Black History In The Making: Black Professionals Making Boss Moves And Building Legacies
We celebrate Black History Month to recognize the achievements of the Black and African American community to honor their contributions to our society and culture. It’s important to remember that Black History is being made right now. Today, tomorrow, and in the future. The actions we take today, create the future we desire.
Earlier this month, Microsoft launched their 2022 Legacy Project, an immersive virtual museum that highlights current Black and African American history makers creating pathways and opening doors for the legacies that will follow. Our Founder and CEO Craig J. Lewis was among the list of acclaimed honorees this year, being featured in the "Boss Moves" category.
Screenshot of Microsoft's Black History Month Experience virtual museum
While we can't highlight every single person honored in this year's project, we wanted to take a moment to give a spotlight to some of the other talented and successful Black Changemakers featured in the "Boss Moves" category. Check out their stories below starting with our CEO Craig J. Lewis:
Craig J. Lewis- Founder and CEO, Gig Wage
Craig J. Lewis is a husband, father, and tech startup Founder & CEO from Dallas, TX. His company, Gig Wage, is a venture capital-backed SaaS company that’s raised over $16 million to date to meet the demands of the future workforce and to build modern payment tools for it. In an industry where forward-thinking is a rarity, Craig’s vision for innovation has pushed an antiquated industry to modernize by designing a service that meets the demands of on-demand workforces. “Simple. Fast. Easy.”
Craig graduated in 2004 with a B.A. in Communication and a Minor in Marketing at Morehead State University. Before building Gig Wage, his resume included playing professional basketball overseas, becoming a payroll technology expert, and serving as Chief Strategy Officer of Kairos, a venture-backed facial recognition and emotion detection startup. Craig’s ultimate mission is to leave a legacy, create generational wealth for his family and help millions of businesses and everyday people in the gig economy by providing innovative software, unique business models, and a path to financial success.
Angela F. Williams- President and CEO, United Way
Angela F. Williams is the first woman and first African American to lead United Way’s worldwide organization. Named to Forbes’ 2021 List of Women 50 Over 50 Creating Social Change at Scale, Williams brings more than 30 years of management experience to this role, including significant executive leadership experience in other major non-profit organizations.
United Way is the world's largest privately-funded nonprofit. Its mission is to advance the common good in communities across the world and is focused on helping to provide education, income, and health—the building blocks for a good quality of life.
Ed Ward- President, Client Product Group at Dell Technologies
Ed Ward has become a pillar in Dell Technologies, with over 20 years working for the company. His team is responsible for the product management, engineering, program management, product operations, delivery, and overall business performance of the global PC portfolio to all customers.
Dell Technologies Inc. is an American multinational technology company. Dell's products include personal computers, servers, smartphones, televisions, computer software, computer security, and network security, as well as information security services.
Alexis Kerr- VP, Hallmark's Mahogany Brand
The Hallmark Mahogany Brand is a greeting card line that has honored and celebrated Black culture for more than 30 years. Alexis Kerr brings decades of experience in brand and business growth within the automotive industry, primarily with General Motors.
Her most recent position was head of multicultural marketing for Cadillac, where she grew the multicultural brand presence by 40 percent and consistently increased sales and market growth. Alexis has proven to be a leader in multicultural brand development and no doubt will lead in the growth of Mahogany.
Roz Brewer- CEO, Walgreens Boots Alliance
Rosalind Brewer joined Walgreens Boots Alliance as Chief Executive Officer in March 2021 and is one of only two Black female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Her departure from Starbucks as their former CEO came as investors, regulators, and activists push for more diversity in corporate America. Her role adds to greater racial and gender diversity on the boards of publicly-traded companies.
Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. is a holding company. The Company operates through three segments: Retail Pharmacy USA, Retail Pharmacy International and Pharmaceutical Wholesale.
Christopher Young- EVP, Business Development, Microsoft
Christopher Young is Executive Vice President of Business Development, Strategy, and Ventures at Microsoft. He is responsible for driving growth across the company by establishing strategic partnerships, setting corporate strategy, and identifying high-impact investments through Microsoft’s corporate venture arm.
Young most recently served as chief executive officer of McAfee, one of the largest cybersecurity companies in the world. His goal is to continue to help the Business Development team to be a key accelerant for partnerships and new growth opportunities within the company.”
Channing Dungey- Chairman, Warner Bros. Television
Channing Dungey who was once a production executive at Warner Bros, is now serving as Chairman of the company. She is one of the most talented, visionary, creative, and respected executives working in television today. Her experience as President of ABC and VP of Netflix have given her impeccable taste, a breadth of experience covering all platforms and genres, incredible relationships across the creative community, and a keen sense of what’s next and how best to get it to audiences.
The Warner Bros. Television Group is the recognized industry leader in content creation and a true destination for talent based on its ability to produce across all genres and for all outlets.
