Columbia’s La-Verna Fountain receives Outstanding Professional Achievement Award from Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce

August 10, 2017

La-Verna Fountain, vice president of Strategic Communications and Construction Business Initiatives at Facilities and Operations, received the 2017 Outstanding Professional Achievement Award during the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce’s 37th annual New York City Economic Development Day held at Columbia University’s Lerner Hall on August 10. Lloyd Williams, president and CEO of the Greater Harlem Chamber, presented the award to Fountain to a standing ovation from the event’s attendees.

Referring to Fountain as “one of the most extraordinary women we know,” Williams recognized Fountain’s unrelenting commitment to the community as part of Columbia’s Manhattanville development among the reasons for honoring her with this award.

For Fountain, receiving a community-focused award from a Harlem institution had added personal significance. “My dad lived in Harlem. He would have been proud to see how we put community first. Thank you for allowing me to make my dad proud,” said Fountain when she accepted the award.

Under her direction, Fountain has led the University's initiatives to expand opportunities for minority, women and local (MWL) businesses and construction workers to do business with Columbia. These efforts include the recently launched CU Grow program, designed to help select MWL businesses that are currently university vendors to grow their business through a coaching program with a curriculum created by the Columbia University School of Professional Studies. The launch of CU Grow followed the conclusion of the multi-year, Columbia University/Corporate Alliance MWL Construction Trades Certificate Mentorship Program, in which 78 construction firms across four cohorts graduated from the program.

Prior to the award presentation, Fountain moderated a panel on minority and women business enterprises and small business initiatives as part of the economic development day’s business summit. Tanya Pope, assistant vice president for University Supplier Diversity and Construction Business Initiatives at Columbia University Facilities and Operations, served as a panel participant presenting about the CU Grow program along with Michael Sutton, principal of Infrastructure Engineering, Inc., and Jeanique Druses, a vice president in global philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase.