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Atlanta Business League (ABL) Hosts Its 44th CEO Awards Luncheon

Five Atlanta movers and shakers in business, civic, civil and social rights were roundly applauded on Tuesday, May 16th, 2023 at the Atlanta Business League’s 44th CEO awards fete amid the comfortable confines of the 67-year-old Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Atlanta.

The ABL also unveiled its first Thomas W. Dortch Junior League Leadership Award which it calls “the ultimate badge of honor for an Atlanta Business League member.” “This award recognizes the ABL volunteer who continuously makes significant contributions to the mission and goals of the league.” This year’s inaugural recipient was Albert G. Edwards, an Alabama native and founder and CEO of Corporate Environmental Risk Management (CERM) headquartered in Tucker, Georgia. Entrepreneur Thomas W. Dortch was a member and chair of 100 Black Men of America and worked with the Atlanta Business League (ABL) and the Atlanta Public Schools System; he died on February 15, 2023.

With ample guidance from award-winning WSB-TV news anchor and MC Karen Greer, four other ABL award recipients were escorted to the Hyatt podium.

Dr. Lakeysha Hallmon, a graduate of HBCU Toogaloo College of Mississippi, received the ABL’s Trailblazer award. Dr.Hallmon, also a native of Batesville, Mississippi who has called Atlanta home since 2011, is founder and creator of the Village Market in northeast Atlanta and the non-profit business incubator Our Village United (OVU) which provides support and education for black business owners. As of 2021, OVU’s workshops have helped over 1000 business owners. “I was inspired by my grandmother who was a self-taught dressmaker, “ she said.

This year’s ABL Entrepreneur of the year is Kennesaw, Georgia native David Tann, owner-operator of Atlanta’s Tantrum agency. Prior to doing for self, he was Vice president and creative director for the Atlanta Hawks and Phillips Arena. He told those gathered at the Hyatt that he gives all the credit for his entrepreneurial spirit to a Kennesaw resident named Jesse Taylor. “He owned several businesses in Kennesaw and spent a lot of time talking to us. I’ll never forget him,” he said as tears of appreciation welled up during his poignant remarks on the 16th.

The ABL’s Distinguished Service awardee, John Hope-Bryant, founder and chair of the Atlanta based non-profit Operation Hope plus the head of two other business ventures, has received applause nationwide for his efforts of outreach to the underserved, including former Atlanta mayor and UN Ambassador Andrew Young. “I can recall once being in a meeting John was attending and I started complaining of a headache. While everyone else wished me the best, John left briefly but then returned with aspirin and some water. He just doesn’t tell you what to do. He does it with you.”

Bryant, a Los Angeles (Compton) California native, often referred to as the “conscious of capitalism”, is also a motivational speaker and demonstrated same by near-preaching his remarks before the Hyatt crowd. “ There is no other like Atlanta,” he said to loud applause. He then applauded the ABL. “This organization represents the next movement.”

Wyoming native and current CEO of Atlanta based UPS Carol Tomé capped the afternoon’s award recipients with receiving he prestigious Herman J. Russell CEO of the Year Honor. In a “live” one-to-one Q&A with ABL President and CEO Leona Davenport, Tomé, who began her professional business career with United Bank of Denver (precursor to Wells-Fargo), said she was happy and delighted with the progress UPS has made in providing opportunities for black and minority owned firms in Atlanta and elsewhere under her watch. Tomé, who has been UPS’s CEO for three years but has served on the company’s board for 17, was asked about any legacy she might want to leave when the time comes. “Serving and giving back,” she said simply.

The Atlanta Business League (ABL) was created in 1933 as an affiliate of the National Business League which was formed by Booker T. Washington in 1900. Forty-six years after its founding in 1933, the ABL inaugurated its annual CEO awards luncheon. Learn more about the ABL and membership opportunities by calling (404) 584-8126. You can also visit their website at www.atlantabusinessleague.org.


Milton Jones, Jr., Carole Dortch, Albert G. Edwards and ABL CEO Leona Barr-Davenport
Milton Jones, Jr., Carole Dortch, Albert G. Edwards and ABL CEO Leona Barr-Davenport
Left to right: ABL CEO Leona Barr-Davenport John Hope Bryant and Tai Roberson
Left to right: ABL CEO Leona Barr-Davenport John Hope Bryant and Tai Roberson
Andrella Kenner, Carol B. Tomé and ABL CEO Leona Barr-Davenport
Andrella Kenner, Carol B. Tomé and ABL CEO Leona Barr-Davenport
ABL CEO Leona Barr-Davenport, David Tann and Andrella Kenner
ABL CEO Leona Barr-Davenport, David Tann and Andrella Kenner
ABL CEO Leona Barr-Davenport and 2023 ABL CEO Award Honorees left to right John Hope Bryant, Albert G. Edwards, Carol B. Tomé, David Tann and Dr. Lakeysha Hallmon
ABL CEO Leona Barr-Davenport and 2023 ABL CEO Award Honorees left to right John Hope Bryant, Albert G. Edwards, Carol B. Tomé, David Tann and Dr. Lakeysha Hallmon

Last updated on May 26, 2023

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