Nine Hokies will be honored with Virginia Tech Influential Black Alumni Awards
Nine Hokies will be honored at this year’s Virginia Tech Influential Black Alumni Awards.
The awards highlight the achievements of outstanding Black or African American alumni. Winners are chosen by alumni volunteers from the Black Alumni Society, who evaluate nomination materials and select these Hokies. The awards were created in 2010 by Laurie Brogdon, who currently serves as the president of the Black Alumni Society.
Whether starting their own businesses or nonprofits, giving back to their communities, dedicating their lives to education, or fighting for social justice, these nine individuals embody the spirit of Black excellence and what it means to be part of the Hokie Nation.
The 2023 winners will be recognized on Saturday, April 15, during a ceremony at Squires Student Center’s Commonwealth Ballroom. The ceremony will be held during Virginia Tech’s Black Alumni Reunion, which traditionally takes place every two years. This year will mark the first time the event has been held in person since 2018.
The following individuals will receive awards at this year’s event.
Icon Award: Laurie Brogdon
Recognizes a current or former faculty or staff member who is also an alum and has made a meaningful, historical, and widely recognized impact on the Virginia Tech Black and African American student and/or alumni community through advocacy, support, outreach, or other contributions.
Laurie Brogdon garnered a distinguished record of achievement in higher education alumni relations and advancement at Virginia Tech, Cornell University, and the University of Maryland. Currently, she serves as the director of alumni relations and annual giving at American University. In this role, she is responsible for leading aspects of communications, alumni relations, and annual giving and implements transformative advancement operations.
Brogdon is the visionary creator of the Virginia Tech Influential Black Alumni Awards, the diversity chair for regional alumni chapters, and serves as the inaugural president for the Black Alumni Society.
Her work has been recognized by industry leaders with the Award of Excellence from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. She served as vice president for the Black Faculty and Staff Caucus and in university governance on the Commission on Administrative Professional Faculty Affairs. Brogdon was also appointed to Virginia Tech’s strategic planning committee that developed “A New Horizon: Envisioning Virginia Tech 2012-2018.”
Brogdon is the fourth Hokie in her immediate family. As a student at Virginia Tech, she served as a residential advisor, a writer for the Collegiate Times, and president of the NAACP Collegiate Chapter.
Brogdon earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. She is a proud business owner and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.
Outstanding Recent Alum Award: Hollis Brown
Recognizes an alum who has graduated within the last 10 years, demonstrated substantial accomplishments, and who has made positive impacts in their profession.
Hollis Brown serves as a coordinator of partner strategy and management for the Milwaukee Bucks and was crowned Miss Wisconsin USA in 2022. She participated in and won her first pageant, the Miss Black and Gold Pageant for the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., as a sophomore at Virginia Tech and won Miss Black Virginia USA in 2019 before going on to claim her current title.
Brown uses her platform to talk about sexual assault awareness as a survivor. She works with the End Violence Against Women Organization and helps to share its “Start by Believing” campaign. She also co-hosts a podcast called “Outnumbered with Kelli and Hollis,” which focuses on breaking barriers for women in male-dominated industries, especially sports.
Brown graduated in 2018 as a marketing major from the Pamplin College of Business with a minor in communications. She previously worked at ESPN in Charlotte and as a sales associate for the Bucks before being promoted to her current role. She is also a mentor for the Sport Sorority and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
Social Justice Award: Blair Durham
Recognizes an alum who seeks to increase fairness and equity for those systematically disenfranchised and least served politically, economically, or socially. This individual demonstrates compassion, courage, leadership, and commitment to promoting social justice in our communities and beyond. These contributions have a direct impact on civil rights, public health, environmental justice, and other areas.
In 2016, Blair Durham, together with her husband, Bashiri, and other community leaders, founded Black BRAND as the third iteration of a Black Chamber of Commerce for Hampton Roads, Virginia.
