APCAA Digest Winter 2021
CodeHouse Receives $1 Million Grant from Google.org To Support Regional Expansion (Bros. Ernest Holmes Spring 2018 & Tavis Thompson Spring 2019)
ATLANTA, December 6, 2021 -- CodeHouse, the 501(c)(3) non-profit focused on tackling the diversity gap in the technology industry, today announced it has received a $1 million grant from Google.org, the charitable arm of Google. This groundbreaking funding will allow CodeHouse to expand its initiatives to students attending Historically Black Colleges/Universities (HBCUs) in Washington, D.C. and North Carolina over the next two years, furthering the organization’s reach while strengthening its mission to build a diverse tech workforce.
The grant also allows CodeHouse to grow the CodeHouse Scholars Initiative (CHSI), its four-year mentorship and scholarship program designed to prepare underrepresented students attending HBCUs for careers in STEM. Launched in March 2021, CHSI provides students with technical training, mentorship, scholarships, and internship opportunities as they matriculate, with support from additional leading tech companies including PayPal, the program’s founding partner, among others.
“Since CodeHouse’s founding, we’ve been able to reach thousands of students of color in the Atlanta area and equip them with the tools they need to successfully pursue careers in tech,” said Ernest Holmes, CodeHouse’s president and co-founder. “With this grant from Google.org, we’re able to take our efforts to the next level and impact the lives of thousands more. The time is now to increase diverse representation in tech, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to receive this generous funding to support us in our mission to do so.”
Pictured above: December 2, 2021 header from BlackEnterprise.com technology feature by Jeffrey McKinney.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced the grant on Thursday, November 18 when she joined Holmes, who also happens to be a software engineer at Google, for the first installment of CodeHouse’s Conversation series. During the fireside chat, which saw attendance from more than 100 Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College students, Wojcicki discussed learnings from her journey in tech, took questions from the audience, and shared advice for rising professionals.
Pictured above: On Thursday, November 18, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki hosted the first installment of the CodeHouse Conversation series.
“The CodeHouse Conversation with Susan Wojicki was definitely one of the top highlights from my first semester in college,” said Azola Martin, a freshman computer science major at Morehouse College and CodeHouse Scholar. “To hear directly from one of the most influential executives in the industry was incredibly inspiring and really reaffirmed my decision to pursue a career in tech.”
To learn more about CodeHouse and its mission to increase diverse representation in the tech industry, visit www.thecodehouse.org.
Brother Emile C. Thompson (Fall 2002) Appointed Interim Chairman of the D.C. Public Service Commission
(Washington, D.C.) -- Emile C. Thompson of the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia (Commission) was appointed today by Mayor Muriel Bowser as the Interim Chairman of the Commission. “It is a great honor to be appointed today as Interim Chairman for the Commission. I look forward to working with my fellow Commissioner and our excellent staff, as we continue to tackle the pressing issue of climate change by achieving the District’s clean energy goals,” stated Chairman Thompson.
Prior to the Commission, Chairman Thompson was an Assistant United States Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. As an AUSA, he prosecuted homicides and served as a supervising Deputy Chief in the Misdemeanor Section. He was also served as a Principal Member on the DC Water Board of Directors since 2016. While on the Board, Chairman Thompson chaired the Human Resources and Labor Relations Committee and served on the Governance, Strategic Planning, and DC Retail Rates Committees.
The Chairman began his career as a clerk for the Honorable (Ret.) Herbert B. Dixon, Jr. of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. He also served in the Mayoral Administrations of Vincent Gray and Muriel Bowser.
Chairman Thompson graduated from Morehouse College with a degree in Computer Science and minors in Math and Biology. His law degree was conferred from Wake Forest University School of Law. He is active in the D.C. community serving as a mentor through the Abramson Scholarship Foundation and is a former board member of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington. Chairman Thompson was born in Washington, D.C. and currently resides there with his wife and children.
The Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia is an independent agency established by Congress in 1913 to regulate electric, natural gas, and telecommunications companies in the District of Columbia.
Black Bostonians Fled To Atlanta To Escape Racism. They’re Not Coming Back, No Matter Who’s Elected Mayor (Bro. BMaynard Scarborough -- Fall 1980)
By Phillip Martin, WGBH Senior Investigative Reporter www.wgbh.org
ATLANTA, GEORGIA — Kyle Wells, 49, grew up in Boston’s Mattapan near the intersection of Morton Street and Blue Hill Avenue. By the end of his senior year at Boston Latin School, he was itching to leave town. “My kind of high school goal was to move out of Boston,” said Wells, who headed southward to attend Florida A&M University in Tallahassee and then seized a training opportunity in Atlanta. “After that, I never looked back,” he said. “This is my out. I’m gone.”
