How African-American Olympian ANITA L. DEFRANTZ Helped Change the World

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Anita DeFrantz

LOS ANGELES (October 2, 2017) – Anita L. DeFrantz is a Bronze medal-winning Olympic rower; Attorney; Activist; Vice President of the International Olympic Committee; Multiple Sclerosis fighter;Speaker; and Humanitarian.

She has been a trailblazer as an Olympic athlete, during a time when women – especially women of color – were invisible.

Today, DeFrantz unveils her fascinating life and significant accomplishments in her new book My Olympic Life: A Memoir. Readers will find this modern-day heroine provides a wealth of inspiration and encouragement in these pages, and not just for current and aspiring athletes, women and minorities.

Gloria Steinem said, “Just reading My Olympic Life will make your heart race, your mind expand, and your hopes rise. That’s the kind of life Anita DeFrantz has lived, as a child in an activist family, an Olympic champion fighting for fairness, and a leader challenging limits of race and sex. Everyone needs her story…”

With unwavering tenacity, Anita L. DeFrantz has fought against sexual harassment, helped to change outdated gender verification rules, cracked down on doping, influenced new eligibility requirements, and helped maintain the integrity of the Olympic Movement. She even took on President Jimmy Carter when he tried to use the Olympics as a political forum during the Cold War.

Surely, it is DeFrantz’s boldness, clarity of vision and personal courage that has led this exemplary woman to rise to become the seventh-ranking member in seniority of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). She currently serves on the IOC Executive Board, and as one of the IOC’s four Vice Presidents.

In this riveting book, co-authored with five-time New York Times bestselling author Josh Young, DeFrantz reveals how she emerged from racist threats during her Indiana childhood to exhibiting unwavering leadership and ever-growing influence in Olympic circles to fight sexual harassment and racism, grow women’s Olympic sports, influence new eligibility requirements, change outdated gender verification rules, and more. She even delves into hot-button Olympic issues like doping and political scandals.

Reading My Olympic Life will reveal why DeFrantz has been named one of the “150 Women Who Shake the World” by Newsweek and one of the “101 Most Influential Minorities in Sports” by Sports Illustrated.

Much more than a celebration of advancements in women’s or civil rights, more than a tale of her Olympic victories, My Olympic Life reveals how one motivated, courageous, and passionate person can truly help change the world.

For media inquiries and interview opportunities contact:
Tracy McCormick
310.766.7560 mobile

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Black History Month Spotlight: How Eric Wise Turned His Love of Kicks & Culture Into a Career at Adidas

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Like many people who work at powerful athletic companies, Eric Wise fell in love with sneakers at an early age.

“I remember my first pair of Jordans and different Adidas product — they were status pieces,” said Wise, who joined Adidas in 2016 and is now global senior director of product for Originals. “They were social currency back then, without social media.”

Wise, now a father of four, grew up in Reading, Pa., a city with one of the highest crime rates in the state. As he tells it: “When you grow up in the inner city, unfortunately there are tons of examples of what not to do, and you grow through that. You can either do the bad stuff or have an angle around it with sports, art, music or fashion.”

For Wise, it was sports. He eventually earned a spot on the football team at Fairfield University in Connecticut. After college, with a business degree in hand, he entered the finance world in Boston, calling it “a painful experience selling mutual funds. I quickly decided it wasn’t for me.”

It’s little wonder, then, that Wise found his way back to his true passion: sneaker culture.

Here’s how it happened — and how he continues to rise through the ranks.

What made you want to pursue a career in the athletic industry? How did you break in?

“I went back to Reading in 2004, and there was a store called Sneaker Villa, which had a couple of [locations] at the time. It was family-owned, and it had all the big footwear and apparel accounts. They were a big deal and they were selling the culture — sneakers, sports and hip-hop were all clashing together. It was cool to see that marriage. I knew the owner and started working in the warehouse. They got to the point where they were looking to expand into Philadelphia. They asked if I wanted to run one of the stores or be a buyer. So I actually ended up being the first person that wasn’t a family member that could spend their money.”

Looking back on your career, what accomplishment are you most proud of?

“I’m most proud of being able to be an example to other African-Americans and minorities that may not know that these jobs exist in the industry — that there are these opportunities in the footwear business and sportswear. I didn’t know [that] growing up. I didn’t really travel out of my state until I was 18. I never got on a plane until I was in college. All these things were foreign to me. How would you know? There are tons of kids across the country in that same boat. So being able to be an example and show people that there are these opportunities in this industry, in something that you love, grew up with and is part of our culture, is something I’m proud of.”

As a minority, what has been the biggest obstacle you faced in your career?

“The lack of diversity within this industry is something that is very visible. That’s what you see. That ends up becoming an obstacle. Is there enough mentoring from people who can show you the path to go? Can you get educated on how best to navigate corporate America? In general, if you don’t have a lot of people of color in those high positions to look to as an example, to show you the way to go, or have those people to talk to, it’s harder to get into those larger positions.”

Sneakers have a diverse consumer base. Why doesn’t that diversity translate at the higher levels in greater numbers at these companies?

“I’m assuming everybody wants to have a more diverse company regardless of what industry you are in. Whether people are recruiting in the right places and things like that, I don’t know.”

