By Ayana Jones
PHILADELPHIA — Donavan West has left his post as president and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
He officially resigned on July 17 after leading the organization for only nine months. West steps down from the chamber at a time when many African-American owned businesses are grappling with the economic fallout from the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“This is a number one most important and impactful period in Black history in terms of Black businesses being decimated from an economic standpoint in terms of lack of access, restrictions and the disproportionate access to funds,” West said.
“I think that the African American Chamber is literally functioning as a trauma unit during this pandemic. I believe that our chamber has been the best chamber in the country because of the combination of partnerships, resources and the collaborative spirit.”
West has not disclosed where he is going, but said he still plans to advocate for small businesses.
AACC Board Chairman Steven Scott Bradley released an official statement on Monday afternoon announcing West’s resignation and its plan to begin searching for a new leader.
“We thank Donavan for his tireless commitment to the advancement of Black businesses professionals in our region and wish him success in his future endeavors,” he said.
“During this transition, the AACC remains committed to advocating on behalf of diverse businesses in its region through advancing supplier diversity initiatives, providing quality educational programming, and working with partners to ensure that Black businesses are able to remain open beyond COVID-19. The AACC will continue to serve as the voice of Black business owners and champion their needs.”
The chamber has been instrumental in enabling member businesses to offer coronavirus testing to their employees and is now offering free personal protective equipment and food to its membership.
Bradley said in the coming weeks, the chamber plans to announce several key programs and partnerships that will allow it to better assist businesses navigating COVID-19 return to work issues.
West said he is proud of the partnerships that the chamber formed under his leadership with business organizations such as DiverseForce and Lendistry and local politicians.
West has led the chamber since October 2019.
In 2003, he founded Multimedia MD (Marketing Diversity), which is now called Culturally Congruent Solutions. The company 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 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 participated in DiverseForce On Boards’ Board Leadership and Governance Program.
Ayana Jones is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.