The blue textile pattern above is Makeba’s favorite design of Kente cloth called, “Adwinasa”, which means “all motifs are used up.” The cloth was created in an attempt to please the Asentehene King of Ghana. In the creator’s effort, he used all the motifs known to the Asante weavers in one cloth. The pattern was thus viewed as one of the top quality, and the most prestigious of kente cloths woven exclusively for Asante Kings. It was in the past, worn by kings and people of high status and wealth. It symbolizes creative ingenuity, innovation, excellence, wealth, and superior craftsmanship. It is significant because it tells a story of how no single thread in a cloth or tapestry can become beautiful without the others. Much like the work that Makeba does in developing organizations—not one individual, department, nor single entity can be effective and innovative without connecting with the other. It is the diversity within the single thread that, once joined together, you get the best product, work, design, team and organization.
Makeba Clay is a dynamic and engaging global leader. She is a notably sought out speaker, trainer, author and consultant who has worked for over 20 years with leaders in the federal government, local and state government, non-profits and educational institutions. Makeba has the innate ability to connect with individuals (senior executives, mid-level supervisors, and entry level staff) to effectively develop and deliver coaching, training and organizational change strategies that build and sustain a more inclusive workforce. She is the CEO and Founder of Innovative Global Solutions Consulting, a management consulting firm that drives organizational change through the strategic alignment of people, processes and technological resources. She has also presented keynote addresses, lectures and workshops at local, state, national and international conferences on issues related to diversity and inclusion, educational equity, women’s leadership, social justice, and organizational change.
She maintains Board leadership and/or professional affiliations with numerous organizations; among them, United States Women Chamber of Commerce (USWCC), Women Business Owners of Montgomery County, The Maryland Black Chamber of Commerce, The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Hostelling International (HI USA). Makeba enjoys international travel, culinary arts, interior design, special event planning, mentoring young girls and women, and reading on a wide range of topics. She resides in Montgomery County, Maryland with her spouse and daughter.
Makeba is also a philanthropist who actively pursues opportunities to be civically engaged in humanitarian causes in both her local community, as well as other parts of the world. Recently, Makeba spent time in Ghana immersed in the West Africa Farmer-to-Farmer Program, supported by USAID and administered by ACDI/VOCA, a leading Washington, DC-based international development organization. Over the past 40 years, ACDI/VOCA has mobilized 12,000 skilled professionals as international volunteers to build the capacity of developing countries’ agricultural, business, and nonprofit sectors.
The program was designed to engage professionals in impactful, skills-based international volunteer assignments in the developing world. The assignments represent unique professional development and corporate social responsibility opportunities and are developed and managed by ACDI/VOCA. Volunteers are selected based on their skill sets and assignment needs. While in Ghana, Makeba spent her days training over 100 farmers and aggregators on effective methods for strengthening their business operations.
“Ghanaians are known for their hospitality and also for their deep value of relationships. Based on this, there tends to be a level of informality and a lot of trust that goes into their business practices. These factors, along with a reluctance to disappoint or upset members of the community, has created challenges with adherence to firm contract management practices.” Makeba said in a blog post documenting her impactful experience.
“I have been very impressed by the dedication of the training participants. For example, each day that I arrived at the TEMTA Headquarters there were already several farmers there to make sure everything would be set up perfectly for the training session. They also spent their free time reminding other farmers about the training and encouraging participation…at one training, a number of women in attendance were quite vocal in their desire to become more engaged in leadership roles within the organization and hoped that the training would help build their confidence toward that end. Although there was a moment of dissension among the men regarding some of their statements, due to cultural traditions, there was still respect for the opinions of the women.”
This is just one of many philanthropic efforts undertaken by Makeba. Some others include her commitment to the advancement of women and children through education and entrepreneurship. For over 15 years, she has supported the educational and healthcare needs of children in developing countries as well as sponsored several business start ups for women, Her most recent project includes the establishment of a Maternal Health and Neonatal Facility in Ghana. Makeba has also founded scholarship programs in memory of her late parents, Mr. Fred Clay and Ms. Sherrill Simon Clay, who were both committed to public service and also impressed upon her the value of education and giving back.
