Corporate lobbyist Erskine “Ernie” Cade was recognized as Cleveland’s “Black Professional of the Year” on Saturday night.

At a gala attended by a who’s who of local dignitaries and business executives, Cade received the top honor bestowed by the Black Professionals Association Charitable Foundation.

WKYC’s Russ Mitchell served as emcee for the foundation’s 37th annual scholarship and awards dinner, held at Executive Caterers at Landerhaven in Mayfield Heights.

Cade, who has had a lengthy career in government relations, is a partner with two local legislative and regulatory affairs firms, Strategic Health Care and Strategic Government Relations. Previously he worked for The Standard Oil Company and BP, and then served as senior vice president and director of government relations for Key Corp.

Upon taking the stage, Cade reflected that being named Black Professional of the Year was one of the most significant and meaningful events of his life. “It is with a sense of gratitude that I stand before you this evening,” he said.

He praised the Black Professionals Association for its commitment to scholarship, service and mentorship, and talked about how a sense of social responsibility had always influenced his own career and life choices.

Among the previous Black Professional of the Year awardees who were there to applaud him: Margot James Copeland, chair and CEO of the Key Foundation; retired WEWS anchor Leon Bibb; retired Cleveland Foundation Executive Director Steve Minter; and retired Turner Construction Vice President Hilton O. Smith.

WKYC was a sponsor for the event, and contributed the tribute video that was viewed during the gala.

In the video, Cade’s friends and colleagues paint a picture of him as a charismatic and driven professional, a loyal friend and a stylish dresser.