The Daughter of the First African-American to Build a Billion-Dollar Company Is Creating Opportunities for Black Boys


The phrase “There’s an app for that!” touches many facets of modern life, to include transportation, finance, communications and entertainment. Apps, or computer applications, typically flow from the fertile minds of young, white male coders. Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ software-writing prowess laid the foundation for a $508-billion corporation and helped revolutionize personal computing for billions of worldwide consumers.

Intent on leading more Black and Latino high school boys to the coding dance floor, New York City activist Christina Lewis Halpern created All Star Code. “We all want and need a seat at the table, and then we want to run the table and then we want to have our own table. Coding is the ticket to that,” says Halpern, whose father, Reginald F. Lewis, was a Wall Street attorney who acquired and deftly operated a billion-dollar international food business, TLC Beatrice International, before succumbing to brain cancer in 1993. Fortune magazine had listed Lewis as one of the country’s 400 wealthiest individuals.

Still, Halpern is keenly aware that “the playing field isn’t level. America was built on a legal structure where African-Americans were excluded from money, power and fame. But we’ve made progress!”

She started All Star Code two decades after her father’s death. “My family foundation is committed to social justice and believes in the power of entrepreneurship and investing in our community.” Halpern says. “We seeded this initiative and provided an anchor grant. About 20 percent of the money invested in All Star Code last year was from the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation, or Lewis family personal funds.”

Last year, an annual All Star Code fundraising event in the Hamptons generated more than $740,000 for the nonprofit organization. Beginning in 2014, All Star Code’s centerpiece has been a free, six-week Summer Intensive computer science program designed to give Black and Latino high school boys the access and exposure they need to become successful tech entrepreneurs.

During the six-week initiative, the high schoolers are guided through a computer science curriculum that includes guest speakers, mentoring networks and exposure to work culture. And of course scads of software coding. Graduates of the Summer Intensive finish with basic web development skills, an entrepreneurial mindset and a network of peers who also love building things that matter, Halpern states. Twenty boys participated in the 2014 Summer Initiative, a number that rose to 160 this summer. All Star Code is aiming to have at least 1,000 high school participants in 2020. Ninety-five percent of All Star Code’s students went on to attend four-year colleges, with 85 percent majoring in computer science or a related field.

Continue onto Atlanta Black Star to read the complete article.

African-Americans at risk from unusual optometry practice


By Joseph Hammond, Urban News Service

When Pat Raynor developed cataracts she hoped her optometrist would simply refer her to a qualified eye surgeon. But the 65-year old Virginia woman said the optometrist who handled her routine eye exams seemed more interested in business than medicine. He pressured her to accept a form of care known as co-management in which he – rather than the surgeon – would handle post-operative checkups.

“When I went home, I kept thinking about it, and I knew something was not right,” Raynor said, explaining her decision to seek successful treatment out of state. Raynor is one of the millions of Americans who develop cataracts – a common condition of aging in which a thick film that develops in part of the eye can lead to cloudy vision or in some cases a loss of vision if left untreated. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world. More than half of all people in the United States will have a cataract or have had cataract surgery at the age of 80.

Evidence suggests that African-Americans like her may be more prone to certain types of cataracts. A study published in the Ophthalmology edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 54% of African-American nursing home residents suffered from cataracts versus only 37% of whites.

That also makes African-Americans especially vulnerable to the ticking time bomb regarding eye care buried in the Medicare Act of 1992. Guidelines adopted then allowed a practice known as “co-management” for eye-surgery. In most surgical procedures the operating surgeon is responsible for post-operative care. Under a co-management relationship, an ophthalmologist or eye surgeon performs say a cataract operation on a patient with that patient’s optometrist performing post-operative care.

Optometrists are technicians who are specialized in preserving vision and the overall health of the eye. On average optometrists attend four years of college as well as graduate school. Though a few optometry schools allow applications from students, who didn’t complete an undergraduate degree. Some optometrists later earn doctorate degrees

The requirements for ophthalmologists are far more strenuous. After completing an undergraduate degree, they attend four years of medical school. Their medical degree complete a would be ophthalmologist then spends several years getting hands-on training. Usually, an internships which last at least one year is followed by three years of residency. Some also complete an additional fellowship year as well. Conversely, optometrists usually do not work in internships at hospitals or supervised residencies at medical facilities.

Co-management was intended for use only in limited circumstances, particularly by rural patients who might have trouble reaching an ophthalmologist. Instead, it has become a mechanism for sweetheart deals between optometrists and ophthalmologist who reward each other through mutual referrals.

Today roughly nearly one in five cataract surgeries are performed in a co-managed relationship experts say with almost all of them taking place in urban areas.

Since most elderly African-Americans live in urban areas, they stand a higher risk of being steered toward such arrangements.

Most individuals do not experience complications after eye surgery. But for those that do the consequences can be severe, especially if there follow-up care is with an optometrist, who is not a medical doctor, rather than an ophthalmologist. In 2009, a scandal at a veteran’s hospital in California revealed that many individuals treated for cataracts could have potentially had better health outcomes if they were treated by ophthalmologists.  Some individuals were blinded.

