Your Custom Catering & Events: Feeding Those in Need

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nattiel turner seated outside on bench near businesses

By Sarah Jester

The impact of COVID-19 on the catering and event industry cannot be overstated. Gatherings all across the world have been delayed or canceled for the months ahead, leaving many businesses scrambling. However, many have pivoted their business strategy to serve others in this time of need, like Certified LGBTBE® Your Custom Catering & Events. The Charlotte, NC-based catering and events firm has partnered with a local nonprofit to help give back to the community.

“During COVID-19 we had to cancel or move more than 30 events to date due to government mandates and closures,” explained founder Nattiel Turner. “We partnered up with a non-profit, Hearts Beat as One, to feed children that were food insecure due to school closures in the most impoverished zip codes and also families of those laid off due to bar and restaurant closures.”

Turner’s business normally caters events like weddings and corporate affairs, as well as institutional catering for schools, crisis centers, and nonprofits. Now, they are feeding hundreds of children and families every day at multiple locations.

“The donations and grants to Hearts Beat as One cover the product needed and payroll for the staff working to prepare meals,” said Turner. “While we are not profitable, we are sustained and our employees can continue to support their families.”

Turner worked in management in the hospitality industry before going on to found Your Custom Catering & Events in 2012, which was LGBTBE certified in 2019. Through LGBTBE certification, he has opened up numerous opportunities for his business.

“I have been able to leverage corporate and non-profit contracting for both event and institutional catering,” he explained.

When asked what was unique about Your Custom Catering & Events, Turner cited the individuality of their business-client relationships.

“Each client is viewed as unique and we avoid a cookie cutter approach meeting each client where they are and meeting their individual needs,” he said. “We are able to offer a tailored approach and source food from local providers while keeping our costs at a minimum.”

Through his business, Turner aspires to create a foundation to help alleviate the effects of food insecurity through partnerships with local farmers to increase community access to fresh food, in addition to cooking classes for children and young adults. He had some key advice to offer to those with similar goals, as well as aspiring LGBT entrepreneurs.

“Surround yourself with a network that can help guide you in the beginning,” said Turner. “Accounting, marketing, suppliers, etc. Do not be afraid to screw up and be criticized as you move toward your dream.”

Have you repurposed your business to aid with relief efforts related to the spread of COVID-19? Click here to submit your story.

For additional ways to help you, your business, and the LGBT community during this time, visit the NGLCC COVID-19 Resource Hub for the LGBT Business Community.

Successful Pet Butler ‘Entre-manures’ Showcase Franchisor’s Strong Potential for Growth

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Rebecca Stewart stands outside in front of her Pet Butler work vehicle

(ATLANTA, Georgia)-Rebecca Stewart was home one night watching “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch,” a former CNBC show that highlighted American business success stories. This particular episode featured Pet Butler, which provided “poo-fessional” pet-waste cleanup and removal services to residential and commercial customers. “Why didn’t I think of that?” thought Stewart, who came from a family of entrepreneurs and was in need of a change from her job in Corporate America.

            That was more than a decade ago and in 2008, Stewart did, indeed, become Pet Butler’s first franchisee in Georgia. In 2017, Spring-Green Enterprises (SGE) acquired the brand and it has been reinvesting in its marketing, technology and operational support systems, culminating in a modernized model designed to deliver a profitable, recurring-revenue business that caters to pets and their people.

Pet Butler is positioned for nationwide growth, especially in the Atlanta market, where Stewart serves clients in DeKalb and Fulton counties and Vinings in Cobb County. She has been one of Pet Butler’s top-performing franchisees ever since she left behind her 22-year career as a systems programmer analyst in 2006 before opening her Pet Butler franchise two years later. Working hard to build a new business was never an issue, given the history of entrepreneurism in the Stewart family and the skills and values learned growing up in a small town. “We work hard for ourselves and that’s earned us loyalty and respect in our community,” Stewart said. “I left IT because I wanted to be my own boss and create my own hours. In IT I was meticulous and that translated well to pet-waste removal. We are very attentive to the clients we serve and pride ourselves on our customer service.”

