How We’re Surviving through the Pandemic

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By Connie Russell | C. L. Russell Group, LLC

L. Russell Group, LLC (CLRG) is a woman-owned small business full-service workforce training company. Specializing in workforce training, content development, performance assessment and quality assurance. CLRG, like many other small businesses, is learning to persevere in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Here, the founder and CEO, Connie Russell, shares her inspiring story of how using creativity, connection, and a lot of driven faith to navigate her business survival in the face of adversity.

Initial Impact

Although the services we offered were adaptable for COVID-19, we still had a few challenges. Training is not a new industry, and it is very competitive. We discovered many businesses who were in other industries and trying to survive like CLRG also tapped into the training industry to save their company during this turmoil. We found ourselves not only a small company competing with other training businesses (large and small), we are now competing with businesses from other industries taking advantage of the training industry opportunities as well.

COVID-19 Pandemic Impact

Undeniably, this has been the most difficult moment CLRG has faced since our five-year tenure. Our sales decreased more than 80 percent, and that was just the beginning. The severity of the Covid-19 crisis put our business, the community and many families in what some would consider uncharted territory. Even though our services initially included virtual training among other services, we were still majorly affected.

Many of our clients who valued the professional training services we provided for their employees, had to step back and reassess their organization’s essential needs during the pandemic. Unfortunately, professional training services were no longer an immediate essential service for many businesses. Many of our clients had to redirect their training funds to meet essential needs aligned with health, safety, and government regulations. Increasing our virtual and on-demand training services kept us optimistic—a high percentage of our sales came from instructor-led training. This required face-to-face training, and lack of social distancing. So, when employees began to quarantine at home, we immediately lost 100 percent of our instructor-led training services for the second quarter and counting.

Since health concerns and government pandemic policies directly impacted how people can gather for the unpredictable future, I knew CLRG had to quickly reassess our existing services as well as pivot our business model. It was time to seriously bootup.

CLRG shared a few tips that helped them pivot their business during the pandemic below.

Pandemic Pivoting

As our team brainstormed over innovative marketing tactics, we decided to focus on utilizing two (2) Cs of marketing: Customer Solutions and Convenience. The two Cs of marketing put the customer’s interests (the buyer, our clients) ahead of the marketer’s interests (the seller, CLRG).

 

  • Customer Solutions, Not Products: Understand your client’s needs as well as find solutions to their problems. Customers want to buy value or a solution to their problems. CLRG collaborated with other small businesses as well as community organizations to help identify essential needs. This allowed us to broaden our services not only from a business perspective but from a community professional trainer provider. CLRG also identified the trending industries affected by COVID-19 and aligned essential training services to meet those needs as well.

 

  • Outcome: Focusing on customer solutions allowed CLRG to expand in new industries such as the Health Industry. This industry was one of CLRG’s goals for our 2020 opportunity list! Connecting with the community allowed us the opportunity to offer complimentary virtual skills training courses to individuals who were unemployed during the pandemic or simply wanted to use this time to enhance their skills. We discovered possible ways to be a part of the solution, not just for businesses, but the community as well. This was a healing process for everyone.

 

  • Convenience, Not Place: Customers want products and services to be as convenient to purchase as possible. Design your products/services so the customer feels confident when utilizing your services. Customers do not want to embark on additional work to use your products/services. Putting yourself in the place of the customer when trying to decide how to design a more efficient service isn’t always the best route. You already know your products/services so it can be challenging to discover new innovative designs. Try ideation sessions with external stakeholders to discover innovative ways to serve your customers. CLRG wanted to ensure the experience during this sensitive time was beneficial to our customers. Since this was a very unpredictable time, CLRG designed a service that was convenient based on our client needs, with the option of flexibility.

 

  • Outcome: By initially inquiring with our clients about their ‘current’ needs, and not focusing on what we had to offer; CLRG was able to design services that were timely, convenient and flexible during the pandemic. When you demonstrate to clients that you are flexible when meeting their needs (especially during a pandemic), this is when true customer relationships are developed.

Remaining Optimistic into the Future

Ridiculous faith has become my mantra during this pandemic. I refused to believe the pandemic would be the reason CLRG closed its doors. I must admit, I have been truly blessed with an amazing team. As the saying goes, ‘what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.’ We truly discovered what a real shoestring budget feels like, but it has also shown us our true colors of perseverance. There were times my team members would ask why I continued to go into the office. Although my verbal response was ‘because we’re still paying rent’ I was actually thinking of the words my mother would often say to me: ‘continue to move forward as if it is.’ We will continue to strive for excellence, seek innovative solutions and humbly serve. CLRG will continue to believe we have a purpose here and will continue to positively impact the workforce industry for businesses, the community, and families.

