High School Superintendent helping to promote parent leadership amongst parents of high school students and working to resolve issues within the schools.

Rita participated in a Criminal Justice Graduate Program at John Jay College in Manhattan and was a 2000 recipient of the Charles H. Revson Fellowship Program at Columbia University where she received $19,000 and a free year of study at the university.  She took Law Courses during that year.  Rita became an author in 2000 writing The Anything is Possible Guide for Single Moms.  Rita has done book signings and workshops related to the book in Miami Florida, Charleston SC, New Jersey and New York.  She has also appeared on the WBLS radio station morning show discussing the book.

Rita enjoys singing and has done back up with the McDonald’s Gospel Choir for such artists as Donnie McClurkin, Vickie Winans and was in the cast of, “Your Arms are too Short to Box with God”, featuring Sissy Houston at Westminster College.  Rita was also a cast member of the recent stage play, “The Potter” which appeared at the world famous Apollo in November 2010 featuring Melba Moore and Gospel Recording Artist Twinkie Clark of the Clark Sisters.
Rita is a member of Pi Pi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. in Westbury, New York where she has held an executive board office for almost four years.  She is the President of the New York Metro Chapter of the Alabama State University National Alumni Association and the Northeast Regional Director of the ASU/NAA, both positions she has also held proudly close to four years.  She was honored by the New York Metro Chapter in 2005 at their annual scholarship luncheon.           

Rita married Keith Smith in September 2012 and they reside in New York City.  They are the proud parents of three boys Justin, Keith and Kevin all of whom are college students in the State of New York. She attends the New Frontier Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York where she sings with the Voices of Praise Young Adult Choir and is very active in the church.

Janet Harris Sutton

Janet is a retiree from International Business Machines (IBM) where she held positions in marketing for more than 25 years. Many of the positions held were in marketing management, market program management, regional/district program management and new product program announcement administration. After retiring from IBM, Janet became a part-time teacher at Malcolm X Shabazz High School in Newark, NJ.

Janet is the current Chair of The Alabama State University Foundation, Inc. Board of Directors. However, working with the National Alumni Association, Inc. of Alabama State University has been her primary community service activity. She was the first female to become national president and the first president to serve four terms. Other recent community service programs include community team leader for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life of Henry County, GA., and neighborhood team leader – on the ground team – for President Barack Obama from 2008-2012. She is also an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated. Janet’s primary project is Career Day with Alumni at ASU. For the past 19 years, she has been successful in securing alumni from across the country to return to ASU once a year to participate and speak with students about their education, career and network opportunities.

Janet believes in order for one to become successful and be a self-supporting contributing member of society, you must be prepared. To support this philosophy, Janet established several scholarships at ASU to assist financially challenged students. Additionally, she was the first person in her chapter to establish a program to bring students from New York City to the ASU Connection Day.

Janet grew up in Montgomery, Alabama where she graduated from Alabama State Teachers College Laboratory High School. She attained her BS degree from Alabama State Teachers College, now known as Alabama State University, and her MBA degree from Fordham University in New York, NY.

She has received numerous awards for her volunteerism and remains active in several community-based organizations. Janet is married to Willie L. Sutton, an ASU alumnus and a native of Gadsden, Al.  Janet and Willie spend time enjoying golf, tennis and traveling.

Darius Thomas

Darius Thomas is a bright and gifted individual purposed with a vision to motivate others and inspire optimistic change in the world today. Born in Upper Marlboro, MD, Darius is the second child of his parents, Oatice and Deborah Thomas. Under their teachings, and from a young age, it was instilled in Darius that he was going to be someone great. Moreover, such greatness would require a strong educational foundation and only the experience from the esteemed and prestigious Alabama State University would do. From the time he traveled to his first Turkey Day Classic, he knew “It was a great time to be a Hornet.”

During his time at Alabama State University, Darius acquired the skills necessary that would serve him well on his journey to success. Darius majored in Accounting, and was heavily involved in campus organizations and activities. He was a member of the Golden Ambassadors, Phi Beta Lambda Business Fraternity, House Arrest 2 Championship Dance Team Inc., Students in Free Enterprise, and the ASU Mascot. Darius quickly honed his skills in leadership and business. These relationships culminated in many community service events, programs, and campus forums that fostered an undying love for his colleagues and campus community at large. 

As a graduate of the spring 2013 class, Darius is a program analyst for government contracting firm, Data Solutions & Technology Inc., and is working with Operations & Technology to build its infrastructure. He credits his parent’s unwavering support and Alabama State University’s teachings for his business and leadership skills and for cultivating an enduring perseverance in him. In the near future, Darius plans to further his education by obtaining a masters in accounting and becoming a certified public accountant. Darius also plans to pioneer future entrepreneurial endeavors, allowing his personal motto to lead the way, “Put your all into what you do and always finish what you start.”

Deborah Scott Thomas

In 1994, Deborah Scott Thomas founded Data Solutions & Technology Incorporated (DST). DST, headquartered in Lanham, Maryland, provides a full spectrum of professional services in Information Technology, Aviation Management, Logistics and Operations, Management Support, and Scientific and Technology Support, which result in cost-effective solutions of strategic value to our customers and a rewarding work environment for our greatest assets, our employees. DST provides support services to state and federal agencies as well as private industry clients by helping them to successfully manage, staff, develop, and operate their programs.

As president and chief executive officer, Ms. Thomas provides leadership, supervision, and program direction for all phases of business development – from identification of opportunities through satisfactory completion of customer's requirements. The company's clients include a who's who of federal agencies to include the Defense Logistics Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, Defense Information Systems Agency, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, Drug Enforcement Agency, Department of Energy, Department of Treasury, and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. Deborah Scott Thomas' philosophy is “Vision of Excellence,” which is based on making customer satisfaction her number one priority. As a result, DST has over 250 employees.

