Our History: A Story of Success

The Executive Council’s history is one of supporting, developing and nurturing Black excellence — from the university classroom to the corporate boardroom.

Alvaro L. Martins was a Black corporate pioneer. As an executive at IBM and then Xerox in the early 1960s, his world was one where few Black executives were accepted in corporate America or had pathways to the C-suite and CEO chair.

Martins was well-known for mentoring Black leaders in higher education and corporate America. He assisted wherever he could to build Black success and share those stories of triumph. In 1986, Martins became very concerned for the stability of Bishop College, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) that was experiencing financial difficulties. He asked a few of his corporate friends to meet him in Dallas to discuss what they could do to assist the school. They helped keep Bishop College afloat until 1988 when it closed. The former campus is now the home of Paul Quinn College.

The group of nineteen corporate executives – eighteen men and one woman — formed The Executive Leadership Council. The executives who united to save Bishop College soon realized the power of the network they had formed. The network became the catalyst for a corporate civil rights movement that brought together early political supporters such as Congressman Charles Rangel and Senator Edward Kennedy. The rest is a rich history of supporting, developing and nurturing Black excellence — from the university classroom to the corporate boardroom.

Today, three of our founding members remain involved with The ELC, seeking to assist the organization wherever possible. We admire and value Milton Irvin, Jim Kaiser and Elynor Williams.

The Executive Leadership Council exemplifies perseverance and philanthropy. Black excellence: It is our legacy.

ELC Founders Photo: Jerome Bartow*, Vernon Ford, Kenneth Hill, Milton Irvin, James Jackson*, Mannie Jackson, Clarence “Buddy” James*, Gary Jefferson, Robert Johnson, Cyrus Jonson*, Jim Kaiser, Cleve Killingsworth, Alvaro Martins*, Jarred Metze, Arthur Page*, Hugh Robinson*, Earl Washington, Elynor Williams


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