Lessons Learned

As a professional development training company, we found ourselves receiving just as much training as our customers during this pandemic. There were so many lessons learned thus far during the pandemic, and I’m sure more to come. But if I had to think of two it would be leadership and relationships. True leadership is demonstrated during trials. On many occasions, I found myself serving in several roles. But it was through this experience I was able to discover new ideas and see my business from different perspectives. When you’re always serving as the leader, sometimes you miss these opportunities to get your hands dirty…literally.

Relationships are key, period. During challenging times, it was very important to stay connected with our customers and associates. Simply sending a hello to let them know you’re thinking about them and hoping they’re doing well says a lot. It demonstrates your sensitivity to the situation at hand and acknowledges that you’re authentic about your relationship. Our customers appreciated this. We will continue to stay optimistic and believe a silver lining is on the way. Until then, we are preparing for the new norm.”

 Click here to view the source: CL Russell Group.

How Hip-Hop Superstar Travis Scott Has Become Corporate America’s Brand Whisperer

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Travis Scott Forbes Fortnite Concert

Three years ago, Scott made the 30 Under 30 based on his music credentials. Now he’s helping major companies rethink their brands—and changing how celebrities and corporations interact.

The afternoon after Election Day, Travis Scott pilots his Lamborghini SUV, a rolling hotbox, down Melrose Avenue, the thudding beats of his friend, fellow rapper Don Toliver, keeping him awake and aware.

 

Image Credit Travis Scott Fortnite by EPIC GAMES | Forbes

Like the rest of America, he’s been following the vote totals (“Looks like Biden, right?”), and political discord seems everywhere, his Los Angeles streetscape largely boarded up. Hip-hop’s lyrical currency is a metaphor, and Scott can’t help but notice the sight. “They’ve got to have understanding,” he says of those anticipating civil unrest that never came. “It’s bigger than these stores.”

Arriving at a recording studio, Scott seeks to clear his mind before getting to work. He grabs a basketball to avail himself of the hoop in the parking lot, sparks yet another blunt (a regular activity for him), and eventually pulls out a glass beer bottle filled with a clear liquid.

“Tell me what you think,” he says, handing it over. According to the plain white label affixed to the bottle, it’s a preliminary batch of Cacti, a forthcoming—and until now, top-secret—hard seltzer he’s been working on with AB InBev, the world’s largest brewer. This one’s purportedly strawberry; it tastes generally crisp and fruity. “We’ve got other flavors,” Scott says. “Like lime. I was actually just trying it. I kinda like it.”

Continue to the Forbes to read the full article.

Reginald Miller becomes the new chief diversity officer at McDonald’s

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Popular fast-food chain McDonald’s has recently hired a new chief diversity officer, Reginald Miller. He will be replacing Wendy Lewis, who retired two months ago and is believed to be an integral part of combating racial bias allegations that were made earlier in the year.

“I’m proud to be joining McDonald’s at a time where diverse voices and perspectives are not just being celebrated,” Miller stated, “but engaged in accelerating meaningful change. I’m looking forward to getting to know the McDonald’s business through the lens of the people who impact it every day in countries and cultures around the world.”

Miller previously worked as the chief diversity officer for VF Corporation, the producer of brands such as Vans, Jansport, and the North Face. He officially began his new position with McDonald’s on November 9.

The chief of human resources at McDonald’s, Wendy Lewis, said of Miller, “Reggie and I share the same goal: that in order to move forward, we must move away from the notion that the responsibility of diversity lies with one person, one department or one group.”

Source: McDonald’s

Minority-Owned Firm Partners with Microsoft to Launch $250 Million Fund for Business Owners

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Siebert Williams Shank Co. L.L.C. (SWS) is partnering with Microsoft Corp. to launch the Clear Vision Impact Fund L.L.C., with an initial $25 million seed investment from the software giant.

The nation’s largest minority-and-women-owned financial firm, SWS reports that the investment fund will have a target size of $250 million. It will invest growth and operating capital in small-and medium-sized businesses, with an emphasis on minority-owned businesses, to maximize social impact.

SWS reports the “fund” is the first of its kind created for minority-owned firms, including black businesses. It expects to focus on small and medium-sized businesses, with an emphasis on those that are minority- and women-owned, that, in general, have enterprise values of less than $100 million. SWS added the investments look to target companies demonstrating an operating track record, with sustainable business models, companies that operate in or serve underserved markets, and companies
fostering inclusive growth initiatives.

