The National Black MBA Association hosts its 43rd annual conference in Chicago September 14-18 at McCormick Place. The theme of this year’s conference is “Renew, Refresh & Reset. The National Black MBA Association is an organization that leads in the creation of educational, wealth-building, and growth opportunities for black students, professionals, and entrepreneurs. They are dedicated to developing alliances that create intellectual and economic wealth in the black community through their five channels of engagement: career, education, leadership, entrepreneurship, and lifestyle.

Joseph Handy, CEO-NBMBAA

NBMBAA CEO Joe Handy says the past two years’ events have highlighted the importance of organizations like the NBMBAA. “What’s been happing is that companies came out with a charge, mostly socially driven and motivated to put out hashtags saying that were supporting this and that however, when it was time to live beyond a hashtag, they continually fumbled. The NBMBAA holds these companies accountable. When they say there is a lack of black talent, we say, we are here, and we’ve been a pipeline to black talent for over 50 years”.

The past two years have placed many black professionals at a crossroads trying to determine if corporate America is still a good fit for them. Continued racism, lack of mentorship, and advancement coupled with day-to-day microaggressions have left many thinking about alternative career options, including entrepreneurship. The NBMBAA also works with entrepreneurs and offers support via education, resources, and mentorship. Handy says the NBMBAA assists black entrepreneurs because their business also employs other black people. “If Black businesses don’t have the support that they need, then they wind up in a situation where they can’t grow. So we want to make sure that these black businesses have all of the resources that are afforded to them that our counterparts have to ensure that they’re successful”.

This year, NBMBAA renews its commitment to restoring today’s Black professionals in the ‘new normal’ of doing business. The event will kick off on Tuesday, Sept. 14, with a Chairman’s Reception followed by a Chicago chapter reception. Then, on Wednesday, Sept. 15, dubbed Renew, Refresh & Reset, the opening session will set the stage for a week of inspiring conversation, workshops, and networking. In addition, the NBMBAA vetted companies to ensure a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“Success breeds success. We want to make sure that the qualified candidates are in positions where they can show their talent and excel. We want black people to reach forward and aspire as they elevate in their career and then reach back and pull people with them that look like them”. -Joe Handy, NBMBAA CEO.

Several impressive speakers are lined up to deliver presentations throughout the week on topics such as: How Executives Advocate for Change, Reinventing a Career, Technology and the Future of Work, Authenticity as a Business Advantage, The Social Media Effect, Cutting-Edge Marketing Trends, and more. This year’s host, Angela Burt-Murray, editorial director and screenwriter, Sunshine Group Media, will be joined by other notable names, including:

  • Michael Vick, FOX NFL Analyst and co-host of the FOX NFL Kick-off Show
  • Nicole Walters, CEO and founder Inherit Learning Company
  • Tristan Walker, CEO, and founder, Walker & Company Brands

There will also be networking opportunities for those attending the conference in-person and digitally throughout the conference. In addition, in-person and digital attendees will have the opportunity to participate in an award presentation for the H. Naylor Fitzhugh Award of Relevance, Silver Torch, Entrepreneur of the Year, Chairman’s, an Academic Partner of the Year. Attendees will also be treated to a welcome reception on the penultimate day, featuring a Taste of Chicago to sample the city’s legendary cuisine.

Touted as the Largest Network of Black Professionals, NBMBAA boasts 41 chapters, 500 corporate, academic, and not-for-profit partners, and 20,000 members. The organization offers year-round programming and events to expose members to new topics, ideas, and training. Known for its Career Expo, this year’s conference will also provide a digital component for those who cannot attend in person. The “Renew, Refresh & Reset” Digital Career Expo will take place Sept. 21-22.

“We are thrilled to be back in Chicago for this year’s conference,” said Joe Handy, President, and CEO. “Fifty-one amazing years later, this is the city that started it all. After an unconventional year like 2020, we wanted to help our members and conference attendees reset their approach to business. Adjusting to this new normal has shifted the way we, as a society, approach everything, including work. National Black MBA Association has been a beacon of excellence for Black professionals nationwide for over five decades, and we are committed to dedicating the next 50 years to building future generations of Black executives.”

For further details or to register for the event, please visit nbmbaa.org/conference.

Danielle Sanders is a journalist and writer based in Chicago. Find her on social media @DanieSanders20 or @DanieSandersOfficial.