African American Black Male Staff

University of Cincinnati
African American Black Male Staff Employee Resource Group Presents

The UC Black Male Summit - CLOSED

Saturday April 2nd 2022 9:00AM-2:00PM

Location: AACRC on UC Main Campus

Theme: “I AM Because What WE ARE”

Umoja, The First Principle of Kwanzaa – To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race. Umoja stresses the importance of togetherness for the family and the community, which is reflected in the African proverb, “I AM because WE ARE.”

The vision of the University of Cincinnati Black Male Summit is to provide aid in bridging identifiable gaps relating to social opportunities, innovations, and professional networking for Black male students, staff, and faculty. The UC Black Male Summit will provide a seminar, workshops, and community awareness education relating to:

  • The Importance of Higher Education
  • Black Male Retention (Student/Staff/Faculty)
  • Academic, Professional & Career Development
  • Leadership & Organizational Activism
  • Local Community Engagement
  • Black Men Mental Health & Awareness

The agenda for the event will be as follows

  • 9:00 AM - 9:30 AM | Light Breakfast/Opening Ceremonies
  • 9:30 AM - 10:00 AM | Keynote Speaker: Power of Organization and Unity
  • 10:00 AM - 10:45 AM | 1st Breakout Session
  • 10:45 AM - 11:00 AM |Break/Network
  • 11:00 AM - 11:45 AM |2nd Breakout Session
  • 11:45 AM - 12:30 PM |Catered Lunch/Network
  • 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM |Lessons in Leadership Panel
  • 1:30 PM - 1:45 PM |Break/Network
  • 1:45 PM - 2:00 PM | Group Discussion/Closing Remarks
African American Cultural Center
University of Cincinnati
Office of Equity & Inclusion

Individuals with an interest in addressing ways to bridge identifiable gaps affecting black males relating to social opportunities, innovations and professional networking will find the summit useful. Any student, faculty or staff is welcomed to attend the free Summit.


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Keynote Speaker

Photo of Kenneth Winston Simonson

Kenneth Winston Simonson, Jr.

Mr. Simonson worked in the College of Engineering and Applied Science for thirty-three years. He assisted in the development of the Emerging Ethnic Engineers Program (E3) and specifically the Summer Bridge Program. Mr. Simonson dedicated his service to the recruitment and graduation of underrepresented students in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Cincinnati.

Mr. Simonson earned a certificate in Management Development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education Institutes of Higher Education and a certificate in Higher Education Leadership.

Mr. Simonson is Vice President of GRAD Cincinnati, a non-profit organization with the goal of improving the academic success of Cincinnati Public Schools students.  He also serves on the Western Hills High School Local Shared Decision Making Committee.

Lessons in Leadership Panel

James Mack

James Mack, PhD

James Mack is a professor of chemistry with an interest in the development of environmentally benign chemical reactions.  After completing his Bachelor’s degree at Middlebury College (1995), he was awarded a New England Board of Higher Education Scholarship and earned his doctoral degree at the University of New Hampshire, studying the derivations of fullerenes under the supervision of Glen P. Miller (2000). 

After earning his doctoral degree, he was a postdoctoral fellow with Lawrence T. Scott developing a benchtop synthesis of fullerenes and nanotubes using corannulene-based building blocks. He joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati (2003), was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure (2009), and was promoted to the rank of Professor (2016).  

His research has been featured in the New York Times, Chemical and Engineering News, and Chemistry and Industry. In addition to his research accomplishments, he received recognition for his mentorship and service by both graduate and undergraduate students.  More recently, he was appointed the Divisional Dean of Natural Science in the College of Arts and Science.

Todd Pettiford

Todd Pettiford

Todd Pettiford is the newly appointed Assistant Dean of Student Services at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). Todd came to UC/CCM from Stanford University, where he served as an Assistant Dean of Students in the Graduate Life Office. Prior to that, he served as the Director of Student Affairs and several other key administrative roles at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. 

A proud member of the performing arts community, Todd spent over 15 years as a working actor, performing in numerous Broadway, Off-Broadway, and National Tour productions, including Rent, Ragtime, Riverdance, Smokey Joe's Cafe, and The Lion King. He was also a member of the Grammy award-winning Broadway Inspirational Voices for twenty years. He is a proud alum of Hampton University where he received his Bachelor of Science in Business. He also holds a Master of Education and Counseling Psychology from James Madison University. A native Daytonian, Todd is excited to be back in the Buckeye state and looks forward to continued advocacy and support of marginalized communities.

Laurence Jones

Laurence Jones

Laurence Jones co-founded RiskVersity in 2015 and CyberSure in 2021. He brings 22 years of experience in accounting, risk management, finance, and business operations. He is responsible for client management, risk audits, insurance program management, strategic relationships for client resources and talent resources. He has experience working with K-12 schools, nonprofit organizations, public entity organizations, higher education, healthcare, financial services, manufacturing, professional services, and restaurant clients. Laurence is active in Cincinnati’s business community. Laurence served as a partner at the accounting firm Brixey & Meyer and a senior accountant at Ernst & Young before starting RiskVersity. He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from the University of Cincinnati.

