Thirty people were honored at the annual Black Achievers in Industry Awards dinner recently in Adam’s Mark Hotel.
It was the 40th year for the event, which provides an opportunity for business, civic and religious organization to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions in career and community endeavors.
The 2012 honorees are:
• Jonathan Abrams, an information management analyst for HSBC Bank USA, began at the bank 21 years ago as a telephone customer service representative. While working full time and advancing into management positions, he earned an accelerated master’s of business administration degree from Medaille College and has earned several honors for his work, including HSBC Bank USA’s CEO Award.
• Ina Rebecca Doss-Chapman, the founder of the Western New York Health Information Network, worked for more than 30 years in cancer care locally. Now she serves as a consultant for preventive care and illnesses that affect African-Americans and minority communities around the world. The wife of Minister Michael Chapman, pastor of St. John Baptist Church, she also is partner with her husband in The Blessed of The Lord Ministry, a production company that produces religious plays, concerts and other events.
• Stacey M. Cheatom, an assistant vice president in the Alternative Banking Department at M&T Bank, manages the bank’s online applications for deposits, loans and credit cards. In 2010, she became a founding member and the first WNY chapter president of the bank’s African-American Resource Group. She has involved the group in Buffalo’s annual Juneteenth Festival and coordinated the bank’s first Black History Month events this year.
• Dr. Johnnie Q. Edwards, at age 81, is one of the area’s senior pastors. Founder of the Upper Room Church of God in Christ in 1958, he has served in various district and national offices for the church and has helped many pastors and missionaries in their ministries. Honored several years ago when a street was named for him, he currently is first administrative assistant to COGIC’s bishop of the New York Central Jurisdiction.
• Myrna L. Eldridge, a systems analyst and programmer for KeyBank for 19 years, is active in her community in many ways. She leads a team of volunteers for KeyBank’s Neighbors Make the Difference Day every spring and is an active member of the Street Synergy Community Association, which is dedicated to improving Buffalo’s University District. For more than 10 years, she also has served as a member and treasurer of the Rounds Avenue Association, a block club-based community organization.
• Yolanda M. Fields began her banking career in 2000 and is a commercial loan administrator and banking officer at First Niagara Bank with a passion for volunteer work. Within the bank, she’s chairwoman of First Niagara’s Employee Volunteer Council in the Western New York region and manages the council’s efforts throughout the company. She also has been a team captain for Brush Up Buffalo for the past six years, is a volunteer coordinator for Garden Walk Buffalo and coordinates First Niagara’s Adopt-a-Family program with St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy and other agencies.
• Betty Pitts-Foster, with her late husband, Frederick Foster, started the Buffalo Track & Field Classic, a track meet for children ages 5 to 18, and has helped keep it alive since his death in 2009. Retired after 25 years with the state Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities, she has moved to the professional level as an artist and is now with the Buffalo Arts Studio.
• Wayne J. Galloway, a 25-year employee of Belmont Housing Resources, has brought more than 250 projects from feasibility studies to completion since his promotion to rehabilitation specialist in 1994. A graduate of Bowie State College in Maryland, he began with Belmont as an inspector, making sure that rental properties met federal standards.
• Latisa “Lisa” Hall-Brown earned an associate’s degree in nursing from Erie Community College and, encouraged by her mother, went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Roberts Wesleyan College. After nine years as a nursing assistant at Millard Fillmore Hospital, she became a registered nurse and joined the staff at Buffalo Psychiatric Center. Currently supervisor of the center’s clinic, she also is in charge of several other programs.
• Jennifer L. Hamilton, a senior department administrator at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, has had a long and varied career in health care. Beginning as a secretary at Buffalo General Hospital, she advanced to supervisor of ambulatory services, manager of patient access and office supervisor. After completing bachelor’s and master’s degrees with honors at Medaille College, she went on to serve as assistant administrator at Buffalo’s Northwest Community Health Care Center and a manager at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center before joining Roswell Park.
• Kevin T. Harris Sr., who joined the Buffalo Fire Department in 1985, earned an award for reviving a fire victim and is certified as an emergency medical technician and a CPR instructor. He served for two years as an assistant fire alarm dispatcher and became a lieutenant in 2009. Currently, he is the department’s planning officer assigned to Fire Headquarters.
• Christine Herring, a public safety records specialist for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority police, maintains all of the department’s arrest and incident records, as well as its payroll, and acts as liaison between the department and the courts. NFTA Police Chief George Gast describes her as “indispensable.” She earned a degree in human services from Empire State College in 2010.
• Timothy R. Hogues was elected to the Erie County Legislature last November, representing the 1st District in Buffalo. A graduate of the University at Buffalo with a degree in business administration, he is vice president of Investors Committed to Excellence, which assists potential homeowners, and received his license in May to become a minister at Elim Christian Fellowship.
• Dr. Frances Ilozue, who just completed the fifth year of her practice at Rapha Family Medicine, 2200 Main St., is a native of Nigeria who completed her medical studies in St. Petersburg, Russia. Before coming to Buffalo, she held positions in Enugu and Lagos in Nigeria. An active member at Bethesda World Harvest International Church, she advises young adults interested in health care careers and gives health tips monthly on the church’s radio show on WUFO.
• Eric Johnson is an up-and-coming entrepreneur who discovered a new opportunity while trying to solve a business problem. Purchasing several properties for extra income about 10 years ago, he was dismayed by the high cost of trash removal and bought his own dump truck, intending to sell it when cleanup was finished. Realizing he could use bigger trucks to dispose of more trash at a lower price, he founded Big Trash Removal, left his factory job and has been working full time for his own company since 2006.