So what specific steps should footwear firms take to make their ranks more diverse?

“It goes back to when you recruit — where do you cast your net? That is super-important. If you’re a company, you should look at where there’s consumption. If there is a large amount of consumption by this consumer base in certain places, that’s a good place to start. Focus on where that is. Going to where the consumer that really buys your product lives and is a brand advocate is the easiest place to start to get that pipeline going.”

Continue onto FootWearNews to read the complete article.

Phil Freelon, America’s most prominent black architect, designs for the culture

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The ‘Blacksonian,’ Atlanta’s civil rights center — and a Durham bus station — are all part of his legacy.

It was a brisk early afternoon in January, and I was sitting in a van in Durham, North Carolina, with Phil Freelon, arguably the most prominent working African-American architect in the country. Freelon is best known for designing the National Museum of African American History and Culture and other major museum projects — among them Atlanta’s National Center for Civil Rights, San Francisco’s Museum of the African Diaspora, and Charlotte’s Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. But on this day, we were admiring, of all things, a bus station.

“If you go around the country and visit bus stations, they’re usually seedy and dirty,” he said. “But they don’t have to be.”

And the Durham Station Transportation Center, which Freelon designed, wouldn’t be out of place on the gilded campuses of Apple or Google. The center, which opened in 2008, has a glass exterior topped by a sleek metal roof sloped like a beret, covering an airy, minimalist interior lounge and ticketing area.

“In my career, I’ve learned that if you build something beautiful, people will respect it,” he said. “You’ll notice there’s no graffiti. Now, I don’t think everyone going to catch a bus looks around and says, ‘Wow, this is a beautiful building.’ But I think they soak in the ambiance, and I’m happy about that.”

The paradox of architecture is that it’s all around us, and yet, for many people, the profession remains esoteric. “If you have a talented young African-American, their family will likely know a lawyer, doctor, teacher or a clergyman, but not an architect,” Freelon said. “My parents, who were both college-educated, didn’t know an architect of any color, and certainly not a black one.

“Diversity is a huge problem in our profession. The profession is small — there are only 110,000 licensed architects in the United States, compared to 1 million attorneys and 800,000 physicians. And only 2 percent of architects are African-Americans, a lower ratio than with lawyers and doctors.”

Freelon, 65, has attempted to change that on several fronts: through his hiring practices, visits to predominantly minority schools to speak about his work, and the establishment in 2016 of the Freelon Fellowship, which provides financial aid so a student from an underrepresented group can attend the Harvard Graduate School of Design. And since he founded his eponymous firm in 1990, much of his work has been focused on designing libraries and other academic buildings for historically black colleges and universities and cultural projects in traditionally black neighborhoods.

Currently he’s involved with a major expansion of the Motown Museum in Detroit, a mile-long open-air museum along Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles and the North Carolina Freedom Park in downtown Raleigh. “He’s designed nearly every major museum or public space dedicated to black culture in the United States,” Fast Company magazine observed when it named Freelon its Architect of the Year in 2017.

“Of course, you don’t just wake up one morning and the Smithsonian wants you to build a museum,” Freelon said. “There’s 30 years of work that leads up to that.”

Before he had ever met an architect, Freelon had decided to become one. He grew up in Philadelphia, where his mother was a school administrator and his father was a salesperson for Cordis, a Miami-based medical device manufacturer. Freelon attended Central High School, an academically rigorous, predominantly white, all-boys magnet school, which also produced the famed architect Louis Kahn. Citing the influence of his grandfather, Allan Randall Freelon Sr., a Harlem Renaissance-era painter, Freelon said he was drawn to classes in the visual arts, as well as drafting and design. He also took inspiration from his strolls through the city, visiting the Franklin Institute and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “Only later,” Freelon said, “did I learn that a black architect, Julian Abele, helped design the museum,” including the iconic steps featured in Rocky.

Freelon had his mind set on attending a historically black college or university (HBCU) and enrolled at Hampton University in Virginia. “It was the height of the civil rights movement and Black Power, and I had an Afro and was very socially engaged,” he said.

Freelon plowed through the curriculum. “He was an excellent student, meticulous and curious,” said John Spencer, chairman of the architecture department, whom Freelon credits as his first mentor. Believing he would be more challenged at a larger university, Freelon transferred to North Carolina State, although he was anxious about moving deeper into the South. “When my father used to attend his company’s annual conference in Miami in the ’60s, he couldn’t stay in the downtown hotels and would stay in the black neighborhood of Overtown,” Freelon recalled. But a visit to Raleigh reassured him.

“At N.C. State, Phil and I were two of only a handful of black students at the College of Design, and there weren’t any black professors in our discipline,” recalled Percy Hooper, now an associate professor of industrial design at N.C. State. “We didn’t feel segregated from the white students, but we ended up spending a lot of time together, supporting one another.” The coursework was demanding, and there wasn’t a lot of downtime. To unwind, the friends would ride their bikes or, more ill-advisedly, toss around ninja stars.

During summers, Freelon worked for a professor at the Durham-based architectural firm of John D. Latimer and Associates and continued at the firm’s Taunton, Massachusetts, office while pursuing a master’s degree at MIT, which he completed in 1977. He worked briefly for a large firm, 3/D International in Houston, before returning to Durham to join O’Brien Atkins Associates, where he soon became the firm’s youngest partner.

