ACT•1 Press Room

Welcome to the ACT•1 Press Room


News Items, Press Releases & Editorials

Torrance, CA, May 09, 2016 - President Obama Appoints Janice Bryant Howroyd, ACT1 Group CEO, to Key Administration Post [view article]

LOS ANGELES, CA, Feb. 22, 2016 - Janice Named one of the 100 most influential people in the staffing industry by the SIA

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Feb. 18, 2016 - The ACT1 Group CEO Janice Bryant Howroyd winner of 2016 Peter Yessne Staffing Leadership Award [view article]

Congratulations to 2016 Peter Yessne Staffing Leadership Awardee, Janice Bryant Howroyd!
February 2016

We are pleased to announce that our Founder and CEO, Janice Bryant Howroyd, is the recipient of the prestigious Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) 2016 Staffing Leadership Award. This annual award recognizes the accomplishments of founder and former chairman of SIA, Peter Yessne. The award is given to an individual demonstrating exceptional leadership in growing and developing the industry and in driving innovation and thought-leadership. Mrs. Bryant Howroyd will be honored during the 25th annual Executive Forum on February 24th at the historic Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, AZ. #appleonejobs #jbryanthowroyd #hiringmadehuman

Janice Bryant Howroyd

LOS ANGELES, CA, Feb. 18, 2016 - JBH Featured on 'Woman to Woman: How Female CEOs found success' [view article]

Los Angeles, CA, Jan. 21, 2016 - JBH Shares How She Made It on CNBC [view article]

Los Angeles, CA, Jan. 20, 2016 - JBH Delivers Impassioned Speech at 2016 Pride Awards Gala [view article]

Los Angeles, CA, Dec. 15, 2015 - Kathy Ireland Interviews JBH on Fox Business and Bloomberg International [view article]

Los Angeles, CA, Dec. 15, 2015 - JBH Company AppleOne Pays it Forward to Underprivileged Kids [view article]

Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2015 - Janice Honored with SCMSDC 2015 Leadership Excellence Award [view article]

Los Angeles, CA, Aug. 26, 2015 - JBH To Be Inducted Into National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame [view article]

Los Angeles, CA, Aug 08, 2015 - JBH Among Rise of the Phoenix Awardees Honored by Rev. Al Sharpton & National Action Network [view article]

Los Angeles, CA, Jul 14, 2015 - JBH Shares Her 4 Personal Principles for Success and More on NBCs Today Show [view article]

Los Angeles, CA, Jul 14, 2015 - NBC TODAY SHOW Spotlights the Achievements of CEO Janice Bryant Howroyd [view article]

Los Angeles, CA, Jun 25, 2015 - JBH Talks Opportunities and the ABCs of Business with Over 700 Business Leaders [view article]

Los Angeles, CA, Jun 19, 2015 - Global Entrepreneur Janice Bryant Howroyd to Give Keynote Speech at Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerces Diversify 2015 [view article]

Los Angeles, CA, Jun 18, 2015 - JBH Ranks #24 in Forbes List of Wealthiest Self-Made Women [view article]

Los Angeles, CA, Jun 13, 2015 - Janice Inspires Local Businesses to Think Global [view article]

Los Angeles, CA, Jun 11, 2015 - JBH to Deliver Keynote During the 31st annual Airport Business Diversity Conference in Fort Lauderdale, FL [view article]

Los Angeles, CA, May 18, 2015 - ACT1 Group Takes Top Spot In Five Of Eight Top Business Categories [view article]

Los Angeles, CA, May 07, 2015 - JBH in San Francisco in Support of the Red Cross Foundation [view article]

LOS ANGELES, CA (September 2005) - Entrepreneur Being Honored By 10th Anniversary Eddy Awards [view article]

Entrepreneur Being Honored By 10th Anniversary Eddy Awards
September 2005

Los Angeles – September 29, 2005 – Founder and CEO of ACT•1 Group, is an honoree for the 10th Anniversary Eddy Awards on Monday, October 24, at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

ACT•1 Group, a consortium of human resource services companies leads the largest woman-owned staffing agency in the U.S. ACT•1 ranks nationally as one of the top 15 staffing companies. With branch offices located across the country,•1 employs some 300 direct hire workers and manages the placement of more that 65,000 temporary workers in the entertainment, technical, clerical, engineering, accounting and professional services.

The Eddy Awards were introduced by the LAEDC in 1996 to celebrate business and community leaders who demonstrate exceptional contributions to positive economic development in the region. Prior honorees include Liam McGee, Bank of America; Monica Lozano, La Opinin; George Deukmejian, 35th Governor of California to name a few.

Ms. Bryant Howroyd this year received the Spirit of American Enterprise Presidential Award (2005) at the Whitehouse Inaugural Celebration. She has been twice named by the Star Group as one of the 50 Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World the first African-American woman honored.

Beyond her success in business and civic affairs, Ms. Bryant Howroyd carries her enthusiasm for strong communities into her concern for educational advancement in underserved communities. This past year, Ms. Howroyd has given $10 million to support student aid programs in the USC College of Letter, Arts and Sciences. &ldqou;Empowering people is a blessing and responsibility,” said Bryant.

Ms. Howroyd has appeared on numerous television shows, including &ldqou;The Oprah Winfrey Show” and &ldqou;The Tavis Smiley Show”. She will be featured on Ebony’s Magazine November 2005 issue.

close article[-]

TORRANCE, CA (January 2005) - Janice Bryant Howroyd Honored at "Entrepreneurs Opportunity" Inaugural Ball [view article]

Janice Bryant Howroyd Honored at “Entrepreneurs Opportunity” Inaugural Ball
January 2005

TORRANCE, Calif. (Jan. 18, 2005) - The American Enterprise Award was presented to ACT•1 Group founder and chairman, Janice Bryant Howroyd, at the first-ever Entrepreneurs Opportunity Inaugural Ball on Wednesday, January 19, 2005. Bryant Howroyd was recognized for her success in growing her human resources and staffing management firm into one of the most innovative in its industry. The standing-room only event took place at the historic Republic Gardens, in Washington, D.C., with the theme, "A Salute to America's Business Community."

In her acceptance speech, Bryant Howroyd spoke to the necessity of welding the dividing line of blue and red states, of donkeys and elephants, and of brandings to take advantage of the most promising economy in the world. Kwame M. Kilpatrick, Mayor of Detroit, echoed Bryant Howroyd's message while introducing honoree, Alfphonso Jackson, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary. Kilpatrick spoke to the cooperation of a Republican secretary working closely with a Democratic mayor to ensure and maintain economic viability in Detroit.

Organizers for the ball prepared the event as a networking opportunity that brought together a diverse mix of generation X entrepreneurs and seasoned business professionals to salute the business community, across party lines. More than 1,000 guests attended the formal event, including business leaders and entrepreneurs as well as federal and state government leaders.

Other honorees included outgoing Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael L. Williams, boxing promoter Don King, and Condor Tech Services CEO Jorge Lozano. Robert Shumake, president and CEO of Detroit-based Inheritance Investments, LLC chaired this first-ever event.

close article[-]

TORRANCE, CA (January 2005) - National Mentoring Month [view article]

National Mentoring Month
January 2005

Torrance, CA -(January 12, 2005) On January 12th of this year, President George W. Bush proclaimed January as National Mentoring Month, honoring the role models that often profoundly change the lives of young people. Though mentoring has always had a strong focus in our country, from the old institution of apprenticeships up to the counselors and coaches of the 21st century, January is a month to recognize how much of an impact these mentors have on our lives.

At ACT•1, we know how powerful an effect mentors can have in a young person's life. As a business professional whose career has been shaped by the influence of mentors, our founder and chairman, Janice Bryant Howroyd, has built the very same work ethic into her own organization.

In honoring the dedication of mentors, ACT•1 strives to keep the humanity that is so often lacking in human resources, to maintain that essential human relationship to ensure that no one gets lost in the crowd, no matter how large the organization. Mentoring also figures heavily in•1's involvement with the community. ACT•1 employees are involved in mentoring local students, as well as working with local shelters and other organizations to get all Americans back on their feet and in a self-sustaining position. Our chairman also contributes to scholarships each year, giving underprivileged students a chance at a higher education that they might not otherwise have gotten.

Though a relationship with a mentor lasts a lifetime, it is ACT•1's privilege to honor the mentors that have influenced our own lives this month, as well as the children who inspire us to strive higher so that we might better influence their futures.

For more information on National Mentoring month, explore here. President Bush's proclamation can be found at here.

close article[-]

TORRANCE, CA (December 2004) - Janice Bryant Howroyd Attends White House Economic Conference [view article]

Janice Bryant Howroyd Attends White House Economic Conference
December 2004

Torrance, CA -(December 13, 2004) At the invitation of President Bush, ACT•1 CEO Janice Bryant Howroyd attended the two-day Securing our Economic Future: White House Conference on the Economy at the Ronald Reagan building in Washington, D.C. on December 15th and 16th. At this conference, both the President and Vice President of the United States spoke on current economic issues, including Social Security Reform and lawsuit abuse, as well as other economic tasks that both government and private industry must face in 2005. Vice President Cheney said, "We've brought together an impressive group of entrepreneurs, industry leaders, economists and other leading thinkers to conduct a dialogue on securing our economic future."

One important discussion was the "Preparing for the Jobs of the 21st Century" panel, moderated by Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao. Because of her expertise in this area, our CEO was a key participant. Secretary of Labor Chao said, "This panel is all about people and their futures. It's about helping each person realize his or her potential through a good education and a rewarding career." This echoes ACT•1's goal to find the right career path for everyone that walks through our doors.

close article[-]

DETROIT, MI (October 2004) - Detroit Free Press: Female Minorities in Business: Getting assistance key to progress [view article]

Detroit Free Press
October 2004

Female  Minorities in Business: Getting assistance key to progress

Detroit, MI (October 5, 2004) While black women have made strides as corporate executives, for individual business owners, there's more ground to cover, according to a group of entrepreneurs who gathered in Detroit on Monday.

In its first major event since the late 1990s, the Detroit-based National Association of Black Women Entrepreneurs told more than 300 local businesswomen at Detroit's Cobo Center that technology and mentoring are essential to grow a business. The group dates to 1978, but had been dormant in recent years.

"Women have raised their expectations and are no longer afraid to take the leap," said Janice Bryant Howroyd, president and CEO of Torrance, Calif.-based ACT1 Group, a personnel service that ranked as the third-largest black-owned business in the country, with more than $500 million in sales in 2003, according to Black Enterprise magazine.

"The exciting thing is that we're watching now more and more women growing businesses that are growing faster," Bryant Howroyd said.

The difference today compared to 10 or 20 years ago, she said, is that women have more visible role models.

"They can see it today, just as in athletics or science, when someone breaks a barrier or raises a bar," she said during the luncheon.

But women represent only a few businesses among the largest black-owned companies nationally and regionally.

To change that, more corporations will need to communicate with minority businesses, said Marilyn French Hubbard, founder of the National Association of Black Women Entrepreneurs and corporate vice president of the Henry Ford Health System.

"It's going to take more organizations to make a commitment to doing business with the people who buy their services," she said. "They've got to create programs and open doors."

She added that companies shouldn't look at employing minority-owned firms as charitable, "but as the right thing to do."

To win supply contracts, businesses owned by black women need to take better advantage of technology, Bryant Howroyd said.

Entrepreneurs also need to network and find mentors, she said.

That has been a problem for Saundra Petties, 31, who started the Detroit business training firm Corporate Polishing Services two years ago.

Petties, who is trying to expand her business beyond her six current clients, said she has realized "it's not about what you know, it's about who you know."

Finding established black business owners who want to guide entrepreneurs such as Petties has been tough, which is why Bryant Howroyd volunteered her brother -- and mentor -- Carlton Bryant to help the Detroit resident.

