Past Honorees

2013 Honorees | 2012 Honorees
Sol Graham

Sol Graham

CEO, Quality Biological, Inc.

Mr. Graham is founder and CEO of Quality Biological, Inc. QBI was founded in 1983 and is located in Montgomery County, Maryland. He is a native of Georgia, where he grew up on a farm, graduated taking advantage of every school made available to him. These schools included Hospital Corp School, Atomic Warfare, Operating Room Technician, and finally Tissue Culture School, where he was introduced to the work he is involved in today. After being discharged from the Navy, Mr. Graham attended Montgomery College, and Prince George’s Junior College, receiving an AA degree in business management and went on to study marketing at University College, University of Maryland.

Mr. Graham served as a member of the Board of Directors for: Sandy Spring Bank; Montgomery College Foundation; Montgomery General Hospital; The Macklin Business Institute; and The Strathmore Hall Foundation. As a Bank Director, Mr. Graham served on the Audit Committee, Executive Committee and Chaired the Nominating Committees. Mr. Graham has chaired the Economic Advisory Council of Montgomery County; he also serves as a member of the Eleventh Circuit Court Nominating Committee for the Governor of Maryland. Mr. Graham served as a mentor with the Montgomery County Mentorship Program. In 1992, he established a Quality Biotechnology Scholarship Fund at Montgomery College to assist students interested in studying science and technology. Mr. Graham has served, as a VIP Fund Raiser for the Easter Seal Society.

Mr. Graham was named as a finalist in the 1992 Entrepreneur of the Year Award, received the Small Business Administration Minority Small Business Award of Excellence in 1993 and the Department of Health and Human Services Minority Business Contractor Award of Excellence in 1995. Mr. Graham received an Honorary Associate of Arts in Public Service from Montgomery College in 1998.

Mr. Graham is an active member of Reid Temple AME Church. He resides in Rockville with his wife of 48yrs.

John S. Hendricks

John S. Hendricks

Executive Chairman, Discovery Communications

Hendricks has been the driving force behind the company’s dramatic growth, including the expansion of Discovery Communications from its core property, Discovery Channel, to current global operations in over 220 countries and territories with more than 1.8 billion cumulative subscribers. Under Hendricks’ leadership, Discovery now encompasses 167 networks of distinctive programming representing 26 entertainment brands including Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Science and Investigation Discovery. Across the Nordic region, Discovery owns and operates SBS Discovery Media, a top-three portfolio of 20 television brands that feature leading nonfiction content, as well as locally produced entertainment programs, sports and the best scripted series and movies from major studios. Discovery also is a leading provider of educational products and services to schools and owns and operates a diversified portfolio of digital media services, including Revision3.

A visionary in the media industry, Hendricks has been honored with a Primetime Emmy Award and with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences highest honor, the Governors Award, for conceiving the TLC series, Great Books. The Ark Trust named him a recipient of the Genesis Award for lifetime achievement for his efforts in raising awareness around the globe about animal issues. Hendricks has also been recognized as the first corporate leader to receive the National Education Association’s Friend of Education award for “innovations in education and technology and greatly expanding educational opportunity for America’s schoolchildren.”

Hendricks is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Discovery Channel Global Education Partnership, a nonprofit organization dedicated to using the power of television to improve lives in underserved areas around the world, and serves on the Board of Directors of a number of non-profit organizations including the United States Olympic Committee, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the National Forest Foundation.

Before 1985, Hendricks founded and served as president of the American Association of University Consultants (AAUC), a private consulting organization that specialized in television distribution, marketing and fundraising for educational programs and services. Hendricks holds a B.A. in history (magna cum laude, 1974) and an honorary doctorate (1991) from the University of Alabama, Huntsville.

Hendricks’ memoir, A CURIOUS DISCOVERY: An Entrepreneur’s Story, recounts the struggles and triumphs of turning his passion for documentary programs into the world’s most widely distributed cable channel and parlaying its popularity into a leading global media company. The book will be published by Harper Collins in June 2013.

Carmen Ortiz Larsen

President & CEO, AQUAS, Inc.

Carmen Ortiz Larsen is the President of AQUAS Inc, a Bethesda based technology and engineering firm that specializes in providing business solutions and services to the healthcare, agriculture, public utilities and transit industries. She started the business as an information management technologies consulting firm originally in 1979, and later in 1990 after a short sabbatical. AQUAS is currently participating in the establishment of the Maryland Health Benefits Exchange web portal for eligibility and enrollment, as a team partner with Noridian Administrative Services.

