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Celebrating Black History Month Member Spotlight

NACE is committed to recognizing the diversity of our profession as a part of our new Diversity Series, which seeks to highlight the breadth and depth of our membership by highlighting the unique experiences and insight of our members.

As Black History Month comes to a close, NACE spoke with a few of our members to get their thoughts on what the month means to them and request advice for those looking to grow and excel in their professional careers.

Sydonie Neysmith
Owner, Black Swan Events

What advice would you give to not just aspiring catering or event professionals, but also those who are dreaming of starting their own MBE or LGBT-owned business? 

I would encourage them to follow their dreams, develop a plan and go for it. Owning your own business is not easy but can be very rewarding. Do your research, tap into the resources within your community that are geared towards helping MBE and/or LGBT businesses and get started.

 You are ultimately in control of how far you go, how many people you help and how successful you will become. Best of Luck!

 What does Black History Month mean to you?

Black History month gives us an opportunity to celebrate the people of color who paved the way for a black woman like myself to own a business. It gives an opportunity for our children to learn the history of our ancestors who made sacrifices, took risks and made moves for us to be here and have a voice today.

 Black history should be celebrated throughout the year but it is nice that there is a month that highlights it.


Chris Harmon
CEO, Harmland Visions, LLC

What advice would you give to not just aspiring catering or event professionals, but also those who are dreaming of starting their own MBE or LGBT-owned business? 

Start today.  Even if you do not have it all together, just start today.  Find a mentor that you can learn from, and grow your business like any other business owner.  Sometimes being a MBE or LGBT owned, we can easily get caught up in feeling that the world is against us, and make our jobs harder than it already is.  Try focusing on the craft and just moving forward, one step at a time.

What advice would you share with other minorities looking to grow in this profession?

My advice would be to focus on your dream and passion 100% while blocking all of the negative actions that may be thrown in your direction.  Get to a place in life where it’s business to business, and not business race to business race, or business gender to business gender.  

 A lot of times, we are tested with racism or judged because of our kind, and not our work, and if we focus on the people who only want to hold us down, we will never be able to identify all of the positive people who want to help us up.  

 Regardless of your race, gender, or sexual preference, maintain a level of focus on your craft and only your craft and you will find yourself to be a pioneer, just like any other business owner. Everyday you have to wake up being who you are.  Its nothing that you can apologize for, because you are who you are, and you might as well be great at what you do.

What does Black History Month mean to you? 

Black History Month means that I was born to be a part of something amazing. To look at the long list of successful Black entrepreneurs, Black athletes, Black actors, and all of the other Black excellence that had to weather the storm during times of racism to become who they are today or recognized today is a promising feeling, that one day, I have the opportunity to become an impactful player in my community to one day also be recognized as the epitome of Black history!


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