Inspiration from Past Presidents
One of the greatest opportunities we have in life is the opportunity to give. The ability to give our time, our talents, finances, and relationships. With a great organization like the Los Angeles Urban League Young Professionals the opportunity to give should be at the forefront of all our members as it is for our chapter president. After serving as president immediately prior, I can share with you the challenges are often present but this also leaves great opportunities. I encourage you all as members to explore what is the best way for you to give.
For many of us it is in one area and it may be in multiple areas. The most important part is that you to participate in some capacity. Simply being a member of this great organization is a part, but what next? Maybe being a part of a committee, participating as a sponsor, introducing us to new relations or at the very least being a financial contributing member. Either way I encourage you to see where is the best opportunity for you to give this great organization. I can assure you that whatever you desire to gain from this organization you will obtain it if you start with your ability to give.
Kevin E. Hooks
An award-winning and highly experienced marketing strategist, Kevin E. Hooks is a leader who creates a common vision and forges positive relationships that drive market dominance. Possessing more than 20 years of experience, Kevin has an exemplary career leading companies through challenge and change to profitable growth. His history of proactive leadership and creative vision has gained him the reputation of an accomplished and enthusiastic rainmaker with the knowledge and drive to identify and analyze business requirements that accelerate an organization’s competitive advantage. As the new President/CEO of the Las Vegas Clark County Urban League, Hooks is committed to building the brand of the organization by raising its community profile, streamlining its programs and creating sustainable and effective partnerships.
Kevin began his upward career progression in 1993 as Senior Public Affairs Manager for State Farm Insurance. During his six-year tenure, he facilitated numerous highly successful marketing campaigns and strategic partnerships, including a multi-million dollar partnership with the National Urban League that continues to this day.
In 1999, Kevin brought his strong blend of marketing savvy and strategic relationship-building skills to the west coast, as General Manager of Urban Elevation in Hollywood, California. It was his success in developing urban-focused marketing for numerous studio movie releases that led to his next role as Vice President and General Manager for UPP Entertainment Marketing in Burbank. Kevin’s unparalleled attention to detail and the ability to collaborate effectively across boundaries helped him excel in optimizing the firm’s development and delivery of branded integration, celebrity outreach, entertainment public relations, event production, and product placement services.
During his highly successful tenure with UPP Entertainment Marketing, Kevin directed a 40- member team in the development and implementation of marketing efforts to reinvigorate brand recognition. Kevin revitalized P&L performance by establishing the Lifestyle Marketing and Digital Services divisions, as well as developing celebrity brand placement protocols for major events such as Sundance Film Festival, People’s Choice Awards, and MTV Video Music Awards.
It was business successes like these that caught the eye of global PR leader Weber Shandwick and led to Kevin’s most recent engagement as Executive Vice President, where he drives integrated marketing efforts across all disciplines including consumer, entertainment, and multi-cultural.
His ability to analyze and evaluate business requirements, lead workforce improvements, and advance pathways to greater staff efficiency have led to his success in securing more than $2M in new business, launching three new business units, and acquiring numerous high-profile clients.
Kevin has been honored for his contributions on multiple occasions due to his success in championing best practices and integrity, and consistency in achieving measurable value and profit performance, including the Network Journal’s 40 Under-Forty Achievement Award. Kevin has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Missouri Southern State University. A former Board Trustee for the National Urban League and delegate to the Democratic National Convention, Kevin remains dedicated to community efforts as the Co-founder and Executive Committee member for the IPG diversity and inclusion board MERGE.
Michelle Y. Merriweather
Michelle Y. Merriweather is a dedicated community advocate. Her passion is combining her extensive sales, fund development, event planning and marketing background to better the communities in which she serves. An LA native, her dedication for the Los Angeles community and for being a voice for the voiceless, she has recently began a career as a marketing, strategy and development consultant. Her previous work experience has been with major organizations such as Starbucks, Heinz, Coca Cola and the American Heart Association. Ms. Merriweather’s work and leadership experience has been helpful in her service on the board of the Los Angeles Urban League and while she served as the first woman President of the Los Angeles Urban League Young Professionals in 2009-2012. Michelle is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and currently the Communications chair of the National Urban League Young Professionals. She is a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing.
During her three years of service as LAULYP President, her team sought out to create an Urban Renaissance. They sought out to leave a lasting impression on the Movement and our affiliate through our work that would not only be remembered, but replicated. They began programs such as the Remix Mentoring program, and began honoring the unsung young professional heroes of our generation in our “To the Nines” celebration on the heels of the LAUL affiliate Whitney M. Young Dinner. Michelle says “the biggest legacy for her is not what we did, moreover, it is in watching those that follow in our footsteps go further, do more, and continue to set trends, patterns, and support our affiliate in ways we have never done, or been able to do!”
Alberlynne “Abby” Harris
Albert + Gwendolyn = Alberlynne
Alberlynne Harris, affectionately known as Abby, is a native of Los Angeles, California. She continues to defy labels and categories while remaining active with various civic and social organizations that empower her inherent success.
As an A Better Chance alumna of the Harvard-Westlake School Abby received her BS in Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. She returned home to complete the JD/MBA program at the University of Southern California. She is currently the Marketing Director for a leading digital media and multicultural advertising marketer, Mirror Digital, Inc.