Bryant is Act-1's executive vice president.

Mentors and guidance aside, the hurdles that have challenged black women in business remain.

"Quite frankly, you have the benefit or the problem of being both female and African American," said Kathie Dones-Carson, CEO of the Detroit Black Chamber of Commerce.

"If you get past one, you still have another barrier to deal with."

Those barriers pop up from time to time for Nicole Carswell, who owns Universal General Contractors Inc., a Troy firm specializing in restoring fire and water damage. Carswell suspects her race and gender have something to do with the price hikes that new subcontractors have tried to slip by her.

"Sometimes men try to challenge me to see if I know what I'm talking about," she said.

But those are the types of challenges that minority female business owners need to overcome, Bryant Howroyd told the group during a luncheon sponsored by the Henry Ford Health System.

"The biggest power racism had in my life was the power I gave to it." Ditto for sexism, she said.

The best solution, she said: "Know your business."

close article[-]

DETROIT, MI (October 2004) - ACT•1 Receives Henry Ford Health Systems Supplier Diversity Excellence Award [view article]

ACT•1 Receives Henry Ford Health Systems Supplier Diversity Excellence Award

Detroit, MI (October 4th, 2004) - ACT•1 Personnel Services was recently selected to receive the first annual Supplier Diversity Excellence Award from Henry Ford Health Systems. This award is given to suppliers certified by the NMSDC or affiliates that have a minimum of three years service with HFHS and an excess of $5 million in sales with HFHS for at least two years. Winners are chosen based on the technical solutions provided to HFHS, adherence to HFHS Business Practices and community and civic involvement.

ACT•1 has partnered with Henry Ford Health Systems since November of 2002 to provide enhanced and consistent staffing management services. Earlier this year, ACT•1 rolled out its Web-based vendor management system, helping HFHS with a more streamlined staffing requisition and management process. The Supplier Diversity Excellence Award honors the partnership between the two companies, which has helped achieve a more effective and user-friendly staffing system for HFHS.

close article[-]

LOS ANGELES, CA (September 2004) - Janice Bryant Howroyd on Oprah Winfrey Show [view article]

Janice Bryant Howroyd on Oprah Winfrey Show
September 2004

Los Angeles, CA - (September 30, 2004) ACT•1 Chairman and CEO was recently featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, "The Millionaire Woman Next Door." Ms. Howroyd's success story was featured as one of five female millionaire entrepreneurs who have become successes in the business world. A corporation that started as a single office, ACT•1 is now the largest certified woman minority-owned staffing agency in the United States with an annual revenue in excess of $500 million. Ms. Howroyd's example, much like that of the successful Oprah Winfrey, serves as inspiration to potential millionaire women everywhere.

close article[-]

CHICAGO, IL (August 2004) - Experienced Entrepreneur [view article]

Experienced Entrepreneur
August 2004

Chicago, IL - (August 2004) ACT•1 Chairman and CEO Janice Bryant Howroyd was chosen to be a panelist at the Women's Forum Luncheon for the 2004 Entrepreneurial Woman's Conference that recently took place in Chicago. The discussion focused on the ups and downs of entrepreneurship.

The Women's Business Development Center hosts this conference annually to help women entrepreneurs network not only with each other, but with corporate and government representatives as well. The conference features workshops and roundtable discussions where new entrants in the business world can learn from the experience of successful entrepreneurs like Ms. Howroyd.

close article[-]

TORRANCE, CA (June 2004) - Black Enterprise Magazine: ACT•1 Ranks 3rd on the BE Top 100 for 2003 [view article]

Black Enterprise Magazine June 2004

ACT•1 Ranks 3rd on the BE Top 100 for 2003

Torrance, CA (May 26, 2004). Black Enterprise Magazine released the BE Top 100 list for 2003, once again naming ACT•1 as one of the top 10 Black-Owned Industrial/Service Companies in the United States. ACT•1 has ranked third on the BE Industrial/Service 100 for the past two years, and is the largest company on the 2003 BE Industrial/Service 100 list to be headed by a woman.

2003 was a hard year, especially for minority-owned businesses. Black Enterprise calls today’s business environment &ldqou;brutal,” faced by a &ldqou;triple threat of war, terrorism, and recession.” The BE Top 100s are companies who didn’t play dead, but &ldqou;used tough times to cut costs, diversify product lines and acquire companies on the cheap.” ACT•1’s placement at third on this list is testament to the corporation’s staying power and flexibility to grow with the changing market.

close article[-]

LOS ANGELES, CA (May 2004) - Janice Bryant Howroyd on The Tavis Smiley Show [view article]

Janice Bryant Howroyd on The Tavis Smiley Show May 2004

Los Angeles, CA - (May 6, 2004) ACT•1 Founder and CEO Janice Bryant Howroyd shares the secrets of her success in a guest appearance on the highly-acclaimed PBS series, The Tavis Smiley Show (airing weeknights 11 PM PST and 12 AM EST).

Howroyd candidly discusses her path from Tarboro, North Carolina to her current reign as owner of the largest certified black woman-owned staffing company in the United States, with current income projections for 2004 estimated in the excess of $520 million. Growing up with 10 siblings gave her the best training for being organized and how to make decisions quickly. Those abilities, along with parents who instilled a strong entrepreneurial spirit within the family unit, have paid off handsomely. Ms. Howroyd now employs 300 direct hire employees and 65,000 temporary employees nationwide. 

Ms. Howroyd also sets the record straight on the role of her family within ACT •1. "In order for any of my brothers or sisters to be hired by ACT•1, they must first be successful in their own individual professions, and they must have had at least three promotions within a previous corporate structure. I'm not in the business of just employing family. Each of my family members plays a crucial role in the success of ACT•1 with their expertise."

Ms. Howroyd has a strong faith and knows that much is expected from those who receive a lot. By sponsoring students at historically black colleges and universities, including her own alma mater North Carolina A&T State University, Ms. Howroyd helps to create the next generation of businessmen and businesswomen.

close article[-]

TARBORO, NC (April 2004) - Hometown Connections [view article]

Hometown Connections
April 2004

TARBORO, NC - In a small town, family connections and personal ties are expected. Tarboro, with a population just under 11,500, is no exception. Incorporated in 1760 in the state of North Carolina, Tarboro has a lot to be proud of. Recently, two business people with Tarboro connections were honored for their dedication and high level of service, adding more laurels to the North Carolina town's crown.

Janice Bryant Howroyd, CEO of ACT•1, and Reg Holden, Supply Chain Manager for Delta Air Lines, were both recipients of Delta's annual Supplier Diversity Star Awards. These awards are given on a yearly basis to suppliers and employees who exemplify excellence, innovation and commitment to outstanding service. Howroyd was born and raised in Tarboro, while Holden's father recently moved to the North Carolina town.

Exceptional service and the best business relationships aren't always found in big cities or even in big corporations. Partnerships can cross company lines and begin in something simpler, like a common hometown tie. The chance meeting at an awards ceremony helped two hometowners form a lasting partnership, showing how important local people are, and how Tarboro's values and ethics help to bring that personal touch.

close article[-]

FAYETTE, MS (April 2004) - The Fayette Chronicle: Technology Tips for Minority-owned Businesses [view article]

Fayette Chronicle
April 15, 2004

Technology Tips for Minority-owned Businesses

(NU) In 1978, while temping for her brother-in-law at Billboard magazine, Janice Bryant Howroyd discovered she had a knack for solving office problems.

Armed with $967 in personal savings and $533 in loans from her family, Howroyd leased a small office. Today Howroyd’s company, ACT•1, is the largest female minority-owned employment agency in the United States, with more than 90 offices and 290 direct hire employees.

Her savvy use of technology played a large role in her success.

According to the Small Business Administration, close to 15 percent of America’s small business owners are minorities and the trend of minority ownership is accelerating. More than 3 million minority-owned small businesses are providing job opportunities for millions of people in thousands of communities across America.

The Small Business Administration also notes that the number of black-owned businesses has doubled and revenue has tripled since 1987. These businesses are growing at a rapid annual pace. And 66 percent of black business owners want to use technology to better manage their businesses.

Technology has proven to be a major key to the success of any business. IBM, which has a heritage of working with small and minority-owned businesses, offers these tips and facts:

  • Technology is the great equalizer. It gives small businesses the same kind of competitive advantage that larger companies enjoy. Technology helps businesses increase efficiency, reach new customers and receive a faster return on investment. 
  • Take advantage of opportunities. For instance, current legislation allows small businesses to quadruple the expense limit for capital goods purchased. Up to $100,000 can be used to invest in technology for your business. 
  • Start with the basics. Building a Web site or integrating e-commerce can open up a new segment of potential customers. 
  • Go online and make comparisons. Compare your business to others in the same field. Mimic the survivors where they succeed and stay clear of their errors. 
  • Follow the ABCs of business. Ask the right questions at the right time. Be what you commit to being. Connectusing technologyto your employees, customers and suppliers.

To learn about IBM’s resources for small and minority-owned businesses, visit

close article[-]

NEW YORK, NY (March 2004) - NMSDC Honors Three for Long-Term Achievements [view article]

NMSDC Honors Three for Long-Term Achievements

NEW YORK, NY (March 22, 2004) -- Janice Bryant Howroyd, chairman and chief executive officer of Act 1 Group; Robert Ontiveros, chairman of Group O Companies and Steven S Reinemund, chairman and chief executive officer of PepsiCo, will be honored for significant long-term achievements in minority business development at the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) Leadership Awards Dinner-Dance on Tuesday, May 18th, at the Hilton New York and Towers in New York. 

More than 1,400 people are expected to attend, including CEOs and executives of Fortune 500 corporations and minority business owners from across the nation. 

Harriet R. Michel, president of NMSDC said, "High achievement and decades of commitment to the power of solid alliances between minority businesses and their corporate partners are what distinguish this year's honorees.  As individuals they are recognized as leaders in America's business community.  Collectively they represent strength, perseverance, vision, forthrightness and commitment to our mutual goal that all Americans deserve a chance to take full part in our nation's economic progress."

Janice Bryant Howroyd founded ACT•1 Personnel Services in 1978 with a single office in Beverly Hills, focused on the entertainment industry.  It has since expanded to serve large corporate clients with temporary workers in technical, clerical, engineering, accounting and managed services.  Today, ACT 1 has grown into a network of over 70 strategically positioned offices across the United States, and employs more than 65,000 temporary employees and over 300 direct hire employees nationwide.  The company had sales of over $518 million in 2003.  Last year, Black Enterprise magazine named the company the third largest African-American owned business in the United States. 

Robert Ontiveros is the chairman of Group O Companies in Milan, Illinois.  In 1974, after working for a family-owned packaging supply company, Robert Ontiveros decided to become an entrepreneur.  He and his wife took a station wagon and began selling packaging material and equipment almost door to door.  The couple's first major customer was John Deere.  Today, Mr. Ontiveros is chairman of an organization with 400 employees, three business segments and a holding corporation.  The three businesses are Bi-State Packaging, R&O Specialties and Group O Direct.  And the customers include a wide range of industries: telecommunications, heavy equipment, automotive, food and beverage, pharmaceutical and packaged goods.  Group O has over $167 million in sales and more than 600 employees, with facilities in Illinois and Indiana. 

Steven S Reinemund is the chairman and chief executive officer of PepsiCo, Inc., a world leader in convenient snacks, foods and beverages, with $27 billion in sales and 142,000 employees.  The company's subsidiaries include Frito-Lay, Quaker and Tropicana.  They have had a structured M/WBE program since 1982.  In 2003, PepsiCo spent $335 million with first tier minority suppliers.  They require their prime suppliers to report dollars spent with MBEs, for an additional $220 million.  The overall goal is to grow MBE purchases 12% annually; goals are established for each division and each category of procurement.  Each PepsiCo Division President has an aggressive supplier diversity target. 

