About Our Student Training Initiative

Our Mission

The mission of the B.E.S.T. program is to share learning and experience across generations, cultivate new leaders, and inspire achievements “beyond the possible” through committed involvement and operational excellence by placing Black volunteers on the campuses of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Making Connections

While the primary focus of the B.E.S.T. program is to support the development and employed success of students, an ancillary benefit of the work includes the networking connections developed between professionals. Executives get to meet and know each other via student-based programming and are able to share best practices and access to information to drive successes and partnerships in their sponsoring companies. The relationships are further reinforced at annual conference events and activities.

Leadership Team

Tracy Tramel - Boleware

Tracy Tramel - Boleware

read Tracy's Bio

Tracy Tramel-Boleware brings more than 25 years of experience in diversity marketing, community affairs and public relations to her role as executive director of The B.E.S.T. Program. Tracy is quite simply a partnership specialist. She has managed complex national diversity marketing campaigns that have included coordinating strategic philanthropy, signature programs, special events, and the acquisition of high-profile corporate board seats for the fulfillment of client and organizational goals.

Prior to joining The B.E.S.T. Program, Tracy was with AT&T and served as Senior Marketing Manager for the Mid-Atlantic for Cricket Wireless. She was responsible for the development and implementation of targeted, local marketing and diversity projects to drive customer acquisition, retention and revenue growth for Cricket Wireless. Her role includes Identifying and engaging community programs, boards and sponsorship opportunities to leverage brand, products & services.

Prior to joining AT&T, Tracy served as vice president and client services lead on the Cricket Wireless account with CAA Sports, providing grassroots marketing, national sponsorships and experiential activation services for the client. 

Tracy also served as the director of communications, public relations and marketing for Tuskegee University. In this role she was responsible for developing sound communications and marketing strategies to promote the University to potential students, alumni and partners. I had direct oversight for media relations, advertising, publication and design, photography and videography and the university website and social media presence.

Prior to joining Tuskegee University Tracy served as vice president of the Black Executive Exchange Program (BEEP) and Volunteer Programs with the National Urban League (NUL). In this position, she was responsible for implementing all national HBCU college campus program activities, increasing strategic partnerships and student numbers, and maintaining existing relationships with partners in colleges/universities, corporations and government agencies. In addition, she served as the national liaison for the League's Young Professional and Guild auxiliaries, ensuring effective coordination of the work of these groups with the League’s strategic goals and initiatives.   Tracy currently resides in Charlotte, NC with her twin sons, Koda and Kodi.

William Dawson

William Dawson

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Born in Harlem, raised in Queens, William I. Dawson has honed his skills as a journalist over the past three decades, with his words featured across several multimedia platforms including brands such as McDonald’s, Wells Fargo, Scion, and Southern Company. He has served as a contributing writer for The Recording Academy, as a senior writer for the National Urban League publication Opportunity Journal, and has written long-form cover stories for Heart & Soul magazine, UPTOWN magazine, POSE magazine, and FOCUS, a magazine under the umbrella of The Amsterdam News.

His tenure at the National Urban League also saw him managing the organization's then-signature program, the Black Executive Exchange Program (BEEP), where his team connected Black executives from Fortune 100 companies with students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) for the purpose of internships, job opportunities, and overall mentorship. He was responsible for coordinating school visits, convening the program's annual conference, overseeing partnerships and sponsorships, curating a corporation-sponsored student case competition, and managing the essay process for the Jerome E. Bartow Scholarship, which was awarded to two eligible student leaders each year.

Dawson also served as managing editor for the Lexus digital imprint SEE.Lexus.com, curating pieces for the lifestyle brand hub that focuses on design, athletics, cuisine, cinema and culture. In addition to his editor responsibilities, Dawson was the official writer/interviewer for the NAACP Image Award-nominated Lexus Verses and Flow, a variety show featuring spoken word and R&B artists. He brought his knowledge from BEEP to the luxury brand, providing the blueprint for the creation of the Lexus Verses and Flow HBCU Scholarship, which awarded a total of $100,000 yearly to select HBCU students that excelled in service to their communities.