He serves as a Director for the RIMS Ohio River Valley Chapter, Treasurer Cincinnati Insurance Board, University of Cincinnati Foundation Trustee: Chair of Equity & Inclusion  Committee and Audit & Risk Committee member, Business Advisory Council University of Cincinnati Lindner College of Business, Board of Advisors University of Cincinnati Business Fellows, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access Committee Member at the Goering Center, Board Chair Southwest Ohio Regional Workforce Investment Board, Board Vice-Chair HCDC and Chair of Economic Development Committee, Executive Board Member Talbert House and Finance Committee, Board Member Cancer Support Community, Board Member Saint Ursula Academy, and Chair Finance Committee as well as member Fairfield City Schools Equity Leadership Team.

Photo J. Phillip Holloman

J. Phillip Holloman

Mr. Holloman was with Cintas for 22 years and held many positions including Vice President of Engineering/Construction, Vice President of Distribution/Production Planning, Executive Champion of Six Sigma Initiatives, Senior Vice President of Global Supply Chain Management, Rental Division President & COO, and President & COO. Mr. Holloman is a founding member of Cintas’ Diversity Committee and also received the Excalibur Award, the company’s highest award reserved for business executives who demonstrate excellence during their tenure.

Mr. Holloman is also the recipient of numerous external awards and recognition. In 2009, he was recognized in Black Enterprise magazine as one of the “100 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America.” He received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Wilberforce University; was a 2010 Cincinnati “Men of Honor, A Salute to African American Men” award recipient, and received the Merlin Pope, Jr. Diversity Leadership Award in 2012. Mr. Holloman was named a University of Cincinnati Kautz Alumni Master in 2012 as well. 

Mr. Holloman serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Rockwell Automation; serves on the Business School Advisory Board for Florida A&M University and on the Advisory Boards for the Business School and the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences for the University of Cincinnati; is a Board Member of the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati; serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC); serves on the University of Cincinnati Foundation’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council; and serves on the Advisory Board of the Middletown, Ohio Teen Mentoring Program.

Breakout Session Presenters


W. Ricky Pleasant

Presentation Topic | Academic, Professional, and Career Development

Academic, Professional, and Career Development (zip)

Ricky Pleasant is the Program Coordinator for the TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) program at UCBA.  Ricky has over 10+ years of experience in academic and career development.

Prior to joining TRIO SSS, Ricky was the Executive Assistant to the General Manager for the American Black Film Festival in Los Angeles, CA, and was responsible for managing the operations and logistics for all live events. 

Ricky has dedicated his career to the personal and professional development of teens, young adults, and people interested in the entertainment industry.  He believes that given the right information and opportunity everyone is able to go and find their dream job/career.

Photo of Vernon Rawls

Vernon Rawls

Presentation Topic | Local Community Engagement

Vernon Rawls is a graduate from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in Business Management. He began his career in sales and marketing and later moved on to Warehouse/Supply auditing for a Non-Profit Organization before transitioning into Corporate Finance. In his role as co-founder and Chief Financial Officer at eXclusive Services Inc. Vernon oversees an annual multi-million dollar budget and has developed strategies in eXclusive Services’ capital structure that align with the organization’s long-term financial goals. He enjoys his role as CFO and is well respected in the community and by his peers. Mr. Rawls is also a Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant certified by the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board. He specializes in Psychoeducation and Reality Therapy with a proactive approach to recovery. Mr. Rawls is an avid community activist and volunteer who has been recognized by the City of Cincinnati Human Relations Commission as a 2014 “Youth Service” award honoree. Vernon is currently serving as a Youth Advocate for the Hamilton County Youth Advocate Program, where he engages at-risk Black males ages 13-18 who are involved with the Hamilton County Juvenile Courts.

In December of 2014 Vernon participated in a traditional African naming ceremony to re-introduce himself to his extended family, friends, and community as “Chuma Lumamba.” He has traced his African ancestry to Nigeria and the Congo, which he visited in November 2021. In 2011 Chuma co-founded the “Conscious Mind Study Group where he is the current Chairman. The Conscious Mind Study Group promotes the continued study of world history from an African lens, beginning with pre-dynastic to the current. The Former Mayor of Cincinnati John Cranley issued him a proclamation on behalf of The City of Cincinnati proclaiming June 17th, 2017 as “The Conscious Mind Study Group Day” for his continued commitment to the Afrikan Community as the founder of The Conscious Mind Study Group initiative.

Chuma is also the current Chairman for “CPAC” (Cincinnati Pan-Afrikan Coalition). The coalition creates & implements activities designed to connect the Cincinnati Pan-Afrikan Community with the rest of the Afrikan Diaspora. The coalition is also dedicated to establishing independence for All Afrikan Nations and cultivating unity among Afrikans at home and abroad. CPAC has working partnerships in several Afrikan nations including Ghana, Gambia, Nigeria, Zambia & Congo. The coalition has established contacts within the AU (African Union) and plans to broaden its international efforts to promote the total sovereignty of all Afrikan countries.

