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13th Annual A.G. Gaston Conference Recap

The two-day conference held at the BJCC—3rd Floor East Meeting Rooms on February 14-15, 2017 had a dynamic line-up of program participants and attendees. From national renowned speakers, to millennial panelists, corporate executive women and entrepreneurs—the annual conference was nothing short of a success.



One started off with corporate executives and entrepreneurs from all over registering to be part of the two-day event aimed at “Closing the Wealth Gap through Entrepreneurship & Policy.” While Day One was mainly focused on women change makers with two panel discussions addressing both corporate and entrepreneurial matters that are important to women—headlining the group was Janice Mathis, Executive Director of the National Council of Negro Women, an organization founded in 1935 by Mary McLeod Bethune. Mathis was the luncheon keynote speaker.


At the close of Day One participants got the opportunity to attend a reception at the Carver Theatre were following a theatrical performance of A.G. Gaston: The Man, The Mogul and His Mission. The young actors of “Make it Happen” Performing Ensemble took the audience on a tour of the life of Alabama’s own A.G. Gaston. The young actors put on a standing ovation performance that left the audience inspired to learn more about the man known to many as the Black Titan.


Day Two started with an assortment of breakfast refreshments and opening panel discussion moderated by UAB Collat School of Business Professor, Dr. Anthony Hood. The panel highlighted three home grown millennials and how their innovation is shaping the renaissance of Birmingham. Informally the audience had the opportunity to ask questions while additionally adding commentary to the conversation. Birmingham’s millennial entrepreneur, Ashlee Taylor owner of Mogul Tax Solutions described the panel as “A refreshing opportunity to see peers bring to light many of the pressing issues we face as millennials right here in Birmingham, a conversation we must continue to have.”


Following the millennial panelist was veteran speaker, Dennis Kimbro. Kimbro wowed the audience by giving practical tips on leadership skills for the 21st Century. Following Kimbro’s dynamic speech business owners had the opportunity to ask pressing questions about their business and leadership skills. Kimbro was both electrifying and brought a depth of knowledge around the topic of entrepreneurship and succeeding in management.


To conclude the 13th Annual A.G. Gaston Conference was a luncheon that honored the three recipients of the 2017 Community Service Award. These awards are given annually to individuals who embody the characteristics of A.G. Gaston and recognizes to recognize the best of the best within our community. The recipients included, Dr. Stephanie Yates, Director of Regions Institute for Financial Education. Deontee Gordon, Director of Business Growth at REV Birmingham and Dr. Linda Chambers, Accounting Professor at Miles College.


Post the award ceremony was an awe-inspiring keynote speech by Ramon Ray, Smart Hustle Magazine, Editor-In-Chief. Ray addressed the audience with a charge to open their hearts to not only learn about the life of the man known as the Black Titan but apply his 10 rules of wealth building. Lastly, Ray told the audience to make a difference one must “Plan for Success”—concluding his speech he was given a standing ovation.

The Annual Conference is set to take place again February 13-14, 2018. Follow for updates.



Nominations are being accepted for the 13th A.G. Gaston Community Service Awards

Deadline approaching

ArthurGaston-largeBIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The A.G. Gaston Conference is seeking unsung community heroes for the 2017 A.G. Gaston Conference Community Service Awards. Nominations will be accepted through January 31st, 2017 by clicking here. The awards will be presented during the 13th annual conference to be held Wednesday, February 15, 2017 during the luncheon, beginning at noon at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

The two day conference, which begin on Tuesday, February 14th features nationally-known speakers and local leaders and focuses on economic empowerment. The community service awards are presented to individuals who exemplify characteristics of the late black millionaire A.G.Gaston who founded and ran several businesses in the Birmingham area. Nominees for the award should be active in their church, involved in philanthropic activities and impacting Birmingham and the state of Alabama in positive ways.    Past winners of the community service awards include Lisa Riley of Lift Fund for her advocacy about autism and to Kerri Pruitt of the Dannon Project which focuses on presenting opportunities for ex-offenders.  Past conference award recipients represent a Who’s Who among Birmingham civic and educational leaders. Among them are: Dr. Perry Ward, President of Lawson State Community College, Fred McCallum, President of Alabama AT&T, and the late Reverend Abraham Woods.

The conference,  founded in 2005 by Bob Dickerson and Gaynelle Adams-Jackson, serves as a think tank venue discussing enterprise development and how it contributes to economic empowerment. Dickerson said, "Every day someone in our community is making a difference. We seek to discover and honor those individuals who touch and improve lives because it is not only important to recognize the business leaders in our communities but the unsung heroes as well."

Nominations can be made by clicking here.  Finalists for the award will be notified by February, 10th 2017. 

This year’s conference theme is closing the wealth gap through entrepreneurship and policy. Conference attendees are slated to hear from three nationally recognized business leaders, Janice Mathis, Dr. Dennis Kimbro, and Ramon Ray. Mathis is the Executive Director of the National Council of Negro Women, Kimbo  is a best-selling author and master trainer for the prestigious Napoleon Hill Foundation, and Ray, Editor of Smart Hustle Magazine, and author of the best seller, “Facebook Guide to Small Business Marketing,” which is currently getting rave reviews from across the nation.

The Gaston conference draws business leaders from across the state along with a diverse group who gather to honor Gaston’s legacy, discuss current trends in business, honor its community leaders and empower entrepreneurs and business owners. According to Gaynell Jackson, “At the center of many conference discussions are lessons leaders can learn to cultivate the next generation of millionaires committed to serving the community.