Pet Butler offers large, protected territories that foster scalable growth, which has helped make the brand No. 1 in the “No. 2” business for thousands of clients across North America. Roughly 85 million U.S. families, or 67 percent of households, own a pet, according to the 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). In the U.S., pets include 90 million dogs and 94 million cats. In 2018, pet services accounted for $72.56 billion spent and was estimated to grow to $75.38 billion in 2019.

Stewart’s team provides pet-waste cleanup services to private residences, parks and multi-family properties of all kinds. Pet Butler also offers cat litter box swaps/cleanouts, onsite empty-clean-refill or sift out-top off cleanouts, as well as installation and service of commercial pet-waste stations. Pet Butler follows preventive safety measures during the novel coronavirus pandemic that include wearing personal protective equipment, sanitizing vehicles between jobs and practicing social distancing. “Pet owners have become very aware of the services we provide and appreciate the convenience that Pet Butler provides,” Stewart said. “We are seen as more of a necessity than a luxury.”

About Pet Butler

Pet Butler Franchise was acquired in 2017 by Spring-Green Enterprises, the parent company of +43 years old Spring-Green Lawn Care and SGE Marketing Services. They currently have 30 franchisees located in 26 states with long term plans to open 60 more within the next 5 years. Pet Butler provides an opportunity for pet lovers to turn their passion for pets into a business. To learn more about how Pet Butler serves pets and their people, visit www.petbutler.com and connect on Facebook and LinkedIn. To inquire about a franchise call 844-777-8608 or go to www.petbutlerfranchise.com

This Black-Owned Business Defied the Odds of COVID-19

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Shontay Lundy holding a bottle of Black Girl Sunscreen

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the United States, business owner Shontay Lundy refused to let her company suffer the economic devastations that could come.

Lundy owns a small sunscreen company called Black Girl Sunscreen, which is run by five people. Now, as businesses begin to open back up in the United States, Lundy has successfully secured a million-dollar investment from a private female funding source.

Lundy founded Black Girl Sunscreen in 2016 when she decided that the world needed a sunscreen that specifically catered to women of color. The sunscreen uses all-natural ingredients, avoids harmful chemicals and is made to apply without streaking. The company has accumulated much success since it opened in 2016, but Lundy knew the company had to improve their strategy in the face of a pandemic, as businesses owned by women of color are given very little funding.

The Black Girl Sunscreen team decided that the best way to keep business afloat was to boost the company’s social media presence and marketing strategy, working overtime to accomplish their goals. Since this improvement, Black Girl Sunscreen received a tremendous boost in online sales, persuading them to release a new product in the near future.

The sunscreen company’s marketing campaign for an inclusive sunscreen has also earned Black Girl Sunscreen a full-time spot on Target’s shelves in 200 locations, the only indie product to be carried at all times by the chain. The company currently sells an SPF 30 sunscreen and an SPF 50 sunscreen for children.

The Co-Founder of Reddit Resigns to Support Racial Diversity

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Alexis Ohanian-Serena pictured at HBO event

Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit and husband to professional tennis player Serena Williams, has resigned from his position at Reddit to persuade the company to hire a black candidate to take his place.

In response to the Black Lives Matter movement, prominent subreddit pages, such as “The Donald,” posted derogatory and racist content toward black people.

While social media platforms are usually able to monitor and ban this kind of content, according to the company’s hate speech policy, the posts remained and were promoted on Reddit remained. In outrage, many popular subreddit pages privatized and blocked new content from being posted as a form of protest. Many called for Steve Huffman, co-founder and CEO of Reddit, to fix the policy including former CEO Ellen Pao.

Ohanian, desiring to better the platform, posted on Twitter on June 5, just two days after the Reddit protests began, and resigned from the company in favor of hiring a black candidate to take his place.

“I’m saying this as a father who needs to be able to answer his black daughter when she asks: ‘What did you do?’” Ohanian tweeted.

