The Board of Directors

Alex Askew

President/CEO, BCAGlobal

At 14 Alex received his first job offer as a personal chef through a high school vocational work program and after 6 years of working in a variety of restaurants in and out of New York City, Alex decided to attend the Culinary Institute of America and graduated in 1989.

With a focus on eating lifestyles and trends in new menu alternatives, Alex began food research, development, and consulting for the following companies; General Mills, Hilton Hotels, Aramark Corporation, Specialty Restaurants and a host of private clients.

While working in restaurants, Alex broadened his experience as he became skilled and knowledgeable in different cooking styles, as well as cuisines which included Cajun and Creole, Holistic, Latin and American fusion. In 1993 Alex Co-founded the BCAGlobal (formally Black Culinarian Alliance) which dedicates itself to Education, Awareness, and Exposure for young minority students seeking careers within the culinary and hospitality industry.

Alex has enjoyed guest appearances on Good Morning America, CBS Early Morning Show, and the Food Network. He was a 2001 Doctorate of Foodservice recipient from the North American Foodservice Equipment Manufacturers, a Distinguished Visited Chef (DVC) for Sullivan University, 2011 Business Leader of Year from the Marcella Brown Foundation, in May 2012 received the distinguished New York Institute of Technology Global Leadership Award and serves on the American Culinary Federation as Board member to the newly formed Certification and Accreditation Commission.

With over 25 years in the restaurant and hospitality field, Alex continues to use his knowledge and experience as a foundation to gain further growth and development in the best industry in the world.

Annie Wickstrom

Executive Vice President of Acquisitions and Asset Management, Ramsfield Hospitality Finance  

Annie Wickstrom is Executive Vice President of Acquisitions and Asset Management at Ramsfield Hospitality Finance, an entrepreneurial investment management firm based in New York City. Current and recent properties include the resort at Pedregal in Los Cabos, Mexico, the Firmdale Crosby and Whitby Hotels in New York City, the Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, and the High Peaks Resort and Lake Placide Lodge, a Relais and Chateau hotel, both in Lake Placid, New York. She is involved in all aspects of Ramsfield's business, focused on creating market-supported hotel investments, mostly mezzanine loans, and asset managing those investments in hospitality and mixed-use resort real estate. Her areas of expertise include mezzanine debt, luxury hotels, complex mixed-use assets, and, and resort markets in Latin America and the Caribbean. Annie holds a Bachelors of Science in Hotel Administration and a Masters of Business Administration from Cornell University. At Cornell she was a teaching assistant for the culinary arts and restaurant management classes, and also as a teenager she cleaned cabins and washed dishes in hotels and restaurants across upstate New York.


Everett Hinds  

Sales Manager, Southern Wine & Spirits 

Everett B. Hinds was born and raised on the island of Barbados and came to Brooklyn at the age of 15. There he attended the Boys & Girls High School in Bedford Stuyvesant. After graduation, he received a UFT Scholarship, as well as an Academic Scholarship to Hofstra University, in Hempstead, NY. In the fall of 1977, Everett became the founder and President of the African Caribbean Society and in 1981 he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts. Soon after he began his career in 1982 by working with two community-based organizations; the Little Flower Children Services and the New York Foundling Hospital as Case Worker and a Community Resource Consultant and Personnel Manager.

After a few years of experience, he entered the wine industry in 1988 and began working with Gallo Wine Distributors as a sales representative. Eight years later, Everett made the transition to Premier Wine & Spirits as a District Manager. By 2004 he moved up the ranks to become a Sales Manager for the Combo Off Premise Division at Southern Wine & Spirits of NY. Over the years Everett has been affiliated with many charities such as; the West Harlem Group (former board member), MoCADA Museum in Brooklyn,Jack & Jill of Nassau County, the United Negro College Fund, the Fulton & Nostrand Street Merchant Association, and is currently a board member of the BCA (Black Culinary Alliance) & a member of the National Negro Golf Association.

Howard Kamau Stanford

Principle, SSA

Howard Kamau Stanford has been a member of the SSA team since 2002 as principal in charge of SSA’s affiliate KSA. In 2002, KSA was formed by Howard to extend the reach of SSA. The KSA/SSA alliance was created on Howard’s outstanding reputation for project design and project management. Howard has been recognized as one of the top food service consultants/designers in the Untied States.

In 1981 Howard began his career in food service consulting and design working with a few of the top firm in the U.S. Howard’s talent has contributed to numerous high profile projects both nationally and internationally including healthcare, corporate, corrections facilities, educational facilities, convention centers, hotels, country clubs, stadium, arenas, and restaurants. Howard is a professional member of the Nation Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), a professional member of the Foodservice Consultant Society International (FCSI) and held the positions FCSI North American Division Chair and Director on the FCSI World Wide Board (the first/American African to hold both positions in 50 year history of the organization worldwide).

Howard’s commitment to excellence has a history of over 30 years dedicated experience to the food service and design profession. His focus includes an ever increasing focus on design excellence resulting in outstanding guest experience while bringing more diversity to the food service consulting and design profession utilizing educational networks, innovative concepts and advance technologies. 


Ira L. Kaplan

President, Irinox USA

Ira Kaplan founded the AALEX Corporation in July of 2002 and currently serves as Chairman of this Management Consulting firm.  In January of 2005, he opened IRINOX USA, a distribution arm for the Italian-based manufacturer of Blast Chillers, Shock Freezers.

He has been Director of the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturing for 10 years and became their President in February of 1989.  He is an Associate Member of FCSI and The Society of Hospitality Food Service Management.  He is Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors for The New England Sinai Hospital and Rehabilitation Center, sits on the Board of Taste of the NFL, a hunger relief organization, and was Adjunct Professor at Johnson & Wales University.  Mr. Kaplan was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration from Johnson & Wales University.  He is also on the Board of the BCA, which is about advocating diversity in the Foodservice Industry, as well as the Board of Advisors After the Harvest, which is about gleaning American fields.


