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National Black MBA Association celebrates 50 years

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

by Lois Charm

This year marks the 50th Anniversary the National Black MBA Association, an organization, whose presence in Memphis has been instrumental in developing African American professionals for 27 years.

The organization's principal location is in Atlanta, GA. It provides African American professionals opportunities for development, training, career growth, and an overall personal growth with these pillars: education, career, entrepreneurship, leadership and lifestyle.

As the current president of the Memphis chapter, Darrell Joyce, has played an instrumental role in leading initiatives to continue the mission of NBMBAA.

Although Joyce has only served as president for less than two years, his involvement with the organization spans several years in leadership roles.

“I joined the NBMBAA in Michigan and served as the Director of Student Affairs,” he said. “In 2016, I relocated to Memphis and quickly started attending the Memphis Chapter meetings. In 2017, I became the VP of Operations.”

As NBMBAA celebrates its 50th anniversary, Joyce has been actively organizing events to commemorate this milestone year.

“Both nationally and locally here with the Memphis Chapter, this milestone year will be transformational with the implementation of unique, new educational platforms and invigorating member-based events,” he said. “Last year, our Memphis Chapter theme was ‘Elevating Your Brand’ and this year we are excited about ‘Channeling Your Vision’.”

The past few months have been successful for Joyce, as the organization has hosted several events to commemorate the anniversary.

“We kicked off this year with our membership meeting, followed by our VP Fireside Chat, Corporate Partners Reception, and in March our Headshots & Handshakes with Chef Phillip Ashley Rix,” he said. “Despite cancelling our Visionaries Luncheon, I am proud to say our team remained committed and awarded two scholarships.”

One leader that has worked alongside Joyce to plan anniversary events is Robin Tucker. As the former president of the Memphis chapter, Tucker is familiar with the planning that goes into events and has remained devoted to the organization since stepping down from her role as president in 2018.

Tucker and her team have currently been developing marketing material for the anniversary celebrations.

Pictured: Robin Tucker (L), Sonja Mustiful (C), Darrell Joyce (R)

“We are just disseminating information that we're getting from our national office as far as branding and making sure the logos marking the 50th anniversary are on our communications material” she said.

One member who has benefited from the efforts of Joyce and Tucker is Sonja Mustiful, founder Essence of Coaching, LLC.

“What's happened for me thus far is being a part of an organization that has been integral in terms of my own development because of what they stand for in terms of providing resources,” she said. “When I think of education and economic growth, those things have been very helpful for me, especially from an entrepreneurial standpoint.”

Although COVID-19 restrictions this year have brought unforeseen roadblocks for local organizations, the Memphis chapter has been dedicated to planning around restrictions to make sure members are still accommodated with annual events.

These events include virtual webinars presented by local business professionals, and the NBMBAA annual conference, scheduled to take place in September in Washington, D.C.

“NBMBAA is still going to have its annual conference, but it’s still being decided whether it will be virtual or parts of it will be virtual, and that's a big factor right now,” Tucker said.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has brought changes in the way businesses operate worldwide, NBMBAA members believe it is still possible for aspiring entrepreneurs to start their own businesses in the wake of business restrictions.

Joyce said personal development is essential.

“Invest in yourself, whether it’s reading a book, listening to podcasts or watching videos… and think about what you can do to take (your life) to the next level,” he said.

Tucker said it is essential to be adaptable to changes.

“If I had to give one piece of advice it would be to be flexible and innovative,” she said. “This is a time that we’ve never had before, so plotting unique ways to engage customers and finding unique ways to get information out is key right now.”

Mustiful recommends that is important to just take a chance and start somewhere.

“The challenging times will always be there in some way, and part of it is making the decision of what it is that you want to do and how does it align with your purpose,” she said. “So just start. It may not be perfect but you have resources like NBMBAA and other organizations to learn from.”

As a member who has benefited from NBMBAA, Mustiful reflects on what this milestone anniversary means to her.

“What it means for me is a lifetime longevity of having a resource; an organization committed to providing not only just educational opportunities but really a resource to further develop the talent pipeline of business professionals, specifically African Americans,” she said. “For me, being a part of this organization has been a pivotal moment in my career.”

Joyce said that in spite of its name, NBMBAA is open to anyone interested in getting involved.

“The organization is not just for people with MBAs, so if someone doesn’t have an MBA, it's not a problem, and we still encourage them to attend our events,” he said.

To learn more about the NBMBAA, send email to

Lois Charm is a freelance writer for Writing by Design Media. She can be reached at

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