Nevertheless, many health care professional argue co-management offers safe and efficient care. “With the continued focus on patient-centered care, the co-management of surgical patients, such as those having cataracts removed or laser surgery, is the standard and optimal approach to pre- and post-operative care,” said Christopher J. Quinn. O.D., president of the American Optometric Association in a written statement to the American Media Institute, “…This is especially true in underserved areas, as it is estimated that 90% of people in the U.S. live within 15 minutes of a doctor of optometry. Co-management allows patients to receive care from a doctor they already know and trust, maintaining their patient-doctor relationship.”

Quinn also noted that optometrists and ophthalmologists have been co-managing patients for decades in many jurisdictions and that the practice is recognized in all 50 states recognize. He also said that co-management can occur in other types of medicine.

But those arrangements can be especially murky when it comes to eye care. A 2006 survey by the National Consumer League found that only 30% of consumers knew the difference between optometrists and ophthalmologists.

For her part, Raynor said that it important that patients be given the information they need – regarding both medical capabilities and financial relationships among providers – in order to make informed choices about their vision.

“A lot of people can’t afford cataract surgery, and I would have probably gone through with co-management but, I didn’t have a credit card,” she said.

She is glad she had her care overseen by ophthalmologist. “After my ordeal, I am just thankful to have my eyes, and now I can see even better than before cataracts, I was having a hard time just seeing and focusing. You know there used to be a house I would drive by this beige house but, after my cataracts were removed, I noticed the house was in fact pink.”

Urban News Service

Meet Danielle Olson: A ‘Gique’ Advancing the Case for STEAM Education

Danielle Olson

What is a “Gique”? It’s a cross between “geek” and “chic,” a maker and creative problem-solver whose interdisciplinary interests turn STEM into STEAM. Meet Danielle Olson, researcher and PhD student at MIT and proud founder of Gique, a nonprofit that provides transformational, culturally situated STEAM learning for underserved youth.

Olson says being a Gique is about using your passion to embrace change and create your dream job. Olson offered STEMconnector her insights and experience as an engineer, a dancer, a dreamer, and pioneer in STEAM education, as well as research on how the arts are leveling the educational playing field in STEM.

Interview below courtesy of Stemconnector

STEMconnector: How does using the arts impact the STEM talent gap?

Danielle Olson: Fortunately, a new and exciting field of education is emerging where curricula are designed to expose youth to the applications of science, technology, engineering, art and design, and mathematics (STEAM) in the real world. STEAM, rather than just STEM, education focuses on student cultivation of the critical, creative, and participatory dispositions key to empowered, authentic engagement in both science and art, along with preparing students to think of ways that they can contribute to society as individuals.

The arts have been treated as a “cherry on top” in recent years. But research demonstrates that an arts education offers critical development opportunities for children, which include cognitive and social growth, long-term memory improvement, stress reduction, and promotion of creativity. In fact, research findings show that if arts were included in science classes, STEM would be more appealing to students, and exposure to experts in these fields could affect career decisions. Gique believes that STEAM education affords students opportunities to envision themselves pursuing their “dream careers,” which they may invent for themselves.

There are three categories that aid in representing various perspectives of art integration: (1) learning “through” and “with” the arts, (2) making connections across knowledge domains, and (3) collaborative engagement across disciplines.

Gique piloted a 9-month-long, out-of-school STEAM Program with students at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester, an inner-city in Boston, Massachusetts, in the areas of science, the arts, and entrepreneurship by putting the theoretical framework, which underpins the necessity for STEAM education, into action.

SC: What kinds of lessons do you offer students?

DO: Gique designs and provides free, hands-on educational programs and mentorship to talented youth from diverse circumstances in the Boston area and in California. We create a safe, positive learning community for our students and cultivate their curiosity and self-esteem through two arms of programming:

  • Gique’s Science Can DANCE! Community Programs—provides youth with a way to explore STEAM through creative movement and dance choreography. By taking an integrated approach to breaking down technical concepts, we provide a unique mentorship opportunity for students interested in both arts and science topics.
  • Gique’s Out-of-School Time (OST) STEAM Program—a 9-month-long, weekly after-school program for middle school students to explore their personal interests in STEAM. This program enables students to receive long-term mentorship from innovators from around the world and participate in hands-on workshops and field trips. By the end of the semester, students gain a better understanding of how they can take an idea from concept to reality through innovation with art + design, science, and technology.

In addition to these two programs, Gique has provided a wide variety of educational opportunities to people of all ages in the Boston area for the past four years. We have collaborated with numerous organizations to provide educational programming, including MIT Museum, Harvard Museum of Science & Culture, Artisan’s Asylum, and General Assembly Boston.

SC: How can corporations that support a vibrant STEM workforce get involved in advancing STEAM education?

DO: First, corporations should stand with teachers and parents to fight back against policies that discourage interdisciplinary education. This may include, but is not limited to, policies that result in art, drama, history, and science class time reduction and policies, which discourage teachers from being innovative due to too much focus on standardized testing.

Second, people in power must use their influence to help give underrepresented groups more access to resources that can level the playing field in education. I had access to programs like FIRST Robotics Competition and MIT’s Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science Program, which changed my life, thanks to the generosity of donors investing directly in people of color by sponsoring these programs. However, I wouldn’t have been able to participate in these programs if I had to pay for them. That’s why Gique leverages the support of its sponsors to deliver life-changing experiences to students that help them pursue career dreams that they may have deemed impossible.

