On December 6th, we learned of the unfortunate passing of Harry Alford, a member of our board of directors and President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Harry was a massively influential leader in empowering African American businesses, earning a spot at the table at the White House and within the corporate world as a voice for why black-owned businesses are an important part of the American fabric. Harry lost his wife, Kay DeBow, just months ago.
“It’s difficult to overstate the energy, passion Harry brought to discussions about business, energy, and issues of fairness. He was a real force in American public policy discourse who won’t soon be forgotten,” says Energy Fairness Executive Director Paul Griffin. “We value the service he gave to us as a board member and will miss him. Our thoughts are with his family and friends as they deal with this loss.”
Harry was born in Oxnard, California, and was a football star, playing linebacker at Ventura Community College and the University of Wisconsin. He was a wartime veteran, earning top honors as Company Commander in the Army’s Officer Candidate School class of 1972. As a Second Lieutenant during the Vietnam Era, Harry served as a race relations instructor, accountant, and finance disbursing officer, receiving the National Defense Service Medal.
After his military service, Harry took a series of sales and executive positions at Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, and Sara Lee Corporation. Later, he worked as Deputy Commissioner for Minority Business Development for Indiana. During that time, Harry and his wife, Kay, saw the need for an organization that could serve to empower minority-owned businesses and create opportunities for businesses that often went overlooked. They formed the National Black Chamber of Commerce, an organization that for decades has been a leading force in shaping the American economy and the role of minority businesses within it.
“The world is different and better because of the work Harry and Kay did through the National Black Chamber of Commerce,” says Energy Fairness Board Chairman Cline Jones. “It was an honor to work alongside Harry on various issues and our prayers are with his loved ones.”