Shawn M. Graham, CPA, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, RICE and Monica Delores Hooks, MBA, EDP, as Chief Experience Officer, RICE

RICE Announces Strategic Leadership Additions

ATLANTAMarch 28, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — The Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs (RICE), the largest center in the world dedicated to growing, scaling, and developing Black entrepreneurs proudly announces the strategic enhancement of its leadership team with two distinguished professionals, Shawn M. Graham, CPA, as Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer along with Monica Delores Hooks, MBA, EDP, as Chief Experience Officer. Their collective expertise and proven track records are poised to propel RICE and its mission of fostering entrepreneurial excellence further.


Monica Delores Hooks: Transforming Entrepreneurship with Global Insight


Monica Delores Hooks brings an impressive background marked by transformative leadership in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, most notably with the Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI). Her efforts have generated significant capital and job creation, underscoring her ability to impact the global business landscape. With deep Atlanta roots and extensive international experience, Monica Delores is uniquely positioned to elevate RICE’s community with unparalleled resources and opportunities.

Atlanta instills a profound sense of pride and responsibility,” says Monica Delores. “At RICE, we’re building a community that provides founders with the comprehensive support I once only dreamed of. It’s an honor to contribute to the narrative of Black excellence and innovation in the city that shaped me.”

Shawn M. Graham: Amplifying Operational Excellence

Shawn M. Graham comes to RICE with a wealth of experience in finance, strategy, and community engagement. Her background illustrates a deep commitment to growth and inclusivity, with previous roles that include significant achievements at the National Black MBA Association, Inc. (NBMBAA). Shawn’s expertise will enhance RICE’s operational and financial frameworks, ensuring a robust foundation for entrepreneurs.

“I’m thrilled to lend my skills to RICE’s empowering mission,” Shawn expresses. “Our goal is to provide a solid platform for Black entrepreneurs to excel, reshaping the business landscape with innovative and sustainable strategies.”

A Vision for the Future

James “Jay” Bailey, President and CEO of RICE, highlights the strategic significance of these appointments. “Monica Delores and Shawn are key to elevating what we do best; supporting and empowering entrepreneurs. Their arrival marks a milestone in our journey to redefine entrepreneurship through innovation and inclusivity.”

As RICE embarks on this new chapter, Monica Delores Hooks and Shawn M. Graham are set to leave an indelible mark on the entrepreneurial landscape. Their leadership reaffirms RICE’s commitment to diversity, empowerment, and the success of every entrepreneur in the community.About Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs (RICE)

The Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs (RICE) is Atlanta’s home for Black entrepreneurs. Positioned as a business generator, RICE serves as an economic mobility engine for the community: driving entrepreneurs and small business owners to innovate, grow, create jobs and build wealth. Inspired by the legacy of Herman J. Russell, one of the most successful Black entrepreneurs and civic leaders in Atlanta, RICE remains dedicated to its mission to Build. Black. Business. and stands as the largest center in the world dedicated to growing, scaling, and developing Black Entrepreneurs. For more information visit, download the RICE Report Volume 1, and follow @RICEAtlanta on InstagramX and @RussellCenterAtlanta on Facebook

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Shalon Brown

Terri-Nichelle Bradley

Terri-Nichelle Bradley is the Founder and CEO of Play at Brown Toy Box. Bradley believes that Black children should see themselves positively represented in every space the experience regularly, starting with their toybox and the toy aisle. Bradley, an equity in play advocate, is on a mission to disrupt the $27B toy industry by creating a brand that reflects the world we live in today. Launched in 2017 as a STEAM kit, Brown Toy Box evolved into a full-scale educational toy company producing and curating STEAM toys, media, and experiences for centering and celebrating Black children in a manner all children can enjoy, learn, and have fun. Prior to starting Brown Toy Box, Bradley led a communications consultancy working with Fortune 500 companies in campaigns designed to connect with the African American community. Prior to that, Bradley served as the VP of Corporate, Crisis, and Public Affairs for the world’s largest global PR agency. Bradley has been awarded the Civic Impact Award, was recognized as a 2019 Atlanta’s Top 100 Businesswomen of Influence by the Atlanta Business League, acknowledged on the 2020 Who’s Who in Black Atlanta list of influential leaders and most recently named to Inc. Magazine’s 2020 Female Founders 100 list. Brown Toy Box is sold in Target stores nationwide, with Amazon, over 30 museums including the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture, as well as other independent specialty toy stores and retailers. Learn more at

Stefan Miller

Stefan Miller is the Co-Founder and CMO for Young King Hair Care, which launched in December 2019. Young King Hair Care is a multicultural grooming and lifestyle brand company with tailored offerings catering to specific needs of young men of color. Stefan is a marketing professional with 15+ years of experience across marketing, sales and consulting in the CPG and tech industries. At Young King, Stefan has been featured in over 75+ national publications, was recognized by Mintel as one of the top US brand innovations of 2021, partnered with Disney and Marvel Studios for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and was a participant on Season 13 of ABC’s Shark Tank. Currently Young King Hair Care is available in multiple retail partners, including Target, Walmart, and CVS, selling in over 3,000 stores across the US. Prior to founding Young King Hair Care, he led business strategy and marketing communications, while launching innovations across multiple billion-dollar brands and categories at IBM, Johnson & Johnson, General Mills, Coca-Cola, and Red Bull. Stefan L. Miller Bio Stefan holds an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University with concentrations in Brand Marketing, Media Management and Management in Organizations, and is a proud HBCU alum of Morehouse College with a BA in Business Administration. He currently lives with his wife and co-founder Cora and 2 kids, Kade and Cree in Atlanta, Georgia. Learn more at

Ceata E. Lash

Ceata E. Lash, CEO and founder of PuffCuff has emerged as a pioneering figure in the natural hair accessory industry, holding the distinction of being the first African-American woman to secure four US patents in this domain. Her journey to entrepreneurship was built upon a 30-year career as a graphic designer, which laid the foundation for launching PuffCuff in 2013. Ceata’s innovative leadership has earned her prestigious accolades, including the President’s Innovation Award from Sally Beauty and the New Voices + Barefoot Wine Beauty Business Grant. These achievements have placed her among the top female founders featured in Inc. Magazine. Committed to lifelong learning and growth, Ceata has completed the Goldman Sachs 10K Small Businesses National Cohort and was part of the inaugural Amazon Black Business Accelerator Cohort. Her recent completion of the “Building a Successful Diverse Business” program at Tuck Executive Education, Dartmouth, further underscores her dedication to continuous improvement and leadership in the business world. Learn more at