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Announcing Pitch Competition Winners Presented by Bank of America Athene Black & Brown Business Summit 2023

April 24, 2023

WEST DES MONES, IA (MONDAY April 24, 2023) – The West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce (WDM Chamber) has announced winners for the 2023 pitch competition for the third annual, international Athene Black & Brown Business Summit (The Summit) presented by Wells Fargo. The event was held at the corporate headquarters of Athene at 7700 Mills Civic Pkwy, West Des Moines, Iowa on April 20-21. 

For the 2023 event, 47 applications were received from around the US including Florida, Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, Louisiana, Georgia, Texas, Pennsylvania, and several from Iowa. Seven finalists were chosen in early April to give a five-minute pitch in front of judges at the event on Thursday. In addition, one pitch contestant was chosen at random during the event, totaling 8 competition contestants. 

With the support of generous sponsors and donors, a total of $50,000 was raised for 2023 pitch competition winners and finalists. Athene USA donated near $20,000 to make this amount possible. Since 2021, over $100,000 has been awarded to 28 minority business owners through The Summit.

Pitch Competition Place Winners 2023: 

Louisiana Creole Pecan Candy – First Place - $20,000
QuikLiq – Second Place - $15,000                                                                             
The Joy of Curls LLC – Third Place $10,000

Pitch Competition Finalists 2023 (in alphabetical order):

Bri’s Dance Place – Finalist - $1000
Coffee For a Cause – Finalist - $1000
Four Corners Coalition – Finalist - $1000
Manifest Your Purpose – Finalist - $1000
Kut Kings – Finalist - $1000

“I was overwhelmed with emotions when I learned that we took home first place,” said Terrence Jones – COO & Founder of Louisiana Creole Pecan Candy. “This was the first time I have won anything, and this was my first pitch competition ever! We are humbled by the support we received and are very thankful to the chamber, sponsors, contestants, participants, & volunteers.”

Pitch Competition judges included Sanita Dzafic – Regional Banking Manager, Wells Fargo; Malcolm Ellis – Head of Diverse Investments, Diageo Global Alcohol Brands; Douglas Holloway – Entertainment Executive, Music Producer, Vice Chair/Emerson College; Heidi Parkhurst – Senior Resident Director, Senior VP/Bank of America; Rebecca Tadikonda – Executive VP, Strategy and Innovation/Athene; Marcia Treichel - VP, Market Expansion Branch Manager/Chase; Natasha Scotland Courcy – CEO and General Counsel Athene Bermuda.

Subcommittee members for the Pitch Competition included committee co-chairs Annie Brandt – Senior Vice President, Iowa Market Executive/Bank of America and Bobbi Segura – Regional Manager/Women Lead Change. Committee members include Nyra Bottley - Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Program Manager, Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines; Johnny Boyd – Architect, RDG Planning & Design; Rafael Colon – VP Small Business Banker, Bank of America;  Lori Day – Outreach & Marketing Specialist, U.S. Small Business Administration Iowa District Office; Katherine Harrington – President & CEO, West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce; Jeff Neumann - National Account Director, US Market Access and Pricing, UCB; Kourtney Perry - CEO - Privacy, LLC & Ladie Lex Scented Candles; Sonya Reyes - Executive Officer, Iowa Office of Latino Affairs; Jill Trobaugh - Vice President, Community Relations Manager, Bank of America, Ida Wood - District Business Development Leader, Paychex.

Over 70 expert speakers and panelists were featured including this year’s keynote speaker, wealth strategist Dr. Pamela Jolly. Additional national speakers included entertainment executive Jimmy Thomas, real estate expert Shawn Goldstein, finance and triathlete guru Maurice Wills, television executive Douglas Holloway, Fortune 500 leader Malcolm Ellis, plus Rod Johnson and Pernell Czar with BLK & Bold Specialty Beverages. 

The Athene Black & Brown Business Summit was created to elevate ethnic minorities and bring BIPOC businesses together to assist with connections building, programming, promotion, training, and resources to help their businesses grow and prosper. The third annual Athene Black & Brown Business Summit brought from entrepreneurs to seasoned companies from around the country together in a hybrid setting at Athene in West Des Moines. The Summit includes a nonprofit fundraiser benefiting By Degrees Foundation where $6,000 was raised, a pitch competition, breakout sessions led by top experts, a Mel Essex Award honoring Perlla Deluca, a diversity week spotlighting 20 minority business vendors leading up to the summit and more. The goal is to help advance the minority business community in the country and position Iowa as the best place in the nation to start and lead a minority business. 

The Athene Black & Brown Business Summit has won numerous awards including the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Inclusion Award for Equity Innovation, was recognized nationally by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives in the 2022 Chamber of the Year USA application and was one of the critical factors in the award of US Small Business Administration’s Small Business Community of the Year in 2022.  

The core planning committee for the Summit includes Angela Jackson – Senior Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Athene and owner of The Great Frame Up in West Des Moines, Terrence Thames – CEO, Creative Director Cocoa Creative Agency, Jennifer Smith Partner S&S Employment Services, Bobbi Segura – Regional Manager Women Lead Change, and Katherine Harrington – President & CEO WDM Chamber. 

Sponsors of the Summit helped to make this event possible, and a portion of sponsor proceeds benefited the Pitch Competition, Presented by Bank of America, of which over the past two years over $100,000 has been distributed to pitch winners. For the 2023 event, sponsors, partners, and supporters included in alphabetical order: African American Museum of Iowa, Alliant Energy, Athene, Bank of America, Bankers Trust, Belin McCormick, BrownWinick Law Firm, Buena Vista University Strategic Partnerships, Central College, Chase, City of West Des Moines, Cocoa Creative Agency, Delta Dental of Iowa, Des Moines Performing Arts Presents: Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, Des Moines University, Drake University, EquiTrust, EY, EZ Newswire, F&G, Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines, FORVIS, Graham Construction Company, Greater Des Moines Partnership, Hy-Vee, IMT Insurance, Iowa Economic Development Authority, Kiva Iowa, Known Labs, Kum & Go, Merchants Bonding Company, MidAmerican Energy Company, NCMIC, Principal Foundation, RDG, S&S Employment Partners, Sammons Financial Group, The Great Frame Up, Two Rivers Bank and Trust, ViClarity, Whitfield & Eddy Law, Women Lead Change, Wells Fargo, and West Des Moines Community Foundation. 

To learn more and register visit: www.wdmchamber.org/BBBSummit

About the WDM Chamber of Commerce

The mission of the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce is to champion all things West Des Moines by strengthening our area companies, providing personalized resources, and attracting a top workforce to position WDM as the best suburban city in America to live, work, and play. A 2022 ACCE Chamber of the Year Finalist, the WDM Chamber produces programs and events for everyone. Learn more about the WDM Chamber and how to get involved at www.wdmchamber.org

About Athene

Athene, through its subsidiaries, is a leading financial services company specializing in retirement services with total assets of $246 billion as of December 31, 2022 and operations in the United States, Bermuda, and Canada. Athene specializes in helping its customers achieve financial security and is a solutions provider to institutions. Founded in 2009, Athene is Driven to Do More for our policyholders, business partners, shareholders, and the communities in which we work and live. For more information, please visit www.athene.com.