GHBC Announces Pinnacle and Upstart Award Winners

Black-Tie Gala Honors Houston’s Leaders and Achievers in the World of Black-Owned Enterprises

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 10/26/2015, 5:26 p.m.
Anticipation, celebration and pride filled the air on Saturday, October 10th as an elegantly appointed crowd of Houston’s business elite, ...
Elaine Barber is the new Greater Houston Black Chamber president

HOUSTON, TX – Anticipation, celebration and pride filled the air on Saturday, October 10th as an elegantly appointed crowd of Houston’s business elite, elected officials, community leaders, and aspiring entrepreneurs, along with their families and supporters, came together for the GHBC’s 21st Annual Pinnacle Awards. KPRC-TV Channel 2’s Khambrel Marshall served as the master of ceremonies for this annual salute to entrepreneurism and business achievement, which honored five local businesses and gave additional accolades to a number of enterprises and individuals whose exemplary service to the Chamber’s mission was noted with distinction.

During a program which featured live music, video profiles of eleven award finalists, and the presentation of the 2015 Pinnacle and Upstart Awards, the crowd was brought to its feet on multiple occasions in salute, appreciation, and gratitude for the honorees. One of the evening’s highlights occurred when Booker T. Morris, III, and his father Booker T. Morris, IV, serving as emissaries of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, presented on her behalf a letter from President Barack Obama saluting the Chamber’s 80th anniversary. City Controller Ronald C. Green also welcomed the GHBC’s guests on behalf of the City of Houston.

The 2015 winners of the Greater Houston Black Chamber’s prestigious Pinnacle Awards are (in alphabetical order):

+Centerpointe Hotel Partners

+NightLight Pediatric Urgent Care

+One World Strategy Group

+Sowells Construction

The Mack H. Hannah, Jr. Upstart Business Award, which includes a $2,500 cash prize, was presented to Soaps, Washes, and Grooming Essentials.

The GHBC Member of the Year Award, a distinction curated annually by the Chamber’s Chairman of the Board, was presented to Thomas Jones, of McConnell, Jones, Lanier and Murphy, LLP by Board Chair Vernita Harris.

The GHBC Advocate Award was presented to the Houston Airport System, and accepted by its Director, Mario Diaz.

Sonny Jiles and The Houston Defender were honored with the GHBC’s Endurance Award, which acknowledged the publication’s impressive 85 years of continuous operation—a milestone it achieved last Sunday, October 11th.

The GHBC Excellence Award was bestowed upon Brigance Enterprises and its owner Marcus Brigance.

City Councilman Larry V. Green, Esq., received the GHBC’s Mickey Leland Entrepreneurial Public Service Award and the Chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Gerald Smith, President and CEO of Smith, Graham & Co.

Pinnacle Co-Chair James J. Donatto, II, on behalf of his father, honorary Co-Chair James J. Donatto, Sr., observed the 100 year anniversary of the Houston-based Franklin Beauty School with a special tribute, accepted by the school’s owner Ron Jemison, Jr.

Other special guests for the evening included:

Mr. Matt Houston, Chairman of the Board of the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce, the oldest Black Chamber in America with 89 years of service

Mr. Charles O’ Neal, President of the Texas Association of African-American Chambers of Commerce

The evening closed with the ceremonial passing of the gavel from Board Chair Vernita Harris to the GHBC’s Chair-Elect, Courtney Johnson Rose, Managing Broker at George E. Johnson Development. The impact of this pivotal moment in the Chamber’s history was evident to the event’s guests, who gave a standing ovation to the leadership team that has guided and will continue to direct the Chamber’s future.

The 21st Annual Pinnacle Awards were staged at The Power Center on South Post Oak Road in Houston. The 2015 event was chaired by LaMetrice Dopson and James Donatto, II and honorary co-chairs were Theldon R. Branch, III and James Donatto, Sr.

About the Greater Houston Black Chamber

Since 1935, the Greater Houston Black Chamber (formerly the Houston Citizens Chamber of Commerce) has served as an advocate for African-American business owners and professionals in the Houston area. Now in its 80th year, the organization’s portfolio of services and programs has grown to embrace the ever-changing the needs and dramatic growth of its membership. The GHBC continues to provide value to members, area businesses and the community and has remained committed to the pursuit of success by Houston’s African-American enterprises.

With much of the nation’s attention focused on the economic state of the country, the GHBC has kept the needs of Black business owners at its forefront, earning and maintaining its position as a premier organization focused on the prosperity and growth of Black entrepreneurs. Today, the Chamber remains steadfast in its mission to provide advocacy, awareness and access to African-American businesses within the community.

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