Black Enterprise 40 Under 40

Black Excellence was Front and Center at the BLACK ENTERPRISE 40 Under 40 Honoree Celebration

A night of inspiration paying tribute to a diverse group of accomplished young leaders for their outstanding achievements and contributions.

Black excellence was the theme at Black Enterprise’s second annual 40 Under 40 Honoree Celebration on December 10. The annual event recognizes a remarkable lineup of visionaries and trailblazers who’ve reached the pinnacle of success in their respective fields before turning 40 years old. Launched in 2021, each year the 40 Under 40 List highlights young Black leaders in tech, business, arts and entertainment, finance, media, fashion and beauty, political and social impact, and sports.

The lavish soiree was held at The Altman Building in New York City and included guests like celebrity stylist and author Ty Hunter and Love and Hip Hop star Paris Phillips.

Following welcome remarks from Black Enterprise President/CEO Earl “Butch” Graves, Jr., multi-platinum recording artist and entrepreneur Jay “Jeezy” Jenkins kicked off the night with a fireside chat with Black Enterprise Deputy Digital Editor Selena Hill about his thriving music career and transition from a street hustler to a multimillion-dollar businessman.

Jeezy and Selena Hill
Source: Recording artist and entrepreneur Jay “Jeezy” Jenkins and BE Deputy Digital Editor Selena Hill (Photo Credit: Kevin Jean-Jacques for Black Enterprise)

“I think that you live and you learn. If you get burned by a stove, you learn not to put your hand back on the stove,” said the Grammy-nominated rapper.

He also talked about his latest project, “I Might Forgive…But I Don’t Forget,” where he raps about the trauma and deception he experienced in his past. The album was released in November through his independent record label, CTE New World, following his departure from Def Jam after 20 years.

“When you’re evolving and you’re starting to have the success, and you’re walking into these different rooms, and meeting these different people, you’re on this path and you’re having this ‘Tony Montana moment’. [However,] you’re still dealing with the same emotion that you dealt with when there was betrayal.”

Jeezy Black Enterprise
Source: Multi-platinum recording artist, author, and entrepreneur Jay “Jeezy” Jenkins walks the red carpet at the Black Enterprise 40 Under 40 Honoree Reception (Photo Credit: Kevin Jean-Jacques for Black Enterprise)

Following the fireside chat, the 40 Under 40 honorees were presented with customized plaques featuring their faces on a Black Enterprise magazine cover. Hollywood publicist Ernest Dukes accepted his award under the Creative Arts and Entertainment category along with Khadeen Ellis, who accepted the award on behalf of her husband, actor, The New York Times best-selling author, and podcast host Devale Ellis.

Ernest Dukes
Source: (L-R) Selena Hill, Khadeen Ellis, Ernest Dukes, and Earl “Butch” Graves, Jr. (Photo Credit: Kevin Jean-Jacques for Black Enterprise)

SCOUTZ founder Antonio Depina was presented with an award in the Sports category. In the Tech category, Aisha Bowe, the founder and CEO of STEMBoard and LINGO, Netta Jenkins, CEO of Aerodei, and Dasia Taylor, scientist, founder, and CEO of VariegateHealth™ were also in attendance to receive their honors.

The Business category honorees included Olajuwon Ajanaku and Earl Cooper, co-founders of East Side Golf; Tarshena Armstrong, director of Diversity Marketing and Development at General Motors; Derrick Hayes, founder and CEO of Big Dave’s Cheesesteaks, and Songe LaRon and Dave Salvant, co-founders of SQUIRE Technologies, Inc. attending to receive their honors.

Earn Your Leisure co-founder Rashad Bilal hit the red carpet and stage to receive his award within the Finance category. He was joined by Mathilda Lambert, vice president and community manager at JPMorgan Chase, Megan Holston-Alexander, partner and Head of the Cultural Leadership Fund at Andreessen Horowitz, and Anthony O’Neal, speaker, author, and podcaster and Terance “DJ Tao” Takyi, managing director at UBS.

