Who We Are​

Our objective is to achieve entrepreneurial self-sufficiency and grow the number of Berkshire Black businesses by building up Black businesses so others will relocate here.
Our objective at the Berkshire Black Economic Council is to foster Black businesses and introduce policies to spur economic development in the Berkshires and the Commonwealth.
Goals

We want Black entrepreneurs and businesses to utilize our services and programming for their growth and self-sufficiency.

By encouraging economic justice and implementing new regional initiatives, we hope to open access to capital, technical assistance, and patronage. We are here to provide support to entrepreneurs and promote existing businesses. We aim to attract and inspire other Black businesses to relocate to the Berkshires.

Meet our board members

A.J. Enchill, President & Executive Director

Born to immigrants from Ghana, A.J. is a native of Pittsfield and the eldest of four brothers. A.J. is a graduate of The Governor’s Academy, where he was a dorm proctor and lacrosse captain. He went on to play varsity lacrosse at Tufts University, where he was also a Latin Tutor, and he earned a B.A. in American Studies. A.J. is a two-time National champion and facilitated class discussion for an American Studies prerequisite course called “Race in America.”

Since 2017, A.J. has performed constituent services and community outreach as the District Aide for State Senator Adam G. Hinds. He was formerly the board co-chair for Multicultural BRIDGE. He is a board member of Berkshire Community Action Council and Community Health Programs. He serves on the C4 Arts Initiative and The Executive Committee of the Berkshire County Branch of The NAACP where he serves as the Economic Development and Justice Chair. A.J. is a founder and President of the Berkshire Black Economic Council. A.J., is now participating in the Boston Fed’s Leaders for Equitable Local Economies where he, and his brother Auric, will be working to support BIPOC businesses in The City of Pittsfield by working with city and key institutions to shift approaches to small business support and purchasing.

A.J. returned to his hometown intending to impact his community in a way that inspires young folks to return to the Berkshires to strengthen the place that raised them. 

Shirley Edgerton, Vice President

Shirley Ann Session Edgerton is an Educator, Cultural Competency Trainer and Community Activist. She graduated from Herbert Lehman College (City University of New York) with a B.A., attended Atlanta University School of Social Work and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts where she completed an M.Ed.

Ms. Edgerton was employed by the Department of Development Services for twenty -one years. She served as the Berkshire County Director of the State Operated Homes for adults with Mental Retardation for fifteen years. During her tenure she attended Brandeis University & the former Department of Mental Retardation collaborative Diversity Leadership Institute. Mrs Edgerton performed duties as a Manager as well as dually trained new staff in Western Massachusetts State Operated Homes. Over the years she encountered numerous Diversity, Equity and Inclusion opportunities; including Harvard University’s Harvard Race, Equity and Leadership in Schools Institute in 2019.

Ms. Edgerton joined Pittsfield Public Schools as the first Cultural Proficiency Coach in 2015. This position includes recruitment, organizing Cultural Competency training and developing diverse learning situations for students.
She is also the Founder/Director of the Rites of Passage & Empowerment mentoring program for girls.

Mrs. Edgerton has received numerous recognitions as well as two honorary Doctorates degrees from College of Our Lady of the Elms and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts for her outstanding service to children and community. In October 2020 she received the MassInc Gateway Cities Institute Innovation Award for strategies to increase diversity amongst educators in Pittsfield Public Schools.

Alfred Sr. Enchill, Board Member

Alfred Enchill “Al”, migrated to the United States from Ghana in 1988 and lived in Bridgeport, CT. He moved to Pittsfield, MA in 1991 where he has settled since and raised his four sons, A.J., Auric, Adrian, and Alec Enchill. He attended University of Ghana, Legon and also studied Business Administration at Berkshire Community College.

He is the Owner/President of Elegant Stitches Inc. an embroidery, screen printing, and promotional product company established in 1997 and located in Pittsfield, MA. He is a founding member of United Africans of the Berkshires. Al is also the president of African Catholic Community of Saint Marks in Pittsfield, MA. A member of Knights of Columbus, Al enjoys movies, documentaries and he is an avid scrabble player.

