Board of Directors and Officers
Vernel Bennett, President and Co-Founder, is a retired NYC Department of Finance Corporate Tax Auditor Supervisor; Certified Financial Planner and Investment Broker, and was the President of the 224th/225th Street Civic Association of Laurelton, from 1999 to 2019 (20 Years).
He was bitten by the golf bug in 2004 while on vacation on a cruise ship where he took his first lesson. In 2005, through a work colleague, he learned about the Roosevelt Golfers Association, Inc., which he joined and began taking lessons, eventually becoming the Financial Officer and then the Executive Officer.
It was through the urging and interest of his many friends and colleagues that he and his now Vice President, Jacques M. Léandre decided in March of 2014 to form UBGA to help stimulate interest in the game of golf to people of color in Queens and the surrounding areas.
In 2018 he was elected as a Queens County Democratic Committee Member for the 29th Assembly District.
Jacques Leandre, Esq., Vice President and Co-Founder is a practicing attorney licensed in New York and longtime resident of Queens County and is also the President of the Rosedale Jets Football Organization. Léandre developed a passion for the game of golf after receiving his first set of golf clubs from his older brother while attending Morehouse College. Léandre is a co-founder of the United Black Golfers Association.
Mario E. Simmons, Esq., Vice President of Legal Affairs, is a native New Yorker, born in Queens, NY. He lives in Baldwin LI with his wife, Dr. Nichelle Simmons, and their two children. He attended Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY, and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. He then received his law degree from Pace University School of Law. Mario has been a practicing litigator for over twenty-five years. He was a prosecutor with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. He then worked at a large law firm in New York City. Currently, he is a Deputy Section Chief at the New York State Attorney General’s Office.
Mario has also been very active in the community by performing the following services: Soccer coach with the Baldwin Eagles, Executive boards of the PTA in Baldwin LI, Legislative VP at Lenox Elementary, Baldwin Middle School, Baldwin High School, and the District Council.
His civic engagement also includes mentoring young men via the Baldwin Legacy Project. Mario’s interest in golf and his desire to learn the game led him to UBGA. As a member of UBGA, he has also served on several committees, including the scholarship committee, the bylaws committee, and the legal council committee.
Brian W. Lawrence, Vice President of Marketing, graduated from West Virginia State University (HBCU) with a BA degree in Communications. While in college he was an all-conference baseball player. He also hosted and produced talk shows, was a radio announcer, and a producer of basketball and football team broadcasts.
Brian has over 30 years of media marketing experience in this industry, and is currently a Senior Business Solutions Consultant for a leading advertising management and software company. Some of his responsibilities were working in production in a newsroom, advertising sales, media research, training, product development, and software account management.
He was bitten by the golf bug in 2002. While searching for a house for his family in 2002, when his real estate agent suggested that he should give golf a try. He has been hooked ever since.
Dr. Handel J. Edwards, PhD., Treasurer, is the CEO and Founder of H.J. Edwards & Associates where he oversees a staff of CPAs, EAs, and Consultants. Dr. Edwards has been a member of the National Who’s Who, National Society of Accountants, National Society of Tax Professionals, and National Society of Enroll Agents. Handel joined UBGA because he has a great desire to become a good golfer.
Patrice English-Young, Asst. Treasurer, Is retired from the NYC Department of Education as an educator. As an educator, she was a science teacher and an administrator for middle and high school.
She was introduced to the game of golf when she was invited to play golf with her union. She became interested in the sport and commenced watching golf programs and videos on how to play golf.
She heard about the UBGA, from one of their board members and at that point she decided to become a member.
Julet Barton, Secretary, is a retired NYC public school educator with over 30 years of experience. Most of her experience has been at the elementary level, where she worked as a classroom teacher and later a regional/citywide administrator. Before joining UBGA, Julet never played golf. It is because of her love for learning and exploring new activities and through the urging of her fellow board members, that’s why she joined United Black Golfers Association.
Patrick (Len)Jones, Asst. Secretary, Is a retired Housing Manager Executive, with over 47 years of experience managing over 50,000 cooperative and fair market apartment units in New York State. He also served as the president of the New York Association of Reality Managers (NYARM) for ten years. He has also been the recipient of many awards, such as the 1993 Manger of the Year Award, the 1996 Lifetime Achievement Award from the NYARM and in 1999 he received the Co-op and Condo Man of the Year Award. Len was also listed in the 2004 National Register of the Who’s Who in Executives and Professionals that was placed in the U.S. Library of Congress.
He began playing golf in 1970, and was also a member of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Golf Club in Brooklyn and in 1975 he founded the Divots Golf Club of Brooklyn New York.
In March, 2014, after reading an article in the NY Daily News about the UBGA, he joined and is an active member of this organization.
Howard H. Williams, (Acting) Sergeant-At-Arms, Retired from the New York City Police Department, with 23 years of service, as a Sergeant Supervisor of Detectives. He also held the following positions: Chief of Operations for the Gemini Investigations Inc., Chief Executive Officer for the Distinguished Gentlement Investigations Inc. and Director of Security for the Housing and Services Inc. He love the game of golf and played it for several years.
Ronald Summers Sr. (Certified Golf Instructor)
LEGAL COMMITTEE MEMBERS:
Jacques M. Leandre, Esq.
Mario E. Simmons, Esq.
Lisa Quarles, JD
Tanya Hobson-Williams, Esq.
In House Members/Service Providers:
Michael Walker, owner of Fidel Photography is our in house photographer (www.mfidelphotography.com).
Vincent L. Garrett, Senior Partner at Gaulf, LLC is the official supplier of our golf uniforms and hats (www.gaulfapparel.com).