Wells has fond memories of Boston and “the old neighborhood,” but also remembers the city’s rigid racial boundaries. “When you live there, it’s always a part of where you are. You don’t go to certain spots, like Charlestown and Southie,” said Wells — conceding Boston has evolved since then.
Pictured above: Boston native Kyle Wells at his home in Atlanta. Phillip Martin / GBH News.
A senior creative writer and producer for Turner Sports in Atlanta, Wells leads a life with his wife and two daughters on the city’s southwest side that he said he could not have imagined in Boston. He surveys his expansive front yard. A huge Magnolia tree shades their home from the hot Georgia sun.
In the decades following violent resistance to school desegregation in Boston starting in 1974, thousands of Black residents like Wells have moved to the South, as part of what some observers have termed “a reverse great migration.” Census data from 2011 show that more than a million Black residents in the metropolitan Atlanta area were born in the Northeast.
Boston’s unwelcoming racial climate figured to some extent in the decision of five former residents who repaired to Atlanta, based on their interviews with GBH News in October. With Boston about to elect its first mayor of color, the Black former Bostonians were asked if that historic development has changed their minds about the city they left behind. Not much or at all, they replied.
Their searing experiences with racism in Boston have left a lasting mark.
But Logan Gaskill, 42, an Executive Leadership Coach and Strategy Consultant, is somewhat encouraged by Boston’s unprecedented mayoral race. “That’s progress,” he said.
Pictured above: Logan Gaskill, 42, Executive Leadership Coach and Strategy Consultant, says Atlanta offers him more — including warmer weather. Phillip Martin / GBH News.
Gaskill’s father taught at Hyde Park High School during the height of desegregation, and Gaskill says he has watched television footage of racial violence that erupted at the school in 1974. Yet he is still put off by people who seem to view Boston only through the prism of that time period. Like a lot of Black professionals in Atlanta, he came to attend one of the city’s premier centers of higher education: Morehouse College. Spelman, a prestigious historically Black college for women, also draws a large number of Black students.
Gaskill recalled a conversation he had with a friend from the Deep South: “And he said, ‘Where are you from?' I said I grew up in Boston. He said, ‘Oh my God, it’s racist there.’ And I just remember thinking, like, ‘Dude, you’re from Alabama and Mississippi. Like, it doesn’t get more racist than that.’”
But Gaskill says that perception is reality for many Black people around the country — and whoever becomes mayor of Boston will be tasked with changing that image.
Historically, racial hostility extended beyond Boston’s public schools, public beaches and public housing and seeped into the city’s nightlife. Lawsuits over discriminatory entry policies at downtown Boston venues were common in the 1980s, 1990s and even more recently.
“[Atlanta is] our town. Even though I was there for 20 years, I never felt like Boston was my town at all.”
Atlanta native and Morehouse alum BMaynard Scarborough worked for Mayor Ray Flynn and later the Boston Globe. But at night he spent time and energy carving out a space for Black and Latino people in the city’s clubs and restaurants by working with club owners and restaurateurs, including Patrick Lyons and Seth Greenberg. “We did those things because we had to,” Scarborough recalled. “We didn’t have anything to do. So we were a natural group that needed just a little organizing.”
Scarborough’s networking enterprise with friend and businessman Alvin Crawford was called The Loop. It provided access to the city’s often closed-off institutions of culture and nightlife, much like the contemporary multiracial networking group, Get Konnected, organized by public relations maven Colette Phillips. Still, Scarborough chose to move back to Atlanta in 2005 for reasons that he said are fundamental to the notion of basic freedom.
“Atlanta is almost like — we feel like we don’t have to ask to do. You feel empowered. It’s our town,” he said. “Even though I was there for 20 years, I never felt like Boston was my town at all. And I love Boston.”
Pictured above: BMaynard Scarborough, photographed standing in front of the Martin Luther King Center in Atlanta. Phillip Martin / GBH News.
Scarborough said he applauds Boston’s progress, exemplified by the women of color running for mayor, but feels the city could do more to make itself welcoming to Black people there and to those who moved away.
Morehouse graduate George “Chip” Greenidge, who grew up in Boston’s Mission Hill and in Cambridge, has straddled the Mason-Dixon Line with the help of Delta Airlines for more than three decades. He said he also loves Boston, but his heart is closer to Atlanta.
“It’s very interesting being in both of those spaces and places,” Greenidge said. “In Atlanta, there are more opportunities for people to actually become an entrepreneur. There are more ways for creatives to be creative because they’re more spaces to do so. And also, there’s a cheaper-rent district, an arts district. Here [in Boston], it’s very impossible for a young person that’s not in school to actually make it.”
Greenidge created and runs a nonprofit called Greatest Minds, which is tasked with building the next generation of Black leaders in Boston. Like others interviewed by GBH News, Greenidge left Boston in the 1990s to attend Morehouse, but he’s split his time between both Boston and Atlanta since then. He is now pursuing a Ph.D. at Georgia State University and serving as a visiting fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard’s Kennedy School — and recently hosted a live mayoral debate in Dorchester between Michelle Wu and Essaibi George.
