46th Annual Equal Opportunity Day Awards Luncheon

Our 46th Annual Equal Opportunity Day Awards Luncheon on March 26 in West Palm Beach will pay tribute to community leaders whose work embodies the mission of the Urban League of Palm Beach County. Learn more about the event here.

The leaders recognized will be:

Lifetime Achievement Award: Ricky Wade.

Trailblazer Award: Salesia V. Smith-Gordon.

Youth Achievement Award: Kenjela Mullings.

In addition, the event’s keynote speaker will be Clarence E. Anthony.

And we’ll also recognize Coach Willie Taggart of Florida Atlantic University and he’ll speak as well.

Here are profiles of the three leaders.

Ricky Wade is a McDonald’s franchisee of 30 restaurants in Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties.

Committed to reinforcing positive lifestyle habits, he is vice president of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Florida and an advisor to The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Palm Beaches. He is a Board member of the following organizations: Palm Beach State College, Urban League of Palm Beach County and ULPBC Foundation, The Honda Classic, The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Foundation, and he is a Governing Board Member of Good Samaritan Medical Center, Inc. Mr. Wade is the Vice President of the South Florida Marketing Association, the NFLA Florida Representative, the NFLA Chair for the Atlanta Field Office Alignment Council and he is also a member of the RTB Board. He is a former Board member of the following organizations: Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Palm Beach County, The Arc of Palm Beach County, Palms West Hospital, ASPIRA of Florida, and the Vice-president of the National Black McDonald’s Operations Association East Division. His business presence and personal involvement enriches his communities. His time is dedicated to overseeing his business and giving back to the community.

Mr. Wade was honored with an invitation to The White House to celebrate African American History Month in 2007. Later that year he also received the African American Diaspora History Maker of Tomorrow Award. He received the Ronald Award for 2007, given to McDonald Franchisees for exceptional performance in supporting the brand in community involvement. In 2009, he received the Large Business Leader Award from the Black Chamber of Palm Beach County. In March 2010, Mr. Wade was featured in Florida Trend as Business Leader to Watch. In 2011, he was highlighted by the McDonald’s Golden Arch award given only to 1 percent of all McDonald’s Franchisees and the Sponsor of the Year by the Black Educators Caucus.

Palm Beach State College awarded him the 2012 Dr. Martin Luther King Leadership Award and in February he was the recipient the Legacy Business Leadership Award. On April 10, 2018, he received a proclamation from Palm Beach County Commissioners for his work with the re-entry program. He is married to his business partner, Lissette and has three beautiful children and two lovely grandchildren.

With a dual professional background as a pharmacist and lawyer, Salesia Smith-Gordon, a second generation lawyer of 26 years, founded her boutique solo practice personal injury law firm. She has won several million dollar awards for injured clients. Yet, her community and philanthropic interests in education, the arts, politics and animals symbolize her natural characteristics of strength and compassion.

Mrs. Smith-Gordon has proven leadership abilities serving on several Board of Directors including: FSU College of Law Alumni, Glades Initiative, Sea Coast Bank Business Advisory, Palm Beach County Justice Association.; Trustee on Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce; Town of Haverhill – Audit and Tax Oversight Comm. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Life Member; West Palm Beach Chapter, The Links, Incorporated; Former Chair: Palm Beach County Ethics Commission, Florida Bar Grievance Committee, Palm Beach County Inspector General Committee; President, Cunningham Bar Assoc.

Her skills of a public speaker, strategist, negotiator, litigator and community servant have been recognized with many awards and honors including: Faculty Room named in her honor at FSU College of Law, 2017 & 2018 Legal Elite – Best Boutique Injury Firm Premises Liability, 2018 Legacy Award – South Florida Most Influential & Prominent Black Women In Business; 2016, 2018 & 2019 Top 10 Female Personal Injury Attorney Best Client Satisfaction Award; 2019 Justice Award – Eta Phi Beta Sorority; 2018 Northwestern Co. Consortium Illumination Award for Philanthropy; 2015 Exe. Women of the Palm Beaches Private Sector Women In Leadership Award.

A proud alumnus of FL A&M College of Pharmacy and FSU College of Law, Mrs. Smith-Gordon enjoys life through travel, cooking, reading and is known as a measured risk-taker who is an avid white water rafter and horseback rider. She is married to Town of Haverhill Vice Mayor Lawrence Gordon.

Kenjela Mullings has spent the majority of her life in Royal Palm Beach where she currently resides. She has attended H. L Johnson Elementary School, Emerald Cove Middle School, and now goes to Suncoast High School, where she is expected to be in the top 25 percent of her graduating class. She’s the Hospitality Committee Head at the National Honor Society at her school, as well as Editor-in-Chief of Suncoast High School’s Newspaper “The Legend.” She has been recognized as a Pathfinder Nominee for Community Involvement at Suncoast as well.

Kenjela aspires to be a surgical physician assistant, providing quality care and support to individuals with underprivileged backgrounds. As for her future: Kenjela has not made a final college decision, but aims to stay in Florida for her undergraduate years and hopes to go out-of-state in the future

Here is a profile of Clarence E. Anthony.

Clarence E. Anthony is CEO and Executive Director of the National League of Cities (NLC), the voice of America’s cities, towns and villages, representing more than 200 million people. Under his leadership, NLC has advanced policies that expand local control and provide direct funding for local programs related to public safety, infrastructure, economic development, and sustainability. 

Mr. Anthony began his career in public service as mayor of South Bay, Florida, for 24 years. As mayor, he created new educational and economic opportunities for residents, including building his community’s first library, which was named in his honor. During his time in elected office, Mr. Anthony also served as president of the Florida League of Cities and National League of Cities. In Palm Beach County, he was part of the founding group of Palm Beach County Black Elected Officials, the tourism development board, Discover Palm Beach County, and a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity.

Following his time in office, Mr. Anthony represented local governments on the world stage as Founding Treasurer and Interim Manager of United Cities and Local Governments. He later founded Anthony Government Solutions — a firm focused on strategic visioning, policy development, and management restructuring for government and private sector organizations.

And here is a profile of Coach Willie Taggart.

Willie Taggart is the head football coach at Florida Atlantic University. He most recently served as the head football coach at Florida State University. He has held the head coach position at four NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision programs: Western Kentucky (2009 to 2012 seasons); South Florida (2013 to 2016 seasons); Oregon (2017 season); and Florida State (2018 season and part of the 2019 season). At all four schools, he was the first African-American to be hired as the head coach.