Jennifer Hong, Board Secretary

Senior Strategy Analyst 

Jen Hong graduated from NYU Leonard N. Stern School of Business with a B.S. in Finance and Accounting. She also received her M.S. in Accounting from NYU in 2011. Hong started her career as an auditor at KPMG, then she started working in consulting when she moved to Kurt Salmon in 2012. The NYU graduate is now a strategic planning and operations manager at Thomson Reuters. She has experience in process improvement, change management, organizational alignment, growth strategy and working other strategic initiatives. Her professional experience has been focused on financial services. However, she also has a passion for  addressing various human rights issues around the world.  In addition Hong currently serves as a board member for a non-profit organization that helps underserved women who live in Kenyan slums. The goal of the organization is to break the cycle of generational poverty. Hong wishes to bring the knowledge that she has acquired from her previous experiences to further enhance, advance and expand BCA Global's strategic vision. 


Jodi Brockington

Principle, Niara Consulting

Jodi Brockington is the “judgement free” fitness and wellness trainer for busy New York City executives.  After recovering from three major injuries, she developed a signature program, the FOJ 28 Day Challenge, which helps clients to jump-start and maintain their health and fitness goals.   She has been featured in Our World with Black Enterprise, the Black Enterprise Business Report and NV Magazine among many publications featuring her health and wellness program. Jodi also has more than 15 years of executive experience in myriad roles including prospecting and cultivating high profile clients, stakeholders and networks, managing daily operations, events, conferences and programs.

Some of her most recent work includes serving as Deputy Director for Speaker Management for the Global Financial Dignity Summit and Chief Marketing Officer for Count Me in for Women’s Economic Independence. A well-sought after speaker, Jodi has been featured as a Presenter at the 2013 Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit, where she was invited back to present a crash course on how to connect effectively and with confidence at  the 2014 Summit. She has also served as a speaker for the New York State Bar Association Women’s Group on social media, apps for career success and ethics. In addition, she was a speaker at Baruch School of Public Affairs on How to Use Linkedin for Networking Your Way to Career Success.

Currently she is one of 32 women small business owners participating in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program and the Third Cohort with the Tory Burch Foundation. Her award honors include a Beauty & Beat Honoree as a 2012 Heroines of Excellence Award, a NV Magazine 2011 Mover and Shaker Award, The Network Journal “40 Under 40” Award and an Urban Influencer Award from the National Urban League. 

Jodi has been featured in print publications and digital media such as TrendSetters Magazine, Black Racing Towards Diversity Magazine, NV Magazine, The BOSS Network, Black Enterprise and She has also been featured in two books, "CRAVE New York" and “Leading from the Middle—Conversations with Successful Middle Managers, and has co-authored three books “Sister to Sister”, “Second Chance Living” and “Teenage Girls” The Guide for Health, Wellness and Self-Esteem. Jodi has been hosting the National Urban League’s Small Business Matters Pitch Contest across the country since 2011 and also produces and hosts their popular online Digital Career Success Series.

Jodi earned Master’s degrees from the University of Southern California in Social Work; from Baruch College in Public Administration; and from the Hunter College School of Education. She completed her undergraduate studies at UCLA.


Paulette R. Gerkovich, Board Chair

President of Alterity Consulting, LLC

Paulette has 27 years of experience researching, creating and consulting on change efforts founded on Diversity & Inclusion principles. She is a published author, and frequently appears on the global speaking circuit and in the national and international media as an expert on issues related to leadership development, economic impact of diversity, designing and evaluating D&I efforts, women in the workplace, generations, and work/life flexibility.

Prior to founding management consultant firm, Alterity Consulting, Paulette served in roles across for-profit and non-profit organizations. Those roles include Americas Regional Head of D&I with Credit Suisse; Global Head of Diversity and Ombudsman at McKinsey & Co.; and Senior Manager, Diversity Change and Communications, at Booz Allen Hamilton, where she also led that firm's global Women's Leadership Initiative. She spent 10 years at Catalyst where her most recent post was Senior Director of Research and Model Workplace Initiatives, a department she founded to further learning, through workshops and research, about what makes a great D&I change effort. Additionally, she was Chair, Catalyst Award Committee, examining over 150 D&I efforts for effectiveness, impact and sustainability.  Paulette has a B.A. in Communications and Film Studies from Temple University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Maryland.


Sandra Spiro

KirkwoodSpiro Communications, EVP/Partner

Business-to-business hospitality has been Sandra Spiro's career for over 25 years.  Since 2008, she has been a partner, along with Mike Kirkwood, in their firm, KirkwoodSpiro Communications, a dynamic business positioned on the creative side of hospitality that represents manufacturer clients and builds communication and service platforms to connect the manufacturer and operator. 

KirkwoodSpiro refers to its role in the market as 'Business Activators,’ which Spiro says, “means we stimulate business, plain and simple,” through services that include online and print advertising, customer marketing, video production, direct mail and creative development. KirkwoodSpiro works with established brands and companies to provide alternate thinking and go-to-market strategies; it also “incubates” smaller companies that want to break into the foodservice and alternative food channels through extensive sales and marketing consultation. 

A graduate of the New York Institute of Technology with Hotel and Restaurant Management and Culinary Arts, Sandra has a pure passion for food and stays well-connected to the trade. “Our industry is fresh, new, and ever-changing, and I believe it is though our connections where ideation occurs, continually nourishing the path for new products and services,” she says. “It feeds the product pipeline with true innovation.”