John M. Barth, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Johnson Controls, Inc., serves as Honorary Chairman for this gala event.

The NMSDC Network, which includes 39 affiliated regional councils, matches more than 15,000 certified minority businesses (Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native American) with its more than 3,500 corporate members, that want to purchase their goods and services.  In 2002, member corporations' purchases from minority businesses exceeded $72.1 billion. 

Additional information about the National Minority Supplier Development Council can be found on the NMSDC Web site at or by calling (212) 944-2430.

close article[-]

TORRANCE, CA (February 2004) - O: The Oprah Magazine: Ford Motor Company Supports Women In Need [view article]

O: The Oprah Magazine
February 2004 — ADVERTISEMENT P. 109

Ford Motor Company Supports Women In Need

Torrance, CA - In October, the Ford Motor Company hosted two events in Atlanta and Detroit where guests enjoyed an evening of cocktails, networking and a chance to win an all-expenses paid trop to Chicago. The vents were hosted by two dynamic women who shared their success stories and offered inspiring tips for self-empowerment: Janice Bryant Howroyd, Founder and CEO of ACT•1 Personnel Services, and Valrine Daley-Meleschi, Founder of MeSources.

As part of the event, the Ford Motor Company generously donated 1,000 Kate Spade scarves and 1,000 empowerment tip sheets to styleWORKS, a non-profit organization that offers free, comprehensive grooming services to women who are moving from welfare to work.

For more information about the Ford Motor Company, visit For more information about styleWorks, visit

close article[-]

LIVONIA, MI (February 2004) - The Detroit News: Staffing firm builds Metro Detroit business [view article]

Staffing firm builds Metro Detroit business

The Detroit News — February 2004

LIVONIA — The high energy founder and CEO of the Act•1 Group, a temporary staffing firm, swooped recently into Metro Detroit to award its best clients as the company’s “angels” and visited all three of its branch offices.

“We’re doing more than placing people, we are growing relationships and strengthening the communities we serve in southeast Michigan and across America,” said Janice Bryant Howroyd while celebrating the firm’s 10th year in this region.

She runs a $483 million staffing company that’s based in Torrence, Calif., with 300 employees and more than 300,000 temporary placements. While in Metro Detroit, she presented angel awards to Ford Motor Co. and Henry Ford Health System as a way to thank her biggest area clients.

Her visit coincided with the award of a first-tier vendor contract at the regional hospital system. Act•1 will oversee Henry Ford’s $23 million to $27 million account, the first outside vendor to supply nursing and allied health care to all divisions of the hospital, according to Ed Kai, Henry Ford’s director of human resources. Act-1 will coordinate placement of all other staffing firms.

“By using a master vendor, we expect to chop out 8 to 10 percent of our temporary agency costs,” Kai said. &ldqou;In the 15 months that we’ve worked with Act-1 in non-clinical allied health and clinical roles, we have been impressed with their efficiency, technology and attention to customer service.”

Temporary labor from light industrial to human resource teams represent a very competitive market with such local players as Kelly Services, Manpower Group and Strategic Staffing Solutions. Howroyd networks around the country at diversity functions and fills presentations with energetic smiles and intense listening skills.

&ldqou;Janice is definitely a powerhouse. Her attention to detail and business acumen helps instill confidence and oversight. She delivers on what she contracts to do,” said Ray Jensen, Ford’s director of supplier diversity development. Act-1 managed the overhaul of the computerized payroll system and provides contract engineers for the automaker.

Jerry Lawrence, senior vice president of the firm’s eastern region that’s based in Detroit, said he works to help place people rapidly after each assignment ends. Its priority systems afford officials’ rapid knowledge of workers’ resumes, time cards, performance and aptitude. Howroyd said the company’s philosophy is to empower people to forge better working environments for themselves and clients.

“Never compromise who you are personally for what you wish to be professionally,” she tells her staff.

close article[-]

NEEDHAM, MA (January 2004) - IBM: ACT•1 Group Speeds Up Responsiveness to Customers, Grows Revenues 35% [view article]

January 2004

ACT•1 Group Speeds Up Responsiveness to Customers, Grows Revenues 35%

(excerpt) When the labor market shrank with the recession, ACT•1 Group just wanted to survive the downturn. But it did much more than that. The California-based human capital solutions provided transformed its regional businessby adapting Web-based technologyand catapulted itself into a national leader with global aspirations.

ACT-1 implemented its proprietary Web-based system that provides customers with integrated human capital solutionsincluding staff augmentation, vendor management, time and expense capture, enterprise reporting and employee background servicesavailable upon demand. "In the staffing industry, a fast response is the benchmark of quality services. With this technology ACT•1 can guarantee customers a response within 30 minutes." [Janice Bryant] Howroyd says.

"In a declining jobsmarket, we've expanded our business at both ends of the spectrumglobal giants and SMBs," Howroyd says. "While competitors are experiencing decreasing volumes, we have increased ours significantly. We've grown from a regional to a global provider, due to IBM technology and the on-demand model."

close article[-]

PASADENA, CA (January 2004) - The Pasadena/San Gabriel Journal: The Black College Expo [view article]

The Pasadena/San Gabriel Journal —January 2004

The Black College Expo

In January 2004, several thousand students and parents crammed the Los Angeles Convention Center for the 5th Annual Black College Expo to meet representatives from many of the 50 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) including Florida A&M University, Southern University, North Carolina A&T University and Tuskegee University.

Enrollment of California students into HBCU schools has risen dramatically in the past 5 years. Ad the enrollment of many HBCU schools increase, many have begun aggressive marketing campaigns to raise money for capital improvements, including North Caroline A&T University. Campaign Chairman, Janice Bryant Howroyd, founder and CEO of the ACT1 Group, one of the largest Black-owned companies in America, is a proud graduate of North Caroline A&T herself.

close article[-]

LOS ANGELES, CA (January 2004) - Los Angeles Watts Times: Honorary Doctorate [view article]

Honorary Doctorate

Los Angeles Watts Times — January 2004

Janice Bryant Howroyd, chairman and CEO for ACT•1 Personnel Services, the largest woman/minority-owned employment agency in the company, addresses graduates at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University winter commencement. Bryant Howroyd, a North Carolina native, also received an honorary doctorate during the commencement ceremony.

close article[-]

LOS ANGELES, CA (August 2003) - ACT•1 CEO Makes the Cover of BE Magazine [view article]

ACT•1 CEO Makes the Cover of BE Magazine — August 2003

Los Angeles, CA - (August 2003) ACT•1 CEO Janice Bryant Howroyd was featured on the cover of August's issue of Black Enterprise magazine as a woman of the BE 100s, the top African-American CEOs in the United States. Black Enterprise quotes: "The women of the BE 100s are setting a new standard of excellence - and changing the face of business. Ten years ago, the number of women-led industrial/service companies could be counted on one hand. Fast-forward to 2003, and they're leading the charge at BE 100s companies." ACT•1 ranked third on the BE Industrial/Service 100 list and is considered America's third largest black-owned company.

close article[-]

LOS ANGELES, CA (June 2003) - Frazernet - Professional Excellence Award [view article]

Frazernet - Professional Excellence Award — June 2003

Los Angeles, CA - (June 2003) FrazerNet recently awarded ACT•1 CEO Janice Bryant Howroyd with the ProfessionalExcellence Award at the annual Power Networking Conference in Cleveland, OH. Inscribed on Jan's plaque are the words "Keep Up the Good Fight," a reminder of how far ACT•1 has come as a company, and how far we can still go.

The Power Networking Conference 2003: Collaborating and Building Black Wealth and Resources, focused on networking training and building the necessary connections between businesses. Each year, the conference hosts workshops and town hall meetings, as well as a business opportunity exposition and networking parties and forums.

close article[-]

ATLANTA, GA (May 2003) - ACT•1 Woman-owned Business of the Year [view article]

ACT•1 Woman-owned Business of the Year May 2003

Atlanta, GA - (May 2003) Delta Air Lines honored ACT•1 Personnel Services as Woman-Owned Business of the year in their annual Supplier Diversity Star Awards. Each year, Delta honors their top small, minority- and women-owned suppliers who bring value to the business partnership by providing quality products and services.

ACT•1 has provided payrolling and IT contractors to Delta since December of 2001. This honor serves as a symbol of the mutually-strong partnership between ACT•1 and Delta, and will hopefully be a preview of more great things to come from this business relationship.

close article[-]

NEW YORK, NY (April 2003) - Jan named honorary chair of NMSDC Leadership Awards [view article]

Jan named honorary chair of NMSDC Leadership Awards — April 2003

New York, NY -   (April 2003) ACT•1 Founder and CEO Janice Bryant Howroyd was recently named Honorary Chair for the National Minority Supplier Development Council's 2003 Leadership Awards Dinner-Dance on May 13th in New York City. More than 1,200 people are expected to attend including CEOs and executives of Fortune 500 corporations and minority business owners form across the nation. This year's honorees include Albert Chen, President and CEO of Telamon Corporation; David L. Steward, founder of World Wide Technology, Inc.; and Dieter Zetsche, President and CEO of the Chrysler Group. ACT•1 is a National Corporate Plus Member of the NMSDC.

close article[-]

NEW YORK, NY (November 3, 2002) - Parade: A Little Faith Is A Big Deal On The Job [view article]

A Little Faith Is A Big Deal On The Job
Lyric Wallwork

Parade — November 3, 2002

While it may seem like many CEOs and corporate boards have been playing fast and loose with the bottom line, spiritual concerns dominate the daily lives of most American workers, according to a new survey from ACT1 Group, a human-resources company. About 55% of those polled said spirituality has a "very significant" or an "important" role on the job; only 28% said it plays a minor role or no role. Women, Southerners and those aged 35 to 64 care most about spirituality on the job. But respondents in all groups reported an increase in spirituality since 9/11/01. More nonwhites than whites (59% vs. 54%) were likely to think spirituality is "very significant" or "important" at work. And, perhaps surprisingly, 58% of those with postgraduate degrees---the people with the highest levels of education ---were most likely to value spirituality in the workplace.

close article[-]

TORRANCE, CA (October 2002) - Essence Magazine: If these three women did it, so can you! [view article]

Essence — October 2002

A Philosophy of Wealth — Janice Bryant Howroyd

Janice Bryant Howroyd’s $1,500 investment has yielded amazing returns. With $967 in savings and $533 in loans from her mother and brother, she founded ACT•1 Personnel Services in Beverly Hills, California, in 1978. It has grown into a diversified company, the ACT•1 Group in Torrance, California, with 75 offices nationwide and projected revenues of $260 million in 2002.

Howroyd, who is from Tarboro, North Carolina, says her personnel business made money from day one. &ldqou;It doesn’t take a genius to do the arithmetic,” she says, &ldqou;but it takes a gift to make it multiply.” She shares the credit with some of her siblings (she’s one of 11 children), who brought different yet valuable skills to the business.

Before going into business for herself, Howroyd, who’s in her late forties, worked for the American Red Cross, helping families in emergencies; the National Academy of Sciences, where she researched and edited reports; and a company that created training programs for Fortune 500 companies.

Part of her motivation for starting an employment agency was a desire to bolster self-esteem among African-Americans by helping them find jobs. Her marketing strategy in those early days was low-tech: She distributed flyers and made countless telephone calls to drum up business.

She says racism is still a factor in the employment industry. “It’s hard to manage through it,” she adds. “You just learn to manage around and beyond it.”

