ricardo-forbes_web.jpgRicardo Forbes, corporate vice president and chief diversity officer  of Baptist Health South Florida, is the new chairman of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

Forbes was installed during a ceremony on Feb. 23 hosted by Miami attorney Albert E. Dotson Jr. at the law firm Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod LLP. Judge Orlando Prescott of the 11th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida swore Forbes and other board officers into office for the 2012-14 term.

The others who took the oath of office were Fred Jackson, chairman, Beecher Jackson, who Forbes succeeded and is now the chamber’s immediate past chairman; Valerie Crawford, chairwoman-elect, president, Crawford Enterprises; Aletha Player, vice-chairwoman, manager, corporate & internal affairs, Florida Power & Light Company; and Al West, treasurer, senior vice president, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Other members of the board are Jesse Brooks, president, J.L. Brooks & Associates; Courtney Cunningham, president & CEO, The Cunningham Group Inc.; Meg Garza, director of community relations, Calder Casino & Race Course; Marc Henderson, community relations coordinator, Miami-Dade County Aviation Department.

Also Eric Knowles, senior director of government affairs, Miami Dolphins; Ann McNeill, president, MCO Construction & Services Inc.; Bernadette Morris, president & CEO, Sonshine Communications; Donna Shalala, president, University of Miami; and H. Leigh Toney, director, Meek Entrepreneurial Education Center, Miami Dade College’s North Campus.

“It is a great honor and responsibility to take over as chairman of the Miami-Dade chamber,” Forbes said in his installation address. “These next two years, we will build on its past leaders’ great work and broaden our economic mark on South Florida through inclusion, partnership and collaboration.”

Forbes has spearheaded Baptist Health’s effort at building diversity.  As the chief diversity officer, he works closely with human resources staff responsible for recruiting, hiring and developing retention programs for the 15,000 employees in Baptist Health South Florida’s healthcare facilities. Under his leadership, Baptist Health has been nationally recognized for its diversity programs and policies.

Bill Diggs, president & CEO of the chamber said this is a “critical time” for the black business group.

“With the continued growth of the Miami skyline, the Port of Miami projects moving forward, plus the Marlins ballpark opening, there should be plenty of opportunities for South Florida’s black businesses,” Diggs said. “But in order for that to happen, we must continue to be the strong, advocate chamber that we are.  Mr. Forbes has a great reputation in this community, and I’m confident he will continue to forge key relationships benefitting our members.”

The 38-year-old chamber has the goal of providing advocacy, networking, resources and training to minority businesses in South Florida.

Photo: Ricardo Forbes