2023 ELC Week Recap

Future ELC members, student scholars, mid-level managers, C-suite leaders, CEOs, media, civil rights leaders, and more descended upon the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, October 3-6, 2023, for ELC Week. The primary purpose for the week of events, commencing with the Honors Symposium and concluding with The ELC Recognition Gala, is to nurture and amplify Black excellence and leadership in business. Check out a recap of each of those events below.

The ELC Honors Symposium, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, was a remarkable and celebratory event, dedicated to honoring and recognizing the outstanding achievements of nearly 150 ELC Scholars who collectively received a remarkable $3 million in scholarships from 21 companies. Scholarships were sponsored by the following corporations: 3M, Archer Daniels Midland, Amazon, Bank of America, Bristol Myers Squibb, Chevron, Choice Hotels, The Coca-Cola Foundation, ExxonMobil, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, HSBC, Johnson & Johnson, Lowe’s, Moody’s, Nationwide, Otis, Otsuka, RTX Corporation, Synchrony, UnitedHealth Group and USAA.

ELC President & CEO Michael C. Hyter opened the week of events with an inspiring message, “Like you, I always had a vision for my life, and that vision of success both personally and professionally empowered and required my strive to excellence, and the ELC is here to partner with you in cultivating those skills and providing you a glimpse into your life after graduation.”

Scholars received professional development and participated in workshops hosted by corporate sponsors including “Executive Presence: Gravitas Like a Boss,” hosted by Bank of America, “Your Network is Your Net Worth – Leveraging Sponsors & Mentors,” hosted by Amazon, and “Navigating the Interview & Cultivating a Confident You,” hosted by Synchrony, among others.

The Class of 2023 ELC Scholars poses for a pic at the Capital Wheel in National Harbor, Maryland, during their Pinning Ceremony and Reception on October 4, 2023.
Photo credit: Matt Ellis Photography

As part of the Honors Symposium, the Class of 2023 ELC Scholars attended a pinning ceremony, sponsored by Whirlpool, and were pinned by ELC members and corporate executives to signify The ELC’s commitment to their development and the Black talent pipeline.

IMAGE GALLERY: 2023 Honors Symposium

CEOs from Lowe’s, Ecolab and Synchrony along with a host of ELC members came together for the 22nd CEO GameChanger Conference®, a half day, closed-door session to discuss best practices around diversity, equity and inclusion at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.

In his opening remarks, ELC CEO Michael C. Hyter shared that the aim this year, and every year, is to inform and encourage our partners toward improved outcomes for Black talent, which improves outcomes for businesses.

This year’s conference focused on company-specific case studies, addressing the specific challenges CEOs faced and successes realized as they worked to elevate Black talent in their respective organizations. Case study topics included: Success Defined: Great Expectations; Leadership Accountability; and Cultivating Cross Boundary Connection.

Speakers included: Marvin Ellison, President and CEO at Lowe’s, Janice Dupre, EVP, Human Resources at Lowe’s, Christophe Beck, Chairman and CEO at Ecolab, Gail Peterson, CMO and EVP Global Marketing and Communications at Ecolab, Brian Doubles, CEO at Synchrony, Curtis Howse, EVP and CEO, Home and Auto at Synchrony, ELC Board Chair Gale V. King, Independent Director at AutoZone, Brenda Lauderback, Chairman at Denny’s, and Herman Bulls, Vice Chairman, Americas at Jones Lang LaSalle.

More than 1300 Black professionals from 70 of the nation’s largest Fortune 500 corporations participated in The ELC’s 2023 Mid-level Managers’ Symposium.

The theme of the two-day program was “The Collective Climb: Cultivating the Next Generation of Leadership” and featured panels like, “Swim Like a Shark: Developing Your Instincts for Corporate Success,” moderated by ELC Member Erika Irish Brown, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer and Global Head of Talent at Citibank, with guest speaker Daymond John, TV Personality on ABC Shark Tank, CEO of FUBU and Entrepreneur, “Be the First Domino: On Becoming a Professional Troublemaker,” moderated by ELC COO Lori Holt and featuring Luvvie Ajayi Jones, Book Strategist, Mentor and Coach, CEO and Chief Creative Officer at Awe Luv Media, and “The Authentic Vanguard: Strategies for Influential Leadership and Alliance Building,” moderated by ELC Member Cynthia Bowman, CDI & CSR Officer at Bank of America, and featuring guest speaker Detavio Samuels, CEO of Revolt.

Daymond John spoke of his journey through entrepreneurship, the ups, the downs, and even the struggles; this included finding funding, finding the best team, and finding the idea that would “stick”. He advised the audience to keep a strong team around them, and to never become complacent—EVER. He emphasized the changes in technology and how it is changing the world as we know it. He ended his session by restating his theme, “Never be complacent.”

Luvvie Ajayi Jones, is a Nigerian born, Chicago-bred, internationally recognized speaker, author and thought leader whose commentary on culture, authenticity, and disruption enabled transformative action for MLMS participants. The four-time New York Times bestseller reminded participants that being a good troublemaker is about honoring all elements of your authentic self. She shared her strategies around cultivating her own Black board of directors for the purpose of uplifting and advancing Black voices.