But that’s not her only message. “I know people who truly made knuckle-bleeding sacrifices,” she says. Coming from a town filled with folks who knew the roots of pain and sacrifice has always reminded her to stay humble.

close article[-]

TORRANCE, CA (September 23, 2002) - Los Angeles Business Journal: ACT•1 Personnel Services. [view article]

Los Angeles Business Journal — September 23, 2002

Executive Summary

ACT•1 Personnel Services moved up a notch to take the top spot on the list of largest women-owned businesses this year, with reported 2001 revenues of $217 million a 19 percent increase from a year earlier. It was also the only firm on the list to top $200 million in revenues.

Alert Staffing, last year’s No. 1, fell to fifth place after revenues declined to $91 million in 2001 from $204 million in 2000, a 55 percent decrease.

There was little other change at the top of the list, with a handful of the Top 15 moving a few positions up or down. Moorefield Construction saw the most significant jump, moving from sixth to second place, the result of a 44 percent increase in revenues. Montrose Travel crept up a spot, to No. 3, despite an 18 percent decrease in revenues.

– Nicki Taylor

close article[-]

TORRANCE, CA (May 2002) - USA Today: After 9/11, workers turn their lives upside down. [view article]

USA TODAY — May 2002

After 9/11, workers turn their lives upside down

By Stephanie Armour, USA TODAY

For more than six years, Angela Yoo worked to become a journalist. She studied communications in college, tackled internships and landed a job at InStyle magazine in New York. It was what she'd always wanted. But all it took was one day for her to realize she no longer wanted what she had. That day was Sept. 11. The terrorist attacks in New York and Washington left Yoo wanting to do something to help others. So, in a dramatic career overhaul, she quit her hard-won magazine job and joined the non-profit volunteer organization New York Cares. It was the kind of eyebrow-raising change that required explaining to family and friends, but it's just one example of how the professional lives of some working Americans were changed by Sept. 11.

The attack prompted some Americans to undergo wrenching and profound shifts in their work priorities and aspirations. Nearly eight months after the attack, the transformations are still playing out.

Some who quit their jobs want them back. Others are still trying to decide how they'll reshape their careers. Many are only starting to embark on new professional lives they wouldn't have considered before the attack.

"I wouldn't have had the courage or reason to do this otherwise," says Yoo, 23, who now works at the non-profit as a disaster recovery program manager. "I realized I wanted to help society or the city. Now, I feel like I'm making a difference."

Signs of the changing emphasis abound. Teach for America, which places recent college graduates in urban and rural public schools, received 14,000 applications for its 2002 corps.

That's the most in its 12-year history and nearly triple the number received for 2001.

Organization officials credit the increase in part to renewed interest post-Sept. 11.

A Pentagon spokesman says there has been a jump in inquiries and recruiting visits since Sept. 11. The Peace Corps also reported a spike in inquires and online applications after Sept. 11. The changes have even given rise to a new buzzword: post-traumatic job switcher.

"9/11 was a huge wake-up call and opportunity for people to say what's really important to them," says Gail McMeekin, author of The Power of Positive Choices. "I'm not seeing the impact taper off. People realize if they don't make changes now, they'll regret it. I've seen people leave jobs and be much more willing to take risks."

Career transformations

Though some made career leaps immediately after Sept. 11, many of those who've undergone professional transformations have done so only after prolonged introspection, talks with professional career consultants and discussions with family.

Some are still involved in making a change. On Sept. 11, Jennifer Van Zandt of Montclair, N.J., saw anxious schoolchildren trying to get home and drivers with tear-streaked faces calling loved ones on cell phones. The images were haunting.

Then, in the ensuing recession, her sales training and performance coaching business, Bullseye Training, temporarily slacked off. So Van Zandt went on a retreat in Cape Cod. Bobbing on a boat in the bay, she began thinking, "How can I help the world after Sept. 11?" She decided to apply to a seminary and be ordained as a minister, with plans to do pastoral counseling in addition to maintaining her business.

"It's embarrassing to say, but life all of a sudden became so much more precious," says Van Zandt, 37.

Similarly, it's been a drawn-out decision for Tim Kennan. As a purchasing manager who worked with hazardous agricultural chemicals, he began to realize his work could put him in danger because of ongoing terrorist risks.

When FBI officials arrived to talk to employees about safety precautions, he decided he'd had enough.

Now, he's starting his own direct-mail franchise, Money Mailer, and has flexibility to spend more time with his 9-year-old son, Kyle.

"Sept. 11 gave me the courage to do the right thing and spend time with my son and find a job that was safer," says Kennan of Fountain Valley, Calif. "I left a pretty secure job, with benefits and insurance. It's scary, but it's a part of growing up. I've realized you only have one life to live."

Rearranged priorities

The changes have arguably been the most wrenching for those in New York, where the terrorist attack also brought a drop in tourism and an economic loss.

Some New Yorkers found themselves thrust into making career changes out of necessity. Others were so shaken by the attacks that they sought something new.

After the attack, New Yorker Michael Niewodowski realized he couldn't stay. He was a chef at Windows on the World, atop the ill-fated World Trade Center, but he wasn't at work when the planes hit. Some of his friends and co-workers died in the attack.

His decision to go was instantaneous. Leaving his belongings in his Jersey City apartment, he drove to Bradenton, Fla., to be with his family. Now a chef at a cafe, he lives with his mother and sister.

"My priorities have been rearranged," says Niewodowski, 28. "Before, my career was my first priority. Now, it's my family. I don't think I'll ever live in a big city again."

He's returned to New York only as a tourist, taking three hours to gaze at the site where he once worked. Niewodowski says he may long wrestle with anger and bitterness because of what happened.

To be sure, many switches have been less dramatic. About 90% of Americans had no plans to change careers as a result of the attack, according to a November poll of 600 respondents by ACT•1 Group, a human resources solutions and managed services provider based in Torrance, Calif.

One reason, experts say, is that the recession chilled any job hopping that may have occurred. An upswing in the economy, they say, could prompt more career changes.

Others say career decisions often take longer than a few months to jell. Some workers are only now getting to the point of re-evaluating their jobs.

Rising workplace stress

But there's no question there's been an impact: More than one in three workers feels more stressed on the job because of Sept. 11, according to a survey in April by the College of William and Mary. Nearly one in four feels his job is more dangerous.

The study also found those who believe their jobs became a lot more dangerous reported being significantly more likely to consider changing jobs.

Other studies show people who have made changes tend to be younger or in industries already hurt by the economy. Men have been slightly more reluctant than women to consider a switch.

Many experts say they are still seeing more subtle changes in the way employees approach work. Employees are more likely to reject travel that takes them away from family, leave the office early for school events or use vacation days that otherwise would have gone unused.

Bill Niemi has seen the more subtle forms of change. The human resources director at a Cleveland ad agency, Liggett-Stashower, has received unsolicited applications from job seekers who cite Sept. 11 as a reason they want to come home.

"One gal was in Washington, D.C., and she said she just had to come back home," Niemi says.

Harry Gruber sees it, too. The CEO of Kintera, an Internet marketing provider for non-profits based in San Diego, has more employees focused on family.

'I'm traveling too much'

"Since Sept. 11, there's a tremendous emphasis on family and community that wasn't there before," he says. "I interview people, and they say, 'I'm traveling too much, and I want to be with family.' "

Says Laura Berman Fortgang, author of Living Your Best Life: "People are really searching. If you're not chasing the money, what are you chasing? It sounds corny, but happiness is the new bottom line."

In some cases, the changes have simply meant being open to different opportunities.

Many stories resemble that of Angela Calman's. On Sept. 11, she was a recent graduate from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and was being courted by high-profile public relations firms.

In the days after the attack, she went to interview for a job as chief communications officer at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Still shaken, she realized she wanted to join the non-profit medical center.

"My priorities changed. I realized I wanted to do something that matters," says Calman, 30.

"9/11 was the catalyst for a major life change. I guess I found something I didn't even realize I was missing."

close article[-]

TORRANCE, CA (March 2002) - Ebony: Sisters In Charge; Innovative Women Entrepreneurs [view article]

Ebony — March, 2002 

Sisters In Charge; Innovative Women Entrepreneurs

Today's Black woman is a go-getter. Not only is she running her own business, but she is also following her life's passion. And the numbers bear it out.

The Center for Women's Business Research conservatively estimates that the 365,110 majority-owned, privately-held firms owned by African-American women in the United States generate roughly $ 14.5 billion in sales.

Among those leading the charge are Californian Janice Bryant Howroyd, who took a $ 1,500 loan and turned it into a multimillion-dollar employment agency; Deryl McKissack Greene, an architect who took a family tradition and turned it into one of the top firm's on the East Coast; Shirley L. Gross-Moore, a Chicago-area car dealer who built a solid business despite those who said she would fail; Saundra Parks, a New York floral designer who has changed our notions about flowers, texture and color; and Louise Todd, an art publisher and distributor in Atlanta who left corporate America to turn her love of art into a living. The five women on the following pages represent thousands of Black businesswomen who are letting it shine all over the business world -- from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., Chicago to New York and finally down to Atlanta -- and they are doing it their way.

Janice Bryant Howroyd
ACT•1, Torrance, Calif.

JANICE Bryant Howroyd never saw herself as much of a gambler. But she managed to parlay a $ 1,500 family loan into one of the most successful female-owned businesses in America.

As the owner and chief executive officer of ACT•1, a personnel servicing company based in Torrance, Calif., that has 75 offices nationwide and projected 2002 revenues of more than $ 270 million, she has a roster of clients that includes Ford Motors, the Gap, Sempra Energy and Toyota Motor Sales. As an example of the company's effectiveness, since 1997, it has placed approximately 92,000 workers.

ACT•1, which supplies technical and professional staffing, is only one of her diversified business ventures. She also owns a travel agency, a background-check and drug-screening service, and an electronic records maintenance company. Another part of her empire is California National University for Advanced Studies, which focuses on continuous education and offers degrees in business administration and engineering as well as human resources certificates. For all her ventures, she says, the income projections are in excess of $ 520 million annually.

Being a nationally recognized businesswoman was not even on Bryant Howroyd's radar when she, a painfully shy woman, left her home in Tarboro, N.C., to relax and visit a sister in Los Angeles in 1978. But she enjoyed herself and was convinced to continue extending that trip well beyond her original plans. "I knew I couldn't become an eternal visitor," she recalls. "So I needed to be employed, and my sister's husband gave me a job as his assistant at Billboard magazine. I started out as a temporary worker and they never wanted me to go. They were fascinated that I knew what needed to happen in an office."

Unlike many who have gravitated to Tinsel Town, Bryant Howroyd wasn't using her job as a stepping-stone to success on the screen or stage. She realized that she enjoyed organizing offices and helping people get temporary and direct hire jobs at Billboard and other firms. Companies, especially the entertainment-related ones, were impressed that she could send workers who were dependable and not using the assignments as a ladder to Hollywood immortality.

After gaining enough confidence to believe that she could go out on her own, Bryant Howroyd got the $ 1,500 loan in 1978, a telephone and leased a small space. Then she relied on what she calls "the WOMB method" to secure business. "I call it WOMB because it's 'Word Of Mouth, Brother!' That's how I got to know people and develop business relationships."

To compete with other companies, she decided to make her focus getting just the right people for the right businesses. "Back in those days, if it didn't work out, you had to give the money back," she says. "I focus on keeping the humanity in human resources and helping people achieve healthy work opportunities."

Word of mouth helped her expand her connections and business clients for contract labor far beyond the entertainment business. Soon ACT•1 was supplying temporary and direct hire workers for manufacturing, pharmaceutical, aerospace, banking, insurance and telecommunications companies.

Bryant Howroyd had an English degree from North Carolina A&T, but she found that her business acumen had more to do with her love for organization than her skills with written words. She attributes those organizational skills to her parents, who, with love and high expectations, successfully ran a home with 11 children.

ACT•1 now has eight members of the Bryant family working in various capacities. They all came aboard long after they had enjoyed success in other corporations around the country, she quickly explains. Her brother Carlton, a vice president of the company who has a financial background and interest in systems designs, helped develop software that allows companies to remove much of the manual processes associated with paying people.

