Introducing our new Chief Visionary Officer, Mark Yates!

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The Black Business Association of Memphis is pleased to announce the appointment of Mark Yates as Chief Visionary Officer. Yates brings a wealth of business knowledge, strategy and know-how to the organization with a passion for helping Memphis' minority small businesses thrive.

In his new position, Yates will provide the vision and effective leadership necessary to help re-engineer the organization, enhance the BBA membership experience and make a greater economic impact on the community at large. 

Yates has extensive experience in the financial sector, healthcare industry, and public policy. In recent years, he has served as Program Manager for All World Project Management, founded Memphis Youth Summer Business Experience (MY-SBE), and provided services to the Enlightenment Center and LES mental health outpatient care for children and families. 

Yates has a B.A. in Economics and Finance from Howard University and an Executive MBA from Owen Graduate School of Business at Vanderbilt University. In Memphis, he has served as Chief of Staff and Faculty at LeMoyne Owen College; Former Chief of Staff in the U.S. House of Representatives; Senior Vice President at FTN Financial and First Tennessee Bank, among other prestigious roles at organizations throughout the city. 

Help us welcome Mark Yates to the BBA Memphis team! 

President's Message: Leadership is... | March 8, 2018

“LEADERSHIP IS:

    -knowing what to do next
    -knowing why that is important
 
    -knowing how to bring the appropriate resources to bear on the need at hand”

                                              - Bobb Biehl


I have resisted for a very long time the mantle of being a “Leader.” (Ever since I was an outspoken activist in college and was told that the FBI had a file on me) I have developed a comfort zone of being what I call a “Worker Bee.”  Further, I have learned from John Maxwell what it is to “Lead from the middle of the pack.”  From that position the command is, “Follow me. I’m right behind you.” But “Knowing” is something I have always embraced.

“Knowledge is Power.” - Francis Bacon.  “Knowledge Empowers.” - Roby Williams. 

Now, I have read with interest the reports on poverty in the Memphis community. I happen to “Know” through studying that there is a correlation between crime and poverty.  I happen to “Know” through studying that there is a correlation between educational achievement and success.   

Now, the challenge for me and our community is to figure out: What to do next? Why that is important? And how do we bring the appropriate resources to bear on the need(s) at hand?

Edward Everett Hale noted: “I am only one. But, I am one. I cannot do everything. But, I can do something. And, because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."  

I happen to believe that successful Black businesses provide a support system for our youth.  I happen to believe that supporting Black businesses affords youth opportunities for empowerment, achievement, aspirational thinking (hope) and future success.

To this course I shall, with the support of others who see the need for interventions and solutions to these challenges, endeavor to develop praxes and programs to effectuate meaningful change in our community.  We know that all change is not progress. We shall focus on producing measurable desirable outcomes.  We shall focus on supporting and impacting what John Hope Bryant identifies as the “Invisible Class.” 

“The Invisible Class includes American urban youth with too much time on their hands. Even when they have a real passion for success and a desire for economic freedom, they don’t have enough education to differentiate themselves in a market economy.  Worst of all, they don’t possess enough real opportunity in their lives to direct their attention from the dangerous and life-altering call of the streets.”

This is an excerpt from John Hope Bryant’s book, “The Memo.”

This will be quite an undertaking. Some might even call it “Mission Creep.”

So be it. 

It is what the Spirit demands. It is what our concept of “The Beloved Community” demands. I look forward to engaging with many others in this work. “The first responsibility of Leader is to define reality. The last is to say, ‘Thank you.’ In between, the Leader is a Servant.”  - Max Dupree

Ok, I remain uncomfortable with the leadership label, but you may call me a “Champion” for this cause. You may even say that, “Roby S. Williams supports Black businesses with, ‘Evangelical zeal, fervor and conviction.’”  I’d plead guilty to that charge. I look forward to “Serving.”

Watch this space. Have a productive day!
Here to help Memphis WIN!

ROBY