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BPN Chicago’s Black Men in Excellence 2023

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BPN Chicago’s Black Men in Excellence 2023

The BPN Chicago chapter’s inaugural Black Men in Excellence celebrates the contributions and success of 10 honorees. Stalwarts of the community, the honorees exemplify what it means to be a Black man in excellence. We asked them several questions including what does it mean to operate in excellence?

Dujon C. Smith

Dujon Smith creates opportunities for wealth building in the Black community as the Global Co-Lead for Accenture’s Black Founder’s Development Program.  Dujon’s reach has extended across 55 countries, where he has been able to spread his passion for connecting technology, culture, and education within communities to create space for BIPOC entrepreneurs, creatives, and academics to thrive and grow. Currently, he serves on the Global Inclusivity Board for Soho House (NYSE: MCG) and the University of Birmingham’s Business School Advisory Board in the United Kingdom. 

Question: What does this award mean to you? 

This award is a representation of all our ancestors’ wildest dreams. This award is bigger than a single person who may be nominated and recognized but it symbolizes for me the collective diaspora of black men who walk in their truth, and their purpose and makes an impact on their community.

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

To be selected as a Black Man in Excellence validates that in this current season of my life, I am truly operating out of the intersection of my passions and my purpose. I am excited to be selected and honored with such amazing men this year.


Jay Butts

Senior Real Estate Broker Jay Butts uses his business expertise in the realm of real estate to help pro athletes buy and sell their homes with confidence and privacy. His extensive relationship management experience in the field of finance served him well in becoming a top seller in real estate with over $50 million in sales.

Question: What does this award mean to you? 

To me this award means that there is someone else appreciating me for things other than financial gain. Also that relationships are the biggest part of this thing we call life.

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

Wow, being selected as BLACK EXCELLENCE means so much to me because I grew up at a time where the world was unsure if BLACK could be excellent. Our history books we were slanted in the other direction so being confident in black skin took a lot or perserverance and trust in GOD. Doors were cracked in corporate america but never left wide open for people like myself. As a result being able to make a living, help others my way and being recognized as BLACK EXCELLENCE is an Amazing Feeling. Because now my black kids can see what its like first hand to be BLACK and PROUD.


Jeremy Joyce

Founder of Black People Eats Jeremy Joyce’s entrepreneurial innovation landed him a spot on the coveted Forbes 40 under 40 list. Black People Eats connects Black culture to the world through the promotion of the best Black owned restaurant and beverage companies.

Question: What does this award mean to you? 

Let me tell you what gets me fired up to be a Black man of excellence – legacy! When I think about this life, it’s not just about me. It’s about leaving behind a trail that inspires the next generation to soar higher than me. I’m talking about motivating our younger brothers and sisters to reach levels they never even thought possible.

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

Being chosen as a Black Man of Excellence means the world to me! There have been times along my journey where I’ve doubted whether I was on the right path or if my work was making a difference. It’s easy to feel discouraged when things get tough or when progress seems slow. But when I’m recognized for the positive impact I’m making in my community, it reminds me that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. Knowing that my purpose is making a real difference in the world is the ultimate motivator to keep pushing forward and striving for even greater excellence.


Ashton Clark

Ashton Clark is a leader/Intrapreneur in the IT space and a nationally award-winning entrepreneur who started his first successful business at the age of 13. He leveraged that success to launch several others including EquityTwins.com – a residential real estate company he started with his twin brother in Chicago and TicketFalcon.com – a cost effective event management and ticketing platform with direct payouts. Ashton is currently the Global Process Owner (Director) for Global Analytics at McCormick & Company. 

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

Giving back is essential to being excellent. I firmly believe that service is the rent we pay for living. Each day I ask myself if I paid my rent. Lifting as we climb is key to building and uplifting the communities we live in and serve. Positively impacting the communities we serve is how one goes from being good to great to excellent.

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

It is an honor and a privilege to be selected as a Black Man in Excellence. Every day I strive to be excellent by giving back to others and my community in some day.


Rukeem Campbell

President of Solar One Construction Corporation Rukeem Campbell uses his vision and business savvy in the development of new residences. As a leader and entrepreneur, Rukeem’s background in sales and business management help to elevate his impact in the community.

