Who We Are

Top Notch Legal Advocates. MBE Empowerment Experts. Honest Brokers.

Our Mission

To create a world in which minority-owned businesses can grow, compete and flourish to eliminate the racial wealth gap, improve opportunities for all communities, and contribute to the strength of the nation and the global economy.

Meet the Board

Sarah von der Lippe - Pro Bono Chief Legal Counsel - Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund - MBELDEF

Don Roberts

Chairman of the Board

Monique Young - Chief Accounting Officer & Development Strategist - Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund - MBELDEF

Anthony W. Robinson

Board Member

Steven Sims - Board Member - Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund - MBELDEF

Steven Sims

Board Member

Nicholas Perkins - Board Member - Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund - MBELDEF

Nicholas Perkins

Board Member

Monique Young - Chief Accounting Officer & Development Strategist - Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund - MBELDEF

Russell Frisby

Board Member

Sarah von der Lippe - Pro Bono Chief Legal Counsel - Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund - MBELDEF

Don Roberts

Chairman of the Board

Anthony W. Robinson

Board Member

Steven Sims

Board Member

Nicholas Perkins

Board Member

Monique Young - Chief Accounting Officer & Development Strategist - Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund - MBELDEF

Russell Frisby

Board Member

Sarah von der Lippe - Pro Bono Chief Legal Counsel - Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund - MBELDEF

Don Roberts

Chairman of the Board

Anthony W. Robinson

Board Member

Steven Sims

Board Member

Nicholas Perkins

Board Member

Monique Young - Chief Accounting Officer & Development Strategist - Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund - MBELDEF

Russell Frisby

Board Member

Our Staff

Sarah von der Lippe - Pro Bono Chief Legal Counsel - Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund - MBELDEF

Sarah von der Lippe

Pro-Bono Chief Legal Counsel

Monique Young - Chief Accounting Officer & Development Strategist - Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund - MBELDEF

Monique Young

Internal Staff Accountant

Monique Young - Chief Accounting Officer & Development Strategist - Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund - MBELDEF

Jeanne Holmes

Administration Manager

Monique Young - Chief Accounting Officer & Development Strategist - Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund - MBELDEF

Ivy Simmons

Development Consultant

Sarah von der Lippe

Pro-Bono Chief Legal Counsel

Monique Young

Internal Staff Accountant

Jeanne Holmes

Administration Manager

Ivy Simmons

Development Consultant

Sarah von der Lippe

Pro-Bono Chief Legal Counsel

Monique Young

Internal Staff Accountant

Jeanne Holmes

Administration Manager

Ivy Simmons

Development Consultant

Don Roberts

Chairman of the Board

An alumnus of the Virginia Military Institute with a degree in Economics, Donald C. Roberts (Don), is the Founder, President, and CEO of Caracal, a certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) established in 2004 in Detroit.

Caracal works with companies, government agencies, and educational institutions of all sizes with particularly deep relationships in the healthcare, insurance, and financial services industries.

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Don’s career spans a period of 30+ years with a prior employment history that includes Vice President and General Manager of Michigan Operations Unisource, a Division of Georgia Pacific; Senior Vice President of Global Diversity at Unisource; Director of Sales – Great Lakes Region, Office Depot; Office Depot District Sales Manager – Indianapolis, Indiana; and Office Depot National Account Manager.

He is the founder of Caracal Academy, a year-long mentorship program for high school students that fosters basic business acumen and trains students in strategies that are necessary for personal and professional growth, as well as the LYNX Program which is a Caracal-led program that mentors MBEs in sales, marketing, finance, and MBE certification to enhance their business performance and sustainability.

Don is a member of the Board of Directors for the Charles A. Roberts and Ann E. Lamb Scholarships which is for students pursuing higher education, particularly those from underserved communities.

In 2023, Don learned about MBELDEF and immediately recognized the essential role it could play in helping to create the legal environment necessary to unleash the power and promise of minority businesses across our nation. He also saw MBELDEF’s mission as complimentary to Caracal’s ongoing efforts to build prosperity and achievement in underrepresented communities.

Mr. Roberts’ deeply held commitment to excellence transcends professional realms and is reflected in his familial and community engagements. His proven track record of success, bringing Caracal from a start-up business to a steadfast, reliable strategic business partner to the U.S. Government and multiple Fortune 500 companies, demonstrates his astuteness.

