Home Honoree Black Men in Excellence: Los Angeles 2023

Black Men in Excellence: Los Angeles 2023


The Black Professionals Network is proud to celebrate the L.A. chapter’s inaugural Black Men in Excellence, honoring 10 leaders in the community. Ranging in fields of expertise, the honorees demonstrate what it means to be a Black man in excellence with ease.

Tyrone Nance

Tyrone Nance is a stalwart of the community as founder and CEO of the nonprofit It’s Bigger Than Us. IBTU is an organization that uses outreach and organizing as tools to establish and build relationships that help transform the social and economic conditions of disadvantaged communities across Los Angeles through diverse volunteer efforts. He has over a decade of experience working in the nonprofit sector advocating and integrating work for Skid Row missions, mental health facilities, public schools, community resources, small businesses, and faith organizations.

Question: Why is it important to you to have an impact in the community?

The household I grew up in was full of servant leaders that modeled putting others needs first before themselves and that’s how I identified what impact was. It was important for me to carry that legacy on in my daily life by impacting the community I grew up in by modeling those same actions.

Question: What does it mean to you to be selected as a Black Man in Excellence?

I’m humbled and honored. I never approach anything through the lens of what can I get out of it, but who can I impact and serve, so it’s a shock when I stop pause and acknowledge everything. I believe this selection as a Black Male in Excellence award highlights everyone that has been an intricate part of my journey to get me to this moment of recognition for the work I’m doing as a community organizer.

Vernon J


Vernon J. is the Founder and CEO of EquityCoin, the first digital token on the blockchain backed by affordable housing. Vernon is a social entrepreneur and real estate investor with a passion for helping communities of color build generational wealth. Since 2005, Vernon has dedicated his life to community-building through multifamily acquisitions and asset management, facilitating over $180 million worth of real estate transactions around the United States.

Question: What does this award mean to you? 

I am absolutely honored to be considered for the Black Men in Excellence Award. For the past 18 years I’ve been dedicated to building generational wealth for underserved communities through multifamily real estate coupled with tech, and it definitely energizes me to be recognized.

Being selected as a Black Man in Excellence places a stamp of approval on the almost two decades of community development work I’ve been committed to. Many times it can feel as though “the work” goes unnoticed, falling on deaf ears, although this award proves that good works eventually will come to the light.

Question: What does it mean to you to be selected as a Black Man in Excellence?

The award also provides fuel for the next chapter of my life, as my company (Equity Platforms) pushes to create $1B of real estate equity for black and brown community developers across the country by 2030. In fact, by being recognized, my passion for community development has been reinforced and strengthened.

Benoni Tagoe

Serial entrepreneur and Head of Business Development for Issa Rae Productions Benoni Tagoe has track record of successfully building businesses around creatives and influencers. As president of Raedio, Benoni led the acquisition of music supervision company Bonfire Collective, secured a major deal with music publishing company Kobalt, and secured a label deal with Atlantic Records and created sync agency for TV/film. Benoni’s innovative and strategic mindset are the foundation to his prosperity in the business of entertainment.

Question: What is one thing you want the community to know about you and your work?

For my entire career, I’ve been a professional try-er! I’ve always been curious and wanted to find out ‘why’. Why do certain things become more successful than others, why are certain processes in place and why haven’t we thought about a solution to the problem that everyone unanimously agrees is a problem. In starting Raedio, I aimed to solve a lot of problems in the audio and music industry all while setting personal goals for myself and empowering others to achieve their dreams as well. 

Question: What does it mean to you to be selected as a Black Man in Excellence

To be considered ‘excellent’ by others in anything is always a rewarding feeling, but it means that much more to be acknowledged by my community and the Black Professionals Network. This is a recognition that I don’t take lightly and I’m honored to continue to be an example and lend a hand to the next generation. 

Nick Gouche

Named one of the Top 1% of mortgage bankers in America, President of Legacy Home Loans Nick Gouche’s unrelenting drive is the backbone of his success. Known as The Mortgage Gladiator by clients and colleagues alike, he works aggressively to help everyday people realize their dreams of homeownership.

Nick’s unmatched work ethic has helped him generate $43 million dollars in household wealth between his impressive roster of over 500 clients.

