Our Team

Ernest Strickland
President & 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

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. In her role as Strategic Project Administrator, Alisha will manage internal and external special projects in coordination with partners, stakeholders and/or organizations on behalf of the CEO. 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

Dr. Eugenia Gray

Small Business Program 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.

Jasmine Bowden

Jasmine Bowden

Grants Manager

Jasmine Bowden is a strategic planner and servant leader with experience in developing programs, cultivating partnerships, and managing logistics for nonprofits, political action committees, and community development organizations. Drawing from an urban sociology lens, Bowden has an interest in economic development, resiliency planning, and cultural preservation. She holds a Master of City and Regional Planning from the University of Memphis and a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies and Sociology from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Jasmine is an alum of both the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Emerging Leaders and American University’s WeLead campaign training program. The Black Business Association of Memphis (BBA) recently named Bowden as its Grant Manager where she will oversee its new Business Booster Program which provides technical assistance and comprehensive training to aid local restaurant, food, tourism, and hospitality businesses. Previously, Bowden served as the Program Manager for The Works, Inc. where she convened and developed programming for the Blight Elimination Steering Team (BEST), Strategic Code Enforcement Management Academy (SCEMA), and oversaw the Good Neighbor Grant for commercial property improvements. Prior to her role at The Works, Bowden gained experience in Washington, DC where she convened national organizations to push for equitable access to sexual and reproductive health care services for communities of color. During the 2018 election cycle, Jasmine coordinated supporter events, resulting in the (re)election of 34 members of Congress and more than 300 candidates to state and local offices across the country.Outside her professional commitments, Jasmine enjoys curating social gatherings, hiking, and serving others. She is an active member of Memphis Urban League Young Professionals, a Gen Next PAC Board Member, and a Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium Wisdom Councilmember.

Our Board Members

Michael Hooks Jr
Board Member

With over 23 years of experience in project management and public affairs, Michael Hooks, Jr. serves as founder and CEO of Allworld Project Management. Michael received his Bachelor’s degree at Hampton University in Hampton, Va., and graduate-level education at the University of Memphis Executive MBA program and Christian Brothers University Project Management Certification Program.

Michael founded Allworld Project Management in 2010 and has grown this firm to employ approximately 50 full-time employees in several states. Allworld was awarded the 2019 INC. Magazine top 5000 fastest growing small business of the year.  Small Business Of The Year (Memphis Business Journal-2017) And the (Memphis Area Black Business Association – Outstanding Business Of The Year-2018). Michael was named to the Memphis Business Journal Power 100 list for 2022. Michael was also named to the list in 2019 and 2021. The annual list features the city’s most influential leaders impacting the landscape in Memphis.

Michael is married to Attorney Kenya Hooks and has two daughters:  Morgan(15) and Miranda(8). He is a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity and New Directions Christian Church. He also serves as a board member of the Rotary Club Of Memphis (Central) and Memphis Area Minority Construction Association and Black Business Association

Carlee McCullough
Board Member

Carlee McCullough, Esq. is General Counsel with McCullough Law, PLLC. She is one of the proprietors of Mahogany
Memphis, one of the most well-established restaurants in Memphis, Tennessee. Sitting on the boards of River City Capital and the Black Business Association, Carlee has remained committed to the advancement of minorities and women in business.
McCullough is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and an Adjunct Professor of Entertainment and Music Publishing at LeMoyne Owen College. She is a member of the Black Entertainment & Sports Lawyers Association (BESLA).
College. She is a member of the Black Entertainment & Sports Lawyers. She currently serves as Chairwoman of the
Board of Commissioners of Memphis Light Gas & Water and the Pension Board. McCullough grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, and received her Bachelor of  Business Administration (BBA) from Howard University in Washington, DC., and her Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, California.McCullough lives in Memphis and has one son. As the recipient of several awards, none outweigh the privilege of being a mother to her son, Justice.

Mark Yates
Board Member

Mark Yates is the Tennessee Valley Authority’s regional vice president for the West Region. A native Memphian, Yates holds an Executive Master of Business Administration degree from Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management and a Bachelor of Arts from Howard University in Economics and Finance. A trained process thinker with a Six Sigma certification, Yates has led numerous teams and organizations on successful endeavors throughout his career.

A seasoned board member and community advocate, Yates currently serves or has served as
Chairman of River City Capital, a Community Development Finance Institution, Memphis /
Shelby County Land Use Control Board, Juvenile Court Foster Care Review Board, Memphis /
Shelby County Industrial Development Vice Chair, member of the 100 Black Men organization,
Shelby County Health and Education Board Treasurer, Shelby County Board of Equalization,
LeMoyne-Owen College Finance Professor, DCS Community Advisory Board, Regional
Medical Center Board, Star Academy Charter School, Leadership Memphis 2019, Omega Psi
Phi Fraternity, Inc., The Memphians, and Chair of the Shelby County Democratic Party.
Yates is married. He and his wife have two daughters attending college.