Warren Dews, Board Member

Warren C. Dews Jr. has worked in the media industry for close to three decades. Dews has extensive knowledge in Advertising, Marketing, Sales and Operations. Dews is well regarded as a senior management professional with extensive experience in the development and leadership of core business processes; a creative problem-solver; and someone who is able to innovate strategies that increase productivity, enhance customer satisfaction, and improve cost-effectiveness. Fittingly, in 2004 Dews was named one of Press Time’s “Top 20 Under 40” by the Newspaper Association of America in the entire newspaper industry. Dews understands the importance of staying connected to his business and the community. Over the past 10 years Dews has sat on the Boards of Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Commission, Pittsfield Community TV, 1Berskhire Chamber Association and Downtown Pittsfield Inc. He currently sits on the Boards of Berkshire United Way, Boys & Girls Club of the Berkshires, Black Economic Council and the New England Association of Circulation Executive where he was named the first African American President in 102 years of the organization. Dews is currently the Publisher of two newspapers in Greenville and Ravena NY, Real Estate Sales Executive with The Kinder Group and is also the CEO of The Country Club Cigar Lounge and Dews Management Inc. In his role as DMI he manages the careers of many musical artist and other talents across the spectrum. One of his artists currently sings background for John Legend.

Dews graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Virginia State University (HBCU) in 1993. In 1988, he also graduated from the very famous “FAME” High School in New York City now called Fiorello H. LaGuardia HS of Music and the Performing Arts. In 1995, he was signed with Atlantic Records as a recording artist. He has worked with artist such as Jam Master Jay for the well-known Group Run DMC, Eddie F from Heavy D and the boys to name a few. He has also sung on stage with Billy Preston and Patti Labelle for a 4th of July celebration. Dews is also a Minister at Price Memorial AME Zion Church in Pittsfield MA. He is married to his wife Roberta and the couple has three children, Warren III, West and Kennedy.

Nyanna Slaughter, Board Member

Born and raised in the Berkshires. Nyanna has been very involved in the community with her parents Manny and Vannessa Slaughter. She grew up playing sports at the local YMCA and Boy’s & Girl’s club. She was Captain of her high school varsity sports teams. She was a member of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce Youth Leadership Program now referred to as 1Berkshire Youth Leadership Program. During her tenure at Taconic she was a part of Business Professionals of America. She was one of the first members of the Rights of Passage Empowerment Program. She graduated from the University of New Haven with a Bachelor Degree in Criminal Justice for Investigative Services with a Minor in Business Management in 2018. She was on the Basketball team for two years. Nyanna volunteered with the New Haven Reads Program to help provide literacy to elementary and middle school children. She is currently working to finish her Masters of Business Administration concentrating in Accounting from Fitchburg State University.

Nyanna worked as a camp counselor, coordinator, and co-director for the Marilyn Hamilton Sports & Literacy Program for over 7 years. She was a host at her local Applebee’s and administered drug tests and performed security work for the Berkshire Community Correction Center. She interned for the U.S. Senate her junior year of college and after graduating she joined the staff as a Staff Assistant. After six months she transitioned to the Regional Director for Western Massachusetts. She currently serves as the Regional Director for Central Massachusetts. She has been with the Senate for three years now. She is a member of the Pittsfield School Committee.

Nyanna has a heart and drive for service for her community. Nyanna is enrolled in an educational platform to bring access, exposure, and understanding to financial literacy and the foreign exchange market. She is utilizing this platform and her experiences throughout her career to enrich and empower her community.

Auric Enchill, Board Member

Auric is a native resident of Pittsfield, where his parents immigrated to from Ghana over 30 years ago and is the second eldest of four brothers. He attended the Trinity-Pawling School and Tufts University where he received his bachelor’s degree in U.S. History and earned 4 varsity letters with their lacrosse program.

He returned to the Berkshires to work for Elegant Stitches, his family’s custom embroidery and screen-printing company located in downtown Pittsfield, as their sales manager. Outside of work, he serves on the Board of Directors for the Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires, Berkshire Immigrant Center, and the Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corporation. Auric is invested in creating a more inclusive and progressive community through his professional commitments and volunteerism.

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