Hart Leadership Center Foundation

Mission Statement

The mission of the Hart Leadership Center Foundation is to honor and recognize current business leaders, and to invest in the development of the leaders of the future.

We are a 501c(3) Foundation, committed to creating educational opportunities for students who might not otherwise get the chance to go to college.


2 Year Deal

City National Bank and the Hart Leadership Center Foundation have agreed to terms, making CNB the title sponsor of the Los Angeles Black Business Leaders Hall of Fame through at least 2018!

HLCF and City National Bank Agree to 2 Year Extension for Black Business Leaders Hall of Fame!


 “It was a pleasure meeting you and your wife at the Inaugural Black Business Leaders Hall of Fame Ceremony.  The ceremony was a great success and I was so moved by Ms. Mellody Hobson’s story.” – Ana Sofia Lopes Johnson, MD, President-Elect, Association of Black Women Physicians

“Thank you for the Inaugural Los Angeles Black Business Leaders Hall of Fame event last evening. Reuniting with businesses that have been serving our communities for many years was most gratifying. Thank you for all of the ingredients of the event from valet service to the shuttle carts that took the guests to their cars in the self-parking lot!!!  The personal touch and attention to detail were noticed, appreciated, and amazing!” – Connie Bass

“Thank you for inviting us to the Black Leaders event last night. Wonderful inspirations behind every honoree!!” – Leonor Gaviña-Valls, Gaviña Gourmet Coffee

“I’m sure you’re still reeling from last night, it was fantastic!   You did a phenomenal job!” – Aretha Augustine, City National Bank

“Great work last night.  You put together a phenomenal event.  Well done!  ” – Kwame S. Brathwaite, Citi Realty Services

“What a beautiful event you put on last night, I was very impressed with your choice of speakers, hosts etc.”- Hector Garcia, MBN Design

“The event was absolutely marvelous and I am glad I attended it.”- Stephanie Farmer

“I trust my quick e-mail finds you basking in the success of your wonderful event! Many, many compliments are still coming on your event!” – Janice Smallwood-McKenzie, The Networking Coach

“It was all my pleasure. Great event! I hope to attend for many, many years.”  – Aubry Stone, California Black Chamber of Commerce

“Congrats, again, on a wonderful inaugural event. We had such a great time fellowshipping with the group.” – Nick and Tianna Collins, Event Flicks

“The event was amazing, the venue perfect. It was really the talk of the town. It was such a pleasure to meet you and your wife. Thank you for what you do at the Hart Leadership Center Foundation.” – Patricia Watts, FCI Management

“It was a pleasure to meet you and participate in the Black Business Leaders Hall of Fame event last week.  Winning was a surprise and very much celebrated and appreciated.  While we all enjoy the work, it is wonderful to be recognized and valued.” – Karen Slade, Vice President and General Manager, KJLH Radio

“I just want to say your event was GREAT and SUCCESSFUL!!!! The work that you are doing is amazing and is definitely needed.  I praise you for your commitment to assist people.”  – Brandi Redick

“It was such a pleasure meeting you. Thank you again for organizing such an event, and it was truly an honor to be recognized.” – Salena Collins, Clear Gardens Yoga

“I want to thank you for allowing my husband and me to be a part of your gala tribute to black business leaders.  From start to finish, it was a tremendous experience.” – Estelle Toby Goldstein, MD


Black Business Leaders Hall of Fame Inaugural Class Inducted in Gala Event Held in Los Angeles
Over 300 Guests Packed the Huntington Library to Hear Mellody Hobson,
Honor 9 LA-Based Black Businesses

July 29, 2016 (Los Angeles, CA.) The Hart Leadership Center Foundation (www.hartleadership.com) held its inaugural Los Angeles Black Business Leaders Hall of Fame induction event on Thursday, July 21, at the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA. The event was presented by City National Bank, and was highlighted by a fireside chat with Mellody Hobson, President of Ariel Investments and Chairman of DreamWorks Animation. Ms. Hobson was interviewed by television and film actor Wren T. Brown. The majority of the awards were presented by television and music star, Dawnn Lewis.

In an event attended by over 300 people, guests were inspired by Ms. Hobson’s grace and intellect, as she shared stories about her childhood, her rise from Intern to company President at Ariel, and being married to movie mogul George Lucas. In alluding to her tendency to quote Lucas, Ms. Hobson said, “Well, he is Yoda’s creator!”