SC: How is Gique measuring its impact?

DO: We have a structured process in place to design, administer, and analyze quantitative and qualitative measurements, including pre- and post- assessments, audio/video interviews, and external feedback (from program staff/volunteers and parents/guardians).

Specifically, for Gique’s OST STEAM Program, a schema was developed to identify, both broadly and specifically, what students learned and in what context it applies to their lives. Prior to each term, the program leadership developed several goals for student impact, with measurable indicators to assess each goal. Assessment questions were adapted from the Museum of Science Boston’s Engineering is Elementary program assessment model. At the end of the semester, students completed the same assessment for the program leadership to understand what deltas occurred and what the development areas were for program improvement.

While the quantitative data collected often helped to inform strategic decisions and content choices, the qualitative data showed how the program impacted students, parents, volunteers and teachers. Gique wholeheartedly believes that learning experiences should be fun, so asking these qualitative questions were critical to the development and success of the pilot OST STEAM program.

Gaining parent/guardian feedback served to be an excellent indicator of how excited students were about the program.

Visit Gique’s community of leaders and makers at




California hiring underrepresented groups in renewable energy industry


By Carol Zabin and Robert Collier

As California policymakers speed up the state’s switch to renewable energy, a key question is this: Do the much-touted new green jobs actually go to a diverse cross-section of the state’s workforce, or are disadvantaged communities left out?

According to data obtained and analyzed by researchers at University of California Berkeley’s Labor Center, the answer is that in recent years, a significant share of strong, career-track jobs in the construction of renewable energy power plants statewide have, in fact, gone to low-income residents and people of color.

Our recently issued report shows that the joint union-employer apprenticeship programs used in these projects have played an important role in diversifying California’s clean energy workforce.

In Kern County, local data shows that 43 percent of entry-level electrical workers on solar power plant construction lived in communities designated as disadvantaged by the California Environmental Protection Agency, while 47 percent lived in communities with unemployment rates of at least 13 percent.

Kern County electrical apprentice pay schedules show a clear progression toward the middle class. Current first-year apprentices start at $16.49 per hour plus full benefits and receive wage increases as they move through their five-year training program. Graduates become journey electricians earning more than $40 per hour.

Statewide, the picture is similar. Among the 16 union locals of electricians, ironworkers, and operating engineers that have built most of California’s renewable energy power plants, about 60 percent of new apprentices were people of color.

Diversity varied by trade. Latinos, who make up one-third of the state’s labor force, represented 53 percent of new apprentice ironworkers, 34 percent of electrical workers, and 23 percent of operating engineers. While African-Americans are 6 percent of the statewide labor force, they made up 4 percent of new apprentice electricians, 6 percent of ironworkers, and 9 percent of operating engineers.

The presence of military veterans in these programs also was higher than in California’s workforce as a whole. While veterans are only 4 percent of statewide workers, they comprised 9 percent of new electrical apprentices, 6 percent of ironworkers, and 12 percent of operating engineers.

The weak point in these apprenticeship programs, as with the rest of California’s construction industry, was the participation of women, ranging from only 2 percent to 6 percent among the three trades.

All told, the track record shows that California has made progress toward broadening access for disadvantaged workers to good jobs in the clean energy economy. But this diversity has not been automatic. A key driver of progress is the fact that most renewable energy plants were built under project labor agreements, which ensure union wage and benefit standards and free training for low-skilled workers through state-certified apprenticeships. Recruitment efforts by unions and the projects’ locations were also important since many renewable power plants are in counties such as Kern that have high unemployment and concentrations of low-income communities.

Looking forward, job access in the clean energy industry can be advanced by adopting specific programs such as publicly funded pre-apprenticeship training and local-hire provisions, in combination with project labor agreements.

Additional progress is likely if state lawmakers approve SB 100, which would commit California electricity providers to obtain 100 percent of their power from clean energy sources by 2045. This would drive further growth of renewable energy construction, which in turn would create more jobs and more openings in state-certified apprenticeship programs. The net result would be an important step forward along California’s path to meeting its climate challenge while simultaneously broadening access to middle-class jobs.

About the Authors
Carol Zabin and Robert Collier are director and policy specialist, respectively, of the Green Economy Program at the Center for Labor Research and Education at UC Berkeley.



Chance The Rapper, Google Team Up To Give $1.5 Million Toward STEM In Chicago Schools


The Chicago rapper is advocating for more computer science education in his hometown.

Chance the Rapper is like Santa to Chicago Public Schools.

The three-time Grammy winner teamed up with Google to bring computer science education to students in the Chicago area. The tech giant will give a $1 million grant to Chance’s nonprofit, SocialWorks, and $500,000 directly to Chicago Public Schools.

The company announced their donation on Wednesday, after Chance surprised fifth graders at Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Academy during a coding lesson with Google employees as a part of Computer Science Education Week. The grant will also help teachers incorporate computer science and arts curricula in their classrooms.

“We’re honored to support SocialWorks’ mission to help underrepresented students in Chicago reach their full potential, as well as Chicago Public Schools’ efforts to turn computer science into a pathway for creative expression,” principal Justin Steele said in a statement. “There’s so much talent and creativity in the communities that these schools serve — and Chance The Rapper embodies what can happen when that creativity is unleashed. With exposure to computer science, students can use technology to turn their creative passions — whether that’s art, writing, music or something else — into something bigger.”