Dawson's digital imprint also includes contributing to SoulBounce, an online magazine that celebrates the past, present, and future of soul music, creating The High Five Project, an online interview series promoting self-esteem, and serving as creator and host of Dawson Eats America: The Podcast, which celebrates the food history and culture of Black chefs and cuisine experts across the country.

This past year Dawson authored his first book, “An Introvert’s Guide to Surviving a Global Pandemic,” and is working on several writing projects, including an anthology spotlighting the relationships between Black fathers and their sons, and a memoir.

Board of Directors

Amber Batchelor, Chair

read DaMarcus' Bio
read Amber's Bio

robert johnson

Robert Johnson, Vice Chair

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A social entrepreneur who describes himself as a “lawpreneur”, which he describes as, “one who engages inworking adroitly in both disciplines of law and business”. Robert seeks to utilize his experience of over 25 years in law, business management, and dispute resolution both domestically and internationally to transform organizations, communities, and individuals.

Robert is the Chief Economic Inclusion Officer and General Counsel for the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago. In this capacity, he is responsible for the management of the organization’s Economic Empowerment Institute. The Economic Empowerment Institute includes the Financial Inclusion Institute, the Innovation and Technology Institute, the Small Business Development Center(SBDC), Street Wise, and the Workforce Development Department.

Mr. Johnson is also the Managing Partner of the Solomon Group LLC, a social enterprise management consulting firm that provides business management, leadership development, and access to capital for minority and women entrepreneurs. He has provided expertise in customer claims handling and crisis management for McDonald’s markets in Europe, Australia, Latin America, Canada, and Asia. Mr. Johnson was a member of the McDonald Diversity and Inclusion faculty and traveled the country to address diversity issues and to teach Black Career Development and Intercultural Learning. Robert also serves on the advisory board of Gromentum, a social equity cannabis accelerator, and is a member of the Cook County Cannabis Commission.

He has been an active advocate for social equity applicants and works tirelessly to promote wealth creation in underserved communities. Mr. Johnson developed an economic model called the Social Determinants of Wealth to address community transformation and development goals.

He received his Juris Doctorate for the University of Illinois College of law and dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Economics and Business Administration, and Sociology and Anthropology from Knox College.

T. Hudson Jordan, Secretary

read T. Hudson's Bio

carolyn ellison

Carolyn Ellison, Treasurer

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Carolyn Ellison is a senior member of the Clark Construction Community Affairs leadership team and focuses on the company’s workforce development, corporate citizenship, and community engagement efforts.

Prior to joining Clark Construction, Carolyn Ellison spearheaded citizenship and community engagement for the Mid-Atlantic Region of Turner Construction and launched the first ever Turner School of Construction Management in Spanish. Additionally, she served as chief communication officer to key clients, political interests and advocacy organizations in the region including the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority Board of Directors and the Washington DC Department of General Services [DC DGS].

Known as a community leader who succeeds at advancing economic growth and social equity, her advocacy efforts have been recognized by a number of local interests including:

  • Washington Business Journal: Minority Business Leader Honoree, Corporate Philanthropy Award
  • Maryland and Metro Washington Minority Contractors Association: Most Inclusive Prime Construction Leader
  • Anacostia Economic Development Corporation: Economic Impact Award
  • ACE DC Mentor Program: Impact Award
  • Covenant House: Virginia Williams Award
  • National Hispanic Construction Association: Vanguard Award
  • AGC of DC: Best Sustainable Company
  • NAF Academy of Engineering: Next Generation Award

With a background as a corporate brander and strategic consultant, her 30-year career has included numerous leadership roles where she has managed notable properties including several Nabisco brands, LVMH & Diageo premium distilled spirit interests, a host of entertainment properties, and Scholastic Book Fairs.