Attendees were uplifted by Ms. Hobson’s background and story, and then had the opportunity to hear from the nine Black Businesses who were inducted as the inaugural Black Business Leaders Hall of Fame class. The inductees and their categories are:

Excellence in Community & Philanthropy, FCI Management – Pat Watts; Perseverance & Sustainability, Black Business Association – Earl “Skip” Cooper, and Harold and Belle’s Restaurant; Biddy Mason Business of the Year, Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation – Marva Battle Bey / Andrea Jackson; Entertainment, Innovation & Technology, KJLH Radio – Karen E. Slade; Entrepreneurial Rising Stars, Baron Jay Littleton Foundation, Clear Gardens Yoga – Salena Collins, and The Todd Group – Todd Hawkins; and the Ruby Bridges Pioneer in Education;  African American Board Leadership Institute – Yvette Chappel Ingram.

Inductees were among 94 businesses nominated by the community; and were selected by a panel of 10 prominent leaders in the Black Business Community.

“I was so touched, moved and inspired by the nominees, inductees, and presenters of our inaugural Black Business Leaders Hall of Fame. It was truly a blessing to recognize the great leaders in the Black business community,” commented Laurieann Hart, co-founder of the Hart Leadership Center Foundation. “We are not proud of the history of racial prejudices that go on in our country and have for centuries. It’s time to stop, take a look, and honor people for who they are and have become in spite of circumstance, as they change their communities through courage, grace, generosity and leadership. We are so grateful for their dedication and contributions and making this event a night to remember. We were all inspired!”

Karen A Clark, multicultural strategy manager at City National Bank, “the bank was excited to present this event, and to honor the Black community. We were delighted and gratified by the attendance; as well as the vast and diverse representation of the Black business community. Ms. Hobson’s remarks were timely for any business. As she recounted dark days at Ariel Investments during the great recession, Ms. Hobson cautioned businesses not to look up at the storm, but to keep your head down through the storm. I am sure that people will never forget this night. We look forward to the 2nd Annual!”

The Hart Leadership Center Foundation, and City National Bank, confirmed this week that they have agreed to a two-year contract extension to present the 2nd and 3rd annual Black Business Leaders Hall of Fame events. Details are pending.


With $41.2 billion in assets, City National Bank provides banking, investment and trust services through 74 offices, including 16 full-service regional centers, in Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area, Nevada, New York City, Nashville and Atlanta. In addition, the company and its investment affiliates manage or administer $55.7 billion in client investment assets.
City National is a subsidiary of Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), one of North America’s leading diversified financial services companies. RBC serves more than 16 million personal, business, public sector and institutional clients through offices in Canada, the United States and 36 other countries.
For more information about City National, visit the company’s website at cnb.com.


The mission of the Hart Leadership Center Foundation is to honor and recognize current great leaders, and to invest in the development of the leaders of the future. We do this through a series of hall of fame events, leadership development programs, one-on-one coaching, and through educating the next generation of leaders. We partner with great companies, organizations, and individuals to create opportunity where it otherwise might not have existed.

Connect with us through social media on Twitter @Hart_Leadership, Facebook at @BlackBizLA or find us on LinkedIn at Hart Leadership Center. We can also be reached at www.hartleadership.com, or 714-458-3064.

The Inaugural Los Angeles Black Business Leaders Hall of Fame Event
Thank You to Our Current Black Business Leaders Hall of Fame Partners (more coming soon..Sponsorships Still Available!)

Wren Interviewing Mellody

Event Moderator Wren T. Brown interviewing Ms. Mellody Hobson, at the July 21 Black Business Leaders Hall of Fame event at the Huntington Library.
Master of Ceremonies Wren T. Brown

Master of Ceremonies Wren T Brown

Our Masterful Master of Ceremonies, Wren T. Brown, was poised, classy, humble, and did a marvelous job bringing a wonderful spirit to the event! Wren will MC the 2nd Annual event in May 2017!
Hart Leadership Center Foundation Founders Laurieann and Ed Hart

HLCF Founders Laurieann and Ed Hart

Hart Leadership Center Foundation co-founders Laurieann and Ed Hart, at the end of a long, rewarding night!
Dawnn Lewis

Grammy Award-Winner Dawnn Lewis Entertains and Inspires the Crowd!