In addition, Ohanian has pledged to use any profit he makes in Reddit stocks to serve the black community, starting with one million dollars donated to Colin Kaepernick’s Foundation.

Huffman responded that he will be honoring Ohanian’s request and will be working to change their policies to specifically address hate. “I want to take responsibility for the history of our policies over the years that got us here,” Huffman stated, “and we still have work to do.”

These Companies are Stepping Up in the Fight for Racial Equality

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a person writing word Inequality on glass board

When it comes to encouraging diversity, especially during the Black Lives Matter movement, here are some of the companies that are supporting racial equality.

Bank of America

On June 2, Bank of America announced they will be pledging one billion dollars toward community programs and minority-owned businesses over the course of four years. The money was pledged in response to both the death of George Floyd and the impacts of COVID-19. Bank of America hopes this money will further help minority-owned businesses thrive, improve health services in Black communities, and open up positions for more bank employees.

Uber

To encourage its users to support black-owned businesses in response to George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter Movement, Uber has announced that it will be waiving all delivery fees coming from black-owned restaurants in the United States and Canada. This process will begin on June 5 and continue throughout the rest of the year. Uber has also stated they are planning to create an initiative specifically designed to aid black-owned restaurants, as well as other businesses.

Additionally, Uber has pledged to create more diversity within their employees.

UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group is donating a pledged ten million dollars to help the neighborhoods of Minneapolis rebuild any damage taken in response to the protests. This will include five million of those dollars being donated to the YMCA Equity Innovation Center of Excellence.

UnitedHealth Group has also pledged to pay for all of George Floyd’s children to go to college when the time comes.

Disney

Disney will be donating five million dollars to companies that stand for social justice, including the NAACP, which Disney has pledged two million dollars to. Disney employees are also encouraged to donate to social justice causes, as Disney has promised to match any donation made by a Disney employee.

P & G

The umbrella company for brands, such as Tide and Olay, P & G has created the “Take on Race” fund that will be distributing five million dollars to organizations that will advance education on race, better communities, and improve all healthcare systems. The fund will be working directly with large and small organizations, such as the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, the United Negro College Fund, and Courageous Conversation.

The Cutting Edge Elite: Supplying Staffing & Hope When Needed Most

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The Cutting Edge Staff outsde witth a lake in the background in group photo

By Sarah Jester

COVID-19 continues to spread across the globe, putting many small businesses on pause. However, some of these businesses have been able to repurpose their missions and resources to contribute to significant relief efforts. Headquartered in New York City, Certified LGBTBE® The Cutting Edge Elite, Inc. (CEE) is doing just that!

Founded by Nathan Perry & Lucas Mendieta, CEE is a staffing agency that offers a wide variety of residential, promotional, catering, and event services, as well as field project staffing and project coordination. As most events in major cities have been put on hold or delayed to uphold social distancing, CEE was left with a dedicated team that was ready to help out in a time of crisis.

“During these difficult times we believe it is everyone’s duty to contribute where they can,” Perry explained to NGLCC. “For over a decade, CEE has deployed event staff and leaders who are experts in fast moving, chaotic environments, that are both complicated and stressful. They trained in courses for skills as well as emotional intelligence. And they flourished as bonded and powerful teams. That experience is now critical.

The team’s experience is now being put to use in CEE’s newly minted Relief Division.

“We have developed the Relief Division to offer their expertise during crisis, at-cost,” said Perry. “To have maximum impact. To support the success of others. And to keep our people working. And we partnered with medical professionals to ensure this is done safely.”

CEE is now offering relief staffing and direct hire for relief projects that are taking place in various areas. Some of these projects include food preparation, packaging, and delivery, assistance with wellness checks, facility checks, urgent errands, labor support, and remote project coordination. In other words, as Perry puts it, the CEE team is ready and available for all “ad-hoc relief efforts based on client needs.”

NGLCC

LGBTBEs like CEE are stepping up to support relief efforts throughout the nation, especially in hard-hit New York City. This further underscores why it is imperative that the City of New York finally include NGLCC Certified LGBTBEs in citywide contracting opportunities.