She points out that the software program and others have helped ACT•1 take advantage of technology to remain current in helping clients with the bottom line.

Bryant Howroyd has an 18-year-old daughter, Katharyn, at the University of Southern California and a 17-year-old son, Brett, in high school. Both helped their mother get ACT•1 off the ground. Her husband, Bernard Howroyd, is also an entrepreneur who runs his own company in the L.A. area.

Eighty percent of Bryant Howroyd's time is spent outside the office cultivating and expanding her business relationships. She has received numerous business awards from various organizations and wants to use the attention lavished on her to encourage Black youngsters to focus on education.

The business is far more competitive than when she first entered it, she recalls. But she manages to keep ACT•1 at the forefront. "I always surround myself with the best people." Now, she spends both professional and personal time pushing Black youngsters to focus on education.

Looking back on her 24 years in the business, Bryant Howroyd says family and education helped her most, and that she believes those factors can help other women to achieve their goals.

Deryl McKissack Greene
McKissack & McKissack of Washington
Washington, D.C.

SHE was making a lot of money as executive assistant to the president of Howard University. But when she left to start her own architectural firm, Deryl McKissack Greene made only $ 3,000 during her first year of business and had to use her parents' credit card to buy groceries. "I cried every day," McKissack Greene recalls. "I had a bottle of Visine in my glove compartment because I didn't want my employees to see that I had been crying."

But hard work and persistence paid off in the end, and now McKissack & McKissack of Washington is a $ 20 million operation that handles more than $ 3 billion worth of projects within the Washington, D.C., area. A product of the famous McKissack family, which has run the Nashville firm of McKissack & McKissack since 1905, McKissack Greene has taken a family tradition started nearly a century ago and built one of the most prominent architectural firms on the East Coast. "I'm glad I did this by myself," says the company's president and CEO. "This is all mine. I can do what I want to do with this."

After graduating from Howard University with a civil engineering degree in 1983, McKissack Greene worked as an engineer and a construction manager before returning to Howard in 1988. As executive assistant to the president, she managed the 133 buildings and facilities on the university's Washington, D.C., campus and a capital budget of $ 200 million.

When she left Howard in 1990, she received a number of job offers, but none of them excited her. That's when she decided to start her own business with just $ 1,000. Though her background was more in engineering than in architecture, she banked on her family's reputation, which goes back five generations, to the pre-Civil War 1800s and rural Tennessee.

McKissack Greene started her architectural firm in 1990, at a time when Washington, D.C., had a miniscule construction industry. There was one building in the city under construction and all the major companies in the area were either downsizing or going out of business, she says. Seeing this as a perfect opportunity to grab immediate business, McKissack Greene compiled a list of 150 contacts. Her first contract was a $ 5,000 project for Georgetown University, which she got through a contact from her old position at Howard. Georgetown continued to give her projects.

Little by little, McKissack Greene received more work with different colleges. But running a business costs money. After paying business expenses and salaries, McKissack Greene's take-home that first year was $ 3,000. She managed a way to live that first year, with the help of friends and family. Hairdressers styled her hair for free. Friends paid for meals.

McKissack Greene's business grew consistently -- she made $ 6,000 her second year and $ 27,000 the third year -- before she scored her biggest contract. After she began to receive contracts for federal projects, the young entrepreneur met with then-Secretary of Treasury Robert E. Rubin for lunch in 1994. After that meeting, she either called the office or visited the Treasury building every two weeks for the next two years, asking to work on a project. Finally, the department relented and gave her a $ 200,000 project to review designs.

McKissack Greene's timing was perfect. The day after she signed her contract with the department in June 1996, she received a call from the U.S. Secret Service. The Treasury building was damaged by fire and they needed her at the site. By 6 a.m. the next day, McKissack Greene had been put in charge of the cleanup, a $ 10 million project. The firm worked around the clock and completed the assignment in three months. Because of that effort, her company was hired to manage the renovation and restoration of the Treasury Building, a $ 200 million project. "That really turned my company around," McKissack Greene says.

During this prosperous time, McKissack Greene married Washington entrepreneur Marion (Duke) Greene, who also serves as the firm's executive vice president. The firm also has other high-profile assignments, including the new Washington Convention Center and a new headquarters and laboratory facilities for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Now that her company is doing so well, McKissack Greene says her next step is to make the McKissack & McKissack name recognizable on the regional level within the next two to three years, and hopefully to become national in five years. In order to do that, McKissack Greene says the firm needs to earn revenue of more than $ 100 million and expand into other cities.

Shirley L. Gross-Moore
Barrington Dodge, Barrington, Ill.

When Shirley L. Gross-Moore moved into the driver's seat at Barrington Dodge in November 1988, some people said she would last only six months; others didn't give her that long. Now, over 13 years later, Barrington Dodge in suburban Chicago has not only survived, it has thrived. Moore has expanded to a second location nearby, and Barrington Dodge is now a Five-Star dealer, the highest ranking possible from the manufacturer.

Moving from low expectations to the highest standard of excellence in the male-dominated world of automobiles has been gratifying for Moore. "It's quite a feeling of accomplishment knowing that you've done this in a predominantly male world," says the stylish Moore in an office filled with various plaques and awards. "I don't see why any woman can't do this; all it takes is some hard work and common business sense."

A native of Detroit, Moore attended Wayne State University and worked for the Internal Revenue Service for 11 years. It was through this experience at the IRS that Moore first thought of the idea of business ownership. But it was running an accounting firm -- not owning a car dealership -- that she initially had in mind. Moore wanted to help small minority businesses with their accounting procedures through her own business.

But her life dreams took a dramatic turn in 1986 while she worked as the public affairs director at a Detroit television station. A fellow student in a graduate class at Central Michigan University suggested that she look into the dealer development programs offered by the Big Three automakers: Chrysler (now DaimlerChrysler), Ford and General Motors.

Moore says the Chrysler program attracted her because of, at that time, its small class size and the guarantee that graduates would be placed with a dealership. She attended the program for two-and-a-half years and was trained in all aspects of the operation, including the "dirty work."

Moore arrived at Barrington Dodge as the general manager in November 1988 and served in that capacity for two years. She successfully completed her purchase of the dealership in 1995. What was at first a struggling business in one building with a staff of 21 that sold an average of 45 cars per month became a top-notch dealership with two locations, 50 employees and an average of 145 cars sold per month. The company had an estimated $ 63 million in sales for 2001.

"[I accomplished that] by working unbelievable hours and constantly striving to get the best people available," Moore says. "The people make the difference. Longevity makes a difference as well. After you've been here so long, you gain credibility . . . There was a lot of hard work, but we turned it around. By giving my employees responsibilities and expecting great things from them, I get those things from them."

Moore's day-to-day responsibilities are managing what she calls a "wonderful staff," holding management meetings once per week, signing the ever-important checks and coordinating the overall functions of the dealership. She has served on numerous local boards and regularly attends seminars to stay updated on changes in the community and the industry. Moore was also the first Black chairperson of the Barrington Chamber of Commerce.

Moore believes any woman can be a viable CEO as long as she is prepared to do serious work toward completing that goal. All roads begin with education, says Moore, who has two business administration degrees: a bachelor of arts from Wayne State University and a master of arts from Central Michigan University.

"The first thing a person should do is to get all of the education [she] can," she says. "It's important that you have knowledge in so many areas to operate a business, whether it is small or large."

Establishing good credit to greatly improve the chances of securing a loan, researching the potential market and having faith are also important in starting a business, Moore says.

Once the business is up and running, it's just the beginning. "I am constantly looking for new ideas and new ways to improve our business," Moore says. "That's a very important part about being a CEO: to be a visionary, looking to see what it is out there, what we can do and how we can improve our business."

For the past 13 years, that vision has kept Rams, Durangos, Dakotas, Neons and other vehicles rolling briskly out of Barrington Dodge.

Saundra B. Parks
The Daily Blossom, New York City

AT one point when New Yorker Saundra B. Parks was working out of her apartment, trying to get her floral design business off the ground, her best friend fell asleep on the couch with her coat on. Flowers need cold air, and the whole apartment had been refrigerated to protect the delicate petals and blossoms.

It is that type of support and sacrifice from family members and friends that Parks, who is single, credits with helping her get where she is today -- owner and president and CEO of The Daily Blossom, a high-end floral design firm that boasts an A-list of celebrity clients, including Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, Eddie Murphy and Jay-Z. "I was really raised to be an entrepreneur," says Parks, whose father built his own landscaping business. "And it was just natural for me to go into flowers."

It was roughly 12 years ago that Parks stepped off the corporate ladder at her father's urging and went into the "emotions business" of flowers. In starting her company, Parks, a Vassar College graduate, read everything she could about flowers, took a course in floral design at New York's Botanical Gardens and used her advertising and marketing background to peddle sumptuous floral arrangements and original designs.

Today, flowers are flown in from all over the world, including such exotic locales as the Netherlands, France, New Zealand, South Africa and Italy, to create designs that have been called simple, sexy, masculine when necessary, and even traditional when the client makes such a request. Parks won't divulge how much her business is worth.

The Daily Blossom also designs centerpieces, table settings and decorations for special events, such as Toni Morrison's 70th birthday party and Spike Lee's wedding. Parks and her staff of 15 (usually doubled during the holidays) are often hired to create the whole mood and ambiance for such occasions. "For us, every arrangement that we do has a personal style," says Parks during a phone interview from the company's headquarters, a production loft with administrative offices (a retail boutique is located in Midtown). "Part of the success of this business is understanding the culture of the client."

The hardest part about starting The Daily Blossom all those years ago was standing out in New York, a "tough city" with a reputation for having some of the best products and services you can find. Parks' goal was to begin with corporate clients and build a reputation for on-time delivery, staying open late to fill a last-minute order, and just exceeding expectations. "It was about getting out there every day, breaking down the barriers," says Parks, who has also designed for American Express and Philip Morris. "We want to make our client get a rave phone call from a friend the next day."

Parks feels that what makes her designs stand out are surprising color, texture and accessories -- color where you would normally see something in white, bark where you would expect a baby's breath or fruit where you would expect flowers. People always want to be surprised or caught off-guard by an arrangement, Parks says, and that's what she tries to do. She brings "style into your home."

The Daily Blossom recently started a basket line and is looking to expand to the home luxury and candle and fragrance business. Parks also wants to open shops in other areas of the country and do more work in the entertainment industry. "Floral design is really a reflection of emotion and feeling," says Parks. "Flowers punctuate people's lives . . . and at the end of the day, people feel good."

Louise Todd
FINE ARTS by TODD, Atlanta

WHEN Louise Todd was a young girl in Glendale, Ohio, she was always making money -- cleaning homes, mowing lawns, babysitting, typing resumes and church bulletins, and sewing wedding gowns.

Family members told Todd that she was just like her father, a man who held down three or four jobs at a time to support his family -- a man who died when she was just 2 years old.

"My family always said, 'You're just like your Daddy,'" says Todd, whose life after her father's death was extremely difficult. "I liked having little jobs in the community . . . I loved having my own money. I didn't realize that I was being an entrepreneur."

The love of doing things her way -- of having her own money -- has manifested itself in Fine Arts By Todd, one of the country's leading publishers and distributors of African-American art.

"It's been wonderful," says Todd, who started collecting art in the 1960s, shortly after she started working as a stenographer for Andrew Jergens Co., right out of high school. "I can remember when many galleries wouldn't even look at African-American artists."

Acquiring a taste for Black art through her travels and friendships with various artists, Todd, the company's founder, president and CEO, started selling artwork part-time out of her home in 1983 by investing $ 50,000 of her retirement funds and profit sharing from her then-employer, Procter & Gamble, and published and sold prints of new artwork.