“These two candidates are younger,” Greenidge said. “But I think there’s some older structures that have to be addressed. Both have to make sure that there are resources on the table for people looking at the quality of life issues, why they should stay here [Boston] and be around here.”
Pictured above: George “Chip” Greenidge, straddles Atlanta and Boston. He is the executive director of the nonprofit Greatest Minds. Phillip Martin / GBH News.
“Oh, it's amazing, totally amazing!" he said. "Atlanta, every night, there's somewhere to go hundreds of places where African Americans are in charge of the nightlife. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Atlanta is open.”
Scarborough said Atlanta is home and he is there to stay. “I’m not moving again,” he declared. Nor is Wells, who described going back to Boston as “a step backwards,” no matter who becomes the next mayor. “Not many opportunities for me there,” he added. Gaskill is also not planning to return to live in Boston anytime soon, despite what he sees as political progress with this year’s mayoral race. He’s concerned about those who have fallen through what he said are the cracks in Boston society.
“I would like to believe it's gotten better, but I mean, I think about the story that the Boston Globe did about why do people think Boston is racist and they did more stats to kind of show like wealth gaps and jobs, and I don't know that Boston has done anything to dispel that,” Gaskill said.
“I’m used to my mayor being Black. ... There’s just a difference. Here there are certain battles you don’t have to fight.”
Remote Career Development: Shaun Spearmon (Fall 1998) of Kotter On How To Advance and Enhance Your Career When You Are Working Remotely
www.medium.com By David Liu
Career development is the ongoing process of choosing, improving, developing, and advancing your career. This involves learning, making decisions, collaboration with others and knowing yourself well enough to be able to continually assess your strengths and weaknesses. This can be challenging enough when you work in an office, but what if you work remotely? How does remote work affect your career development? How do you nurture and advance your career when you are working from home and away from other colleagues? How can you help your employees do this? To address these questions, we started an interview series called “How To Advance and Enhance Your Career When You Are Working Remotely”. As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shaun Spearmon.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. What is your “backstory”? I’ve always been fascinated by change and transformation. It has been the focal point of my career, not because I love it, but because I learned at a very early age just how constant change is and the incredible opportunities it creates. I was born in the Midwest, although my mother and I relocated to the Pacific Northwest when I was young. I hated this change and didn’t understand it at the time, but for so many reasons it proved to be one of the best things that could have ever happened to me.
My undergraduate degree is in Business Administration from Morehouse College — another transformational change that sent me once again across the country. I still refer to this decision as one of the best I’ve ever made because of the extraordinary educational experience I received and because it was here that I met my wife, Brooke. She is my partner in life and in business. We’ve had 17 wonderful years of marriage and we parent three amazing children, Ava (10), Olivia (8) and Vaughn (3). We are also each other’s biggest fans and our unparalleled support of each other has enabled each of us to achieve excellence throughout our professional journeys.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? My oldest daughter was born a few weeks before my MBA graduation. When I walked across the stage to receive my degree, she was in my arms. I hoisted her high above my head as I approached the center of the stage to acknowledge that the title of “father” far exceeded the credentials I had just earned. This was a defining moment that continues to remind me that my professional aspirations will always be a distant second to my family.
Pictured above: Shaun Spearmon and Lynn Beck made up the staff of the Business Diversity Program at UW earlier in his career.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that? I’m a card-carrying Virgo so rarely, if ever, do we see the humor in our mistakes. However, time has allowed me to see the humor in some of my early career missteps. One of my first jobs was in a very tall building and only a certain set of elevators allowed you to get to a specific range of floors in the building. My office was on the 33rd floor and as I raced into the building, not wanting to be late on my first day, I completely missed the signs indicating the set of elevators I should have been using. Naturally, I got on the wrong elevator. I panicked because I didn’t see the “33” button to press and picked the highest number available, thinking that perhaps I could change elevators when I got to that floor. That didn’t work.
After about five minutes of frustration and silent cursing, I decided to start all over again. I left the building and slowly re-entered, then scanned the lobby and discovered the signage that I missed the first time. As I got on the right elevator and ascended, I realized that getting where you need to go often requires slowing down and understanding the big picture. I also recalled a saying I heard throughout college: “To be early, is to be on time; to be on time, is to be late; and to be late is unacceptable.”
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life? Unfortunately, during my early academic years, most lessons (especially math) did not come easy for me. However, my mother made it clear that despite what I perceived to be a learning challenge, she expected excellence. And excellence was achieved when I could look her in the eye and say that I did my very best. Her question to me was always, “Shaun, did you go the extra mile?” If I said yes, she’d be happy with whatever grade I received on the test or project. If I said “no,” that was unacceptable. I quickly learned that going the extra mile meant that I had to work harder and longer than some of my peers to get good grades and test scores. That willingness to outwork my counterparts has stayed with me. As a parent, I carry the same expectation for excellence as my mother, asking my kids, “Did you go the extra mile?”
