POSTED BY: Larry Montgomery MAY 30, 2016
Sharon Davis-Edwards has over 25 years of experience in Insurance, Employee Benefits and the Financial Services Industry. She began her career with John Hancock Life Insurance Co. and E.G. Bowman Insurance Co. in the early 1980’s. Since 1988 Ms. Davis has held numerous sales, recruiting and management positions with Voya’s predecessor company. She has successfully overseen the negotiation, development and implementation of employer sponsored retirement plans and employee benefits for many organizations. In 1994 she became the Sr. Vice President of Benefits Planning Corporation. Sharon founded S.J. Edwards, Inc. in 2005 her own insurance and employee benefits corporation. (For more information about the services S.J. Edwards, Inc. offers go onto their website www.sjedwards.com. )
What has drawn you to not only join but to commit your time to supporting LIAACC? The Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce, Inc. is a progressive organization making the changes we often talk about in our community. Economic Empowerment and Wealth creation is a hefty goal for all communities especially the African American Community. As Vice President of LIAACC I have the capacity to contribute to LIAACC in many ways based on my broad life experience and my business experience. So why should I sit on the sidelines when I can contribute and add value to such a great organization?. Black organizations need Time, Money, and Resources to be great, and it is an honor to add value in these areas. At LIAACC our goal is to add value by: 1) getting exposure for our members, 2) creating networking opportunities, 3) creating business opportunities for members by encouraging trade among our members through business to business activities, 4) developing relationships with government agencies and corporations so our members can benefit from upcoming business opportunities, and 5) encouraging members to give back by supporting non- profit organizations that serve our communities.
What are your thoughts on economic development in Suffolk County?
Suffolk County is ripe for economic development. Unlike Nassau County, African Americans are more spread out throughout Suffolk county. In areas such as Suffolk County you may have a greater desire for resources than we have in other counties. I believe LIAACC can serve as a pivotal organization in bringing the towns, counties and villages where African Americans live in Suffolk County together in an unprecedented manner to achieve a higher level of economic empowerment; as the saying goes “in unity there is strength”.
What are your immediate plans for recruiting new members for LIAACC?
LIAACC is looking for new members, both small business owners and professionals. We believe we can be a catalyst to strengthen their resources for success. We believe LIAACC can offer both start up and seasoned enterprises a network of resources and contacts for success. We want to attract success minded people and professionals who see the economic strength in belonging to a regional organization looking to mentor and help its membership further build their economic capacity.
What are your long range plans for recruiting new members for LIAACC?
Our long term plans for membership building are to expand our reach throughout New York State and to bring our communities across the state together. That will increase our trade zone and simultaneously increase the individual economic capacity of our member network to succeed in their perspective business endeavors. LIAACC is determined to not just “talk the talk” but we want to “walk the walk”. As our business community sees how we take action on their behalf they will be proud to join our organization. For example, we offer Capacity Building workshops, Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise Certification assistance and we keep members informed when business opportunities present themselves through our online presence and monthly membership networking events.
Give us your thoughts about Church and Business collaborations or alliances with LIAACC?
Church and Business Institutions should work together in a variety of ways, as both organizations are essentially interested in the highest levels of success in their particular area of expertise. As a “PK” (Preacher’s Kid) I am aware of the value of church and community working together. I have a wonderful church family at Greater St. John’s Baptist church in St. Albans, Queens, where my father Rev. John Davis is the pastor. My character and values are a direct result of my spiritual upbringing. Our spiritual condition is instrumental in helping us to strive to become our best in the area of business. The church also has a tremendous number of potential business owners and consumers which makes this kind of collaboration a key to getting our community to the next level of economic advancement. Churches are said to be one of our communities most influential institutions regardless of size, denomination or belief and chambers of commerce, who realize and honor that concept, will come up in a mighty way. At different times different organizations are brought to the forefront because of necessity. I believe this is our time. It will be a wonderful marriage when one of our strongest institutions “The Church” and LIAACC come together to create a force for change. We have some of the same commitments including, supporting the economic base in the communities we serve by creating jobs and building stronger family units. That will result in a stronger community.