With the profits, Todd left her job at the Fortune 500 company and leased a 10,000-square-foot warehouse, which she converted into administrative offices, a gallery, distribution center and frame shop, the last of which is managed by her partner, James Evans.

Fine Arts by Todd has showcased proven artists such as the late William Tolliver as well as emerging artists such as Tolliver's stepbrother, Kenneth Humphrey, Latrell DuBose, Lee White, Alfred Gorkel and Charles Bibb. "Initially, as a publisher-distributor, we looked for talent," says Todd, who mentors young artists. "Now, talent looks for us."

The company was flying high, with reported revenues of more than $ 500,000 in 1997 and roughly $ 750,000 the following year.

When the economy slowed down, the demand for luxury items declined, and Todd was forced to close the retail portion of her business in 2000. "Art is a luxury product, so it's not something people really think they need," says Todd, a divorced mother of one adult son, Eric. "The biggest challenge is to show people how important art can be."

This time, though, people showed her. Loyal customers from the Afrocentric art gallery asked her to reopen, to try again. Last year, she found a different, smaller location with more retail traffic and not only reopened the gallery, but maintained operations and administrative offices.

The new space is a cozier, more artsy incarnation of Fine Arts by Todd. "It was almost like people insisted that we stay," says Todd, who works with corporate and residential clients to build a collection of just about any art form -- paintings, photographs, sculptures and the like. "And the world tells us that they love it."

The award-winning entrepreneur supports and is a community partner in several organizations, including the Atlanta Kiwanis Club, Atlanta Business League and 100 Black Women. "Not only are we a growing business and an asset to the community, but also we're supporting the community," Todd says. "That's really important to us."

The company is looking to expand into other markets. Todd says she would like to see African-American art showcased in more corporations, more movies, television shows and special events. She wants more people to view art as an investment in our culture.

And so this business-minded woman with the "soul of an artist" is still doing one thing that brings her joy and sometimes touches her so deeply that it makes her cry. "I'm an entrepreneur from my soul," says Todd. "The key to success is to bring something special. I strive to be the best."

close article[-]

CHICAGO, IL (February 2002) - Chicago Tribune: Drawing the line in interviews. [view article]

Chicago Tribune
February 20, 2002 Wednesday

Drawing the line in interviews

By Jacqueline Fitzgerald, Tribune staff reporter.

The next time you interview for a job, think twice about revealing personal information.

Debra Condren, principal of, says being too open often works against a woman. "Too many women believe that if they don't expose work, family and personal priorities, they are cheating the hiring person of the chance to make a fair appraisal. In fact, they are cheating themselves out of a fair chance to compete for a job."

Condren says she once coached a woman who was up for a promotion and decided not to disclose that she was pregnant. When her supervisor later learned about the pregnancy, she let other staffers know that she thought the newly promoted woman had hidden information that could have affected the promotion decision.

This, Condren says, "is emblematic of a discrepancy between a stated family-friendly work policy and the attitudes of those who actually make hiring or promotion decisions."

She adds: "A man will not reveal any personal information that would compromise his shot at the job. He will focus on his strengths, where he shines, and on why the company needs him. A woman should employ the same strategy."

But what if the interviewer poses a personal question?

Diane Dobry, director of communications for the teachers college at Columbia University in New York, says she was once interviewed by an editor for a woman's magazine who asked Dobry what she would do with her children while at work.

"I didn't think it was an appropriate question," says Dobry, "but didn't want to get defensive and blow the interview. I told her honestly that my husband had a flexible work schedule and could be with them if he had to, and that the kids were old enough to be left alone for a few hours if necessary."

Dobry didn't get the job. While she wasn't sure that her answer had been the determining factor, she felt that "if it were a guy and he had children, there wouldn't be that question. That doesn't seem to be a concern when it's a male."

Janice Bryant Howroyd, founder of the ACT•1 staffing agency in Torrance, Calif., says she has heard similar interview stories and advises that what you reveal should depend on your own comfort level, once you have a sense of where the interviewer is coming from.

Bryant Howroyd says that if you're getting a good feeling from the person, it can behoove you to give the benefit of the doubt on the basis that he or she could be trying to obtain relevant information but is asking in a clumsy way.

"There has been a heightened sense of security since Sept. 11," she says, "and some employers may not be equipped to ask the right questions. You can give the information they need even if they ask inappropriately, once they qualify what they're trying to get at. Some questions may be inappropriate or improper but not illegal."

Say the interviewer throws out something like: "Do you like men?"

That's an odd query, Bryant Howroyd says, but the subtext may be that you would be the first woman to join a large team of men. The interviewer might consider you a great prospect and want to see how you feel about that set-up.

Before answering questions that strike you as irrelevant, try to clarify what the person is truly seeking. Bryant Howroyd suggests saying something like: "I want to be open in this interview. Can you tell me how this information will help you better understand me and what I can offer?"

Or if the question is blatantly inappropriate, you could say: "I want to be open but I'm not comfortable with that question. Can you help me to be more comfortable in answering this?"

Linda Brakeall, co-author of "Unlocking the Secrets of Successful Women in Business" (Hawthorne Press, $24.95), says it also helps to talk about your track record, with a comment such as: "I have three kids but I only missed two days of work in my last job."

She adds that a general rule of thumb for interviewing is that anything can be reframed from a negative to a positive.

Some interviewers manage to be up front without being invasive. In the five years she has been at Columbia, Dobry has been involved in many interviews. "We say there are evening hours and weekend hours," she says. "But we don't ask them how they'll manage it. It's up to them."

Some women make a choice to disclose information early on so they can gauge company culture by the interviewer's response. Pearson Brown, media relations manager for CarryOn Communication in West Hollywood, Calif., says while interviewing for her previous job at a publicity firm, she revealed that she was gay.

Brown had recently moved to California from Washington, D.C., and the interviewer had asked her how she liked Los Angeles. Brown responded that she liked it and that she had started dating someone. "I used the pronouns [she and her] and looked for a reaction."

When the interviewer said, "that's great," Brown knew it would be a good place to work.

close article[-]

TORRANCE, CA (February 2002) - New Column Features ACT•1 CEO Janice Bryant Howroyd. [view article]

TORRANCE, CA (February 2002) - Black Enterprise: Getting a Foothold on Your Career. [view article]

Black Enterprise
February 2002

SECTION: CAREER MANAGEMENT; Part 1 of a Series; Pg. 106



"ON GRADUATION DAY, I FELT THE WORLD WAS MINE," EXCLAIMS 26-year-old Brian Pittman. "The next day reality set in." Pittman, a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina with a degree in computer science, would soon be heading to Arlington, Virginia to work as a systems analyst for Network Connections, an Internet service provider.

Before attending college, Pittman focused on entrepreneurship. He had considered taking over his father's construction business. He enrolled as a computer science major, but like a typical student, he considered many different courses of study, even one in history. "[Computer science] caught my interest," Pittman explains, "but there was also all this growth in the industry. It became the major to have. It was one of those you'll-do-okay majors." These were his thoughts when he graduated in 1998 during the height of the booming tech industry. But the death of the dotcoms, the events of September 11, and this country's recession, have redirected many thoughts on career strategy. Preparing for career combat can be a harsh reality for young professionals just getting a foothold in the workplace. In a recession, keeping a job, particularly for eager and optimistic new entrants, has more challenges than ever. "It's a different world out there. Newcomers to the workplace aren't being wooed or coddled because they have B.A.s or M.B.A.s. They have to go into the workplace ready to show what else they bring to the table," explains Victoria Lowe, CEO of Alert Staffing. "And those traits have to be shown ASAP. No one has three months to get acclimated. It's get in and get to it," adds the career specialist, whose company was ranked No. 13 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list with $ 204 million in annual revenues.

But it may seem that young employees are already adjusting to that pace. A recent survey indicated that the younger an employee, the shorter their tenure at a company. The median tenure for those in the initial throes of a career (aged 25 to 34) was just 2 years and 6 months.

Pittman stayed with Network Connections only one year before he felt he had outgrown his position. He found more challenging opportunities at the Alexandria, Virginia-based engineering and systems integration company, New Age Systems, where he is presently working as a systems engineer. As much as Pittman likes his work environment, this country's economic slump is forcing him to go back to school for either a master's degree, or for advanced certification in computer science.

"I want to keep my options open," he explains. "The more education you have, the more choices you have."

"I've had friends who've gone into work at 9:00 a.m., and were headed home by 9:30 a.m. because they'd lost their jobs," he continues. "When it starts to happen close to home, it really makes you take stock of where you are."

In her assessment of the insurance companies in her area, Stacy Mitchell already knows that there are thousands of claims adjusters in Atlanta. "I know I could be replaced any day," the 30-year-old North Carolina native acknowledges. She is currently enrolled at the University of Phoenix, in an online master's degree program in healthcare management, to broaden her options in public health.

Mitchell has changed jobs several times since graduating from Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina in 1994. Her first job was with Roche Laboratories in Atlanta, where she worked processing results in the histology lab. That job lasted 7 months before she moved to occupational medicine, where she educated and offered client services -- such as worker's compensation, and return-to-work programs -- at what would eventually become Novacare Occupational Health Services. (The company was bought and sold three times during her 3-year tenure.) Frustrated with the lack of stability, she secured a position with insurance company, Crawford & Co., an international, third-party administrator, where she cut her teeth at claims adjusting. After a 2-year stint, she moved to Gallagher Bassett Services for a year and 8 months, and then applied to One Beacon which merged with what is now Montgomery Insurance.

"I would just move my boxes to another desk, another location," offers Mitchell about her surviving the buyouts and mergers, "I learned to keep my knees bent."

Both Mitchell and Pittman feel that returning to school will provide them with more flexibility and marketability in their career choices. But according to Janice Bryant Howroyd, chairman, CEO, and founder of ACT•1 Group in Torrance, California, employees with minimal years invested in the workforce need to be more specific and more detailed in their planning. She offers several key points that should be part of serious strategizing.

* Match your personal decisions to your career goals. It is very important that young professionals determine how their personal lifestyle over the next five years will impact their careers goals and aspirations, says Bryant-Howroyd. Do you live at home? Are you married or do you plan to get married? Are there children, or do you plan to have children? Are you a homeowner, or do you plan to relocate? "You also need to learn to do more with less," she offers. "Sit down and determine your expenditures on a daily basis -- everything from rent to entertainment and even toothpaste. Put it on a chart with columns and heads. What is it costing me to live? This will help you determine not just how much you spend, but trends in your spending. It may be frustrating at first," she continues, "but it will help you figure out whether you need to make a career change or a job change -- which are two different things. You may work several jobs on your way to developing your career."

* Improve your health habits. This is very important. Making sure that you are physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy will phenomenally affect your attitude and your ability to focus and perform when learning new things, or moving on to new areas

* Understand what works best for you in a business culture. Do you perform better in smaller, more independently run companies? Or larger, more corporate environments? There are advantages to both, Bryant Howroyd explains.

Smaller companies offer great learning opportunities because staffs are considerably smaller and employees usually have to perform tasks that are not specific to their jobs. "As a result, you get to talk to everybody -- from the bottom to the top -- which is where you can identify and find mentors, people who can guide you on your path. In a smaller environment, you'll probably also be more involved in external communications, which would help you develop a network," she explains. There is also less chance of being laid off in a smaller company -- particularly if you are the only one who performs a certain task.

"Large companies can offer you the opportunity to learn at your own pace," says Bryant Howroyd. You were probably hired for one particular task which could provide you the opportunity to develop outside projects. "Working for large companies also helps to build a great resume."

* Recognize that jobs don't have futures, people do. It's up to the individual to determine where you want to go with your life and how you are going to get there. "What's great about [recent graduates] is that they have wonderful opportunities to change employment, or change careers, without too much dramatic impact," she states.


