Meet The Black Woman Who Created Patti Labelle’s Pies, She’s An HBCU Grad

Patti Labelle did not create her infamous pies that are sold at Walmart. Kinna Thomas, a proud HBCU graduate of Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee, created the pies. That’s right! Kinna is the mastermind behind the beloved Patti Labelle Sweet Potato Pie which has become a viral sensation and a bestseller in Walmart stores nationwide for more than 8 years now.

Up until 2020, Kinna held various positions at Walmart including Senior Buying Manager and Merchandising Director and her job was to ensure top-notch bakery products reach over 4,500 store locations.

She honed her leadership skills and embraced the values of collaboration and confidence while in college, she told HBCU Pulse. Kinna furthered her education with two Master’s degrees from Webster University. Her education laid the foundation for her remarkable career trajectory.

Starting out as a buyer of fine jewelry, her focus on quality and customer satisfaction smoothly transitioned into the food industry. She has since garnered several prestigious awards, including the Buyer of the Year for Walmart Stores, Inc., and has been featured in numerous publications and media outlets.

Reflecting on her partnership with Patti LaBelle, Kinna highlights the rapid development from idea to reality. Despite the unexpected cultural phenomenon, she remains focused on delivering quality products that resonate with customers.

“I’m not worried about who knows my name. I am concerned about having my team of people deliver great quality foods and brands relevant to the customer experience at the best value possible. The only recognition that matters to me is helping the customer. The rest of that stuff will take care of itself,” Kinna said.

Kinna aims to inspire others through speaking engagements and business conferences, sharing her experiences and insights. Her focus remains on purpose-driven opportunities that contribute to business growth and development.

After working at Walmart, she went on to work at Target for almost three years as a Senior Executive of Merchandising but is now working as the Vice President of Merchandising Operations and Business Development at CVS Health.

Be sure to follow Kinna Thomas on Instagram @TheRealKinna


Africa’s Richest Man Makes History, Opens $19.5 Billion Oil Refinery In Nigeria

Aliko Dangote, the wealthiest man on the continent of Africa, is hitting the jackpot with a new oil refinery in Nigeria. His net worth, a whopping $19.6 billion, is set to climb even higher, thanks to this project. Dangote, the founder of Dangote Group, officially kicked off the venture in mid-January.

Situated in the coastal city of Lekki, near Lagos, the Dangote Petroleum Refinery aims to make Nigeria self-sufficient in fuel. This is a big deal, considering oil makes up nearly 90 percent of Nigeria’s foreign exchange and 60 percent of government revenue, according to Dangote himself on The David Rubenstein Show in 2020.

The refinery, after facing some delays, finally started production earlier this month. Nigeria, despite its heavy reliance on oil, has been importing most of its fuel due to a shortage of refineries. Dangote’s refinery plans to change that narrative, eyeing a production capacity of up to 650,000 barrels a day in the future.

While this sounds like a game-changer, Rafiq Raji from the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Africa Program remains skeptical. He told Business Insider that expecting the refinery to hit 100,000 barrels a day initially would be a stretch. Full capacity might not be on the horizon until 2027, with Raji noting suboptimal yields at the current stage of completion. According to him, “they’d make more money by simply selling the crude.”

Be sure to follow Aliko Dangote on Instagram @Aliko_DangoteGCON


HBCU Grad Turned Global Marketing Executive Receives Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award

Tangela Parker, an award-winning African American global marketing executive, joined an elite group of female C-Suite leaders when President Joe Biden awarded her the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award. The annual awards honor a select few who “exhibit outstanding character, work ethic, and dedication to their communities.”

Recipients of the award must have completed a minimum of 4,000 hours of volunteer service. The President’s Lifetime Achievement Award is the highest honor in the President’s Volunteer Service Award program.

Parker was honored with the award based on her 24-year marketing and public affairs career at leading Fortune 500 companies, where she has supported underserved communities and developed programming to improve their quality of life.

“I am passionate about investing in underserved communities and equipping others to rise above poverty,” added Parker, recognized as one of the nation’s top marketing experts and motivational speakers. “I am also incredibly fortunate to love my work and the communities we serve.”

Tangela Parker is a native of Brandon, Mississippi, and resides in Atlanta, Georgia. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science/pre-law from Alcorn State University and also graduated from the Executive Leadership program at Harvard Business School.

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She Is Currently The Only Black Woman Who Is The President Of An NFL Team

Sandra Douglass Morgan is the newly appointed President of the Las Vegas Raiders, making history as the first Black woman to hold this position in the NFL. Morgan brings a wealth of experience and passion to the position, marking a significant milestone in a league where diversity in leadership has often been a challenge.

Morgan, who was born and raised in Las Vegas, has had significant experience in Nevada’s gaming industry, making her a natural fit for the Raiders’ president position. She might not be a familiar name in NFL circles, but she was well-known for serving as the chairwoman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board from 2019 to 2021, breaking both gender and color barriers in the process, according to Defender Network.

Morgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Nevada, Reno, and a Juris Doctor from UNLV’s Boyd Law School. Her diverse career includes roles as a litigation attorney at MGM Resorts International, city attorney in North Las Vegas, and director of external affairs at AT&T Services Inc.

Beyond her connections to the gaming industry, Morgan has ties to the NFL through her roles on the Las Vegas Super Bowl host committee and the board of directors of Allegiant Travel Co., the parent company of Allegiant Air, which holds naming rights for the Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium.

Moreover, Morgan is married to Don Morgan, a former NFL receiver. She is also actively involved in organizations like Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Jack and Jill of America, Inc.

While making history as the first Black woman to lead an NFL team, she follows a legacy of breaking barriers at the Raiders, who had the first Black coach in the NFL’s modern era in 1989 and the first female NFL CEO, Amy Trask, in 1997.

Morgan’s appointment was announced internally, replacing Dan Ventrelle, who left amid claims of a hostile workplace. She takes on the role at a challenging time for the Raiders, following the resignations of multiple presidents and front-office executives. Despite that, she expressed her excitement about joining the team during this pivotal moment in its history.

“I am thrilled to join you as we embark on one of the most exciting times in the history of our organization,” Morgan said.

Be sure to follow Morgan on Instagram @SDMRaiders1


A Black Man Is The CEO Of Denver International Airport, The 2nd Largest Airport In The World

Meet Phillip A. Washington, who serves as the CEO of Denver International Airport (DEN), the second largest airport in the world at 33,531 acres (52.4 sq mi; 135.7 km2). He was appointed in 2021 and reconfirmed in 2023 and is leading the charge at what is also the world’s third busiest airport, handling millions of passengers every year.

Washington’s vision for DEN, called Vision 100, aims to prepare the airport for a whopping 100 million passengers by 2030, a 30% increase, according to Fly Denver. Managing a $10 billion Capital Improvement Program, he has led significant changes, including retrofitting the airport, planning a massive rental car facility, and initiating environmental efforts like plugging oil wells and installing more solar panels.

Before Denver, Washington made waves as the CEO of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and the Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD). In LA, he managed a balanced budget of $8.5 billion and oversaw major capital projects. His leadership led to the successful passing of Measure M, a half-cent sales tax supporting 40 major projects and creating jobs.

Washington’s achievements extend beyond transportation. Inducted into the American Public Transportation Association Hall of Fame and nominated for the position of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator by President Biden, he’s recognized for his exceptional contributions.

Washington, a 24-year U.S. Army veteran, holds a B.A. in Business and an M.A. in Management.

His impressive journey includes leading the Host Transportation Committee for the 2008 Democratic National Convention and receiving honors like the Defense Superior Service Medal. Washington’s commitment to excellence, safety, and innovation continues to shape the future of transportation.

Be sure to follow Denver International Airport on Instagram @DENAirport


Xbox Now Has A Black Woman President For The First Time Ever

Sarah Bond, a former Corporate Vice President of the brand, is now the President of Xbox, making history for Microsoft and the gaming industry. A graduate of Yale and Harvard Business School, she has also held senior roles at T-Mobile.

Xbox, a division of Microsoft, generates about $16 billion every year in annual revenue, and Sarah has been pivotal in helping the company become and remain successful. In her former role as Vice President, she led the Xbox division dedicated to building and commercializing products and services for game creators and partners. She worked with thousands of developers and partners to bring games to players on console, PC, mobile and the cloud, and was instrumental in directing strategy, policy, mergers & acquisitions, and integration.

In her new role as President of Xbox, Sarah will be in charge of all software and hardware platforms which will include the redesigned disc-less Xbox Series X to be released in 2024 and a next-gen hybrid Xbox console in 2028. She will also oversee player and creator experiences, platform engineering, strategy, business planning, data and analytics and business development.

Sarah currently sits on the Board of Councilors at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, as well as the Board of Directors at the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), Zuora, the leading subscription management platform and CHEGG, a leading student-first connected learning platform. 

Prior to joining Microsoft, Sarah held senior roles at T-Mobile, including leading the Corporate Strategy and Development team, responsible for cross-functional strategic initiatives, major investments, partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, and was a member of the team that led T-Mobile’s turnaround. She started her career at McKinsey, where she was an Associate Partner in the Seattle office. Sarah holds a BA in Economics from Yale University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.   

Sarah has dedicated her career to transforming cultures, rearchitecting organizations, accelerating businesses, and most importantly empowering others to do the same.

Be sure to follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About Xbox
Xbox was first introduced by Microsoft in 2001 with the launch of the original Xbox console which went on to sell 24 million units. In 2005, the company released the Xbox 360 which to date has sold more than 86 million units. In 2013, the third console, the Xbox One, was released and has sold 58 million units. The fourth line of Xbox consoles, the Xbox Series X and Series S, were released in 2020.