GBC honors winners of 2010 'Bridging the Gap' Award

The Greater Baltimore Committee honored 14 winners of the 2010 Bridging the Gap Achievement Awards on October 13 during ceremonies at the Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel.

"These award winners were honored for minority business achievement and dedication to strengthening the development of the minority and women-owned business sector," said GBC President and CEO Donald C. Fry. "They are representative of many highly-driven and successful business entrepreneurs that are examples of the kind of private-sector achievement that drives our economy and will drive it through to the other side of the recession."
Winners of the 2010 Bridging the Gap Achievement Awards are:

Successful Minority or Women-owned Firms

Amethyst Technologies, LLC, Kimberly Brown, CEO
Kimberly Brown, a graduate of Baltimore’s Polytechnic Institute who obtained her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Maryland College Park, in 2007 purchased the contract she had been working on as an intern employee at a local biotech firm. Since then, her biotech services firm, Amethyst Technologies, has become one of the fastest-growing tenants at UMBC’s incubator. It now has 22 employees and annual revenues of $1.8 million. It was awarded a multi-year federal contract to provide system development services worldwide and has also expanded its services beyond biotech manufacturing facilities to the food and beverage industry, with Coca-Cola as its first beverage client. A graduate of UMBC’s ACTIVATE program for women entrepreneurs, Dr. Brown is also committed to community service, among other things launching a successful semester-long internship program that has employed six college students since 2007.

Barb Clapp Advertising and Marketing, Barb Clapp, CEO
Barb Clapp fulfilled a life-long dream when she founded her advertising and marketing agency nine years ago.  Since then, her boutique-sized woman-owned and women-driven agency has converted an organizational can-do spirit, customer service with a personal touch, and a penchant for over-delivering on promises into a flourishing business in a highly-competitive field. The agency’s more than 35 active accounts, including numerous national and regional businesses and organizations, reflect the high degree of customer satisfaction among her clients.  For all of her success, Ms. Clapp herself lists her greatest accomplishment, as a business owner, her work in mentoring other women and, in her words, “helping them believe in themselves and to follow their dreams.”

Harris Jones & Malone, Lisa Harris Jones, Principal
Lisa Harris Jones became the first African-American woman in Maryland to open her own lobbying firm when she founded Harris Jones & Malone in 2000.  She has been one of the top-rated lobbying firms for the past three years, despite employing a much smaller staff than her primary competitors. Representing minority interests such as the Maryland Minority Contractors Association, Ms. Jones has helped advance the cause of minority-owned businesses within the state. Her tireless dedication to overcoming obstacles and pursuing success sets her apart as a lobbyist and business owner. She serves as an inspiration not only to women and minority business owners, but to all of Maryland’s business community.

Legacy Builders and Construction Services, Inc., Kinya Stewart, CEO
Two and a half years ago, at the beginning of the recession, Kinya Stewart and her husband, Jimmy, decided to start their own contracting business, drawing on their experience gained from working for local contractors and developers. In a time when so many companies are failing, Legacy Builders and Construction Services is flourishing. The company is distinguished by its strength of commitment to diversity and superior business practices firmly based on honesty and integrity. It’s highly-diverse workforce, business contacts and advisors cut across racial and ethnic lines. As a result of their superior management and business practices, in a few short years Kinya and Jimmy Stewart have built their business from scratch into a multi-million dollar venture.

Murthy Law Firm, Sheela Murthy, president
The Murthy Law Firm’s founder and president, Sheela Murthy, began her career as a French teacher in Bangalore, India. Today she is a celebrated business leader and mentor. After immigrating to the United States, she graduated from Harvard Law School and worked for seven years as an attorney with law firms in New York and Baltimore, before launching her own firm in 1974.  It has since grown into one of the world’s most recognized immigration law firms, with 74 professionals working to help individuals and businesses through the immigration process. Mrs. Murthy sets an example with her contagious spirit of giving and was named 2009 Philanthropist of the Year by United Way of Central Maryland. She also exudes passion for America as a place for success. In her own words: “The wonderful thing about this country is that it provides incredible opportunities for those who are willing to partake of the American dream. We are so blessed that, in our work each day, we can help others to achieve that dream.”

P-B Health Home Care Agency, Jackie Bailey, owner and CEO
In 1994 Jackie Bailey, a young nurse who was involved in a county program to serve the elderly, saw a great need for home-based health care to a substantially-underserved population -- the Baltimore region’s senior citizens. That year, she founded P-B Health Home Care Agency with four employees. Since then, her business has grown to 135 employees and revenue of $6 million. Operating in an intensely-regulated industry, the agency delivers quality service through highly-trained minority employees. Minorities are readily hired for administrative positions and fully trained to succeed in their jobs. The company also reflects the high-priority Ms. Bailey puts on furthering formal education by offering employees a tuition-reimbursement program.  This company provides valuable advancement opportunities for minorities while delivering a valuable service to the community.
Special Gathering LLC, Danielle Johnson, CEO
Danielle Johnson took the skills and knowledge she acquired as an administrative assistant at the Annie E. Casey Foundation and formed a special events company, Special Gathering, LLC.  Her company has distinguished itself through its ability to deliver quality events, not matter what the size or budget. Its events have ranged from philanthropic meetings and private gatherings to weddings and film screenings. Ms. Johnson is a model for young black women who are, perhaps, tentative about stepping out on her own and building businesses around their unique talents.  Ms. Johnson is also an example of a business leader driven by an internal moral compass.  She meets the demands of her clients while acquiring services from minority-owned subcontractors who deliver quality while providing gainful employment to many disadvantaged workers, including ex-offenders and former addicts. She is a shining example of an employer who never loses sight of her humanity.

