The Caribbean American Cultural Arts Foundation (CACAF) honored nine Captains of Industry, including 4 Jamaican-Americans, during a glamorous and exciting gala at the Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta on Sunday, June 26th, 2022. The event, which was complete with a VIP reception, Caribbean stilt performers and a Junkanoo band celebrated the achievements of some of Atlanta’s most respected and outstanding Caribbean American leaders. Among them Aisha “Pinky” Cole (Jamaican-American), Founder & Owner of the Slutty Vegan ATL, Ann-Marie Campbell (Jamaican-American), EVP of The Home Depot, Balram Bheodari, General Manager of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Darwin Newton, Head of Operations, Siemens Corporation, Jamil Jude, Creative Director of Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre, Astra Armbrister-Rolle, Former Bahamas Consul General Atlanta, Saurel Quettan, Former President, Georgia Haitian American Chamber of Commerce, Dr. David Panton (Jamaican-American), President, Panton Equity, Dr. Tameka Blake (Jamaican-American), Piedmont Newton and Rep. Pedro Marin, (GA-96).
In addition to the 2022 class of honorees, the Caribbean American Cultural Arts Foundation (CACAF) celebrated the tireless work, sacrifice, and contributions of frontline workers who helped support the needs of the community during the pandemic. The CACAF awarded the following community change agents: Dr. Tameka Walker-Blake, MD, Medical Director of Emergency Medicine, Piedmont Newton Hospital, Ezron “Ezzy B” Benjamin, Founder & CEO, The Spotlight with Ezzy B and Naeemah Charles, Family Planning, Grady Hospital.
Highlights from the evening included the moment honoree Pinky Cole addressed attendees and told them that she was proud of her Jamaican heritage and proud of her Jamaican mom. In accepting the award, Cole described the day that she was born as the day that her Jamaican father was sentenced to prison and was later deported back to Jamaica. She said that she is what her parents always hoped to achieve when they came to the United States. Cole said, “I am my parents wildest dreams.” Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport General Manager, Balram Bheodari who was also honored at the event, touted his vision of leadership at the airport. Bheodari said his goal was to promote the airport as an economic engine for the City of Atlanta. Each honoree shared the importance of events like the Captains of Industry Awards because it celebrates the work of people whose vital contributions often go unrecognized.
The annual event which took place for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic is also a fundraiser for the Caribbean American Cultural Arts Foundation. The non-profit supports disaster relief, preparedness, and response efforts in the United States and Caribbean, supports educational mentorship and cross-cultural exchange. It also meets the needs of the aging population and promotes Caribbean arts, culture, and humanities.
CACAF Chairman Michael Thomas said that this year’s event was a true success, “Our celebration of diversity and inclusion is paramount to the continued success of the region and the United States.” This event will continue to further the work and vision of CACAF. The organization has made strides over the past few years in bridging the gap in cross cultural exchange for students in local Atlanta schools connecting them to leaders in higher education across the Caribbean. CACAF was also pivotal in connecting the Caribbean community and the global community during the SOLACE Virtual series which provided mental health services to local Atlanta students and families during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization also provided warm meals to frontline workers at Emory University Hospital and Grady Memorial Hospital. CACAF also supported the rebuilding efforts of the Bahamas Children’s Home an orphanage that cares for displaced children in Northern Bahamas which was destroyed during Hurricane Dorian in 2019. In addition, CACAF has provided important dental care to aging seniors across metro-Atlanta and established a disaster response team and plan to quickly address natural disasters in the United States and the Caribbean.
The event was sponsored by The Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, United States Virgin Islands, The Islands of the Bahamas, Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill, Panton Equity, Onyx Media Services, Renansant Bank, Integral, the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, and the Westside Parent Avengers.