Thursday, August 09, 2012

Nonprofit Thursday Returns!

Fewer than two months I was privileged to be named the new executive director of CAAO, the Consortium of African American Organizations. Pronounced K-O, the organization was founded in 2002 to provide a collective voice for and support to Greater Cleveland’s African American professional organizations. Under the leadership of the inimitable Connie Atkins, the organization thrived over its first decade by finding ways to serve a variety of organizations, businesses, and professionals. Connie retired in December 2011 and is now executive director emeritus of what even before my official start date was one of my favorite nonprofits.

One of CAAO’s signature programs is just over the horizon: this Saturday will see CAAO conduct its tenth annual Leadership Retreat, which brings rising and established community leaders together to look at critical community and career issues that enhance their ability to achieve personal, professional and civic goals.

This year’s retreat addresses “Turning Roadblocks into Starting Blocks” and offers a stellar panel of some of Cleveland’s best and brightest: Ellen Burts-Cooper [Improve Consulting and Training]; Miranda Creel [PNC Financial Services Group]; Ly’Nette Cordaro [Cuyahoga Community College]; Emmanuel Glover [5/3 Bank]; Marvin Montgomery [sales and customer service trainer]; Mark Parks [MarCon Consulting]; and Kazell Pugh [[TLC Springwater LLC].

Patrice Blakemore of Blakemore Consulting will facilitate the program. She will guide panel discussions on navigating roadblocks, getting clients to pay, and positioning yourself for advancement.

The one-day event will be held on the tranquil Beachwood campus of The Gathering Place.

Before you bombard the CAAO office with your last-minute reservation requests, be alerted that the event is SOLD OUT. This happens pretty much every year, so be on the lookout for 2013!

If you are an alumnus of Karamu House — either as an employee or having worked on a show — be advised that an effort is underway to revitalize its alumni association, please let me know and provide me with your contact information as soon as possible.  An initial planning session was held just recently and we hear the enthusiasm to rebuild the organization was palpable. This was perhaps due to the early buzz over Karamu's centennial celebration, now less than three years away,

If interested in the alumni association, send your contact info to

HISTORIC FOREST CITY TENNIS CLUB to Mark Centennial with Labor Day Tourney and Banquet
Members of the Forest City Tennis Club don’t have to wait until 2016 to celebrate their 100 Anniversary: their club was founded in 1912, perhaps the oldest African American social club in Cleveland.
On Labor Day weekend, while hosting the 67th Tri-City Tournament at the Jean M. Capers Tennis Courts in University Circle’s Rockefeller Park, the Club will also hold its 100th Anniversary Celebration on September 2 at the Cleveland Marriott East in Warrensville Heights.
For more information, contact FCTC president Kevin Strickland at 216.536.5677 or or visit

Does your church, club, sorority, fraternity, social, auxiliary, civic or other nonprofit organization provide resources [scholarships, mentoring, field trips, college tours, etc.] to area African American boys and girls? If so, drop us a line at We are looking to establish a comprehensive listing of such services as a community resource.

Next Thursday, August 16, you are invited to be a guest of the Society of Urban Professionals at Perk Plaza at Chester Commons, on the northwest corner of East 12 Street and Chester Avenue. The event, from 5-8p, will feature live music, food trucks, and a beer garden. More info:

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