Board of Directors and Officers
Vernel Bennett, President and Co-Founder was born and raised in Harlem NY and has an AAS Degree in Accounting from NYC Community College, also has a BBA Degree in Management, with a concentration in Black Studies, from The Bernard M Baruch College of The City University of New York and received his certification as a Certified Financial Planner from Adelphi University of New York.
He worked in the financial industry for over 40 years and has retired from the NYC Department of Finance as a Group Chief Field Tax Auditor; Certified Financial Planner and Investment Broker, and he was also the President of the 224th /22th Street Civic Association of Laurelton from 1999 to 2019 (20 years)
He took his first golf lesson in 2004 while on vacation on a cruise ship. In 2005, he joined the Roosevelt Golfers Association, Inc. In Roosevelt NY, where he began taking lessons, and eventually becoming the Financial Officer and then the Executive Officer of that Association. It was through the urging and interest of his many friends and colleagues that he and his now Vice President, Jacques M. Léandre, we decided to form the UBGA on March 14, 2014 to help stimulate interest in the game of golf to people of color in Queens NY.
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.
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.
Lisa S. Quarles, J.D. Assistant Secretary is a native of Queens, NY, and she has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a concentration of Urban Affairs and Development from Boston College and a Juris Doctorate from Howard University Law School in Washington, D.C.
Lisa is a leader in her field of labor and employee relations and human resource matters with over 25 yrs. of experience, working in both the public and private sectors. Her past work experience was predominantly in healthcare/hospitals/nursing homes where she had the opportunity in representing parties on both the management and the union in the workplace.
Currently, she the Director of Employee and Labor Relations at the American Museum of Natural History. She is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha in NYC. She caught the golf bug while working in Las Vegas, Nevada and when she returned to New York, she joined the UBGA on 5/8/2015.
Patrick (Len)Jones, Asst. Secretary (Emeritus), 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, 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 Gentlemen Investigations Inc. and Director of Security for the Housing and Services Inc. He love the game of golf and played it for several years.
Britton Alston, Assistant Sergeant-At-Arms, Is a graduate of Kingsborough Community College, in Brooklyn NY. He also retired from the New York City Department of Corrections, with 29 years of service. While at the Department of Correction, he also served as the Union Delegate for 8 years.
While raising his two sons, he served as the Scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America.
He was introduced to the game of Golf by his mentor who was constantly talking about the game. So, on 1/10/2022, he joined the United Black Golfers Association to increase his golf skills.
Ronald Summers Sr. (Certified Golf Instructor)
LEGAL COMMITTEE MEMBERS:
Jacques M. Leandre, Esq.
Mario E. Simmons, Esq.
Lisa Quarles, JD
Tanya Hobson-Williams, Esq.
Raye Titus, 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).