As many small business owners know, teamwork lies in the core of success. CEE is no exception to this belief. Perry told NGLCC he was most proud of “building an employee-empowering, shame-free institution in multiple cities.”

As for the benefits of being a Certified LGBTBE® in times like these, Perry points to the NGLCC network as a point of connection.

“The NGLCC has provided numerous opportunities for learning, growth, networking, identifying partners as well as valued mentorship and personal relationships,” he said.

“My first job when I moved to New York City over a decade ago was with Cutting Edge Elite. Back then it was just a handful of young employees and two courageous, young entrepreneurs with a vision.  As their company grew into one of the most respected staffing and event companies in the region, so too did their commitment to giving back.  CEE regularly donates staff, money, time, and essential resources to nonprofits, including many that support LGBTQ youth. I am not at all surprised to see CEE’s leadership on display through their Relief Division efforts. I am so proud to have CEE in the NGLCC family, and to call Lucas and Nathan treasured friends and colleagues,” said NGLCC Senior Vice President Jonathan Lovitz.

Need assistance with a relief project? Visit ceenyc.com to connect with CEE staff.

For additional ways to help you, your business, and the LGBT community during this time, visit the NGLCC COVID-19 Resource Hub for the LGBT Business Community.

Magic Johnson will provide $100 million to fund loans to minority-owned businesses

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Magic Johnson in a business suit

Magic Johnson may no longer be playing in the NBA, but the Hall of Fame member is still making valuable assists. Johnson announced that EquiTrust Life Insurance Co., of which he owns a majority, is providing $100 million in capital to fund federal loans for minority and women business owners who have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

EquiTrust will work with MBE Capital Partners, a lender that specializes in asset-based loans for minority-owned small businesses, to distribute the loans through the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program.

The loans are aimed at supporting people of color and women who operate businesses in underserved communities, according to a news release.

The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

“These are incredible businesses, small businesses, that have been the pillar of our community that also employ a lot of black and brown people in our community,” Johnson said Sunday on MSNBC. “… We wanted to make sure that minority-owned businesses got small business loans through the PPP program.”

Concerns about people of color accessing loans

The partnership was borne out of a concern that women and people of color were having difficulty accessing the loans offered by the Small Business Administration’s emergency coronavirus relief program — part of the federal government’s massive stimulus package.

“Johnson’s EquiTrust is providing critical financial support to underserved communities and businesses that have been traditionally neglected,” EquiTrust and MBE Capital Partners said in a joint news release. “These small and diverse businesses often have difficulty developing strong lending relationships with big banks.”

The goal is to help 100,000 businesses secure resources that will sustain them through the pandemic, MBE Capital CEO Rafael Martinez said on MSNBC.

Continue on to CNN to read the complete article.

Meet Brittney Nicole: Navy Veteran Turned Fashion Entrepreneur

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A clothes rack filled with women's coats

Transitioning from military life back into civilian life is a challenge for any veteran. While there are many different approaches in choosing a career, one U.S. Navy Veteran decided that she would approach her career choice by following her passions.

Always having a love for fashion, Brittney Nicole decided to open her own clothing business, Coco’s Wardrobe, upon her retirement from the U.S. Navy.  The New Orleans based boutique designs, manufactures, and sells women’s clothing that is meant to look as good as they feel, blending comfort with style. All of the clothing in Nicole’s shop has a women’s desire to feel confident and comfortable at the forefront of everything that is produced.

In addition, Nicole has also began selling uniquely designed face masks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meet UCLA’s First African American Athletic Director

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Martin Jarmond in a suit speaking at a conference

Martin Jarmond, the first and most recent athletic director at Boston College and the youngest director to ever be in the Power Five Conferences, will be breaking another record with his newest position.

On May 17, it was announced that Martin Jarmond will become the new athletic director of UCLA. This will make Jarmond the first African American man to hold the position in the school’s 101-year history.