Freelon helped design schools, churches and other buildings around the state. “As a young architect, you’re not a specialist and you tackle a wide variety of projects.” A significant step in his career, he said, was being tapped as lead designer for Terminal 2 of the Raleigh-Durham International Airport. “Of course, it’s since been demolished and rebuilt,” he said, chuckling. “At this stage of my career, there are a few buildings that I’ve designed that have been torn down.” (He later designed an award-winning parking garage at the airport, as well as the airport’s general aviation building.)

In 1989, Freelon received a fellowship to study independently for a year at Harvard. The next year, he left O’Brien Atkins to launch his own firm, the Freelon Group. It began as a one-man shop and grew to more than 50 employees, about 40 percent of whom are women and 30 percent people of color.

Continue onto The Undefeated to read the complete article.

A New Generation of Black Founders Is Rising in Atlanta–and the Startup World Is Taking Notice

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Forget Silicon Valley. Black entrepreneurs have discovered the best tech scene in the country.

On the 7th floor of Atlanta’s historic Biltmore Hotel, high above the Bird and Lime e-scooters below, Paul Judge stands by a window. He points toward nearly every building within a few-block radius. “Five years ago, these spaces were all dirt,” he says.

Now, they’re full of startups–and Judge, a serial entrepreneur who’s been on the tech scene for 21 years, is responsible for much of that growth. The cybersecurity firm he co-founded in 2011, Pindrop, occupies office space on three floors of the Biltmore. Judge’s early stage venture capital firm, TechSquare Labs, is a five-minute walk away–and as he passes by, a man leans out the front door. “Hey, Paul!”

Judge is practically a celebrity in Atlanta’s entrepreneur world, partly because he’s the most accomplished black tech founder in the city. The 41-year-old Baton Rouge native moved here in 1995 to attend Morehouse College, and never left. After a few successful startups, he started using his capital to help other Atlanta-based entrepreneurs get off the ground. Now, a new generation of young and ambitious black founders are working to craft their own versions of his career path.

Atlanta has a 52 percent black population, according to census data, and it’s brimming with entrepreneurs who benefit from what Judge describes as the “three Cs”–colleges, corporations, and culture. Atlanta’s schools–including Georgia Tech, Georgia State, and black universities like Morehouse College and Spelman College–are churning out talented black developers and engineers. Pair that with the city’s thriving black culture–from actors and musicians like Tyler Perry, Donald Glover, and Outkast to politicians like John Lewis and current mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms–and the result is what Mike Ross, a local black angel investor, describes as an atmosphere “like Harlem was in the ’20s.”

Three years ago, entrepreneurs Ryan Wilson and T.K. Petersen opened The Gathering Spot, a private membership club created to build community between black entrepreneurs from local colleges, Atlanta’s celebrities, and executives from corporations like Coca-Cola and Home Depot. “The Gathering Spot, humbly, has become one of the places in town where people know that important conversations are going to be held,” Wilson says. “We’ve been fortunate that other people have come to see this space as one of those central places where you can connect with people.”

His proof: The club has more than 1,000 members, including founders of black-led startups like consumer robotics maker Monsieur, political engagement app Empowrd, and visual recognition tech company Partpic, which was sold to Amazon for an undisclosed sum in 2016.​​ In particular, Partpic co-founder Jewel Burks Solomon, 29, is one of the city’s most recent success stories.

Growing up in Nashville, Burks Solomon dreamed of moving to Atlanta and starting a business. Upon doing it in 2013, she found plenty of like-minded black entrepreneurs experiencing a common challenge: difficulty securing funding. Of the $2 million Burks Solomon raised for Partpic, only $25,000 of it came from a local source–Ross, one of the city’s few black angel investors.

“Atlanta has a high population of black entrepreneurs. The investor landscape doesn’t necessarily look the same,” explains Burks Solomon. “I’m a black person, and I’m also a woman–and if you look at the numbers, we don’t get invested in at the same rate as our white male counterparts.”

Shawn Wilkinson, founder of blockchain cloud storage company Storj, faced similar hurdles when he was trying to fundraise in 2015. “Then I brought on an older, white co-founder,” says Wilkinson, who’s 27 years old and black. “And suddenly, we’re just getting so many more leads and actually closing deals.” The company has since raised $33 million over seven funding rounds, according to Wilkinson.

Some of Atlanta’s black founders believe they can change that equation by building or selling successful companies and then investing in other black founders. “We’re trying to create this momentum where we can start having major exits or major growth in our businesses to really start shaping the ecosystem,” says Candace Mitchell, 31, founder of Atlanta-based digital hair-care startup Myavana.

Burks Solomon is already leading the way. She’s helped fund five minority-led startups since selling Partpic, including a surplus food management platform called Goodr and The Gathering Spot. And successful companies are emerging–the increasingly popular online scheduling tool Calendly, for example, was founded by Tope Awotona, an Atlanta-based native Nigerian.

