Countless people are saddened by the loss of Cheryl Watkins Snead who died on January 22, 2018, after complications due to a recent surgery, according to the Providence Journal. She founded Banneker Industries in 1991, where she later became the CEO and was a recent Bryant trustee, in addition to being on the board of many local and national boards.
President Ron Machtley described her as a “good and dear friend of the Bryant University community.” Snead’s memorial service will be on Saturday, February 10, at one pm at the Interfaith Center on the Bryant campus. Expecting a large crowd, Bryant students, faculty, and staff planning on attending the service were asked to notify the conferences and events team by February 7, so they could prepare.
Those who knew Snead would use the word “great” to summarize all she has accomplished and the type of character she was. The Providence Journal highlighted that she was very passionate about advocating for the voices of the youth, colored, and women to be heard. Being the first African-American woman to graduate with a B.A. degree in mechanical engineering from UMass Amherst, she continued her education and got an MBA degree from Purdue University.
In addition to donating her time and resources to charitable groups, she worked alongside Bryant faculty and staff to create the Supply Chain Management Conferences, and the LITE program, which supported ambitious minority students. Outside of her Bryant affairs, she was a charter member and officer of the Greater Providence RI Chapter of The Links, Incorporated.
In 2009, Snead was named Women’s Business Enterprise Star, and later in 2014, was inducted into the Women’s Business Hall of fame. Furthermore, Bryant University’s Women Summit named her New England Business Woman of the Year and awarded her an honorary degree. It is not only for reasons like this, that Providence Journal Obituary remembers her as such a “successful business and community leader,” but also for her ability to be extremely personable with those she encountered, always having high spirits and never losing focus on her goals.
Cheryl Snead is survived by her parents, William and Kae Watkins, her husband, Roland Snead, and her sisters, Rene Payne and Linda Watkins. She will be missed as a daughter, wife, sister, aunt, and to so many individuals, a friend, and leader. “She was an amazing woman full of life, energy, and a wealth of knowledge. A true trailblazer, always professional and so kind,” commented Laura Field-Swallow of Smithfield, Rhode Island, on the memories section of the Providence Journal.
Residents from Massachusetts and Rhode Island, all the way to California and Florida have given their condolences to Snead’s family and reflected upon the amazing life she had
lived. Although she was taken too soon, the impact she left on the business world and on all those she touched, will last forever. Her legacy in Banneker Industries and the work she has done to empower groups who are often overlooked will hopefully be carried on in her name.