Source: (L-R) Sidnee Michelle, Terance “DJ Tao” Takyi, Mathilda Lambert, Rashad Bilal, Megan Holston-Alexander, and Anthony O’Neal (Photo Credit: Kevin Jean-Jacques for Black Enterprise)

Women’s sports journalist, advocate, and Founder of HighlightHER Arielle “Ari” Chambers was present to accept her honors within the media category along with Watch The Yard founder Jonathan Rabb. Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and U.S. Head of CAA Social Impact at Creative Arts Agency (CAA) Ambre Stanford attended to accept their award within the Political and Social Impact category.

Attendees hit the red carpet to share their respect for the legacy of Black Enterprise and how the renowned Black media outlet helped shape many of their entrepreneurial journeys. The success of the second annual 40 Under 40 Honoree Celebration sets the stage for the ceremony’s future in celebrating the next generation of Black visionaries and changemakers.

Congratulations to all of the 2023 honorees!

See the full list below.


· Quinta Brunson – Actress, Writer, and Producer

· Kiari “Offset” Cephus – Grammy-nominated Musician, Global Influencer, Philanthropist, and Fashion Icon

· Devale Ellis – Actor, New York Times Best-selling Author, and Podcast Host

· Ernest Dukes – Founder and CEO, The Nottingham Agency

· Ziwe – Comedian and Author of Black Friend: Essays


· Winnie Harlow – Supermodel and Founder, Cay Skin

· Sergio Hudson – Fashion Designer and Founder, Sergio Hudson

· Olamide Olowe – Founder and CEO, Topicals

· Laquan Smith – Designer and Founder, Laquan Smith

· Nancy Twine – Founder and CEO, Briogeo Hair Care


· Antonio Depina – Founder, SCOUTZ

· Andre Iguodala – NBA Champion, Entrepreneur, and Investor

· Nicole Lynn – Agent and President of Football, Klutch Sports Group

· Angel Reese – NCAA Champion and Most Outstanding Player of the 2023 Women’s Basketball NCAA Championship

· Sanya Richards-Ross – Olympic Gold Medalist and Founder, MommiNation


· Aisha Bowe – Founder and CEO, STEMBoard and LINGO

· Netta Jenkins – CEO, Aerodei

· Dasia Taylor – Scientist, Founder and CEO, VariegateHealth™

· Everette Taylor – CEO, Kickstarter

· Alex Wolf – Tech Philosopher


· Olajuwon Ajanaku and Earl Cooper – Co-Founders, East Side Golf

· Tarshena Armstrong – Director of Diversity Marketing and Development, General Motors

· Derrick Hayes – Founder and CEO, Big Dave’s Cheesesteaks

· Songe LaRon and Dave Salvant – Co-Founders, SQUIRE Technologies, Inc.

· Kwame Onwuachi – Chef, Author, and Restaurateur


· Rashad Bilal – Co-Founder and CEO, Earn Your Leisure

· Megan Holston-Alexander – Partner, Head of the Cultural Leadership Fund, Andreessen Horowitz

· Mathilda Lambert – Vice President, Community Manager, JPMorgan Chase

· Anthony O’Neal – Speaker, Author, and Podcaster

· Terance “DJ Tao” Takyi – Managing Director, UBS


· Arielle “Ari” Chambers – Women’s Sports Journalist & Advocate and Founder, HighlightHER

· Rachel Lindsay – Author, Attorney, Media Personality, Podcaster, and Speaker

· Chris “Speedy” Morman – On-camera Host, Journalist, and Executive Producer

· Lindsay Peoples – Editor-in-Chief, New York Magazine’s The Cut

· Jonathan Rabb – Founder, Watch The Yard


· Maxwell Frost – U.S. Representative, Florida’s 10th Congressional District

· Justin Jones and Justin P. Pearson – Tennessee State Representatives

· Maya Penn – CEO, Global Activist, Animator, and Filmmaker

· Brandon Scott – Mayor, Baltimore

· Ambre Stanford – U.S. Head of CAA Social Impact, Creative Arts Agency (CAA)

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