Black entrepreneurs in other parts of the country are taking notice. In December, Tristan Walker sold his personal care business, Walker & Company Brands, to Procter & Gamble. Rather than relocate his operations from Silicon Valley to P&G’s Cincinnati headquarters, he threw a curve ball: The company would be moving to Atlanta. “I’ve been spending more time over the past year in Atlanta, and I get this feeling that I had back in 2008 when I came to the Bay Area where you knew something was about to pop off,” Walker explains. “I feel that way in Atlanta now across every industry.”

Continue onto Inc. to read the complete article.

How This Executive Is Enhancing Diversity And Inclusion Within The NBA

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Meet Liliahn Majeed, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for the NBA, in honor of National Girls and Women in Sports Day today, Majeed has shared her career journey, and most importantly, why she’s passionate about diversity and inclusion within the National Basketball Association. She’s responsible for providing best practices and leadership on inclusion to the league offices and teams, identifying minority and women suppliers for programs and events, creating coaching programs for people of color and women, and partnering with marketing, sponsorship, and social responsibility league and team leaders to ensure authentic engagement with the NBA’s communities.

Majeed recently joined the Diversity and Inclusion group after 12 years in the Team Marketing and Business Operations (TMBO) group. TMBO is an in-house consultancy focused on helping NBA, WNBA and NBA Development League teams strengthen employee and fan engagement and grow revenues. In her role in TMBO, Majeed led strategy for TMBO’s arena experience, season ticket membership, and premium consulting arm.

We recently spoke about what sparked her passion for diversity and inclusion within the male-dominated organization.

Dominique Fluker: Share your career journey. What attracted you to a career in sports?

Majeed: I was fortunate enough to have two loving parents and was raised in a household with little conflict or dysfunction. But I never took any of these blessings for granted, as I know this is not the story of many children. Rather than feel disconnected from struggle, it inspired me to help change the trajectory of others’ lives so more children could have many of the opportunities I did.  This also gave me a sense of bravery to try things I’ve never done despite being a little afraid. One of the reasons I was attracted to the NBA is because we use our platform to bring attention to numerous social issues, particularly those that aim to level the playing field of kids and families of color.

My first 12 years at the NBA in Team Marketing and Business Operations as the first and only, but not the last as of 3 weeks ago, women of color in the most senior role, our team constituents viewed me as an advocate who took the time to understand the uniqueness of their business, empathize with their struggles and design solutions in collaboration with them versus coming in arrogantly and telling them what to do. I was also an advocate for my NBA colleagues and still am, standing up for people who feel voiceless.

My new role allows me to allocate a lot more of my time to helping other women and POC move into our most senior roles at teams.  I’m also ecstatic that my new role is also providing me the platform to start a belonging movement at the NBA, and I hope to refine our D&I tools to spread the movement across the business world.  I’ll pause there but what fuels me is the desire to change the trajectory of children’s lives, particularly young women, stand with the powerless, and be brave for self and others.”

Fluker: As Vice President in the Diversity and Inclusion Group of the NBA, share why you are passionate about D&I.

Majeed: As a woman of color, I have always felt it is my obligation to do whatever I can to help women and people of color realize their personal definition of success.  However, it wasn’t until I went through a very difficult moment where I was consumed by self-doubt and constantly questioned if who I was, was enough, that I found a much broader purpose and passion for diversity and inclusion work. I believe all pain has a purpose. After going through that moment and emerging a survivor, I felt this urgent responsibility to make D&I a full-time role.  This is more than a job for me, it’s very personal.

I agree with Brene Brown and many other researchers and scientists who believe we are in a crisis of disconnection. While the challenge of belonging affects all of us, there is research that shows that people in a minority spend 20-30% of each day worrying about trying to fit in and belong.  At the NBA we believe equality, diversity, and inclusion at all levels is essential to the future success of our game and our business. We are laser-focused on ensuring ALL our colleagues are inspired and empowered to have that deep engagement that only comes from a true sense of belonging. Creating an environment where ALL employees at the NBA and our teams feel safe, seen, heard, and respected is something our entire league is passionate about, and that I purse every day in my work alongside our Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Oris Stuart.

Fluker: Talk to your role as Vice President in the Diversity and Inclusion Group. What does your day-to-day look like?

Majeed: I have always sought out roles where there is no typical day-to-day, and that is absolutely true in my current role. I will tell you about yesterday: one of our marquee events is coming up next week, NBA All-Star 2019 in Charlotte. During All-Star, we are hosting our second forum for women in basketball operations designed to accelerate the development of women at our teams, and others we can bring into the league.  I spent the majority of yesterday finalizing the last few details with a powerhouse planning committee of both league and team women.

In the weeks after All-Star, we are visiting two teams to hold diversity and inclusion-related strategy sessions with their senior leadership teams and lead an inclusive recruiting learning session to help us proactively eliminate bias from all aspects of the recruiting process.  Yesterday we had calls with leaders from those teams to customize the experience to that team’s unique needs.

As I mentioned earlier, the league, its teams, and players have a long history of using our game to bring people together and speak out on important social issues.  We also realize the critical importance of open-mindedness, diversity in thought and continuous learning. One of the ways we prioritize this is by hosting conversations at various events and conferences across many industries to share our work and learn from our peers.

Fluker: Share how the NBA champions diversity and inclusion activations and initiatives within their organization.