What advice would you give to other business leaders to help their employees thrive and avoid burnout? Now, more than ever, it is critical for leaders to provide clarity and focus for their employees. Excelling at multiple priorities has long been a challenge for most employees. The pace of change and the additional stresses brought on by the COVID pandemic has demanded that leaders elevate critical work and eliminate the non-essential. This means limiting the amount of “noise” each employee receives by asking: What data or reports are being shared with people who don’t need them? Are there any activities we do just because we have always done them? How often do meetings really need to be held? Leaders should also create space to thrive by leaning on opportunities (not just threats), loudly celebrating progress to boost positive energy, and delegating control to encourage investment in achieving outcomes.
Pictured above: Shaun Spearmon of the Business Diversity Program with colleages as UW named Government Agency of the Year for its work with minority-owned businesses in 2009.
Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Working remotely can be very different than working with a team that is in front of you. This provides great opportunities but it can also create unique challenges. To begin, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main benefits and opportunities of working remotely? The rise of remote working has blended personal and professional lives, which created the kind of flexibility that many employees longed for pre-pandemic. It has dramatically reduced the amount of pre-workday prep, eliminated the commute to an office, and given employees more opportunities to support kids or other dependents. For many employers, not being constrained by the geographic location of an office has expanded talent acquisition opportunities. It has also created a shared collaboration experience for employees at the headquarters (or home office) and those in satellite locations.
Can you articulate for our readers what the five main challenges are regarding working remotely?
Although the blending of work and life is a benefit, it is equally challenging for some to draw the necessary boundaries and signals to colleagues, especially supervisors, where one begins and the other ends.
Establishing new working relationships in a virtual environment is significantly harder than it is in the same physical space. Trust takes time and space to build, which makes it harder to build virtually.
It’s impossible to get those 10,000 steps in while staring at a computer all day long. Many of us took for granted what the daily walking in and around a physical work location contributed to our physical and mental health.
For even the most introverted individuals, the isolation of remote work makes it less fulfilling.
As some employers transition from 100% remote work to a hybrid approach, the pre-pandemic collaboration challenges have started to re-emerge.
Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress each of those challenges? Can you give a story or example for each?
Respect boundaries, embrace them and make them visible. Establish your “working hours” and block the time you need to take care of you –on your calendar and visible to your colleagues.
Turn your camera on and come off mute. Don’t underestimate the impact of the non-verbal communication from colleagues. The chat function in most virtual meeting platforms makes it very easy to passively engage, but when new teams are forming, there is no substitute for direct and verbal engagement.
Block time on your calendar to get up and move for at least 20–30 minutes. The daily pause for some form of exercise can also be a great strategy to build community with colleagues by doing a virtual walk or workout together.
You are less likely to feel isolated when you feel seen. Whether you are a manager or individual contributor, at the start of your next 1:1 with a colleague, ask them how they are doing, and mean it. Pause and actively listen to what they have to say. With every team I’ve led, a working norm has been that no one on the team will worry alone. That often means simply asking the question and responding accordingly.
Create a digitally inclusive environment. Never forget what it feels like to be the only person not physically in the room for a hybrid meeting.
Let’s talk about Career Development. Can you share a few ideas about how you can nurture and advance your career when you are working from home and away from other colleagues? Intentionality is the hallmark for success in the virtual working world. The networking that aids career growth is no exception. Employees must not only proactively create moments for connection with their managers (i.e., performance reviews), but should also allocate time with peers and cross functional colleagues. Instead of scheduling a Zoom call, schedule a walking video chat- which checks both the exercise and informal networking boxes.
Can you share a few ideas about how employers or managers can help their team with career development? To attract and retain top talent, employers and managers must offer career paths that create opportunities for growth and impact. As younger generations enter the workforce, leaders will need to quickly adapt their expectations and organizational frameworks to meet a workforce that increasingly values purpose and driving positive change in the world. This might involve creating additional training opportunities or allowing time and space to engage in developmental cross functional work. Supporting opportunities for growth and development may also involve volunteering or serving on a non-profit board that aligns with employees’ passions given the increasing desire to work for a purpose-driven company.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. Lead with empathy. Listen — at a minimum — twice as much you speak.
Shaun Spearmon is a Director at Kotter. He leads strategic planning, process improvement and transformation engagements with clients across industries, including technology, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, retail, and financial services. Shaun is a firm believer in the power of servant leadership, and its ability to both create excellence in individuals and to produce extraordinary results for organizations.
