Executive Economic Summit Series

May 9, 2017
Chicago, Illinois

The Executive Economic Summit Series is part of the CBCF’s Center for Policy Analysis and Research initiative designed to advance policies and investments to improve access to lending funds, grow jobs and nurture innovative minority business development.

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Executive Economic Summit IV

The CBCF Executive Economic Summit series heads to Chicago, Illinois. Building on the first three Summits, part four in the series is entitled, Chicago Ready: Strategies for Black Business Growth and Development.

This event is a unique opportunity to glean best practices of black-owned businesses while also recognizing the realities of black business flight and socioeconomic hardships facing Chicago's black community.

How do we leverage Chicago's strengths to revitalize one of the most historic black cities in America? What lessons can be learned from longtime black-owned Chicago firms? What policies, programs, and strategies can be proposed to ensure Chicago's black community has a pipeline to benefit from and contribute to black business growth and development in the city? Together, we aim to answer these questions.

Individuals interested in learning more about the CBCF Executive Economic Summit series should submit an application online. Each application will be considered within the context of the overall balance of Summit attendees with respect to the industry/source market and participant type, such as investor and/or economic empowerment organization. As space is limited, we may not be able to accommodate all requests.

Please note: Invitations to the Summit are non-transferable. CBCF maintains this ideal event size to foster engaging discussions and networking focused around this unique interactive segment.

Building a legacy of economic empowerment success

This high profile invitation-only Summit provides unprecedented access to some of the nation’s most compelling business and marketplace thought leaders, CEOs, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, investment groups, financial professionals and policy makers. It will be attended by those with a desire to learn better strategies for capital expansion, including how to seek large-scale investments in minority-owned businesses.

Barriers to capital access have historically and disproportionately affected African-American owned firms and other Minority Business Enterprises. As part of the CBCF’s minority business development and entrepreneurship initiative, the Economic Executive Summit series will address:

 Capital expansion: Greater access to financing from the private equity firms, angel investors and venture capitalists.

 Entrepreneurial education: Empower more entrepreneurs with the skills and resources for success, including raising capital, financial management, strategic planning, and brand positioning.

  Strategic partnerships: Strengthen partnerships across the government, business and financial services sectors with the goal of identifying strategies and initiatives aimed at ensuring minority access to capital.

  Actionable outcomes: Develop strategies and policy recommendations for achieving economic parity.

  • Alaa Basatneh

    Justice Correspondent, FUSION

  • John Burnett

    Managing Director, 1EmpireSolutions

  • Susan M. Collins, Ph.D

    Dean of Public Policy, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy

  • Derek R. B. Douglas

    Vice President for Civic Engagement and External Affairs, University of Chicago

  • Cheryl Grace

    Senior Vice President of U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer
    Engagement, Nielsen

  • Fabian Elliott

    Founder & CEO, Black Tech Mecca Inc.

  • John Flavin

    Associate Vice President, University of Chicago, Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

  • Perri L. Irmer

    President and CEO,
    DuSable Museum of African American History

  • Melinda Kelly

    Chairman, Chatham Association Small Business Development

  • Robert A. Klamp

    CEO, ISF Bank

  • Haki Madhubuti

    Publisher, Editor, and Educator

  • Ralph G. Moore, CPA

    Founder, RGMA

  • Halleemah Nash

    Executive Director, iMentor Chicago

  • Phil Nevels

    Managing Director, Nameless Ventures

  • Mark L. Ferguson

  • Hill Harper

  • The Hon. Greg Mathis

  • Quintin E. Primo III

  • John W. Rogers, Jr.


We have an exciting line up of dynamic speakers from various industries.

Alaa Basatneh is a human rights activist, writer and Justice Correspondent at FUSION and is the protagonist in the 2013 award-winning documentary, #ChicagoGirl, following Alaa’s tireless efforts to guide revolution in war-torn Syria using only social media and her laptop from 6,000 miles away in the suburbs of Chicago. #ChicagoGirl, which aired in over 40 countries including FUSION, Al Jazeera and is currently on Netflix, is a story of perseverance and newage revolution. Alaa has been featured in international newspapers and media outlets, including the New York Times and the Huffington Post. From the young age of 14, Alaa has been proud to share her good will and rich culture with others, and even taught Arabic to a class of 36 students at a community center in Chicago. Fostering understanding and building a bridge between the Arab World and the United States of America is her ultimate goal.

John Burnett is a Managing Director at 1EmpireSolutions, a business and technology consulting firm specializing in business and financial analytics, process re-engineering, technology strategy and implementation. John is a business executive with over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. He has held leadership roles in risk management, compliance, and operations at some of the world’s top financial services and business information companies; such as Citi, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and S&P Global-Platts. John’s sound business acumen is matched only by a strong sense of civic responsibility, lending his time to several community-based organizations and advising entrepreneurs of tomorrow. John is currently servicing his community through various not-for-profit organizations.