Having an extensive background in sports both on the court and in his studies, Jarmond has quickly been able to move up the ladder of sports administration and is speculated to be the perfect fit to help UCLA fix the financial debt of the previous year’s $18.9 million deficit.

Continue on to the L.A. Times’ Website to read the complete article.

Photo Credit: Stephen Senne/Associated Press

United Airlines appoints First African American President

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Brett J. Hart headshot

Chicago based United Airlines announced Brett J. Hart as the company’s President. The number two leadership role being filled by Mr. Hart is part of the company’s leadership succession plan that was announced in early December.

“I am honored and energized as I take on these new responsibilities to lead this incredible team that I am convinced will build United into a thriving industry leader,” Hart said. “The path forward will not be easy, but I am confident that Scott and I will continue our partnership to lead United through the extraordinary challenge posed by COVID-19. United’s bright future is only possible because of the commitment of the most talented airline professionals in the world who serve United and our customers every single day – and I could not be prouder of them.

Hailing from the southside of Chicago Brett J. Hart was educated at the University of Michigan and received a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Chicago Law School. Hart is the first African American to become President of United Airlines in the airline’s 94-year history.

Hart was a partner at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal in Chicago. Before that, he served as a special assistant to the general counsel at the U.S. Department of Treasury in Washington, D.C. Later he would go on to work for the Sara Lee Corporation as the executive vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary, where he directed global legal operations. Hart joined United Airlines in 2010. Over his 10-year career with United Hart has taken on significant responsibilities within the company. Hart has previously worked as Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer for the company. In 2015 he stepped in and served as interim CEO for six months while the then CEO Munoz recovered from a heart transplant.

As President of United, Hart will continue to lead the company’s public advocacy strategy, including the Government Affairs, Corporate Communications, Legal and Community Engagement teams. He will also continue to oversee business-critical functions like the Corporate Real Estate team and manage United’s industry-leading environmental sustainability efforts. His responsibilities will expand to include managing the Human Resources and Labor Relations teams.

Hart taking this position comes as he, along with other executives, are waiving their salaries for a time as the company struggles financially. Like others in the airline industry, United is trying to deal with the losses from Covid-19.

Continue on to Chicago Defender to read the complete article.

Meet the Companies that are Scoring 100% on the Equality Index

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A man fixing his rainbow striped tie representing equality

The Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index has become the nation’s standard for recording the best LGBTQ+ companies in the nation. The Index measures companies on how well they are implementing LGBTQ+ inclusion on a basis of non-discrimination policies, employee benefits and public company support of the community.

This year, there were 1059 companies that demonstrated success in all these categories, but earning a 100% on all of these fronts is considered an especially incredible accomplishment. Of the few companies to score a 100 on the index, Ingram Micro, a technological information distributor, has officially become one of the companies to achieve this goal.

Based in Irvine, California, Ingram Micro has been working with the HRC’s index since 2011. Through this process, Ingram Micro has recorded that using this index has helped them to understand how to make improvements for the LGBTQ+ community while ensuring that their company is more inclusive to all of their employees.

In this last year, Ingram Micro has demonstrated their support for the LGBTQ+ community publicly through donations, participation in LGBTQ+ supportive events, and advocation.

Other companies that have received a 100% on this front include Amazon, IKEA, Hewlett Packard, Sony, and Nationwide.

How Sean Combs is Supporting and Protecting Small Businesses

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Sean Combs "Diddy" headshot

On April 23, Sean Combs, previously known as “Diddy” in the music industry, released his newest project, Our Fair Share, which aims to help minority-owned businesses obtain the materials needed to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

A benefit that primarily goes to businesses that have the proper “connections,” Combs wants to ensure the small businesses that we love and depend on have the same opportunities as the bigger corporations.
“COVID-19 is devastating our communities, and without access to stimulus funding, we risk losing critical businesses that create jobs and help build opportunities and wealth in our communities,” said Combs. “I created Our Fair Share to help entrepreneurs play on an even playing field and give them a chance to survive with the hope to thrive.”

