Black People Making History in Calgary
CRIEC recognizes history is made one day at a time.
We want to celebrate these phenomenal members of Calgary’s Black community. Not only are they bettering Calgary and Canada with their work, but they’re making history as they do it.
Abu B. Sesay Ph.D.
Professor & Department Head Emeritus Electrical & Software Engineering Department University of Calgary
Country of origin: Sierra Leone
Dr. Abu is a celebrated educator and mentor, who has made vast contributions to research and academia. Dr. Abu has graduated over 50 Masters and PhD student and together with his students, has published more than 200 papers (nationally and internationally) and has received numerous national and international best paper awards.
He is currently a Full Professor with the Department of Electrical and Software Engineering at U of C, where he has also served as Department Head, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, and Associate Head for Graduate Studies and Research. His other notable roles have included Board of Examiner for APEGA, Board of Director for Light-Up the World Foundation and Board of Director for the International Square Kilometer Array Project (U of C division).
Founder, Ellie Bianca
Country of origin: Kenya
Evelyne Nyairo is the founder of Ellie Bianca an all-natural, environmentally sustainable, and socially conscious skincare line. She is also a member Board of Directors of Vibrant Communities. She is the proud winner of the prestigious 2021 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards, and recently made an appearance on the Dragon’s Den. Evelyne received the CHFA Industry Achievement Award for Celebrating Diversity and has been published in various media, being the only Canadian brand to feature in UPS Proudly Unstoppable Campaign.
Executive Director ActionDignity
Country of origin: Ghana
For over 20 years, Francis has worked at the community, organization, and government levels on issues of equitable social and economic integration of racialized communities. Prior to joining ActionDignity as executive director, Francis worked with the Centre for Newcomers as the VP of Strategy. He has also served as the co-chair of the Calgary Anti-Racism Action Committee. Francis is also a passionate instructor and has been engaged in teaching assignments at the Social Work Faculty of the University of Calgary since 2008.
Regional Manager (Western Canada)
Black Community Business Development, TD Bank Group
Gelila’s banking career has spanned over 2 decades, during which time she has been awarded 4 national recognitions. As the Regional Manager for Black Community Business Development (Western Canada), Gelila serves as a trusted liaison between TD and the Black Community, helping create equity in the banking system. Gelila is also a board member of the Canadian Association for Urban Financial Professionals, and she works closely with various non-profit organizations across the Prairies and Pacific region. She is passionate about Financial Literacy and mentoring youth in the Black Community.
Jacqueline Musabende, MSc, PhD, PMP
Associate Professor of International Business at Mount Royal
Country of origin: Rwanda
Dr. Jacqueline is an award-winning educator. In addition to her role as an assistant professor of International Business Dr. Jacqueline is also a member of the Board of Governors of Mount Royal University and the Board Chair of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Decolonization of ANSER Canada (Association for Nonprofit and Social Economy Research). She is the Co-Chair of the Joint Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee at MRU, and the President of the BIPOC Support Network.
Kene Ilochonwu K.C.
Senior Legal Counsel with Woodfire LNG
Country of origin: Nigeria
Kene Ilochonwu, is an accomplished Lawyer and community leader. He is a Senior Legal Counsel with Woodfibre LNG, as well as an assistant professor teaching Business Law at Brookes College. In 2020, he was elected a Bencher of Law Society of Alberta, making him the first Black Bencher in Law Society’s 113-year history. Additionally, he has been appointed His Majesty’s Counsel, learned in the law, for the Province of Alberta (King’s Counsel) and received the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Award for significant contributions to the community and the Province. Kene has also won the Calgary Black Achievement Awards’ Excellence in Law, the Immigrant of Distinction Leadership Award, and been recognized as one of the Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers in Canada.
Kene volunteers on the Boards of various organizations, including Calgary Black Chambers, Global Lawyers of Canada, Pro Bono Law Alberta and the Anglican Diocese of All Nations.