Susan M. Collins is the Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of Public Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and a professor of public policy and economics. She began her deanship in August 2007, was reappointed to a second term in 2012, and will step down from the deanship, after ten productive years, on June 30. Before coming to Michigan, Collins was a professor of economics at Georgetown University and a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution, where she retains a nonresident affiliation. She is an international economist whose research interests focus on the implications of increasing international economic integration and the determinants of economic growth in industrial, emerging market, and developing countries. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Derek Douglas is the Vice President for Civic Engagement and External Affairs at the University of Chicago and a Senior Fellow and Lecturer at the University’s Harris School of Public Policy. He spearheads the University’s efforts to work in partnership with the surrounding south side neighborhoods, city and region. Douglas served on the White House Domestic Policy Council as Special Assistant to President Barack Obama, where he led the DPC’s work on urban and metropolitan policy issues. Douglas worked as Washington Counsel to New York Governor Paterson; served as Associate Director of Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress; was Counsel at O’Melveny & Myers LLP and Assistant Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Douglas is a Nonresident Senior Fellow for the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. Douglas graduated from the University of Michigan with Highest Honors in Economics and from the Yale Law School.

Fabian Elliott is a “Hybrid Entrepreneur” as Founder & CEO of Black Tech Mecca Inc. and an Advertising Technology Consultant at Google. In his ad-tech consulting capacity, he works with top tier clients like Target, Ford, Kimberly Clark, and others to better leverage their consumer data to drive their digital advertising strategies. Fabian’s burning vision for black empowerment through technology inspired him to play a key role in the revamp, revitalization, and rebrand of Google’s black employee group in which he recently completed his term as inaugural appointed Global Co-Chair last year. In this role, Fabian co-chaired the 10-person leadership team responsible for the 700+ membership across the company and the 14 chapters spanning the globe including London, Dublin, and Sao Paulo. Now, his latest endeavor entails transferring the expertise he used to drive change within the world’s most valuable company to the city he has come to love, by leading the charge to transform Chicago into the “Global Black Tech Mecca.” His organization, Black Tech Mecca, has a focused niche in tech ecosystem building through strengthening connections within the black tech community, quantifying collective impact, and directing growth.

John Flavin leads the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which provides integrated resources and educational programming to drive venture creation and technology commercialization at the University of Chicago and in the surrounding community. An entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience in the life sciences field focused on finance and operations, Flavin has co-founded and built several biotech companies and raised over $250 million in private and public capital. John led 2 successful NASDAQ IPOs for MediChem and Advanced Life Sciences where he also spearheaded several corporate development transactions with pharmaceutical companies. As an active supporter of the Midwest biotech ecosystem, John helped launch and scale Chicago Innovation Mentors, a consortium of universities to support faculty based start-ups and co-founded MATTER, Chicago’s health-tech start-up hub. He is also Managing Director at Flavin Ventures, LLC, a biotech venture creation and management firm.

Cheryl Grace is Senior Vice President of U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement for Nielsen, the global company that measures what consumers watch and what consumers buy. She is a highly accomplished thought leader and the visionary behind Nielsen’s African-American Consumer Report. This award-winning report led to the company’s historic creation of Nielsen’s Diversity Insights Series. Each report focuses on the rapidly growing Hispanic, African-American or Asian consumer base. Known for her engaging and refreshing perspective about why we buy what we buy Cheryl is a much sought after speaker.

Perri Irmer is President and CEO of the DuSable Museum of African American History, the iconic institution founded by Dr. Margaret Burroughs. It is the oldest institution of its kind in the U.S. She has held this position since September, 2015, and her plans for The DuSable include advancing Dr. Burroughs’ vision of the museum as a center for African and African American arts and culture, as well as a center for thought leadership and community advancement. Ms. Irmer was born and raised in Hyde Park, holds a Professional Bachelor of Architecture degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School. Just prior to joining the DuSable, Irmer ran her own global project management and strategic planning firm.

Melinda Kelly is the Chairman of Chatham Association Small Business Development (“CBA”) where she advocates for and provides viable effective support to small businesses. CBA is a thought leader in Community Transformation whose goal is to enhance the social, political, and economic growth within Chatham and surrounding Chicago communities. Kelly’s advocacy work and success in facilitating Public/Private Sector Partnerships in support of Economic Development have yielded CBA greater prominence and recognition as a leader in the business and non-profit industry. The accomplishment of goals — set by CBA, led by Kelly — gained the organization financial support for the creation of various initiatives expanding and strengthening the organizations network and budget. Kelly has earned the support of several prominent organizations and individuals including both Honorable Mayors Rahm Emanuel and Richard M. Daley. Kelly’s “common sense” approach to economic development and workforce initiatives has gained CBA influence as a policy consultant on economic development to governmental agencies, large corporations and other service organizations.

Robert Klamp’s banking career has spanned over forty years, encompassing all areas of bank operations and management. Additionally, he has extensive consulting experience in the areas of banking products and services, marketing, feasibility studies, operations, compliance, lending and community development programs. Klamp has been associated with the American Institute of Banking (Illinois Bankers Association) as an instructor since 1987, leading classes in bank accounting, banking law, negotiable instruments, regulatory reporting, banking operations, lending and management. In 1996, he was appointed as an advisor to the State Treasurer of the State of Illinois to review general banking services and policies. As Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of a minority owned bank and Community Development Financial Institution, Klamp developed economic enhancement programs to service a number of low-income communities throughout the Chicago area. He has led the development of financial literacy programs and has been active in the fight against predatory lending. Over 3,400 jobs in low-income communities have been created as a result of these programs.

