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The BBPA announces recipients of the 2023 Harry Jerome Awards

Spider "Chuck" Jones will be among those honoured with a lifetime achievement award at the 41st annual award presentation on April 29.

The BBPA announces recipients of the 2023 Harry Jerome Awards
The 41st annual Harry Jerome Awards will take place on April 29, 2023, at the Beanfield Centre (105 Princes Blvd.) in Toronto. BBPA PHOTO 

The Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) has announced its 2023 honourees for the 41st annual Harry Jerome Awards on April 29 at the Beanfield Centre in Toronto.

Thirteen honourees were chosen from a crop of hundreds of nominations, and the dozen-plus-one will be celebrated at an event ceremony taking place at 105 Princes Blvd.

Here are the honourees this year:

Agapi Gessesse – Decade Leader Award

Agapi Gessesse is the executive director of the Careers, Education, Empowerment Centre (CEE) for Young Black Professionals and the founder of Lehizibu Consulting and Strategy Group. Gessesse recently won YWCA Toronto’s social justice award too.

Advocating against anti-Black racism, she speaks and writes on topics such as government relations, the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) initiative, workforce development, and youth engagement. She also works as the executive director of POV 3rd Street, an organization focused on breaking barriers for young people in the media and film industry.

Agunbiade Seun Richards – Young Entrepreneur Award

Agunbiade Seun Richards is a community volunteer, researcher, and social entrepreneur. On July 21, 2018, he travelled from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where he had lived for a while and worked for numerous Fortune 500 firms, to Canada.

He is the co-founder and vice president of the Black Business Professional Networks (BBPN) in Atlantic Canada, and a founding member of the Ubuntu Founders Network, an international online community for prominent African entrepreneurs.

Andria Case – Media Award

Andria Case is CTV News Toronto’s go-to reporter for arts, entertainment, and more. Case joined the news network in 1997, anchors the station’s weekend newscasts, and continues contributing to weekday newscasts with regular reports from across the city.

Born in England to Jamaican parents, she studied journalism and advertising at Toronto Metropolitan University in Toronto. She’s also served as producer and host for ONE O’CLOCK LIVE, a program that aired on CFPL-TV in London, Ont. Before that, she was a reporter and ENG camera operator for CHWI-TV News in Windsor, Ont., and a writer and reporter for CFPL-TV in London, Ont.

Colleen Ward – Technology Award

Colleen Ward is a top tech executive in the financial industry and she is the vice president of the delivery practice in platforms and technology at TD Bank. She joined the institution in 2014 and has been promoted up the chain regularly since then.

Ward, a Jamaican-born Canadian, is an advocate for diversity and inclusion in the tech sector, serving as executive sponsor of the Black Experience arm at TD, participating in the steering committees for the Black Employee Network and Women in Technology, and serving as a trusted advisor to numerous groups like the Black Professionals in Tech Network and Black Hxouse.

Emma Todd – Professional Excellence Award

Emma Todd is the managing director of MMH Data Systems and the CEO of MMG Group — a consulting organization working primarily with companies in technology, including fintech and blockchain. Todd is also a board member of the Canadian Blockchain Consortium and their mining committee chair.

As a blockchain professional, Todd frequently discusses how technology can positively impact efforts to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Frantz Saintellemy – Business Award

Haitian-born Frantz Saintellemy was selected for his contributions to innovations in leading-edge electronics technologies. He was elected to the Order of Canada earlier this year.

He is the first Black chancellor of the Université de Montréal. He also sits on various boards of directors, including those of Sharethrough, Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association (APMA), the Association québécoise des technologies (AQT), and the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec.

Saintellemy is also an advisor to the minister of Economy and Innovation for the development of Quebec's research and innovation strategy and a member of the Quebec Innovation Council.

Jennifer Bernard – Health Sector Award

Jennifer Bernard is the CEO of the SickKids Foundation, effective April 2023. Bernard joined the SickKids Foundation from the Women’s College Hospital Foundation in 2018 and has held leadership roles in provincial and national organizations, supporting teams that have raised more than $450 million.

In 2020, she was honoured as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada and presented with the Inclusion Vanguard award by the Women’s Executive Network.

Lindell Wigginton – Jerome Family Athletics Award

Lindell Shamar Wigginton is a Canadian professional basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association, on a two-way contract with the Wisconsin Herd of the NBA G League. He played college basketball for the Iowa State Cyclones and is from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Wigginton made his NBA debut for the Bucks on Jan. 13, 2022.

Ngozi Paul – Arts Award

She is a Canadian screen actress, producer, and writer with more than 15 years of experience in the film and TV industries. Paul is best known for starring in the critically acclaimed and award-winning series, "‘da Kink in my Hair". Moreover, she is the founder of Emancipation Arts, a production company, and serves as the executive producer of Ngozika Productions.

Rosemarie Powell – Leadership Award

Rosemarie Powell is the Toronto Community Benefits Network's executive director and advocates for social, economic, and environmental justice. She has over 20 years of service to grassroots communities and organizations, overseeing several community-based programs and services. They include the Jamaican Canadian Association, the Jane-Finch Community and Family Centre, and Skills for Change.

Spider “Chuck” Jones – Lifetime Achievement Award

The renowned Spider “Chuck” Jones will take home the Harry Jerome lifetime achievement award. Jones is an award-winning broadcaster, journalist, author, and speaker. He is also a former amateur boxer and a former three-time Golden Glove Champion, and he was inducted into the Canadian Boxing Hall of Fame in 1996. Born in Windsor, Ont., he will be feted by audiences from Canada and the U.S.

Rick Gossling – President’s Award

Rick Gossling is the founder and president of the Toronto Children's Breakfast Club, which provides more than 5,000 meals every week to kids around the GTA. As the founder and president of the Second Chance Scholarship Fund, which offers funding for at-risk youngsters to pursue post-secondary education, he has created support programs for children residing in juvenile correctional facilities.

Deborah Richardson – Diversity Award

Deborah Richardson has been the deputy minister of the Treasury Board Secretariat, secretary of the Treasury Board and Management Board of Cabinet, and chair of the Public Service Commission since July 2021.

Previously, she served as the deputy solicitor general for correctional services and the deputy minister of Indigenous Affairs. Richardson also served as the executive director of the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto in 1999.

Additionally, Richardson identifies as a Mi’gmaq woman with strong ties to the Pabineau First Nation on the north shore of New Brunswick.