Majeed: There are a large number of initiatives we’re driving within the NBA Diversity Inclusion group, but let’s focus on the 4 key areas of focus at both the team and league office level:

  • Employing innovative recruiting and retention strategies to grow representation and engagement of people of difference in business and basketball.
  • Shifting mindsets and making a daily practice of effective bias interrupting techniques, so that being a successful leader and teammate is synonymous with championing diversity, inclusion, and belonging.
  • Strengthening cultural competence at across all levels of our organization to engage authentically and meaningfully with diverse customers and the community.
  • Leveraging diversity of thought to inspire continuous innovation.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Increasing African-American homeownership is important to economic progress

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Cerrita-Battles-Wells-Fargo

By:  Cerita Battles, SVP, head of Retail Diverse Segments, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

Black History Month celebrates the achievements of African Americans and the progress that has been made to achieve racial equality in this country. This also is an important time to recognize work that still needs to be done to achieve that equality.

One area is homeownership, where African Americans lag behind all other ethnic groups when it comes to owning a home.

People from rapidly growing diverse communities represent the majority of growth among potential first-time homebuyers. According to the 2010 Census Bureau, of the 14 million new households expected by 2024, 75 percent of those will be diverse. For many Americans and particularly African Americans, homeownership is an integral component of the American dream, and a way to build security and wealth for families.

However, the African-American homeownership rate does not align with the significant desire to own a home. The current homeownership rate for African Americans, about 42 percent, is the lowest among all ethnic minorities.  As one of the nation’s leading lenders with a team of mortgage professionals dedicated to helping customers achieve the dream of homeownership, Wells Fargo stepped up its efforts to positively impact African-American homeownership. During Black History Month in 2017, the company announced a 10-year commitment to help increase African-American homeownership that includes: $60 billion in purchase lending to create at least 250,000 homeowners; a focus on increasing the diversity of its sales team including African-American Home Mortgage Consultants; and dedicating $15 million toward homebuyer education and counseling initiatives. To achieve this important work, Wells Fargo is proud to have the support of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, the NAACP and the National Urban League.

It has been two years since we made that announcement. We continue to make progress on that commitment, helping more customers become educated about and prepared for the homebuying process and guiding and supporting them as they travel the journey to become homeowners.

Our commitment to increase African-American homeownership is part of Wells Fargo’s overall Advancing Homeownershipsm effort, which brings together people, partners and resources to create new opportunities for long-term, successful homeownership.  In addition to the African-American lending commitment, this effort includes programs like Neighborhood LIFT®, which helps low- to moderate-income families achieve homeownership with homebuyer education and down payment assistance. Since, LIFT programs have helped to create nearly 20,000 homeowners.

Even though we are making progress with our African-American lending commitment, we realize there is still much work to be done to raise the homeownership rate of this segment of the population. Like many Americans, African Americans desire to own homes, but are often challenged by industry barriers like affordability and lack of inventory. And even though we have seen improvements in the economy, underemployment and unemployment are factors in the inability to own a home.

In addition, there are misconceptions about homeownership and lack of knowledge about the process that create perceived barriers to owning a home. One of the most-believed myths is that is takes a 20 percent down payment in order to qualify for a loan. That’s not true. Many lenders, including Wells Fargo, offer financing options with a low down payment.  Another myth is that borrowers need perfect credit.  It’s important for aspiring homeowners to speak with a lender to separate the myths from the facts when it comes to purchasing a home. Homebuyer education and counseling are key in helping aspiring homeowners avoid myths, and create more confidence and knowledge when it comes to pursuing homeownership. That’s why investing in education is such a critical part of the African-American homeownership commitment.

Wells Fargo views homeownership as a pathway to financial success for our customers, a source of stability in communities and a key driver of our economy.  We want to help people find the place they will call home – the place where their lives will happen, where they will create memories, spend time with friends or raise their families.  We are dedicated to helping those who want to achieve homeownership, and our African-American commitment is one way we are working to do it.

For more information on home mortgage, visit WellsFargo.com.

What Black History Month Means To Me

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Gail Ricketts On Semi

As a company, ON Semiconductor celebrates differences and promotes an inclusive environment by valuing the contributions of all employees and the communities in which we serve. Part of this celebration is recognizing and honoring the cultural histories and backgrounds of our employees.

This February, we asked Gail Ricketts, CISA, CRISC, Certified CISA & CRISC Trainer, MBA, a key member of our information security and risk staff, to tell us about her life, career and what Black History Month means to her.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Gail Ricketts (G.R.): Black History Month, also referred to as African-American History Month, is about heritage. My personal view of Black History Month is through the lens of my heritage, which comes from Suriname, South America, and the Caribbean Island of Jamaica.

What was your introduction in early life to black history in America?

G.R.: Although most Americans know little, there is rich and diverse black history woven into the fabric of America. My family provided me with a tremendous education about our history. They made me aware of the impact that black Americans had on American society.

Who are some of the people your family taught you about growing up?

