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Finalists announced for Upstate Minority Alliance’s Community Engagement Awards

By Charles McChesney


Rickey Brown
Rickey Brown (Photo by Eric Reinhardt/ BJNN)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Upstate Minority Economic Alliance (UMEA) has announced the finalists for the first Community Engagement Awards.

The awards will be presented next Thursday evening, May 24 at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown.

“Through this important event we recognize the many minority-owned companies that help fuel the region’s economy through their persistence, commitment, and dedication to increasing opportunities for all MWBE businesses,” Rickey T. Brown, executive director of UMEA, said in a release announcing the finalists.

The event will also feature a keynote address by Vaughn Irons, chief executive officer of APD Solutions, and Atlanta Businessman of the Year.

Finalists for the awards include:

In the executive of the year category, Kerry Quaglia, CEO, Home HeadQuarters Inc.; David Nutting, Chairman and CEO, VIP Structures; and Robert Simpson, president CenterState CEO.

In the procurement professional of the year category, Lamont Mitchell, director of minority affairs and MWBE compliance officer, City of Syracuse; Tajuana (Tae) Cerutti, division of purchase, Onondaga County; and Katelyn Wright, executive director, Greater Syracuse Land Bank.

In the community partner of the year category, Pathfinder Bank, United Way of Broome County, and the Central New York Community Foundation.

In the innovator of the year category, Deborah Little and Lil More Stix.

In the community organization of the year category, the sole finalist is Home HeadQuarters Inc.

In the community development project of the year category, Price Rite Supermarket, R.O.D.E. Development Project, and Salina 1st LLC.

In the municipal procurement of the year, Onondaga County, the City of Syracuse, and SUNY Upstate Medical University.

In the MWBE business of the year category, Tony Baird Electronics, Inc.; N.J. Jones Plumbing, LLC; and Dreissig Apparel Inc.

For the MWBE Legacy Award, Wings Drones (XEO) is the sole finalist.

For the Legacy Award, there are two finalists: Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney and Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh.

“We are grateful to these individuals and organizations for their leadership and impact on our community,” Brown said in the release.

Contact McChesney at

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