Sovereign Sounds Continues to Assist Rising Artists, Creatives, and Small Businesses Develop Their Brands Through Marketing and Digital Content (Bro. DeShaun "D.B." Bennett, Spring 2013)
As the pandemic continues, the need for digital content becomes even more important for brands to remain relevant. Creating meaningful, relevant, and quality content often becomes pricey and the process is often convoluted. D.B. Bennett and his company Sovereign Sounds is working to change just that.
Atlanta, Georgia-based Sovereign Sounds (SSLLC) is a full service creative and entertainment agency that leverages creativity, analytics, and affordability, and offers four main services in their one-stop shop for creatives and businesses. SSLLC offers creative services, media and production services, talent management & development services, and audio space rentals. Their primary mission is to provide rising creatives with the knowledge and resources needed to enable creativity while ultimately retaining their creations and ownership.
SSLLC was born from the experience of running the subsidiary, Sovereign Management Group (SMG.) D.B. began his music industry journey focusing on artist management; however soon realized this was only the tip of the iceberg when it came to fostering creative ownership and successfully developing creative thought and expression. This realization led D.B. to expand SMG, adding cost effective, a la carte services that independent artists could benefit from inside and outside the booth. Thus, SSLLC was born. Rising entertainment industry stars have since found a home at Sovereign Sounds and SMG.
Since its founding in 2019, SSLLC has been able to work with brands like CMG, Raydar Records, Warner Music Group, Blueprint Group, Culture Experience, Chummy’s, The Umbrella Firm, eXcite Sports, Generation Now, and number of other notable brands. Sovereign has been able to aid over 250 independent creatives, produced over 75 pieces of content both short and long form, sponsored over 10 events including documentary screenings, album release parties etc, as well as provide 2 scholarships to high school seniors.
Pictured above: Artists who have collaborated with Sovereign Sounds in recent years.
Pictured above: Due to its impact in not only the entertainment space but also its impact on the larger community, Sovereign was recently awarded a community grant through the Village Microfund Flourish Fellowship Program.
Part of the namesake inspiration of Brother Bennett's company is derived from the moniker of his Spring 2013 pledge line, the Sovereign 16.
Bro. Earl N. Caldwell II (Fall 1982) Named Interim Director of the Curt and Linda Rodin Center for Social Justice
Earl N. Caldwell, II (LLM ’00) is the new interim director of the Curt and Linda Rodin Center for Social Justice. An adjunct professor at the School of Law since 2018, Caldwell brings more than 20 years of educational and social justice experience to the role. “I’m looking forward to continuing to build on the Center’s solid foundation of engagement,” he says. Here are three more things to know about Caldwell.
He lived and worked for 15 years in Accra, Ghana, West Africa before teaching at the School of Law: Caldwell consulted with governments, companies, and nonprofit organizations on social justice-related business, legal, and development initiatives. His work included coordinating cultural exchanges between nations, youth educational initiatives, and health care services, including those related to medical education and training.
He brings a holistic approach to the Center: Everything centers on students, scholars, and stakeholders. “The students are at the forefront of what we do. We are here to educate and train the students,” Caldwell says. “Then there are the scholars, Rodin professors who are doing research and other important work. Finally, you have our stakeholders, the community, the people that the Rodin Center is working with. How can we all engage to move forward the goals and objectives of the Rodin Center? It’s always about a holistic approach. Let’s make sure that we’re collaborating and participating in collective engagement with an eye on local, national, and global perspectives.”
“How can we all engage to move forward the goals and objectives of the Rodin Center? It’s always about a holistic approach.”
He creates opportunities for students to shine: At the School of Law, Caldwell created the Different STEM (Sports, Technology, Entertainment, Media) Conference to provide students and practitioners with an annual forum for networking, collaboration, and meaningful exchange. He has taught Business Skills for New Lawyers and continues to teach Business Skills in Sports and Entertainment Law. He also coaches the Sports Law Negotiation Team. In addition, Caldwell is executive director of Gametime Life Skills Foundation, a Fox Valley-area nonprofit organization that supports youth in learning and understanding the importance of being their own advocates.
Loyola’s Curt and Linda Rodin Center for Social Justice builds upon the School of Law’s unwavering commitment to social justice. We strengthen and develop several leading programs that advance fairness, equity, and justice within the Law School and in marginalized communities throughout Chicago. We're committed to helping students learn how the law can be a tool for justice, and to embrace social justice work as a life-long commitment through their public interest legal careers, pro-bono activities, and in their communities.
Faith Initiative Expands To Help Build Bridges Between Community and HIV Vaccine Trials (Bro. Ulysses W. Burley, Fall 2003)
SEATTLE (Dec. 14, 2021) – While the rapid development of effective vaccines has helped combat the COVID-19 pandemic, key communities – especially people who are living with HIV – remain disproportionately impacted, and are at higher risk of severe disease and death. Finding an effective HIV vaccine is critically important, and to that end, the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) is launching an expanded Faith Initiative that will help advance the work of finding a cure.