Justin Cunningham, executive director of SocialWorks, said the donation “sheds light on another pathway to success” for Chicago’s youth.

Continue onto the Huffington Post to read the complete article.

Nadia Hamilton was inspired to launch MagnusCards by her brother with autism


This tech designer’s new app is a video game for individuals with cognitive needs

When 30-year-old app designer Nadia Hamilton was growing up, she noticed that her younger brother Troy, who was and is living with autism, needed support in completing everyday tasks. Brushing teeth and getting dressed were especially difficult.

Troy would go into the bathroom to pick up his toothbrush but would wait for family members to prompt him on the next task.

“OK, step one, you’re going to put the toothpaste on your toothbrush. Step two, then you’re going to do this and that and this and that,” Hamilton said. “If he did not have that support, he was stuck.

“This is something that people with autism and cognitive special needs in general tend to struggle with: knowing or feeling comfortable doing the step-by-step instructions that are involved in a process.”

By the time Troy Hamilton, who is now 28, graduated from high school, there were fewer and fewer opportunities for his continued personal and social development. So Hamilton used her experiences growing up with Troy to launch Magnusmode and create MagnusCards, an app in the form of a video game that focuses on providing step-by-step instructions for completing tasks.

“I got an idea. I think I was around 8 years old. I knew that Troy loved video games, and I knew that he loved using the official strategy guides for each video game. A strategy guide is kind of like a step-by-step instruction to help you get through a stage in a game. So I knew that this guide enabled him to play the games on his own. I started thinking, I’m like, ‘OK, I like to draw. What if I can utilize my creativity to help him to navigate life around the home?’ ”

Brushing teeth, making toast, preparing for school and bedtime are part of MagnusCards’ system. In its preparation stage, Hamilton would use tape to post instructions to the walls of the apartment she shared with Troy. Troy would then go through each activity by looking at the visuals and re-enacting what he saw step by step.

“This afforded him with the confidence and with the safety net of knowing that he was going to get to the end of the activity, and he would not miss any steps, and he could do it on his own,” Hamilton explained. “It was pretty much from the strategy guides from video games, I created the ultimate strategy guide for life.”

Hamilton graduated from the University of Toronto, where she studied history and political science and earned a bachelor’s degree. She started working with individuals with special needs to pay her way through college. Going into their homes as one of her duties gave her insight on how other users could benefit from the app. So while developing MagnusCards, she was able to focus on an all-inclusive product that would benefit others seeking to maintain everyday work or life habits. The gaming program offers full customization so caregivers, parents, teachers and others can use it.

“So if somebody’s used to doing laundry a certain way with their laundry machine with shirts that are a certain color, the pictures and the text can be customized on the card decks so that their experience is unique, and the instruction is relayed in a way that is important and digestible to them,” Hamilton said.

Continue onto The Undefeated to read the complete article.

This Engineer’s Smartphone-Controlled Robots Will Be Sold In Apple Stores


MekaMons are a perfect marriage between gaming and stem technology.

It has been four long years for British-Nigerian engineer Silas Adekunle.

His company, Reach Robotics, has worked tirelessly to develop  MekaMons, a line of agile robots that can be controlled by a user’s smartphone.

Smartphone-controlled robots may sound like all fun and games, but these robots are no child’s plaything: they can do battle with other MekaMons at a drop of the dime.

If that sounds dope to you, you’re in luck.

According to TechCrunch, Adekunle’s robots will be sold at Apple stores starting this week. Although a variety of robots are available, the entry-level device starts at $300.

“One of our investors set up a meeting [with Apple], and they loved it,” Adekunle said. The Apple team was especially excited to see Adekunle’s plans to incorporate augmented reality in his product. The tech giant has recently doubled down on AR development by releasing a special AR toolkit (ARkit) that Adekunle plans to use in future versions of his technology.

In part thanks to that synergy, Apple will sell the innovative robots, that are a perfect cross between robotics and gaming, exclusively online and in its brick-and-mortar stores.

“It will feel surreal to see them finally in stores after spending years building these robots from scratch,” Adekunle said.

The journey to Apple stores saw Adekunle working for GE Aviation and Infineon before he set out on his own. The inventor first had the idea for MekaMons while still in college.

“We’ve created an entirely new video gaming platform,” Adekunle stated in a press release. “MekaMon straddles both the real and virtual worlds while taking the gaming experience beyond a player’s screen and turning their sitting room into a limitless robotic battle zone.”

Continue onto Blavity to read the complete article.

5 Reasons to Choose a Career in Nursing


By Heather Marr

Whether we realize it or not, nurses are critical to our daily lives—working in our schools, physician’s offices, hospitals, nursing homes and hospices, and even in our homes. Nurses help us at our best and worst times, when we are most vulnerable, and they take our stories to heart.

Here are some important things you should know every day of the year—especially if you’re considering the field:

  1. Whom can you trust? Nurses, that’s who.

An annual Gallup poll released in December 2016 marked the 15th consecutive year that nurses were ranked as the nation’s most trusted profession. According to the poll, 84 percent of Americans rated nurses’ honesty and ethical standards as “very high” or “high.”