Nick and his wife Natalie are the founders of The Gouche Foundation, a non-profit organization created to raise scholarship money for underprivileged students on their way to college.

Ashley Thomas III

Ashley Thomas III is the President and CEO of LA TOP BROKER, INC. and and Managing Broker of First Security Investment Co., Inc. (FSICO), a multi-faceted real estate sales and property management company. His commitment to service, excellence, and quest to broaden homeownership opportunities for Black Americans has been recognized by the City of Los Angeles which presented Ashley with the Unsung Hero Award.

In addition, he is the recipient of numerous NAREB awards for his commitment to the organization’s motto of Democracy in Housing in addition to being selected to serve on the Freddie Mac Housing Committee.

Jamon Hicks

Jamon R. Hicks is a Partner at Douglas / Hicks Law, APC in Los Angeles, California. Mr. Hicks’ civil litigation experience involves civil rights, wrongful death, catastrophic personal injury, employment and police misconduct cases.

He also has tried numerous felony and misdemeanor criminal cases to verdict including murder, driving under the influence, and drug and gun possession charges. He prides himself on representing David against Goliath, helping to serve justice to the underrepresented.

Baron Davis

Entrepreneur, investor, and two-time NBA All-Star and record-holder, over a thirteen-year career, Baron Davis played for the Charlotte Hornets, the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the New York Knicks. Known for his electrifying style on the court, Davis was a powerful point guard, who won national acclaim for executing in crucial, high-pressure moments, when his team needed him the most. As a businessman, Baron was one of the original investors for Vitaminwater and helped launch Thrive Market.

Baron is also the founder of several companies, including Sports and Lifestyle in Culture (SLIC), The Black Santa Company, BIG and No Label—each with the objective of combining creative talent with original publication and production to develop and provide educational and heartwarming stories that appeal to global audiences of all ages. Davis serves as a mentor and coach for young, upcoming basketball players and a longtime supporter of the Boys and Girls Club of Venice. His nonprofit, Rising Stars of America, established in 1999, helps to raise funds for basketball camps and sponsors AAU teams across Los Angeles.

Lamar Edwards

Lamar, also known as MyGuyMars, is a diamond selling & Grammy winning music producer, songwriter, DJ, and founding member of the music collective, 1500 or Nothin. n 2006, he found himself working with the likes of R&B / Hip-Hop veterans such as Bobby Valentino, Snoop Dogg and T.I., working on the theme song to T.I.’s VH1 show, ‘The Family Hustle,’ as well as recording his own solo material. Fast forward to today, MyGuyMars has established himself as one of music’s most trustworthy and go-to collaborators, often celebrated for his professionalism and humble nature. He has gone on to lend his production and songwriting expertise to a star studded client list including his mentors, T.I. and Snoop Dogg, as well as some of the most talented and successful acts in contemporary music, like Chris Brown, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Mary J. Blige, Drake, Faith Evans, Kehlani, Roddy Ricch, Jeremih, Bow Wow, Busta Rhymes, The Game, Lupe Fiasco, Master P., Jennifer Hudson, Marsha Ambrosius, Mya, Nelly, Wiz Khalifa, YG, Ty$, Mac Miller, Nipsey Hussle and many more.

Chris Lyons

Chris Lyons is the President, Web3 Media at a16z crypto. Prior to joining the team at a16z crypto, he cofounded the firm’s  Cultural Leadership Fund and was instrumental in launching the first Seed Fund. The Cultural Leadership Fund launched in 2018 with the mission to connect the world’s greatest cultural leaders to the best new technology companies and engage, empower, and elevate Black builders and creators on their journey towards excellence in the technology industry. CLF Fund I was Silicon Valley’s first venture capital fund consisting of 100% African American Limited Partners. Lyons started his career in the music industry working for Grammy-Award-winning producer Jermaine Dupri as a sound engineer. He then launched his first startup, a mobile app and digital menu offering called PictureMenu. Lyons moved to Silicon Valley in 2012 to participate in NewME Accelerator, an accelerator for minority-led startups.

Marquis Aikens

CEO Marquis Aiken’s company Diamond K. enterprises covers everything from nightlife entertainment, to records and production and media. Marquis is dedicated to giving back to the community, with a non profit designed to help underrepresented youth transition from high school to college and as a community liason in organizing and running events that giveback to the Crenshaw Community.


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