Since that time, Durham has worked diligently as its president to develop programs aimed at narrowing the wealth gap, improving capital access for Black-owned businesses, and helping to build capacity within those businesses by providing technical assistance resources. Durham has raised $2 million in grant funding for Black BRAND since 2021 to mobilize and scale its programs.
She holds a degree from the College of Science. In her time at Virginia Tech, she helped found an alliance of students, teachers, and concerned community members to work to resist oppression, raise money, and change campus policies. She has since served in public and proprietary education, social work, mental health counseling, and retail management, but she believes founding Black BRAND is a matter of fulfilling her destiny.
Durham is committed to the organization and works with passion and excitement to bring about change. Amid economic uncertainty, Durham’s work continues to create a lucrative consulting opportunity for area Black professionals while also awarding more than $100,000 in grants to Black-owned small businesses across the region.
Philanthropy Award: Ted King Jr.
Recognizes an alum for generous and meaningful financial support of Virginia Tech.
Ted King Jr. grew up in Southside Virginia in the turbulent 1950s and ’60s, when his parents were sharecroppers until he was in his mid-teens. During his time at Virginia Tech, he was involved with the Student Union Board, served as a residential advisor, and was part of the Omicron Delta Kappa leadership fraternity. King received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from Virginia Tech before completing his law degree at the University of Virginia.
King started out by working as a corporate lawyer for a large firm in Baltimore before going on to work behind the scenes as a legislative counsel, advisor, and manager in the legal, fiscal, and policy staff support agency for the members of the Maryland General Assembly for over 35 years. He relocated back to Blacksburg after his retirement.
Continuing his decades-long commitment to be engaged with Virginia Tech, he serves on the campaign steering committee for the university’s Boundless Impact campaign and on the Advisory Board for the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. King previously served on the Alumni Association board of directors for two terms; on the Virginia Tech Foundation Board for two terms; and was an active member of local alumni chapters in Baltimore and Annapolis and of the Maryland Hokie Club.
Ut Prosim Award: Meta Mickens-Baker
Recognizes an alum who embodies the spirit of Ut Prosim, as demonstrated by a commitment to serving the university and/or a community.
Meta Mickens-Baker is currently a senior talent acquisition specialist for State Farm in Bloomington, Illinois. She has served on multiple boards and steering committees that work to strengthen her community, including the Pratt Music Foundation, the Consortium for Educational Change, and the Heartland Community College Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Task Force. She also volunteers with the Eastern Illinois Food Bank Mobile Food Pantry.
Mickens-Baker has been the recipient of multiple awards and honors for her service to the community, including from the Heroes Embracing Autism Lives Foundation, the YMCA, and the NAACP. She is the 2023 recipient of the Bloomington Human Relations Commission Martin Luther King Jr. Award, which recognizes and affirms those who have made significant contributions in the areas of justice, race relations, and human rights.
A graduate of the College of Science with a degree in biochemistry, she is often sought out as a speaker, including as a comedian at Heartland Community College Foundation’s FunnyRasier in 2022. She also enjoys participating in triathlon sports and is a running mentor and the founder of Outdoor Sisters Running and Cycling Group.
Entrepreneur of the Year Award: Maurisa Potts
Recognizes an alum entrepreneur who has grown or owns a thriving business and who has been a pioneer or significant contributor to industry leading changes.
Potts is the founder and CEO of Spotted MP (Marketing + Public Relations), a Virginia-certified small, women, and minority-owned boutique marketing consultancy that provides distinctive and innovative strategies for brand growth. She has over 25 years of professional marketing, communications, and events experience.
Bravely leaving corporate America and launching her business in 2008 during a recession, Potts is known for her mission-driven work ethic, creativity, and expertise that delivers results.
Since the launch of her firm, her impact and influence with local and national clients has grown, and she has established a strong reputation as a valued and trusted resource. Her areas of focus include economic development, retail/hospitality, real estate, lifestyle, and nonprofits, and she has been the face behind creative projects for a variety of businesses and brands within those industries. Some of her clients include Tysons Corner Center, Sheila Johnson’s Salamander Resort Properties, Whitman Walker, and In A Perfect World.