  1. We need more nurses!

Feeling inspired by the nurses in your life? It’s a strong line of work to aspire to. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for registered nurses are projected to grow 16 percent between 2014 and 2024—from 2.75 million to approximately 3.2 million—as the nation’s aging population and growing access to health care boosts demand for long-term and acute care.

  1. Good news: Nursing’s for everyone.

Gone are the days when becoming a male nurse was an anomaly. While today’s nursing workforce is still predominately made up of women, there is a growing number of men entering the field each year.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 1970, just 2.7 percent of registered nurses were men. By 2016, men made up approximately 8 percent of working registered nurses, according to a report from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

  1. Even better, nurses get jobs.

According to the AACN, nurses comprise the largest single component of hospital staff, are the primary providers of patient care in the nation’s hospitals, and also deliver a majority of the long-term care in the United States.

Registered nurses also have the highest employment of all healthcare practitioners in the United States, according to BLS data, making up 3.1 million of the nearly 9 million workers employed as healthcare practitioners in 2016.

The next largest healthcare practitioner occupation, physicians and surgeons, represented 1.06 million workers.

  1. Fulfillment: Nurses sure like what they do.

A 2016 Medscape survey of more than 10,000 registered nurses in the United States found that 95 percent of respondents were glad they become a nurse.

Relationships with and gratitude from patients was identified as the most rewarding aspect of a nursing career by survey respondents.

About the Author
Heather Marr is a marketing and student recruitment specialist in higher education. Follow her on Twitter @Haf0577Marr, or connect on LinkedIn.

View the original article at:

Bringing Diversity in Comic Books

Keith Jett-Artist

Former GA Tech football player creates books to promote diversity in cartoons, comic books, and film. Keith Jett (FKA Gary Keith Brown II) has launched a new comic book series entitled, Legends of War.

Since leaving GA Tech, Jett has put all his energy into bringing diversity to the comic book action hero genre as a creator, artist, and writer. He speaks heavily on the need for diversity in cartoons, comic books, and film. He states, “In order to make an impact, there must first be a difference in the way we think about and represent our culture. We don’t need to follow what most people consider mainstream. We must create our own brands within society.”

Jett has put his talents to work as both a creator of comic books and Rapper Look-Alike Events.

Legends of War: Issue#1 Battlefield is a story about two black men, Jerrald and Relic, who co-exist between the Human realm and the Legend realm. They must sacrifice their friendship and fight to the death to determine who will Die Human or Die a Legend. The Human Realm is where those who used to be Legends go after they’ve died in combat. They no longer have the power to activate their legend state.

The Legend Realm is where legends fight each other to become a True Legend, which is granted unlimited power and remains in the legend state, never to be human again. True Legends can exist in both the Human Realm and the Legend Realm. They walk the universe as one of the most powerful beings.

The Rapper Look-a-Like Events are based on rappers that inspired Keith Jett’s art in the Gangsta Turtles series. Picture a world of Turtles—but stuck to the G-Code. Follow the intense and action-packed adventures of Terrance, Krill, and KJ as they use their G-Code to tote guns, dodge bullets, and fight to bring back peace to their community from the machines who hunt them: the cyber beast unit. Tupac Shakur inspired the look and personality of the character Two-Shots, who represents loyalty. Biggie Smalls inspired the character Bullet Fretts’ demeanor and body type. Boosie inspired the swag and clothing of the main character, Terrence.

“There aren’t enough Black or African-American action heroes on the market that are readily available for ethnic communities online, in comic book stores, or on film,” Jett says.

About Keith Jett
Keith Jett is the creator, artist and owner of Keith Jett Productions. He is known for creating worlds beyond others’ imaginations. His main focus is to bring awareness to brand-new Black Action Heroes. Keith Jett wants his productions and characters to make a powerful impact on the world. Keith creates art for comic books, album covers, businesses, and other artistic avenues.

Black Accessory Designers Alliance (BADA) presented the creations of accessory designers of color at recent New York Fashion Week Pop Up Soirée


On Tuesday September 12, 2017, Black Accessory Designers Alliance™ (BADA) presented the creations of accessory designers of color at their semi-annual New York Fashion Week Pop Up Soirée.

The event, a celebration of talented, yet undiscovered artisans, took place from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Unarthodox at 547 West 27 Street, Suite 300 in West Chelsea. Wilbur Pack, Jr., the co-founder of BADA, was among the designers showcasing the newest styles of his bag line SK WiLBUR. He says, “We are very proud to generate this opportunity for designers, like me, who would not normally be able to afford the cost of showing for New York Fashion Week. With BADA, we are able to pool our monies to reach the shared goal of shining a spotlight on each individual and our community as a whole.”

Ursallie Smith, the interior design dynamo behind Rococo Design Interiors and the mastermind behind Pillow Throw and Tuck™ decorative pillows, presented her home accessories line for the fourth time with BADA. “It’s gratifying to be a part of BADA sharing my aesthetic with a broad spectrum of people,” Smith admits. Velvet Lattimore, the owner of Vedazzling Accessories Boutique in DUMBO, Brooklyn and co-founder of BADA presented some of the special, one-of-a-kind, handcrafted accessory pieces that she’s collected as a retailer and champion of unsung designers. She says, “There is so much under-the-radar talent out here. With BADA and Vedazzling Accessories, I am able to introduce their work to the buying public and press, too.”

