A Local Business and Professional Organization Honors Women

Award recipients

Tricia Hall
The Truth Reporter

The Maumee Bay Club of National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club (NANBPWC) held their annual program on Saturday, April 13, 2024 at Arthur Hills Golf Club in Ottawa Lake, Michigan. The occasion and 2024 theme, “Women Who Advocate for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,” celebrated Women’s History Month and the organization’s founders, awarded scholarships, included a featured speaker and acknowledged local women.

Maumee Bay member Patricia Poston opened the program with a warm welcome and Crystal Taylor delivered heartfelt greetings. Program mistress of ceremonies Candice Harrison completed a special presentation, Birdena Martin presented history and occasion, Tonu Epperson and Patricia Snelling conducted Tribute to Founders and Jenai Hicklin delivered the innovation.

Crystal Harris Darnell, the current director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the Lucas County Board of Commissioners, delivered the keynote address. Harris Darnell oversees the coordination and guidance of the county’s initiatives to define, assess, promote and foster diversity and inclusion across all aspects of service delivery and employment within the Lucas County Commissioner’s departments.

Youth Award recipients with scholarship recipients

“I just want to take in this room,” began Harris Darnell during the speech introduction. “There was a time that I didn’t believe that I should be in this space. Thank you ladies for the invitation to inspire you this morning. I get to speak to an audience of Black women.”

She went on to talk about the history of racism and colorism, share personal experiences and inspire the audience to support each other. “What does DEI mean? What does it mean when I’m the only Black women and I feel unseen. What does it mean. This has become my passion. I’ve experienced colorism, we used to tease ourselves. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized it was wrong when I first heard ‘Black is Beautiful.” I had never heard that in the schools or even in the church.”

Several individuals were acknowledged:

  • KaTrice Perry, founder and executive director of Gateway Youth Development, received Achievement Award.
  • Valerie Simmons-Walston, special advisor to the University of Toledo president for Community Engagement and Strategic Partnerships, received Community Service Award.
  • Valerie Thompson, president of AAF-Toledo (American Advertising Federation), Volunteer Award.
  • Trinity Nwokolo, Toledo Early College High School senior, received Youth Character Award.
  • Malaika Bell, director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at The University of Toledo, received Women who advocates for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Award.
  • Myiah Welborn of Toledo Christian, Vonaija Harris of Gibsonburg High School, Carnel Smith Jr of Scott High School, Jalen Brown of Emmanuel Christian School, Jaden Bridgette of Rogers High School all earned scholarships.

“Honored to be here. I let my work speak for myself and I’m grateful for this honor. There are so many women that I admire and aspire to be like, now I’m in the same room with you,” shared Perry.

Brenda Holsey presenting award to Ms Bell

“Thank you to this organization. This is the first award,” began Bell. “There are people in this room that I have known for years and have worked with me for years. These individuals recognize the importance of this work. I was destined to do this work, I was lucky for landing in the field of DEI.”

NANBPWC was established under the leadership of Emma Odessa Young in 1934 with the objective to create an organization for professional business women. In 1983, the Maumee Bay Club was established. The club provides various workshops, trainings and programs, but their most notable is the Black College tour for high school students.

Current Maumee Bay Club leadership: Crystal Taylor, president; Birdena Martin, first vice president; Linda Collins, financial secretary; Pattie Poston, recording secretary; Trevor Black, treasurer; Tracy Huff, membership chair; Jenai Hicklin, second vice president; Deborah Sims, corresponding secretary and Natalie Edwards, life membership chair.

“Thank you to everyone that attended, my club sisters, our guest speaker, everyone,” said Crystal Taylor. “We awarded $3,000 in scholarships today. Our scholarships are different, once they are enrolled and we see a class schedule then a check is mailed. They can use the scholarships for books, a computer or whatever is needed.”


Maumee Bay NANBPWC, Inc, Members