Four More Leaders Join NC Black Entrepreneurship Council | WRAL TechWire

by Special — October 3, 2023 .

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DURHAM – NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic empowerment in North Carolina, announced today that the North Carolina Black Entrepreneurship Council (NC BEC) has elected four new members: André Blackman of Raleigh-Durham; Carrie Cook of Charlotte; Jamila Davis of Charlotte; and J. Hackett of Asheville.

The four newest Council members join twenty-one members who were re-elected for a second term. NC IDEA has empowered this select group of entrepreneurs, university dignitaries, and community leaders, who have formed around the collective vision to build a more equitable future by creating grant programs to build wealth in the Black community.

“We are fortunate to have the expertise and altruistic support of these individuals in furthering the mission of the Council,” said Thom Ruhe, President and CEO of NC IDEA. “NC IDEA has placed its trust in the NC BEC to guide our efforts to combat the historical inequalities in economic development,” Ruhe added.

Recently, NC IDEA marked the three-year anniversary of the NC BEC which has awarded more than $2 million in grants since the Council’s formation in August 2020.

The four newest members of the NC BEC include:

André Blackman (Raleigh-Durham) is the Founder and CEO of Onboard Health, a specialized executive search and advisory firm focused on creating a more inclusive workforce to power an equitable future of health. Over the last 15 years, Blackman has been at the intersection of healthcare, innovation, and community. As a pioneering voice in the early days of digital health, he has led initiatives and shared insights around the future of health as it relates to leadership development, brand strategy, diversity/inclusion, and the startup landscape. Blackman’s work and insights have been featured in Business Insider, Fortune, Forbes, NPR, CIO, Reporting on Health, and U.S. News and World Report. He was named a Fortune Magazine 2020 40 Under 40 in Healthcare.

Carrie Cook (Charlotte) is the Community Affairs Officer for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and also serves as Vice President of Community Development. In these roles, she leads the community development team across SC, NC, VA, WV, MD, and DC to establish strategic areas of emphasis for programming and research. She also provides leadership for the Bank’s advisory councils, serves as the point of contact on matters related to the Community Reinvestment Act, and provides insights on economic conditions and issues affecting low- and moderate-income communities. Cook previously served as the founding executive director of GreenLight Fund Charlotte, in addition to prior roles at the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance and regional liaison to the late U.S. Sen. Kay R. Hagan.

Jamila Davis (Charlotte) is the Business Diversity & Inclusion Director with Mecklenburg County’s Office of Economic Development. She is responsible for leading the organization’s business inclusion initiatives, which are designed to enhance its purchasing and contracting opportunities, execute innovative economic development growth strategies, and cultivate long-term relationships with diverse-owned businesses and business/advocacy resource partners. Previously, Davis served as Program Officer for Education/Workforce Development (Neighborhood Revitalization) with Renaissance West Community Initiative, Director of Professional Education and Strategic Initiatives with the Charlotte School of Law, and Program Developer/Business Counselor for Central Piedmont Community College’s Small Business Center. This year, she received the National Association of Counties (NACo) Award.

J. Hackett (Asheville) is the founder of Black Wall Street AVL and has more than 20 years of expertise in community and economic development. After being released from prison, he has been recognized in NC Bar Journal for his social enterprise model, published in NAADAC’s scholarly journal, and awarded by the chamber of commerce. He established Asheville’s first Black-owned coffee shop, GRIND, which was ranked third best in the state and first among minority-owned businesses in Western North Carolina. GRIND has also been awarded #1 fastest-growing startup in Asheville. Hackett leads a cohort of 141 Black businesses in Western North Carolina helping revitalize Black Wall Street.


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