Eagle Awards 2020: Soar Into Africa

The African American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida (AACCCF) and Walt Disney World Resort presented the 2020 Eagle Awards on Saturday, January 18, 2020, at Walt Disney World Resort with the theme “Soar Into Africa.” AACCCF recognizes small businesses that have made a positive impact on the Central Florida community. 

The Eagle Awards are the AACCCF’s crowning celebration for Central Florida’s most dynamic businesses and entrepreneurs. The Eagle Awards serve as a time to recognize and honor the corporations positively impacting our community and driving the growth and development of our business vibrant and diverse business landscape. The businesses represented by the AACCCF reflect the diversity, skill, and devotion of their membership and community.

Masters of Ceremonies WESH 2 News own Summer Knowles, Evening Anchor and Stewart Moore, Evening Anchor opened with an African dance performance by Just Too Dance, with music provided by L5.

Greetings were brought from Mayor Jerry Demings of Orange County, Commissioner Regina Hill of Mayor Buddy Dyer, City of Orlando, and President of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Center Florida, Tanisha Nunn-Gary.

The awards kicked off with the Outstanding Individual Community Achievement Award presented to Dr. Laine Powell. Dr. Laine Powell is the Founder and Executive Director of Collegiate Pathways, Inc. Tech Sassy Girlz (TSG) is the signature program of Collegiate Pathways, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Orlando, FL. Their mission is to empower middle and high school girls to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields through college preparation, career readiness, mentoring and entrepreneurship.

The Outstanding Community Achievement Award was presented to Wayne Densch Charities managed by Kran Riley. Wayne Densch Charities is a charitable foundation dedicated to supporting the Central Florida community with millions of dollars in scholarships, educational resources, and support for the elderly. 

Duke Energy was presented with the Corporate Recognition Award, Tonja Teague-Graham, Supplier Diversity Manager received the award on Duke’s behalf. Tonja stayed during the acceptance speech, “I want to encourage everyone out there …if they tell there is no space for you, create the space. And don’t just occupy it, knock down the walls and break the glass ceilings to make a difference and room for others.”

Small Business Advocate of the Year Award went to the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority and was accepted by George Morning, Director of Small Business. Morning said, “When we put money in small business hands it amplifies it, and when we put it in the zip codes it amplifies those communities.” The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority is the governmental entity that operates Orlando International Airport and Orlando Executive Airport in Orlando, Florida. The Small Business for Greater Orlando Aviation Authority help small business owners to receive the necessary tools they may need to run a successful business.

Emerging Business of the Year Award was presented to Osborne & Francis Law Firm and accepted by firm partner Greg Francis. Francis quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his acceptance, “ ‘If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.’ To the African American Chamber of Commerce Thank you for keeping this moving, supporting your members and for advocating on behalf of your members across Central Florida. When you start a new business there is a price to it…but Two things are price-less your peace of mind and recognition and support by your peers.”

Enterprise Business of the Year Award was accepted by  Hair in Motion Beauty Enterprise, Lesline Powe-Barton, Master Stylist. Hair in Motion of New York Apprenticeship Training Program, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) for the purpose of providing advanced technical, customer service and entrepreneurial skills training for newly licensed cosmetologists in order to prepare them for success.  Hair in Motion owner and trainees donate cosmetology services to women shelters and other areas of need. 

MLK Humanitarian Award 2020 recipient is Desmond Meade, a formerly homeless returning citizen who overcame many obstacles to eventually become the President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC). Desmond Meade was recognized in 2019 by Time 100: Most Influential People, he has impacted over 1.4 million Floridians. Meade says, “We were able to get rid of the last remnant of Jim Crow with love…with love.” He continued, “I am honored that the Chamber of Commerce would honor someone like me that would display even the least amongst us can do great things. Even the least of us can become Time 100… and if the that means each and every one of us in the room has the capacity to impact the world in a profound way but we must do it through love…that’s how we remain true to our God and our native land.”

The Eagle Award winner was Ardmore Roderick, however CEO Rashod R. Johnson accepted the award with his ten-year-old daughter, Layla “Because I need her to see what black excellence looks like.” “As a fan of black poetry, I want to start with the words of Prince from a funky record Uptown, ‘We don’t let society tell us how this supposed to be.’ Every entrepreneur starts a business with expectations. It’s time for Black business to stop waiting on society to direct our goals, its time we set larger expectations. Not dreams, not hopes for goals, expectations. I always chuckle when someone says ‘you exceeded expectation’, I usually think ‘maybe you expected too little.’ When we expect little, we receive little. However, when we expect big things, we achieve big things,” Johnson said.

The Eagle Awards was a space to celebrate and encourage business, power, and service in the community with many businesses, corporations, and individuals honored and celebrated. 

Title Sponsor: Walt Disney World Resorts; Gold Sponsors: Wells Fargo; Silver Sponsors: Orlando Health, Universal Studios Orlando, Ardmore Roderick, and Duke Energy; Bronze Sponsors: OUC The Reliable One, Rasmussen College, McCoy Federal, BB&T, Visit Orlando, Darden, Wyndham Destinations, University of Central Florida, GreenbergTrauig, Prestige Ford, Fairwinds, Advent Health, Tupperware Brands, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Florida Blue.

Through your support, the African American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida is able to continue in its commitment to educate, enlighten, and empower our community and local businesses for more than 70 years.

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