To celebrate, honor, meet and experience is what the Walk of Excellence Awards Gala hosted by the Western Pennsylvania Development Council was all about. The group recently celebrated the achievements of the best minority business; honored the major corporations, government agencies and organizations committed to diversity; provided a venue to meet the most influential leaders of Western Pennsylvania’s business community and a way to experience an evening of entertainment and elegance.

WINNING TRIO—Joel Acie, with the Corporate Volunteer of the Year award; Melissa Anderson, senior vice president, chief accounting officer, and Yvette Porter, Corporate Advocate of the Year, all from Highmark.

“This event gets better each year,” said Gary Evans board chairman of WPMSDC, Senior Vice President Supply Chain Management Executive for PNC Financial Services Group. Pleased with the capacity crowd of 220 attendees, he indicated that the awards gala celebrates success and starts new relationships. “Tonight we honor the men and women that have dedicated their working lives to our mission,” he said. The WPMSDC mission is to develop opportunities for minority-owned businesses by certifying and linking them to corporations and public agencies.

Accolade categories were: the President’s Award, Corporate Advocate, MBE Advocate, Economic Impact, Corporate Volunteer, Lifetime Achievement, MBE Supplier and the Corporation of the Year.

This year award winners were President’s Award; Claire Scanlon of BNY Mellon, Corporate Advocate; Yvette Porter of Highmark, MBE Advocate; Victor Tatum of Kensington Capital, Economic Impact; EQT, Corporate Volunteer of the Year; Joel Acie of Highmark, Lifetime Achievement Award; Harold T. Bushey, and the Government Business Award went to Elizabeth Bowers of the Pennsylvania Department of General Services. Broken down in four categories; Supplier of the Year Awardees were Category I (Annual sales under $1 million)—Rivers Development Corporation, Category II (Annual sales between $1 and $10 million)—Novus Group, Category III (Annual sales between $10 and $50 million)—Sterling Contracting Category and IV (Annual sales over $50 million)—South Coast Paper.

The John H. Adams Corporate of the Year award (formerly the MBEIC Corporate of the Year Award) offered in two categories was presented on the regional level to Highmark and nationally to EQT. Considered a top award, the committee renamed it to honor the first executive director of the WPMSDC, John H. Adams who passed away this year after serving as a local advocate for minority businesses for more than 50 years.

“John H. Adams was whole heartedly dedicated to the vision he had 50 years ago to make opportunities available for African-American entrepren­eurs to expand and be included in Americas free enterprise system,” said his daughter Laura Adams Hunt as she and her sister Cynthia Adams-Glenn responded to a special tribute to their father. Adams was the first Black president of the Downtown Rotary Club and published the region’s first Black Business Directory.

The Honorary Event Chairman for the Walk of Excellence Awards Gala was Chuck Sanders, president of Urban Lending Solutions. He and his wife, Elisa, led the charitable auction which raised scholarship money for WPMSDC certified minority business enterprises. Edmund C. Nelson, Steelers’ Analyst for KDKA TV- Channel 2 for the third consecutive year was the Gala’s Master of Ceremony. Entertainment was provided by Flo Wilson and the Old School Band. Diamond sponsors were Highmark and PNC Financial Services Group.

Appreciative for the support of his board, staff, minority business enterprises, corporate members, government agencies, and organizations for their dedicated support, Alexander Nichols, president and CEO of WPMSDC pointed out that through it all that 2011 has been a good year. “For the seventh year we are here to celebrate supplier diversity achievements and commitments to excellence.”

WPMSDC, a not for profit organization is an affiliate of the National Minority Supplier Development Council Network, which includes 36 affiliated regional councils, matches more than 17,000 certified minority businesses (Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native American) with its more than 3,500 corporate members. WPMSDC’s mission is to develop business opportunities for minority-owned enterprises by certifying and linking them to corporations and public agencies. WPMSDC’s service area includes 26 counties with their headquarters based in Pittsburgh.

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