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These Leaders Are Moving the Needle for Underrepresented Minorities in Business

Every year, The Consortium recognizes individuals and organizations that embody its mission, with several awards. In 2020, The Consortium honored seven individuals and one company for their work to advance its vision for the future. 

The following honorees have set themselves apart by demonstrating courageous leadership, championing corporate diversity, giving back to their communities and advancing the goal of equal opportunity in management. 

Bryan Johnson
The Sterling H. Schoen Achievement Award 

Bryan Johnson
Bryan Johnson

Established in honor of The Consortium’s founder, Dr. Sterling H. Schoen, this award recognizes individuals for their courageous leadership and commitment to advancing the goal of equal opportunity for underrepresented minorities in American business. In 2020, The Consortium bestowed this award on Bryan Johnson, an alumnus of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

In his current role as senior associate director of admissions, diversity & inclusion at Ross School of Business, Johnson is primarily responsible for recruiting underrepresented minorities to the full-time MBA program and helping advance diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at the school. He also serves as a trustee of The Consortium and president of the Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education, among other roles. 

Johnson is passionate about helping students of color reach their potential through education and feels that his role at Ross and his affiliation with The Consortium perfectly align with this passion. “Each year I have the opportunity to help hundreds of students realize their personal and professional goals in the MBA program and beyond. It’s very fulfilling work,” he says. “Getting recognized for the work is just the icing on the cake.”

Patricia “Teesha” Hernandez
The Wallace L. Jones Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award

Teesha Hernandez
Patricia “Teesha” Hernandez

Named for the man who contributed many years of service to The Consortium and touched the lives of thousands of students, the Wallace L. Jones Lifetime Achievement Award honors an alum who, among other things, has demonstrated a commitment to community involvement, mentoring, giving back and inspiring future leaders. Patricia “Teesha” Hernandez, a 1981 alumna of Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was recognized as the 2020 recipient of this award.

After 25 years, Hernandez recently retired from Emerson, where, in her last role with the organization, she served as corporate director of organizational development. As part of the talent management team, she was responsible for assessing current and future leadership needs through the succession planning process, tracking more than 2,000 high-potential employees and managing annual organization reviews with the CEO. Hernandez also managed the company’s MBA Leadership Program, identifying new high-potential talent and creating development and mentoring programs for them. In addition, she has served on the boards of numerous St. Louis nonprofits and has been a long-standing Corporate Advisory Board member for The Consortium. She continues to mentor students on business issues, making herself available as needed.

“Receiving the award means that during the past several years, I have accomplished my goal of making a positive difference in the lives of students I meet,” Hernandez says. “I have successfully paid forward the blessings I have received as a Consortium alum.”

Rashid E. Farrell
Phyllis Scott Buford Young Visionary Award

The Consortium’s third leader, Dr. Phyllis Scott Buford, is known for modernizing the organization’s annual Orientation Program (OP), expanding collaboration with corporate partners and exposing diverse young leaders to more opportunities through OP. This award recognizes young alumni who are leaders in action — who demonstrate vision, collaboration and creativity in driving diversity and inclusion in their professional lives. The 2020 honoree is Rashid E. Farrell, a Consortium alumnus from Indiana University Kelley School of Business.

Rashid Farrell
Rashid Farrell

Farrell is currently senior HR manager within the Cloud+AI Organization at Microsoft. Upon arriving at the company, he made it a priority to help establish a formal partnership between Microsoft and The Consortium. Farrell took steps to coordinate a Consortium Seattle event hosted by Microsoft, set up a number of key meetings between Consortium staff and Microsoft and created an internal Consortium community within the company — an effort that was ultimately successful. He was also part of the team that took Microsoft from having no presence at AfroTech to being the top sponsor two years running.

Outside of Microsoft, Farrell is on the board of Alexander Hamilton Scholars, a nonprofit focused on empowering and providing opportunities to high-achieving, underserved students to help them to succeed in college and career. He still dedicates much of his time and energy to supporting Consortium prospects and alumni as well as Kelley students.

“I give deep thanks to the generations preceding me that blazed paths I could follow. That same energy of deep gratitude ignites my passion to create spaces for other underrepresented minorities tirelessly working to achieve success both in business education and leadership,” says Farrell. “It is quite humbling to receive this award because I feel as if I’ve barely scratched the surface in this walk, and [I] truly hope to accomplish so much more for historically marginalized communities.”

Consortium Corporate Pacesetter Award

3mEstablished in June 2017, the Corporate Pacesetter Award recognizes a Consortium corporate partner that demonstrates dedication to the organization’s mission through extraordinary collaboration with Consortium constituents. Through communication, innovation and focus, the recipient of the Pacesetter award sets the standard for effective leadership in promoting diversity in corporate leadership. In 2020, The Consortium recognized 3M with this award.