To do this, Combs’ new program has teamed up with National Bankers Association, a group that represents minority-owned financial institutions. Through Our Fair Share, the National Bank Association can connect their clients to financial technology companies that will be able to provide the PPP materials and loans needed.

To learn more about Our Fair Share, its origin, and its purposes, click here for the full press release.

Proof that Diversity and Inclusion Must Continue Now more than Ever

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Diverse Equality Gender Innovation Management Concept

Publishers Note: These last few weeks have been anything but normal. Many, including DiversityComm, have taken to working from home, and it’s difficult to not worry about the future. As the days go on, I’ve been facing the reality that life in COVID-19 has become a new normal of sorts and the possibility of a recession isn’t completely off the table.

Having been in the business for over thirty years and the complications that came with the 2008 and 2011 recessions as well as the events of September 11, 2001, I have learned that diversity and inclusion are and continue to be the keys to keeping business moving. Studies show that racially diverse companies are 35% more likely to see an increase in financial returns in comparison with their competitors while companies that have a more cultural and ethical variation in their boards are 43% more likely to experience a higher income. Groups of diverse thinkers of three or more members have also tested to be more successful than an individual 87% of the time.

All of this being said, how does this work? And how do these diverse connections keep business working?

  • Have Empathy
    1. COVID-19 is hard on everyone, but other groups of people will be experiencing this in a different way than others. Check in on your clients and employees on how they are doing during this time. Listen to what they say and educate yourself on how this situation is affecting their lives. People want to work with people who truly care about who they are and understand them on a real, human level. When they feel like they are genuinely being heard and cared for, they will remember your willingness to help and want to strengthen their connection with you. The same goes for employees. When employees feel they are being cared for, they are encouraged to increase work efficiency and less likely to contribute to the turnover rate.
  • Re-Focus Your Goals
    1. As the world seems to be on “pause” lately, this is the perfect opportunity to plan for the future. What projects and aspects can you invest in now to setup your business for a higher success rate in the future? Once you refocus your goals and have a plan for what projects you want to carry out, then you can start building a team of qualified individuals. You will want a team of people that have expertise in a variety of areas so that every aspect of the project will go above and beyond the call of duty. If your team consists of a group that all have the same background, culture and life experience, the chances that something will be left out will increase. Will your project be accessible? Does it meet the standards in every area? A diverse group can ensure that all these questions are handled.
  • Learn and Grow
    1. It’s easy to look at your past experience, available data and old traditions as a template for how to run your business. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, it is critical that we continue to learn and grow with the times. We are in a digital age and there are so many opportunities that can be seized through it. Though a digital form of business was almost nonexistent several decades ago, the willingness to keep up with the times is key for a business in today’s age to succeed.  Listening to a variety of opinions from varying backgrounds and experiences will not only show you how to more effectively work your business, but will increase creativity and innovation in the workplace. The more educated we become, the more expanded our ideas and strategies will become.

The times are changing and uncertain, but when we focus on our team, employees, clients, partners, and connections while keeping an open mind to the changing times, we will succeed and we will get through this. We find strength in diversity and inclusion.

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*Please be sure to check event websites for latest updates on postponements or cancellations due to COVID-19 precautions.

Upcoming Events

  1. NOBLE’s 44th Annual Training Conference & Exhibit
    July 24, 2020 - July 29, 2020
  2. Women in Federal Law Enforcement Leadership Training
    August 3, 2020 - August 6, 2020
  3. National Society of Black Engineers 46th Annual Convention
    August 19, 2020 - August 23, 2020
  4. 2020 American Society for Health Care Human Resources Association Event
    August 22, 2020 - August 25, 2020
  5. Blacks in Government (BIG) 42nd Annual National Training Institute
    August 24, 2020 - August 27, 2020
  6. NFBPA: A Construct for Change Forum 2020
    October 8, 2020 - October 13, 2020
  7. HBCU Career Development Marketplace
    November 10, 2020 - November 12, 2020