G.R.: Inventors like Jan Matzeliger, whose invention the shoe making machine, patented in 1883, could make anywhere from 150 to 700 pairs of shoes per day. Garrett Morgan ,who invented the traffic signal, patented in 1923, and the gas mask, patented in 1914. Mathematicians and Scientists the likes of Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan, whose lives portrayed in the movie Hidden Figures  who wrote the mathematical calculations that went in to making John Glenn the first American man into space in 1962. To people like Fannie Lou Hamas, a Civil Rights Activist, Marian Wright Edelman, and a Children Rights Activist to John Lewis a Congressman from the state of Georgia.

While these names are not well known, they have changed America in beneficial, influential and productive ways. I believe that it is my responsibility to share my knowledge and experiences to enlighten those that I can in a positive manner of the contributions black Americans have made to this great nation.

How did your heritage and family background influence your education and career path?

G.R.: My family used these lessons to instill the importance of pursuing education and knowledge. I wanted to be a teacher but found that my interest in technology was stronger. I changed my major, accounting, to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems and graduated in 2002 with a specialization in networking from the University of Phoenix.

I obtained two professional certifications: one as an information systems auditor (CISA) in 2004 and one in information systems risk (CRISC) in 2010 from ISACA.org, for which I am certified by ISACA to teach both. So twice a year, for the last 13 years, I have the honor and pleasure of combining my two passions: teaching and technology.

I went back to school, Arizona State University, where I obtained an Executive Master’s Degree in Business Administration in 2011. Before coming to ON Semiconductor, I consulted with Fortune 500 companies, e.g., Ford Motor Company, GM, TASER, MGM Grand to name a few.

How are you working to share your knowledge in the community?

G.R.: I teach via Junior Achievement of Arizona through the relationship between ON Semiconductor and Balsz Elementary School. I also sit on the board of the Cybersecurity Council of AZ as a Co-chair as well as on the board for The Alliance of Technology and Women as the treasurer.

I am working with Arizona State University to bring an artificial intelligence camp for under privilege girls to the West Campus for a three-week, all expenses paid experience, where the students will participate on enhancing artificial intelligence. We have already received a $50K grant, a promise of another $25K, and I am currently looking to secure the last $25K to make this endeavor a reality.

The Institute for Educational Leadership Launches Rise Up for Equity Campaign to Eliminate Barriers to Equity in Education and Workforce Development

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education campaign for African-Americans

The Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) announced  the launch of Rise Up for Equity, a digital and grassroots campaign  to prepare, support, and mobilize leaders to eliminate systemic barriers to equity in education and workforce development.
This so everyone – especially transition-age youth and families in communities with inequitable opportunities across the United States – has the opportunity to succeed and lead independent lives.

“IEL incentivizes communities to innovate and prepares and supports local and state leaders to improve opportunity and outcomes, and close gaps in access and achievement in education and workforce development in under-resourced communities,” said Johan Uvin, President of IEL. “To us, equity is about creating more opportunities for success in education and workforce development for children, youth, adults and families, particularly in communities where that opportunity is lacking due to systemic and structural reasons.”

IEL’s strategy intends to help alleviate poverty and its impact and to contribute to creating new gateways to prosperity. Today 15 million children, or 21 percent of all children live in families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold, and 51 percent of students across U.S. public schools are low income.[1] Childhood poverty is associated with negative outcomes in adulthood, such as lower academic achievement, employment rates, and poorer health.

For more information about how you can Rise Up for Equity to support leaders so all children, young adults, and communities can succeed, visit www.riseupforequity.com or join the conversation on social media using #RiseUpforEquity.

[1] According to the 2016 fact sheet of the  National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP)

How This 24-Year-Old Former NYSE Equity Trader Made History

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At 22 years old, Lauren Simmons shattered the glass ceiling by being the youngest and only full-time female equity trader on Wall Street for Rosenblatt Securities. Affectionately dubbed as the “Lone Woman On Wall Street”, Simmons was also the second African-American woman in history to sport the prestigious badge.

Graduating Kennesaw State University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in genetics and a minor in statistics, Simmons originally aspired to go into genetic counseling. She made a decision to put that on hold. What had not changed, however, was her passion to move to New York City, where networking led her to meet Richard Rosenblatt, the CEO of Rosenblatt Securities. Beyond her many qualifications, it was ultimately Simmons’ confidence that led Rosenblatt to take her under his wing as an Equity Trader.

“Being a trader, you make decisions within microseconds,” Simmons said on meeting Rosenblatt, “So I think for him, even for me, the choice of coming onto the trading floor made sense immediately.”

The job wasn’t completely hers; she still had to pass the Series 19 exam, which is a requirement for all floor brokers to earn their badge. This test has a pass rate of 20% in a class of 10. After studying the book cover to cover for a month straight. Lauren Simmons made history. Since her story broke Lauren Simmons has been featured in various media outlets and currently, she has a movie on her journey to Wall Street starring Kiersey Clemons.

I spoke to Simmons about her journey to Wall Street, favorite moments on the trading floor and what the financial service industries can do to increase diversity and inclusion.

Dominique Fluker: Share your career journey. What inspired you to become an Equity Trader on Wall Street?

Lauren Simmons: My journey was the power of networking. I moved to New York with a genetics degree knew I wanted to do something completely different and networked like crazy. I had many people tell me no or that I didn’t have any direction because I was making the switch from genetics to statistics. And although I didn’t know what that role looked like. I was serious about it involving numbers. Ultimately becoming an equity trader was something that chose me. A job was offered to me, and I said yes. And as simple as that decision was most people often don’t say yes to roles that they once did not have training or schooling in.

