Sunday, American Airlines Center in Dallas hosted the annual Black Excellence Night (BEN) on the Admiral Level of the arena. The event featured a Leadership Panel, speakers, vendors and a great opportunity to meet and network with black business owners, executives, elected officials, and professionals. The event also served as a fundraiser of several local non-profits.
The event kicked off with a mixer and time to check out the wide variety of black-owned businesses, as well as sponsors, there as vendors. Dallas Mavericks CEO, Cynthia Marshall, was the first speaker, welcoming all attendees to an evening that has grown to become a great relationship between the team and the Black Excellence Night organization. She recently celebrated her first anniversary with the Mavs and is the first African-American woman to serve as CEO of an NBA franchise. She was first of many successful black speakers on the lineup, and one of many more successful black professionals in the room, and she was presented an award for her achievements before she was able to hand the microphone off to the next speaker and panelists.
The Leadership Panel was made up of black professionals, all excelling in their respective fields. Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall, President of Paul Quinn College Dr. Michael J. Sorrell, Director of Operations and Branding for K104 and 105.7FM George Cook, Former NFL Player and Motivational Speaker Tommie Harris, Olympic Medalist Lauryn Williams, and Senior Partner at HR & Co. Ticki Varnado all spoke, sharing their insights from their experiences and life’s journeys. The topics ranged from police and community relations, education, business, and achievement, all tying back to Black Excellence, which was needless to say, the theme for the evening.
Post event, all attendees were treated to the Mavericks/Rockets game, which was part of Dirk Nowitzki’s presumed farewell run, along with press box, press dining area, and post-game locker room access. (The Mavs lost by one, but if you follow local sports/sports radio, this season has been about “organic tanking,” as fans are looking for a shot in the NBA Draft lottery.)
Post game, all BEN attendees were given an opportunity to go on the court and shoot free throws. All COSIGN attendees put up bricks in this exercise, but the experience itself made those missed shots not sting nearly as much as they would have otherwise. An after party followed, across the street at the W Hotel Altitude Lounge and added celebration to the recognition of the evening.
Black Excellence Night is an event founded by Deonna McGary, M.B.A. Their mission is to “celebrate the accomplishments of African-Americans leaders in our community and uplift our youth!”