Chef Shawn Loving- Certified Master Chef, Executive Chef for Detroit Athletic Club
Chef Shawn was the Department Chair of Schoolcraft College’s Culinary Arts program in Livonia from 2007 to 2021. He recently took on the position as Executive Chef at the Detroit Athletic Club. His career spans more than 30 years. Loving has received acclaim and a multitude of awards and medals from the American Culinary Federation, including his recent and highest honor, the certified master chef designation, which made him one of only 72 in the nation.
The Detroit Athletic Club was founded in 1887 and is in the city’s theater and sports district. It was named the No. 1 athletic club in the country for 2019-2020 and 2021-2022 by the national Club Leaders Forum, which awarded the club the Platinum Clubs of America Five Star Clubs of Excellence designation. The honor represents the top 5 percent of America’s Top Private Clubs of Excellence.
Caroline A. Wanga- CEO, Essence Communications, Inc.Caroline
Caroline Wanga joined Essence Ventures, parent company of ESSENCE, as Chief Growth Officer in 2020.She went on to serve as Interim CEO of ESSENCE for seven months, and then on to be officially appointed as Chief Executive Officer. Wanga will be responsible for shaping Essence’s future as the company seeks to maximize opportunities in new media technologies.
Essence Ventures encompasses its signature Essence magazine; digital, video, and social platforms; television specials; books; as well as live events, including Black Women in Music, Black Women in Hollywood, Street Style, and the Essence Festival.
Beverly Bond- Founder, Black Girls Rock!
Beverly Bond is an author, DJ, artist, cultural curator, television producer, philanthropist, and thought leader who has blazed trails in music, entertainment, and social entrepreneurship. In 2006, Bond founded BLACK GIRLS ROCK! to showcase empowering images of women of color. She partnered with BET in 2010 to bring the BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Awards to television which garnered over 2.7 million on its television debut.
BLACK GIRLS ROCK! is a global women’s empowerment movement and multifaceted media, entertainment, philanthropic, and lifestyle brand, dedicated to inspiring, and celebrating women and girls of color. The annual BLACK GIRLS ROCK Awards is the biggest celebration of the nexus of achievements of exemplary women of color who break boundaries, blaze trails, and set trends across sectors.
Ice Cube- Founder, BIG3, Rapper, and Actor
Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson) is one of the founding fathers of "gangsta" rap who came to fame as a member of the hip-hop group N.W.A. before launching a successful career as a solo artist and actor. He is also a founder of the Big3 basketball league, a half-court, 3-on-3 league featuring retired NBA players who wanted to have one final go-round on the hardwood. The league has consisted of 12 teams that include former NBA players and international players.
Coricka White- Plant Manager, American Sugar Refining Company
Coricka White is the refinery manager at Domino Sugar’s Baltimore refinery, becoming the first Black woman to serve in this role in the 99-year-old history of the facility. She brings nearly two decades of experience, knowledge and leadership to her new role, through which she will keep driving operational excellence and continuous improvement to the refinery.
ASR Group International, Inc. is the world’s largest refiner and marketer of cane sugar, with an annual production capacity of 6 million metric tons of sugar. They produce a full line of grocery and e-commerce, industrial, food service and specialty sweetener products, with a strong focus on innovation and product development.
Greg A. Adams- Chair and CEO, Kaiser
Greg A. Adams is the chair and chief executive officer of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and Hospitals. A nationally recognized leader and a champion of health care transformation, improving access, and pushing for better health outcomes, Adams, since his time with Kaiser Permanente, has been driving the comprehensive work focused on growing the organization’s membership, improving affordability for members, and transforming and expanding access to care.
Adams has been a key leader in driving the organization’s mission of providing high-quality, affordable care and coverage; strengthening the culture; and ensuring Kaiser Permanente continues to be a great place to work.
Michael Ford- CVP, Global Workspace, Microsoft
As the general manager for Microsoft’s global real estate and facilities, Michael Ford is responsible for a worldwide portfolio comprised of 38 million square feet and over 800 locations across 110 countries. Ford directs real estate activities that include planning (portfolio, country, site), acquisitions and dispositions, transaction management, design/construction, and facility and services operations.
Along the way, his teams are encouraged to use Microsoft technology to innovate solutions that increase operational efficiencies, improve the employee workplace experience and further reduce the company’s environmental impact.
Tiffany Taylor- Chief People & Impact Officer at GSV Ventures
Tiffany Taylor is a passionate, accomplished, and results-driven professional with nearly 20 years of experience in the education, non-profit, and public sector. She most recently served as the Executive Director of Teach For America–Detroit where she set a compelling vision and direction for the region, expanded the national and regional fundraising base, and ran a sophisticated and sustainable operation.
