James "Bud" Ward
Born June 4, 1925 in Worcester, Massachusetts
First African American Vice President of a Major Hotel Chain; Pioneered Corporate Diversity Efforts
Pioneer in the hospitality industry, Ward was the first African American Senior Vice President and Corporate Officer of a major hotel chain. He worked for the Marriott Corporation for almost 20 years, and played a key role in expanding the hotel division, including working with the team that developed the “Courtyard by Marriott” Hotels.
James Harold “Bud” Ward, Jr. was born on June 4, 1925 in Worcester, MA where his father, James Ward, Sr., and his mother, Pauline Walker were also born. His grandparents were a mixture of Africans, Caucasians, and Nipmuc Indians. Growing up in a predominantly White neighborhood during the era of segregation and Jim Crow laws, Ward was the only Black in his class at an academic high school in a time when most other Blacks were attending commercial and trade schools.
In 1943, Ward graduated from high school and tried to enlist in the Army Air Force with several White classmates. He was one of two young men to pass the physical and aptitude tests. While his White classmate was accepted immediately into basic training, Ward was put on a waiting list because African Americans could only train at Tuskegee, Alabama (separate from Whites) and, at the time, the space at Tuskegee was full. While waiting for a Tuskegee opening, Ward was drafted and was forced into the United States Navy in order to fulfill an Executive Order from President Roosevelt requiring African Americans be dispersed equally throughout the Armed Forces. Two months later, an order to report to the Army Air Force was disregarded by the Navy, where he served four years.
Upon his discharge, he decided to use the GI Bill to apply for college. He was accepted, as one of the first African Americans, into the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. However, at the suggestion of a friend, Ward postponed his studies at Cornell for two years in order to experience the socially and intellectually stimulating environment of Howard University.
While attending Howard University, Bud met Eulah Richerson, whom he married in March of 1951. He transferred to Cornell in 1949 and received his BS degree in 1952, becoming the first African American to complete the Hotel Administration program.
Due to the hotel industry’s discriminatory practices in hiring minority managers, Ward’s first job after college was as a cafeteria manager at Howard University. After a year, he was recruited as the General Manager of the Booker Terrace Motel, and later the Sir John Hotel in Miami, Florida. Both hotels catered primarily to minorities.
Ward left Miami in 1958, when he was refused admission into the Miami University graduate school of business. He moved back to Washington, DC to work for a minority-owned marketing/public relations consulting firm which boasted clients such as Coca-Cola, Carnation Milk, and the National Council of Negro Women. In 1962, he founded and ran his own consulting company, Special-Market-Resources, which specialized in African-American consumerism research and marketing. Beginning in 1966, Ward co-published "Go-Guide to Pleasant Travel," a travel and leisure magazine for African Americans that provided lodging information during this segregated time in history.
During the 1960’s, corporations were beginning to heed a call from the federal government for increased diversity in hiring practices. In 1967, Ward’s company was hired to assess minority employment practices at the Marriott Corporation. His presentation was so noteworthy, Bill Marriott personally called Ward to offer him a job. After working as a consultant for a period of time, Ward was hired as the company's Vice President of Management Training and Development.
Ward eventually joined the Marriott hotel division as Sr. Vice President of Organization Development with world-wide responsibility. His department contributed to the opening and take-over of hundreds of hotels. His staff introduced automated technology to the hotels, recruited and trained management and non-management personnel, and established unique loss prevention and security programs.
In 1986 Ward retired from Marriott and formed Symbiont, Inc., an information technology company that provides telecommunications, software, and technical services to government and commercial clients. He currently serves Symbiont as Chief Executive Officer and Board Chairman.
Bud is a firm believer in reaching back and giving to his community, and has served as mentor, member, or leader to over thirty-five local and national organizations, including National Alliance of Market Developers, The United Negro College Fund, Morris Brown College, Howard University School of Business, and a number of other civic and business organizations.
Ward currently resides in Washington, D C with his wife Eulah, who is active in her own right for a number of civic and social organizations, including the Smithsonian Women’s Committee and the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution. The couple has two sons, Forrest and Sterling who serve as Vice President and President respectively with Symbiont, Inc. Their third son, Charles, passed away in 1981. The Ward's have three grandchildren, Adina Madden, James H. Ward III, and Taylor Ross Ward.
URL (Click to bookmark): http://www.visionaryproject.org/wardjames