Charles L. Sessoms

39 Community Marketing Manager, External Affairs – Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., Elmsford, N.Y.

As the grand nephew of Dorothy Height, notable civil rights leader and president of the National Council of Negro Women, Charles L. Sessoms seemed destined for success. Indeed, it would seem that his pedigree taught him the importance of hard work and dedication. Since 1990, Sessoms has steadily worked his way up the ranks at the Coca-Cola Co., proving himself in positions ranging from technical service manager to district sales manager.

Now community marketing manager, external affairs, at Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., Sessoms, 39, is responsible for African-American and Caribbean community marketing. He supports the Coca-Cola Foundation?s external affairs team, maintaining strategic alliances with organizations such as the NAACP, Urban League, United Negro College Fund, C.O.R.E. and the National Council for Negro Women.

Sessoms also uses the Coca-Cola brand to build partnerships with local radio and print media, businesses and community groups, such as the Harlem Business Alliance, African American Chamber of Commerce and the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry. During the 2004 Christmas holidays, for example, 1,500 families benefited through the combined effort of HealthFirst, KB Toys and the Coca-Cola Co. Sessoms also donates computers to youth-based organizations, delivering more than 300 computer systems in 2004. It comes as no surprise, then, that Sessoms envisions creating a facility to help young Black males become strong determined men.

Hardly exhausted after all that, Sessoms is president and CEO of Stevin-Chan Records?its first record is scheduled for release this month?and president and founder of Holla! Communications, which has a four-show deal with Black Family Channel.

Sessoms graduated from New York Institute of Technology with a degree in mechanical engineering. His work, success and ethic, he says, were inspired by Height, who taught him the value of helping others, and Tom Brown, his mentor at Coca-Cola.Even so, he contends that there is no better teacher than life experience and continues to learn from his. His mantra? ?You are born to this world to claim something you already own,? he replies.