The Black Professional Magazine, Summer 2022 Issue

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Renee Tramble Richard, Esq. The 38th Black Professional of the Year



BPACF: College to Career Emerging Professionals Symposium


Black History 365: History Makers & History Shapers

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So, You Want to Be a Philanthropist? by Terri Bradford Eason


The Myth of High Functioning Depression by Angela Neal-Barnett, Ph.D.


The Unbelievably Simple Way to Reduce Your Stress this Season by Jennifer Wainwright


Travel: Summertime Fun by La’Keisha James

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Summer Fashion Trends Step It Up While Stepping Out by Charron Leeper

BPACF News: Board Spotlight: Tyson T. Mitchell Volunteers Engage! Professional Night Out COVER STORY

Renee Tramble Richard, Esq. Cleveland’s Homegrown Black Professional of the Year by Montrie Rucker Adams, APR Cover Photo by Natasha Herbert Shoot Directed by Charron Leeper Is the Real Estate Market Going to Crash? by Tiffany L. Hollinger NAMC Northern Ohio Chapter: Helping Others to Level Up by Jennifer Coiley Dial Staying Healthy Through the Summer by Mary Johnson How to Have Low to No Student Loan Debt by LaRese Purnell Skin Care for Skin of Color by Angela Kyei, MD, MPH Macro-Healing from Microaggressions by Andratesha Fritzgerald

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Professional Profiles

BPACF Scholars: Graduates The Unique Nutritional Needs of African Americans by Gregory L. Hall, MD

The Black

Professional PUBLISHER

Meltrice D. Sharp, CPA PRESIDENT

Black Professionals Association Charitable Foundation (BPACF) EDITOR

Montrie Rucker Adams Visibility Marketing Inc. SENIOR EDITORIAL ADVISOR

Alexandria Johnson Boone GAP Communications Group CREATIVE DIRECTOR


Alvin Smith Black in Cleveland


Charron Leeper


Laurie Murphy, MBA, MPH, MS BPACF


Adrianne Sims BPACF


James Wade BPACF

Subscribe for free at: A quarterly publication of the Black Professionals Association Charitable Foundation (BPACF), 2930 Prospect Avenue E., Suite 126 Cleveland, OH 44115-2608 MAGAZINE PRODUCTION: Coy Lee Media, LLC 3 Severance Circle #18496 Cleveland, OH 44118 Short Stack Printing 4425 Renaissance Parkway Cleveland, OH 44128 Copyright © 2021-22. All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be distributed electronically, reproduced or duplicated in whole or in part, without written permission of the publisher. 4 | SPRING 2022

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Time for Celebration This June we celebrated Juneteenth as a national holiday! Juneteenth represents the day that the Union Army troops marched to Galveston, Texas, to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation and free the last enslaved Black Americans. For many, it meant a day off from work but for others, it represents a day “on” to reflect on bondage and freedom, pain and purpose, helplessness and resilience.

our community. BPACF is happy to bestow this honor upon her. We hope you enjoy reading about her journey. Just days before I wrote this, the Supreme Court ruled to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling which has been in existence nearly 50 years. To put it simply, the choice to decide what’s best for women’s bodies and their families has been taken from them and given to the States.

Since the birth of America, women have been undervalued, overlooked, and underappreciated. They are paid less than men, promoted fewer times than While we celebrated Juneteenth, we should be re- men, and although 42 percent of the businesses in minded that Black Americans have not yet experi- America are owned by women, they receive sigenced a country free from systemic racism, oppres- nificantly fewer capital investments than their male sion, and hatred. We must use our voice and our counterparts. Cleveland has been declared the worst vote and join forces with our allies to stand against place in America for Black women and girls. They bigotry, white supremacism, and systemic racism. suffer as it relates to educational opportunities, their health, and how they fare economically. Despite evBPACF is happy to present Renee Tramble Richard, ery obstacle encountered, many Black women, like Esq., as our 2022 Black Professional of the Year! Richard, continue to rise to the top of their companies, careers, or business ventures. Each year we put out a call to the community to assist us in choosing the Cleveland professional we It’s summer! Enjoy this season with your family and hold in high esteem. We are excited our community do something to make a difference in your life and agrees with us. Honoring a successful, brilliant, and in your community! amazing woman could not come at a better time. As Richard blazes the trail, she brings many women along for the ride, teaching them how to be leaders and how to succeed against all odds. She is a resilient, Meltrice D. Sharp, CPA formidable, strategic, focused, and trusted leader in President, Board of Trustees, BPACF

Follow BPACF on social:



@bpacf1985 | 5

CONTRIBUTORS Terri Bradford Eason Senior Director, Advancement Equity Initiatives The Cleveland Foundation

Andratesha Fritzgerald Public School Educator Founder and Lead Consultant

Dr. Gregory L. Hall Founder and Board Chairman National Institute for African American Health and CEO of Sequence Multivitamins

Sheryse Henderson Lead Pastor Faith Fellowship Church

Tiffany Hollinger Realtor, Investor & Financial Advisor #AskTiffanyH

La’Keisha James Owner Favored Destinations, LLC

Mary Johnson Owner, Creator Vitiman Kandie, LLC, author and Group Fitness Trainer

Dr. Angela Kyei Cosmopolitan Dermatology

Charron Leeper Fashion Entrepreneur Photo Shoot Director

Dr. Angela Neal-Barnett Psychologist Kent State Professor

LaRese Purnell, MBA Managing Partner, CLE Consulting Firm

Jennifer Wainwright Writer, fitness enthusiast

Building Blocks of Brilliance, LLC

Interested in writing for The Black Professional? Contact


My Life in the Sunshine In 1976 Roy Ayers wrote “Everybody Loves the Sunshine,” the perfect summer groove song. Living in Cleveland, Ohio, I crave the summer months. After what seems like 10 months of inconvenient rain, irritating snow, and cold, gloomy days, I am ready for the sun to shower me with its penetrating warmth.

road are what inspires me to continue to invest in lots of summer excitement. This issue is loaded with cool, summertime vibes. From healthy recipes, colorful fashion, unforgettable one tank trips and vital care for melanated skin – we’ve got your summer needs covered. Our premier issue featured BPACF’s Black Professional of the Year (BPOY). It’s hard to believe we’re here again, introducing you to our 2022 BPOY, Renee Tramble Richard.

Here, we only get 163 sunny days – fewer than Akron, Columbus, and Dayton. With the US sunshine average being 205 days, you can see why many of us make the most of the few moments we have.

I remember my first introduction to The Black Professional Association. I was a new college graduate, beaming and ready with my “credentials.” I heard about the organization and because I had an MBA, I thought I was a professional.

Growing up, I spent many summers in Lexington, North Carolina at Aunt Alice’s home. With my cousins Anya, Doug, Greg and Terri (along with other neighborhood kids), we left the house in the morning, came back in for food and bathroom breaks, and only settled in when it became dark.

Walking into the room at Karamu House, the only thing I felt was intimidation. These were real professionals, talking about real career issues. I sat there thinking, I guess I’m not quite ready to be one of these professionals. I think I should at least put some time into a professional environment first.

We played all the summer games that we could muster, baseball, basketball, jacks, kick ball and billiards (we called it pool). We had our own track meets, rode bikes, hit the neighborhood pool, and of course created our own fun.

Since its inception a little over 40 years ago, hundreds of Black and would-be professionals have benefited from and contributed to this viable organization.

My favorite summer memory was piling in a rented Winnebago with my mom’s friend and her family in tow to make our way to Disneyworld. The park had opened a couple years earlier. It was the new “it” thing for families to do. It still is. On our way to and from Florida, we stopped at several campgrounds. There we swam in the pools, road bikes, hiked the critter-infested trails and sat around campfires singing and eating plenty of hot dogs and s’mores. Memories like those in North Carolina and traveling the

So please, help us celebrate our volunteers (page 21) and young professionals (page 40). These are the people who keep our organization vibrant and will, in a few years, grace the cover of this magazine. (Singing) My life, my life, my life, my life in the sunshine. Everybody loves the sunshine.

Montrie Rucker Adams, APR, DTM, MBA Editor, The Black Professional and Chief Visibility Officer, Visibility Marketing Inc.