Award Presenter Ms. Dawnn Lewis, entertained the crowd with her grace, humor, and passion!
Reverend Thurmond

Reverend Thurmond Offers Stirring Invocation

Reverend Dr. William Thurmond set the tone for the evening with a stirring, powerful invocation, asking for God’s grace and blessings on the event. God responded!
The purpose of this event is to honor the achievements of men and women in the black business community in Los Angeles who have dedicated their lives to the advancement and realization of equality in all industries. 
Hall of Fame Categories


This business has demonstrated concern for the community above and beyond its own self- preservation. Other businesses or community members have benefitted from their good works, be it volunteerism, mentorship, training, advocacy, and / or financial support. This organization inspires others.


This business has demonstrated tenacity, strength, and determination to continue moving forward in the face of life and business adversities. This company has maintained its spirit and purpose despite economic downturns globally and locally.


This business has demonstrated excellence in its exceptional financial returns, strong growth, innovative strategies, and market leadership in its sector. This business is known for ethical business practices; good community & employee relationships; and long term planning – evidenced by the delivery of consistent results in this dynamic market.


This organization has promoted innovative strategies in education; consistent, high quality teaching, training and mentorship for youth or adults; resulting in significant contributions to personal development of youth; or the professional development of adults.


This entertainment and / or technology business is recognized for their excellence in providing services or products in innovative ways, utilizing technological tools for growth, advancement, efficiency and community engagement.


This award will be presented to a group of young entrepreneurs who have demonstrated hard work and determination as they pursue success; show a great potential for growth; think outside the box; and, understand the need to make the world around us a better place, as demonstrated by socially responsible actions. These recipients are the future leaders in the black community, and the world as a whole.

Thank You to Our Honorary Committee and African American Caucus:

From our Presenting Sponsor City National Bank:
Karen A Clark
Keith Drake
Andrea Collins
Brian Grant
Barbara Allen-Watkins

And Our Amazing Honorary Committee:

Kelli Bernard – Deputy Mayor & LA Coalition
Tracy Gray – The 22 Capital Group & LA Coalition
Michael Kelly – LA Coalition
Michele Turner – USC Black Alumni Association
Michelle Ballard – Community Affairs, Turner Construction
Lori Gaye – Neighborhood Housing Services
Karen Slade – KJLH Radio Station
Pastor Cecil “Chip” Murray – USC
Christine Simmons – LA Sparks
Stan Brooks – Stand and Deliver Films
Angeles Echols Brown – Educating Young Minds
Dr. Rhonda Thornton Crawford – USC Small Business Diversity Office
Pat Watts – FCI Management
Dawnn Lewis – Entertainer
Dr. Pamela S Williamson –WBEC West
Commissioner Dallas Fowler – City of LA
Tara Taylor – Dickerson Insurance
Angela Gibson – GLAAACC
Lena Kennedy – L.L. Kennedy & Associates
Robin Billups – WBENC
Quentin Strode – Artifex
Kenneth Billups III – CLIMBINC.org, Clark Construction
Eric Clay – Operation HOPE, Inc.
Andrea Jackson – Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation
Mark Robertson – PCR SBDC
Ron Turner – KJLH Radio
Mark Anthony Thomas – Mayor’s Office, City of LA
Constance Anderson – PCR SBDC
Brandi Williams – My Agent of Choice
Pamela Bakewell – Bakewell Company
Kimberly & Ozzie Benoit – Rainbow Promotions / Benoit Entertainment
Renata Simril – LA 84 Foundation
Bill Duke – Producer / Director / Duke Media Foundation
Charisse Bremond – Brotherhood Crusade
Honorable Gwen Moore
Tami L. Warren – LA County, Black Women Lawyers Association
Kathy S. Walton – West Los Angeles College
Cheryl A. Dorsey – CD Media Specialist
Rosalind Pennington – BST Consulting
Earl “Skip” Cooper II – Black Business Association
Ken Coleman – Samaa Technologies
Aubry Stone – CA Black Chamber of Commerce (CBCC)


If you are interested in being a part of this committee, please contact Ed Hart at ehart@hartleadership.com.

The mission of the Hart Leadership Center is to honor and recognize current business leaders, and to invest in the development of the leaders of the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any questions about the Black Business Leaders Hall of Fame, or Hart Leadership Center, email us at ehart@hartleadership.com, or call us at 714-458-3064.

How can I sponsor this event?
Simply contact ehart@hartleadership.com, or call us at 714-458-3064
What type of volunteer opportunities are there for this event?
We need help reaching the elite black business leaders and companies that wish to get their message in front of this audience; and we are seeking event night volunteers, as well!
Will there be additional Black Business Leaders events around the country?
Yes! In fact, we already have an event in the works in Atlanta, GA, in the Spring of 2017!