Vision and Relationships 


Ernest Strickland
President and CEO

Ernest D. Strickland, President and CEO of the Black Business Association of Memphis, holds an MBA from Bethel University and a Bachelor of Professional Studies from the University of Memphis. Strickland has led a multitude of successful economic and workforce development projects throughout his career. He recently served as an architect of Memphis’ community-wide workforce development initiative, Upskill 901 – a program aimed at upskilling 10,000 individuals over a three-year timeframe.

Strickland comes to the BBA after a stellar 15-year career with the Greater Memphis Chamber. At the Chamber, his most recent role was Senior Vice President of Workforce & Talent Development. Before this position, he served the Chamber as VP of International, Director of Workforce Development and Public Policy, Existing Business Consultant, and Business Development Associate.

Before working at the Chamber, Ernest owned and managed Investors First Realty. In this capacity, his responsibilities included managing cash flow, driving property acquisitions and sales, and serving as property manager for the firm’s portfolio of real estate owned.

As a native Memphian, Ernest is passionate about growing the CITY. He enjoys investing in his community through civic duties such as serving as former Chairman of the W.E.B. DuBois Charter School Consortium, Board Member of the Memphis Kings Youth Organization, Board member of The Consortium MMT, and New Memphis Institute Board of Trustee. Ernest was recently appointed to serve as a Greater Memphis Local Workforce Development Board of Director. Also, he is Past Chairman of the Downtown Memphis Commission, former board member of Memphis World Trade Club, and Leadership Memphis.

Alan Gumbel

Chief Operating Officer

Alan Gumbel became the Chief Operating Officer of the Black Business Association of Memphis (BBA Memphis) in January 2023. Alan brings years of executive and senior leadership to his role; having served as Executive Director of the Memphis Academy of Health Sciences, the Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce and Deputy Director of Programs of the City of Memphis Workforce Investment Network.  

In addition to his senior leadership roles, Alan has extensive experience planning, developing, managing and evaluating community economic development and workforce development programs in the Mid-South and across the nation as a business owner and consultant. Alan spent his early career establishing programs that supported technology transfer for Arkansas based businesses for the Arkansas Science and Technology Authority before moving to Memphis and working as a policy analyst for the Lower Mississippi Delta Development Commission. Mr. Gumbel earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Emporia State University in Kansas.

Alan has served his community as a board member of the Southeast Memphis Community Development Corporation, Whitehaven Community Development Corporation, Family Services of the Mid-South and Memphis Center for Independent Living. He is a graduate of Leadership Memphis Executive Program (2018). He also serves as a Tennessee state coordinator of the Delta Grassroots Caucus that promotes community and economic development in the eight state Delta region.

Alan is excited to join the BBA Memphis team and sees it as an opportunity to merge his personal passion for small business development with his executive nonprofit experience in service of a greater and more prosperous Memphis.


Alisha Williamson
Strategic Projects Administrator

Alisha Williamson, a Memphis, TN native, is a driven, passionate, and experienced community engagement professional. Her success streams from helping companies, nonprofit organizations, and agencies with consumer and brand engagement projects for over 10yrs. Alisha’s background in marketing and communications and her passion for community involvement has helped her spread her creative wings in all areas of brand management, consumer engagement, and digital marketing strategies. She is a woman of many hats, but her favorite is being a mother. She works hard and balances her career as she continues to establish financial security. Alisha’s goal is to empower and educate Black businesses on the value of their worth through an entrepreneur mindset.

Chasisty Jones
Executive Office Manager

Chasisty joined Black Business Association in October 2021.  In her role as Executive Office Manager, she is tasked with adding structure and value to the organization by establishing robust office protocols and accurate accounting activities, such as bookkeeping and managing the membership database. She brings over 20 years of experience in management and leadership to this role. She has held various leadership positions in education and the private sector, from supervisor to director of operations. Prior to joining the BBA, Chasisty was Operations manager for Elwood Staffing.

 A native Memphian, Chasisty, believes in the potential of Memphis.  She received her Bachelors of Management & Organizational Development from Bethel University. She has a passion for volunteering and giving back to her community, she is an active member of the Junior League of Memphis, and The Downtown Neighborhood Association.  She also volunteers for Memphis in May and is a strong supporter and advocate for her high school alma mater, Booker T. Washington.

Dr. Eugenia Gray
Small Business Programs Manager

As the BBA’s Small Business Programs Manager, Eugenia brings 30 years of professional experience, specializing in strategic business planning, communications, media/PR, publicity, marketing, branding and development, which includes her private practice business consultancy, Allegis Development Group, LLC—operating in diverse service industries. Her experience has been in the non-profit, government relations, PR/media, hospitality, commercial real estate, engineering, transportation, and logistics. She serves as a business coach/consultant and certified training facilitator of essential business skills and develops DEI&A strategies to minority business owners to acquire industry related certifications for contract procurement within their respective industries. She has coordinated communications strategies, marketing, product branding, business program development and strategy efforts for clients such as the Memphis Urban League, Urban League of Greater Chattanooga, Rexam Beverage Can Americas, Jabil Global Supply Chain, TBC Corporation, Kroger KMA – Delta Region, JCore International, National Civil Rights Museum, M.S. Carriers, Lottworth Enterprises, and C.H. Robinson Worldwide. In previous roles she served as the Director of Entrepreneurship and Economic Development for a national non-profit and was the former Vice President of Corporate Affairs & Communications for a public strategies and government relations firm. Eugenia is also the associate producer of Greater Memphis Media [home of the Brian Clay Chronicles], an award-winning, social justice journalism company, and co-founder/managing partner of a full-service 3PL logistics, freight brokerage and transportation company.

Originally from Dayton, Ohio, but raised in Memphis, Eugenia graduated from Mitchell High School and studied International Business Management and Marketing at Central State University and Mass Communications at Xavier University (Williams School of Business). She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree in Marketing and a Master of Science (MBA) in Mass Communications and Public Relations. She has also studied many of the scholastics of the Bible and completed her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Practical Christian Theology in 2017. She enjoys watching sports, traveling, reading, movies, dancing, roller skating and spending time with family.