jerome-hutchinson_web.jpgDAVIE — Throughout South Florida, African Americans are defying substantial odds and emerging as pioneers in their professions and their communities.

That was the theme of the ICABA Inaugural Recognition Reception on Friday, Nov. 13.

The event honored those who were deemed South Florida’s 100 most accomplished blacks in law and health.

The event for ICABA, which stands for Identify, Connect and Activate the Black Accomplished, took place at Nova Southeastern University in Davie.

“This is a great opportunity.  We don’t get this much recognition often, but tonight, the story gets told. I am humbled to be a part of something that we and our children can look at and see that we stand on the shoulders of these great people who  have done some magnificent things,” said Albert C. Jones,  a commissioner of the South Broward Hospital District who is one of the ICABA honorees.

The evening opened with about 1,000 attendees networking amid the clink of champagne glasses and succulent hors d’oeuvres during a cocktail reception in the Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship’s lobby. Later, a dazzling array of big names packed the Rose & Alfred Miniaci Performing Arts Center for the formal program, hosted by Calvin Hughes, a WPLG Channel 10 anchor.

The lavish gala unveiled the ICABA Profile Directory Inaugural Edition, a publication that recognizes, celebrates, and archives influential black doctors, hospital executives and administrators, as well as lawyers and judges who are positively impacting South Florida.

The event and the directory took ICABA’s mission to “full circle,” according to its president and chief executive officer, Jerome Hutchinson Jr. Hutchinson said he and his late wife, Pamela, came up with the ICABA idea in 2007 while they were working on the inaugural edition of Who's Who in Black South Florida. He said they realized that more was needed than simply a traditional publication that identifies accomplished blacks in South Florida.

Pamela Hutchinson died shortly after the release of the inaugural edition of Who’s Who in Black South Florida in 2007 at age 45, following brain surgery.

Jerome Hutchinson said he decided not to participate in the second edition of Who’s Who, which was released last month, in order to pursue another marketing vehicle that would take his wife’s legacy to the next level. ICABA, he said, connects influential black people with one another.

“There’s a lack of opportunities for black professionals to get together and connect with one another,” Hutchinson told the South Florida Times. “When the [first Who’s Who] directory came out, people said to us, ‘This is great, but how do I connect with these people?’ We just feel that Who’s Who wasn’t creating the opportunity where black professionals can meet and interact. That was part of the genesis for ICABA.”

Launched a year ago, ICABA Media Holdings, LLC, a South Florida-based company, is a tri-fold convergence network that seeks to – as stated in its name – identify, connect and activate black accomplished professionals and entrepreneurs through its directory, online ventures and events. The company seeks to connect black people to enhance their career and business opportunities.

On Nov. 13, all three parts of the network converged.

The ICABA Profile Directory Inaugural Edition identifies blacks who have demonstrated professional merit and a high level of accomplishment, and is a resource for companies looking to forge business relationships with each other.

In addition to its 100 Most Accomplished section, the directory showcases “Living Legends” such as Dr. Calvin Shirley, one of the first physicians who practiced at Provident Hospital, Fort Lauderdale’s first hospital for black people. It also recognizes pioneers, including Dr. James Wilson Ridges, the first black senior resident in obstetrics and gynecology at Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Also, the directory celebrates “ICABA Icons and Luminaries” who have had extraordinary impact in their profession and community over a significant span of time.

The signature event on Nov. 13 served as the second part of the convergence. At the reception, the stage was set for new relationships to be activated, partnerships to be forged, and business opportunities to be created among the black professionals and entrepreneurs who attended the elegant, no- expense-spared affair that treated attendees to giveaways such as cruises and ClubCorp memberships.

The third part of the convergence, ICABA World, was launched the same night, at The new online medium allows black people around the world to meet new friends, share information, and cultivate relationships.

“Technology has come along today to allow us to connect and share in ways that we never have before. There is no excuse now for anyone to not be connected to people they would like to know,” Jerome Hutchinson said.

The event also featured the Pam Hutchinson Bridge Builder Foundation, a separate organization created in the late Hutchinson’s memory. The foundation will award students, individuals and organizations in the black community who are dedicated to enhancing further socio-economic empowerment through collaborative initiatives and activities.

At the event, the foundation awarded a $2,000 scholarship to Sheila Collins, a student at the University of Miami who “embodied the true legacy of Pam,” according to Sam Hines, vice president of the foundation’s board.

“I am so inspired just sitting here… with all of you lawyers and doctors,” Collins said. “As soon as I get home tonight, I’m going to hurry up and do all of my homework so I can be like you all.”

The ICABA Profile Directory Inaugural Edition is on sale for $24.95. To get a copy, log onto or call 954-473-4405.

Photo: Jerome Hutchinson