His foresight and innate talent for nurturing potential and envisioning success in individuals and ventures alike are some of his greatest attributes and distinguish him in the marketplace. Don’s biggest goal and greatest joy is to create U.S. based jobs in ANY underrepresented community providing a hand up to those who want one.

Anthony W. Robinson

Board Member

Anthony W. Robinson is an attorney focused on ensuring access to opportunity for diverse business owners. Most recently he was a Business Consultant at the Mid-Atlantic Advance Manufacturing Centre, the Capital Region Minority Business Consortium, and MBDA’s Federal Procurement Centre.

Mr. Robinson began this work in 2014. Between November 2009 and 2014, he was a Consultant to Baltimore City and the Departments of Transportation in Maryland and Missouri, focusing on the design of the state’s DBE/MBE Program.

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As a legal scholar and advocate, Mr. Robinson served as the President and CEO of the Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund (MBELDEF) in Washington, D.C. from 1984 until 2022. He led the organization as Chair of the Board until March 2023.

As President, he guided the organization to become the premier legal advocacy and watchdog entity for the minority business community. The organization’s founder, Parren J. Mitchell, the first Black U.S. Representative from Maryland, appointed Mr. Robinson to lead, sharing the deeply held belief that economic inequality is the final frontier of civil rights. They developed legally defensible MBE programs to combat racial and gender discrimination in the marketplace.

Under Mr. Robinson, MBELDEF engaged comprehensively in litigation, legislative testimony, legal education, and technical assistance to government agencies. MBELDEF played a key role in significant MBE legislation, including P.L. 95-507, P. L. 99-661, and the US Department of Transportation’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program. Mr. Robinson participated in numerous court cases, including those before the US Supreme Court, and testified before Congress on MBE issues, involving agencies such as the SBA, DoD, DOT, EPA, and GSA.

During his time as President, he mobilized public and private sectors to address policy issues affecting minority enterprises and historically black colleges. He has also advised international business organizations, including the African National Congress, Tanzania’s DOT, Zimbabwe’s Indigenous Business Organization, and Brazil’s supplier diversity program, Integrare.

Mr. Robinson’s early years in the profession informed his work with MBELDEF. From January 1975 to January 1984, he was a Partner at Singleton, Dashiells & Robinson P.A., a general practice law firm in Baltimore specializing in labor, criminal, and personal injury law, with a focus on employment and housing discrimination cases. He served as a commissioner and Chairman of the Maryland Inmate Grievance Commission from January 1976 to January 1982.

At the onset of his career, from January 1972 to January 1975, he was Associate Legal Counsel at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington, D.C., where he provided legal counsel on various litigation matters after receiving his Juris Doctorate from American University’s Washington College School of Law. Mr. Robinson remains a leader in this work as a member of the MBELDEF board mentoring the next generation of legal scholars and advocates.

He has been awarded for his work throughout his career. The awards that hold the deepest meaning for him are the Vanguard for Justice Award, Top 100 MBEs Committee ( November 2007), the Impact Award, Minority Business Input Committee (MBEIC), Chicago Minority Business Development Council ( April 2008) and being recognized as an inductee to the Minority Business Hall of Fame.

Steven Sims

Board Member

Steven Sims, a current Board Member, received both his BA and MS from Columbia University. He is a nationally recognized advocate for minority businesses and, among other roles, served as Vice President for Programs, Field Operations, and Government Relations for the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC).

His responsibilities there included the development, coordination, and implementation of programs and projects, and, where necessary, he provided technical assistance/training to the National Office as well as its Regional Councils.

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He also created and led the NMSDC Government Relations Office in Washington DC. Over many years working with MBELDEF, he and Tony Robinson were able to create synergy between the two organizations which resulted in the protection and support for minority business development around the country.

Mr. Sims also has a wealth of experience stemming from important positions in several public, private, and nonprofit entities and institutions.

Nicholas Perkins

Board Member

Nicholas Perkins, past Chairman of the Board and current Board Member, holds an undergraduate degree from Fayetteville State University and an MBA from Howard University. He is nationally recognized for his dynamic and visionary entrepreneurial leadership and has received many awards and accolades.