Carmen resides in Montgomery County, Maryland since 1970. She has two daughters, Michelle Larsen a technology analyst and web designer with AQUAS Inc, and Emma Evans, senior assistant at Seven Locks Animal Hospital. Over the years, Carmen has taken on challenges of those who have reached out to her for personal support and assistance. She has provided housing and referral support in domestic violence situations, in alcohol and drug abuse related issues, and homelessness. Through her involvement with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Montgomery County, she has mentored and assisted many businesses both in startup mode or in financial trouble. She has been an advocate for small and minority owned business on the national and local levels, speaking out for legislation that unduly burdens small business and minority communities, and reviewing proposed legislation as needed.

Carmen is the Vice President and operational director of the Hispanic Business Foundation of Maryland, where she developed a youth mentoring and work placement program for economically and physically disadvantaged youth, collaborating with the Montgomery County Department of Recreation, the Montgomery Workforce Investment Board, and Transcen, another nonprofit in the County. She has served on the Maryland Governor’s Commission for Hispanic Affairs and as co-chair for the Montgomery County Latino Advisory Group to the County Executive. Carmen is the daughter of immigrants from Ecuador. She was born in Rome, Italy from where she arrived in the U.S. at age 16. She graduated from Georgetown University as a Physics major.

Ray Schoenke

Former CEO, Schoenke & Associates

Raymond Frederick Schoenke (born September 10, 1941 in Wahiawa, Hawaii) is a sportsman, entrepreneur, political activist, community leader, hunter, conservationist and, most recently, the founding President of American Hunters and Shooters Association (AHSA), an association dedicated to protecting gun rights, natural resources and public safety.

Schoenke, an All-American, and Academic All-American football player at Southern Methodist University, was named to SMU’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Football Team and honored with the Silver Anniversary Mustang Award from SMU’s Letterman Association, which honors the character and achievements of its former athletes.

After college, Ray played in the NFL for 12 years, first with the Dallas Cowboys and then 10 years with the Washington Redskins, who selected Ray to their “50th Anniversary Greatest Redskins Team” and “Top 100 players in the history of the Redskins.” It was during this time that Ray began building a national insurance brokerage firm, Schoenke & Associates.

In 1998, after 30 years of experience building Schoenke & Associates, Ray sold S & A to Clark Consulting Inc. (NYSE: CLK). At the time of sale, Ray had established long standing business relationships with such clients as Norfolk and Southern Corporation, Marriott International Inc, Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, Bank of Hawaii, Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc., Baltimore Gas and Electric Company, MBNA Corporation, McCormick & Company, Inc., MCI Communications Corporation, Potomac Electric Power Company and Student Loan Marketing Association. ,

Throughout his career, whether it was on the gridiron or in the boardroom, Ray’s passion for public and community service permeated his professional life. While his work on six presidential campaigns and his 1998 run for Governor of Maryland (D) highlighted his early political life, Ray also participated in several local campaigns and community projects. As president of his local rural citizens’ association, he led the fight against a landfill that would have contaminated well waters. Ray was awarded the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation “Kennedy Family Award” for his role as Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Region and his 10-year commitment to the mentally challenged in the formative years of the Special Olympics.

James A. Soltesz PE

President & CEO, SOLTESZ

James Soltesz joined the company in 1990 and since that time has been responsible for all operations including day-to-day management decisions and implementing long and short-term plans. Mr. Soltesz has served on numerous local committees on development issues including transportation, adequate public facilities, infrastructure financing, school construction and permit processing. As a part of Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker’s transition committee he chaired two task force initiatives in economic development and permit processing. He formerly served on County Executive Ike Leggett’s Transition Team. Mr. Soltesz speaks at the Washington Board of Trade, various building industry associations and coalitions and community educational events for students. He has a keen insight of and commitment to the importance of environmental stewardship.ing soon.

Mr. Soltesz earned a B.S. of Science in Civil Engineering from Purdue University, an MBA from the University of Cincinnati and an M. S. in Civil Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He currently serves on the University of Maryland Real Estate Advisory Board, the Board of EagleBank and is a past board member of Catholic Charities.