Woman of Power Alicia Boler Davis Named Black Engineer of the Year - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

Along with 40 other honorees, General Motor’s Alicia Boler Davis, will be celebrated as the Black Engineer of the Year next weekend by US Black Engineer (USBE) magazine at its annual BEYA STEM Conference in Washington, DC.

The award will make Boler-Davis the sixth woman recipient of the award in the scientific and technical magazine’s 32-year history.

Her historic rise through the ranks at GM has been well chronicled and celebrated since she joined the company in 1994—serving in various engineering and manufacturing leadership positions.

She had been with the company for a couple years when she became fascinated by assembly plants’ complexity and challenges, Davis told The Detroit Free Press.

“No one said ‘We don’t have women running our manufacturing plants,’ even though at the time, we didn’t,” she said. “I said, ‘You know what? I think I want to run this place. At the time, it wasn’t like I saw women doing it. I just felt like it could happen.”

She said she mentioned it to her manager at the time, he made some phone calls and the rest was history.

History was what she made when she became the first African American female plant manager in 2007. She went on to serve as GM’s vehicle line director and vehicle chief engineer for small cars, and plant manager for Lansing’s Consolidated Operations and Arlington Assembly. Her efforts helped the automotive giant earn top spot among major automakers with the best quality, according to J.D. Power and Associates 2013 Initial Quality Study, which measures quality problems reported during the first 90 days of ownership.

“I was the first African American woman to run a GM assembly plant, and it was no big deal. It didn’t feel like something odd,” Boler-Davis told The Detroit Free Press. “I’d had the (right) assignments and experiences. I had demonstrated my ability to get things done, work with a team, and work with the union.”

She received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Northwestern University and a master’s in engineering science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

“Throughout my career, I was pushed to try new things—things that I hadn’t done before, and things that I couldn’t have imagined doing,” Davis said when she was honored with the 2016 Corporate Executive of the Year at the 2016 Trumpet Awards. “I truly believe that each of us can put our talents to use to change the world if we are willing to be bold, to take risks, and to write the books that need to be written.”
Davis is also a member of the Northwestern University McCormick Advisory Council, a board trustee of the Care House of Oakland County, a member of the OnStar/Shanghai Board of Directors, and Executive Liaison for the GM WOMEN leadership board.

The 2018 BEYA nominees are:

Black Engineer of the Year
Mrs. Alicia Boler Davis
Executive Vice President, Global Manufacturing
General Motors

 

Dave Barclay Affirmative Action

Mr. Darryl Farrow
Director, Global Diversity & Inclusion
The Boeing Company

Dave Barclay Affirmative Action

Mr. Drew Valentine
Vice President, People & Culture
IBM

Career Achievement – Government

Mr. Timothy Bridges
Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection
U.S. Air Force

Career Achievement – Industry

Dr. Charles Johnson-Bey
Cyber Solutions Engineering and Technology Director
Lockheed Martin Corporation

Community Service – Industry

Mr. Steven Brown
President of Dreams, Imagination & Gift Development Program (DIG)
Gas Turbine Controls Engineer
General Electric

The Dean’s Award

Mr. Derek McGowan
Diversity Outreach Program Manager
Lockheed Martin Corporation

Education Leadership – K-12 Promotion of Education

Ms. Tokiwa Smith
Executive Director
Science, Education, Mathematics Link Inc.

Education Leadership – K-12 Promotion of Education

Mr. Gregory Chappelle
Michigan DoD STEM Coordinator and HBCU/MI Liaison Officer
U.S. Army TARDEC

Educational Leadership – College-Level Promotion of Education

Dr. Terri Norton
Associate Professor
University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Most Promising Engineer – Government

Captain Jason Fischbach
Lead Engineer – Power, Space, and Cooling
U.S. Air Force

Most Promising Engineer – Government

Ms. LaAndrea McDonald
BMDS Test Data Manager
Missile Defense Agency

Most Promising Engineer – Industry

Mr. Hamza Syed
Lead Multi-Discipline Systems Engineer
The MITRE Corporation

Most Promising Engineer – Industry

Ms. Chandria Poole
Deputy Program Manager
Northrop Grumman Corporation

Outstanding Technical Contribution – Government

Mr. Reginald Williams
THAAD Post-Production and Sustainment Lead
Missile Defense Agency

Outstanding Technical Contribution – Industry

Mr. Kent Etienne
Technical Lead Engineer, Senior Mechanical Design Engineer
The Boeing Company

Outstanding Technical Contribution – Industry

Mrs. Arissa Hodges
Group Leader/Lead Communications Engineer
The MITRE Corporation

Professional Achievement – Government

Mr. Byron Williams
Programs and Project management Branch Chief
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Professional Achievement – Industry

Mrs. Kathryn Hamilton
Engineering Program Manager
Northrop Grumman Corporation

Professional Achievement – Industry

Mr. Eric Biribuze
Product Line Lead
Corning Incorporated

Research Leadership

Mr. Andrew Adams
Acting Assistant Section Supervisor
The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory

Senior Technology Fellow

Dr. Jon Goldsby
Materials Research Engineer
NASA Glenn Research Center

Senior Technology Fellow

Mr. Nathan Brooks
Associate Technical Fellow, Technical Lead Engineer
The Boeing Company

Student Leadership – Undergraduate Level

Mr. David Hill
Worldwide Sales Engineer Intern
Cisco Systems

Student Leadership – Undergraduate Level

Mr. Bright Tsagli
College Assistant
Bronx Community College

Technical Sales and Marketing

Mr. Karoom Brown
Senior Vice President, Business Development & Strategy
Leidos

The 2018 BEYA Gala will be held at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, DC on Saturday, Feb. 10.

Join the Conversation

Adedamola Agboola

Adedamola Agboola is a digital reporter at Black Enterprise Magazine. Previously, he was a multimedia reporter for Blank Slate Media covering the villages Roslyn and Manhasset for the Manhasset Times and Roslyn Times. Before that, he was a reporter with Norwood News, a biweekly community newspaper covering the neighborhoods of Norwood, Bedford Park, Fordham and University Heights. He is from Nigeria.


MORE ON BlackEnterprise.com