Detavio Samuels emphasized the importance of creative storytelling and telling our stories as Black people. He reminded all in attendance that they work for some of the most powerful businesses in the world. Therefore, they must work hard to be the decision-makers as the future of the Black community literally depends on it.

ELC Board Chair Gale V. King, in her closing remarks, emphasized taking advantage of the moments and shared the following pieces of advice, “Be comfortable making a move even when the world is telling you your position doesn’t matter,” and “Do not work for an insecure boss for more than a week because an insecure person cannot help you.”

In addition to the mainstage sessions, the breakout sessions were also timely and relevant. Sandra Altine, Vice President of Workforce Diversity and Inclusion at Meta, moderated “Blacks in Tech: How Meta Leaders Influence Our Products & Technology to Serve Communities of Color,” a panel discussion with Meta’s Dan Reed, Vice President, Reality Labs Business Group, Neil Potts, Vice President, Trust & Safety Policy, Judy Toland, Vice President, Global Audience Marketing, and Alvin Bowles, Vice President, Global Business Group.

Rhea Norwood, Sr. Director, DIB Belonging & Enterprise Strategy at Capital One, served as moderator for a standing room only panel discussion entitled, “Empowered and Seen: Supporting Black Women in Corporate Spaces.” Guest speakers included ELC COO Lori Holt and Sonia Williams, Sr. Vice President & GM TJX at Synchrony.

IMAGE GALLERY: 2023 Mid-Level Managers’ Symposium

More than 2,500 guests, comprised of corporate CEOs, executives and up-and-coming business leaders from some of the largest global corporations, attended the 2023 ELC Recognition Gala at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center October 5, 2023. The theme of the evening was “Unstoppable Together: United in Purpose.”

There were more than 130 companies on hand to celebrate Black excellence and the strides made by Black leaders in corporations during a star-studded event hosted by Kevin Frazier, co-host of Entertainment Tonight.

Along with the $3 million awarded to ELC Scholars, The ELC raised over $11 million through sponsorships and Gala table sales.

The following companies and individuals were honored throughout the evening:

  • 2023 Achievement Award – Mellody Hobson, Co-CEO, Ariel Investments
  • 2023 Alvaro L. Martins Heritage Award – Arlene Isaacs-Lowe, Independent Board Member and Corporate Executive
  • 2023 Corporate Award – Synchrony, accepted by Synchrony CEO Brian D. Doubles

The ELC also issued a collective total of $1 million in Community Impact Grants across the following three organizations:

  • Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies
  • Legal Defense Fund
  • Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs (RICE)

The evening culminated with an incredible performance by R&B sensation Boyz II Men. The group performed several of their all-time hits, including End of the Road, On Bended Knee, Water Runs Dry, and Motown Philly. If you missed it, you missed it!

The Post-Gala Networking Reception, affectionately known as the “After Party,” was in rare form. Gala attendees showed up and showed out as DJ Arie Spins kept the hits coming all night. She even took the crowd back to their college days, calling out the Divine Nine for party strolls.

IMAGE GALLERY: The 2023 ELC Recognition Gala

2023 Achievement Award Winner Mellody Hobson (photo by Imagine Photography DC)

Alvaro L. Martins Heritage Award Winner Arlene Isaacs-Lowe (photo by Imagine Photography DC)

2023 Corporate Award Winner Synchrony, accepted by Synchrony CEO Brian D. Doubles (photo by Imagine Photography DC)

2023 Community Impact Grant recipients  (photo by Imagine Photography DC)

ELC President and CEO Mike Hyter hosted an intimate, light-hearted gathering of ELC Members, ELC leadership and ELC Board members, for The ELC Member Closing Brunch at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center on Friday morning after the Gala.

The brunch afforded ELC members the opportunity to connect and bask in the glow of an amazing Gala evening. When asked by ELC Board Chair Gale V. King to share their thoughts on Gala, the responses were very moving. One member spoke about how uplifting and inspirational the Gala was. They stated that it filled and nourished their spirit.  Another member shared how they brought their granddaughter to the Gala and for the first time, they witnessed Black excellence through the child’s lens. Seeing the impact on their granddaughter, impacted them even more.

ELC Founders Milton “Milt” Irvin, James “Jim” Kaiser, and Elynor Williams were in attendance. Jim and Milt gave remarks on behalf of the founders. During their remarks, they stated that the idea of having a Gala was not novel, as another founder imagined having one many years ago. However, what they bore witness to this year, far surpassed what they could have ever dreamed of.

In a move of solidarity and unity, Gale asked members to join hands and solicited ELC member Derric Gregory to say a prayer. This very impactful and emotional moment embodied the essence of the 2023 ELC Recognition Gala theme. A people who are United in Purpose (hand in hand) are Unstoppable Together!

During the brunch, Gale and Mike thanked and acknowledged The ELC team for their hard work and expressed how they were instrumental in creating a memorable and enjoyable event.

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