An Evening of Excellence

The 2021 Chicago Defender Men of Excellence were honored at an induction ceremony Friday evening.  Held at Haven, owned by previous Men of Excellence honoree, Norman Bouldin, the event highlighted the achievements and accomplishments of 45 of Chicago’s leaders in business, music, education, entrepreneurship and more.

Now in its 14th year, the Men of Excellence acknowledges exemplary Black me in the community who inspire others through excellence, vision, leadership and a commitment to empowerment. Honorees were nominated by colleagues, friends and family.  With the COVID 19 pandemic, the ceremony was a scaled down version of previous events with reduced capacity and safety protocols in place.   The in-person event was hosted by WVON’s Samantha Thomas with veteran journalist, Darryl Dennard as the keynote speaker.

This year’s honorees included:

Gregg Arnold Chef Manager Pier 31 Restaurant
Stephen W. Beard, Esq. Chief Operating Officer Adtalem
Jeffery Beckham Jr. Chief Executive Officer Chicago Scholars
Kevin Betton Fire Chief Phoenix Fire Department
Jerry Brown, Esq. Attorney Siegel & Callahan, P.C
Darren Bryant Mayor City of Robbins
Vaughn Bryant Executive Director Metropolitan Family Services
William Andre Buchanan CEO/Founder Will Buchanan Investments
Honorable Kam Buckner State Representative Illinois 26th Legislative District
Kenneth Coles Executive Director/CEO DuPage Housing Authority
Derrick Curtis Alderman, 18th Ward City of Chicago
Mitchell R. Davis III Chief of Police Village of Hazel Crest
Rev. Dr. Patrick Daymond Senior Pastor Covenant United Church of Christ
Al Debonnett Chief Operating Officer CyberBanque
Thomas Henderson CEO/President. Thomas B. Henderson Insurance Agency Inc.
Darryl Hughes CEO/Co-Founder Hughes Who Technologies Studio-NFP
Terry Hunter CEO T’s Box/Chosen Few DJ’s
Gavin Jackson Co-Owner Jackson Nuckolls Group
Rael Jackson President Real Men Cook
Emmanuel Jackson President Evanston Technology Partners
Luther Lampkin Director of Technology & Innovation RG Construction
Frank Latin Founder & Executive Director Westside Media Project/Storyline Studios
Julious Lawson, Ph.D. Chief of Schools Chicago Public Schools
Alex Levesque CEO/Founder Automotive Mentoring Group
Marcus Manning Dean of Students LEARN Romano Butler
Cortez McCoy, Ph.D. Principal Walter H. Dyett High School for the Arts
Jonathan McGee Deputy Director lL Department of Commerce & Economic Opp.
Rodric Miller Owner & President M5 Logistics Group Inc.
Sharone Mitchell Jr. Esq Public Defender Cook County
Rick Nesbitt Founder & Winemaker Vintrendi Wine Company
Pha’tal Perkins Founder/CEO Think Outside Da Block
Dwayne Pickett Director of Regulatory Solutions ComEd
Marc A. Pullins Executive Director Jordyne Cares NFP
Shaka Rawls Principal Leo High School
Hosea Sanders Anchor/Reporter ABC7 Chicago
Anthony Simpkins, Esq President & Chief Executive Officer Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago
Honorable Elgie R. Sims Jr. Senator Illinois Senate
Thurman Smith Senior Vice President/Market Manager PNC Bank
William Townsell Assistant Director Chicago Police Department
Damien Trimuel Senior Manager-Financial Planning Northwestern University
Mark Walker Owner Oooh Wee It Is
Terry Wells Village President Village of Phoenix
Michael Wilder, Esq. Shareholder/Board of Directors Member Littler Mendelson, P.C.
Keith Wyche VP-Community Engagement & Support Walmart, Inc.


For more on the 2021 Chicago Defender Men of Excellence click here.


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

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