She is an industry award-winning practitioner. She has been featured in District Magazine as one of 2022’s “trailblazing women” in the D.C. region. She has also appeared on NBC’s “Today Show,” in the Washington Business Journal, and on the cover of VIP Alexandria Magazine as one of the city's “Most Inspiring Women.”
Potts received her bachelor’s degree from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and was the first woman in her family to graduate from college. An older brother, a niece, and a nephew are all graduates of Virginia Tech. She is an active supporter of the university.
Educator of the Year Award: Casey M. Roberts
Recognizes an alum who has contributed significantly to the field of education. Nominees may teach or serve as faculty/staff/administrator at any level.
Casey M. Roberts is a fifth generation educator and the executive director of New Horizons Regional Education Centers, the largest of the nine regional centers in the commonwealth. In his role, Roberts serves over 1,500 public school students and 1,200 adult learners each year, providing programming in career and technical education, gifted education, special education, adult training/apprenticeships, and youth workforce initiatives. Previously, he was the principal of Smithfield High School, where he led the brokering of a $3 million investment by Smithfield Foods to support the construction of new facilities and lab spaces.
Roberts serves as vice chair for the Virginia STEM Education Advisory Board. In 2021, he was named Administrator of the Year by the Virginia Association for Career and Technical Education and received an Impact Award from the Virginia Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in history and leadership studies from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and graduating from the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets, Roberts went on to receive a M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction from Regent University, an Ed.S. in educational leadership and administration from George Washington University, and is currently pursuing a Ed.D. in educational administration and policy studies from George Washington University.
Athlete of the Year: Michael Vick
Recognizes a former Virginia Tech athlete who has contributed greatly to their profession, community, and/or Virginia Tech.
Quarterback Michael Vick’s 1999 football season brought acclaim to Virginia Tech as he led the Hokies to a perfect regular-season record and a chance at a national title. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist and landed an ESPY as the nation’s top college football player. As the No. 1 draft pick in 2001, he started his NFL career with the Atlanta Falcons and went on to play 13 seasons for four pro teams.
Vick gives back to the community in many ways, including through his Vick Foundation that provides support to at-risk youth with after-school programs in Atlanta and Hampton Roads. After the April 16 tragedy, he worked with the United Way to help assist affected families. Vick is a member of the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame and his No. 7 jersey has been retired by the school. He was named to the ACC Football Honors class at the 2022 ACC Championship Game. Most recently, he was inducted into the Quarterback Hall of Fame. Vick currently works as an analyst for Fox NFL Kickoff.
Career Achievement Award: Bevlee Watford
Recognizes an individual who has made sustained, outstanding, and significant contributions to a career field.
Bevlee Watford currently serves as the associate dean for equity and engagement in the College of Engineering and the executive director for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity. In this role, she is responsible for the recruitment and retention of both undergraduate and graduate students.
Watford was recently appointed by President Joe Biden to the National Science Board, which oversees the National Science Foundation. She is the recipient of the 2008 Founders Award from the Women in Engineering ProActive Network for her work to increase the participation of women in engineering, as well as the winner of the 2010 Virginia Tech Influential Black Alumni Pioneer Award. She was the first African American female president of the American Society for Engineering Education, is a current ASEE fellow, and was the Virginia Tech Class of 2023 class sponsor.
Watford holds three degrees from the College of Engineering: a bachelor’s degree in mining engineering and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in industrial engineering and operations research.
About the Black Alumni Reunion
Black Alumni Reunion: Living Our Legacy will be held in Blacksburg on April 14-16. In addition to the Virginia Tech Influential Black Alumni Awards, the fun and memorable reunion will be a time to commemorate milestones, meet current students, and enjoy camaraderie with fellow Hokies. A full schedule of events can be found online.