Lessons We Learned From Mom

Harry Alford
10 min readAug 15, 2021


On August 14th, 2021, we buried our beautiful mother, Kayanne “Kay” DeBow Alford, 63. She was the most entrepreneurial, caring, strong, selfless person who always put us, her twin sons, first. Who we are today and the industry we work in are all due to her.

Kay, as she was affectionately known, was named Kayanne DeBow at birth on December 12, 1957, to the parents of Charles DeBow Jr. and Aurelia Jane Stuart in Indianapolis, Indiana. She seemed to be born for business leadership, coming from a family that was known as educators and entrepreneurs.

Mom’s father, Charles DeBow Jr., served in World War II as one of the first four Tuskegee Airmen. Her maternal family was the Stuarts, who owned several successful businesses in the greater Indianapolis area.

A graduate of Shortridge High School in Indianapolis, she received her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. She began her professional career at Colgate-Palmolive in Detroit, Michigan. It was in Detroit on June 8, 1980; mom met husband-to-be Harry Cicero Alford Jr. After a short courtship, mom and dad were married on October 31, 1980.

The Alfords made their home in Indianapolis. Mom pursued government work, and at the height of that work, she became the Director of Marketing for the Hoosier State Lottery in Indiana. Our parents also became entrepreneurs owning several video stores and private ventures.

They had begun locally to fill the void of a Black business organization by founding the Hoosier Minority Chamber of Commerce in Indianapolis, which evolved into the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC). Through their business experiences, our parents realized there was a need for a national connection early on.

When they left Indianapolis, Indiana, and moved to Washington, D.C. in September 1994, they had already founded the National Black Chamber of Commerce on May 23, 1993.

The NBCC was crafted from the empowerment principles of Booker T. Washington, the business acumen of Congressman Parren Mitchell, and enforced by the father of Affirmative Action, Arthur Fletcher.

Mom and dad Alford took the business mission to new heights. The organization, comprised of chapters throughout…



Harry Alford

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