Byron Love, UEDC President
Byron Love serves as president of Unity Economic Development Corporation (UEDC). He is a founding UEDC board member and has served the organization in various roles.
Mr. Love is the senior director of IT for Intrepid Solutions and Services, Inc. He has more than 31 years of experience in information technology services. Mr. Love has led multi-million dollar projects and programs at more than a dozen government organizations. He retired from the Air Force Reserves as a communications and information systems officer after 21 years of service on active duty and in the reserves, rising through the enlisted and officer ranks to become a major.
Mr. Love holds an MBA from Averett University, a B.A. in computer science from Thomas Edison State College, and two associate degrees. He holds Program Management Professional (PgMP), Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), CompTIA Project+, Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Foundation, and Toastmasters Competent Communicator certifications. He is one of very few people in the world with both PgMP and CISSP certifications. Mr. Love is the author of IT Project Management: A Geek’s Guide to Leadership, published by CRC Press in 2016.
Theorious “Thee” Hickman, Immediate Past President
Theorious “Thee” Hickman joined the UEDC Board of Directors in 2006 and is the immediate past president.
Ms. Hickman is a licensed independent clinical social worker. She is currently employed at the University of Maryland, School of Social Work as a field liaison. With an extensive background in criminal justice, management, training and program development, Ms. Hickman is committed to empowering others to achieve their goals.
Nickisha Shell, Vice Chairman
Nickisha Shell joined the UEDC Board of Directors in 2014 and serves as vice president. Ms. Shell has had an interest in service, community, and economic development for decades. As such, she has great interest in furthering the cause of UEDC and the communities served. For more than three years, Ms. Shell has served as second vice president with the Annapolis Road Inner Beltway Alliance (ARIBA), a 501(c) (3) nonprofit community development corporation formed out of a Commission 2000 study focused on transit-oriented and community development along the inner beltway corridor of Annapolis Road in Prince George’s County. Ms. Shell’s community service also includes peer reviewer for the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations.
Ms. Shell is currently a budget analyst II overseeing Prince George’s County Public Schools’ (PGCPS) 27 high schools, four alternative schools and programs along with several divisions and central offices. Prior to joining PGCPS, Ms. Shell was a finance officer for the Center for International Private Enterprise, a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and core institute of the National Endowment for Democracy. She previously served in a number of management positions with several international nonprofit organizations.
Ms. Shell holds a Master of Science degree in organizational leadership from Nyack College and a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with specialization in banking and finance from Bowie State University. She also attended the Nonprofit Management program at Georgetown University.
Darlene Watkins, Secretary
Darlene Watkins joined the UEDC Board of Directors in 2010 and currently serves as secretary. Ms. Watkins is the assistant division chief of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Division of the Department of Parks and Recreation, Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
A graduate of Leadership Prince George’s, Ms. Watkins has held several progressively responsible positions during her 20-year tenure at the Department of Parks and Recreation.
Since being hired in 1994 as a senior center director, she was an assistant and acting director of a community center, a manager of regional recreation programs, manager of events at the State of Art Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex, a countywide arts program coordinator, and acting division chief in charge of Arts Services. In 2014, she was promoted to assistant chief of the Arts Division.
Ms. Watkins supervises the regional managers who coordinate the department’s high-quality arts and cultural heritage programs and services for artists, residents, and citizens of Prince George’s County. Also under her supervision is the department’s public art projects and the management of twelve historic properties, the Black History Program, partnerships and grants.
Ms. Watkins is a native of Rhode Island and a graduate of the University of Rhode Island where she earned a bachelor’s degree and majored in psychology.
Connie Carson-Blake, Board Member
Connie Carson-Blake joined the UEDC Board of Directors in 2016. Ms. Carson-Blake is an executive vice president with MyEcon, Inc., a personal financial success company, and an independent distributor with Premier Designs, Inc. She is also a retired supervisory investigative specialist.
Ms. Carson-Blake is an active member with the Financial Literacy Ministry at Union Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church with an objective to enrich and empower families, friends and the community through financial education.
Ms. Carson-Blake attended Spartanburg Technical and Prince Georges Community College and majored in accounting and law enforcement. She trained as My Budget Coach with the Maryland C.A.S.H. Program and has received other professional accreditations and technical certifications. In her free time, she enjoys family genealogy research.
Eric Carter, Board Member
Eric Carter joined the UEDC Board of Directors in 2016. Mr. Carter has more than a decade of community service and volunteer experience. He is an active and financial member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. – Alpha Omega Chapter. He has served as its treasurer, budget chairman, and as a member of several committees. Mr. Carter previously served as a board member for the Alpha Omega Social Action & Scholarship Foundation, a 501(c) (3) organization that provides college scholarships to African American males completing their senior year in various high schools throughout the District of Columbia. He is a mentor for the Omega Academy – a community outreach initiative whose mission is to prepare young men in grades 9-12 for life in college, career, and beyond. Additionally, Mr. Carter is a registered Girl Scout Dad with Troop #1566, located in Waldorf, Maryland.
Professionally, Mr. Carter is a senior tax accountant for a Multi-Family Real Estate Investment Trust based in Virginia. He is an enrolled agent who is federally licensed by the U.S. Treasury to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service. Mr. Carter received his Bachelor of Science degree in business administration – Banking and Finance concentration – in 2002 from Bowie State University.
Mr. Carter is married with two children and currently resides in Waldorf, Maryland.
Thurman H. Custis (TC), Board Member
Thurman H. Custis (TC) is a national business executive who is adept at building high performance cultures that produce record-setting improvements in revenue, employee engagement and client experience. Mr. Custis has a history of generating more than $130 million in revenue throughout his career and has led more than one firm to 30 percent annual growth. Mr. Custis is the author of Teen-Treprenuer, Teenager Transformed (Xulon Press), and creator of the Hip-Hopera Experience—a live hip-hop musical production. He is the proud father of two teenage daughters.
Ronald C. Hill, Board Member
Ronald C. Hill joined the UEDC Board of Directors in 2013. Mr. Hill has practiced law in the District of Columbia and the state of Maryland for more than 35 years. He has served as legal counsel to small profit and non-profit community businesses.
Kimberly M. West, Board Member
Kimberly M. West joined the UEDC Board of Directors in 2016 and has a passion for empowering underserved communities. For the past three years, Ms. West has mentored three cohorts of women reentering the workforce serving as a career coach, mentor, and stylist for Dress for Success Washington, D.C. She is a ReStore Customer Service Representative for Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland and has helped prep homes for first-time homeowners. She also volunteers with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference.
A results-driven, seasoned communications professional with a career trajectory that spans two decades in public relations and marketing, Ms. West is an award-winning strategist who has helped elevate the brand and increased the visibility of organizations in the youth development, education, technology, and the arts and entertainment space in the nonprofit sector and agency setting. Ms. West has a proven track record of quality earned media placements at the local, national, and international levels. Ultimately, success is seeing her clients’ names in lights through proper positioning.
A proud Hamptonian, Ms. West earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in mass media arts from Hampton University. She devotes some of her time providing public relations support to the AT&T Nation’s Football Classic®, which for years has featured the Howard University Bison and Hampton University Pirates in the “Battle for the Real HU.” Ms. West resides in Montgomery Village, Maryland and is honored to call Lamar her son.