The national program involves faith ambassadors across the country who will meet and engage with people where they are, focusing on enhancing trust and providing accurate and updated information about HIV and HVTN clinical trials.
More than 20 years ago, when the HVTN was first established, engaging communities in clinical trials through partnerships and collaborations with faith communities has been a focal point in its mission. As part of the HVTN’s commitment to continue to meet communities where they are, engaging and maintaining relationships with faith communities has been a critical function of the HVTN’s work.
With the emergence of COVID-19, the HVTN and three other existing clinical trials networks merged to form the COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN) to enroll thousands of volunteers for large-scale Phase 3 clinical trials testing a variety of investigational vaccines and monoclonal antibodies to protect people from COVID-19. Reflecting HVTN’s example of the importance of community engagement in HIV clinical research to build bridges of understanding between faith and HIV science, the CoVPN implemented a robust community engagement strategy that featured a formal Faith Initiative to engage people of faith around COVID-19 education.
“The faith ambassadors, trusted within their communities and having long-term relationships with the scientists in the research networks, helped bridge gaps that existed by assuring their communities that participation in the clinical trials is the best way to ensure that study results accurately represented the entire population and are effective for all people,” said Rev. Edwin Sanders, Senior Servant at Metropolitan Interdenomenational Church in Nashville, Tennesee, and long time partner of the HVTN, who has served as the centerpiece of the HVTN Faith Initiative over the years.
Pictured above: Brother Burley, at left, alongside the late Congressman John Lewis and his Chief Staff Michael Collins (Morehouse College alum and Alpha national Brother) at CBC event in 2018.
Under the leadership of Rev. Sanders, the CoVPN Faith Initiative reached millions of people with COVID-19 information and education that helped communities move from COVID ignorance to COVID competency; from vaccine hesitancy to vaccine acceptance and accessibility; and from medical mistrust to medical accountability and reconciliation. The success of the CoVPN Faith Initiative has paved the way for the expansion of the HVTN Faith Initiative that leverages the expertise and community capital of eight diverse and geographically distributed HIV, public health and faith practitioners (ambassadors), who integrate anti-racist, anti-xenophobic, anti-homophobic and good participatory practice principles into a faith framework undergirded by science and stories.
“Through conducting inclusive community education and recruitment efforts to ensure that the most impacted communities are included in COVID-19 clinical trials helped establish effective vaccines that served all of the populations that most needed it,” said Dr. Stephaun Wallace, Director of External Relations, CoVPN/HVTN, at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “We hope through the expansion of the HVTN Faith Initiative, we can find success like we did with COVID-19 and ultimately develop a vaccine that can help people globally.”
UBtheCURE LLC, a Chicago-based consulting company operating at the intersection of faith, health and human rights, will direct the HVTN Faith Initiative under the leadership of CoVPN Faith Ambassador and HVTN partner, Dr. Ulysses Burley III.
UBtheCURE will build upon the successful model of the CoVPN Faith Initiative to expand the HVTN Faith Initiative with the overarching purpose of increasing awareness of the impact of HIV/AIDS in the United States and the prospect of HIV vaccine development, while continuing to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other existing and emerging health challenges that disproportionately impact BIPOC communities, which include people of faith.
When asked about the significance of leading this initiative in this moment in history, Burley said, “Faith — much like scientific research — is rooted in the desire for abundant life for all, with healing as a key tenant in every sacred text. 40 years into an HIV epidemic that has claimed 40 million lives, with nearly 40 million people currently living with HIV, even a marginally effective HIV vaccine would prevent millions of new HIV transmissions, saving millions of lives.
Therefore, the active pursuit of an effective HIV vaccine that can bring wellness and wholeness to the world is not just theoretical, but it’s theological as well. It only makes sense that the faith community is an active partner in any endeavor to heal the masses, be it through partnerships like the HVTN Faith Initiative, or the CoVPN Faith Initiative. When we commit, not just to the science, but also to the sacred – we can shift the conversation from being just about information, to one that’s about transformation.”
Taxes Served Corp. Acquires Cloud Tax and ARK Penny and Magnifies Its Nationwide Virtual Tax and Accounting Services (Bro. Andre C. Ellis -- Spring 2009)
HOBOKEN, N.J., Dec. 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Significantly expanding its national footprint ahead of the upcoming tax season, New Jersey-based Taxes Served Corp. recently acquired Cloud Tax and ARK Penny. Subsidiaries of Alston International, Inc., the firms are both based in California. Through the acquisition, which was completed Nov. 15, virtual tax platform Taxes Served will grow its competitive advantage by offering the additional services of payroll, bookkeeping and accounting while supporting more clients on the West coast.