NOTE: We’re always looking for good writers. If interested, please contact me at | 7

Emerging Professionals Symposium In 2018, the data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey indicated the racial disparities in educational attainment in Cuyahoga County: • Blacks or Hispanic/Latinx are less likely to graduate from high school and are less than one-half as likely to obtain a bachelor’s degree or higher. • The unemployment rate is highest for those who did not finish high school, with many not in the labor force at all. • Individuals from Cleveland who did not finish high school are more than five times as likely to not be in the labor force as those with at least a bachelor’s degree. With that being said, the focus of our Emerging Professionals programming is to increase the number of students who matriculate and graduate from a two and/or four-year university and increase their earning potential with livable wages. There is a need for robust year-round programs that provide paid internships, professional development training, and mentoring/coaching that can be taken to scale and sustained through public-private partnerships. College to Career Series: This series includes presentations and events that encourage local youth towards a commitment to college completion, academic success, and career advancement. The series also enables scholars to meet one another and top executives from Northeast Ohio to learn more about their career paths. The first symposium, hosted at JumpStart was held Monday, May 16, 2022. Symposium Topics Included: • Emotional Intelligence and Professionalism (EIP) • EIP Scenarios • Expectations and Awareness in the Workplace • Informational Interviewing to increase your Network & Build relationships • How do you set yourself up for Success – the First 30 days? • Paying Student Loans 8 | SUMMER 2022

• •

Financial planning around needs, wants and debt Budgeting and Credit

The following student comments show that the Symposium met its objective by imparting wisdom and practical knowledge onto the attendees. What will you do differently because of this Symposium? • •

• •

I will certainly invest more time to my career dream. I will also invest more time in looking for more similar events. I will take more intentional steps regarding empathizing with people and addressing how I respond to microaggressions in a healthy way that maintains my peace. I would focus more on emotional intelligence, so that it could help me to communicate better I will go about networking differently. I am naturally to myself, so questions and techniques to expand my network is significant to my career

Special Thanks to Presenters (in order of appearance): Diana Starks, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland LaToya Smith, Fifth Third Bank Rashadd Humes, The J. M. Smucker Company Michael Collins, Case Western Reserve University Daniel Roberson, PNC Desmond Motley, PNC

So, You Want to Be a Philanthropist? One of the greatest joys in my career has been helping amazing Clevelanders make a difference in supporting nonprofit organizations and causes they care about, either locally, regionally, or nationally. In many cases, the individuals I meet have been “checkbook giving” for several years, answering annual appeals, supporting capital fundraisers for churches, universities and hospitals to name bricks and benches, and giving incrementally to causes they feel passionate about. In times of dire need, individuals become even more generous. We saw total charitable giving in the United States increase by 5.1 percent to a record $471.44 billion in 2020 as donors sought to respond to the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism, among other pressing issues.

As charitable giving grows, donors are becoming aware of more sophisticated options that can channel the power of their individual donations into ongoing philanthropy. There are familiar financial tools like investment funds, split interest vehicles (trusts and annuities) and estate plans that can be put to work in the charitable arena to generate income, preserve wealth and harness the power of compounding interest – all for the greater good.

by Terri Bradford Eason

At the Cleveland Foundation’s recent African American Philanthropy Summit, which drew hundreds of likeminded individuals this spring, we asked our audience to think about wise investment options that would allow them to leverage their available resources for charitable intent. This included making an immediate impact in the community or making an impact in the future. For each onramp, there are multiple philanthropic vehicles that can be considered:

Donor Advised Fund You can create a donor advised fund (DAF) and receive an immediate tax deduction with an initial gift of cash, appreciated securities like stocks and bonds, or a combination of assets. Additional family members can become fund advisors or successor advisors. The DAF acts as a charitable savings account, and donors recommend grants based on investment earnings in perpetuity. Grants from DAFs to charities hit a record $34.67 billion in 2020, a 27 percent increase over 2019. | 9

Supporting Organization (Family Foundation)

Charitable Gift Annuity

You can create a supporting organization via a community foundation like ours and opt for a more structured approach. Supporting organizations function like a private foundation with a board of directors and a philanthropic plan. Donors receive an immediate tax deduction.

You can establish a charitable gift annuity benefiting one or more nonprofit organizations, gain an immediate tax deduction, and receive fixed payments from the Cleveland Foundation for life.

Named Field-of-Interest and Named Designated Funds You can open a named fund to support one or more charitable organizations or a field of interest, and the Cleveland Foundation or other philanthropic partners will automatically distribute grants according to your wishes. In the United States, the top three interest areas for donors are religion, education, and human services.

Bequest You can make a gift to charity in your will as a direct way to provide for the community after you’re gone. Giving by bequest represents about nine percent of all charitable giving in the United States.

Charitable Reminder Trust You can establish a charitable remainder trust benefiting one or more nonprofit organizations, gain an immediate tax deduction for the future value of the gift, and receive payments from the Cleveland Foundation or other philanthropic partners based on a percentage of the trust’s value or a fixed amount. You may make additional gifts to the trust and qualify for additional tax benefits. Unlike one-time cash gifts to charity, these instruments allow donors to put money aside, make a wise investment and give back in perpetuity. It’s an approach that is both savvy and personally very rewarding. For more information on how to support the causes you care about with the Cleveland Foundation as a partner, visit or contact Terri at or 216.615.7580.

Terri Bradford Eason is Senior Director of Advancement Equity Initiatives at the Cleveland Foundation. Citations: Giving USA, Chicago, IL, 2021, Giving USA 2021. National Philanthropic Trust, Jenkintown, PA, 2021, The 2021 DAF Report.

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The Myth of High Functioning Depression by Angela Neal-Barnett, Ph.D.

The news went viral across social media. Cheslie Kryst, former Miss USA, lawyer, MBA, and two-time Daytime Emmy award winner had taken her own life. Everyone who knew her was shocked. There were no signs, friends claimed. Nothing that indicated that she was depressed and suicidal. Then, her heartbroken mother publicly shared that her daughter suffered from high-functioning depression. From a medical standpoint, the diagnosis of high functioning depression does not exist. What does exist particularly for Black professionals, are high functioning people with the ability to hide or mask their depression. Terrie Williams’ seminal book Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We Are Not Hurting contains first-person accounts from Black professionals (including a psychologist!) who were very good at hiding their depression from everyone except their closest family member. Depression is characterized by a sad or irritable mood. When this mood lasts for at least two weeks, it is known as Major Depression. When sadness and irritability waxes and wanes it is called Persistent Depression. Other depression symptoms include sleeping too much or not at all, overeating or not eating, losing or gaining weight, and not finding pleasure in activities that were once pleasurable. Combined, these symptoms make men and women feel hopeless, helpless, and worthless. This is known as the depression triad. As Black Americans, we are taught from an early age “to wear the mask.” To be a successful Black professional, we are told, we must work “twice as hard to go half as far.” As Black professional women, we embrace and embody the Strong Black Woman, the woman who is smart, sassy, bold, and keeps on keeping on even when she knows she

should stop. As Black professional males, we personify John Henry, the steel driving man who outworked a steam drill and died with a hammer in his hand. John Henry and the Strong Black Woman encourage us to be both high functioning and depressed, to mask our pain, and not let people know what we are really thinking or how we’re feeling. Depression hurts. The same receptors in the brain that feel physical pain, feel psychological pain. The mask wearing we practice as part of our everyday lives as Black professionals allows us to habituate to depression’s pain, placing us at risk for suicide. SUICIDE Suicidal thoughts and suicide are symptoms associated with depression. Thomas Joiner developed the most well-known theory of suicide. Joiner’s theory says three things are present for people who commit suicide: • They feel like they don’t belong. • They believe or feel they are a burden. • They have overcome the need to survive; they have overcome the fear of death. The ability to habituate to pain plays a key role in overcoming this fear. For Black Americans, there is a fourth component: Experiences with perceived discrimination. Systemic racism, microaggressions, interpersonal racism, forms of discrimination that Black professionals experience on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis, increases our capacity for suicide. PROFESSIONAL, HIGH FUNCTIONING, AND DEPRESSED: WHAT DO WE DO? • Call it what it is. Yes, you may be a Strong Black Woman, yes, you may be John Henry, yes, you may be able | 11

Spirituality and Therapy – Can They Co-Exist?

to manage the pain, but that is not what is happening. It is depression and the depression is either Major or Persistent.

For many years, spiritual leaders have struggled to see the importance of mental health professions and the spiritual life. Some have even believed and taught that spiritual practices are enough to treat mental health issues.

• Take off the mask. Masking our thoughts and feelings deepens the depression. Find a safe place to remove your mask. The safest place is with a culturally competent therapist or counselor who understands depression and Black professionals. If you are a male, your therapist should be trained in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). If you are female, a therapist trained in CBT or Interpersonal Therapy (a type of therapy specifically for women and depression). Group therapy can also be helpful. There are specific groups for Black professional women and for Black professional men who are experiencing depression. Sister Circles and Healing Circles are forms of group therapy.

by Sheryse Henderson

Congregants have been told that prayer, fasting, scripture meditation/memorizing and simply “thinking better thoughts” would heal what ails them. But just as any sound spiritual leader would encourage someone to seek medical attention for diseases of the body, the same approach should be given when dealing with dis-ease in our minds. God’s desire is for His people to live in shalom – total wholeness and soundness of mind, body, and spirit. While God is more than able to supernaturally bring about shalom in each of those areas, He has also given us specialists who are trained to diagnose and treat each of those areas to accomplish that goal. Spiritual leaders are trained to care for the spiritual life of the individual. Medical professionals are trained to care for and treat the body. Mental health professionals are experts in caring for and treating the mind. When we recognize such professionals as partners working to help people experience the shalom, two things can happen. First, spiritual leaders will have the time and energy to work with individuals in their area of expertise and avoid risking their own mental health by taking on more than they are capable. Secondly, when we refer someone to a mental health professional, it allows us the opportunity to walk with that person through prayer, support, and encouragement, helping them hear God in the midst of the help they are receiving. Can the two coexist? They can and they should. Pastor Sheryse Henderson is the Lead Pastor of Faith Fellowship Church, a multi-cultural, multi-generational congregation located in Macedonia Ohio. She is the author of Healing Church Hurt: Walking the Path. The book helps those to heal who have experienced church hurt and to become whole while bringing light to abusive authority existing within the church. 12 | SUMMER 2022