Joining BADA for NY Fashion Week for the first time was FULABA, a contemporary jewelry line of earrings and bracelets. Handcrafted and beautifully rendered in both silver and gold, these wearable works of art invoke the majesty of African queens. Haby Barry, the brand’s founder, is a Guinean American of Fulani descent who wants to share the traditions, nobility, and grace of her ancestors with the world. She is also empowering the people of Guinea by using her entrepreneurial endeavors to build economic opportunities for them. To shop her line, please visit

Shavon Dorsey, the designer and CEO of her eponymous shoe brand, is ready to take her seat at the table with other shoe design sheroes like Charlotte Olympia, Tory Burch, and Tabitha Simmons. After years of gazing longingly at the shoe candy gracing the pages of magazines like Vogue and W, Shavon made the fearless move to create footwear that is easy on the pocketbooks of fashionistas like her and her girlfriends. Sandals, wedges, and pumps in bright, bold colors comprise the premier collection. Five head-turning styles that so deftly combine style with comfort are currently available for purchase on

Sheryl Jones began her career in fine jewelry in 1999, after working for a decade in the entertainment industry as a film and television publicist and later as Vice President of Communications at MTV: Music Television. “I have always been passionate about fine gemstones’ transformative power and beauty,” she explains, “and dreamed of one day bringing music’s similar vitality to a fine jewelry collection of my own.” After working as an apprentice with one of Belgium’s finest diamond manufacturers, she struck out on her own with Sheryl Jones Designs in New York City’s Diamond District. Now this gem genius who has been dubbed “The Black Queen of Diamonds” is blazing her own trail as the only black woman operating her own brand of bling in The District. To check out some of her ogle-worthy pieces, visit

Tremaine Coates, the heartbeat of T’Da Couture, is a self taught bag and belt designer who picked up a needle and thread one day after work just a few short years ago and stitched up his first pristine leather bag. Now he’s weaving his innate talent into entrepreneurial gold with a collection of structured bags that are functional and beautifully rendered in luxurious leathers.The leather belts, in colors like cobalt and red, have a polished gold buckle featuring the company’s logo. They are perfect for both men and women. To place an order from the collection, please email

André Pierre’s passion for design was ignited at an early age when his maternal grandmother taught him his first stitch on fabric swatches. With determination and a focus on his studies at the New York Interior Design School and Atlanta Metropolitan Technical College, André soon became a sought after set decorator with over 75 Hollywood films to his credit including The Hunger Games series, Selma, and Baby Driver. André’s work can also be seen on the OWN cable series Greenleaf and several commercials for Samsung. Twelve years ago, this interior design dynamo established A Pierre Design, LLC decorating dozens of model homes and creating sought after home accessories. To see more about André, please visit his

Black Accessory Designers Alliance, established in 2015, addresses a crippling divide in the fashion industry caused by a lack of meaningful opportunities for minority designers. We seek to elevate and increase the visibility of accessory businesses owned by designers of color by increasing opportunities for them to network with industry leaders and others. Our five main initiatives are:

The Bi-Annual New York Fashion Week Pop-Up Soiree
During NY Fashion Week, we present the work of emerging and established accessory designers of color and invite fashion industry leaders, traditional press, bloggers, and the public to become acquainted with them and their designs. The event and participating designers have been featured in respected publications, both online and print.

Panel Discussions and Networking Mixers
We host panel discussions and mixers throughout the year featuring up-and-coming designers and trailblazers who promote community development,collaboration,and cultivate networking opportunities. Handbag designer Monica Botkier, vintage style guru Jonathan Bodrick, celebrity wardrobe stylist Wouri Vice, and many others who are well-regarded in fashion have participated.

Internships and Mentoring
Because of the importance of demonstrating to young designers the viability of their art as a career, we offer internships to NYC-area high school and college students. We have fostered relationships with the High School of Fashion Industries, Harvey Milk School, Harlem School of the Arts, and Henry Street Settlement.

The Database of Accessory Designers of Color
As members of the community we serve, we often hear from potential consumers that they don’t know how to find products by designers of color. We are creating an online directory of designers in all accessory disciplines—including bags, contemporary jewelry, and millinery—that will be featured on our website

The Store & E-Commerce Site
Items created by participating designers are sold at Vedazzling Accessories Boutique and on

Check Your Phone at the Door! Are You Disrespecting Your Coworkers?

Cell Phone Etiquette

Nearly everyone has a cell phone. These devices can make our lives easier. They keep us connected to other people and send us continual information. However, there is a time to use them and when we should put them away.

We are all guilty of checking emails, sending text messages, and surfing the web when we were interacting with other people. People do this in meetings, on conference calls, and when grabbing lunch with colleagues. Sometimes we do it out of necessity, but often we do it out of a sense of self-importance.

Let us be honest about this practice. Most of the time it is rude, disrespectful, and annoying. People can tell when you are half listening to them, and they can literally see you pull out your mobile device when they are midsentence. Your behavior is inescapable.

It is time for more of us to start unplugging and reconnecting with people. Why? You could be sending signals that you do not intend — signals that could have negative repercussions on your professional advancement. When you offend people, they take it personally. They tend to remember and stop liking you.