The objective of the partnership between Microsoft and SWS is to mitigate the deficits in capital access that minority-owned businesses often encounter, thereby enhancing the positive impact that these companies have on the communities in which they operate.

“We are extremely pleased to have Microsoft’s critical support in delivering the commercial and social resources necessary to strengthen underperforming communities,” Chris Williams, chairman of SWS, stated in a news release. “Our role in helping to implement Microsoft’s vision of community support is a recognition of the vital role that small businesses play in their communities, particularly during this period of widespread economic distress.”

The fresh funding is needed. Gaining access to capital to start or expand businesses has long been and continues to be an ongoing challenge for minority-owned firms.

Tahreem Kampton, assistant treasurer and CIO at Microsoft, stated, “We’re pleased to continue our 10-year relationship with Siebert Williams Shank to partner together to create new opportunities and expand access to capital for minority-owned small businesses. This is just the first step to building a more diverse and equitable playing field and we look forward to the opportunities that this investment will help create.”

The fund expects to deliver value beyond providing capital solutions to financial sponsors and entrepreneurs. It aims to do that by leveraging both SWS’s national network of relationships and its visibility and reputation within the minority business community.

Source: globenewswire.com

Inclusion at the Forefront: Letter from the Editor

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Anthony Anderson on the cover of the Black EOE Journal

By Samar Khoury

We are celebrating milestones every day, and this issue of Black EOE Journal is full of them. Inclusion surrounds this issue, as it is at the forefront more than ever.

For example, our Best of the Best lists recognize the top HBCUs and Colleges & Universities for their commitment to inclusion. This issue is also filled with firsts: Senator Kamala Harris, the first black woman of Indian descent to formally accept a vice president nomination; Jeanette Epps, the first black woman astronaut to join the international space station crew; Michael V. Drake, the University of California’s first black president; and much, much more. These are only scratching the surface. Even better news: A new law has been passed requiring large corporations to diversify their boards.

Our cover story- actor, activist, and comedian Anthony Anderson- sees value in inclusion and continuously pushes for justice. A prominent figure in the Black Lives Matter movement, Anderson makes it his mission to advocate for a more inclusive future. “I have to build my own table and seat. We don’t have to sit at other peoplpe’s tables. We invite people to our table,” Anthony says.

Read more about his efforts and inspiring story on page 48.

We’ve also rounded up a list of influential figures who aim to make a difference in the world. From Tyler Perry to Yara Shahidi, these people are inspirations.

Read about these figures on page 30.

You, too, can make a difference, and that is by voting during the upcoming presidential election. Have your voice heard, and advocate for change. Your vote can be what the world needs. So, get out there and vote! Every vote counts.

Last but not least, job opportunities are still present among the pandemic and we’ve presented them for you. Every issue of Black EOE Journal strives to give the best job opportunities and tips while navigating these unprecedented times.

While times are changing, one thing isn’t, and that is the importance of inclusion. So, follow in Anthony Anderson, Senator Harris, Jeanette Epps, and many more influential figures’ footsteps, and make your own change.

Supplier Diversity—Part of a Black Chamber’s DNA

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By Bobby McDonald, President, OC Black Chamber

The Orange County Black Chamber of Commerce, for over 36 years, has prided itself for providing Access to Information. Our mission has strongly supported our minority and diverse communities.

We at the Black Chamber are always looking for ways to help our business community improve, enhance and grow their business.

In 2001, Supplier Diversity became an integral part of the Orange County Black Chamber and its membership.

Southern California Edison created a supplier diversity and development team that outreached with events that identified diverse suppliers for potential business opportunities.

It was easy to follow their new innovative playbook because they understood it wasn’t just the idea of doing the right thing, but supplier diversity made good business sense.

Networking, matchmaking events, business forums, “how to do business” workshops and now, the Edison Entrepreneurial, Development, Growth and Education (EDGE) Programs, offer potential members to learn how to participate, gain experience, learn the nomenclature and variance of degrees of supplier diversity, and how to prepare to do business effectively.

As far as certification goes, we at the Black Chamber have partnered with Department of General Service, who offers training and certification for small business to businesses in California. A small business certification supports the pursuit of contract opportunities with the state and helps the state meet its 25 percent goal.

The Dept. of General Services also offers certification for Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises. The chamber offers a yearly certification training event for veterans in conjunction with the California Employment Development Department.

One our biggest success was to have a two-session certification with the DGS, where 33 individuals came to get their business SB and DVBE certification. After the training, we were informed that DGS confirmed seven individuals had garnered successful certification.