"Our new clients will definitely benefit from our advanced technological and operational capabilities. Taxes Served is on pace to be a definitive leader in the tax industry and this expansion will only accelerate that trajectory," said Andre Ellis, Jr., CEO of Taxes Served. "This tax season we're excited to show our customers why Taxes Served is the best option for handling their taxes, and we hope this is the first of many acquisitions to enhance our go-to-market and client services across the country."
ARK Penny will continue to serve as a separate entity under the Taxes Served Corp. umbrella and will be renamed ARK Penny Corp. while relocating its headquarters to Atlanta. All operations will remain the same.
Cloud Tax operations and clients will be absorbed by Taxes Served Corp. and will operate as one company under Taxes Served Corp. Ellis will continue to serve as CEO for Taxes Served while also assuming CEO responsibilities for ARK Penny Corp. The changes are effective immediately and the transition of operations and clients will be complete by Jan. 1, 2022.
"Our vision is to become the largest, most accomplished privately owned tax firm in the industry, and this is a strong step in that direction, since both organizations share a similar business philosophy and dedication to serving clients," Ellis added. "We have scaled our operations and employed highly talented, seasoned tax professional to help us maximize each client's refund. We are guaranteeing our services—that's how confident we are in our capabilities."
About Taxes Served: Recognized for its experienced tax professionals who help clients maximize their annual refunds, New-Jersey-based Taxes Served is an on-demand platform founded in 2017. A privately owned firm, Taxes Served is a leading virtual tax practice serving clients across the US. For more information, please visit https://www.taxesserved.com/
Bro. Charles Alexander West (Fall 1963), Former President of Alpha Rho Chapter (1965-66), Reveals Secrets of the Gig Economy in New Book
Resigned from your job? Thinking of leaving or looking to gain better control of your life? Dr. Charles A. West and Daryl A. Williams, The Freelance Gig Gurus and co-developers of the Urban Entrepreneurship Program (UEP), a nationally recognized entrepreneur training initiative supported by the Ewing Kauffman Foundation, urge you to join the gig economy.
Their new book, “The 7 Secrets of the Gig Gurus: A Toolkit for the Freelance Gig Economy,” offers proven paths you can take to become a successful gig worker. In the toolkit you will find examples highlighting people just like you – whether a starter (someone new to work), full time employee, dreamer, entrepreneur, returning citizen (those formerly incarcerated), physically challenged or uncomfortably retired. What is valuable about this ToolKit is that there are specific instructions about how to find gigs.
Pictured above: Brother West alongside colleagues at a recent event focused on the gig economy hosted by the Atlanta Business League.
Dr. West is a member of the ”Fabulous 15” that was initiated into Alpha Rho Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. on December 11,1963. Later he was elected President and took the fraternity to new heights through his entrepreneurial initiatives. West knows firsthand the strength and benefits of gig work. While at Morehouse he had a gig selling polaroid pictures at social events. Later he says, "I saved enough to make a down payment on my first home in Mt. Vernon, N.Y. by working gigs in addition to my full-time profession." The experience opened his mind to see how gigs can be crafted to fit a variety of people. It also reminded him of advice from a former accounting professor who told him to always "create yourself a little cash business on the side."
“That’s why we describe the information we are sharing in this ToolKit as ‘secrets,’" said Williams, the book’s co-author. "Dr. West and I employed some of these methods when we helped to create the Kauffman Foundation’s successful entrepreneurship training program for people who were trying to get back on their feet in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. We also used these ‘secrets’ in Detroit through the UEP Detroit 150 to help suppliers affected by auto manufacturers’ bankruptcies."
Dr. West has put his gig experience to good use. He led major firms in New York and Atlanta. In New York he led First Harlem Management Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of First Harlem Securities, a member of the New York Stock Exchange. In Atlanta, he co-led, NDI Inc. after the acquisition of a cache of Blockbuster Video, Checkers and Mrs. Winner’s Chicken franchises. Dr. West currently serves as Senior Consultant to the DeBruce Foundation while managing his other gigs and mentoring eager young student entrepreneurs.
The authors insist that it is a mistake to lump all gigs into the category of unskilled, low-paying jobs. Accountants, nurses, programmers, various types of engineers, teachers and graphic artists fit the gig worker category as much as ride-share drivers and musicians. Technology and opportunity make gig work different than it was in the past. But it takes a systematic approach to access gigs that specifically achieve the financial goals you want to reach. That’s something the ToolKit explains. It provides examples to help each reader see how the gig economy can benefit them.
"Studies indicate gig work is not something that is going to go away and more people should explore the possibilities it can offer and how to maximize its benefits," Williams said. In fact, by 2025 as many as 50% of the jobs might be in the gig economy.
