Pitt Magazine

A Pitt Law alumnus is speaking out to inspire companies to achieve the unthinkable

Mitchell poses cross-armed in a suit
While studying in Pitt's School of Law, Ron Mitchell's classmates viewed him as a "bright light." Photo by MBA Media

Fourteen-year-old Ron Mitchell shoots his last basket at a YMCA on Chicago’s South Side and makes his way home. His walk takes him through one of the city’s toughest neighborhoods. Before long, a young man approaches, takes out a gun and demands money.

Thinking quickly, Mitchell coaxes an uneasy conversation that wards off the robbery and reveals the would-be assailant as homeless and hungry. Mitchell, understanding the pain of poverty, invites the man home for dinner.

That encounter taught Mitchell the importance of speaking up and speaking out, a gift that would propel him from a rough neighborhood in Chicago to the boardroom of BEM Enterprises, LLC a global management consultant firm he founded to serve clients such as Verizon, Amazon, Microsoft, General Motors and the federal government.

After a stint in the U.S. Army, Mitchell received his bachelor’s degree from DePaul University and connected with the Council on Legal Education Opportunity, a nonprofit that recruits underrepresented students into law school.

Kevin Deasy, an associate professor emeritus in Pitt’s School of Law, recognized Mitchell’s potential and invited him to apply for a scholarship. Once on campus, Mitchell’s peers noticed him, too.

“He was like Santa Claus: omnipotent, ubiquitous,” says former classmate Shawn Buckner (LAW ’01), who now works at the Federal Reserve Board. “He was always willing to give a positive word and, by extension, be a bright light.”

After graduating from Pitt Law, Mitchell moved to Atlanta, where he earned an MBA degree by attending Emory and Clark Atlanta universities simultaneously and launched BEM, also known as Team Ignite. Last summer, he began a new venture traveling across the globe to share information and inspiration with small businesses and entrepreneurs about sustainability.

All along, says Mitchell (LAW ’02), he’s seen his work as a larger assignment to inspire change. “People don’t know what they can do, until they do it. That’s why I’m using my voice to help people achieve the unthinkable.”