Sherrill’s Promise Scholarship Fund: Makeba established The Sherrill’s Promise Award in 2008 at the State University of New York at Brockport in memory of her late mother, Ms. Sherrill M. (Simon) Clay, a Brockport adult student who earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Magna Cum Laude in 1995. A high school dropout, ultimately, she was the first of 13 children in her family to graduate from college and to attend graduate school. As a child bused from Rochester to Brockport public schools, Ms. Clay developed the confidence and determination to move herself beyond life’s circumstances. As one who was fortunate enough to receive support and mentoring from others who saw promise in her, Ms. Clay was a consummate supporter of others, giving back by helping people in whom she saw promise, but who may not have realized it in themselves. The Sherrill’s Promise Award recognizes adults who have been especially successful in achieving academic excellence and demonstrating leadership, while balancing life responsibilities, professional work/career, and giving back through community service and/or civic engagement. Scholarship award winners have exhibited courageousness in their life journey, resilience in meeting academic and personal goals, and succeeded in moving beyond life’s circumstances.
Fred L. Clay Memorial Scholarship for Academic Excellence and Community Service: Makeba also founded a scholarship fund named in memory of her father, Fred L. Clay. Mr. Clay was educated in the Rocheste City School System, worked for 30 years at General Motors Corporation and dedicated his life to serving others, both formally through leadership in his local church and also informally within his community. He enjoyed architecture and landscape design, creative arts, culture and music. Mr. Clay valued education and saw it as a vehicle toward advancing oneself while also contributing to society through attained knowledge. He instilled his value of education and community service into the lives of his own children, as well as many others who were privileged to know him. The Fred L. Clay Memorial Scholarship for Academic Excellence & Community Service was established in 2015 by Mr. Clay’s family and friends to recognize college bound seniors who have demonstrated a commitment to academic excellence and also dedicated themselves to serving others. The Scholarship Fund has been administered annually through the Urban League of Rochester.
Makeba’s work has been recognized & applauded across industries for her innate ability to lead with innovation and excellence. Below is a partial list of some of the awards Makeba has received:
- Innovator of the Year Award, The League for Innovation
- Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award (HEED), INSIGHT Magazine
- Diversity Champion Award, Alliance for Workplace Excellence (AWE)
- Governor’s Volunteer Service Award, State of Maryland Commission on Civil Rights
- Service Award, St. Mary’s County Superintendent’s Diversity and Equity Advisory Board
- Honorary Member, National Society of Leadership and Success
- Visiting Scholar, Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo, Japan
- “Above and Beyond” Outstanding Volunteer Award, Gilmore Fisher Middle School
- Volunteer Award/Honoree, Aunt Hattie’s Place, Inc.
Makeba received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University at Albany, a Master of Arts degree from Bowling Green State University and has completed post graduate coursework at Seton Hall University and the University of Maryland. She is a certified mediator and holds professional certificates from Development Dimensions International (DDI) and also from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. She is founding director of both the Diversity Institute of Charles County and the Community Mediation Center of Charles County.
Makeba is the past national president of the Association of Black Women in Higher Education (ABWHE) and currently serves as a Member of the Board of Directors for Hostelling International (HI USA), Co-Chair of the Black Women’s Leadership Roundtable through the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, and Chair of the Montgomery County Alumnae Chapter (MCAC) International Awareness and Involvement Committee of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
She has also served on numerous Boards and Advisory Councils including, The Maryland Roundtable for Diversity, Future Next Corporation, the International Education Fund, Inc, Princeton in Africa, the New Jersey Chapter of the American Council on Education Network, The Maryland Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Service, Women Entrepreneurs of Baltimore (WEB), and Aunt Hattie’s Place, Inc., a residential center for neglected and abandoned young boys.
- Certificate, Diversity, Cornell University, School of Industrial Labor Relations
- Certificate, EEO/Compliance, Cornell University, School of Industrial Labor Relations
- Maryland Commission on Civil Rights Public Dialogue Facilitator
- Graduate, HERS Institute for Women in Higher Education, University of Denver
- Certified Trainer, Development Dimensions International
- Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
- United States Women Chamber of Commerce (USWCC)
- Maryland Black Chamber of Commerce
- International Leadership Association (ILA)
- International Foundation for Education & Healthcare