• Talisa King, program manager for the Willie Hutch Jones Educational & Sports Program for more than five years, has worked with youth as an advocate and mentor in many ways. In her previous position with CAO of Erie County, she created daily programs for youth and was liaison with the Buffalo schools for home instruction. She also is a youth detention worker for Erie County, an adviser for families with behavioral and substance abuse problems, and a certified foster parent.
• Veronica Leverette, who was honored by Kaleida Health in 2007 with the Outstanding Staff Nurse Award and named a “Nurse of Distinction,” has worked in various nursing specialties, including oncology, gynecology and hospice. A nursing graduate of D’Youville College and currently a medical surgical nurse with Kaleida, she was recognized for her mentoring work in an article in The Buffalo News and last year appeared on the cover of Nurses Network magazine.
• Rev. Dr. James A. Lewis III, director of pastoral care at Erie County Medical Center, is unafraid to reach out to those suffering from addictions, AIDS or the difficulties of life. Recently, he made the major move of leaving the African Methodist Episcopal Conference to form the new Miracle Missions Full Gospel Church at 406 Sycamore St.
• Esinash Mangena, who has been with Univera Healthcare for 13 years, is key to maintaining the company’s workflow as a lead project analyst. She also is co-chairwoman of the Women & Empowerment Network, an employee resource group, leads its meetings and oversees its event programming.
• Tara N. McCarter, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Medaille College, has worked in various staff positions with the Buffalo Board of Education for the past 14 years and is active in Elim Christian Fellowship Church. The niece of City Judge E. Jeannette Ogden, she plans to earn a doctorate in management from the University at Buffalo.
• Robin L. Moody-Loggans, a project manager for the construction company LPCiminelli, has played a role in many parts of the $1 billion Buffalo school reconstruction project. She has overseen the renovation of several schools, including the former B.U.I.L.D. Academy, where she once was a student. Currently, she is working on the renovation of the Dr. Charles Drew Science Magnet School. In 2000, she had the honor of being the first bride to be married in St. Martin De Porres Church – another project she had overseen.
• Dr. Melissa Neal grew up in Plano, Texas, earned her bachelor’s degree in biology in three years at Washington University, earned her medical degree in Pennsylvania and studied to become an ophthalmologist in Michigan. After practicing for three years in Cleveland, she now offers eye care and minimally invasive cosmetic surgery at Twenty 20 Eye Care & Aesthetic Medicine.
• Robert Otis, a member of the staff at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo for 25 years, has been nominated for the hotel’s associate of the month award every year and was honored as Associate of the Year in 1997. A steward, he works mostly behind the scenes, where his devotion to excellence inspires his co-workers.
• Gary Ransom, a banquet setup supervisor at Adam’s Mark Hotel, credits his wife, Keionna, with helping him escape the lure of the streets and follow a positive path. The father of six children, ages 1 to 16, he attended Bryant & Stratton Business Institute and earned a welding certificate from Quality Inspection Service. He and his family attend Mount Olive Baptist Church.
• Douglas R. Ruffin Jr., who has worked in local radio and television for almost 20 years, currently is master control operator at WUTV and WNYO-TV. He is the owner of Urban Legacy Filmworks, an independent multimedia company, and is the host and producer of his own show on WUFO 1080 AM, “The Neo Soul Movement.” He also is president of the B.U.I.L.D. Academy Alumni Association and is the curator of the Community Images Multimedia Traveling Exhibit, which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary next year.
• Rayshad D. Russell, who’s just 27, has shown exceptional drive since he was a scholar-athlete at Bennett High School. A job at a service station led to a position at an auto parts chain store, where he racked up top sales as assistant store manager. Earning a degree in business from Erie Community College, he became a teller at Citizens Bank and quickly rose to become Jefferson Avenue branch manager, where he also is a sales leader. Currently pursing a degree in management at Medaille College, he is on the dean’s list. Also an accomplished musician, he teaches students at Stepping Stone Charter School how to play an African drum, the jembe.
• David Clarence Scott, the diversity program manager at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, was told he was “not college material” by his high school guidance counselor. He went on to become a National Dean’s List student at Potsdam State College and was also selected to study abroad in Sweden. Teaching and working in human relations after college, he also has earned a master’s degree in human resource development.
• Rev. Betty Pierce-Williams, assistant pastor at Elim Christian Fellowship, acknowledged her call to the ministry in 1984 while she was serving as a supply sergeant in the Air Force. Licensed to preach in the African Methodist Episcopal Church the following year, she has been a campus minister at the University at Buffalo and lecturer at UB’s Educational Opportunity Center. Ordained in 1998, she now serves as dean of the Sound of the Genuine Biblical Institute, which prepares candidates for the ministry, and has completed course work toward a master of divinity degree at Northeastern Seminary.
• Tonja M. Williams was named principal of Futures Academy School 37 a year ago and has worked tirelessly to introduce new programs, establish outside partnerships and improve academic achievement. Previously she was a counselor at all grade levels in the Buffalo Public Schools and was director of the district’s guidance and counseling department. A graduate of Medaille College, she earned her doctorate in educational leadership from St. John Fisher College.
• Dennis A. Wilson Jr. graduated at the top of his class at Riverside High School and played Division I basketball at Canisius College. Now a high school history teacher and basketball coach in the Buffalo Public Schools, in 2001 he founded King of Spades Graphics, one of the area’s top urban design companies, and last year became co-owner of The Oakk Room Restaurant in Buffalo.