Khwezi Mbolekwa, PhD
Associate Vice-President, People and Culture at Keyano College in Ft. McMurray
Country of origin: South Africa
Dr. Khwezi is an EDI specialist and a dynamic leader in Anti-Racism Organization Development & Culture Change. Some of his notable achievements have included co-founding the City of Calgary Anti-Racism Program, introducing the Racial Equity Assessment Model to the city of Calgary, and most recently being a Lead Consultant for the Anti-Racism Program at the Calgary Police Service. On April 3rd, Dr. Khwezi will be starting a new role as Associate Vice-President, People and Culture at Keyano College in Ft. McMurray.
Multidisciplinary Creative: Actress, Director, Writer, Speaker & Producer
Country of origin: Sierra Leone
Lennette’s is an accomplished Actress, Director, Writer, Speaker & Producer, and has received multiple prestigious awards during her career. Her work as an actress and developing director has been seen at Theatre Calgary, The Shakespeare Company, Storybook Theatre, Lunchbox Theatre, Rosebud Theatre, and more. She is an advocate for artistic mentorship and commits her time to nurturing young artists. She is currently the Artistic Director Intern with the Grand Theatre in London, Ontario and she is one of five inaugural cohort members in Obsidian Theatre’s Young, Gifted and Black Program.
Misheck Mwaba, PhD
President and CEO of Bow Valley College
Country of origin: Zambia
Dr. Misheck is a Professional Engineer and has a broad professional background in progressively responsible roles that engage academic leadership, instructional and curriculum design, applied research, and cross-functional engineering team leadership. In November 2020, he was appointed the 6th President and CEO of Bow Valley College, making him the first Black college president in Alberta. He has extensive research and teaching experience and his findings have been presented at conferences and published in peer-reviewed journals. He is the recipient of an Alberta Newcomer Recognition Award in career and academics and a Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal.
Dr. Regine King
Associate Professor in the Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary
Country of origin: Rwanda
Dr. Régine King is an award-winning Associate Professor in the Faculty of Social Work at University of Calgary. She is a community-based researcher and a published author. Her research includes racial justice, cross-cultural mental health, social processes of healing, forgiveness and reconciliation, and Indigenous knowledges. She is a member of various academic committees and community advocacy groups that promote equity, antiracist work, and healthy communities.
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Counsel and the Equity Ombudsperson at the Law Society of Alberta
Country of origin: Trinidad and Tobago
Susannah is a successful lawyer and mediator, and is passionate about equity, diversity, inclusion & anti-racism work. She currently serves as the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Counsel and the Equity Ombudsperson at the Law Society of Alberta. She was the founding & former President of the first Alberta Chapter of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers (CABL). She sits on several Canadian Bar Association committees, volunteers with the Association of Women Lawyers (AWL) and serves as a mentor to foreign-trained lawyers and students in the Black Law Students’ Association (BLSA).
A lover of words, Susannah is also a published poet with her most recent contributions in an anthology celebrating Black womxn (women) and non-binary voices, currently available on Amazon.
Dr. Ako Ufodike
Deputy Minister of Alberta Trade, Immigration and
Country of origin: Nigerian
Dr. Ako Ufodike was appointed as Deputy Minister of Alberta Trade, Immigration and
Multiculturalism in October 2022.
He brings his experience as assistant professor at York University where he taught auditing at the
undergraduate level, data analysis for performance audits and public sector finance at the
graduate level. His research focused on accountability, public private partnerships (P3’s), labour
market integration, and equity, diversity and inclusion in business professions.
He is a licensed public practitioner by CPA Alberta. He has almost 30 years of professional
experience spanning telecoms, banking, utilities, education, oil and gas and consumer packaged
goods with organizations including Bell Canada and Molson Coors. Prior to academia, he was
CFO/COO of one of the largest wireless internet service providers in Canada.
A graduate of Haskayne’s PHD and Cornell’s MBA programs, Dr. Ufodike is a Canadian FCPA,
a US CPA, a UK FCCA and a Certified Fraud Examiner. He is also a Certified Director (ICD.D)
of the Institute of Corporate Directors.
Dr. Ufodike is active in the community and previously served as Chair of the John Ware Institute
a non-profit he founded that aspires to make public company boards more diverse. He also
served as a member of the Provincial Audit Committee for the province of Alberta and on the
Senate of the University of Calgary.