The chamber has found and truly believes that corporations that set minority procurement goals that are supported by top management can achieve substantial progress in narrowing the opportunity gap between minority- and white-owned businesses.

We are now currently involved with supplier diversity programs with Southern California Gas Company, Semper Energy Utilities along with AT&T, to name a few. It’s now part of our chamber DNA.

We totally realize and understand the value of supplier diversity and how it enhances and creates proactive business and encourages the use of minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, LGBT-owned, service-disabled-veteran-owned, historically underutilized business, and Small Business Administration (SBA)-defined small business concerns as suppliers.

 

Avoiding Workplace Word Wars

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By Lorie Reichel-Howe
Founder, Conversations In The Workplace

If you work with people, it’s inevitable that you have felt the sting of cutting words, the stab of sarcasm and the sickening silence when a coworker is verbally attacked. When workplace word wars occur, people become casualties, relationships are strained, and morale plunges downward.

Unless people effectively and confidently respond to verbal outbursts, culture will erode, productivity will plummet, and attrition will skyrocket.

In my consulting work, I’ve observed that unaddressed behaviors become workplace norms. When hurtful behaviors are tolerated, people are dehumanized and verbal offenders multiply. On the flip side, organizations that prepare employees to effectively respond to workplace zingers, jabs and verbal bombs, establish a safe workplace culture.

Unfortunately, wanting to speak up when a verbal assault bomb is dropped doesn’t mean you know how to speak up, or even what to say so here are a few communication strategies you can implement. Instead of simply describing the strategies, I will demonstrate how to implement them in a workplace scenario where a frustrated employee, Jolene, blurts out a negative comment about the Help Desk department.

Scenario

Upon submitting a request for support from Help Desk, Jolene was informed that, due to complications with the new system software installation, that there will be a two-day delay in receiving technical support. Angry at the delay, Jolene blurted out:“The Help Desk department should be renamed the Helpless Department.”

Request clarification

In a calm and firm manner, ask Jolene to share what she meant by “renaming the Help Desk Department to the Helpless Department.” In taking a curious approach, you invite reflection of the meaning of one’s words. Asking questions prevents you from accusing, lecturing or judging the actions of others.

Acknowledge the needs or concerns of the other person

Acknowledging someone’s concern is a great diffuser. People commonly breathe a sigh of relief when their concern is recognized. When we feel angry or hurt and believe someone has crossed a line, our human tendency is to become defensive. Acknowledging the other person’s challenge is not instinctive. Even so, learning to acknowledge instead of telling someone what you think of their outburst, can become a patterned response with repeated practice. While acknowledging is not a solution to the problem, it opens up a dialogue where a solution could be explored. Rest assured, acknowledging someone’s concerns doesn’t mean you approve of their behavior, it simply means you understand what motivated their behavior or outburst.

Communicate positive wants (for everyone involved)

When people hear that you desire a positive outcome or solution to their problem, they see you as an advocate, not an enemy. It’s assuring to know someone cares about you even when you’ve acted impulsively or spoken inappropriately. It only takes a few seconds to communicate to Jolene that you want her to obtain the technical support needed to complete her work. Share that you want Help Desk to successfully implement a new system upgrade that improves everyone’s working experience and that you want other departments to support Help Desk in their improvement efforts. Lastly, include your desire for a positive work environment for everyone where concerns and needs are respectfully communicated.

Bring awareness of the impact of words and actions

To help Jolene understand the impact of her words, tell her that when you hear her say that the Help Desk Department should be renamed the Helpless Department, it comes across as an attack on a team within the organization. Share that negative comments like these, instead of unifying the organization, separate and divide. It only takes one match to ignite a fire and once negativity spreads, it’s hard to stop.”

Ask questions to spark brainstorming a solution

Successful communicators empower others by asking them questions. They avoid directing or dictating what others can or should do. Ask Jolene if there are technical support resources other than Help Desk. This moves her from attacking a department to finding another resource for technical support.

Get a commitment

To ensure that negative comments are not made in the future, ask Jolene to commit to discussing her concerns in the future without attacking a team or individual. Documenting Jolene’s agreement is helpful in case of a repeated offense. It takes discernment to know if a reminder is adequate, if an apology is appropriate or if consequences should be imposed.

If the behavior continues

If the behavior is repeated, reference the earlier commitment and identify that you are now holding an accountability conversation to address a behavior pattern. Make it clear that this is not a first-time offense – this person has a history. Pattern behaviors erode trust because they cause you to question whether a person has the ability to uphold their commitments.

