February 26, 2024

Smith School Celebrates Black History Month

Meet Trailblazing Alumni Pioneering Change

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is celebrating Black History Month and sharing the stories of just a few of the amazing alumni who are paving the way for future generations. Our trailblazers include the first African American Secretary of Veteran Affairs for the state of Maryland and the CEO at the helm of a Washington, D.C. region tech firm. Our grads also include a top PBS executive who rose through the ranks from her start as an administrative assistant and a Major League Baseball director who is bringing more diversity and inclusivity to America’s favorite pastime. Other standout alumni are mentoring kids in the game of golf and conquering economic gender disparity around the world. Read on to meet these remarkable leaders and others.

The Smith School is also highlighting the exceptional and enriching Black clubs and organizations right here in Van Munching Hall. These clubs are actively involved in both the Smith School and the larger UMD community. Be sure to visit their pages and check out what they’ve been up to or inquire about becoming a member.

Black Business Association

The Black Business Association is focused on preparing Black students for success in their professional, social and academic careers at the Smith School and beyond. They organize workshops and guest speakers while building a community for students.

“What I love the most about our club is the sense of community that we have as an organization. There is a combination of both providing resources and opportunities while creating a community.” 

– Anne Egbe ’26, co-president

Interested in joining? Visit @bba.umd or email BBA.membership@gmail.com.

Smith Business Academy

The Smith Business Academy (SBA) is a brotherhood of young minority males at the Smith School, charged with the goal of excellence. The mission of SBA is to develop its members into men who are distinct among their peers, and equip them with the necessary tools to succeed academically, professionally and socially.

“One thing I love most about my club is its commitment to developing our members into prestigious professionals in the business world. Whether it be through the alumni panels, workshops or company collab events, SBA is centered around crafting men of distinction and welcomes anyone who comes from an underrepresented ethnic background and is a Smith business student.” 

– Ababakar Sow ’26, director of communications

Interested in joining? Visit @sbaumd or join GroupMe.

National Association of Black Accountants

The National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) is a nationwide nonprofit membership association dedicated to bridging the opportunity gap for Black business leaders in accounting, finance business and entrepreneurship. The UMD is dedicated to strengthening and empowering Black business students by providing them with the necessary skills and networks to secure their desired internship and full-time role, and find their purpose in their professional careers and beyond.

“Being a part of NABA has given me the opportunity to not only grow professionally but in my personal relations as well. It’s amazing to be a part of a community where you know you’re welcomed and supported in all your endeavors!” 

– Chinwe Kalu ’26, marketing chair

Interested in joining? Visit @naba.umd.

Alumni Insights: Wisdom from the Graduates

Donna Blackman
Donna Blackman

“I had this burning desire to lead teams, which really came out of my experience at the Smith School.” – Donna Blackman, EMBA ’10, CFO Stride, Inc. 

Read about Donna
George Bradford
George Bradford

“I believe that minority kids should have the opportunity to at least plant the seed in the game of golf.” – George Bradford ’97, former PGA Tour golfer, senior vice president and resident director at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management

Read about George
Tyrone Brooks
Tyrone Brooks

“It is truly an honor to be put into this opportunity to help build our game and build a pipeline for many others,” – Tyrone Brooks ’96, senior director for Major League Baseball’s Front Office and Field Staff Diversity Pipeline Program

Read about Tyrone
Sylvia Bugg
Sylvia Bugg

As a woman in the business world, she says building a dependable network and paying it forward is important. She frequently asks herself what she can do to help the next generation succeed – and strives to be a sponsor, as well as a mentor, someone who will advocate on others’ behalf when they aren’t in the room. – Sylvia Bugg, EMBA ’12, chief programming executive and general manager of general audience programming at PBS

Read about Sylvia
Sherika Ekpo
Sherika Ekpo

“What keeps me motivated is seeing what these women have achieved, and their willingness to help me to achieve the same thing. I want to do that for others. We can all do that for others.” – Sherika Ekpo, MBA ’09 , operating partner and board director at Blackford Capital

Read about Erika
Chris Grant
Chris Grant

“I want to continue to be somebody who is seen as a leader in the broader ecosystem who can contribute more meaningfully.” – Chris Grant ’13 , real estate investment manager, now a partner with Yoke Management Partners

Read about Chris
Kendall Holbrook
Kendall Holbrook

“I stood up and said, ‘it’s painful, but don’t quit. Believe us when we say the difficulties you have will pay off in the end.’” – Kendall Holbrook, MBA ’01 , CEO Dev Technology Group

Read about Kendall
Brian Manning
Brian Manning

“It’s not just about yourself. It's about creating a better world for everyone.” – Brian Manning, MS in Finance ’18, minister in the Ministry of Finance of Trinidad and Tobago

Read about Brian
Margo Thomas
Margo Thomas

“I always point out that when we talk about women's economic empowerment that we have to realize that this is not solely a woman's issue,” says Thomas. “This is about all of us, because if you're looking at inclusive growth, the goal is to make the pie bigger so that everyone benefits. It’s not just a moral imperative, it’s an economic no-brainer.” – Margo Thomas, MS ’90 , founder and president, Women’s Economic Imperative

Read about Margo
Anthony Woods
Anthony Woods

“As a black, gay, vet, I’m sort of used to navigating the world with a multitude of perspectives or vantage points. My hope is to be authentic and open about who I am in a way that provides people an opportunity to hear from someone who maybe they wouldn’t have expected to see in a role like this.” – Anthony Woods, EMBA ’15, Maryland Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Read about Anthony

Media Contact

Greg Muraski
Media Relations Manager
301-892-0973 Mobile

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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