Tiffany later supported TFA’s 51 regions across the country as the Deputy Chief People Officer. She has won numerous awards, including Michigan Chronicle’s 2014 40 under 40 class, honoring her as an “Everyday She-roe”, as well as the “Five Under Ten” Young Alumni Recognition Award from the University of Michigan African American Alumni Council. She was inducted into the Crain’s 2015 40 under 40 class and named a 2018 Woman of Impact by the Joyce Ivy Foundation.
Maverick Carter- Co-founder, LRMR and Business Manager for LeBron James
Maverick Carter, Co-Founder and CEO of LRMR Innovative Marketing & Branding, is responsible for the company’s overall strategic direction and spearheads their new business development efforts. In addition, Carter plays a vital role in all client management issues, providing marketing and branding advice and counsel to clients such as LeBron James, 2009 NBA MVP and internationally recognized superstar who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Carter says his goal is to help the company diversify. To that end, LRMR has inked branding consulting deals with furniture company American Signature and crystal manufacturer Steuben Glass and is rumored to be adding All-Star point guard Chris Paul to its client list.
Ben's Chili Bowl- Historic Washington, DC Restaurant
Ben’s Chili Bowl has been open for over six decades, at 1213 U St NW Washington, DC. The restaurant, famous for its half-smoke –a hot dog topped with mustard, onion, and Ben’s traditional chili–, has always stood for something bigger than a place with a delicious dish for locals and tourists to enjoy. For the African American community, this has been a place of safety, a sort of haven where people in need have always been taken care of, that keeps its doors open during difficult times and is a landmark of the civil rights movement.
The famous Washington DC restaurant opened on U Street on August 22nd, 1958. It was founded by Ben Ali, who passed in 2009, and his wife Virginia, who remains the owner. In its website, Ben’s Chili Bowl proudly displays a timeline of the milestones that have marked the restaurant’s history.
Jackie Aina- Founder, Forvr Mood
Jackie Aina is a Nigerian-born American who has turned the beauty industry on its head. Former US Army veteran turned beauty mogul, Jackie became a leading beauty content creator on YouTube since the 2000's. After years of creating content using beauty and self-care products, she acquired a unique aesthetic and wanted to create products based on her passions.
Each candle is eco-friendly, free of parabens and sulfates, and burns for more than 65 hours thanks to a 100% coconut soy wax. The company, Forvr Mood, recently inked its first retail partnership with Sephora U.S., joining brands such as Otherland, Overose, and Jo Malone London, all of which are partners of Sephora’s candle category.
Keith Wyche- VP, Community Engagement at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Keith Wyche has decades of grocery-retail experience. Over the years, he’s also picked up valuable insights about becoming a successful and empowered team member. He’s even spent time consulting and collaborating with organizations on diversity.
As Walmart’s vice president of Community Engagement and Support, Keith gets to put his expertise to work. He’s partnering with community leaders in Chicago to rebuild the eight stores destroyed during the riots that followed George Floyd’s murder. It’s more than just rebuilding stores, though. The priority for Keith—and Walmart—is rebuilding the relationship with the community.
Sherlaender "Lani" Phillips- VP, US Channel Sales, Microsoft
As Vice President of Microsoft’s US One Commercial Channel Sales Organization. Sherlaender Phillips is responsible for driving digital transformation across our customers in Commercial, Mid-Market and Regulated Industries in the United States with our partner ecosystem. With responsibility for a $30B+ business she is responsible for accelerating the Co-Selling partnership which enables our partners and Microsoft to drive joint sales pursuits, revenue and ultimately customer success.
Lani is very passionate about transforming businesses in this new digital era, leading cultural transformations in an inclusive way while helping our customers & partners be successful while building high performing and engaged organizations. She frequently seeks out opportunities to share and learn new ways of driving this change at scale.
Susan L. Taylor- Editor-In-Chief Emerita, Essence Magazine
Susan L. Taylor is the Essence magazine editor-in-chief emerita and founder and CEO of National CARES Mentoring Movement. At 24, she founded her own cosmetics company, which led to the beauty editor’s position at Essence, the publication she would go on to shape into a world-renown brand with more than 8 million readers. It was that enterprising spirit wedded to a deep love for her community that led to the founding of the National CARES Mentoring Movement in 2005 as Essence CARES.
With local affiliates in 58 cities, National CARES has recruited, trained and deployed more than 150,000 mentors to schools and youth-support and mentoring organizations like Big Brothers, Big Sisters, as well as to its own culturally rooted, academic- and social-transformational initiatives. A community-mobilization movement, National CARES is the only organization dedicated to providing mentoring, healing and wellness services on a national scale for Black children.
The Legacy Project’s mission is to provide a platform where black narratives are uplifted so the world can see and hear how Black History has revolutionized the way we live. Congratulations to all the incredible honorees who were chosen for this year's museum. We are excited to be a part of this project that is opening doors for other legacies to follow. To tour this immersive Black History experience and learn more about how they're changing the narrative, click HERE.
Written byGig Wage