So what messages are you sending when you do not fully engage with others and have your nose in your phone? What is that potential negative blowback from being unable to electronically disconnect?

  1. Sending the Message — I’m Not Listening & You Aren’t Important

Here is the bottom line — people want you to listen when they speak. They do not want to feel like they are talking to themselves. Also, your colleagues do not want to have to repeat themselves at a later time because you missed pertinent information. This wastes their time and is inefficient.

If you cannot actively listen and participate in key conversations, you are saying that the people around the table are not important to you. Your actions are indicating that your collective work is less important than what is in your phone, and that you lack self-awareness and “home training.” You may not want people to assume you are narcissistic, but your actions by their very nature may indicate otherwise.

Therefore, if you are in a planning session at work and brainstorming your team’s next big project, it is the perfect time to disconnect from your phone. Not only will you be perceived as being a more involved team player, but you will actually end up being just that — involved. Go figure!

  1. Relationships Require Facetime — So Stop Showing People the Top of Your Head!

To build relationships with colleagues and clients, you actually needCell Phone-Etiquette to show up and be present. We may live in a virtual world, but relationships need real facetime. There is no substitute for direct involvement and going beyond virtual experiences. Start living and working more in the moment.

You cannot build strong and lasting relationships if you only connect with people virtually. You should strike while the iron is hot and connect with the people physically around you. If you are half engaged with someone else virtually while you have a live human being in front of you, it is a missed opportunity that you elected to squander.

Genuine human connection requires being mentally engaged and showing that you are a full participant in conversations. The best way to form strong relationships is to put the gadgets away so you can become an active listener in real time.

  1. Whatever It Is, It Can Wait!

Unless someone is literally about to die, it is an emergency, or the company or a client relationship is on the verge of falling apart, those texts and emails can wait an hour or two. The world will not crumble if people have to wait a little longer to hear back from you because you are in a meeting. However, what will start to deteriorate is how you are perceived by your fellow team members when you cannot pay attention when others speak.

For those special instances when something truly is urgent that requires your immediate attention, you should alert your colleagues that you have a time-sensitive matter that you are handling simultaneously. This allows you to manage expectations. You should only check your phone periodically. Do not remain glued to your device checking and responding to messages every few minutes. You should only look for messages specifically relating to that urgent topic. Everything else can wait.

However, if you use this “urgency” excuse often, then people will catch onto you. They will believe this is simply how you always operate. Colleagues may become annoyed and think you are just rude and disrespectful. This will become part of your narrative and brand, and who they think you are.

Final Thoughts

While you may try to convince yourself that you can multitask, please do not fool yourself. You will end up doing two things poorly instead of one thing exceptionally well. At the end of the day, everyone wants to feel respected and heard. A good method to signal that you think what your coworkers have to say is important and that their time is valued is to check your cell phone at the door.

Not only will your bonds with your colleagues and clients grow, but you will be more engaged in what takes place around you. You will find that as you increasingly fully engage, it will pay positive dividends in your career and the relationships you develop.

If you resist change and are incapable of disconnecting, then ask yourself this — why would anyone want to invite you to the next client meeting or task you on the next major project if you are oblivious or indifferent to the impact that your phone etiquette and behavior has on the team?

The Azara Group
The Azara Group (TAG) is a consulting firm that promotes the development of leaders in an increasingly competitive and diverse marketplace — providing strategy consulting services and leadership training services to advance professional and life success. TAG leverages expertise in career strategy, diversity, negotiation skills, and business acumen to provide strategic advice and consulting services to help people and organizations get what they want, achieve their goals, and advance their business and career objectives. TAG also helps companies better attract, retain, and promote diverse talent, and develop robust diversity platforms and strategies to create a more inclusive workplace. We invite you to share your thoughts with us. You can contact us directly at

Fatimah Gilliam, CEO, The Azara Group

Uber partners with Girls Who Code to fight for greater diversity in tech


Uber is announcing today a multi-year partnership with the nonprofit Girls Who Code. As part of the deal, Uber is donating $1.2 million to Girls Who Code over the next three years. The money will go towards growing more after school and immersion programs for young girls to learn tech at an earlier age and the organization estimates that 60,000 more girls will gain access to these programs as a result of the deal.

While this initiative and the timing reads as another attempt by Uber to try and get good press after a series of PR disasters, at least the money is going toward a good cause. Uber engineers are also going to volunteer at Girls Who Code local chapters to help set up coding workshops and mentorship programs. And Uber also has another $1.8 million left in its diversity fund for the next three years that it plans to spend on other organizations that are similar to Girls Who Code.

To ensure the deal goes smoothly, Uber’s Chief Branding Officer Bozoma Saint John is also joining Girls Who Code’s board of directors. Saint John, who was hired by Uber away from Apple only a month before Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick stepped down, has been perceived by many as someone who might be able to help address Uber’s diversity problem, a problem that the entire tech industry faces as well. “Now more than ever it’s important to see strong female leadership in the tech industry,” Reshma Saujani, CEO & Founder of Girls Who Code, said. “Bozoma exemplifies this.”

Continue onto The Verge to read the complete article.

