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Midvale Journal

Honorees selected at the inaugural Comcast RISE Black Excellence Event

Jun 09, 2022 09:47AM ● By Peri Kinder

Hardware Creative Collective and Comcast partnered to host the inaugural Comcast RISE Black Excellence Event in Salt Lake City on Apr. 20. The celebration honored Utah Black Creatives in a range of industries from the arts, business, education and film to mental health, armed forces, tech and venture capital.

Honorees were selected based on their ability to showcase their creativity through inspiration, intersection and innovation.

“It was truly amazing to see something that started as a vision and brainstorming with folks around a kitchen table turn into an extraordinary celebration of Utah’s Black creatives,” said Deneiva Knight, External Affairs Director, Comcast Mountain West Region. “For me, Hardware Collective is a platform for Black creatives to acknowledge and celebrate themselves and their peers versus waiting and hoping to receive accolades from outsiders. The love and appreciation in the room that night were unmatchable.”

Honored at the event were Kenneth Boggs (fashion), Kimmy Paluch (tech), Dr. Jackie Thompson (education), Col. Jenise M. Carroll (military), Melanie D. Davis, LCMHC (mental health), Mauli Bonner (music), and Tenisha “Isha” Hicks (beauty).

The celebration acknowledged the efforts of talented entrepreneurs who continue to innovate and succeed despite facing financial challenges. Comcast RISE recognizes small business owners through its brands Comcast Business and Effectv. Empowering business owners with knowledge and resources allowed them to navigate economic difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As I was sewing, Motown music used to play all the time,” said Boggs, CEO of Kenneth Boggs Suit. “Most people wanted to be like Michael Jackson, but I wanted to be David Ruffin from The Temptations because he looked really good in his suit. . . By the end of the day, my goal is to create your own story. I’m proud to be a chosen honoree for the Hardware. It makes me feel blacknificent.”

Honoree Carroll serves as the 75th Air Force Wing Commander at Hill Air Force Base. She is the first African American female to hold this position in the 75 years of the Air Force.

“I ask that everyone look at me as being an American first. Don’t judge me by the color of my skin or by my gender. Look at me as an American serving proudly in her country wearing this uniform,” Carroll said. “I’m standing before you letting you know there’s nothing impossible if you believe.”

“Thank you to our presenting sponsors, Comcast and Zions Bank, for co-sponsoring the inaugural launch of the Hardware Creative Collective, '' said Sui Lang L. Panoke, founder, Hardware Creative Collective. “Additionally, we thank our investment sponsor, the Andrus Family Foundation, and our community sponsors, the Utah Black Chamber, and Utah Arts Alliance.”

Panoke and Scott Anderson, president and CEO, Zions Bank, were inspired by the honorees and their accomplishments.

“As I look upon your faces and I listen to your stories, I have been touched,” Anderson said. “I thought of the comment from the prophet Gibran, 'Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.’ So thank you, thank you very much.”

“The most advanced levels of diversity, equity and inclusion are evident when communities and organizations maximize and capitalize on their ability to stimulate and cultivate creativity and innovative thought,” said Panoke. “And that… is how Utah does business!”

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