Fluker: At 22 years old, you became the youngest, only full-time female employee and second-ever African-American woman working as a trader at the New York Stock Exchange. Share your process on how you broke the black ceiling.

Simmons: I never looked at my gender/race/age as a factor. At 22 I became the youngest trader (the media caught on after I had turned 23) or even imagined that I would be making history. I just wanted to do well in the role that I was given. My first month I studied for series 19 for a month straight. Didn’t talk to anyone. Originally the exam was something that anyone could pass. From what I was told you went into a room and they gave you the answers, but after the exchange went public and the exam was administered through FINRA it was a real exam. Many of the advice I was given was to just skim through the headlines of the chapters, and I would be just fine. Considering the fail rate was 80% I studied the book cover to cover. And I passed. Making history I didn’t find out till months later when I signed my name into the book, and an NYSE archivist went in front of the room with the audience and my family and informed the crowd I was the second African American women. And that moment was amazing to share with my family. And also bittersweet that in 225 I was the second African American. Amazing but eerie that things like this are still being accomplished in 2017 or 2000 anything.

Fluker: What did you love most about statistics and working on the New York Stock Exchange?

Simmons: Statistics is a universal language and through my college education of genetics and even using statistics in high school when I was going through the architectural engineering program I fell in love with numbers. Being able to interpret data to relay that information to clients was an exciting process.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Under Armour hires former Harley-Davidson exec to serve as chief culture officer

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In the wake of a promise to revamp its corporate culture, Under Armour said Wednesday that it has hired a Harley-Davidson Inc. veteran in an executive role as chief people and culture officer.

Tchernavia Rocker, who worked at Harley-Davidson for 22 years, will lead human resources and direct a culture strategy. She will report to founder and CEO Kevin Plankand start next month.

Under Armour’s previous head of human resources, Kerry D. Chandler, left the brand in November to take on a similar role at Endeavor, a Beverly Hills-based talent agency focused on sports, entertainment and fashion.

“Tchernavia brings deep industry experience in building best in class HR operations while developing strong workplace culture rooted in brand, values and transparency,” Plank said in an announcement. “We truly have the best team on the planet driving our business, and our investment in their careers is a top priority.”

Rocker spent more than 18 years in leadership roles at Harley-Davidson, most recently as vice president and chief human resources officer. Before that, she worked in human resources and operations roles at Goodyear Dunlop North America Tire Inc.

The Baltimore-based sports apparel and footwear maker has said it is working to transform its culture amid scrutiny of the #MeToo movement.

Continue onto the Baltimore-Sun to read the complete article.

How 1 Woman Strategically Used Her Talents to Go From ‘Top Model’ to Top Entrepreneur

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Talk about a career change: Dominique Reighard-Brooks started on “America’s Next Top Model.” Today, she co-owns E.E. Ward, the oldest black-owned business in America.

Dominique Reighard-Brooks is a mover, in every sense of the word.

She is presently the co-owner of award-winning moving company E.E. Ward, which is also America’s oldest black-owned business. But her career began with a lengthy run on the popular reality show competition “America’s Next Top Model,” and soared when she graced the pages of publications like Ebony and Seventeen. Then, she signed on at E.E. Ward in 2014, working alongside her husband, Brian.

To the outside observer, it may appear as though Reighard-Brooks performed a professional 180. “It’s not the sexiest business,” she freely admits. But she finds plenty of crossover between modeling and moving.

“Being a self-starter, whether in the entertainment world or working in the logistics industry, means you’ve got to be willing to take action,” she explains. When you’re a model, singer and actress, you need to learn about marketing, self-promotion and persistence — all of which comes in handy when you’re running a company.

And in Reighard-Brooks’ case, when you’re trying to “enhance and re-energize the family business,” as she puts it, knowing a few secrets from the entertainment industry is helpful. After all, even a 138-year-old company needs to cultivate a fresh appearance on social media. Under her direction, E.E. Ward maintains an active — some might even say surprisingly glamorous, for a moving company — presence on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

In the years since Reighard-Brooks made her career change and joined E.E. Ward, the company has racked up a number of new awards for quality service, and she recently oversaw its first expansion outside of its home state of Ohio.

From Top Model to Top Entrepreneur

Reighard-Brooks was born and raised in the Columbus area by a family full of entrepreneurs, from her mother to her grandparents. At age 24, she found fame as a contestant on the 2008 cycle of “America’s Next Top Model.” Though she did not win the season — she placed fourth overall — her participation was a springboard into a busy modeling and performing career. In addition to appearing in popular magazines, she modeled for fragrance J’Adore and served as the face of Brooklyn beauty brand Carol’s Daughter.

[Related: Growing Carol’s Daughter in a Brooklyn Kitchen]

She relished those opportunities, but they frequently took her abroad, and she missed her husband and children while on shoots. So she contemplated a career change that would keep her closer to home. “I wanted to explore, evolve, and use other gifts and talents that were lying dormant,” she says. So, “I made a list of everything — every skill set, every relationship I’d developed over the years in entertainment, all of that.”