Larry Satterfield: Making “Spark” Fly at Cisco

Larry Satterfield

Cisco’s Larry Satterfield has a vision for the company: He wants to use technology to increase diversity, inclusion, and productivity in the workplace.  As Video Sales Specialist, Satterfield knows that Cisco is in a perfect position to implement collaboration technology to achieve those goals. With more than 20 years in sales, Satterfield brings his knowledge of technology to Cisco’s sales department.

Can you tell us about your career path at Cisco?
I started my career at Cisco in 2010 as a result of Cisco’s acquisition of Tandberg. My initial role was Area Vice President in Telepresence Sales. In the summer of 2012, I left to join Acano, a software and hardware infrastructurestart up. As Acano’s Global Sales leader, I helped to build a business that was doing about $50M in revenue with over 2000 enterprise and federal customers. Then, in the middle of our third year in business, Cisco purchased the company for $700M, and I accepted an offer to return as Area Vice President for Spark video sales.

How do you see technology’s role in influencing corporate culture now and in the future?
Technology will continue to explode and increase productivity in the workplace. The influence on corporate culture will depend on the company. There are those companies that will embrace the new ways of communicating and collaborating, and those are the companies that I believe will thrive with high levels of employee satisfaction. Teams will be able to work and collaborate around the globe without tremendous sacrifice to their families and other interests. Corporate cultures will become globalized in a richer way than just financials. More and more, collaboration solutions are making cross-GEO teams the norm rather than the exception.

How will Cisco technology specifically factor into that future, and Cisco-Larry Satterfieldhow will it drive more inclusion?
Cisco is already enabling inclusion and innovation through our collaboration technology, such as WebEx and TelePresence. And we’re continuing to lead in this area with new solutions like Cisco Spark Board — a digital whiteboard, wireless presentation device, and video unit all in one. Spark Board has the potential to greatly impact inclusion, especially for the K-12 and higher education markets. It will provide diverse students with access to rich technology long before they enter the workforce. And its video capability enables inclusion and collaboration across organizations, regardless of where teams physically reside. At Cisco, we believe a diverse and inclusive work culture is fundamental, but enhanced collaboration is where the ROI is realized.

Can you describe any situations from your own career that involved obstacles or bias you had to overcome and share what you learned from those situations?
My career has been full of roadblocks, but also sponsorship from mentors who took an interest in my potential. As a young African American guy selling technology, I figured out early that building relationships with clients would not be easy. I could not count on familiarity (similar background) and would have to do more to gain the trust of my potential clients. Not only did I have to understand my product and the customers’ needs better than my competitors, I had to execute at a higher level of responsiveness to gain credibility. The social aspect of selling did not appear to be available to me. I recall one of my original sales leaders commenting that my expense reports were always low in comparison to my peers. I did not take clients to lunch or dinner as much as they did. It was eye-opening because I did invite clients out, but for the most part, they preferred to meet in the office. Therefore, social selling was never a great option for me. As I gained credibility with my clients by demonstrating a thorough understanding of the technology and how it would help their environment, I was able to overcome my competitors. At the end of the day, most clients chose what was best for their company over who they were most friendly with. I am sure I lost a few deals because of familiarity, but I think I won more deals due to my credibility and my ability to create trusted relationships as a result of my knowledge and preparation.

Larry Satterfield-Cisco

As a leader, what general advice do you have for someone just starting out or looking for a new career path?
The most important advice I could give to someone just starting out is to pick something you have a strong aptitude for and where your experience and training provides value. This requires a great deal of self-awareness, which can be developed over time and throughout your career. Second, pick a career that can start you on a journey to financial independence. Third, do not limit yourself to a specific geography. Broaden your scope so your opportunities are more abundant. Finding the right career can be competitive, so the more opportunities you have the better.

How is Cisco supporting inclusion and collaboration in the workplace?
In my 35-year career, there are two companies that truly viewed inclusion as significant to the success of the company achieve revenue and its ability to achieve revenue and profit goals. Cisco is one of those companies. The commitment to diversity and inclusion of women and minorities is on display every day at Cisco. It is seen as strategic to the success of all functions. Cisco’s Multiplier Effect initiative is just one example. Executives take a pledge to sponsor one diverse candidate and challenge three of their peers to do the same. This is a game-changing idea, and one concrete way we can change the stats for diversity in the Tech industry. Sponsorship for career growth has always been the key driver for upward mobility, but in my opinion it’s typically been limited to the white, male population. In my personal career, I have been blessed with this rare sponsorship at least six times, but most of my associates have never experienced it in a meaningful way. They have had multiple mentors, which have helped, but to have a sponsor that makes your success his or her priority is a massive leap forward. Cisco’s CEO, Chuck Robbins, signed the Multiplier Effect Pledge, which will change the landscape at Cisco and significantly increase the opportunities to attract the best and brightest talent around the globe.

How can a culture of inclusion and diversity make Cisco more relevant with customers?
There are two very important ways that inclusion and diversity impact our customers. First, by being diverse we attract the brightest and best talent around the globe. This makes us more innovative and results in the best products and best ideas for solving our customer’s challenges. Second, from a sales standpoint, a diverse workforce helps us appeal to a broader set of clients —and anyone in sales knows that the more opportunities you have, the more revenue you will generate.

Source: Cisco

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