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Six students named Dr. William F. Pickard Scholars

Ohio State alumnus is building tomorrow’s innovators

William F. Pickard, who earned his Ph.D. at Ohio State in 1971, is known for his business success, civic leadership and philanthropy. He is the founder, chairman and CEO of Global Automotive Alliance, a Black Enterprise Top 100 industrial/service company that is recognized as the first minority-owned vendor group to supply plastic parts to the top three U.S. automakers.

Recently, he extended his generosity and support to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center and Todd Anthony Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male (BNRC) with a $75,000 gift over the next two years.

Pickard donated his first major gift to Ohio State to create the Dr. William F. Pickard Scholars Program, which will develop student leaders with an interest in social, educational, political, communal and economic issues affecting African American communities. The program will offer short courses, an independent study project and other professional development opportunities.

“I am elated that Dr. Pickard decided to invest in our students who have close ties to the Hale Center and the Bell National Resource Center. His investment is likely to pay major dividends in the lives of the students, as well as the African American community at-large,” says Dr. James L. Moore III, vice provost for diversity and inclusion, Ohio State’s chief diversity officer and executive director for the BNRC.

Larry Williamson, director of the Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center, echoes Moore’s sentiments. “Dr. William Pickard embodies the true spirit of uplifting his community. He, as a shining example and through his funding opportunities, inspires both young men and women to reach the apex of their destinations throughout the nation.”

In addition to his business interests, Pickard has served on numerous boards of directors, such as the Greater Detroit Chamber of Commerce and Booker T. Washington Business Association. He also has donated to a variety of museums, universities and organizations, such as the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and the William F. Pickard Business Scholarship at Grand Valley State University supporting first-generation students.

In autumn 2018, students applied and interviewed to be a part of 2019 inaugural cohort of scholars.

This year’s six participants include:

Name: Michael Davis | Rank: 3rd year | Major: social work
Hometown: Marion, Ohio
Career Aspirations: To become a social worker who works with at risk-youth on a one-on-one setting. I also want to create my own after-school program for at-risk youth.
Topic: Mentoring and skill development for at-risk youth.


Name: Kenya Gray | Rank: 3rd year | Major: civil engineering
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Career Aspirations: To start my own black engineering firm.
Topic: Mental health and its effects on Black communities.



Name: Donovan Hampton | Rank: 3rd year | Majors: sociology and African and African American studies 
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Career Aspirations: To be an educator in Black studies at both the K-12 and university level.
Topic: Holistic health and well-being for Black youth in grade school.



Name: Maurice Lathan Jr. | Rank: 4th year | Major: health science with a minor in biology
Hometown: Cambridge, Ohio
Career Aspirations: To become a cardiologist.
Topic: Modeling success for inner-city Black boys.



Name: Jimmy Nash | Rank: 3rd year | Major: health science with a minor in biology
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Career Aspirations: To become a physician while obtaining a degree in public health. I would also like to start a STEM enrichment program for underrepresented students in middle and high school.
Topic: HIV/AIDS education in predominantly Black communities and educational communities.


Name: Charles (Alex) Simonich | Rank: 2nd year | Major: finance
Hometown: Naperville, Illinois
Career Aspirations: Real estate development.
Topic: Strengthen the social infrastructure for Black LGBTQ men.


This spring, the inducted scholars will expand their awareness of the barriers facing African American communities, specifically concentrating on areas that they identified as having a personal connection. Those topics include: mental health, mentoring Black youth, HIV and AIDS education, and the social infrastructure for Black LGBTQ men.

Moore says, “We are fortunate to have generous alumni donors, such as Dr. Pickard, who value our work at the Hale Black Cultural Center and Todd Anthony Bell National Resource Center.”

When the program finishes at the end of the spring 2019 semester, the Pickard scholars will provide a visual presentation detailing their topic, address how their issue is affecting the community, and propose an initiative designed to combat the issue.