That personal assessment led her to team up with her husband, who had owned E.E. Ward since 2001 after buying it from his godfather, a member of the Ward family. Not everyone, of course, gets to choose such a relatively easy path into entrepreneurship. But Reighard-Brooks believed her experience would be an asset to the family business. “In my life, I’ve been a model, a singer, a writer, a video producer, a photo editor, a writer.” she says. “And I use all of those experiences in running the business.”

Reighard-Brooks helms a bustling operation. She manages a 50-person team — 70 strong when they hire part-time work during their busiest times — spread between its Columbus, Ohio headquarters and its Grove City, Ohio hub. Under her leadership, the company expanded outside Ohio to Charlotte, North Carolina. She declined to disclose revenue figures, but says the company handles several thousand moves and deliveries each year, for both residential and commercial clients.

In addition, Reighard-Brooks is responsible for all of the content E.E. Ward produces — from social media posts and marketing campaigns to the development of its video content. A striking figure with long brunette hair, she frequently appears on E.E.Ward’s Instagram feed as the face of the company.

And in yet another unusual move for a moving company, she has also tapped into her fashion experience to launch a clothing division called 1881 Apparel. Launched last year as an offshoot of E.E. Ward, the venture “pays homage to the Ward family legacy.” The company, which sells tees and sweaters, is in its earliest stages, but Reighard-Brooks believes it has the potential to elevate the E.E. Ward brand.

Creating a Ripple Effect

When she joined E.E. Ward, Reighard-Brooks says she was wanted to cultivate the company’s unique position in history as the longest-lasting black business. She has directed the company’s ongoing involvement in philanthropic endeavors, such as its Laps for Learning fundraiser at the local YMCA. It emphasizes pool safety and has provided 393 lessons for low-income children to date.

 

Continue onto The Story Exchange to read the complete article.

Black chefs break the glass ceiling in the culinary world

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The culinary business world is as cut throat as any other. It’s also known as an industry that hasn’t always allowed for much diversity in management and ownership at its higher echelon.

However, it appears that African-Americans are finally breaking barriers, starring in many kitchens around the nation and serving up fine delicacies and treats that have those of all races and backgrounds coming back for second-helpings.

“Memphis is a foodie town with a minority-majority makeup … thoughtful discussions about equity in the food industry are at the forefront here and folks care about presentation, which is at the heart of the issue,” said Cynthia Daniels, the founder of Memphis Black Restaurant Week. “I’ve also seen the difficulty that Black-owned restaurants experience with not having big marketing budgets to advertise for new business.”

That’s why she founded Memphis Black Restaurant Week and has advised other cities to do the same.

“It’s a celebration that advocates for Black chefs, brings more awareness around their food and beverage traditions, generates new income, and moves the needle in terms of inclusivity in the culinary world,” said Daniels.

That inclusion and enthusiasm appears to have caught on.

“I am truly optimistic for the future with the culinary industry because while there are still a lot of areas in which to grow, we are slowly chipping away the stereotype of what African-American chefs have to offer,” said award-winning executive chef and QVC food stylist Kristol Bryant. “We are diversified in our skills, talents and cuisines. African American chefs are no longer just soul-food or southern cuisine chefs, we are so much more. Through education and exploration, we can finally break into areas that we never knew were there. Being seen on television is great for us but being a legitimate authority in culinary in the corporate, private and entertainment sectors is the next step.”

To read the complete article, continue on to Insight News.

Women Aren’t Running Self-Driving Car Startups; Zoox Is About To Change That

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Robo-taxi developer Zoox isn’t the biggest or best-funded player in the self-driving vehicle space and hasn’t logged the most test miles. But when a new CEO joins the Silicon Valley startup next month, it will leapfrog competitors in one important way: It will be the only autonomous vehicle tech firm led by a woman.

The Foster City, California-based company announced last week that Aicha Evans, formerly Intel’s chief strategy officer, will become its CEO on February 26. Her background as a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Senegal distinguishes her as one of the few African-Americans running a tech startup. She will also be the only woman CEO among three dozen self-driving car companies, based on a review by Forbes.

“It’s welcome news in a male-dominated field,” said Bryan Reimer, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab. “The computer science community to start with is heavily male-dominated, the auto industry is heavily male-dominated. It’s critical that if (autonomous vehicles are) to be a sustaining evolution of technology there’s going to have to be diversification in the leadership as well.”

Women and people of color remain underrepresented as leaders in the auto and tech industries. Looking back to the fabled U.S. government-sponsored DARPA Challenge races of 2005 and 2007 that ignited the robot car revolutions, rosters for the era’s two dominant teams, Carnegie Mellon University and Stanford University, include only one or two women each among dozens of brainy young engineers and computer scientists. Improving gender and ethnic diversity at tech and auto companies isn’t a superficial step – multiple studies find that it meaningfully boosts corporate performance and creates better companies.

“When organizations are represented by people who have similar backgrounds, experiences, education, it can lead to group think – so you’re not getting the most creative ideas,” said Ashley Martin, assistant professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. “Also having social category diversity (e.g., gender, race), can lead to more information elaboration/consideration of ideas and therefore people thinking more carefully and creatively about their decisions, with the potential to lead to better performance.”

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

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