Just four years ago, Adrienne Allmond was working diligently at her first gig, straight out of Howard University. It was "not what I wanted to do forever, but I'll never regret it," says Allmond, who worked as an athome companion for one year, caring for a terminally ill patient and her elderly husband. "It taught me that I wanted to help people," stresses the 26-year-old.

Before her medical stint, Allmond studied public relations at the historically black college, but found it challenging to parlay her academic training into a job in that field. She was eventually hired as a public relations assistant at Community Health Charities of Maryland (CHC), a small organization in Baltimore.

Within a year, she was promoted to manager. Standing out among a small staff of about ten, Allmond enjoyed working for a company that raised money for needy people. "I felt appreciative that I got to work in an organization that was in line with what I'd studied. I was also looking for another experience, and considering moving." When CHC under-went a restructuring and Allmond's position was phased out, she was able to find that new experience.

Allmond headed to the Big Apple, hoping to find more challenges in a bigger city. "I was out of work and it was tough," she recalls. "In college, we were taught that jobs were abundant. In New York, it seemed that you had to be part of a secret society in order to get hired. I thought that having a college degree guaranteed certain things."

"It was really discouraging at first. I interviewed endlessly," explains the Baltimore native. "I had never looked this hard for a job. Employers wanted three to five years experience. I didn't have that, but I would never have it if I didn't start somewhere." Allmond hit temporary agencies, Internet Websites, and relied on word of mouth. "Then someone suggested I go to the Urban League and meet with a career counselor." Snell King helped tailor her resume to highlight her experience in P.R., and eliminate jobs, like nursing, that were unrelated to her pursuits. "He even sent it out to his contacts," she beams.

"Finding a job, in any economic climate while you're unemployed, is an extreme challenge, but it's not impossible," states Hal Gieseking, a Williamsburg, Virginia-based career expert and author of 30 Days to a Good Job. "Connecting with an expansive support group is invaluable," says the job coaching veteran.

But there are other approaches. According to Bryant Howroyd, young professionals must understand that it is important to learn the language of their area of pursuit. Every industry has jargon. "They are not bringing a significant amount of expertise [to the position], so they have to be able to hear quickly," she says.

"New hires with little experience can identify with anxiety," Lowe insists, "but the greatest challenges facing today's new entrants to the workforce, include showing that they are aggressive, technologically skilled, adaptable, and able to multitask."

Allmond understood. She marshaled her network through friends and the Howard Alumni Association, and with King's efforts, earned a job in the charitable field at Services for the Underserved (SUS), a 22-year-old agency that offers assistance to the elderly, disabled, homeless, and terminally ill. "I went through three interviews to be a case manager, and then I was hired instead as a development associate," says Allmond who has worked with SUS for about six months now. "They noticed that I could handle multiple tasks, had excellent writing skills, was computer literate, and able to do the job of at least two people. Before, I had no choice but to be a little overworked, yet it turned out to be a blessing."

You never know what other positions are available and not advertised within a company. Your interview must show that you can handle not only the job for which you are applying, butwhatever job that may arise.

Presently, Allmond is "raising the public's consciousness about SUS's message" by planning special events that lure generous donations. Her new levels of assertiveness have her feeling more confident about her career journey.

Brian Pittman Washington, D.C.
Age: 26
Profession: systems engineer at New Age Systems
Degree: bachelor's of science in computer science from North Carolina A&T State University
Passions: travel, basketball
Diversion: was considering going back to school to get a history degree and teach
Future goal: to own his own business
Motto: "Never accept anything at face value."
Marital status: single

Stacy Mitchell Atlanta, Georgia
Age: 30
Degree: bachelor's of science in biology (pre-medicine) from Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina
Profession: claims adjuster for Montgomery Insurance
Original career plan: to be a doctor
Passions: reading fiction, listening to jazz
Survival tactic: "I'm aggressive about making a difference every day."
Badge of honor: working with a nonprofit organization, teaching HIV education
Motto: "One day at a time," and "Do it now."
Marital status: single

Adrienne Allmond New York City
Age: 26
Degree: bachelor's of arts in public relations from Howard University
Profession: development associate for Services for the Underserved
Greatest strength: "I'm an opportunist. I'm honest, optimistic, ambitious, and have a passion for life."
Life goal: to be able to have a profound impact on someone's life; to be able to open a door, give an opportunity to someone from a disadvantaged background
Motto: Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Marital status: single

close article[-]

TORRANCE, CA (December 2001) - Purple Squirrel 100 Features ACT•1 Technical and Professional Services. [view article]

Purple Squirrel
December 2001

Purple Squirrel 100 Features:
ACT•1 Technical and Professional Services
Ranking 70

Betting on Tech
by Andrea Snyder, Purple Squirrel, Dec 2001

IT staffing and services company ACT•1 Technical and Professional Services, Inc., a part of ACT•1 Personnel Services, was ranked by Working Woman magazine as the "largest woman minority-owned employment agency in the United States." The Torrance, Calif.-based company says its biggest business differentiator is the Web-based system that helps staffing clients to more efficiently track hires and billing. ACT•1 placed 70th on the Purple Squirrel 100 list.

First implemented online in 1999, the Web-based system, which is constantly being upgraded by a team of in-house IT professionals, includes a requisitions piece, an automated records keeper, an office automation piece, and an online management reports application. About 20 clients, each of which accounts for more than $1 million of revenue annually, use parts of the Java-based system. Not one client that has begun using the system has stopped, ACT•1 reports.

"In order to continue to be competitive in this industry, where our major competitors are national and internationally sized companies, and we are relatively small in comparison to the Adeccos and the Manpowers and the Volts, we’ve had to rely very heavily on our technology," says ACT•1 executive vice president Carlton Bryant. "We have put a significant amount of money toward just making sure that our technology is equal to or better than what you see out there right now. We even have the ability in our system to use biometrics," identifying employees by irises or fingerprints, since mid-year.

ACT•1 says it spends 5 to 10 percent of its annual revenue on technology development and technology training. Since the end of 1999, it has spent as much as $3.5 million on technology, mainly to develop the Web-based staffing management system and its intranet, and $2 million on training.

"How we’ve grown our company is that we’ve reinvested almost totally into our company, so that we could make what has been a slow but passionate leap into a mainstream market," says ACT•1 founder and CEO Jan Bryant Howroyd. "With-out the ability to offer Web-based services and management tools that are superior in our industry, we believe that we still would be struggling up a ladder right now as the best little minority woman-owned business in the country."

Founded in 1978, ACT•1 first serviced media executives in Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Howroyd "realized these companies were weary of flighty, star-struck applicants and she began to send talented, dependable people for interviews," the company says at its Web site. It later began providing IT contractors through ACT•1 Technical and Professional Services.

ACT•1, which provides contract, temp-to-hire, and direct hire workers, says it employs about 55,000 contractors and 400 direct hire staff through the 77 offices it operates around the country. In July 2001, the company was named Supplier of the Year by the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council. Clients include Sempra Energy, the Ford Motor Company, Health Net, and The Gap.

Online Management System

Since 1999, contractors can record billable hours on ACT•1’s online system by clicking on an icon. Some clients, like Nestle, use swipe cards, which were implemented in the early 1990s before the system went online, though data from the swipe cards is now folded into the online database. Clients authorize hours with a digital signature.

The online system includes a primary database which houses all applicant information, such as resumes and tax forms, response time metrics, subvendor data, contractor rates, and other billing information. Clients can print out management reports detailing head counts, expenditures, and other information.

"You may have allocated or budgeted a certain amount to a project," says Bryant, who is also Jan Bryant Howroyd’s brother. "You may be half of the way through the project, yet you could be three-quarters of the way through the costs." Keeping abreast of that information, updated as quickly as clients sign off on timecards, "allows a manager to perform in a proactive manner rather than a reactive manner," he says. The system is tailored to meet each client’s needs.

Technology Training

ACT•1 says that about 85 percent of training revenue is invested in direct hire employees who upgrade the company’s technology, and about 15 percent is distributed among contractors so they can keep skills up to date.

"In order for us to be on the cutting edge of technology, we have to make sure that we’re taking our existing human capital and reinvesting in them by allowing them to go and become certified in different areas, allowing them to attend seminars, et cetera, to make sure that they stay abreast of the latest technology and the best tools that are available for us so that we can remain the player that we want to be, which is the leader of the pack," says Bryant.

Some of the tools employed to maintain good relationships include asking clients to match scholarship donations and working with clients on community projects. In 2002, ACT•1 plans to begin providing IT staff to the aerospace and biomedical industries.

close article[-]

TORRANCE, CA (Nov. 16, 2001) - A new nationwide survey shows that, career-wise, Americans overwhelmingly feel risk-averse and seemingly frozen in place [view article]


Findings Show Americans Strongly United in Feeling Immobilized In Wake of September’s Tragic Events

TORRANCE, Calif. (November 16, 2001) While the nation struggles to return to some semblance of normalcy in the aftermath of September 11, a new nationwide survey shows that, career-wise, Americans overwhelmingly feel risk-averse and seemingly frozen in place.

Despite the conventional wisdom that people would begin to re-assess priorities, their working lives and the status quo in the wake of the attacks, the survey -- conducted by MarketFacts TeleNation of Chicago for ACT•1 Group, an industry leader in managed services and quality human resource solutions reveals a population not yet ready to readjust its work/life goals. The ACT•1 Career Assessment Study asked more than 600 Americans whether they plan to alter their career priorities and planning as a result of the events of September 11 or had already done so.

An overwhelming percentage of respondents across all demographic groups indicated that they have not made any changes in their career plans as a result of the attacks.

Of those surveyed, nearly 92 percent indicated that they had no plans for career changes as a result of the attack, with men (93 percent) being slightly more reluctant to make career moves than women (91 percent).  Three percent of respondents are re-thinking career options on their own; nearly two percent are reassessing career options and have already sought career planning assistance; another two percent intend to seek career planning assistance, but have not yet done so; and one percent has already made a job or career change.

Overall, the findings show that younger respondents with lower incomes, at the start of their careers and with less at stake, are the most likely to re-evaluate their career paths in light of September 11. High-income, mid-career respondents were shown to be much more cautious and likely to "hold fast" to what they have. Among industry segments, workers in construction, manufacturing and services are relatively more likely to be re-thinking their career priorities.

"These results tell us a great deal not just about the post-attack economy, but about how people react to tragedy," said Janice Bryant Howroyd, chairman, CEO and founder, ACT•1 Group. "The compelling question is, 'what is incubating in people's hearts and minds while they remain numb?' We’re not yet talking about ourselves we don’t want to think about the answers. In times of crisis, most people shudder at the idea of voluntarily inviting change.

"The overwhelming consensus clearly indicates that for so many, embarking on a new career path right now just seems too daunting, even as we’re rethinking our relationships to each other and our place in the world," Bryant Howroyd said. "The survey suggests that most people want to embrace the status quo as they experienced it prior to September 11. Familiarity gives us comfort and lets us heal on our own time."

The terrorist attacks on the United States, combined with massive layoffs, rising unemployment and the confirmation of recession all have made the world seem like a very uncertain place indeed, she noted, suggesting that the longer-term consequences could be detrimental if new opportunities are bypassed. "Combined with the specter of a nation at war, it’s hard now for many people to be aggressive in their careers," Bryant Howroyd said. "But now is not the time to freeze up in fear. And it is surely not a time to compromise who you are personally to become who you wish to be professionally."

From Attitudes to Action

Amid a raft of anecdotal accounts of business executives who want to travel less, and workers who want to telecommute more to spend more time with families, attitudes have yet to crystallize into action. According to Bryant Howroyd, worries about the war on terror have been exacerbated by general concerns about the economy and a fear that, if you lose your current job, another one may not be just around the corner.