A leading poet and one of the architects of the Black Arts Movement, Haki R. Madhubuti—publisher, editor and educator—has been a pivotal figure in the development of a strong Black literary tradition. He has published more than 31 books (some under his former name, Don L. Lee) and is one of the world’s best-selling authors of poetry and non-fiction. His Black Men: Obsolete, Single, Dangerous? The African American Family in Transition (1990) has sold more than 1 million copies. Professor Madhubuti is a proponent of independent Black institutions. He founded Third World Press in 1967. He is a founder of the Institute of Positive Education/New Concept School (1969), and a cofounder of Betty Shabazz International Charter School (1998), Barbara A. Sizemore Middle School (2005), and DuSable Leadership Academy (2005), all of which are in Chicago. Professor Madhubuti is an award-winning poet and recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, the American Book Award, an Illinois Arts Council Award, the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award and others.

Ralph G. Moore, CPA, founded RGMA in 1979 where he has leveraged the skills he cultivated at Arthur Andersen & Co. to build one of America’s premier business diversity and minority business development consulting firms. RGMA has trained more supplier diversity professionals than any other firm worldwide. Clients have included Major League Baseball, Walmart, and the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC). He is also a special advisor to AP Capital Holdings. Mr. Moore authored the RGMA Five Levels of Supplier Diversity which is recognized as the gold standard for benchmarking supplier diversity initiatives worldwide. He has led training seminars throughout the United States, South Africa, France, United Kingdom and Canada. Mr. Moore has fought for economic justice most of his life. While a student at Southern Illinois University (SIU) in 1968, he volunteered at the Operation Breadbasket’s Black Expo and joined the picket lines with Reverend Jesse L. Jackson to protest discriminatory hiring practices at A&P Stores. His life-long work in minority business development began in 1974 as Vice President of a Chicago-Based Minority Enterprise Small Business Investment Company (MESBIC). Later that year Mr. Moore had the opportunity to work with two of the legends of minority business development, Congressman Parren Mitchell (D-MD) and Reginald L. Lewis, as the MESBIC industry lobbied the Nixon Administration for increased capitalization of the program.

Halleemah Nash is the Executive Director of iMentor Chicago, an organization that builds rigorous, high-impact mentoring relationships that ensure more students from low-income communities succeed in college. The program is currently scaling to serve over 700 mentor/mentee relationships in Chicago Public Schools. She entered this role with a diverse background as a demonstrated executive in nonprofit management and developing signature community based outreach programs and fundraising strategies for sports entities, faith based organizations, government agencies, and universities. As a consultant, Nash’s philanthropy and project management portfolio includes large individual brands like Nike, the United Nations, the Mayor of Compton, California Aja Brown, Actor and Hip Hop Artist Common, as well as charity projects and foundation management for athletes Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers) Dwayne Wade (Chicago Bulls), Joakim Noah (Former Chicago Bulls/ NY Knicks), Jonathan Toews (Chicago Blackhawks) and Israel Idonije (Chicago Bears). Nash is a proud product of Compton, California – a city that has greatly shaped her ambition, values, and interest in reaching back as she climbs. She is a first generation college graduate who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Howard University, and a Master of Divinity and Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University.

Phil Nevels is a Managing Director at Nameless Ventures, a Chicago-based angel network focused on making investments in early stage technology companies. Nameless membership is predominantly comprised of current and former entrepreneurs focused on lending their operational expertise to their portfolio companies. Prior to starting Nameless Ventures, Phil was a Managing Director at NextGen Venture Partners, a network-driven venture capital firm based in Washington, D.C. While at NextGen, Phil executed seed stage investments across a variety of industries including healthcare, consumer web, and cybersecurity. Phil’s experience at NextGen was one of a number of roles through which Phil has sought to contribute to Chicago’s burgeoning tech/entrepreneurship ecosystem. Phil’s contributions include his time as Executive Director of ChicagoNEXT, an organization tasked by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to foster economic development in Chicago through entrepreneurship, and his efforts as COO/Co-founder of Power2Switch (acquired in 2013 by Choose Energy), a company he started in 2009 to help customers benefit from electric utility deregulation across 8 states.


There are numerous ways to support the CBCF and our Executive Economic Summit Series. For sponsorship opportunities, please view our sponsorship guide and contact our Resource Development Team for more information:
Email: RD@cbcfinc.org
Phone: 202-263-2810

view our sponsorship guide

Note to All Summit Attendees

CBCF Photo/Video Release:
By attending the Executive Economic Summit, you authorize the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc., (CBCF) to use the following personal information:
(1) Your picture – including photographic, motion picture, and electronic (video) images.
(2) Your voice – including sound and video recordings.