On Friday, September 16, 2022, The Collective Empowerment Group (CEG) of Metro Cincinnati presented its 2022 Business Excellence Awards Gala. We were sold out! As promised, it was such an exciting event. We are incredibly grateful to Fifth Third Bank as they returned as this year’s Title Investment Sponsor. Additional Sponsors include First Financial Bank, Liberty Bank, Union Savings Bank, and Guardian Savings Bank. It was an evening of highlights and recognitions of not only the small businesses but the CEG organization. The theme of the gala was “Building Business Resilience” which is a continuation of CEG’s efforts to build thriving churches and businesses which contribute to a flourishing Metro Cincinnati. During our celebration, we were able to recognize First Financial Bank as Corporation of the Year for their Engagement and the new Work Life Membership portion that was recently added to CEG. Also, we were able to celebrate New Vision United Methodist Church as CEG Member Church of the Year for their monumental efforts in doing business with not only CEG Strategic Partners but also many small businesses throughout our community.
Seven (7) small African American businesses that are a part of the CEG Strategic Partner Program were celebrated and recognized for their resilience and thriving during the 2-year period of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s honorees included:
Tier 1- $3,000,000 and Above (2021 and 2020)
• Angelita Moreno Jones – Eastern Personnel
• Charles “Chuck” Futel, Jr. – Chuck Futel & Associates dba Primerica
• Sheila Holmes Howard—SHH Realty Group LLC dba Ownerland Realty
Tier 2 – $1,000,000 and Above (2021 and 2020)
• JC Battle – JC Battle & Sons Funeral Home
• Anthony Dickerson – Goodies BBQ Restaurant
• Dhana Donaldson & Yvonne Brown – Tri-City Staffing Services LLC
Tier 3 – $500,000 and Above (2021 and 2020)
• Simone Charles – Social Butterfly Events and Designs dba The Confetti Room
• Jeremy Sibert – Clearview Construction Company LLC
The seven (7) small businesses had a total of $23,094,516.00 in sales during the specified timeframe. This is
Entertainment was provided by Mike Wad and the Mighty Groovers, Revolution Dance Theatre, and the CEG Gospel Choral led by P. Ann Everson Price. Guests were upbeat and uplifted. They were then left empowered by our incredible keynote speaker Dr. Deforest Soaries, who served as the Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey from November 1990 to July 2021. A pioneer of faith-based community development, Dr. Soaries has led First Baptist in the construction of a new $23 million church complex and the formation of many not-for-profit entities to serve the community surrounding the church.
During the event, CEG’s President Dr. Paul Booth Jr. along with CEG’s Bank Black Initiative Committee was joined by Executives from Liberty Bank and Trust to share their exciting announcement. Ann Duplessis, Senior Vice President of Retail Banking, Marketing & Sales, and Strategic Planning was joined by Wendy Ryce-Smith, Vice President, and Retail/Commercial Director Liberty Bank and Robert Lay, Assistant Vice President of Mortgage helped share in the announcement. Liberty Bank is the largest African American-owned bank in the country with over $1 Billion in assets under management. CEG is the convening sponsoring organization that has led this project in bringing Liberty Bank to Cincinnati. During this special announcement, Ann Duplessis and Liberty Bank Representatives also presented Collective Empowerment Group with a $15,000 Sponsorship check. At the end, State Representative Sedrick Denson then presented a proclamation to Todd McDonald for being the President of the Largest Black-Owned Bank in the Country.
Dr. Soaries has also held historic and noteworthy government positions. He served as New Jersey’s 30th Secretary of State making him the first African American male to serve as a Constitutional officer of the State. He served as a senior advisor to the governor on issues that transcended traditional departmental lines. Dr Soaries is also the former chairman of the United States Election Assistance Commission. Dr. Soaries speech was like no other. Guest stood their feet and not only erupted in laughter throughout they were also left empowered to change.
In attendance were CEG Member Churches, Strategic Partners, as well as potential member churches and strategic partners who are looking forward to becoming members of the Collective Empowerment Group. We were grateful to have had Vice Mayor Jan Michele Lemon Kearney, Former Ohio State Senator and African American Chamber President, Eric Kearney, Kenneth Parker, 45th United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Members of the City Council, and a host of State Representatives and Judges came to join in on the experience. The night was with Dr. Soaries being presented with a Proclamation for his religious and community leadership.
Many thanks to Event Coordinator Dhana Donaldson of MainStage Events and her events management team which includes, Program Manager Erica Garrett, Simone Charles of Social Butterfly Events, Stage Manager Shawnise Lewis and a host of volunteers for their