Wednesday, July 6, 2022
Black Business Leaders Hall of Fame Inaugural Class Inducted during Gala Event Held in Los Angeles
By Sentinel News Service
Published August 3, 2016

Over 300 Guests Packed the Huntington Library to Hear Mellody Hobson Honor 9 LA-Based Black Businesses

Photos by Nick Collins

Photos by Nick Collins

The Hart Leadership Center Foundation ( held its inaugural Los Angeles Black Business Leaders Hall of Fame induction event on Thursday, July 21, at the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA.  The event was presented by City National Bank, and was highlighted by a fireside chat with Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments and chairman of DreamWorks Animation. Hobson was interviewed by television and film actor Wren T. Brown.  The majority of the awards were presented by television and music star, Dawnn Lewis.

In an event attended by over 300 people, guests were inspired by Hobson’s grace and intellect, as she shared stories about her childhood, her rise from Intern to company President at Ariel, and being married to movie mogul George Lucas.  In alluding to her tendency to quote Lucas, Ms. Hobson said, “Well, he is Yoda’s creator!”

Attendees were uplifted by Ms. Hobson’s background and story, and then had the opportunity to hear from the nine Black Businesses who were inducted as the inaugural Black Business Leaders Hall of Fame class.  The inductees and their categories are:

Photos by Nick Collins

Photos by Nick Collins

Excellence in Community & Philanthropy, FCI Management – Pat Watts; Perseverance & Sustainability, Black Business Association – Earl “Skip” Cooper, and Harold and Belle’s Restaurant;  Biddy Mason Business of the Year, Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation – Marva Battle Bey / Andrea Jackson; Entertainment, Innovation & Technology, KJLH Radio – Karen E. Slade; Entrepreneurial Rising Stars, Baron Jay Littleton Foundation, Clear Gardens Yoga – Salena Collins, and The Todd Group – Todd Hawkins; and the Ruby Bridges Pioneer in Education


African American Board Leadership Institute – Yvette Chappel Ingram.

Inductees were among 94 businesses nominated by the community; and were selected by a panel of 10 prominent leaders in the Black Business Community.

photos by Nick Collins

photos by Nick Collins

“I was so touched, moved and inspired by the nominees, inductees, and presenters of our inaugural Black Business Leaders Hall of Fame.  It was truly a blessing to recognize the great leaders in the Black business community,” commented Laurieann Hart, co-founder of the Hart Leadership Center Foundation.  “We are not proud of the history of racial prejudices that go on in our country and have for centuries.  It’s time to stop, take a look, and honor people for who they are and have become in spite of circumstance, as they change their communities through courage, grace, generosity and leadership.  We are so grateful for their dedication and contributions and making this event a night to remember.  We were all inspired!”

Karen A Clark, multicultural strategy manager at City National Bank, said “the bank was excited to present this event, and to honor the Black community. We were delighted and gratified by the attendance; as well as the vast and diverse representation of the Black business community. Ms. Hobson’s remarks were timely for any business.  As she recounted dark days at Ariel Investments during the great recession, Ms. Hobson cautioned businesses not to look up at the storm, but to keep your head down through the storm. I am sure that people will never forget this night. We look forward to the 2nd Annual!”

Categories: Local | News | News (Business)
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