THE HON. STEPHEN K. BENJAMIN: The Biden administration senior adviser, left, and Mosaic Group President & CEO Ann Marie Sorrell during Black Business Month session Thursday. Other participants included state Sen. Bobby Powell, Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker, West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James, City Commissioner Shalonda Warren, City Procurement Director Frank Hayden, and Pahokee businesswoman Yarnell Williams. ERNA DELICE PHOTOS FOR SOUTH FLORIDA TIMES

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The Hon. Stephen K. Benjamin, senior advisor to the president of the United States, joined local champions of diversity in business during the 9th annual National Black Business Month Community Mixer on Thursday, Aug. 24 hosted by the Mosaic Group at the public relations firm’s West Palm Beach headquarters.

“You have to be very aggressive to include people,” Benjamin told the gathering.

“Diversity is a strength in this country. It is the strength of this country,” said the former president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the African American Mayors Association, and three-term mayor of Columbia, S.C.

“We have to lean in, to make those opportunities more real,” Benjamin stressed. “I think you have to be very intentional, very focused, very thoughtful, about creating an environment that helps everyone realize what we all have is everyone else’s as well.”

The event was convened by Mosaic Group President & CEO Ann Marie Sorrell to discuss what can be done to help business in the community. “It’s important for stabilizing communities,” Sorrell said. She emphasized how important it is for businesses to be certified, for example.

Among the several dozen business owners who showed up to network was Yarnell Williams, who said she’s from Pahokee, Fla., and owns a nonprofit organization, “Marketing Mission Matters,” where she provides guidance to small business owners.

“The purpose of me starting my business is just to make sure I have a gateway for small business owners and community members to be able to network, be able to have the opportunity to help build their business and expand their business,” said Williams. “Help build a community and make sure that community is thriving economically.”

Black owned businesses “are essential to the city of West Palm Beach, driving the local economy, creating jobs and adding to the culture,” said Mayor Keith James. “I’m so proud of our city and I am so appreciative for all that we’re doing for Black businesses.”

President Joe Biden, in announcing Benjamin’s appointment in February, said “Steve’s deep relationships with communities across the country will serve our administration and the American public well.”

Benjamin affirmed that with his local presence and to close our Black Business Month, “I want to encourage you to keep your priorities in order.