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Awards

Women Entrepreneurs Benefit (WEB) 2004

WEB winners show exceptional accomplishment in building new kinds of businesses or in pioneering new and better ways of running old businesses.

In addition to exemplary women business owners, we have long recognized individuals who advocate on behalf of women and business in the community. This year is no exception, and we are taking it one step further. Our new award, for Social Entrepreneurship, reflects a growing trend in the Bay Area economic and social landscape, towards entrepreneurial activities which have, at their core, a social purpose, and who measure their success as much by their social as by their financial bottom lines. This year's honoree, Diane Howell, has pioneered social entrepreneurship in the African American business community.

Social Entrepreneur

Diane HowellC. DIANE HOWELL, Ph.D.
CEO, Black Expo Ltd
Publisher, Black Business Listings
Producer, Black Expo 2004

Howell graduated from Hyde Park High School in Chicago and went on to attend Barnard College, Columbia University in New York City where she received her B.A. in Psychology. Determined to go to school and see the world, she then headed for Berkeley, CA where she attended the University of California at Berkeley and became, to her knowledge, the first Black woman to receive a Ph.D. from the Psychology Department at the University. Upon graduation she became licensed as a psychologist and opened a part-time private practice.

As a graduate student, Howell became active in the Bay Area Association of Black Psychologists and in 1983 she was elected president of the Association. Recognizing a need to increase the visibility of the Black psychologists in the Bay Area Black community, Howell asked one of the members to start a newsletter for the organization. The member agreed but did not follow through. So, in a characteristic manner, Howell decided she, herself, would publish the newsletter. Howell first published her first issue of Black Perspectives in newsprint in January of 1984.

In early 1989 Howell followed her strong desire to do something to promote African American businesses. With no capital reserves, she founded the Black Business Listings (BBL). Originally published bi-monthly, Howell started publishing BBL 10 times a year in 1990. Although when she first started BBL Howell continued to do her private practice as a psychologist, she soon found that the publication demanded more time and energy than she could give while maintaining a full-time private practice. She decided to stop accepting new clients and was soon a full-time publisher.

Throughout the last 15 years, Howell has been determined to promote African American economic development in every way conceivable. She has sponsored monthly networking breakfasts (which are now free and co-sponsored by the Associated Real Property Brokers) to encourage networking among African Americans in business. She served as the local coordinator for the Black Expo USA for the 5 years it was held in Oakland, and she has been a popular speaker throughout the community, always advocating the self-empowerment of the African American community.

Nine years ago Black Expo USA took Oakland off its national schedule and Howell decided to take on the full responsibility for producing Black Expo. Since that time she has grown the event to be a multifaceted program with something for everyone. Since 1997 Black Expo weekend begins with the African American Excellence in Business Awards and Scholarship Gala which honors small businesses and major corporations for their excellence in business, particularly in relation to the African American community. The proceeds from the gala go to the non-profit SEEDS (Self-Empowerment through Education Entrepreneurship and Dreams) which was founded by Howell in 1997. SEEDS has sponsored Young Entrepreneur Programs Expo weekend, is responsible for the coordination of the College Day Program at Black Expo (in conjunction with the Historical Black College and University Alumni organization), and has given out over $25,000 in scholarships since its inception.

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