Phoenix Business Journal 

Velma Trayham, CEO of ThinkZILLA Consulting Group, held a fireside chat on March 28 to discuss her “Vision Forward” as the new president and CEO of the Black Chamber of Arizona.

The event was held in Scottsdale at the ThinkZILLA headquarters at Arizona State University Skysong in Scottsdale, which will be the new hub for the chamber, Trayham announced during the event.

Prominent government leaders in the Valley attended and spoke at the event, including city of Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega and Congressman Greg Stanton.

Mayor Ortega was one of the speakers to kick off the event. He committed to continue supporting the chamber, citing as an example Scottsdale's successful implementation of an anti-discrimination ordinance, which came to fruition when Ortega had been in office for only 84 days.

Congressman Greg Stanton spoke to the importance of the Black Chamber of Arizona, not only for Black businesses, but to the state as a whole. He pledged to do everything he can to ensure Trayham’s success leading the organization.

“Supporting this organization is not a spectator sport,” he appealed to the audience as he explained the importance of actively engaging to make an impact.

During a moderated conversation with Art Hamilton, founder of public relations firm The Art Hamilton Group, Trayham revealed a series of goals for moving forward in her new leadership role with the chamber. 

To help emerging entrepreneurs, Trayham said the chamber was introducing a program to help growing businesses get to the next level that do not meet the chamber’s current business revenue threshold.

Trayham emphasized the importance of inclusion to make these initiatives successful.

“This is about impact. And it's about economic mobility in terms of moving this community forward. So I want help from our government institutions. I want help from our educational institutions. I want help from our corporate leaders," Trayham said. "We have to come together to move this forward. This is not a Velma show. This is not a Black Chamber show. This is moving our community forward through economic impact and closing the equity gaps for minority and black entrepreneurs here in Arizona.”

Trayham was recently named as one of Phoenix Business Journal's 2024 Outstanding Women in Business and will be honored along with 25 other accomplished female executives in the Valley during the annual awards event at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch on March 28 at 4 p.m. 

She succeeds longtime chamber leader Robin Reed, who died in late February. The organization in 2022 reported revenue of $120,950 in its latest 990 tax filing, according to ProPublica.

Trayham: Building an inclusive business ecosystem

Trayham cited being born into poverty in Houston as the motivation behind her goal to end poverty through entrepreneurship. She said there is a need for access and strategic implementation, as well as public and private collaboration, which her nonprofit Millionaire Mastermind Academy has been able to do with the Impact AZ 2025 Supplier Diversity Readiness Program in collaboration with the Black Chamber, the State of Black Arizona and JP Morgan.

The serial entrepreneur — with two sold businesses under her belt — also spoke to the importance of supporting women entrepreneurship as a way of economic empowerment and business retention and expansion.