Black Affairs Advisory Board recognizes outstanding Community Pillars and honors Young Pillars with academic scholarships

Black Affairs Advisory Board recognizes outstanding Community Pillars and honors Young Pillars with academic scholarships

The Black Affairs Advisory Board’s Heritage Planning Committee hosted its annual “Community Pillar” awards and “Young Pillar” scholarship presentation on June 3, with a brunch at the Miami Biscayne Bay Marriott. Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Oliver G. Gilbert, III., delivered welcome remarks. Miami-Dade Public Defender Carlos Martinez and other elected officials attended the ceremony.

The 2023 “Community Pillar” Honorees are:

Jason Smith, Director of Equity and Engagement, Miami Dade County Mayor’s Office
Jawan Strader – NBC6 Universal
Donovan Jackson-CEO-Jackson Bros Ice Cream
Beverly James, Miami Dade Chamber of Commerce
Everette & Monique Slocum: Prestige Housing Services, Inc

The “Jason Jenkins Corporate Community Pillar Award” was presented to Jessica Lynn Way, Esq, Regional Head/Government & External Affairs for Starbucks Coffee Company. The board renamed its “Corporate Community Pillar Award” in honor of Jason Jenkins, Senior Vice President of Communications and Community Affairs for the Miami Dolphins, who received the award in 2022, but tragically passed following a brief illness in 2022.

The Black Heritage Planning Committee also awarded scholarships to six Young Pillars:

Bradley Ohenhen-Florida Atlantic University
Olalekan Toluwani Aluko-University of Central Florida
Hailey Assesus-Cornell University
Ta’Myah Byars-University of Florida
Aisosa Agbons-Miami-Dade College
Kamara Ferguson-New World School of the Arts

Furthermore, the Greater Miami’s Convention & Visitor Bureau’s Black Hospitality Initiative (BHI) recognized several students as part of its annual collaboration. The BHI, a not-for-profit organization, works to encourage equitable economic opportunities and increased workforce participation of African Americans and Blacks of African descent in the Greater Miami Visitor Industry. The BHI scholarships were presented by Dr. Graylyn Swilley-Woods and Ms. Sandra Washington.

“These honorees have been selected for their support of programs or businesses that positively impact the African American community and demonstrate a deep commitment to public service. Many of them have dedicated themselves tirelessly, often without recognition, to their chosen paths in the community,” said Edgar Wright, Chair of the Black Heritage Planning Committee.

A video of the ceremony can be viewed on the Black Affairs Advisory Board’s Facebook page at For high resolutions photos of the event, email Griselle Marino at For more information, please contact Black Affairs Advisory Board Director Retha Boone-Fye at or 305-375-4606.