Trans Time Express, Mona Toosi, Principal
Trans Time Express, a 22-year-old woman-owned courier business, and its principal Mona Toosi, sets a standard of noteworthy service and achievement in a 24-hour business where minutes count.  Ms. Toosi “always rises to the occasion” and “goes the extra mile in all circumstances,” say executives at MedStar Health, for which transporting life-saving medical specimens and lab results by courier comprises the backbone of patient care. Last winter, Trans Time Express was an essential part of MedStar’s emergency team and accomplished timely deliveries in the midst of the record snowstorm that crippled the region.  During the storm, one priority medical delivery was stalled by standstill snowed-in traffic on I-95 South. Trans Time Express called in a second vehicle in the northbound lane, drivers went across the median and moved the delivery coolers to the back-up vehicle, which then took an alternate route to their DC destination.  There are few better examples of commitment to service than that.

Majority Company Embracing Inclusive Business Practices

Wachovia Bank, Andrew Bertamini, Regional President
Wachovia Bank’s Regional President Andrew Bertamini is a tireless advocate for minority and women business owners in the Greater Baltimore region, for which numerous examples of his dedication abound.

  • He has supported and counseled members of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Maryland and D.C. on financial literacy.
  • He has partnered with the National Association of Women Business Owners to conduct workshops on issues ranging from financial statements to business lending structures and financing options and opportunities.
  • Most recently collaborated with the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs to present a workshop that educated more than 400 minority entrepreneurs about procurement, minority business certification, and lending.
  • Wachovia’s own regional banking team reflects his commitment to diversity and to the community, involving itself in projects such as the makeover of the Robert C. Marshall Community Center, where more than 60 volunteers from the bank completely renovated the facility. In leading Wachovia’s regional banking operations, Mr. Bertamini has emphatically demonstrated his dedication to the minority and women-owned business sector and to thoroughly understanding and addressing its needs.  He has consistently gone above and beyond the routine banking framework to assist minority and women entrepreneurs in delivering solutions, whether they in the form of financial literacy training, mentorship, facilitating workshops, or simply providing individual guidance to small business owners.

Successful Partnership or Strategic Alliance

  • Mercy Medical Center, Tom Mullen, president and CEO
  • Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, Timothy J. Regan, executive vice president
  • Maryland Washington Minority Contractors Association, Wayne Frazier, president
  • Congressman Elijah Cummings

As Mercy Medical Center planned to build its new 670,000 square-foot replacement hospital, Mercy’s president and CEO, Tom Mullen, organized a unique, four-way partnership between Mercy, Whiting-Turner, the Maryland Washington Minority Contractors Association, and Congressman Elijah Cummings. The goal of the partnership was to proactively achieve substantial participation of minority-owned and women-owned vendors in the project. As a vital part of Baltimore City for more than 136 years, Mercy wanted to voluntarily encourage the use of minority and women-owned businesses.  Before the project started, the partnership organized a job fair for MBE/WBE vendors and established relationships with prospective vendors. As the project began in 2007 and moved forward, the partners continued to cultivate the participation of MBE and WBE vendors and regularly tracked the level of minority and women-owned business participation. As a result of this partnership, more than 50 minority and women-owned vendors participated in the construction of the new hospital, which will open on December 19, 2010.  So far, they’ve earned more than $41 million in revenue from the project.  Mercy continues to provide Congressman Cummings with status reports on minority and women-owned vendor participation. This partnership sets an compelling example of a proactive, effective effort to strengthen the minority and women-owned business sector and, in the process, benefit from the quality and innovation that these businesses have to offer.

President’s Award

Robert L. Wallace, BITHGROUP Technologies, Inc.
BITHGROUP Technologies CEO Robert L. Wallace has dedicated himself passing on to the next generation the business knowledge he has acquired in building a highly successful information technology and management consulting firm.  He launched an informative internet portal that is dedicated to building an online community for minority, female, and young entrepreneurs. Three years ago, he founded a summer internship program for low-income students who have shown an interest in science, technology, engineering and math. He has also focused on making the business case to large corporations on the value of small and minority businesses involvement in their missions.  He has served as a minority business advisor to many institutional clients who have recognized the value of small and minority-owned businesses and depend on his advice in retaining minority firms as partners and collaborators.  Clients have included IBM, Toyota, HP, the NFL, SAIC – the Science Applications International Corporation. Wallace, who earned a bachelors degree in engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and a masters degree in business administration from Dartmouth, has authored a number of books to guide small and minority businesses through the intricacies of business building and entrepreneurship. For extraordinary business achievement and dedication to minority and women-owned business development, the Greater Baltimore Committee is proud to honor Robert L. Wallace with the 2010 Bridging the Gap President’s Award.

Event sponsors

Event sponsors include Signature Sponsor MedStar Health; Gold Sponsor The Shelter Group; Media Sponsors The Baltimore Times and The Daily Record; and Bronze Sponsors Baltimore Development Corporation, Bon Secours Baltimore Health System, Inc., Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake, Inc., Johns Hopkins Medicine, LifeBridge Health, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Maryland Hospital Association, and Saul Ewing LLP.

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