Chuma combines resources from both aforementioned organizations to carry the “Cultural Torch” locally by serving on committees responsible for citywide programming related to: Rites of Passage Training, Afrikan Liberation Day, Juneteenth, Marcus Garvey Day, and Kwanzaa. Recently, he responded to a request to bring “Black History Month” programming inside of Lebanon Correctional Institution were more than 50 incarcerated Black Men were able to participate in the cultural experience. Most recently, Chuma facilitated the raising of the Red, Black & Green Liberation Flag at Cincinnati City Hall on February 11th, 2022.

Chuma considers himself to be a humble servant and soldier for each of his community endeavors as well as the epitome of a leader whose primary mission is “Community Engagement.”

Photo of Abdine Lewis

Abdine Abdullah Muhammad Lewis (Brother Abdine)

Presentation Topic | Importance of Higher Education

Importance of Higher Education(pptx)

Abdine Lewis, affectionately known as Brother Abdine, is a native of Avondale, Cincinnati, Ohio, and an alum of Withrow University High School and the University of Cincinnati. A graduate of Higher Education Administration from the University of Dayton, the breadth of Abdine’s research and professional practice include Equity and Inclusion; Educator Talent Recruitment and Development with a focus on STEM Educators of Color; Culturally Responsive Curriculum Development and Implementation; African American Male Identity Development; and Organizational Development with a focus on Minority-Owned Organizations. Abdine’s experiences in education extend to Cincinnati Public Schools where he taught high science, Dayton Public Schools where he worked as a Life Coach through the Office for Males of Color, and the University of Dayton where he worked in Housing and Residential Life and student conduct.

Abdine is currently the program coordinator for the Next Engineers program through the CEAS Office of Inclusive Excellence and Community Engagement. Next Engineers is an Engineering exploration and preparation platform sponsored by the GE Foundation. Abdine also serves as the founder and board chair of the Greater Cincinnati Network as well as a board member of the Greater Cincinnati Microenterprise initiative.

Photo of Dr Guy-Whembolua

Guy Whembolua, PhD

Presentation Topic | Black Men Mental Health & Awareness

Black Men Mental Health (pptx)

Dr. Whembolua is an Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management in the department of Africana studies and an affiliate faculty in the College of Medicine at the University of Cincinnati.

As a behavioral scientist, his research explores the socio-cultural determinants of health among African populations (global health) and their diasporas (health disparities). He is the founding director of the Global Health Studies certificate.

He earned both his bachelor (in Biology/African studies Minor) and his doctorate degree (in Biobehavioral Health) from the Pennsylvania State University. He subsequently completed training in Health Disparities & Community-Based Research at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Dr. Whembolua is a Board member of the Black Male Professors and Researchers Collective Initiative, a hub to connect Black male doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, professors, and researchers with each other.

Photo of Mike House

Mike House

Presentation Topic | The Black Male Experience: Self Leadership, Growth, and Development

Mike House was born and raised in Indianapolis, IN, and has lived in Cincinnati, OH for 14 years. Mike earned a bachelor's degree from Indiana University and an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University. He has worked in various Finance and Audit capacities over the last 18 years for four Fortune 500 companies; which includes Walmart, Macy’s, General Electric, and Fifth Third Bank. At Fifth Third, Mike serves as assistant vice president and senior financial analyst, overseeing expense plans for Consumer Payments. His passions are spending time with his wife and two sons, music, reading, and speaking under the platform, I Am Mike House. Through speaking, Mike is able to fulfill his purpose, which is to help others reach their full potential by using his God-given gifts and talent. Mike has been featured on God Made Millionaire TV, which airs to over 200 nations. He has also spoken to an audience of over 3,000 at the John Maxwell International Maxwell Certification conference, and other engagements, including Indiana University, University of Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky University, Indiana Wesleyan University, Rotary, and Boys and Girls Club. Lastly, Mike is a certified coach, trainer, and speaker for the John Maxwell Team.  

Photo of Christian Bradley

Christian Bradley

Presentation Topic | Leadership & Organizational Activism

Christian Bradley serves as a Talent Acquisition Partner/Diversity Leadership Recruitment Lead at Trihealth for almost 4 yrs. and has been in the Human Resources/Recruiting space for over 8yrs. A native of Cincinnati, Christian attended the University of Cincinnati where he majored in Ancient Medieval History and Religious Studies. Christian has also recently launched a small business, Fly for the Low Consulting LLC which educates men, more specifically urban youth on the basics of how to dress affordably pertaining to interviews, work attire, networking and formal events etc. Christians interest includes but is not limited to history, politics, fitness, football(Go 49ers) men’s fashion, roller skating, and basketball. Christian also has an amazing and talented 16 yr. old daughter by the name of Olivia whom is a honor student at Fairfield H.S.