Deborah Scott Thomas is a native of Montgomery, Alabama. She graduated from Alabama State University (ASU) with a bachelor of science in accounting and management in 1974. She received her United States Air Force commission as a second lieutenant from ASU's Detachment 019 in 1975. She earned a master's in public administration in 1977 from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Ms. Thomas retired as a Colonel from the United States Air Force Reserve, having served her country for three decades. She has worked for Fortune 100 companies as well as small businesses. She is a recipient of numerous awards and recognitions including: the National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees (NBCFAE) Eleanor J. Williams Bronze Eagle Award; the Legacy of Leadership Award from Spelman College; the Lifetime Achievement Award from The Center for HBCU Media Advocacy, Inc; and the Distinguished Hornet Entrepreneurial Award from the ASU National Alumni Association, Inc. Philadelphia Chapter.   She was also the first recipient of the Silhouette of Service Award from ASU”s College of Business Administration and she was named one of The Network Journal’s 25 Influential Black Women in 2011.  Her overall combination of ongoing education, significant training, extensive business background, high personal standard of ethics and limitless enthusiasm forms the cornerstone of DST and its winning formula for “Developing Solutions for Tomorrow.”

Ms. Thomas is married to Oatice Thomas, President and CEO of Operations & Technology Incorporated, and has three sons.

Oatice Thomas

Oatice Thomas is president and chief executive officer of Operations & Technology Incorporated (OTI) in Annapolis, MD.  Oatice graduated from Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM) with a Bachelor of Science in marketing and was commissioned as a United States Air Force second lieutenant from Alabama State University’s ROTC in 1978.  He earned a Master’s of Science degree in public administration in 1986 from Troy State Europe.  Oatice served in the United States Air Force from 1978 – 1990.  His duties included serving as a logistics officer supporting the 66th Electronic Combat Wing and the 5th Combat Communications Group and a missile combat crew commander.   He received numerous awards to include the Air Force Commendation Medal and Armed Forces Humanitarian Medal.

Mr. Thomas dreamed of serving in the military and owning his own businesses. As he commented, “ASU provides you with the tools, and helps you understand how to use them, to successfully meet the challenges of being a commissioned military officer and business owner.  Both, ASU’s College of Business Administration and ROTC programs are invaluable to my success.”  Today, OTI is performing contracts with the Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, Defense Logistics Agency, Department of Transportation, Department of Energy, Defense Intelligence Agency, and Office of Naval Research.  Most of his work is focused on supporting our military troops state-side and overseas in accomplishing our nation’s mission.

Mr. Thomas is actively engaged in community outreach and believes in giving back.  He volunteers for the March of Dimes, Big Brother Big Sister of America, and the Salvation Army.  He is a board member for the March of Dimes National Chapter and is the National Volunteer Liaison for Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and the March of Dimes.  He also is the fraternity’s National Walk team chairperson.

Oatice Thomas and his wife, Deborah Scott Thomas, are both ASU graduates committed to their alma mater and are life members of ASU National Alumni Association. They were honored to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award (2009) during the 30th NAA Biennial Convention and the ASU Outstanding Alumni Award (2008) and Black and Gold Standards Award (2009) during Founders’ Day ceremonies.  Mr. and Mrs. Thomas have also launched a major drive to raise $7 million dollars for Alabama State University. The Thomas have three sons and their second son, Darius, is an ASU 2013 graduate.  These proud ASU parents are often communicating with campus members volunteering to work with faculty, staff, and students.

Reginald K. Thornton

Reginald K. Thornton is an internationally known Fitness and Wellness Pro, Motivational Speaker, and President of Sweat-N-Go, LLC.  In addition to providing fitness/wellness consulting to men and women of all ages for almost two decades, he has coached football, basketball and track at the high school level.

He was the co-host of the health and exercise television show “Gospelrobics” which aired for five years on Howard University Television (WHUT Channel 32) in Washington D.C., the Black Family Channel, the Word Network, WRCX Channel 40 in Dayton, Ohio, and was featured in an African-American television documentary in Paris, France and Germany. 

Reginald is also in collaboration with the Oklahoma State WIC and the University of Oklahoma and starred in the exercise DVD “Regie and the Veggies.”  A children’s exercise DVD created to fight childhood obesity by encouraging activity among children.

An All-American Masters Track and Field Athlete, Reginald won the Silver Medal in the 60 meter hurdles at the 2009 U.S. Masters Indoor Track and Field Championships.  He also is the Fitness Instructor for the Wellness-4-Life Student and Faculty Fitness Program at Prince George’s Community College in Kettering, MD.

Reginald believes that “Activity Produces Longevity”, and that “Something leads to Something Else and Nothing leads to Nothing Else.”


Erick Wright

A native of Birmingham, AL, Erick Wright graduated from Ramsay High School in 1976.  After high school, he entered Alabama State University (ASU) and received his bachelor’s degree in journalism communications in 1980.  While enrolled, Wright was a member of the Mighty Marching Hornets Band where he played saxophone and was a three-year drum major, including co-head drum major in his senior year.  In addition, he was a member of Kappa Kappa Psi Honorary Band Fraternity and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. 

After positions as the Public Relations/Sports Information Director at Miles College in Birmingham and Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, Wright returned to ASU as the Sports Information Director from 1984 to 1986. 

Since 1986, Wright has been employed as a federal government employee with positions as a Public Affairs Officer and U.S. Treasury Bond Officer across the country.   He is currently employed as a Federal Investigator. 

Mr. Wright resides in Atlanta, GA where he serves as President of the ASU Metro Atlanta Alumni Chapter. 



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