Women Atop Million-Dollar Companies

Female presidents are honored for giving back to the black community.

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On Friday evening she was one of the honorees at a reception held in collaboration with 100 Black Men, a men's civic organization aimed at mentoring and educating African-American teens of both genders, and the Women Presidents' Organization, a nonprofit supporting female presidents of multimillion dollar companies. The event honored women of color entrepreneurs whose businesses have reached annual revenues of at least $2 million (or $1 million for a service-based industry), at the City Club of Washington.

Stith was was one of 25 honorees who lead various businesses ranging from areas of security, IT, construction and real estate. The night celebrated women who have not only have excelled in business, but have also made a meaningful impact in their communities.

"It is one amazing honor to be able to receive an award, not only as a woman of color but from the male, men of color, 100 Black Men," said another honoree, Necole Parker, CEO of the Elocen Group, a program and project-management firm that handles construction. "It's an honor especially being an African-American female and in a male-dominated industry. I'm very inspired, very honored, as I continue to grow my business and grow my company. I've received other awards but this one here tonight is very inspirational to me. It means a lot."

"We're a mentoring organization, volunteer-led, but we also understand that we can't do the things that we want to do in the community without women. Our wives, our spouses, our mothers, our aunts, our grandmothers," Michael Brown, national president of 100 Black Men of America, told The Root. "And what a wonderful opportunity for us to be able to honor 25 very distinguished businesswomen that have made such an impact, not only economically but also within the community, and that's really what we're all about. It's not 100 Black Men exclusive, but it's also trying to make sure that we lift up the African-American community through our work, and I think that this is just another opportunity to showcase that.

"I hope what the [award] does is it highlights how we feel their importance is in our lives and in our community. There's too few times when we get to turn around and say thank you to African-American women that allow us to do the things that we do. It's really a partnership. We stand side by side, shoulder by shoulder, in trying to figure out what we can do to help the next generation," Brown added.

"Minority women, women in general, are not always as represented in these arenas, and so for us to be able to have leadership roles and impact in our communities and being positive role models for girls like us, I think it's great," Denise Garcia Van Wyngaadt, CEO of Indigo IT and a third-generation Mexican-American, said. 

As for Nakia Smith, the award is meaningful for her, too.

"For me this award is both special and unique because it's being recognized by people who work in the communities that you come from," she said. "So that's very important. and I think it's ... nice to be able to be a part of that, and I think it's profound in its own way for 100 Black Men to look at business women of color in this way."

Breanna Edwards is a newswriter at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.

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