BBPA Harry Jerome Awards this weekend


Kevin Johnson and Nadine Spencer

Ontario Court Justice Donald McLeod is one of the hosts of this weekend’s prestigious Harry Jerome Awards (HJA) organized by the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA).

Justice McLeod will co-host the 37th annual HJA with CTV’s Marci Ien. The gala event, presented by TD Bank, will be held Saturday, April 27, at the International Centre, 6900 Airport Road.

“Canada’s Black communities are bursting with positive stories and we look forward to continuing the tradition of the awards to amplify these stories for our 37th consecutive year,” said Nadine Spencer, president of the BBPA, which supports business and professional excellence, higher education and economic development.

The HJA, a fundraiser that supports the work of the BBPA, was established in 1983 in memory of the late Harry Jerome, a Canadian Olympian and social advocate.

The BBPA will be recognizing the achievements of 14 African-Canadians including Kevin Johnson, who also in Saturday’s keynote speaker.

Johnson is Chief Executive Officer of MediaCom, a multi-million-dollar company that is involved in media planning and buying, content creation, business analytics, and which also has investments in brands such as Uber,, Aldo, Roots and Adidas.

“Kevin Johnson has not only inspired those who work with him to strive for great achievement, but also to strive for creating a culture within MediaCom that is gratifying, accepting and innovative. Kevin is a proud community mentor in Rexdale, where he grew up and believes giving back is the most important part of his legacy,’’ the BBPA said.

The other Harry Jerome Award recipients are Wendy Beckles, President & CEO at Shepherd Village Inc.; Karen Burke, co-founder of both Burke Music Inc. and the Toronto Mass Choir; Exco Levi, a Juno Award-winning reggae artiste; lawyer and legal commentator, Leslyn Lewis; television personality, St Lucia-born Traci Melchor; Paulette Senior, President & CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation; physician Dr Dominick Shelton, a co-founder of the Summer Mentorship Program at the University of Toronto; Ross Simmonds, a digital strategist and entrepreneur who owns a company called Foundation Marketing; Shaquille Smith, who raises money to build dream basketball courts in his hometown in Nova Scotia; St Kitts-born Rustum Southwell, founding Chief Executive Officer of the Black Business Initiative; Ray Williams, a financial services executive who was born in Grenada; and Ethiopia-born Dr. Gezaghn “Geza” Wordofa, a human rights advocate who champions the cause of refugees and was named one of Canada’s top 25 immigrants in 2015.

According to the BBPA, the “spectacular evening of Black Canadian excellence’’ will be complemented with performances by the Toronto Mass Choir, Jay Douglas and JRDN. A party will follow the awards’ ceremony.

“We look forward to delivering a signature BBPA stellar event,” said Marcia Bowen, chair of the Harry Jerome Awards.

Further information is available by calling 416-708-0521 or 416-722-0608.