By African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey

The African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ) hosted its annual Black History Month Event, The Eleventh Annual Circle of Achievement Awards Gala on Feb. 11. The theme for the Virtual Black-Tie Awards Gala was “Responding to the Call”, and was stream live on the AACCNJ website www.aaccnj.com.

Each year during Black History Month, the AACCNJ recognizes a distinguished group of African Americans that have attained a significant level of accomplishment in business, politics, education, sports and/or entertainment. The 2021 Honorees are: Alison Banks-Moore, Chief Diversity Officer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Olympic Medalist, Ralph Albert Thomas, CPA (DC), CGMA, CEO & Executive Director, New Jersey CPA Society, and Ralph Weaver, Founder & CEO, East West Connection.

The keynote speaker for the gala was Bob Kendricks, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) in Kansas City, Missouri.

During most of 2020 due to safety and health regulations as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the AACCNJ has established itself for being able to present virtual high-quality content events, with the support of our strategic and corporate partnerships. The AACCNJ has doubled down on its commitment during this critical time of advancing its mission to sustain as many black businesses as possible through sharing resources, opportunities, and information vital to the survival of these business owners and their communities.

The annual Gala provides the platform, on behalf of AACCNJ members and the over 80,000 New Jersey black owned businesses, to continue to showcase our members and their goods and services with the goal of increasing supplier diversity and inclusion for opportunities throughout the state, on behalf of the 1.2 million Black New Jersey residents.

Bristol Myers Squibb was the “Exclusive Event Title Sponsor” of the 2021 Gala.

“Bristol Myers Squibb is delighted to be the title sponsor of the AACCNJ’s 11th Annual Awards Gala, and congratulations to all honorees and award winners,” said Rondu Vincent, executive director, supplier diversity & sustainability. “At Bristol Myers Squibb, we are committed to supplier diversity and to working with suppliers representing the diversity of our employees, our patients and the communities where we live and work. We look forward to building relationship with the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey and continue to drive economic development and create impact in the diverse business communities that includes African American business owners.” Bristol Myers Squibb is a leading biopharma company with a significant presence in central New Jersey.

Investors Bank was the Platinum Sponsor for the 2021 Gala.

“Strong communities are essential to the economic vitality of New Jersey, and strong businesses provide the foundation for that economy. However, this only happens when all communities are recognized, heard, and afforded the same opportunities,” said Kevin Cummings, Chairman and CEO, Investors Bank. “Investors Bank is proud to support the African American Chamber of Commerce’s efforts to ensure the collective voice of African American business leaders are given those opportunities. Investors congratulates the Gala honorees for their outstanding contributions and the pride they bring to all communities.” Kevin Cummings, Chairman & CEO, Investors Bank.

“The success of the mission of the AACCNJ and the growth and sustainability of our constituency is inextricably linked to the Resources, Opportunities and Information provided by our strategic partners, we salute Bristol Myers Squibb and Investors Bank as well as the many sponsors who have made our 2021 Gala possible.” John E. Harmon, Sr., IOM

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