Gold Level Sponsors $10,000
Silver Level Sponsors $5,000
Bronze Level Sponsors $3,000
Bank of America
Partners Behavioral Health Management
St. Peter Catholic Church
Welcome to the North Carolina Business Leadership Network (NCBLN). Our work is very simple and straight forward: to expand this business-to-business network which recognizes the opportunities created when focusing on and engaging people with disabilities; finding and hiring great talent; increasing market share in this $1 trillion market for products and services; and increasing supplier diversity. Our job is to help you, and we need your help in order to help others.
Let us introduce you to the NCBLN and explain what we are doing, how we do it, and most importantly, where we are headed in the future.
This is truly a business organization, made up of businesses networking and helping each other navigate this world of working with, and marketing to, people with disabilities. Our Mission Statement says it all:
“As a business to business network, the North Carolina Business Leadership Network (NCBLN) will support the business community with information and resources to: source, hire and promote people with disabilities; to do business with organizations owned and operated by people with disabilities; and to market their products and services in an accessible manner to people with disabilities, across the State of North Carolina.”
We are pleased you have decided to take a look at us and will hopefully join us in this effort. We are embracing these goals because they are sound business practices, and will not only help our citizens across the State, but also our businesses to prosper and grow because of the great talent and business opportunities that are available.
In 2010, a group of Charlotte-based businesses “resurrected” work that had been started in 2002 to launch a NCBLN.
The following year, a stronger, more complete “Restatement of Articles of Incorporation” was filled and accepted by the State of North Carolina, with the principle office located in Charlotte. A solid set of By-Laws were adopted, officers and directors elected, an Executive Director hired, an EIN number obtained, and an application for federal IRS tax exemption filed and approved. And we solidified our affiliation with the USBLN as an “official” affiliate of our national organization.
As stipulated in the By-Laws, the number of Directors making up the Board will be at least seven (7), but no more than thirteen (13) people. The term for Board members is three (3) years, with eligibility to serve another consecutive term of three (3) years, if so elected.
The officers of the Board are also stipulated in the By-Laws and consist of a Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and other officers as the Board of Directors may from time to time elect. The current Officers and Board members are:
Shamara Edwards (Director), Senior Manager-Assurance Services, EY
Deborah Hofland, MSW, Executive Director, Philips Academy
LaTonya King (Director), Director of Diversity & Inclusion, Duke Energy
Alissa Malli (Director), Eaton Corporation. Power Quality Division
Tim Newman (President/Treasurer), MSS Solutions
Christopher Peek (Immediate Past Chair), Human Resources Director, Mecklenburg County Government
Ron Reeve (Director Emeritus, Chair), Mecklenburg Disability Action Collaborative
Bruce Shearer (Director Emeritus, Secretary), Advocate
Robbie Taylor (Director), Production Engineer, Lenovo
Eric Wesolek (Director), Support Services Operations Manager, Bank of America
Sid Smith (Executive Director), NCBLN
The Board is governed by and operates under a strong set of adopted “Policies and Procedures,” including “Conflict of Interest and Whistleblower” policies, as well as the “Articles of Incorporation” and the “By-Laws.”
The Board meets several times a year on an “on-call” basis, usually by telephone conference. Several people (Board members and Non-Board members) work all during the year to analyze, develop and propose organizational and programming ideas to the Board for consideration. We’re also in the middle of planning and implementing our programs and events for the current year. This includes initiating a chapter in Western North Carolina, centered in Asheville, to join our chapters in Raleigh/Durham/Research Triangle, Greensboro/High Point/Winston-Salem/Triad and the Charlotte metropolitan area.
The Board made two significant changes in the organization to take effect in 2015.
First, they analyzed our meeting schedule over the last couple of years. We had been holding a quarterly meeting in each of our previous three areas, rotating between areas, and then conducting an Annual Statewide Conference in the fourth quarter. While successful, the Annual Conference was always the biggest “draw” of the year because of the depth and breadth of this all-day conference. Plus, expanding to four regional chapters put a strain on our resources, and hopefully we’ll expand to even more areas across the State in the coming years.
So it was decided to conduct two statewide conferences starting this year, one in the Spring in Raleigh and one in the Fall in Charlotte. Each will have a strong, but different agenda with statewide appeal in content and presentations. We will continue to conduct regional meetings in each area, and will be looking to local leaders in each area to make that happen using the resources of the headquarters office.
The Board also dramatically altered our membership and sponsorship programs, making them more attractive and accessible to many more organizations. Membership is now a flat rate of $300 and is available to “employers” and “non-employers” including agencies, service providers and individuals.
Sponsorship categories were also reduced to $3,000, $5,000 and $10,000 brackets with different benefits in each. All sponsorships cover the membership fee. You can find complete details and applications for both here on the website.
One primary focus for this year and next will be to make these two annual conferences successes, and to increase membership support for the BLN in numbers of members.
The NCBLN has gone through several phases of development in this area. The first phase was to get structurally organized and started in one area of the State.
Once that was done, the second phase was to take the programs and activities of that region and expand them into other regions of the State, specifically the Raleigh and Greensboro areas and to initiate an Annual Conference.
Several things were established to accomplish this:
• A monthly email newsletter with important, informative, business-oriented news that would be timely and helpful to businesses (and agencies and service providers) across the State.
• A website that would contain all kinds of information available for free to anyone and everyone that wanted to know more about the NCBLN, what we do, and the information and resources we have available.
• We created a set of “Tool Kits” to assist businesses in pursuing several initiatives. They’re on this website for free to anyone.
• Established and conducted the regional meetings focusing on advocacy and introducing people to the BLN.
Now we’re into phase three. While many of the items that are in place will continue, now we want to start offering specific, individual service programs to our business members across the state. This will be done with carefully selected independent third-party consultants in the areas of mentoring, internships, apprenticeships, corporate leadership consulting and others.
And this is where we need your involvement: what do you need help on; what should we be focusing on; getting involved and helping in a leadership role.
As noted above, the two Spring and Fall conferences will be key vehicles for delivering these services. But periodic regional meetings will help. The newsletter and website will also continue to be big contributors. The actual service programs will be one-on-one, inside individual companies and you have to request them. We’ll make them available, but you’ll have to tell us what you want and need.
Expansion has come rapidly in four short years. The four metropolitan areas where we have or will have chapters will provide access to the BLN and our programs and services to the areas surrounding each location. Are other areas under consideration for a chapter? All the time, but for the moment we need to complete and improve on what we’ve got. The future is very bright. But expansion of the NCBLN is totally contingent on expanding membership and sponsorship, and creating two conferences that will be “don’t miss” events each year in the State.
Hopefully this has helped you understand the North Carolina Business Leadership Network (NCBLN) a little better. As you can see, we are not shy about big plans, nor are we not cognizant of the work that is required to get there. We need you, and all of your peers and neighbors to help. If you are focused on attracting the best talent available in the workforce to your company; in expanding the marketing of your products and services into this 54 million-person nationwide demographic; and expanding your diversity vendor programs, then come join us. We need each other.