Create safe and positive workplaces

It’s not enough to inform people of workplace policies, people need to know what to do when policies are violated and when employees become causalities of a toxic culture. Organizations that develop a positive and safe workplace understand that telling or expecting people to address negative behavior is as helpful as a medical diagnosis without a recovery plan. These organizations invest in training all employees, managers and teams in effectively addressing harmful workplace zingers, jabs and verbal bombs.

Lorie Reichel Howe is founder of Conversations in the Workplace. She leverages over 20 years of expertise in communication and relationship management. She equips managers, teams and business professionals to have “safe conversations” – transformative dialogue that uncovers hidden workplace issues. Whether issues are challenging team dynamics, mismanaged expectations or good old-fashioned bad behavior, “safe conversations” foster greater innovation, inclusion and collaboration within organizations.

Click here to learn more about Lorie’s impact.

Rihanna Joins ‘Forbes’ List Of America’s Richest Self-Made Women

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Rihanna on professional women's magazine cover wonder woman of the year.

Forbes has unleashed its list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women and there are plenty of recognizable names.

According to the outlet, the entire ranking of trailblazers are worth a collective $90 billion and have “have started or helped expand companies that do everything from build rockets to create snowboards to make Covid-19 tests.” At the top of the ranking is roofing entrepreneur Diane Hendricks, co-founder of ABC Supply, one of the country’s largest wholesale distributors of roofing, siding and windows. She tops the list for the third year in a row with her empire, which reportedly exceeds $8 billion.

Meanwhile, Rihanna makes her first appearance on the list at the No. 33 spot, courtesy of her cross-genre ventures. In addition to her Fenty Beauty line, the pop titan also has her Savage x Fenty lingerie line, as well as her music ventures, racking up an estimated $600 million for her earnings across the board in 2019.

Among the other celebrity appearances include Kris Jenner, who nabbed her first entry at the No. 92 spot with a net worth of $190 million. Oprah Winfrey returns to this year’s ranking at the No. 9 spot with a net worth of $2.9 billion, while Kim Kardashian took the No. 24 spot with her net worth of $780 million and little sister Kylie Jenner took the No. 29 position with a net worth of $700 million. Lady Gaga and Jenniffer Lopez both snagged the No. 97 spot with their net worth of $150 million.

Continue on to 1043myfm to read the complete article.

New Law Requires Large Corporations to Diversify Boards

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A diverse board of directors sitting around a table

By Natalie Rodgers

On August 31, California lawmakers passed a new, unnamed piece of legislature that would increase diversity and inclusion rates in big California businesses.

Under this new law, large corporations would be required to have at least one board member on their team who comes from an underrepresented community. The legislature further clarifies the definition of underrepresented communities to include: Black and African American, Hispanic and Latino, Native American, Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native, Asian, Pacific Islander, or LGBTQ+.

“Corporations have money, power, and influence,” Assemblyman and author of the law Chris Holden stated. “If we are going to address racial injustice and inequity in our society, it’s imperative that corporate boards reflect the diversity of our state.”

Holden hopes that the bill will make large representative changes resulting in racial justice, similar to the gender equality shown after the passing of the 2018 bill, requiring big-name corporations that have a certain number of women on their board.

While presenting the new legislature, lawmakers strived to prove the necessity for its existence by referring to various studies that showed a lack of diversity in big corporations and the state of California alike. One such study, done by the Deloitte and Alliance for Board Diversity in 2018, stated that out of the 1,222 new board members that were introduced to Fortune 100 companies, 940 of them identified as Caucasian, a whopping 77 percent. Another study, done by the Latino Corporate Directors Association in July 2020, stated that 87 percent of California business boards did not have Latino representation, despite making up almost 40 percent of the total population. Many large technology companies, such as Apple and Facebook, were also tested to have all-white executives in the top executive positions on the board.

“There is enough evidence to show there is discrimination,” Holden told lawmakers. “The numbers simply don’t lie.”

Besides the presence of discrimination, lawmakers also showed evidence of the economic impact that diversity can have on large corporations. Companies that present a larger understanding and representation of diversity have shown to increase in profit as their target audience begins to draw in more people from various backgrounds.

Under Holden’s law, diversity would be required to increase in the coming years in California businesses. Corporations with more than nine board members would need to have a minimum of three members that come from underrepresented communities and corporations with  five to eight board members would be required to have at least two of these members. If signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, the law would also penalize those violators with fines starting at $100,000.

Level Up: Joining a Professional Organization to Bolster Your Network

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By: Stephanie Hughes, MPH, CHES

Featuring: Collin Mays, MPA

If I asked a room of 10 people what comes to mind when they hear the word “networking,” I would expect to get ten different answers.