In addition to her corporate work Carolyn has also served as an adjunct professor at several higher education institutions including Morgan State, Rutgers, Touro and Pace Universities. Prior to moving to the DMV, she worked for the National Urban League and managed the Black Executive Exchange Program (BEEP) mentor program which paired HBCU students with executives from the private, public and government sectors.

Carolyn holds a BA in Telecommunications from Michigan State University (MSU) and an MBA from the University of Michigan. She serves on the Boards of the Greater Washington Urban League, the Hispanic Contractors Association, the National Association of Minority Contractors and the Washington Improvisation Theatre.

DaMarcus Alexander

read DaMarcus' Bio

Damarcus Alexander is the Principal International Trade Compliance Analyst at Northrop Grumman in Falls Church, Virginia. Previously, Damarcus was a Global Trade Controls Specialist for The Boeing Company in Oklahoma City for four years and in the Raytheon Leadership Development Program for three years. A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Damarcus graduated from Southern University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management and concentration in Supply Chain Management. 

Damarcus serves the community as a board member for the Regional AIDS Intercommunity Network of Oklahoma and a member of the Southern University College of Business Advisory Council. Over the years, he has assisted several Fortune 500 companies recruit diverse talent, helped students attain more than 50 internship and job offers, and started many community initiatives. For his service, Damarcus has received the following awards: 2021 Southern University Alumni Federation Forty Under 40 Award; 2019-2020 National Urban League Emerging Leader Award; the Oklahoma Next Generation under 30 Award; the 2019 Volunteer of the Year Award from the Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City; the 2018 Boeing Global Diversity Individual Champion Award; the Raytheon SAS Shining Stars Award; a feature in the National Urban League’s Centennial 2010 Annual Report; the Johnson & Johnson Encore Award; and a spotlight in the Southern Digest newspaper.

Lisa Brown, PhD

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Lisa Brown, Ph.D. is a 25-year automotive industry professional. She has over 22 years of experience with Volkswagen Group of America (VWGoA0, working in fixed and sales operations, human resources, and marketing. Currently, Lisa is the Regional Marketing Manager for the Volkswagen brand. She lends her expertise to expand VW’s market share, improve dealer performance, and increase brand awareness through a diversity marketing strategy.

Previously, Lisa was the Sr. Diversity and Inclusion Partner, VWGoA. Through her strategic, operational, and tactical strengths, she aligned the company’s diversity and corporate giving strategies with overall corporate objectives. During her tenure, Lisa led initiatives designed to foster a diverse workforce that embraced and valued inclusion and leveraged differences to achieve a competitive advantage. She used her passion for diversity and inclusion to improve VWGoA’s Brand position, increased employee engagement, and represented its commitment to serving communities across its social footprint.

Lisa earned a Ph.D. in Leadership & Organizational Strategy and MPhil in Management from Walden University, Minneapolis, MN. Her academic interests are the advancement of women in male-dominated industries, equity in the workplace, leadership studies, organizational strategy, and organizational justice. Also, Lisa received a BA in Public Relations and MA in communication from Wayne State University, Detroit, MI. 

In 2020, Lisa founded Theodore & Jack, LLC, an academic success and DEI consultant agency.

Lisa resides in Metro Atlanta, Ga, with her pets Teddy and Jackson. She has one adult daughter, and both are proud members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority Inc.

Sonya Holt

read Sonya's Bio

Deputy Associate Director of CIA for Talent for Diversity and Inclusion Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer.

Sonya L. Holt was selected to serve as the Deputy Associate Director of CIA for Talent for Diversity and Inclusion (DADT/DI) in February 2019, after serving as Chief of the Diversity and Inclusion Office.  As a veteran officer who served more than three decades at CIA, Sonya brings a wealth of experience and expertise to DIO.  She is widely known for putting people first in order to accomplish CIA’s mission and has a proven track record as an inclusive leader and a champion for diversity.  In her previous role as the Implementation Lead for the Director’s Advisory Group (DAG) on Women in Leadership, Sonya drove efforts to implement the ten corporate mandates aimed at improving how the Agency manages its full range of talent and of increasing senior leadership opportunities for women at CIA. 