• Most Black professionals want Black therapists, but there are not enough of us. Therefore, you want to find a culturally competent therapist. If you don’t know where to start, at the end of this article is a resource list. • Check on your high functioning friends and allow them to check on you. As high functioning Black professionals, often we are the only one. The only one in our department, our division, our building. Isolation increases the depression triad. Check-ins are an act of caring. They let you know you are not alone; they let you know you belong. • Hope is a superpower. Hope counteracts hopelessness. It raises self-worth, it erases feelings of helplessness. Hope is not a burden, and it never disappoints. Resources for Black or Culturally Competent Therapists: • Association of Black Psychologists • Therapy for Black Girls • Anxiety and Depression Association of America • Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies • Ohio Psychological Association Dr. Neal-Barnett is an award winning psychologist, Kent State professor, and leading expert on anxiety disorders in Black Americans. She is the author of Soothe Your Nerves: The Black Women’s Guide to Understanding and Overcoming Anxiety, Panic, and Fear (Simon & Schuster) and a contributor to the forthcoming book The HBR Guide to Better Mental Health at Work (Harvard Business Review Press). Follow her on twitter @dranjela or

If we’re paying attention and have eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to receive, nature can be both teacher and tonic, exemplar and elixir. Study after study, including one from The Mental Health Foundation, point out that our relationship with nature – how much we notice, think about, and appreciate our natural surroundings – is a critical factor in supporting good mental health and preventing distress. On the practical side, we can simply savor the scenery, wander in the wilderness, study in the sunshine, or pose (do yoga) in paradise, all great suggestions by the American Heart Association in a October 2021 article titled, “Ways to Relax in Nature and Stress Less.”

The Unbelievably Simple Way to Reduce Your Stress this Season by Jennifer Wainwright For the last two years, we’ve experienced collective trauma and stress as a global culture. From unchecked racial injustice, to unfathomable violence against the most vulnerable in our country, to being locked in and locked down while many of our loved ones suffered alone in hospital wards, many of us have felt the crushing grind of grief. When internalized, these traumas wreak havoc on our physiological systems. If we don’t find productive ways to process and cope, they can lead to more serious mental and physical health issues. Thankfully, with warmer weather (finally) here, we can use the great outdoors to help us destress and decompress, to rinse and release not only the societal ills that infringe on our sense of safety but also the daily grind of our personal and professional lives. So, how do we do that? Well first, we have to be willing to ditch the hustle, abandon our to-do lists, and leave our screens behind, at least, for a time. Then, and only then, can we invite nature to show us how to be.

But from a more spiritual space, when we’re attuned to the patterns of nature, the possibilities and potential payoff for spending time outdoors is even more compelling, particularly when we ground ourselves, that is, spending time intentionally connecting with the earth. Consider the following: • With the open air, we too can become more open. • The sound of the wind’s gentle exhales can remind us of our own need to exhale, to release, to let go. • A faint breeze on a sticky afternoon can feel like relief. Taking a deep breath to find solace in a situation that feels stifling can also feel like relief. • Just before sunrise, dawn gives way to day with ease. Can we use the promise of a new day to give way to a truth we’ve been avoiding with this same ease? So, go outside. Not just for hiking, but for health and for healing. Not just for walking, but for wisdom and wellbeing. Not just for picnics, but for peace and perspective. Make it your business this season to stand barefoot on thick grass, sunbaked soil, or if you’re lucky, some sugary sand. As all 14,000 of the nerve endings in your soles press into the earth, your senses alight, settle into the existential certainty that while stress is inevitable, grounding is nature’s sovereign antidote to the stress of grinding. Jennifer Wainwright is a writer who is passionate about storytelling. | 13


Summertime Fun by La’Keisha James

Since the summer-like weather has officially kicked off, it’s time to hit the road, enjoy the sun, and explore. If you’ve lived in Ohio for more than seven days, you’ve likely noticed that the weather can change at a moment’s notice, so delaying is not an option. Let’s go! Here’s a few good one tank trips to help you decide… One Tank Trips The beautiful Grand Resort in Warren, Ohio is a great place to start! It’s about an hour outside of Cleveland and a wonderful place for a quick getaway with your family or your special someone. From the moment you walk into the reception area, you are greeted and welcomed by the friendly staff. The vibe at the resort is upbeat and you will pour with excitement to have a good time exploring! This premier facility has multiple pools, premier room choices, golf and full spa services. This gorgeous facility has onsite fitness facilities (included but not limited to volleyball, tennis, and pool tables), and multiple restaurants and bars with choices to satisfy everyone in your group.

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Don’t forget to check out the Wine Cellar & Lounge. While at The Grand Resort, you will not be disappointed! Nemacolin Resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania is a place that you have to experience at least once! Well known for the Lady Luck Casino, there is so much more you can do when you visit. With iconic overnight accommodations, many of the suites include a “stay and play” option which includes a round of golf per adult/ per night. Bring the family out to enjoy multiple pools, cosmic bowling, paintball, indoor axe throwing and so much more. You can also hit the trails with a bike rental to tour the beautiful resort grounds. The show stopping dining here is like no other and you can even take advantage of an Italian cooking class! There are so many fun places to enjoy in and near Ohio that don’t take long to get to, and don’t break the bank to get there. I encourage you to do what makes you feel good, and enjoy the experience while it’s here! Happy Summer!

La’Keisha James is the owner of Favored Destinations, LLC

BLACK HISTORY 365 History Makers & History Shapers

At the BPACF, we recognize that our contributions are not relegated to just the 28 days in February. We do our society a disservice if we only take one month to educate, innovate, and celebrate the many contributions Black people have made. Beginning with the Spring issue, we present a history maker and history shaper, someone making history now. HISTORY MAKER Alex Johnson, Ph.D. President Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®) 2016 BPACF Black Professional of the Year “Be mindful to the ability to act, listen and learn. Always stay attuned for information and viewpoints that can increase knowledge and the ability to act with insight and precision.” – Dr. Alex Johnson As president of Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®), Dr. Alex Johnson focuses on strengthening the institution’s longstanding mission to provide high-quality, accessible, and affordable educational opportunities and services. Since becoming president in July 2013, he has instituted programs to strengthen access, equity, success, and completion for the nearly 51,000 credit and noncredit students who attend Tri-C each year. Under his leadership, as the College’s fourth full-time president, Tri-C renewed its commitment to providing educational access throughout Northeast Ohio. He oversaw an era of increasing graduation rates and numbers at the College, the result of new investments in workforce

training, capital improvements and programs serving those in low-income and distressed areas. Johnson’s tenure as Tri-C president has been the culmination of a 40-year career in higher education. Prior to leading Tri-C, Johnson served as president of the Community College of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh (2008-2013) and chancellor of Delgado Community College in New Orleans (2004-2008). He also previously served as president of Tri-C’s Metropolitan Campus (1993-2003). Based on nearly 30 years of experience as a college president, Dr. Johnson’s books Change the Lapel Pin: Personalizing Leadership to Transform Organizations and Communities (2018) and Capturing Change: Creating Systems of Transformation Through Continuous Improvement (2021) provide insight on how leaders can create lasting systems of transformation. He holds a doctorate from Pennsylvania State University, a master’s degree from Lehman College and a bachelor’s degree from Winston-Salem State University in addition to three honorary degrees. | 15

BLACK HISTORY 365 History Makers & History Shapers HISTORY SHAPER Quentin James & Stefanie Brown James The Collective A native of Greenville, South Carolina, Quentin James is the Founder & President of The Collective, including its five legal entities, as well as the co-founder of Vestige Strategies, LLC. Before launching The Collective in 2016, James in 2015 led a team of Vestige Strategies’ consultants in securing victory for Dr. Keith Rowley as Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago. Previously, he was the Black American’s Director for the Ready for Hillary PAC. In that role, James directed the PAC’s outreach to the Black community across the United States, and helped recruit over 50,000 African American grassroots donors and over three million grassroots supporters. Formerly the National Director for the Sierra Club’s Sierra Student Coalition, the nation’s largest youth environmental organization, James directed the organization to train, empower, and organize youth to run effective campaigns that resulted in tangible environmental victories and developed leaders for the environmental movement. From 2009-2013, James served as a National Board Member for the NAACP, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. He is the founder of Inclusv, a diversity hiring initiative and was named one of the 2017 NBC Blk28 under 28 and named one of the 2018 Root 100 Most Influential African Americans. An experienced social entrepreneur and civic engagement strategist, Stefanie Brown James is the Co-Founder and Senior Advisor of The Collective – a network of five affiliated organizations including The Collective PAC, The Collective Super PAC, Southern Strategies Super PAC, Collective Future and The Collective Education Fund – dedicated to supporting and funding Black candidates to win elections on the local, state and federal levels and the engagement of Black voters in the political process.

