BECMA recognizes that a diversity of perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences are necessary for the success of any organization. With a desire to support staff and surround them with as much talent, expertise, and resources as possible, we established an Advisory Committee, made up of 12 to 15 people who are a cross-section of business, industry, labor, and community leaders.
The "Nelson Committee" is non-voting and does not engage in decision-making related to programs, personnel, budget, or internal policy development.
Advisory Committee members will serve a two year term with the possibility for a renewal of additional terms based on their interest, involvement, and at the discretion of the Executive Director. No formal meetings are required except at the request of the Executive Director or Committee members. Expectations include:
Being available to advise the Executive Director at least one hour per quarter
Connecting one's network to BECMA programs and other opportunities
Making programmatic recommendations that ensure they address the needs of BECMA membership and the community
Providing feedback, advice, and/or assistance with a programs and other matters
Serving as an advocate for BECMA in the community
2019-2020 Nelson Committee
Leon T. Nelson
Leon Thomas Nelson was a native of New Haven, CT. He attended the James Hillhouse High School — the oldest public high school in New Haven — where he became a local basketball legend. He moved to Massachusetts in order to attend Curry College and Northeastern University. He studied political science and business administration respectively at each institution.
Mr. Nelson’s work in pursuing socio-economic justice for his community started with the Boston Branch NAACP, where he served as its president (1969-1970). He later served as the head of the national NAACP’s security team for 17 years. However, it was in his local work with the Boston branch that would introduce and unite him to his best friend, partner, and wife of 28 years; Charlotte Nelson. Mrs. Nelson would also serve as president of the Boston NAACP.
After serving in leadership for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and Freedom House, Inc, Mr. Nelson pursued his ultimate dream to serve his community by founding the Greater Roxbury Chamber of Commerce (GRCC). He and a close team of Black business leaders and stakeholders began meeting to develop strategies on how to empower and teach local residents on wealth building and ways to support Black businesses and leaders in the city. This effort produced many important initiatives, such as:
The 100 listing: a directory of the top 100 influential black leaders in Boston;
The GRCC annual dinner; and
The GRCC Business Council: a partnership with the city of Boston (via the office of the late Mayor Thomas M. Menino)
GRCC was part of the team that supported the development of the Grove Hall Mecca, among various other small businesses in the Grove Hall area. GRCC served as a catalyst to begin exploration and expansion of black business and development in downtown Boston as well. Mr. Nelson was a trailblazer, a risk taker, and a bold and unwavering voice for socio-economic justice for Black people in the city of Boston. After a battle with liver cancer he passed in 1999. His legacy lives on in his daughter who now serves as the Chief Resilience Officer for the city.
From the Nelson Family:
“We would personally like to thank the Board and staff of the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts for recognizing one of Boston’s unsung heroes and trailblazers. We are committed to supporting your mission and work as it continues to move the ideals of GRCC forward.”