By: Roque Caston
The Many Faces One Dream conference finally landed in New York City on November 20-21, 2013 at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge with more than 200 people arriving in attendance. As part of a current 13 city tour for LGBT entrepreneurs of color to come together and learn more about business, New York City became the third leg of this tour.
The first day began with attendees arriving and sharing breakfast and coffee with one another. NYC Convening Partners; Global Network of Black Pride, Harlem Pride and LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent were joined by eleven NYC Community Outreach Partners; Destination Tomorrow, BluntedMuse Production, MVC Production, NGLCCNY, James Saunders Marketing Group LLC., The Center, GLBT Travel Expo, Brooklyn Community Pride Center, Strategic Transgender Alliance for Radical Reform (STARR), GMAD Youth Advisory Board and NJ LGBT Chamber of Commerce. It appeared to be another reunion amongst these organizations, but everyone knew that it was time to get down to business, for everyone knew the importance of this conference, www.ManyFacesOneDream.com.
The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) partnered with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to launch an economic empowerment tour for communities of color in order to bring focus on the communities’ economic power, innovation and creativity in the small business sphere. This became Many Faces, One Dream.
Sharon Lettman-Hicks, Executive Director of NJBC opened the conference with welcoming remarks featuring Monique Y. Fontenberry, New York Business Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration and Carolyn M. Brown, Senior Multimedia Content Producer of Black Enterprise. While welcoming everyone to the first day, Carmen Neely, President of Harlem Pride called for the ‘family’ to gather in the hall to give recognition of Transgender Day Of Remembrance. She called NY Community Outreach Partners Sean Coleman of Destination Tomorrow and Mariah Lopez of Strategic Transgender Alliance for Radical Reform (STARR) to the front and asked the audience to stand and come together for a moment of silence.
After the welcoming introduction, attendees headed over to the multiple workshops that were provided. The conference was split into tracks. One track was for people interested in starting a business. The other was for those with existing businesses, who wanted to take it to the next level. Some workshops included lessons and tips on financial growth, legal assistance, strategic planning for a growing business and internal empowerment in regards to starting your own business. While teaching individuals old style methods the workshops were stayed current by describing how social media is good for marketing strategies.
”It’s valuable resource for the community. There are many people with different dreams and are creative, but there aren’t resources like this for our people on a scale like Many Faces, One Dream,” said Aurora Jonez, radio personality of FLO Empire Radio.
The biggest highlight on Wednesday was the Town Hall Discussion featuring speakers such as Teri Coaxum, Region II Advocate of U.S. Small Business Association and Facilitator, Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks, Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of the National Black Justice Coalition, Eugene Cornelius Jr., Deputy Associate Administrator for Field Operations of U.S. Small Business Association,Monique Y. Fontenberry, Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s New York District Office and Richard E. Pelzer II, President & Managing Director of Global Network of Black Pride.
While asking questions regarding their businesses, audience members raised their hands, telling fellow peers that they needed the resource that the other person had. Connections were made, business cards were exchanged. What individuals were noticed was that their fellow peers of color were coming together to help each other succeed in business.
Group sessions ruled the day on Wednesday, while sessions became the focus on Thursday. Individuals met with business veterans to get more information and develop strategies for the growth of their businesses. Counseling topics ranged from credit/financial literacy to business startups and franchising, helping attendees get a clear vision of their business needs and setting the foundation for the writing of their 10 point business plans.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was empowering beyond words. The information was in abundance but I did not feel overwhelmed particularly because of the one on one session on the last day,” said Shaw Bernard, owner of Strut Inc.
Many Faces, One Dream conference resulted in two very memorable days for speakers as well as attendees. Special thanks to: Robert Pompey, Sr. VP Co-LGBT and Allies Committee, TD Bank, N.A., Ingrid Galvez, Diversity Outreach Chair & David Riccardi, Supplier Diversity Chair, National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, New York (NGLCCNY), Ulysses Williams, VP of Operation, Global Network of Black Pride, Mark D. Gibson, National, Communication Director, U.S. Small Business Administration, Kaz Mitchell, Director, Circle of Voice Inc., Laurence Pinckney, President, Zenbiz Travel, Roque Caston, Tamecca Tillard and the entire staff of National Minority Business Council.
MVC Productions and Tai Chunn Management Group along with Many Faces, One Dream – NYC will host the Kids R People Too andMFODNYC Holiday Networking Mixer during the Harlem Pride Monthly Mixer on Wednesday, December 4th from 6:30pm to 10:00pm at the ALOFT Harlem Hotel, 2296 Frederick Douglass Boulevard, New York, NY 10027. Join us and continue the fellowship with our community. Bring a toy or make a donation for a Harlem child in need.