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The Collective is strategically focused on creating an equitable democracy where Black people are fully represented in positions of power to create the policies necessary to progress our communities forward. Founded in August of 2016, The Collective has raised over $25 million from 80,000+ individual contributions, helped 300 Black leaders win elected office and in 2020, organized one of the largest Black voter engagement campaigns in the country -- registering over 114,000 voters, garnering 29 million digital impressions on voter education messaging, and providing 100,000 free rides to the polls. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Stefanie previously worked at EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, where she served as the organization’s Vice President of Training and Community

Engagement. In 2012, Stefanie served as the National African American Vote Director for the Obama for America Campaign and created the national strategy to engage Black leaders and voters to re-elect President Barack Obama, helping to lead to the highest Black voter turnout in history. Formerly the National Field Director and Youth & College Division Director for the NAACP, Stefanie developed and administered the national field organizing strategy for the NAACP’s 2,200+ units. Stefanie is a former member of the Board of Trustees at her alma mater, Howard University and a member of the National Social Action Commission for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Stefanie’s greatest accomplishment, however, is marrying her business partner Quentin James and being the mother of two amazing toddlers, Carter and Elijah. | 17

Summer Fashion Trends –

Step It Up While

Stepping Out

by Charron Leeper

It's officially that time to book those flights, use that paid time off (PTO) to take a trip and kick off the summer season right. Summer is full of outdoor events, festivals, weddings, pool parties, warm nights on the roof top "vibin" and the like. So, lets prepare for these amazing occasions so we can step out looking and feeling our best, no matter your body type or size. Consider these easy to incorporate fashion trends for your 2022 summer season. Now before we hop right into it, remember we talked about textures, psychedelic patterns, crop tops and the color white being major for spring. Well, some of those trends carried over into the summer trend report - as to be expected. However, much like the theme of the summer season, it will be about the shape! Wear garments that fit you in all the right places and show off just enough to keep you cool and hot at the same time. If you know what I mean. Let's start with a classic that is a safe bet and a staple for every summer season, the maxi dress. However, this summer you want pay attention the fabrics you choose. Go for sheer and satin fabric, maxi dresses with cut - outs at the waist or in the back. Incorporate styles that have sophisticated straps or high slits to keep it simple but not basic. Before we move on, I would be remiss to not mention the revival of Regencycore thanks to the amazing Netflix series, Bridgerton. Therefore, bring on the statement sleeve, ruffles, bows, corset tops and feminine detailing when you are dress shopping this summer and you are bound to be right on trend. The next trends to consider incorporating in your 2022 summer wardrobe are

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textures. Beaded handbags, crocheted tops, feathered hems…you name it, we want to see it! We have been locked in the house for too long, so more is more this summer. Give it to us! Keep as a staple, a medium wash denim short that fits you really well, and a white collard button up shirt in your collection to off-set the va-va-voom, but please give us extra and give it to us now! If you are feeling skittish about this trend, make a smooth transition into it via your accessories. Feather details on your strappy heels, fringe on your handbag, beaded belt, paired with a classic denim short and neutral top. While we are on the topic of accessories, satin and silk scarves/bandanas are another hot trend this summer. Tying small scarves/bandanas around your neck, wearing them on you head, ponytail or even adding them to your favorite hand bag will add a playful, fresh, pop to any of your looks. If you are looking for a place to shop locally for your scarves, check out Perfect Pineapple. Lastly, the resurgence of platform heels, bright colors, color blocking, all white everything and the classic polka dot pattern are being seen on the most fashionable streets and runways this summer. So, go big this summer or stay home. Literally! From platform shoes, to cut out tops and dresses, to bold colors, textures and bold accessories, we want you to put these fabulous garments on whatever summer body you have and strut it proudly. Why? Because life is too short not to look fabulous! All these trends apply to menswear as well (maybe not the crop tops but hey, no one is judging!). So gentlemen, we want to see you going bold this summer too. We all deserve it. Don’t we?

Charron Leeper is a freelance Wardrobe Stylist and fashion entrepreneur. Find her at and | 19

Board Spotlight: Tyson T. Mitchell Tyson T. Mitchell, JD/LL.M, serves as the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Equal Opportunity for the City of Cleveland. In his capacity as Director, Mitchell seeks to advance equal economic benefit for all Clevelanders by ensuring compliance with City of Cleveland codified contractor goals. Additionally, his office provides development and support activity to minority and female business enterprises located in the Cleveland contracting market. Tyson previously served as Assistant Vice-President of DEI with OhioGuidestone (formerly Berea Children’s Home & Family Services, Inc.).

Tyson T. Mitchell, Director Mayor’s office of Equal Opportunity City of Cleveland

Mitchell holds an LLM degree in Taxation and a JD degree from Case Western Reserve School of Law. He graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta Georgia with a BA in History and grew up in East Cleveland and the Hough/Wade Park area. He is a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Prince Hall Masons, and the 100 Black Men of Greater Cleveland, Inc. In his spare time he serves as an adjunct Professor of Poverty Law at Case Western Reserve School of Law. What are your BPACF Board Responsibilities? I serve as the Governance Chair and my main responsibility is to recruit and onboard new board members. Additionally, I ensure that the board is operating at maximum effectiveness and efficiency. What Does Serving on the BPACF Board Mean to You? Serving on the board means honoring our elders like Councilperson Fannie Lewis and my grandmother Earline Brooks. Both were major influences on my life and taught me that Black excellence was within my reach and, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” How Does Your BPACF Board Service Help the Community? I hope that my BPACF board service will prayerfully demonstrate an undying commitment to the Black community, while also being an example to my brothers and sisters who are hesitant to serve. If we will ever reach that beloved community that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about, then YOU must get in the game and build that community with US side by side.

Each issue we will introduce a member of the BPACF’s Board of Directors. Each of our directors volunteer their time to ensure the organization meets its goals and objectives to serve Black professionals and students of color. 20 | SUMMER 2022

VOLUNTEERS As with many non-profit organizations, its fuel and fire is in its volunteers. BPACF is no different. We are blessed to have conscientious, committed and courageous volunteers that help us with our mission, vision and purpose. We’re happy to honor Patricia Dorroh, Esha Hand-Goodwin and Ron Woodford, just three of the many volunteers on which we consistently rely. Thank you, Patricia, Esha and Ron. We can only do what we do because of you.

Patricia Dorroh Pat Dorroh retired from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and held positions in the Human Resources Department, Sales and Marketing and in the Executive Office. She has been recognized for her exceptional communication, customer service and organizational skills. After retiring, she finds volunteering within her community a gratifying experience. What is your volunteer role at the BPACF? My current role at the BPACF is volunteering on the Special Events Committee Logistics Team which is responsible for venue coordination (meals, decorations, reception, seating arrangements, etc.). I also volunteer and provide support with the registration process at scheduled BPACF functions and events. Why do you volunteer? I am a passionate volunteer and I enjoy connecting with the community through volunteering while utilizing my skills in a productive way to provide excellent service. I enjoy being part of a team and helping them to achieve their mission, vision, and goals. Who inspires you? Who are your volunteer role models? My parents were an inspiration to me, especially my mom. She was a foster care parent for over 35 years and instilled in me the passion that I have to help people of all walks of life. She also served as a deaconess at our church, and we worked and served together within our community. Adrianne Sims is one of my role models, as her volunteerism roles are far beyond ex-

ceptional. With both of us being John F. Kennedy High School alum, she approached me to volunteer at the BPACF Gala held in December 2021. Ever since, I have been instrumental in volunteering in other events, (i.e., BPACF’s Legacy & Headshot Event, 100 Black Men of Greater Cleveland Gala, etc.)

What advice do you have for others who want to volunteer? Your role as a volunteer can give you a sense of pride while learning new skills and connecting with people as you work in a team environment while accomplishing a goal. Make sure you can commit to the time needed and be hands on. It's going to be a rewarding experience for you and a win-win situation for everyone! Esha Hand-Goodwin Esha Hand-Goodwin is a Cleveland native who holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Grambling State University, a historically black college and university (HBCU). For the past seven years she has served as the Manager of the City of Cleveland’s Office of Special Events and Marketing and sits as the Chairperson for the City’s Special Events Steering Committee. She has more than 16 years of project management, event production and logistical knowledge and experience. She’s worked on large national projects such as Gay Games, National Senior Games, USA Triathlon, Republican National Convention, Cavaliers 2016 Championship Parade, MLB All-Star, American Ninja Warrior, Judas and the Black Messiah, Queen & Slim, The Marksman, Native Son, Cherry, The Bachelor, 2020 Presidential Debate, NFL Draft, NBA All-Star and many more. Hand-Goodwin’s strategic and methodical approach elevates her as a leader within the industry. On behalf of the City, she develops and nurtures relationships that cultivates longstanding partnerships. Hand-Goodwin holds a strong commitment to her faith, family and community. Some of her civic and community endeavors include the NOACA Safety and Operations Advisory Council, board member for | 21

Greater Cleveland Film Commission, board member for International Live Events Association – Cleveland Chapter, member of the Social Justice Ministry at South Euclid United Church of Christ, and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. She enjoys spending time with husband Juan Goodwin, two daughters Lily (8) and Lena (3), and dog, Daisy Mae. What is your volunteer role at BPACF? I serve on the engagement committee in efforts to recruit volunteers and promote the mission of the BPACF. Additionally, I'm on the Special Events committee where I'm able to utilize my professional skillsets in assisting the administration in any way needed. Why do you volunteer? Volunteering brings me a sense of purpose in life and I'm able to instill that purpose of helping others into my two daughters. It is a great way for me to meet new people and gain professional experience. It strengthens my understanding of the importance of community building. Who inspires you? Who are your volunteer role models? My husband, Juan Goodwin, inspires me to do more for local neighborhoods as I watch him work each day as a community organizer. Some volunteer role models include one of BPACF’s Board of Trustees executive team members, Ramona Lowery; my good friend Sharon Roberson Evans; Stacey Abrams and Michelle Obama.

Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA). For the past 10 years he has been employed at Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA). In addition to working as a public servant, Woodford also has a long history of volunteerism with several local non-profit organizations including the Boy Scouts of America, American Red Cross, United Way of Greater Cleveland, BPACF, 100 Black Men of Greater Cleveland, Black Data Processing Associates, the Diabetes Association of Greater Cleveland, the City of Cleveland, the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club of Cleveland, and many others. Woodford received both a bachelor’s in Urban Planning and an MBA in Operations and Project Management from Cleveland State University. He has four sons and three grandsons. What is your volunteer role at BPACF? General volunteer. I am flexible and fill in where I am needed. Why do you volunteer? The BPACF provides a vital need to the community. As a volunteer I can help meet that need. To quote Winston Churchill, "We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give." Volunteering has always been a part of my life.

What advice do you have for others who want to volunteer? Your passions are found in volunteering. Volunteer in an area/subject where you would enjoy doing it for free every day. If you feel like you are no longer enjoying it, don’t be afraid to step down.

Who inspires you? Who are your volunteer role models? Starting with my own late mother, I have always been inspired by strong Black women. Not to take anything away from men, but it has always been the women in my life that provided guidance and kept me moving forward. I only have one role model and that's my mother, may she rest in peace.

Ron Woodford Ron Woodford is a professional project manager with more than 40 years working in the public sector. During this time, he has worked with the Cleveland Municipal School District (CMSD) and the Cleveland

What advice do you have for others who want to volunteer? Go for it! Nothing is greater that running into someone that you may have touched in years past and have that person thank you for whatever small thing you did.


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April 28, 2022 Engage! Professional Night Out Follow us on Instagram for more information

It was wonderful to see you all after so much time. Thank you for showing up and making the event even more awesome! This was by far our most popular mixer to date, and it is great to see our network growing. Everyone seemed to enjoy mingling with old friends and making new contacts while sipping on cocktails— just the right relaxed vibe for the night. We hope that you enjoyed yourself. We will be sharing details on the next event soon, so stay tuned... In fine health and great spirits, Paris & LaRaun Engage Committee

Check out photos from the event! | 23

Photos by Natasha Herbert Shoot directed by Charron Leeper

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Renee Tramble Richard, Esq.

Cleveland’s Homegrown

Black Professional of the Year by Montrie Rucker Adams, APR Kismet. It means fortune, luck, fate, and destiny. It’s one of the best words to describe Renee Tramble Richard, Esq.’s rise from humble inner-city beginnings to Vice President of Legal Services and Risk Management (General Counsel) at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C), one of the nation’s largest community colleges to the 2022 Black Professional of the Year (BPOY). Destiny describes Richard’s journey to receiving the esteemed honor as she remembers being one of the original people in the room at Karamu House, (recognized as the oldest producing African American theatre in the nation), when Bill Wolf, then Executive Director of the Urban League of Greater Cleveland, proposed a Black professional association, one where Blacks “come together to support each other. “I heard the first pitch,” remembers Richard. “I was in my early 20s. Still growing. I was working on my masters at the time. I watched the Black Professional Association grow up.” The BPOY recognition is described as the “highest recognition an African American living in Cleveland can receive.” Richard’s career and environmental influences give many the encouragement to follow in the path that she has graciously forged. Life in Hough Growing up in Cleveland’s Hough Neighborhood, Richard was the “infamous” middle child of Louise and William Pedro Tramble. Her father was a postal worker and sheet metal worker at White Motors. A “union guy” as Richard described. Her mother was a bookkeeper at General Motors. In their household education was strongly encouraged. “I was fortunate to live on a street that had two-parent working families in the middle of a very poor neighborhood,” said Richard. “It was the norm for our insulated area in the city. We had relationships like you would expect in a community that was very close knit. We were always outside and, like most people of our

generation, when the streetlights came on, you went home and sat on your porch.” At East High School, Richard was a cheerleader and majorette. “I loved going to school. I was a good student. So, I continued going until it was enough,” Richard chuckled. She received all her education from public schools - from high school to Kent State University and the Juris Doctor earned from Cleveland Marshall School of Law at Cleveland State University.

The Early Years Richard recalls that while at Kent, she was one of the only Black accounting students. There were very few women. In most of her accounting courses she was the only Black person. It was one of the subjects where she struggled. “I started getting better at it. It’s a new language [accounting]. I started getting the hang of it as I was getting closer to graduating.” To help get her through, she recalls the Dean of the accounting department suggesting she transfer her major to education where there “are a lot of minorities.” “That inspired me to continue on the accounting track since I had another year left,” she said. “I was fortunate to have a professor in my senior year who said he would work with me in order to get the GPA I needed in my major.” It worked out for Richard, and she was able to graduate with her accounting degree. Like most new college graduates, Richard went on several interviews. She recalls one at a company in Richfield, OH. “The person said to me, ‘I just don’t think someone like you would fit in here.’ I understood what she meant.” It was tough at that time for minorities and women to land corporate opportunities. Richard’s first job out of college as a Certified Public Accountant was as a Bank Examiner for the State of Ohio Division of Banks. She then went on | 25

to work for ten years for Watson Rice & Co., a firm that at one time was one of the largest Black-owned CPA firms in the country. “A lot of Black accountants in this area got their start at Watson Rice,” she said. “I saw an ad for Watson Rice. It was an amazing opportunity, and I could not see not pursuing it,” said Richard. “Fortunately, they saw that I was a good fit, and they were a good fit for me. I learned a lot about public accounting, auditing, school districts, all kinds of state and governmental entities, I worked with migrant farmworkers…and took my first flight at 24 years old,” describing her years at Waston Rice. Too Shy to Be a Litigator Growing up, Richard wanted to be a lawyer. She thought it was a “cool thing to do.” She saw them on television, and a lawyer driving around her neighborhood in a twoseater Mercedes convertible. She thought, “One day I will have a car like that.” “I was very shy and knew I was too shy to go into a court room and do all the theatrics that lawyers do,” she said. Richard wanted to experience something greater than what she was doing. She considered tax law but felt her calling was even greater than that.

From top left: Renee’s son, Evan; granddaughter Jamison; and daughter Kelli. Front row: daughter Toshi; husband Derrick; Renee; and her mom, Louise. 26 | SUMMER 2022

Her legal writing professor recommended she participate in a summer internship with her first law firm, Benesh Friedlander. “It was an amazing turn for me in my career,” said Richard. “I had no idea there were corporate law firms. I simply didn’t know they existed. You grow up in the inner city and your world just doesn’t cross paths with corporate law firms that have 160 lawyers and defend corporations. That’s not your world. But, that was my introduction to corporate law firms and into a whole different way of living.” Once she completed the internship, she was offered a position at Benesch Friedlander as an Associate where she worked for three years. Her next opportunity was at Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP where she served as a Legal Associate. Richard later followed one of her Partners to Squire, Sanders & Dempsey (now Squire Patton Boggs) where she was an Associate in public finance. Her final stop in corporate law was serving as partner in the public finance group at Roetzel & Andress. The road to Vice President-General Counsel at Tri-C was not smoothly paved. There were potholes, roadblocks, and detours along the way. For instance, becoming a partner or owner in a law firm is difficult for minorities and women. “You have to bring in a certain amount of business every year and demonstrate that ability,” Richard explains. She mentions women and minorities generally don’t have the network and access that white males have. “They know one another. You call who you know. People do business with whom they are comfortable, who they can relate to, who looks like them. You remind them of their daughter, niece, or wife. Partners in corporate law firms will not look at me and say I look like their daughter or niece. That didn’t exist for me,” she explains. “Nice and congenial does not translate into getting business or making money for the firm. I was not seen as the person who would make partner.” Richard notes the similarities in the four corporate law firms in which she worked: They were larger corporations with clients who had substantial resources, predominately white male, and very few African Americans making partner. “When I started 25 years ago,” offers Richard, “there were only one or two African American lawyers at each of these law firms.” She said many firms are working hard to increase their female lawyers (which is roughly at 50 percent) and minority numbers, which is substantially less, oftentimes as low as two percent.