The co-authors said they have one piece of advice for everyone joining the gig economy: "Approach any gig as if you are an entrepreneur – because you are." West’s entrepreneurial acumen was recently recognized by the Atlanta Business League when he was selected to enter the ranks of “Men of Influence” joining such luminaries as Henry “Hank” Aaron, Andrew Young, Rev. C.T. Vivian, Jesse Hill, Horace Ward, Dominique Wilkins, Louis Sullivan, David Satcher, Herman Russell and others.
Copies of The 7 Secrets of the Gig Gurus: A ToolKit for the Freelance Gig Economy can be purchased online at http://theflgg.com. E-books will be available on January 15, 2022.
Bro. Judge Walter F. Williams (Fall 1971) Honored by Psi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity at 50-Year Membership Milestone
Psi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated honored Chattanooga native and former City Court Judge Walter Williams for his lifelong achievements and 50 years of membership in Alpha Phi Alpha. The presentation took place at a formal ceremony on Saturday, December 11, 2021.
Judge Williams first won a seat on the bench in 1991. His no-nonsense approach and unconventional sentences gained him national attention and is credited with helping to reduce repeat offenders in City Court by 50 percent during his tenure, fraternity officials said.
Judge Williams decided to retire from the bench on May 2, 2003, and return to the private practice of law after serving 12 years on the bench and having 18 years of service with the City of Chattanooga. He served as a senior partner in the law firm of McKoon, Williams, Atchley & Stanley, PLLC until he retired in August, 2015.
Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Judge Williams achieved his life long dream of becoming a Judge in March 1991. In his first political race, obtaining 56% of the vote, he won election as Judge of the Chattanooga City Court for a term of eight years. His judicial style, no-nonsense approach and unusual alternative sentences have gained him national attention along with numerous awards and honors. He was featured on the initial segment of CBS’s “Street Stories” hosted by Ed Bradley; and has appeared on CNN, the 700 Club, and in JET, NEWSWEEK, READER’S DIGEST, SOUTHERN LIVING and other publications.
Pictured above: The Brotherhood of Memphis, Tennessee-based Psi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Judge Williams is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Morehouse College where he received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and Business. He was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa for outstanding academic performance. Later he was awarded the Juris Doctor Degree from Howard University School of Law where he graduated with honors and was an Earl Warren Fellow.
While a student at Morehouse, Judge Williams received a certificate in Drug Abuse Counseling from the University of Miami School of Medicine through a U.S. Office of Education sponsored summer program.
Judge Williams practiced law with the Regional Counsel’s Office of the Internal Revenue Service in Atlanta, Georgia, prior to entering the private practice of law. In 1980 he became a partner in the law firm of McClarty & Williams in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he primarily handled personal injury, corporate, estate and municipal law cases. He also taught for eight years as a full-time Assistant Professor of Marketing & Business Law at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga while maintaining a full-time law practice.
Bro. Cameron D. Hawkins (Fall 2003) Scores Back-to-Back Bulldog 100 Awards from University of Georgia Alumni Association
Following his initial award recognition in 2020, Brother Cameron Dion Hawkins posts a repeat win with this year's announcement of their 2021 honorees. The University of Georgia Alumni Association has unveiled the 2021 Bulldog 100, a list of the 100 fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by UGA alumni. UGA received 429 nominations for the 2021 list. The 2021 Bulldog 100 celebrates organizations from over two dozen industries, including agriculture, construction, health care, nonprofits and software. Of the 100 businesses, 81 are located within the state of Georgia. In total, two countries and nine U.S. states are represented in this year’s Bulldog 100.
Cameron D. Hawkins is a trial lawyer who specializes in civil litigation with an emphasis on wrongful death, catastrophic injury, premises liability, transportation, and trucking law. Mr. Hawkins is passionate about the law and fervently advocates for each of his clients.
A Des Moines, Iowa native, Mr. Hawkins has established deep roots in Georgia. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Morehouse College and later earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Georgia School of Law.While in law school, Mr. Hawkins was on the UGA Mock Trial Board and the UGA Moot Court Board. Mr. Hawkins has participated in and won multiple advocacy competitions throughout his law school career, where he received numerous awards for outstanding trial advocacy. He served as a research assistant for Professor Ron Carlson, an expert in Georgia Rules of Evidence. Mr. Hawkins was also selected as a pupil of the Joseph Henry Lumpkin Inn of Court and as an inductee into the National Order of Barristers.
Prior to founding Edwards & Hawkins LLC, Mr. Hawkins enjoyed a multi-dimensional professional legal career, where he practiced civil litigation for several well-respected law firms in the metro Atlanta area. Mr. Hawkins’ experience also includes immigration law for the federal government and criminal defense; he now uses that experience to the benefit of his clients. Mr. Hawkins is a member of the State Bar of Georgia, the Morehouse College Alumni Association and the University of Georgia Alumni Association.
Mr. Hawkins is committed to community service, to youth and young professionals. He has serv