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Ricky Smith, executive director and CEO of the Maryland Aviation Administration,  J. Wyndal Gordon, a leading civil rights attorney and advocate, and Exelon President and CEO Calvin Butler have joined the BEYA 2024 – Welcome Back to Baltimore Committee.

It’s been more than a decade since the Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) STEM Conference was held in downtown Baltimore. Once a fixture on the city’s conference circuit, the event moved to the nation’s capital after hosting a landmark anniversary in Philadelphia, Pa. BEYA will celebrate its 40th birthday in 2026, and the Welcome Back to Baltimore Committee plans to make it a blockbuster event.

“I couldn’t be more excited to bring the conference back home,” said BEYA Conference Chairman and Career Communications Group CEO Tyrone D. Taborn. “Baltimore is known for its African-American heritage and top-tier institutions that mold the minds of Black students studying science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).”

The committee has called on the Baltimore community’s most trusted leaders and changemakers to join the BEYA 2024 Welcome Back to Baltimore Committee.

J. Wyndal Gordon, known as “The Warrior Lawyer” is a respected trial attorney and solo practitioner who represents individuals and small businesses in litigation matters. Mr. Gordon stays grounded by participating and lending his support to various local, regional, and national non-profit organizations that advance the causes of African Americans, children, and identified vulnerable populations. He sits on the Board for the Mack Lewis Boxing Foundation and sat on the board of Bluford Drew Jemison S.T.E.M. Academy for many years.


Exelon President and CEO Calvin Butler, who leads the nation’s largest transmission and distribution company, is also joining the Welcome Back to Baltimore Committee.  Butler sits on  Exelon’s Board of Directors after previously serving as the company’s chief operating officer. Headquartered in Chicago, Exelon serves more than 10 million customers in Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, the District of Columbia, and Maryland. As the former CEO of Baltimore Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of the Exelon Corporation and Maryland’s largest gas and electric utility, Butler was responsible for implementing the utility’s strategic priorities.

Ricky Dorell Smith was appointed executive director/CEO of the Maryland Aviation Administration (MAA) on July 10, 2015. Mr. Smith is responsible for the management and operations of Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI Marshall), Martin State Airport, and regional aviation activities throughout the State of Maryland. Mr. Smith, a 32-year transportation professional, returned to Maryland after serving as CEO of the Cleveland Airport System, which includes Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and Burke Lakefront Airport. In addition, he was responsible for overseeing the development and management of the City’s lakefront properties.

Since returning to BWI Marshall, Mr. Smith has led the airport to five (5) consecutive record-setting years for passengers including restoring BWI Marshall as the busiest airport in the Washington/Baltimore region and the Best Airport in North America for Customer Service according to Airport Council International. Establishing a culture of performance, customer service, safety, and innovation, the airports have received several other national and regional awards for customer service, capital development, and marketing including two Emmy Awards in 2018 and 2019.

In 2017, the LaunchPad program was started to enable minority-owned micro-businesses the opportunity to participate in BWI Marshall’s thriving food and retail program without barriers to entry. In 2015, he launched the BWI Marshall Summer Youth Initiative aimed at introducing youth in Baltimore City to careers in aviation and transportation. To date, over 100 youths have participated in this program.

Prior to his service in Cleveland, Mr. Smith served as the chief operating officer for the MAA, where he helped lead BWI Marshall Airport through a $2 billion expansion program, increased air service throughout the world, and the creation of a new food and retail program.

Prior to returning to the MAA, after a two-year departure, Ricky served as the Deputy Administrator for the Maryland State Highway Administration. In addition, he served in the private sector for several years with International Business Machines, H&R Block Business Services, The May Company, and others.

Ricky holds an accounting degree from Howard University and an Executive MBA from Loyola University in Maryland. He is a graduate of several leadership programs, including the Greater Baltimore Committee and Leadership Cleveland. He is active on several national and local boards and industry associations including the Airport Minority Advisory Council where he serves as Board Chair, the American Association of Airport Executives, Greater Washington Board of Trade, Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) Board of Directors, the BWI Business Partnership, World Trade Center Institute, Greater Baltimore Urban League where he serves as Board Chair, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture where he serves as Vice Board Chair, and the Morgan State University School of Communications Board of Advisors.

He has been recognized as the ‘Best State Executive for Minority Business Enterprise’ by the Maryland Washington Minority Companies Association (2022), ‘Leon C. Watkins Guardian Award’ recipient by Airports Council International/North America (2020), ‘Man of the Year’ by Women Transportation Seminar (2019), ‘Leadership in Excellence’ by Leadership Anne Arundel (2019), ‘Power 10 CEO’ by the Baltimore Business Journal (2018), ‘People Who Move America’ by the Boys Scouts of America (2018), ‘Thomas G. Newsome Founder’s Leadership Award’ by the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (2018), ‘Influential Marylander’ by The Daily Record (2017), the Maryland Washington Minority Companies Association ‘Black History Hero’ award (2017), ‘Most Influential CEO in Northeast Ohio’ by Crain’s Magazine (2014, 2013), ‘National Executive of the Year’ by the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (2010), and ‘Congressional Achievement Award’ from Congressman Elijah Cummings (2006)

The Story of BEYA

Since 1986, more than 10,000 men and women have been nominated for the awards. In 1987, the Black Engineer of the Year Award (BEYA) Conference was first held in Baltimore, Maryland. Since then, more than 900 people in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers have received category awards, and 37 have been selected as Black Engineer of the Year. The BEYA Conference has also exposed 100,000 middle-, high school, and college students to professional role models in STEM.

The BEYA Conference took place in Washington, D.C., for the first time in 2011. For the 2012 conference, Philadelphia, Pa. was the host city. The conference returned to the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in northwest D.C., in 2013. To mark 30 years of bringing together thousands of scientists, engineers, educators, and corporate leaders to ensure that the African-American community plays a leading role in our nation’s STEM competitiveness, BEYA was back in Philadelphia, Pa., in 2016.

The event is scheduled to return ‘home’ to Baltimore, with BEYA2024 at the Baltimore Convention Center. This event will bring more than a $20M economic impact to the Baltimore area.

Hosted by Career Communications Group, Inc’s US Black Engineer magazine, the Council of Engineering Deans of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Lockheed Martin Corporation, the 37th annual BEYA STEM Conference takes place at a time when experts are calling on governments around the world and businesses to shape societies that will benefit from the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The BEYA STEM Conference is produced by Career Communications Group (CCG), a leader in diversity, working with all types of companies to support them in promoting multiculturalism and gender equity in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. For 37 years, the BEYA STEM Conference has been a leading event for professional development, networking, and providing a resource for empowering minorities. For more information about the BEYA STEM Conference, visit www.beya.org.

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