In The Community

You're active in the community. Why?

At Tri-C, Richard has the opportunity to work with people in various areas of the law. Her department assists “people who could find themselves in a difficult situation,” providing alternatives for employees or students that may be in trouble. “I like that combination of working for Tri-C and representing the institution’s 3,000 employees, students and board of trustees,” said Richard. She has 17 employees reporting to her from five departments: Institutional Equity, Internal Audit, Legal, Record Retention and Risk Management. “There are a wide variety of labor management, real estate, public finance, employee, and student issues. We work on a variety of them on any day,” she said.

I got involved with the Links because of their mission around service and friendship, which both speak to me. The idea of providing service and helping others that may not be able to help themselves has always appealed to me.

Rooted In Faith

I served on the NAACP’s Freedom Fund dinner as its chair for the last five years. It is one of my proudest accomplishments. We’ve raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide program support for the very essential work of the NAACP Cleveland Branch. It has been a labor of love with a very committed and dedicated team.

Through it all, Richard says her faith and family keep her grounded. She and husband Derrick have been married for 33 years, after meeting at a client Christmas party. They have three children: Daughter Kelli Davis, son Evan Michael Richard and daughter Toshianna Renee Richard. What does it mean to you to be the Black Professional of the Year?

We have various types of community programs like voter registration, financial literacy and food drives to name a few. We are proud of a program we created entitled The Links Girls Academy, where we mentor young girls in East Cleveland who are in grades four through six. Meeting once a month on Saturdays, we expose them to the arts, financial literacy, general literacy, healthy life styles and international trends.

What challenges did you overcome to get where you are?

Why is the BPACF's mission/vision important to you?

Racism. Sexism. In the business world and corporate community, there are layers and a pecking order. No matter where you work in corporate it starts with white males, white women, Black men, then Black women— with a switching of order sometimes between Black men and Black women. Then there’s the layer if you are a woman and especially if you’re a woman who is a mother or who wants to be a mother. I did not want to conform to the norms established as being and working like my hardcore male counterparts. I wanted to be female, feminine, my authentic self. There are challenges with just being a woman and just being Black in corporate America.

I remember in the early days the group of Black professionals who were determined to pull others along and award scholarships and try to keep standards high in our various professions. I still like that mission. It spoke to me as a young professional and it speaks to me now.

I still have to fight through “I deserve to be here.” I have earned the right to be here. I am just as smart as you are. I have as much experience and a lot of times more experience than most of you in the room. I still have to demonstrate that in order to be there.

It’s wonderful to see the legacy continuing and no signs of stopping. Those are the types of institutions that we have to continue to build. They are every bit as necessary now as they were 40 years ago. I feel like we are currently experiencing a turning back of the hands of time instead of progressing. This makes organizations like BPACF, NAACP and the United Black Fund all so relevant and necessary.

Now, when we make it to the table, we have to use that seat. We have to have our voice heard. It takes so much to get to the table in a corporate environment that it is an opportunity that cannot be lost. You have to use that position to further opportunities for people like us. We can’t just be at the table and be satisfied that you’re there. You have to find your voice.

It’s an honor that I never imagined being bestowed on me. Decades ago, I was in the meeting when it was announced that a Black professional organization would be established. I attended the first 15 dinners and was in the audience listening to the honorees. I am extremely honored. I am proud of myself that I got there and humbled that the BPACF would think enough of the work that I’ve done to select me for this role. | 27

What is the best career advice you've ever received? In terms of advancing my own career, the best was - to think about a project, draft my idea, set the work aside, leave it, come back to it after a day or two and then try to finalize it with a fresh mind. Oftentimes we are rushed to get things out in today’s ultra-fast-paced world. We say the first thing that comes to mind and don’t think about elaborating, perfecting, or revising.

Do you have any insecurities? At this point in my life, I am confident in who I am and what I do. It’s a wonderful feeling to get there. To know who you are personally and know your subject area professionally. I am comfortable talking with anybody at this point in my life. If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be? To have achieved this sense of confidence 20 years ago. I would have done some of the things I’m doing now 20 years ago. I would have been more assertive sooner in my career. What is the book you have in you? In my young years when I dreamed about writing it was all about fiction. I’m just not that creative so that’s why I haven’t written that book yet. The book I’ve been thinking about lately, and I’ve written down notes for a couple of times, (maybe at some point I will have time to formulate them), has a title that might sound something like, “So You’re Angry, Now What?” I thought of this before the incivilities of today. Today almost anything is said or done. People are rude at a drop of a hat. Prior to the Black Lives Matter movement and prior to the election of Presidents Obama and Trump, when all the civility seemed to go out of the window, I felt African Americans were already very angry. We are even more angry now. We have reasons to be angry. But, now what? You can’t just stay angry and not do anything about it. You have to do something positive with this anger, you have to move forward, and we have to make it work for us and those who are coming behind us. That’s the book that I think I have in me that I hope I will have some time to spend with and write about. 28 | SUMMER 2022

In terms of careers and people, Tom Watson, an African American entrepreneur, was president of the Ohio Accountancy Board when I received my certified public accountant license. In fact, he signed my license. I was so proud that I worked for him, and that he was president of the Board. When he brought my license to me from the meeting he said to me, ‘You made it. Now don’t pull the ladder up behind you.’ I understood what he was saying. Some people do just that. I got mine, you get yours. I don’t know if I needed him to say that for my career to have developed in this fashion, but I’ve tried my best to help people along the way. It was great advice and that’s the advice that I would give to others. If you’re not bringing somebody along with you, you’re doing yourself and our race a disservice. What is your next chapter? I’ve done lots of things in my career, been involved in lots of business deals and transactions and served on numerous non-profit boards and quasi-governmental boards. Now I want to serve on a corporate board providing the perspective of an African American female with broad-based experience. I have been working on that for the past year. When I slow down a bit, or move from full time work to part-time work, I would like to set up a foundation in an area that I find enjoyable and meaningful. I may write that book first. Montrie Rucker Adams, APR, DTM, MBA is the Editor of The Black Professional magazine and Chief Visibility Officer at Visibility Marketing Inc.

by Tiffany L. Hollinger

Is the Real Estate Market Going to

Crash? 2022 Outlook

Let me quickly answer. In my professional opinion: No! Will the market slow down: Yes! There is a difference. The median existing-home price in November 2021 was $353,900, up 13.9 percent from November 2020 ($310,800), according to The National Association of REALTORS.® This represents 117 straight months of year-over-year price increases – the longest run of housing price increases on record. Are we in a housing bubble that’s going to burst? To answer that question, we need to compare what’s happening now with the greatest housing crash in history.

gage loans that have been packaged into securities. When the securities were revealed to contain bad loans, the securities lost value. Banks were no longer able to get money to lend to new borrowers and were forced to keep the bad loans on their own books. Mortgage money dried up (and the rest of the economy was dealing with high unemployment, high utility and gas prices and overall economic strain) and thus housing prices crashed more than 25 percent by the time it was over.

Between 2008 and 2011, housing hit its nadir, but slowly In a push to make homeownership more available to sales and prices began to improve as investors gobbled first-time homebuyers and buyers with lower incomes up affordable and foreclosed homes to use as rentals. or damaged credit, easy-entry mortgage products in- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were overhauled and cluding little to no money required for down payments lending standards tightened to levels not seen in debecame widely available in the early to mid-2000s. cades. And they’re still tight today. Housing boomed. What was unusual about the biggest housing crash in But with incentives to loan out mortgage money and modern history is that housing had a big impact on the little oversight, banks started giving easing lending and economy. Usually, it’s the other way around. The Federdocumentation requirements. Then, instead of foreclos- al Reserve lowered overnight borrowing rates to banks ing, the banks packaged these bad and fraudulent loans in an effort to stimulate borrowing. They remained at into mortgage-backed securities which were supposed near-record lows for years to come. to be AAA good and sold them to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government-sponsored entities that in- Even with low interest rates, homebuyers were afraid fuse liquidity into the housing market by buying mort- to take the plunge, until it became obvious that low | 29

housing prices coupled with low interest rates represented the opportunity of a lifetime. The government bailed out the banks and other businesses and first-time homebuyers were given incentives to buy homes. Solid borrowers, alongside overseas cash-rich investors, had their pick of homes to buy. And through 2019, the U.S. enjoyed the longest period of economic recovery in its history.

for housing during the Great Recession, it is possible that rising interest rates, if kept in check, won’t reduce demand for housing in 2022.