The first thing that probably comes to mind is a room full of people with name tags, exchanging resumes, or business cards. Networking is the activity that we all know and love, or hate, that involves the exchange of information in either a personal or professional capacity. We build networks every day to find jobs, mentors, and friends. This exchange of information makes it possible to form long-lasting relationships and can provide opportunities that would not be present otherwise.

We have all heard the statement, “It’s not about what you know, but who you know.” I remember hearing it on many occasions in both my undergraduate and graduate career. Then, “why am I spending all of this time in school, if what I know doesn’t weigh all that much?” While knowledge and expertise are important for us to mold our careers, it isn’t the only factor. If I have learned anything throughout my professional experience, it is that having champions in your corner who know your character and what you stand for are more powerful than any line on your resume.

Collin Mays, a member of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA), an organization committed to supporting professionals in the field of public administration, recounts his experience joining a professional organization committed to public service:

“I joined NFBPA because I believe in the overall mission. Often, black public administrators are not highlighted for their work. My goal is to help promote our profession and encourage the next generation of black public administrators. I realized that to pursue that, networking is essential to your career success. Of course, I encourage everyone to pursue as much education as possible. However, while education is the foundation of success, ultimately networking will help you land your next job and advance through your career. You never get anywhere if people don’t know you.”

I resonate very much with Collin’s statement. The National Forum for Black Public Administrators was my first real experience networking and building professional relationships. I never knew what it truly meant to network. I attended their Annual Forum as a scholarship recipient and truly had no idea what to expect. It was the first time in my life where I was surrounded by so many professionals who looked like me. And for some reason, they wanted to get to know the 19-year-old girl from Raleigh, North Carolina.

Throughout the conference, I met with people from all over the country that served in various capacities and spoke about my passion for public service. Conversations seemed to flow easily as such like-minded individuals surrounded me. Individuals I met have become mentors and friends as I pursue a career in healthcare and public service. In fact, this is true for many professionals as they recount the beginnings of their careers. It was at this moment when I realized the true importance of joining a professional organization.

“Young people, especially young people of color, should join as many professional organizations as possible. Not only will each organization enhance your knowledge of the profession, but each organization can produce lifelong friendships and professional relationships.”

If you are interested in a career in public administration or a related sector and would like to join a professional organization, please  consider contacting the NFBPA.

Click here to view the NFBPA websitethrough our website

Click here to explore programs for emerging leaders and young professionals.

The National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA) is the nation’s principal and most progressive organization dedicated to the advancement of African American public leadership in local and state governments. NFBPA is an independent, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1983. With more than 2,500 members, NFBPA has established a national reputation for designing and implementing successful, quality leadership development initiatives.

Why Black women face disproportionate rates of breast cancer

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Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Awarness Month

By Maura Hohman

The day before she turned 30 and had planned to leave for a celebratory vacation, Sharonda Vincent felt a lump on her left breast while in the shower.

She scheduled a last-minute appointment with a doctor at Planned Parenthood, who told her to enjoy her trip because she doubted it was cancerous.

After Vincent returned home to Philadelphia, the mother of one decided to see her primary care provider, just in case. This led to a series of tests, including a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy. In the summer of 2005, she was diagnosed with stage 2B breast cancer.

“I was numb, hurt, confused, upset, questioning God,” she told TODAY. “It was a complete shock.”

Vincent, now 45, has been cancer-free for 15 years, thanks to the surgery, chemo and radiation she underwent that summer. She’s among the millions of Black women who’ve survived breast cancer, even though the odds are unjustly stacked against them.

Black women are 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than white women. Black women are also more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage or at a younger age. Death rates for white women with breast cancer are improving more rapidly than for Black women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Research into the reason for these disparities is ongoing, but it’s likely “multifactorial,” Dr. Vivian Bea, chief of breast surgical oncology at New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, told TODAY.

What’s more, Bea expects breast cancer outcomes for Black women to only get worse due to COVID-19. A recent survey, conducted by the cancer information platform SurvivorNet, found that 1 in 3 women has delayed getting a mammogram because of the coronavirus.

A doctor who looks like you

As a physician and Black woman, Bea believes that a main inhibitor for the Black community to seeking health care is the absence of doctors who can relate to their life experiences. Only 5 percent of U.S. doctors are Black, and even fewer are Black women, per 2018 data.

“When I take care of my Black patients … I can’t tell you how often I hear, ‘I trust you because you look like me,” she said. “I hear stories of, ‘I talked to this doctor, and I told them I had a mass, and they told me it was nothing,’ or ‘I had a pain, and they said it was in my head.’ Unfortunately (Black) women are sometimes not taken seriously.”

