This article originally appeared on The Philadelphia Tribune.
In about two weeks, entrepreneur Donovan Sterling West will take on a new role — as president of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
West is excited for the new opportunity.
“Coming from less than ideal conditions, I’ve always been in a space of wanting to help and serve people,” he said.
He is looking forward to working on policies to help protect and empower businesspeople of color, introducing larger contract opportunities through successful grouping of businesses, and working to integrate entrepreneurship into secondary education.
West replaces former president Michael Banks, who left the chamber to become the managing director of employment opportunities and entrepreneurship for the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. West will start his new job on Oct. 15.
Chamber leaders said they selected West from more than 80 candidates from as far away as Connecticut, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
“We liked his business savvy, the fact that he’s very sophisticated, and the fact that he’s an entrepreneur,” said chamber Chairman Steve Bradley.
Chamber leaders also liked the way West appears to lead.
“He listens first to assess things,” said chamber search committee chairman Malcolm Ingram.
West doesn’t have a “my way or the highway” attitude, Ingram said.
West said he believes “you can’t effectively lead someone without listening to what they have to say first.”
West, 44, graduated from Northeast High School in 1992, then earned bachelor’s degrees in administration of justice and minority studies from Penn State in 1996 and a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Eastern University in 2011. He also recently participated in DiverseForce On Boards’ Board Leadership and Governance Program.
While he was studying to earn his degrees, West also was working hard — as a business service specialist at Educational Data Systems Inc., then as director of programs and chief operating officer for People for People Inc.
In 2003, West founded Multimedia MD (Marketing Diversity), which is now called Culturally Congruent Solutions. The company is a business spa that helps other businesses in providing strategic and forward business practices related to workforce and professional development, executive coaching, and business and system process efficiencies.
West, who is Jamaican, is a board member of the Jamaican Trade Council.
West was a Made Man Philadelphia honoree and Young Black and Gifted Philanthropist of the Year in 2017. He also has been a keynote speaker at Penn State University’s annual diversity luncheon, GlaxoSmithKline’s Business Experience Education Program, and state Rep. W. Curtis Thomas’ community youth awards ceremony.
With all of his awards and accolades, West believes his greatest achievement is his daughter, Jaidea. They frequently go to the movies and church together. They also love shopping. West said he wants to be there for his daughter during her spiritual growth.
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