At CAAO, our mission is to utilize the resources of Northeast Ohio African American professional organizations to promote economic development in African American communities and to enhance career and entrepreneurial opportunities.


Educate the African American community about the importance of business growth, economic empowerment, and development

Increase communication and cooperation between local African American businesses

Serve as a resource to support African American entrepreneurial activities

Support the activities of member organizations

History & Founders

History Web

The Consortium of African American Organizations is a nonprofit consulting organization which provides benefits and services to black professional organizations of Northeast Ohio. CAAO’s predecessor was the African American Business Consortium formed in 1993.

CAAO was initially funded by the Cleveland Foundation and the George Gund Foundation in 2001 and incubated on the campus of Case Western Reserve University under the tutelage of Enterprise Development, Inc., the predecessor to JumpStart. The founding organizations included: the National Technical Association, the National Black MBA Association, the National Society of Black Engineers, the Black Data Processing Association, and the National Association of Black Accountants. The founding Chair was Frank Robinson of NASA Glenn; and the founding Executive Director was Connie Atkins, a seasoned entrepreneur.

Kevin A. Carter is the Director, Diversity and Inclusion for the Campbell Soup Co, founder of Inclusion Innovates. With Campbell’s, his current focus is D&I strategy development; managing the company’s Business Resource Affinity Networks. Kevin is also the co-chair of the Conference Board Diversity Leadership Council and the chair of the Diversity Metrics Workgroup of the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) Diversity Standards Taskforce. These committees are developing standards and the “new normal” in the diversity and inclusion field.

AWARDS He has been recognized as one of Diversity MBA Magazineís Top 100 Executives Under 50 and Crain’s Cleveland 40 under 40 Club; received fellowships from the German Marshall Memorial Fund and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and is a recipient of the NBMBAA H. Naylor Fitzhugh Award of Excellence.

Frank Robinson Jr. is deputy director of the Safety and Mission Assurance Directorate at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. He assists the department director with providing reliability, quality assurance and system safety management. He was Chief of the Risk Management Office and the on-site Director for the NASA Assurance Technology Center. Robinson is also a co-founder of the New Approach to Self Achievement Project, which is a career awareness program for inner-city youth.

AWARDS He has received many awards from NASA including the Exceptional Service Honor Award Medal, the Equal Employment Opportunity Medal, and the Special Achievement Award. In 2009, he was given the Black Engineer of the year Award in Professional Achievement in Government. Robinson also holds the Space Flight Awareness Honoree Award, the James C. Jones Humanitarian Award, the USDA Graduate Leadership Academyís Community Service Award, the Outstanding Young Men of America Award, and the YMCA’s Presidentís Award for Leadership and Service. He is an inductee into his John F. Kennedy High School’s Gallery of Excellence.

Deborah Bibb is the director of the Career and Student Life Center at the Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland. Bibb says the close connection between student life, alumni, and career services, all of which she oversees, helps Weatherhead students maximize their job search. After spending some time in corporate America, with her capacity to listen and guide others and her overall understanding of business, she decided to take a position as Director of the Minority Assistance Program at Ohio State’s Fisher School of Business. Her success in this role led her to Case Western Reserve University. Ms. Bibb’s most recent achievement is being named the Program Director for Specialty Graduate Programs.

AWARDS Ms. Bibb has been inducted into Kaleidoscope’s 40/40 and is a founding member of the Columbus Chapter of the National Black MBA Association, Immediate past President of the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the National Black MBA

Betty Ivory is presently employed by the National College Access Network (NCAN) whose mission is to improve access to and success in postsecondary education for disadvantaged, underrepresented, and first-generation students. As the organizationís Technology Coordinator, she improves desktop hardware and software processes and supports critical business strategies by managing the development, installation, vendor selection, maintenance and repair of desktop and server equipment. Betty Ivory has been a member of the National Society of Black Engineers for 10 years. As CAAO’s first Parliamentary, and using the African American Business Consortium’s bylaws as a foundation, she proposed a completely revised version of CAAO’s bylaws.

Norman Mays entered the US Army where he served for 20 years specializing in administration, military intelligence and computers. He was very instrumental in the development of the US Army’s first Computer Systems Security Program. Norman established N.R Mays & Associates in 1996 to take advantage of his personal experiences in the network marketing industry where he tirelessly works with others to assist in the development of their own financial stability and wealth. During the mid-70s, he served as National Vice President of BDPA and as a two-term National President where he and others established the foundation for BDPA. During the mid-70s, he served as National Vice President of BDPA and as a two-term National President where he and others established the foundation for BDPA. Today, he remains an active BDPA member providing sage advice and mentorship to many.

AWARDS During service for his country, Norman received the Bronze Star that is one of the highest US decoration and the Cross of Gallantry the highest Vietnamese decoration.

George Williams has an information technology and business career that spans 30 years with professional experience in marketing, sales and management within corporate, non-profit and civic organizations. Over a 15-year span, George has served as the Cleveland Chapter and National President of Black Data Processing Associates where he was responsible for establishing the vision and strategic direction for the 40+ Chapters and Board of Directors. Locally, he has actively served on the Boards of the Cleveland Education Fund, the Cuyahoga Community College Unified Technologies Center and the John Adams High School Vocational Education Advisory Group. He currently serves as a community advisor to the MetroHealth Hospital Institutional Review Board.

Lennon Taylor is the Accountant Consultant for United Black Fund. Lennon has been a member of the National Association of Black Accountants since 1997 and served as president of NABA from 2000 through 2005 as one of the founding member organizations of the Consortium of African American Organizations (CAAO). Lennon also served as Central Region Treasurer of NABA from 1999-2002. Lennon is currently an MBA student at Baldwin Wallace College and a volunteer speaker at Granville Academy of Cleveland.

Charles Burkett is a Client Manager at Huntington National Bank. Mr. Burkett has over 15 years of professional experience in economic development with expertise in event planning and project management. While serving as the Director of Economic Development and Diversity for Enterprise Development, Inc. (predecessor to JumpStart, Inc.), Charles initiated and developed strategies for encouraging entrepreneurship through outreach to black professional organizations. Charles is very involved in the community as a board member and past president of the Ohio Venture Association, Digital Photography Special Interest Group Leader for the Greater Cleveland PC User’s Group, board member and past president of Granville Academy.

Our Staff and Board

William Holdipp

Executive Director


Connie Atkins

Executive Director Emeritus

Deona Davis

CAAO Board Chair

Jazmin Long

CAAO Board Member

CAAO Board Member

E. Mark Young

CAAO Board Member

Terrence Robinson

CAAO Board Member

Other Board Members not Pictured:

Mike Gaston

Ingrid Rodríguez-Reichert

Gwen Y. Davis

Charee Fountain


Sisers of Charity
Cleveland Give Camp
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