While Vincent doesn’t feel her care team approached her differently because of her race, she said she leaned heavily on the only Black medical professional she encountered during her treatment.

In Vincent’s initial appointments, she recalled, staff struggled to draw her blood, and she had to be pricked by multiple techs each time, especially uncomfortable given her fear of needles. So the Black medical assistant planned her future visits so the one tech who could draw Vincent’s blood on the first try was always available.

“She made it a point to really get close to me,” Vincent said. “It was almost like she rode this journey with me. She wanted to make sure I felt comfortable in the office. … It made a big difference.”

Suffering in silence

Shortly after Vincent was diagnosed, she found out her grandmother was going through radiation, the last leg of her own breast cancer treatment, but had never told anyone before.

“As close as we are, my grandmother didn’t want to make it too known, so when she learned of my diagnosis, she felt she needed to be that shoulder for me,” Vincent recalled. “We shared stories, and I actually used her surgeon.”

Vincent suspects that her grandmother’s approach is common among Black women. “People in Black families probably feel like, ‘We have so much other stuff to worry about, let’s not bog the family down with this news,'” she said.

Bea pointed out that she often hears Black women say, “I never had cancer in my family, so I’ll never get breast cancer,” but that’s “totally not true,” she stressed.

Tracy Tomer, diagnosed with stage 3A breast cancer in January, told TODAY that hearing from other Black women in her Brooklyn neighborhood that they had breast cancer was a revelation of sorts.

Continue on to NBC News to read the complete article.

This story originally ran on Today.com.

JPMorgan Chase Commits $30 Billion to Advance Racial Equity

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Today, JPMorgan Chase announced new long-term commitments to advance racial equity. The firm will harness its expertise in business, policy and philanthropy and commit an additional $30 billion over the next five years to provide economic opportunity to underserved communities, especially the Black and Latinx communities.

Structural barriers in the U.S. have created profound racial inequalities that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The existing racial wealth gap puts a strain on families’ economic mobility and restricts the U.S. economy. Building on the firm’s existing investments, this new commitment will drive an inclusive economic recovery, support employees and break down barriers of systemic racism.

“Systemic racism is a tragic part of America’s history,” said Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co. “We can do more and do better to break down systems that have propagated racism and widespread economic inequality, especially for Black and Latinx people. It’s long past time that society addresses racial inequities in a more tangible, meaningful way.”

Over the next five years, the firm expects these new commitments, which include loans, equity and direct funding, to:

I. Promote and Expand Affordable Housing and Homeownership for Underserved Communities

A. Originate an additional 40,000 home purchase loans for Black and Latinx households. To do this, the firm is committing $8 billion in mortgages. Efforts include:

  • Improving key home lending products and offerings, including substantially increasing the Chase Homebuyer Grant in underserved communities.

B. Help an additional 20,000 Black and Latinx households achieve lower mortgage payments through refinancing loans. To do this, the firm is committing up to $4 billion in refinancing loans.

C. Finance an additional 100,000 affordable rental units. To do this, the firm will provide $14 billion in new loans, equity investments and other efforts to expand affordable housing in underserved communities. Efforts include:

  • Investing additional capital in vital community institutions and increasing funding for the construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing for low and moderate-income households nationwide.

II. Grow Black- and Latinx-owned Businesses

A. Provide an additional 15,000 loans to small businesses in majority-Black and -Latinx communities. To do this, the firm will deliver $2 billion in loans. Efforts include:

  • Launching a new program designed to help entrepreneurs in historically underserved areas access coaching, technical assistance and capital.
  • Accelerating a digital lending product to better support the needs of small Black- and Latinx-owned businesses seeking quick access to capital.

B. Spend an additional $750 million with Black and Latinx suppliers.

III. Improve Financial Health and Access to Banking in Black and Latinx Communities

A. Help one million people open low-cost checking or savings accounts. To do this, the firm commits to hiring 150 new community managers, opening new Community Center branches in underserved communities and materially increasing marketing spend to reach more customers who are currently underserved, unbanked or underbanked. Other efforts include:

  • Continuing to open 100 new branches in low-to-moderate income communities across the country as part of the firm’s market expansion initiative.
  • Building awareness and trust in Chase Secure Banking to meet the needs of Black and Latinx unbanked and underbanked households and expand access to traditional banking.

B. Invest up to $50 million in the form of capital and deposits in Black and Latinx-led Minority Depository Institutions (MDI) and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI), and continue to mentor and advise select MDIs and CDFIs to help them achieve future success.