The son of a single mother, Perkins was only 24 years old when he founded Perkins Management Services which specializes in providing contract food service management to colleges, universities, hospitals, and the Department of Defense.

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At 40, he acquired Fuddrucker’s restaurant chain, becoming the first African American to own a nationwide burger franchise. Perkins is passionate about civil rights and is a Trustee of the National Urban League and a proud member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity.

Russell Frisby

Board Member

H. Russell Frisby, Jr. is a distinguished attorney, executive, and board member with a nationally recognized expertise in legal, regulatory, and public affairs within the energy, telecommunications, and technology sectors. He currently serves as President of The HRF Group, LLC, a consulting firm that provides strategic advice on regulatory and corporate matters.

Previously, Russell was a Partner at Stinson LLP, where he led the Telecommunications Group and co-led the State Regulated Utilities Practice Group. His board experience includes serving on the boards of Pepco Holdings, PAETEC Communications, and the American Bar Association.

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An accomplished advocate, Russell was the President of the Competitive Telecommunications Association. In this role, he was the primary spokesperson for the Competitive Telecom Industry, developing and implementing national regulatory and public affairs strategies. He also served as Chair of the Maryland Public Service Commission. His contributions to the legal field were recognized when he was named “2022 Lawyer of the Year in Administrative and Regulatory Law in Washington, DC” by Best Lawyers.

Russell has a long-standing commitment to civil rights advocacy. He represented the Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund (MBELDEF) before the United States Supreme Court in the landmark Croson and Adarand cases, as well as in lower courts for the Burger King case. For his advocacy, he was honored with MBELDEF’s Charles Hamilton Houston Award.

Additionally, he represented the City of Baltimore in successfully defending its landmark South African divestment ordinance and received an award from the Minority Media Telecom & Internet Council for his work in telecommunications.

Sarah von der Lippe

Pro-Bono Chief Legal Counsel

Sarah von der Lippe, the pro-bono Chief Legal Counsel, holds an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and a law degree from Harvard University. Ms. von der Lippe is herself a small business owner, having founded a solo civil rights legal practice devoted to defending and promoting the success of minority businesses across the nation. She is widely recognized as one of the foremost experts on the law and policy related to MBEs.

For most of the past two decades, Ms. von der Lippe has acted as the Chief Legal Counsel to MBELDEF on a completely pro-bono basis and has assisted Mr. Robinson in every aspect of operating MBELDEF as an unfunded but agile and effective legal watchdog organization.

Monique Young

Internal Staff Accountant

Monique Young serves as the Internal Accountant for MBELDEF. She has earned a BS degree in Accounting from Shaw University, an MBA from Strayer University, and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Walden University.

Ms Young enjoys working with numbers, administration, and strategic planning. In addition, she is a minority business owner as co-owner of One Accord Services, a licensed General Contractor, and Drywall & Metal Framing Subcontractor based in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Jeanne Holmes

Administration Manager

Jeanne’s current role is the Administration Manager at MBELDEF. She is an experienced leader with a demonstrated history of success. She has a proven track record of being skilled in management, mentoring/coaching, marketing, and sales.

Jeanne is a committed and dedicated professional who graduated from The University of Virginia with a degree in Psychology; and Central Michigan University with an MS degree in Administration. She is a creative thinker with a practical mindset for getting things done and applying her knowledge, skills, and abilities towards the success of the company.

Ivy Simmons

Development Consultant

Ivy Simmons is a collaborative bridge-builder whose strength lies in identifying and maximizing hidden opportunities, strategic planning, team building, client cultivation, insights, and relationship management.

She is a graduate of Spelman College beginning her career as a student and young alumna with their Office of Institutional Advancement. Here she began her donor relationship, fundraising, event marketing, and event planning experience.

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Facilitating deep impact, systemic change, and sustainable growth drives her. This has led her to play a pivotal role with a diverse chamber, impact investment firm, consulting and development firm as well as a real estate growth fund.

Leading ecosystem development and partnerships along with strategy, grant writing, and fundraising are how she has supported firms in the last fifteen years.