As a founding corporate partner of The Consortium, 3M has been a stalwart supporter of the organization since the beginning. Recognizing the critical role that diversity and inclusion play in innovation, 3M continues to demonstrate its commitment to the important work of moving the needle for underrepresented minorities in business.

“This recognition shows that we’re making progress on our journey toward greater inclusion and representation at 3M,” says Katie Ketterhagen, the manager of student programs and talent pipeline for 3M Company, where she leads 3M University and diversity and inclusion recruitment strategies. “The research behind increased representation is complicated, but what we do know is that the act of seeing and hearing from influential and diverse leaders creates more inclusive spaces for employees and inspires future diverse leaders.”

Melissa Davis
The Peter C. Thorp Corporate Leadership Award

Melissa Davis
Melissa Davis

In honor of The Consortium’s longest-serving Corporate Advisory Board chairman and board member, the Peter C. Thorp Corporate Leadership Award was established in 2001. Recipients must demonstrate generous financial support of MBA fellowships, leadership as a corporate champion of ethnic diversity, support of innovative approaches to solving problems related to equal employment opportunity and a recognition by their peers as a leader and champion of diversity. Individuals must also show evidence of leadership and achievement in their industry, long-term corporate partnership with The Consortium, the largest number of Consortium hires, respect for diversity and the active pursuit of educational growth to advance diversity. In 2020, The Consortium recognized Melissa Davis with this award.

As the strategy campus inclusion and diversity lead at Accenture, Davis is responsible for non-core school and diversity partner hiring for the strategy, undergraduate and MBA teams. She has worked at Accenture for over 5 years and in her current role since 2018. Beyond her involvement with The Consortium, Davis is a board member, business coach and mentor for Kidz2Leaders, an organization that provides stability, opportunity and a Christian community for children of inmates to break the cycle of incarceration. She also volunteers with various organizations and is passionate about student achievement and mentorship.

“The main reason I am so grateful to receive this award is because it acknowledges my commitment to assisting underrepresented minorities with gaining access to higher education,” says Davis. “My passion has always been helping students through mentorship and advisement in my personal and professional life. It’s very rewarding to see a student go from acceptance in The Consortium, to Orientation Program, to an internship and then to full-time employment.”

Dwana Jones
Circle & Flame Honorary Fellow Award

Dwana Jones
Dwana Jones

The Circle & Flame Honorary Fellow Award recognizes an individual — living or deceased — who through his or her work, actions and personal principles has exemplified a commitment to the mission of The Consortium, regardless of whether they have any formal connection to the organization. In 2020, The Consortium recognized Dwana Jones with the award.

In both her current role as manager of organization/talent development at Whirlpool Corporation and her previous role as associate director/career consultant at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, Jones has been known for being a servant leader. As a first-generation, nontraditional college student, she understands the challenges these and underrepresented minority students face and holds a special place in her heart for them. While at Ross, Dwana co-led career education and exposure treks for women and minority students and collaborated with student organizations, corporate partners and nonprofits on career education initiatives.

“I am honored to receive the 2020 Circle & Flame Honorary Fellow Award,” she says. “It’s a blessing to be viewed as someone who walks in the purpose of this award. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to impact the lives of minority, under-resourced and underrepresented adult learners.”

Dr. Sharoni Little
Earl Hill Jr. Faculty Achievement and Diversity Leadership Award

Established in May 2019 in honor of past Consortium board member and faculty member at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, the Earl Hill Jr. Faculty Achievement and Diversity Leadership Award recognizes outstanding academic and professional leadership on campus and to the community beyond the boundaries of the university. In 2020, The Consortium recognized Dr. Sharoni Little, vice-dean and senior diversity, equity and inclusion officer at the University of Southern California (USC) Marshall School of Business.

Dr. Sharoni Little
Dr. Sharoni Little

Little is also a professor of clinical business communication at USC Marshall, and her commitment to students’ educational and professional excellence is evidenced through her teaching and mentoring. Beyond campus, she is an organizational and leadership strategist, educator, author, renowned scholar and CEO of The Strategist Company, LLC, who shares her expertise on workplace and educational inclusion and equity, bias, anti-racism, strategic leadership and global strategy. Also a social advocate, Little has partnered with the Aspen Institute and the Obama Foundation, and serves as a board trustee and vice president at Compton Community College.

I am very honored and humbled to be the recipient of the 2020 Earl Hill Jr. Faculty Achievement and Diversity Leadership Award,” she says. “As the vice-dean and senior diversity, equity and inclusion officer at the USC Marshall School of Business, I recognize the vital importance of being an advocate and  servant leader for inclusive excellence so that all students know that they belong and that their personal, intellectual and professional talents and gifts will be valued and affirmed. Educational and business leaders must ensure the authentic engagement and empowerment of all students and work to achieve and sustain an inclusive, diverse and anti-racist global society.”

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