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The Black Wall Street Chamber of Commerce (BWSCC) convened a press conference on Monday to unveil Kuma Roberts as the newly appointed interim President and CEO, while also paying tribute to the late Sherry Gamble Smith, the former leader of BWSCC.
The event featured a poignant poetry reading by Quraysh Ali Lansana, the founder of TriCity Collective, dedicated to the mothers of the Historic Greenwood District.
Lindsey Corbitt, Smith’s daughter and the previous interim President and CEO, expressed her support for Roberts and reiterated the commitment of BWSCC to fostering growth, entrepreneurship, and community prosperity.
William Tisdale, Chair of BWSCC, expressed his enthusiasm for the collaborative efforts between Roberts, the board, and himself. Tisdale confidently asserted that Roberts is well-equipped for the role, emphasizing how BWSCC’s mission distinguishes them from other business development organizations.
He articulated, “Our goal is to help develop North Tulsa and make certain that when people come to town, every part of this city is a reflection of who we are, where we are going and shows the unity that we can display.”
Kuma Roberts shared her plans to leverage her expertise and experiences to build upon the legacy left by her predecessors.
Roberts, currently serving as the Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer at Arrowhead Consulting, expressed her gratitude for being entrusted with this position.
Notably, Roberts has a proven track record of collaborating with CEOs and leadership teams, boasts a national clientele, and is recognized as a renowned speaker on leveraging diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) for competitive advantage.
She has been honored with prestigious accolades such as the YWCA 2022 Pinnacle Award Corporate Businesswoman of the Year and the 2022 Workplace Inclusion Advocate. Additionally, Roberts holds a degree from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute of Organizational Management and previously served as the Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Tulsa Regional Chamber for over a decade.
The press conference also served as a tribute to Smith, the former president and CEO of BWSCC, who tragically lost her life in 2022.
Smith’s aunt, Gayle Singleton, spoke during the event and shared a conversation she had with Smith a few years ago, in which Smith expressed her desire for Roberts to succeed her. Singleton expressed her excitement, stating, “I’m so elated and so overwhelmed today because the person that she had in her mind two or three years ago is the person that is stepping into this role.”
Councilor Vanessa Hall Harper, co-founder of BWSCC, sorrowfully echoed Singleton’s sentiments, emphasizing that Smith had shared the same vision with her. Harper expressed her gratitude for Smith’s foresight and its role in helping them to continue her legacy. She proclaimed, “I am excited about the future of the Black Wall Street Chamber of Commerce.”
She emphasized the importance of upholding Smith’s principles and maintaining a community-driven approach.
Corbitt expressed her excitement about the Chamber’s future direction under Roberts’ leadership, highlighting the groundwork laid during discussions with her mother.
Roberts concurred with the significance of preserving these values, stating, “We are all about collaboration over conflict here at the Black Wall Street Chamber. These principles are not merely words to me or to us. These principles are guiding lights that direct our every endeavor.”
Roberts acknowledged the honor and responsibility bestowed upon her, stating, “ I have the privilege of carrying on the legacy of Sherry and Lindsey and the responsibility is one that I do not take lightly.”
“We will honor this memory by working tirelessly to realize that vision and the vision we all share,” said Roberts.
While continuing her current position at Arrowhead Consulting, Roberts will collaborate with both organizations on resource development, marketing, and strategic initiatives aimed at benefiting the Chamber.
Kris Reynolds, President and Managing Partner at Arrowhead Consulting expressed his full support for her decision to assume the role of President and CEO at BWSCC. He went on to highlight the need for shared services and collaboration to maximize resources in a rapidly changing economic landscape and emphasized the Chamber’s role in creating empowering opportunities.
During the press conference, Reynolds underscored the significance of the collaboration between Arrowhead Consulting and BWSCC by stating, “I knew that it was not only the right decision for her to take on this role but it created a unique opportunity for Arrowhead to aid her in this journey. Our alliance with this chamber is not merely transactional… I truly believe that we’re unifying to create transformative change.”