The National Association of Home Builders reports that between 1961 and 2000, housing stats averaged over 1.5 million a year, but since 2006, they’ve been nowhere near that high and labor shortages and supply chain interruptions guarantee that construction won’t get back Then COVID-19 hit, and the nation was faced with up to speed for some time to come. This means demand twice the number of job losses in 2020 as experienced for housing will continue and prices will rise, although in the Great Recession, according to the Bureau of La- not as fast as in recent years. So, there’s no “crash” in the bor Statistics. While most of those jobs have returned, near future. However, with all of these moving parts, if many remain unfilled and workers are demanding you have a need to up-size your home, find a new locahigher wages. One reason is that housing, both rentals tion or just need different living space, now is the time and homeownership maintaince, has become so costly. to sell. Equally, now is still a good time to buy. Prices will continue to rise, so don’t miss your opportunity of Fast forward to 2022 and many are wondering if strong home ownership, waiting to prices to “crash.” Lastly, if housing sales will continue. Several factors could cur- investing in Real Estate is of interest, in Northeast Ohio, tail housing sales, including wage stagnation, runaway it’s a great investors market. Don’t wait, don’t miss out! inflation, home building supply chain interruptions and labor shortages, and the impact of rising interest rates. Tiffany L. Hollinger is a realtor, investor, and financial But just as low interest rates failed to stimulate demand advisor. #AskTiffanyH

30 | SUMMER 2022

NAMC Northern Ohio Chapter

Helping Others to Level Up by Jennifer Coiley Dial Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is becoming integrated into many companies and organizations as of this writing, with many people of color put into leadership roles. It is rare to read an article that doesn’t mention DE&I, and it does feel encouraging. Some industries, however, are still very homogeneous (read, white and male), and the construction industry is among them. The National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC) strives to change that. Founded in Oakland, California in 1969, NAMC is the oldest minority construction trade association in the United States. The association represents the interests of millions of skilled minority workers across the country. Through a network of local chapters and in collaboration with strategic and corporate partnerships, NAMC assists members with building capacity by providing access to opportunity, advocacy, and contractor development training. The new Northern Ohio Chapter (NOC) was started in 2019 by AKA Team President & CEO, Ariane Kirkpatrick, who serves as board president. Like many CEOs, Ariane’s path to success was riddled with challenges. Even though she took many classes and courses in construction, her attempts to get jobs in the industry were futile. Instead of giving up, she started her own construction company. More than 12 years later, her construction company encompasses several divisions, including construction management, waterproofing, commercial cleaning, and a special projects division. “I really thought I couldn’t do it. I attempted to get jobs in construction and wasn’t taken seriously. Doing my own thing

– entrepreneurship – became the path for me,” she says. NAMC NOC hopes to help forge an easier path for others to gain entry into the industry. It hosted several virtual Level Up sessions that have been wellreceived, as well as gaining several partnerships with organizations such as Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Y.O.U.), The Real Black Friday, and Friendly Inn Settlement. They are particularly proud of the collaboration with Y.O.U. in the administration of CREEW – Construction Readiness Empowering Equitable Workforce, a program for young adults to gain realworld skills in construction.

NAMC NOC’s area of operation includes Toledo, Cleveland, Akron, Canton and Youngstown/Warren. Contributions allow the organization to provide education, training and staffing. To become a member, or learn more, visit

Aria Johnson is the chief diversity officer for The AKA Team, and membership coordinator for NAMC NOC. Aria believes that “if we focus our efforts on training, educating, and developing our Black and Brown businesses and community leaders, we can continue to ensure equitable change and better opportunity for each other.” Johnson is passionate in her field of DE&I, stating that, “The only way we can ensure that these majority firms don’t use the ‘not enough minorities in the field’ excuse, is to ensure we keep exposing our people to those unique specialties lacking color and continue to grow our abilities and strengths in the construction industry.” NAMC NOC Executive Director Lisa Bottoms agrees: “Our goal is to work in collaboration with others who support diversity and inclusion efforts,” she says. “We also find ways for contractors to fit into large projects and complete jobs successfully.”

AKA Team employees Altenese Hankins (center) and Tracy Haynes (right) training CREEW students this past April.

Jennifer Coiley Dial is the Creative Director of The Black Professional. | 31

Staying Healthy Through the Summer by Mary Johnson Living a healthy lifestyle can be a challenge during the summer months. Ask me how I know? Well, back in 2009 I was 120 pounds overweight due to the lack of care I had for my temple. Summertime was really my worst month eating unhealthy food due to all the family birthdays, bar-b-ques (just because), and not to mention the Fourth of July celebrations. I mean who could resist, right? After being fed up with being overweight, I decided to take my life back. I joined a gym, lost 120 pounds in a year, and became a certified personal trainer. From 2010-19 I helped thousands of people lose weight and keep it off. In 2015 I created a brand name Vitiman Kandie LLC that started out with cold-pressed juices mixed with raw fruits and vegetables that cleanses the digestive tract, gives you energy, and helps boost your immune system. My brand has since then become an array of products such as herbs, books, food, and me. Yes, I said "me." I am also a motivational speaker to spread how I lost the weight, kept it off, and changed lives in the process. In 2017 I opened my own personal training studio, and in 2019 I opened Vitiman Kandie Cafe 1 (VKC) in Richmond Heights, Ohio and a second location 2 in Cleveland, Ohio. VKC’s innovative line of natural herbs and juices offers nutrition on the go for hopeful spirits in pursuit of improving their personal health. If you are looking for a holistic approach to your wellness journey, Vitiman Kandie is your answer. Unfortunately, I had to close my Richmond Heights location in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but managed to keep my Cleveland location open to help residents of the community heal through this terrible virus. I am in the process of re-opening my second location in another area of Cleveland and I am so very thankful for my new and faithful customers who continue to support my brand. Please visit my website to learn more about my business. I love sharing recipes and teaching healthy cooking classes. I have amazing recipes on some summertime juicing that is really good for lowering cholesterol, and quick 30-minute lunch snacks under 300 calories. 32 | SUMMER 2022

Vegan Turkey Wrap Ingredients: - mixed green lettuce - vegan mayo - vegan provolone and cheddar cheese slices - black olives - mustard - tomato - green onion - mini sweet peppers - avocado - vegan turkey slices - medium spinach or tomato basil tortilla wrap bread Preparation: Place your tortilla wrap on a plate. Take 1 tbs of vegan mayo and spread. Next, place your vegan cheese, then tomato slice on top of the bread. Add your sweet peppers, green onion, two slices of vegan turkey (your choice to add more if you like), avocado, and then top it off with mustard. Fold, wrap, and enjoy! Extra zaz: Use Spike salt-free table blend seasoning and vegan garlic herb dressing for dipping. Here’s an extra tip to stay hydrated during the summer: Drink at least 64 oz of water daily and add fresh limes, cucumber, and ginger root to keep you feeling refreshed, control your blood levels, and help fight off food borne illnesses. For more information on Vitiman Kandie, please visit | 33

How to Have Low to No Student Loan Debt by LaRese Purnell As parents, we are too familiar with the impact that student loan debt has on our monthly obligations, overall debt, and net worth as an individual or family. How many parents are still paying for their student loan debt and now have children enrolled in college? How many people have not been able to maximize their investment strategies due to student loan debt?

probably even time consuming, but the benefits far out weigh the sacrifice. My recommendation is that this be a parent and student activity along the way.

taneously apply for as many grants and scholarships as possible. This is an exercise that will impact not just the current college expense but the financial future of the college students.

Four Types of Financial Aid:

I have included some information and resources to assist you or your loved ones as they prepare to attend college or university. If you need assistance, consider speaking with your child’s guidance counselor and the Student loan debt has become a financial stressor on financial aid advisors at a university and ask about adthe millennial population. Now other generations are ditional resources that they may be aware of as well. Do reconsidering the value of pursuing a college educa- whatever it takes to send your child to college for free tion due to having to acquire this long-term debt. It is or to leave debt free. They will thank you for the rest of imperative that we disrupt the typical strategy when it their lives. comes to enrolling in college and paying for secondary How to Pay for College: education. 1. Fill out FAFSA Usually, the first and only step for most families is to 2. Search for scholarships fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student 3. Choose an affordable school Aid) as a form of paying for college. Typically, once the 4. Utilize grants tuition has been covered, then most families settle on 5. Get a work-study job what has been offered versus researching how to maxi- 6. Utilize savings or college investments mize free dollars that are available. Alongside complet- 7. Take Federal loans if you must ing the FAFSA form, the goal should now be to simul- 8. Borrow private loans as a last resort

Imagine the difference between a student having no college debt vs. one that does and the impact that will have on that future graduate as they attempt to become a homeowner and invest in their retirement plans early on. This is imperative, especially in the Black community as we continue to discuss shrinking the wealth gap disparities between Blacks and other communities. The net worth of the average Black family is close to $13,000 compared to our white counterparts that exceed $110,000. So, as we can see providing this opportunity will also provide a financial head start to our future generations allowing them to build wealth at a younger age, helping them to have a much better chance at securing their financial futures. Now I didn’t say it would be easy, or 34 | SUMMER 2022

1. 2. 3. 4.

Grants Work-study Job Loans Scholarships – Athletic, Community Service, Academic, Diversity, Unique Traits, etc.

Student Resources:

LaRese Purnell, MBA is a managing partner at CLE Consulting Firm.