IV. Accelerate Investment in our Employees and Build a More Diverse and Inclusive Workforce

A. Continuing to build a more equitable and representative workforce and hold executives accountable by incorporating priorities and progress into year-end performance evaluations and compensation decisions for members of the Operating Committee and their direct reports.

B. Providing financial coaching services to the firm’s U.S. employees.

The firm will also provide $2 billion in philanthropic capital over the next five years to drive an inclusive economic recovery and support Black, Latinx and other underserved communities. This extends and increases the firm’s current five-year $1.75 billion philanthropic commitment made in 2018. It will also include an emphasis on supporting Black- and Latinx-led organizations.

A fact sheet detailing JPMorgan Chase’s new commitments is available here.

Holding Ourselves Accountable

Measuring impact and ensuring accountability is central to these new commitments. Progress will be tracked regularly and shared with senior leadership across the firm, as well as externally with the Chase Advisory Panel, to assess performance and hold the business accountable. These efforts will further allow for maximum impact and bring an enhanced equity lens to the firm’s business.

Comments on the Importance of Advancing Racial Equity

“We have a responsibility to intentionally drive economic inclusion for people that have been left behind,” said Brian Lamb, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion, JPMorgan Chase.The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated long-standing inequities for Black and Latinx people around the world. We are using this catalytic moment to create change and economic opportunities that enhance racial equity for Black and Latinx communities.”

“To ensure the Latino community can thrive, we must work together to break down persistent obstacles to opportunity created by systemic racism,” said Janet Murguía, President and CEO, UnidosUS. “JPMorgan Chase’s new commitments will help ensure that the American dream is accessible to more Latinos today, create a multiplier effect through generations, and lead to a stronger country with greater shared prosperity.”

“America’s racial wealth gap has been a persistent injustice, and it can no longer be tolerated as business as usual,” said Marc Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League. “I am heartened to see JPMorgan’s specific, measurable commitments that we believe will address decades of systemic racism toward Black communities – and will bolster the wellbeing of families across the country, as well as our collective economy. We are proud to work alongside JPMorgan Chase to make these changes and help craft conditions for lasting racial equity.”

“All Americans deserve equitable access to affordable housing and the physical, emotional and financial security it represents,” said Lisa Rice, CEO, National Fair Housing Alliance. “JPMorgan Chase’s new commitments will help make owning or renting a reality for more Black and Latinx families, whose housing access has been impeded by decades of systemic racism and are now disproportionately affected by the impact of COVID-19. Addressing the affordability crisis, now overlaid with the pandemic, will require many players on many fronts, and these commitments are concrete, meaningful steps in the right direction.”

“This moment requires leaders and their institutions to shake off the husks of complacency and to stand in transformative solidarity with the more than 100 million in America who face the burdens of a democracy and economy that does not yet allow them to participate, prosper, and reach their full potential,” said Dr. Michael McAfee, President and CEO, PolicyLink. “JPMorgan Chase is beginning the journey to answer this call. It’s targeted investments in black and brown communities, and its leadership advancing public policy that ensures all people in America participate in a just society, live in a healthy community of opportunity, and prosper in an equitable economy is the type of creative spark that will usher in America’s renewal.



About JPMorgan Chase

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $3.2 trillion and operations worldwide. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing, and asset management. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of customers in the United States and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.

Daymond John Launches Black Entrepreneurs Day To Inspire Black Business Owners To Persevere

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Daymond John holding microphone onstage

What do Black entrepreneurs—more than 40% of whom have shuttered their businesses amidst the pandemic—need during this unprecedented time?

If you ask Daymond John, it’s support from industry peers, honest conversations about Black business and, during a time of heightened emotional stress, quality entertainment.

“You see people out there burning businesses when they should be building them,” the FUBU founder and CEO and Shark Tank investor tells Forbes. “People of color need more inspiration and more of the right inspiration, instead of letting out frustrations and disappointment in today’s current environment in a negative way.”

John turned his anger into action. The result: Black Entrepreneurs Day Presented by Chase for Business, an inaugural event on Oct. 24 that will bring together business leaders such as BET cofounder Robert Johnson, A-list, second-act entrepreneurs like Shaquille O’Neal, LL Cool J, Gabrielle Union and Jamie Foxx and investors like Backstage Capital’s Arlan Hamilton.

Crafted with the help of an entertainment company helmed by former 30 Under 30 honorees, Medium Rare, the event will also feature performances from artists including three-time Grammy winner Chance The Rapper.  “It’s like a big block party online,” says John. “We’re having a good time with it.” And it’ll be available for free streaming across more than 20 platforms. John’s Facebook page will be the day-of hub.

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

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