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A Year of Recognition: Members of ICIC’s Alumni Network Receive Local and National Awards

By ICIC | March 6, 2024

It’s awards season, a time when perseverance, diligence, and hard work collide to create the memorable experience of being recognized as an example of excellence within one’s field. While the entertainment world eagerly awaits the final award ceremonies of its season, including the Academy Awards and the NAACP Image Awards, a multitude of organizations, societies, and government agencies are preparing to honor the achievements of small business owners. These include local government offices, national agencies like the Small Business Administration, which presents the National Small Business Week Awards, business titans like Ernst & Young, which sponsors the globally recognized Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, organizations like the Stevie Awards, and non-profits like the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) and ICIC. Many of these award programs receive applications early in the year and announce winners between May and December.

Winners of the 2023 Inner City 100 Awards at the awards ceremony in Miami. ICAN members comprised more than 70% of the 2023 honorees.

As with other industries, some organizations reveal winners leading up to the start of the season. The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) announces its Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) Star Awards ahead of its annual convention in March. The award is the nation’s top recognition for excellence among women-owned businesses. 14 WBE Stars are awarded annually, one for each WBENC regional partner. Among the 2024 honorees are three members of ICIC’s Inner City Alumni Network (ICAN): Michele Adams, CEO and President of Levy Recognition; Louise Leduc Kennedy, Founding Attorney of West Hill Technology Counsel, Inc.; and Barb Smith, President of Journey Steel.

2023 ICAN Award Winners

In the 2023 small business awards season, several ICAN members received recognition at local and national levels. Among them were:

Kimberly Black, CEO and President, Trusted Field Services
Black earned the Rising Star award from the City of Knoxville’s Purchasing Department. A Building for Growth alumna, Black was among nine winners of the Diversity Business Enterprise (DBE) Awards, which recognize DBEs (small, woman-owned, and minority-owned businesses) for outstanding performance in helping the City meet one or more of its four core goals and recognizes City departments which have achieved either the highest dollar or highest percentage of competitive spend with DBE’s.

Cassandria Campbell, CEO, Fresh Food Generation
Campbell is an alumna of Inner City Capital Connections. Her Caribbean-inspired farm-to-plate company was recognized with the Small Business of the Year Award from the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. The award aims to celebrate the exceptional vision and resilience of small businesses and has six categories. Campbell was the honoree in the Innovation and Growth category.

Lawrence Charles, Founder, Charles and Company
Charles owns a Long Beach-based tea company, which was named the Luxury Organic Tea Company of the Year (U.S.) by LUXlife Magazine’s Food & Drink Awards. Charles is an Inner City Capital Connects alumnus.


David Delancy, Owner and CEO, One Day Came
Delancy received multiple awards, including making the list for the Florida 500, a special publication by the editors of Florida Trend that highlights the 500 most influential executives in different economic sectors throughout the state, earning a spot on Building Design and Construction’s Top 150 Contractors list, recognition from his alma mater, USF, on its Fast 56: Fastest Growing Alumni Businesses, and winning his first Inner City 100 Award. Delancy is an alumnus of three additional ICIC programs apart from the IC100 Award: Building for Growth, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses (10KSB), and Inner City Capital Connections.

Vicki Gray, Founder and CEO, New Chapter HI Services
Gray is an alumna of ICIC’s Building for Growth and Inner City Capital Connections programs, who earned a WBE Star with the Center for Women and Enterprise (CWE) regional partner.


Cuong Quy “CQ” Huynh, Co-Founder, General Manager, and Treasurer, Rende Progress Capital
Huynh, a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses alumnus, was recognized by the Minority Business Development Agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce as a Champion of Minority Business Development with the Access to Capital Award.

Louise Leduc Kennedy, Founding Attorney, West Hill Technology Counsel, Inc.
Kennedy is a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses alumna whose firm was named to the US News – Best Lawyers® Best Law Firms list.


Pamela Nelson, Founder and CEO, Bracane Company
Nelson, a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses and Inner City Capital Connections alumna, won the NMSDC’s Supplier of the Year Award in category II, annual revenue of $1 million to $10 million.


Caron Ng, CEO, NU-SET Inc.
Ng earned the WBE Star for WBEC’s Women’s Business Enterprise Council-West (WBEC West) regional partner. She is a multi-program alumna, having completed Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses and Inner City Capital Connections. Ng is also a member of ICIC’s Board of Directors, with her tenure beginning in 2024.

Liseth Velez, Founder and CEO, LJV Development
Velez was recognized by the Small Business Administration (SBA) when her company was named Massachusetts Veteran Business of the Year. The Air Force veteran is a Boston ICAN Steering Committee Member and an alumna of ICIC’s Inner City Capital Connections and Building for Growth programs.

ICIC annually names the 100 fastest-growing small businesses in under-resourced areas through the Inner City 100 (IC100) Awards. ICAN members comprised more than 70% of the 2023 list, available here.

A Partner in Success

Attaining these accolades confirms what program graduates have continually reported: the knowledge gained and connections made during their participation in ICIC cohorts led to increased revenues, contracts, hiring, and more. Quentella Enty, a Chicago ICAN Steering Committee Member and top nominator for ICIC’s Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) program expressed, “You could be a self-made local success; you could even be the bread and butter of your community in terms of hiring or services provided, but there is nothing like understanding how to run your business in a way that it can be scaled. ICIC’s programming offers that education, and the businesses that I personally know who have finished their programs have grown in every way.”

The success of these small business owners is not just a win for their companies; it is a win for the local economies that they support. As the small business awards season kicks off, ICIC looks forward to another year of celebrating alumni accomplishments.

About ICAN

The Inner City Alumni Network (ICAN) provides ICIC’s 8,000+ program alumni across the U.S. and Canada with ongoing learning and professional development opportunities, visibility and recognition, and a network through which they can explore contracting and collaboration opportunities

ICAN’s members include graduates from the seven small business technical assistance programs (BIPOC Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, Goldman Sachs’ One Million Black Women: Black in Business, ICIC’s Building for Growth, ICIC’s Inner City 100 Awards, ICIC’s Inner City Capital Connections, Santander’s Cultivate Small Business, and Succession Ready) that ICIC administers or supports.

If you are interested in participating in a program and joining this network of small business owners excelling in their respective industries, click here.

Contact us to share your alumni success story.


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