In her 37-year career, Sonya has served in a Joint duty role as the Chief of Staff in DOD’s Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, Human Capital Management Office; Program for the Director’s External Advisory Board; as well as a number of key positions in the former Recruitment Center (now Talent Acquisition Office), including Chief of the Recruitment Targeting Division, and a tour as the Southeast Regional Recruiter in Atlanta, Georgia.

danielle robinson

Danielle Robinson, PhD

read Danielle's Bio

Danielle Robinson has more than 30 years of experience in domestic and global human resources covering the consumer goods, beverage, entertainment and pharmaceutical industries.  Danielle is currently Head of Corporate Responsibility Director, and Partnerships as well as community engagement. She is also Director of the North America Learning Skills for Life Program, a global educational training program delivered in local communities to provide hospitality skills to the underemployed. Formerly, she was Director of Alcohol Policy and Reputation Management  where she led all Responsible Drinking Programs and prior to that, the Director, Diversity and Early Career at Diageo. She lectures across the United States at conferences and universities on Diversity and Inclusion management within Corporations. 

In her role as Chief Diversity Officer, Diageo received numerous awards, including Top 100 Companies for Working Mothers (2012, 2011, 2010, 2009), Top 100 Companies for Executive Women by NAFE (2012, 2010), Top Diversity Employer (2011, 2010, 2009), Top 100 Companies to Work by the Human Rights Campaign (2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008) and Top 25 Diversity Councils (2012, 2011, 2010, 2009). Most recently, she has received PR Daily’s Community Affairs Award (2014), PR News Community Affairs Award (2015),  Communitas Award (2016), CDP Climate A and Water A lists (2017, 2016) Sabre Award (2018), Top Women in Business by Diversity MBA (2020) and Top 100 Blacks in Corporate America by Savoy Magazine (2021).

Prior to Diageo, Danielle worked for Unilever, Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals, and Simon & Schuster where she had responsibility for domestic and international human resources encompassing: diversity management, recruitment, training and development, employee relations, compensation and succession planning. 
Danielle is a member of the Connecticut Jackie Robinson Selection Committee, Jack and Jill of America, Norwalk Hospital Board of Directors, Norwalk Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, College Bridge Café Board of Directors and a Board member of the Carver Foundation of Norwalk.  

She has been featured in Savoy Magazine amongst Movers and Shakers in corporate America (2009) as well as Rolling Out Magazine (2008, 2009) and Diversity Executive Magazine (2009) in addition to numerous newspaper articles. In 2012, she received the Top 100 Emerging Leaders award from Diversity MBA Magazine and in 2014 received both the Top 25 Most Influential Women in Business award by the Network Journal and Savoy’s 2014 Top Influential Women in Corporate America. And she has recently been recognized in the Diversity MBA list of the Top 100 Women of Influence in 2020.

She has published articles in Savoy Magazine, including Getting the ROI of Diversity Conferences (2008), Networking: The New Reality (2012) and the Norwalk Hour, What You May Be Overlooking When Planning Your Party (2015).  

Danielle has an undergraduate degree in Communication from Rutgers University and a Masters Degree in Corporate Communication from Seton Hall University.  She also has a Doctorate degree in Public Administration from Warren National University and holds a WSET Level 1 Wines Certification.  

Organizational Structure

The B.E.S.T. Program is governed accordingly to ensure delivery of quality programming and reporting of program results to all key stakeholders.

Our core team includes:

  • Board of Trustees/Advisory Council
  • Experienced Programming Staff

    • External Relations
    • Program Management Team
  • Vendors/Consultants

You Too Can Help

Would you like to become a part of our student training initiative? Contact our team to learn more about available opportunities.

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