GMAAN and Cadillac Discover 'The Power of Reinvention'

13th Annual Black History Month Program brings together GM employees and the community
Feb 18, 2019 9:00 AM ET
Campaign: GM Diversity

February 18, 2019 /3BL Media/ - The General Motors African Ancestry Network (GMAAN), in partnership with Cadillac, discovered “The Power of Reinvention” during its 13th annual Black History Month Program. This year’s theme acknowledged the power of the organization’s collective history born out of diverse experiences to bring together GM employees and the community.

Cadillac has a long history of supporting African American doers, innovators and artists through strategic brand partnerships.

“Cadillac is a brand of substance and quality that has been a pioneer of reinvention, and we were honored to have the brand as this year’s sponsor,” said Telva McGruder, president of GMAAN and director of Facility Engineering and Manufacturing Operations in Sustainable Workplaces.

Jeff Friday, founder of the American Black Film Festival, has been a part of the Cadillac family for nearly 10 years. He was presented the 2019 Trailblazer Award for excellence in leadership, outstanding achievements and community engagement.

“A reinvention moment sparked a career change for me as I discovered a burning passion for black storytelling,” said Friday. “There needed to be a platform for young, black film makers, writers, directors and actors to tell stories specific to our experiences. In 1997, we had our first black film festival with 90 people. Now, in our 23rd year, the five-day festival attracts nearly 10,000 guests.”

Other 2019 honorees included:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award – Barbara Whitaker, retired GM executive, Chairman and CEO of Diversity Connections LLC.
  • Career Achievement Award – Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President, Detroit Chapter National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
  • Excellence in Medicine Award – Dr. Clarence B. Vaughn, medical doctor specializing in oncology
  • Community Enrichment Award – Tarence Wheeler, founder and CEO of the Tarence Wheeler Foundation.
  • Inspiration Award – Dr. Oluwaferanmi Okanlami, Assistant Professor, Departments of Family Medicine and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Michigan.
  • Entrepreneurial Spirit Award – Nailah Ellis-Brown, Founder and CEO of Ellice Infinity LLC.
  • Marketing Excellence Award – Deborah Wahl, Chief Marketing Officer, Cadillac.

“As we recognized the achievements of community leaders and employees, we were inspired by stories of perseverance, dedication and courage that have opened more avenues of growth in our society,” said McGruder. “The evening crystalized the ways innovation manifests today and reminded us that it is woven throughout the fabric of the African American community.”

The GMAAN Black History Month Program draws approximately 1,000 people annually and is an anticipated community event in Metro Detroit.

Additionally, this year’s event featured: Master of Ceremonies John Henry, Dominican-American entrepreneur, investor and host of Viceland’s unscripted series, HUSTLE, co-produced by Cadillac; a fire-side chat with Yvonne Orji, Nigerian-American actress, comedienne, writer, and star on HBO’s comedy series Insecure; musical guest Dr. Karen Clark-Sheard, four-time Grammy, multiple Stellar and GMA Dove award winning vocalist, songwriter and entrepreneur; and a musical performance by multi-platinum, Grammy award winning R&B/Pop singer and actress Brandy.

GMAAN’s mission is to serve as a resource providing a competitive advantage in attracting, developing and retaining African Ancestry employees while engaging communities to drive GM business priorities and performance.

To learn about some of the other ways General Motors is driving value through diversity and inclusion, multicultural backgrounds, and environmental, social and governance factors, access the company’s Diversity & Inclusion and Sustainability reports.