Our History

Parren J. Mitchell - Founder - Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund - MBELDEF

In Memoriam

Parren J. Mitchell

Founder

Parren J. Mitchell, the first Black Congressman from Maryland, authored many of the early programs to assist minority businesses – some of which still exist today. He realized that as minority businesses began to grow and succeed, non-minority business interests would be threatened and unwilling to cede their dominance. He knew they would use the legal system to stop minority business growth and he was right.

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In 1980, he founded the Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund (MBELDEF) to be a legal watchdog for the minority business community. In 1983 he tapped Anthony W. Robinson to succeed Rotan Lee and become the second President of MBELDEF. Mr. Robinson remains the leader of MBELDEF today, 40 years later.

In Memoriam

Parren J. Mitchell

Founder

Parren J. Mitchell, the first Black Congressman from Maryland, authored many of the early programs to assist minority businesses – some of which still exist today. He realized that as minority businesses began to grow and succeed, non-minority business interests would be threatened and unwilling to cede their dominance. He knew they would use the legal system to stop minority business growth and he was right.

In 1980, he founded the Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund (MBELDEF) to be a legal watchdog for the minority business community. In 1983 he tapped Anthony W. Robinson to succeed Rotan Lee and become the second President of MBELDEF. Mr. Robinson remains the leader of MBELDEF today, 40 years later.

Paren J. Mitchell and Anthony W. Robinson - Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund - MBELDEF

A Piece of History

Congressman Parren J. Mitchell and Anthony W. Robinson, in the early 1980s, discussing civil rights and minority economic development at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Donate Today

Donate Today

By supporting MBELDEF, you directly contribute to creating a more inclusive business environment and driving positive change for underrepresented communities.

Steven Sims, a current Board Member, received both his BA and MS from Columbia University. He is a nationally recognized advocate for minority businesses and, among other roles, served as Vice President for Programs, Field Operations, and Government Relations for the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) where his responsibilities included the development, coordination, and implementation of programs and projects, and, where necessary, he provided technical assistance/training to the National Office as well as its Regional Councils.

He also created and led the NMSDC Government Relations Office in Washington DC. Over many years working with MBELDEF, he and Tony Robinson, were able to create synergy between the two organizations which resulted in the protection and support for minority business development around the country. Mr. Sims also has a wealth of experience stemming from important positions in several public, private, and nonprofit entities and institutions.

Nicholas Perkins, past Chairman of the Board and current Board Member, holds an undergraduate degree from Fayetteville State University and an MBA from Howard University. He is nationally recognized for his dynamic and visionary entrepreneurial leadership and has received many awards and accolades.

The son of a single mother, Perkins was only 24 years old when he founded Perkins Management Services which specializes in providing contract food service management to colleges, universities, hospitals, and the Department of Defense. At 40, Perkin’s acquired Fuddrucker’s restaurant chain, becoming the first African American to own a nationwide burger franchise.

Perkins is passionate about civil rights and is a Trustee of the National Urban League and a proud member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity.

Sarah von der Lippe, the pro-bono Chief Legal Counsel, holds an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and a law degree from Harvard University. Ms. von der Lippe is herself a small business owner, having founded a solo civil rights legal practice devoted to defending and promoting the success of minority businesses across the nation. She is widely recognized as one of the foremost experts on the law and policy related to MBEs.

For most of the past two decades, Ms. von der Lippe has acted as the Chief Legal Counsel to MBELDEF on a completely pro-bono basis and has assisted Mr. Robinson in every aspect of operating MBELDEF as an unfunded but agile and effective legal watchdog organization.

Monique Young, who currently acts as MBELDEF’s Chief Accounting Officer and Development Strategist has a BS in Accounting from Shaw University, MBA from Strayer University, and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Walden University. She enjoys working with numbers, administration, and strategy.

In addition, she is a minority business owner as co-owner of One Accord Services a licensed General Contractor, and a Drywall and Metal Framing Subcontractor based in Raleigh North Carolina. Ms. Young is currently preparing to apply to law school in her (nonexistent) free time so that she can be the vanguard of the next generation of MBELDEF legal watchdogs.

Send A Check

If you're interested in donating and would like to send a check,

Send your check to:
Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund (MBELDEF)
P.O. Box 15323
Washington, D.C. 20003