The Washington Wizards and Amtrak Recognize Leaders of Three Community Organizations in Honor of Black History Month.

In celebration of Black History Month, the Amtrak Pioneer Award was created by the Washington Wizards and Amtrak to honor African Americans in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area who have made outstanding contributions to the greater D.C. community. During halftime at the Wizards vs. Orlando game on Tuesday, February 25, the Wizards and Amtrak will award the following recipients: Gilbert G. Campbell, III & Simon Antonio Francis, Co-Founders and Co-Owners of Volt Energy; Donald L. Hense, Founder, CEO & Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Friendship Public Charter School; and Brenda H. Jones, Executive Director & Program Manager of the Parklands Community Center. They are each pioneers in their own right, and their ongoing efforts to uplift their communities continue to enrich the Washington, D.C. area. Congratulations to this year's recipients, on behalf of the Washington Wizards and Amtrak!


Gilbert Campbell

Gilbert Campbell is a leading alternative energy expert and co-founder of Volt Energy, which is a renewable energy project development firm based in Washington, DC. Campbell’s strong track record of creating energy solutions makes him a highly sought after speaker at national energy and small business forums. Under Campbell’s leadership, Volt Energy is largely recognized as an emerging national renewable energy development firm. Recently, Black Enterprise nominated Volt Energy as small business of the year. Volt Energy’s notable clients include: Wake Forest University, US Department of Labor, Fort Bragg, North Carolina A&T State University, and the KIPP Charter School.

Campbell is a seasoned executive with an extensive background in management consulting, business development with an emphasis on corporate strategy, and sales management. He began his career at Accenture, later working with firms such as Merrill Lynch and Genentech.

Campbell is a member of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE), an Advisor to the US Department of Energy’s Minorities in Energy Initiative, and an Advisory Board Member of The Center for Energy Research and Technology at North Carolina A&T. Campbell also serves on the Board of Directors for the Greater Washington Boys and Girls Club.

Campbell holds a B.B.A in Finance from Howard University and has done post-graduate leadership training at Harvard University. Campbell is a member of the Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, golf, and mentoring.


Antonio Francis

Antonio Francis is a co-founder of Volt Energy, a renewable energy and energy efficiency project development firm focusing on solar integration and development. Through his multinational and bilingual background, Antonio brings an added dimension to Volt energy. His experience in leadership, communication, and ability to understand technology trends coupled with a strong sales and marketing background lends well to Volt Energy's turnkey approach. He started his career in the biotechnology arena and transitioned to entrepreneurship with his most recent focus on renewable energy.

Antonio attended Howard University graduating cum laude in Biology. He went on to pursue his Masters in Biotechnology with a concentration in business from Columbia University. After graduation he excelled in sales and marketing for Wyeth Pharmaceutical. He then later transitioned to Lung Rx, a start-up subsidiary of United Therapeutics, which at the time was one of the nations fastest growing biotechnology companies. There he learned a lot about what it takes to succeed in a start-up environment and was responsible for Mid-Atlantic sales and business development.

Pursuing his interest in entrepreneurship and development, Mr. Francis obtained his general contractor’s license coupling this with his sales, marketing, and business development skills to launch a successful construction company in 2006. Since then he has successfully partnered in many ventures throughout the years, his latest being Volt. At Volt, Mr. Francis has been charged with international development, private sector sales, and construction oversight in the company’s development projects. Mr. Francis also serves on the advisory boards of Nature Isle & DREAM Collaborative.


Donald Hense

Donald Hense is Founder and Chairman of the Board of Friendship Public Charter Schools in Washington, DC. Friendship is the largest chartered public school in the nation serving more than 4,000 students on six campuses. Additionally, Friendship manages one DC Public School (DCPS) and four schools in Baltimore, in partnership with Baltimore City Public School System, serving 3000 students from pre-K thru 12th grade.

Mr. Hense is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. He attended graduate school at Stanford University and completed all requirements for the Ph.D. except the dissertation. He was a Rockefeller Intern in Economics at Cornell University; a Merrill Scholar to the University of Ghana; a Ford Foundation Fellow at Stanford and a Lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley.

Mr. Hense has served as Vice President of the National Urban League and Director of Development of the Children’s Defense Fund. Mr. Hense established the Department of Governmental Relations at Howard University, Boston University and Dartmouth College. He is former Vice President of Prairie View A & M University of the Texas A & M System. He is co-founder of the Bridges to Friendship Initiative which provided the early impetus for the revitalization of the Navy Yard and was recognized by Vice President Gore as a model community initiative. Mr. Hense is on the Board of Directors of the Center for Education Reform, the DC Association of Charter Public Schools and the Black Alliance for Education Options.

For his work in education, Mr. Hense was in the 2011 class of inductees in the National Charter School Hall of Fame. He has been listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World. He was the 2012 Convocation speaker at Morehouse College and received the Distinguished Alumni Award. He is the father of one son, Dana, and has three grandsons, Dana, Malik and Julian.


Brenda Jones

A native Washingtonian and a mother of two grown sons and one granddaughter. Ms. Jones began her community activism by becoming the first ANC Commissioner in 8B07, Washington, DC, 1979-84. Ms. Jones community involvement has ranged from co-chairing the Ward 8 Community Advisory Committee in 1985 for the DC Planning Office, to a founding member the East of the River Community Development Corporation, to the co-chair and founder/organizer of the Far S.E. Family Strengthening Collaborative, to a member of the Friends of the Historic Lincoln Theatre, to board member of the D. C. Chamber of Commerce, 1990-96, Co-founder of the Howard Theatre Community Committee and other community and business involvements over the past 35 years.

In the late 1970's, Brenda Jones, a resident of the Parklands Apartment Complex began to notice that neighborhood teenagers had guns in their possession and were getting involved with drug trafficking. Because there were no recreational outlets in this neighborhood for the nearly 600 families, Ms. Jones opened the Parklands Community Center (PCC), January 12, 1980 which was within walking distance for several hundred children and teenagers. PCC’s mission was to provide positive choices for children and youth by engaging them in constructive recreational and educational activities in a safe environment. For the first two years PCC offered year-round indoor and outdoor recreational activities such as table boxed games, baseball and football teams, talent shows, cultural activities, individual and group counseling, summer festivals and arts and crafts.

Over the years, the PCC has introduced substance abuse prevention activities, computer literacy programs, data processing training, leadership development training, parent/child rearing training, family strengthening and support programs, a community market place, and much more.

Brenda Jones has received recognition from every Mayor of Washington, DC, since the 80’s.