About The Speakers
Founder of Strather Academy
CEO of Strather Associates for 45 years - known as Herbert from Herbert Street, a Community Developer and
Youth Advocate. Life was saved as a youth by Downtown Optimist Club which created a desire in HJS to give back.
Established over 150 Optimist Clubs in the world and responsible for 3,500 Scholarships to Detroit Area Youth.
Real estate career started under Darrlyn Bowers and later mentored by Charles Grenadier, William Liberson and
Herbert Tyner. Closed $2Billion in leverage real estate transactions in SE Michigan including Motor City Casino $1B,
Woodbridge Estates $100M, Republic portfolio to Stephen Ross for $165M and Hunter Ridge for $43M. Bought or
sold 80% of all the large developments in NW Detroit.
Dr. Boyce Watkins
Founder of the Black Business School
Dr. Boyce Watkins is one of the most highly sought after African-American entrepreneurial scholars in the world. Specializing in financial psychology, educational motivation, and black social commentary, Dr. Watkins has presented his message to millions, making regular appearances on CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, ABC News, and many more national media outlets. Dr. Watkins has impeccable credentials to support his financial advice. In college, Dr. Watkins earned BA and BS degrees with a triple major in Finance, Economics, and Business Management. He then earned a Masters Degree in Mathematical Statistics from the University of Kentucky and a Ph.D in finance from The Ohio State University. During his year of graduation, he was the only African-American in the country to earn a PhD in Finance.
In 2012, Dr. Boyce Watkins became a full time entrepreneur focusing his talents on the betterment of the Black community in the United States and abroad. Through his role as CEO of WMG, Dr. Watkins provides the visionary leadership to help the organization fulfill their mission.
Dr. Ken Harris
National President and CEO of the National Business League
Kenneth L. Harris, Ph.D., is the 12th National President/CEO of the National Business League. Booker T. Washington founded the National Business League, which is the oldest and largest trade association for Black businesses in the country, celebrating 120 years of service. Headquartered in Detroit, MI, and Washington D.C., the National Business League serves more than 120,000 members in 367 league chapters in all 50 states, Africa, and the Caribbean. Dr. Harris is an expert economic historian and entrepreneur, with a dual Ph.D. in African and African American Studies. He specialized in Business and Entrepreneurship from the Eli Broad School of Business at Michigan State University.
Founder of 10K Project
In 2005, Cheree began her entrepreneurial career in the family business. Her mother was a bookkeeper in Northern Virginia. Cheree prospected for business, prepared financial statements for clients, and reviewed clients’ financial options within their businesses.
Years later, Cheree decided to strike out on her own and started a business plan writing company. Over an 8 year period, she helped companies raise millions of dollars. The most successful fundraisers already had a network of high net worth individuals who gladly put in $100,000 or more (each) into their startup. They could raise millions within a few weeks of Cheree completing their business plan. Her Black clients (most of whom had great ideas but didn’t have these relationships) would struggle to receive funding. Cheree knew that there had to be a solution to this massive problem.
In 2018, Cheree recognized the solution. Our people would invest small amounts of money into Black-owned businesses if they knew those businesses existed. The JOBS Act of 2012 allowed us to come together in order to invest as a community. Our goal is to build the largest, most recognized group of Black equity crowdfunding investors in the world and to helps Black-owned businesses raise $1 billion each year.
Owner of GOS Companies
Gary O. Shelton’s late maternal grandfather, Lexington E. Sanders, died when Gary was only four years old and inspired him to become an entrepreneur. Lexington and his brother, Eugene R. Sanders, were landowners in the Jim Crow South, built and operated a funeral home, grocery store, and motel in Monticello Georgia. They also built the community center which has done much commendable work with the youth in Jasper County, resulting in the street Sanders HTS being named in his honor. Following are businesses Gary has acquired, founded, co-founded, merged with, or led:
Chief Executive Officer (CEO), With Ownership Wealth, LLC: Black Wealth Matters movement
Managing Director, EZ Financial Group, LLC: Helps real estate entrepreneurs and small business owners get their business set up the right way to meet lender and credit issuer approval requirements and provides access to working capital
Co-Chairman, Strather Affiliated companies: real estate developers teaching the next generation of urban developers
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) American Business Angels launch Team: A social finance venture that bridges corporate VCs, hedge funds & other institutional investors to help create a more efficient startup capital market.
Chief Operating Officer (COO), B3C Capital, LLC: Advises technology startup founders on their equity rounds of funding
Co-Founder, Near Infrared Imaging, Inc.: A medical and biometric imaging device business owned in part by UCLA, City University of New York, and Lawrence Livermore National laboratories
Karla Dennis and Associates LLC
Before becoming a serial entrepreneur. Before the sold out keynote speeches. Before the top ranked courses, and before saving others over 8 figures in taxes. I experienced many fumbles in life before becoming the MVP of my industry. ” While chasing financial success, the realization finally occurred to me that the answer was right under my nose the whole time.”
After graduating from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in Kinesiology, I began my entrepreneurial journey by starting a fitness brand while working a sales job. By day, I was selling wine and at night, I was stacking my personal training experience and building courses in the fitness and health industry; when all was said and done, I was overworked.
The shift into being the powerful serial entrepreneur that I am today was anything but easy.
When I finally caught my big break, it was because I came to realize that my brain was the strongest muscle that I had and that the best way to build wealth for myself was to help others build wealth for themselves!
Joining my mother’s tax and accounting firm, Karla Dennis and Associates Inc., gave me the foothold I needed to begin my sprint towards the end zone. By pooling together all the knowledge I gained from my business, my sales training, and tax code knowledge… I helped my family owned business grow to what it is today.
Regional President Detroit - PNC Bank
Executive Vice President with 32 years of financial institutions experience. In his current role as President for Detroit and Southeast Michigan, Bickers serves as PNC’s lead banker in the region and chairs the local PNC Foundation. Dedicated leader to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion for all.