Among the key findings:

close article[-]

SECAUCUS, NJ (Sept. 25, 2001) - ACT•1 Group announced today that it has opened a full-service branch in Secaucus and stands ready to help New York. [view article]


New Office Delivers High Quality, Full-Service Staffing SolutionsThat Keep The Humanity In Human Resources’

SECAUCUS, NJ (Sept. 25, 2001) ACT•1 Group, an industry leader in managed services and quality human resource solutions, announced today that it has opened a full service branch in Secaucus and stands ready to help New York City employees displaced by this month’s terror attacks.

Located at 200 Mill Creek Drive, the new office encompasses both ACT•1 Personnel Services and ACT•1 Technical & Professional Services. ACT•1 Personnel provides ISO 9002 certified, temporary, temporary-to-hire, direct hire, and project-based placements, as well as payrolling services. ACT•1 Technical & Professional Services offers technical and administrative consulting to clients in the areas of information technology and engineering. ACT•1 IT project areas include client server design development, software engineering and programming, application programming and implementation, Web design, system and network administration, and database development and administration.

"We are here for those who have been displaced from their jobs," said Sue Kessen, Branch Manager. "We are focusing our energies on people affected by the attacks, to get them back into the employment mainstream as rapidly as possible," she said, noting that a number of affected companies have placed employment requests on hold until they relocate and have an opportunity to take inventory.

"Once that process is completed, we anticipate that companies will need data entry clerks for the restoration effort, and the needs in information technology will remain acute for some time," she said. As part of ACT•1’s ongoing relationship with a Fortune 50 client, the new office expects to be on call 24/7 to provide emergency staffing on IT, network restoration or any level. "Even though we have yet to officially make our presence known in the New York market, we are beginning to hear from dislocated workers," Kessen said. "Our recruiters stand ready to provide career counseling and to offer referrals as needed to those displaced workers who seek additional counseling, dealing with this upheaval in their lives."

According to Kessen, "In every community in which we do business, we strive to help businesses fill their needs for talented workers and, in doing so, grow and prosper. ACT•1 does not merely offer staffing services -- we understand that making a difference in the business community involves our ability to partner with companies as a full-service human resources solution."

Relying on a proven complement of e-business tools, ACT•1 offers a diverse scope of services including web-based ordering, training programs, advertising and media production. The company’s commitment to total quality management, combined with ISO 9002 certification and the most innovative approaches to Internet recruitment and behavioral screening, enable ACT•1 to stay on the cutting edge technologically while keeping the humanity in human resources.

Among the company’s comprehensive staffing solutions is its newest consulting division, ACT•1 Technical & Professional Services, which has been designed to meet the needs of direct hire placements. Local recruiters have an established history in placing professional administrators, directors and managers in leading industries such as finance, brokerage, insurance, telecommunications, manufacturing, agriculture and aerospace.

About ACT•1 Group
ACT•1 Group services employer needs throughout California and in the metropolitan areas of Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Washington, D.C. from a network of 77 strategically positioned offices. According to Working Woman magazine, ACT•1 is the largest woman minority-owned employment agency in the United States, with major clients including Sempra Energy, the Ford Motor Company, Health Net and the Gap. In July of this year, the company was awarded "Supplier of the Year" by the GMSDC (Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council). ACT•1 employs in excess of 55,000 temporary "stars" and 400 direct hire employees throughout the United States. Supplying the demands of growth, ACT•1 Personnel is ISO 9002 Certified. With proprietary software and technology-based systems, ACT•1 has grown from a WMBE leader to an industry leader in managed services and quality human resource solutions.

close article[-]

OVERLAND PARK, KS (Sept. 24, 2001) - ACT•1 Group announced today that it has opened an ACT•1 Technical and Professional Services branch in Overland Park [view article]


OVERLAND PARK, Kansas (Sept. 24, 2001) ACT•1 Group, an industry leader in managed services and quality human resource solutions, announced today that it has opened an ACT•1 Technical and Professional Services branch in Overland Park.

Located at 6800 College Blvd., Suite 220, the new, 1,500-square foot office provides national and international placements of professional and/or executive staff on a direct hire or contract basis. ACT•1 Technical & Professional Services is a full-service IT consulting firm, offering technical and administrative consulting to clients in the

areas of information technology and engineering. ACT•1 IT project areas include client server design development, software engineering and programming, application programming and implementation, Web design, system and network administration, and database development and administration.

According to Daryl Fox, Southeast Regional Director, "ACT•1 has come to Overland Park to help businesses fill their needs for talented workers and, in doing so, grow and prosper. ACT•1 does not merely offer staffing services -- we understand that making a difference in the business community involves our ability to partner with companies as a full-service human resources solution."

Relying on proven complement of e-business tools, ACT•1’s commitment to total quality management -- combined with ISO 9002 certification and the most innovative approaches to Internet recruitment and behavioral screening -- enable the company to stay on the cutting edge technologically while keeping the humanity in human resources.

About ACT•1 Group
ACT•1 Group services employer needs throughout California and in the metropolitan areas of Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Washington, D.C. from a network of 77 strategically positioned offices. According to Working Woman magazine, ACT•1 is the largest woman minority-owned employment agency in the United States, with major clients including Sempra Energy, the Ford Motor Company, Health Net and the Gap. In July of this year, the company was awarded "Supplier of the Year" by the GMSDC (Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council). ACT•1 employs in excess of 55,000 temporary "stars" and 400 direct hire employees throughout the United States. Supplying the demands of growth, ACT•1 Personnel is ISO 9002 Certified. With proprietary software and technology-based systems, ACT•1 has grown from a WMBE leader to an industry leader in managed services and quality human resource solutions.

close article[-]

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO (Sept. 14, 2001) - ACT•1 Group announced today that it has opened an ACT•1 Technical & Professional Services branch in Colorado Springs. [view article]


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 14, 2001) ACT•1 Group, an industry leader in managed services and quality human resource solutions, announced today that it has opened an ACT•1 Technical & Professional Services branch in Colorado Springs. Former Ambassador John E. Upston, son of the late General John Upston (72nd Fighter Wing, Peterson Airforce Base), is working as a senior advisor to ACT•1 CEO Janice Bryant Howroyd in assisting with the launch of the new office.

"Over the last 23 years ACT•1 has established a nationwide presence," said Bryant Howroyd. "We now look forward to working with the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and the Air Force Association in becoming an active part of the local business community."

The new 1,200-square foot office provides national and international placements of professional and/or executive staff on a direct hire or contract basis. ACT•1 Technical & Professional Services is a full-service IT consulting firm, offering technical and administrative consulting to clients in the areas of information technology and engineering. ACT•1 IT project areas include client server design development, software engineering and programming, application programming and implementation, Web design, system and network administration, and database development and administration. Local recruiters have an established history in placing IT professionals in leading industries such as manufacturing, agriculture, aerospace and telecommunications

According to Misty Jirikils, Account Executive, "ACT•1 has come to Colorado Springs to help businesses fill their needs for talented workers and, in doing so, grow and prosper. ACT•1 does not merely offer staffing services -- we understand that making a difference in the business community involves our ability to partner with companies as a full-service human resources solution."

Relying on a proven complement of e-business tools, ACT•1 offers a diverse scope of services including web-based ordering, training programs, advertising and media production. The company’s commitment to total quality management, combined with ISO 9002 certification and the most innovative approaches to Internet recruitment and behavioral screening, enable ACT•1 to stay on the cutting edge technologically while keeping the humanity in human resources.

About ACT•1 Group
ACT•1 Group services employer needs throughout California and in the metropolitan areas of Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Washington, D.C. from a network of 77 strategically positioned offices. According to Working Woman magazine, ACT•1 is the largest woman minority-owned employment agency in the United States, with major clients including Sempra Energy, the Ford Motor Company, Health Net and the Gap. In July of this year, the company was awarded "Supplier of the Year" by the GMSDC (Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council). ACT•1 employs in excess of 55,000 temporary "stars" and 400 direct hire employees throughout the United States. Supplying the demands of growth, ACT•1 Personnel is ISO 9002 Certified. With proprietary software and technology-based systems, ACT•1 has grown from a WMBE leader to an industry leader in managed services and quality human resource solutions.

close article[-]

ATLANTA, GA (July 17, 2001) - ACT•1 Group has been named "Supplier of the Year" by the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council (GMSDC). [view article]


ATLANTA (July 17, 2001) ACT•1 Group, an industry leader in managed services and quality human resource solutions, has been named "Supplier of the Year" by the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council (GMSDC). The company received the award at the organization’s 24th annual black-tie "Sparkle" Awards Gala, held Friday, July 13, at the Omni Hotel.

ACT•1 was recognized for its contributions to economic progress in the greater Atlanta area and throughout the state, in the "class III" category, for companies with annual revenues in excess of $10 million. The GSMDC cited the company for its deep involvement with business and community organizations around Atlanta, its rapid growth and sustained profitability, and its superior service to such Atlanta-area companies as Bell South, Delta, Sprint, IBM, SunTrust, Wachovia and MCI Worldcom. ACT•1’s Atlanta offices serve the professional/technical and clerical fields.

The GMSDC certifies and matches minority-owned businesses with member corporations that are committed to purchasing goods and services from minority enterprises.

By building a talented and diverse team of experienced professionals, and by developing state-of-the-art technology to serve employer needs, ACT•1 has grown to a national network of 81 offices, with 400 company employees and annual revenue exceeding $200 million.

"GMSDC’s recognition is a tribute to the candidates and companies who work with us to help realize the organization’s mission, on the job, every working day of the year," said Janice Bryant Howroyd, ACT•1 CEO and founder. "By enthusiastically promoting the expansion of minority enterprises and by our company’s own example, ACT•1 is helping to put Atlanta to work."

In October 1993, ACT•1 received the National Minority Supplier of the Year Award from the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC). In 1999, ACT•1 became a Corporate Plus Member of the NMSDC and in 2000 the company was the NMSDC’s class III, Western Region Supplier of the Year.

Since ACT•1’s founding, Bryant Howroyd’s personal philosophy of "Keeping the Humanity in Human Resources" has moved the company into a multi-division conglomerate meeting the demands of today’s industry leaders for specialized, well-trained temporary, direct hire and contract employees. ACT•1 also distinguishes itself by providing employee pre-training to meet specific client skill requirements.

Over the years, Bryant Howroyd and ACT•1 have been active with such initiatives and organizations as the Minority Business Roundtable, Rainbow/PUSH’s Wall Street Project, the Urban League, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the National Association of Women Business Owners, the JFK School of Government, and a U.S. Department of Labor task force.

About the GMSDC
Providing a direct link between corporate America and minority-owned businesses is the primary objective of the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council (GMSDC) one of the state’s leading business membership organizations. An affiliate of the National Minority Supplier Develop Council (NMSDC) since 1976, GMSDC is one in a network of 39 regional councils across the country. There are 3,500 corporate members throughout the network, including most of America's largest publicly-owned, privately-owned and foreign-owned companies, as well as universities, hospitals and other buying institutions.

About ACT•1 Group
ACT•1 Group services employer needs throughout California and in the metropolitan areas of Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Washington, D.C. from a network of 77 strategically positioned offices. According to Working Woman magazine, ACT•1 is the largest woman minority-owned employment agency in the United States, with major clients including Sempra Energy, the Ford Motor Company, Health Net and the Gap. In July of this year, the company was awarded "Supplier of the Year" by the GMSDC (Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council). ACT•1 employs in excess of 55,000 temporary "stars" and 400 direct hire employees throughout the United States. Supplying the demands of growth, ACT•1 Personnel is ISO 9002 Certified. With proprietary software and technology-based systems, ACT•1 has grown from a WMBE leader to an industry leader in managed services and quality human resource solutions.

close article[-]

  • Largest US Staffing Firm 2018