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

As a young black man who grew up in low-income communities, it is important for me to have an impact in my community because I have seen first-hand the challenges and barriers faced by individuals in similar circumstances. I believe that by sharing my knowledge and experiences, I can inspire and empower others to pursue their goals and overcome the obstacles they may encounter. By being a leader and a role model, I have the opportunity to create a positive change and make a lasting impact on the lives of those around me. Additionally, by being a visible representation of success, I hope to challenge stereotypes and break down the systemic barriers that have hindered so many in my community from reaching their full potential. Ultimately, I see it as my responsibility and privilege to give back and make a difference in the lives of those who come after me.

Question: What does it mean to you to be selected as a Black man excellence? 

Being selected as a Black Man of Excellence is a true honor and fills me with deep gratitude. I am grateful for this recognition and the opportunities it presents. At the same time, I approach this honor with humility, knowing that I am merely a representation of the many talented and hard-working Black men making a positive impact in their communities. I will continue to strive towards excellence while staying grounded and thankful for this recognition.


Jeffrey Osuji

Jeffrey Osuji is a self described brand builder, connector, and revenue driver, whose purpose is to scale digital solutions that improve quality of life for marginalized and underserved groups. He co-founded Eventnoire, which enables organizations and event curators that celebrate Black culture to create events and fundraise seamlessly as well as realize incremental revenue from partnerships. In his role as Entrepreneur in Residence, he helps facilitate the BLKTech Founders Cohort for early stage founders at the world’s largest private incubator, 1871.

Question: What advice would you give your younger self? 

Be yourself, unapologetically and those who don’t appreciate that don’t have a place in your life. 

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

It feels good to be acknowledged by my peers for the work we’re doing and it reassures me that I’m on the right track. Black Excellence is often a term that is thrown around however this recognition is a reminder that it’s truly a standard and responsibility that we must adhere to and handle with care and diligence. Thank you very much to the Black Professionals Network for this recognition!


Marquis Miller

Marquis Miller uses his leadership and community minded expertise to develop new pathways as the VP and principal advisor to the Executive Leadership Team on diversity, equity, and inclusion for the Obama Foundation. Prior to that role, he served as the first Chief Diversity Officer for the City of Chicago where he demonstrated a record of success in the field of organizational change management, strategic planning and institutional advancement.

Question: What motivates you to be a Black Man of Excellence? 

My orientation as a Servant-Leader. It is more important in my life and at my career stage to have deep authority and relationships than have power.


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

it means having demonstrated that my purpose goes far beyond my individual achievements. My selection is a validation of my actions and perseverance toward advancing my community.


Blake-Anthony Johnson

Blake-Anthony Johnson shoot. Chicago IL. November 29, 2021 Photo by Andrew Collings.

The first Black executive to guide a nationally renowned orchestra, Blake-Anthony Johnson was named Chief Executive Officer at the age of 29 of the award-winning Chicago Sinfonietta, a cultural leader in the field and a powerful champion of diversity, equity and inclusion. Blake-Anthony Johnson’s dynamic career has included work as a performer, collaborator, recording artist, and educator. Self-taught until the age of 18, Johnson has developed a diverse professional career as a guest principal cellist, chamber musician, soloist and recitalist around the globe. 


Dr. Marcus Robinson

Dr. Marcus Robinson is the Founder and Principal Consultant of the Social Innovation Group. Dr. Robinson is a transformational leader in the fields of Non-Profit management, Talent Development, Corporate Culture, Diversity with Inclusion, and Anti-Racism. He is a seasoned non-profit executive who is adept at project leadership, strategic planning, fund-raising, and leading change that delivers on the vision, mission and purpose of the enterprise. Dr. Marcus now serves as the Co-Director of Enrich Chicago providing Anti-Racism consulting and training in the Chicago arts and culture sector as a catalyst for social change and community transformation.


Rickey Layfield

Rickey Layfield currently serves as a Counselor for the Becoming A Man (BAM) program at John Hope. BAM serves at risk youth within the city of Chicago by offering mentoring, individual counseling and group counseling. Rickey also serves as the VP of Programming for Urban Male Network, a platform designed to be a support system for minority men that live in an urban area through service to the community, personal and professional development, and mentorship 


Recap the mixer here

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