The 19th Celebration for African American Alumni Achievement

A History-Making Community Looks to Future

This month saw the 19th Celebration of African American Alumni Achievement (CA4), bringing together UW and Foster alumni, students, staff, and friends to honor Spratlen Legacy Award winner Joanne Harrell, MBA ‘79, and inaugural Emerging Leader Award winner Brooke Spearmon, MBA ‘09.

Foster alums and community members from across decades were in attendance for an evening of camaraderie and inspiration, as well as updates from Black@Foster, speeches from this year’s awardees, and an incredible meal courtesy of Dayosense Catering. A portion of every ticket and sponsorship supports the Association of Black Business Students Endowed Scholarship (ABBS), this year’s event raising more $80,000, and through this event we spent more than $20,000 within Black-owned businesses to create a wonderful evening that featured a photographer, entertainment, and raffle prizes. This year, ABBS celebrates its 52nd anniversary.

The audience seated, the evening opened in song, with Cee Adamson, UW Doctoral Student in Vocal Performance, performing a soaring rendition of the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Foster Dean Frank Hodge then provided an update on Foster’s DEI goals, and announced the search for a new Associate Dean for Inclusion and Diversity at the Foster School. Afterward, members of the Foster student group Black@Foster shared updates on their programming and outreach efforts. 


Brooke Spearmon, MBA ‘09, Global Lead, Early Career Talent Experience at Amazon Web Services, and Foster’s inaugural Emerging Leader Award winner, took to the stage to accept the honor, where she reminisced on how the 2005 CA4 was “her very first introduction to the UW Foster School of Business.” 

“While in some ways it felt like eons ago, it feels like I’ve come full circle. That early engagement with Foster planted seeds that help me grow in ways I never could have predicted.”

During her time in the MBA program, Spearmon sought to create new and better spaces for underrepresented Foster students by founding MBA Business Diversity Club, a foundation for much of the critical inclusion and diversity work the Foster School is undertaking today.

“I was the first recipient of the African American Heritage MBA Endowed Scholarship back in 2008.” explained Spearmon in a piece by University of Washington Magazine. Brooke and her husband Shaun Spearmon, Foster MBA ’11, have “worked with the Foster Consulting and Business Development Center and supported the minority business community in myriad ways, including helping to create the Minority Business Executive Program, as well as a supplier diversity toolkit to help corporations launch their own supplier diversity programs.”


To close, Spearmon called on the next generation to “Walk into your power. Embrace it. Welcome it. And extend it to others in service.”

A tribute to Foster Professor Emeritus of Marketing Dr. Thaddeus Spratlen

After hearing a student tribute to the legacy of Dr. Thaddeus Spratlen, the trailblazing professor emeritus of marketing at Foster, the audience welcomed Clyde Walker, a Foster alumnus and student of the late professor, to the stage to introduce this year’s Spratlen Legacy Award winner, Joanne Harrell. Created to honor Dr. Thaddeus Spratlen, the Spratlen Legacy Award was established in 2016 by ABBS to recognize a Foster alumni, student, or community member making an impact on the Black community. 

Foster Alum Clyde Walker & Joanne Harrell

A Regent for the University of Washington since 2009, Joanne, MBA ’79 currently chairs the Board of Regents Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee. She is a retired Senior Director at the Microsoft Corporation, and also serves on the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program Leadership Council. Joanne earned her bachelor’s in communication in 1976 and her MBA in 1979 from the UW. Honored by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell as a 2015 “Woman of Valor” in honor of her leadership and community impact, in November 2016 Joanne was selected as a “Woman of Influence” by the Puget Sound Business Journal and, in November 2017 was named a Woman of Impact by the International Women’s Forum. 

“I’ll tell you — we are each one of us in this room a part of Dr. Spratlen’s legacy. ABBS is a part of his legacy, as is each one of us that he touched individually…he was there every step of the way.”


Afterward, Omar Fageeri, a Foster junior studying entrepreneurship, was awarded the 2022 ABBS Endowed Scholarship. In his acceptance speech, he highlighted the urgency of funding these scholarships, not only to ensure financial security for Black students on campus, but “to embolden change, both inside and outside the classroom.”


Christina Fong, Associate Dean for Inclusion and Diversity at Foster

“The Celebration of African American Alumni Achievement is an important opportunity for us to reflect on where we have been, where we should go, and most importantly, to celebrate the accomplishments of our current Black students and alumni.” said Christina Fong, Associate Dean for Inclusion and Diversity at Foster.

“For me, the most special part of the evening is seeing current students connect to alumni. It’s so heartwarming to see past and present students come together to dream for our future. Three important highlights of the evening included recognizing Dr. Thaddeus Spratlen, as it was the first celebration since his passing, the establishment of an Inaugural Leadership Award given to the deserving Brooke Spearmon (MBA ’09) and recognizing Joanne Harrell as the Spratlen Legacy Award winner. There were so many wonderful things to celebrate that evening and I was grateful for the support and opportunity to be in community together!”

“At Foster, our purpose is to bring communities together to better humanity through business. CA4 is a powerful example of this purpose,” said Foster Dean Frank Hodge.

“The community that comes together has a magical energy that permeates the evening and fuels the celebration of the impactful leaders being honored, from giants of our past like Professor Thaddeus Spartlen to today’s change enablers like Brooke Spearmon and Joanne Harrell. CA4 truly makes us better together, better tomorrow.”

Joanne Harrell, Brooke Spearmon, and Dean Frank Hodge

Special thanks to the evening’s community supporters:

Presenting Sponsor

Gold Sponsors
Equal Opportunity Schools
Husky Athletics
Joanne & Bruce Harrell Family
UW Alumni Association

Purple Sponsors
Foster Undergraduate Programs
Homestreet Bank
Foster MBA & EMBA Programs

DEI Partners
Foster DEI Partners are consistent supporters of our efforts to build an inclusive, diverse, and equitable community, and participate in a variety of community building events:


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