Abby recently completed a 2-year term as President of the Los Angeles Urban League of Young Professionals where she helped lead over 200 volunteers in raising over $50,000, increased membership, and sustained the LAULYP legacy of achieving Western Region Chapter of Excellence for the fourth straight year in 2013. She maintains her finger on the pulse of community involvement as President of the Harvard-Westlake African-American Alumni Association Network where her philanthropic efforts raised over $100,000 for the “It Takes A Village” campaign. Abby continues to speak on mentoring panels and community events to empower women and multicultural leaders.
In addition to loving her growing family of three brothers, mom, dad, two nieces and three nephews, Abby spends time alongside her life partner, James Woods, writing and producing film and TV projects, wine and cheese tasting, and attending live music performances.
Justin Saunders is a partner in Sanders Roberts & Jewett LLP. Justin’s practice focuses on business litigation, criminal defense and government counseling.
Justin’s career trajectory has involved a combination of elite legal services and high-level government service. Justin began his legal career at the Los Angeles office of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP, where he worked on several high-profile cases. At Sheppard Mullin, Justin successfully defended a politician charged with 4 felonies. He also represented various business clients in commercial litigation matters, among other cases.
After three years at Sheppard Mullin, Justin was recruited to government service by Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky J. Delgadillo. In addition to serving as a chief aide to the City Attorney, Justin managed the City’s relationship with private law firms – upgrading services, cutting costs, regaining control over a $37 million yearly budget and restoring the trust and confidence of the public, the City Council and the Mayor.
Justin returned to the private sector a few years later, serving as a Senior Associate at the Los Angeles office of Sidley Austin LLP, an international, full-service law firm. At Sidley, Justin successfully represented a Hong Kong-based technology company in a $35 million lawsuit brought by former shareholders. Justin also represented a major real estate financier in litigation against the developer. In addition, Justin represented a major insurance company in litigation brought by the California Dept. of Insurance. Justin also represented Willie Earl Scott, an inmate on Alabama’s Death Row.
Justin graduated from Morehouse College with a degree in political science (Magna Cum Laude/Phi Beta Kappa). Justin graduated from the University of Southern California Law School in 2000, winning the prestigious Crispus Wright Scholarship and the Steven B. Sample Presidential Fellowship. Justin was admitted to the Bar in 2000.
Taj Tashombe is a modern day renaissance man and multi-talented Impresario of Lifestyle, Music & Culture. He is an industry archetype that has successfully intersected Madison Avenue to Hollywood & Vine, executing progressive brand integration efforts for many blue chip companies and celebrity talent as a branded entertainment executive with his own boutique lifestyle agency TSGG. His work has been featured in conjunction with the Super Bowl, Academy Awards, Grammys, Olympics, FIFA World Cup & more.
Serving as LAULYP President in 2008, Taj was charged with restoring the chapter’s membership and partner relations with LAUL leadership. This was accomplished by reviving core programming and establishing a refreshed YP marketing campaign, setting the stage for future success. His tenure was highlighted with a key panel discussion entitled ‘The State of The Black Professional Male’ in which he called upon all previous LAULYP President’s as participants to share their experiences in the movement and how we could continue to pay it forward as the current membership body.
Today, Taj can be heard as an emerging recording artist recently being featured in Complex Magazine as an artist to watch. His debut single ‘Tales Of A Tastemaker’ is available now.
George B. Thompson
George B. Thompson is a nationally recognized financial expert and motivational speaker. He is the author of several books: Millionaires In Training: The Wealth Builder, Set-4-Life: The Diary of a Champion, and co-author of The Total Package: The Keys to Acquiring Wealth and Walking in Divine Health.
George believes that in order to successfully achieve financial freedom and realize your dreams you need two critical things: A plan to guide you and a system to execute the plan.
George’s life mission is to help people from all walks of life achieve their personal and financial goals. It is through his passionate delivery style and practical content, he shares easy to learn concepts on how to build and maintain wealth, achieve goals, while having fun in the process.
He’s been featured in Black Enterprise Magazine; On Wall Street; a financial industry magazine, “Tough Times; and Tough Brokers”. He has been listed in Amazing Brokers for 2002, Los Angeles Daily News, LA Times, and other print media. He has also appeared on a Myriad of TV Programs to include: WB’s “Making it-Minority Business Success Stories”, Emmy Award nominated, KLCS “In Focus”, BET’S Award Winning “Teen Summit”, CNN FM Radio News, CBS, National Geographic’s “Church Rescue” and a regular contributor on “It’s A NEW Day on V100, a Radio-One network!
His professional affiliations include the National Speakers Association of Los Angeles where he holds bronze, silver, and gold microphone pins and “Connie Contest” winner for excellence in communication. He has served on the board of the National and Los Angeles Speaker’s Association, the National and Los Angeles Urban League Young Professionals as President and Treasurer and has served on the Los Angeles Urban League Board of Directors.
George currently serves as the Pastor of Stewardship and Finance at Faithful Central Bible Church under the direction of Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer in Inglewood CA.
A graduate of Pepperdine University, George holds a B.A. in Business Communications, is a Certified Estate Planner (CEP), and holds Professional Designation in Personal Financial Planning (PFP) from U.C.L.A. George currently resides in Los Angeles, CA with his wife Kimberley and three lovely children: twin boys George III, Alexander and daughter Grace.