Skin Care for Skin of Color

Do People of Color Need to Use Sunscreen? by Angela Kyei, MD, MPH Our skin is the largest organ in the body. It serves to protect us from anything from the outside that can harm us, including the sun’s harmful rays. It keeps us warm in the cold months and cool in the hot summer months. It is also the most visible part of our body. It is the “natural” covering we wear on a daily basis, so for all those reasons, it makes sense to take good care of our skin throughout the year. It is especially important to take special care of our skin during the hot summer months because of excessive sun exposure. It is not uncommon to see our lighter skin friends wear sunscreen during these months. A common question I often get in clinic is, “Do Black people need sunscreen?” Before I dig into this further, let’s discuss why skin color matters when it comes to sun protection. Our skin comes in many different shades based on the amount of melanin (the chemical in the skin that gives us color) we have in our skin. If your skin makes lots of melanin, you appear dark. Likewise, if it makes less melanin, you appear light. Melanin is the body’s natural defense (i.e., sunscreen) against the sun’s harmful rays. In fact, there are no human beings without melanin in their skin unless they have a mutation, which prevents them from making melanin, such as those who suffer from albinism.

In this way, all human beings are people of color. The adaptation that allows all of us to be able to live under earth’s beaming sun is our skin color. Those who live closer to the equator where the sun’s rays are greatest tend to have more melanin in their skin, and therefore appear dark. Likewise, those who live farther from the equator where the sun’s rays are the least tend to make less melanin, thus appear lighter. Now that we’ve answered the question of why skin color matters when it comes to sun protection, the question now is, “Why do we need protection from the sun in the first place?” One major reason is that all human beings can get skin cancer, which can result from excessive sun exposure. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common cancer in human beings. More people have this cancer than any other cancer and the major risk factor is sun exposure. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer among African Americans, thus even “people of color” can get skin cancer. Moreover, the deadliest skin cancer, melanoma, kills more African Americans than any other group despite the fact that it is most prevalent among white people. Another important reason for sun protection regardless of skin color is that all skin types require time to adapt to the sun when newly exposed. Even dark-skinned individuals can burn from the sun if their skin has not been exposed to the sun in a long while. This is because | 35

the skin takes time to make the extra melanin to protect you from the sun. For example, if you live in Cleveland and vacation in Jamaica during the winter, regardless of your skin color, you can get burned because your skin has not yet adapted to the sun. Later, as your skin becomes adapted, then you don’t get sunburned.

the sun. The mineral sunblock tends to have a white, pasty consistency, whereas the chemical sunscreens are translucent and thus more cosmetically pleasing. In addition to sunscreen, wearing sun protective clothing and hats also confers some sun protection.

In conclusion, even though having darker skin confers Now that we’ve discussed why we all need some sun a greater “natural” proprotection regardless of skin type, lets delve into the tection from the sun, for all the above said most common types of sun protection. reasons, it is importSunscreen is a skin product developed to block some ant for all skin types to of the sun’s harmful rays. It usually comes with a label practice sun safety by called, SPF or sun protection factor, a measure of how wearing sunscreen and much sun protection the sunscreen confers compared other protective meato skin without sunscreen. For example, a sunscreen sures in the appropriwith SPF 15, means it would take your skin 15 times ate setting. longer to burn in the sun compared with your skin without sunscreen. Sunscreens also come with the label Angela Kyei, MD, MPH of “mineral” which means the main ingredients are zinc of Cosmopolitan Dermand /or titanium, which are naturally occurring and do atology founded the Multicultural Skin and Hair Center not have chemical ingredients. Chemical sunscreens on in the Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Institute at the other hand, have man-made chemicals which block the Cleveland Clinic. She specializes in hair loss.

Congratulations to Alyssa Johnson and Allan Robinson, BPACF’s graduating scholars! Alyssa Johnson The Ohio State University Major: Chinese Position: Seeking HR opportunities in Columbus, Ohio


Allan Robinson Bowling Green State University Major: Information Systems Position: Cardinal Health “It’s bittersweet to see my journey at BGSU end. It’s been tough navigating college over the past four years, especially having to go through college during a global pandemic…This summer I will be returning to work at Cardinal Health in the EIT EMERGE rotational program. I’m so glad to be given the opportunity to come back and showcase my skills…”

Robinson 36 | SUMMER 2022

Macro-Healing from Microaggressions by Andratesha Fritzgerald

Black professionals have a unique set of circumstances when navigating issues of race in an educational setting or a workplace. Many have been looking for answers to the question, “What should I do when a teacher, director, supervisor, or leader communicates with a series of microaggressions toward me?” Dr. Kevin Nadal, one of the leading researchers in understanding the impact of microaggressions, defines them as, “The everyday, subtle, intentional — and oftentimes unintentional — interactions or behaviors that communicate some sort of bias toward historically marginalized groups.” In his definition, he goes on to point out, “The difference between microaggressions and overt discrimination or macroaggressions, is that people who commit microaggressions might not even be aware of them.” Regardless of the perpetrator’s awareness or intent, it is clear, microaggressions cause injury. The sting of microaggressions has become a macro part of the Black experience. Enduring these slights and insulting behaviors over and over is traumatic. The bare bones of microaggression is a value or belief system that knowingly or unknowingly diminishes the feelings and the humanity of historically marginalized people. In the book, What Happened to You by Dr. Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey, it is stated that, “Marginalization is a fundamental trauma.” The book goes on to call racialized trauma both pervasive and severe. While research validates it we know that we must have some tools to triumph over the pain of this assault. As we expand our coping tools, consider the A.C.R.E. acronym to elevate your humanity as a means to respond to microaggressions you may have experienced. A. Acknowledge the pain. One of the ways that the sickness of the disease of racism seeks to permeate our existence is for us to not acknowledge how it harms us. We are applauded and awarded for resilience and resourcefulness, which minimizes the suffering and discomfort of the words spoken to or about us. It is important for you to acknowledge words that hurt, comments that created a wound or added to an already existing one. Acknowledging the harm of microaggression, regardless of the intent, means giving yourself permission to embrace your own humanity. Take a moment to give place to the pain that you’ve experienced from others’ assumptions, biases, undervaluing, and ignorance.

C. Connect with an understanding community. There is peace and safety in creating community where there is a shared lived experience and a welcoming of truth. Imagine a fellowship where the best is assumed about you. A place where you have nothing to prove. A circle where you can exist freely and share your joys and pain without fear of retribution or judgment. Do you have vision for where this space is? Whether it is a small group for Bible study, a brunch crew, or a random meet up based on common interest, community is healing for Black folks who know the pain of microaggression. R. Receive the power of decision. Many times when it comes to microaggression we feel as if we have to decide in the moment what to say or how to respond. Trauma seeks to take power away from us, healing gifts power to us. We must decide to receive the power. Wellness determines whether I address the microaggression in the moment, address it later, or not at all. Power is giving myself grace and space to process the injustice without the pressure of the right response right away. E. Engage in the work of healing. As we peel back the layers of the impact of microaggressions on our wellness, it is important to intentionally engage in the work of healing. Habeebah Grimes, a community leader, CEO of Positive Education Program and creator of No Crystal Stair podcast made the declaration, “In the absence of justice, I will be well.” Healing may mean therapy, joy affirming activities, talking it over or practicing moments of silence. To press into healing, it may mean exploring new school or employment options or limiting relational interactions. Black existence is not defined solely by our suffering. The healing work reminds us to live fully and abundantly, as an act of resistance. Ibram X Kendi talks about dismissing the term microaggression because, “A persistent daily low hum of racist abuse is not minor.” No matter what we call these injurious occurrences, we must find healthy ways to live, to cope and to resist while pursuing wellness, healing and wholeness. Wellness is our protest and our power. Andratesha Fritzgerald is the founder and lead consultant of Building Blocks of Brilliance, LLC, public school educator and the author of Antiracism and Universal Design for Learning (CAST, 2020). | 37

The Unique Nutritional Needs of

African Americans

by Gregory L. Hall, MD

African Americans have a number of distinct nutritional differences that have been documented in medical research studies. These published research studies are typically looking at health outcomes related to cancers and heart disease, but in the process of examining the data, scientists will also look at trends in laboratory results including electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium, etc.) and vitamin levels. What is ironic is the consistency of what they found as well as the fact that these outcomes are rarely discussed and shared with the Black community. Leading the list is vitamin D deficiency. Surprisingly, four out of five African Americans are vitamin D deficient compared to less than one in three white Americans.

vitamin supplements were associated with worse health outcomes. Vitamin E was studied in over 130,000 people and those that took 400 IU (the most common supplement dose) or higher, had an overall higher risk of dying from any cause. Vitamin E supplements were also shown to significantly increase the risk of prostate cancer in healthy men. Given that African Americans have the highest death rate of any racial/ethnic group in the United States (including prostate cancer), taking a vitamin that potentially increases these already bad outcomes, makes no sense. While there are some who refute these results, the published research is clear, vitamin E and selenium were associated with increased lung and prostate cancer.



Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased diabetes, hypertension, prostate cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, and more. African Americans have the highest risk for all of these diseases. Adequate vitamin D levels have been directly linked with improved heart health and is particularly helpful in reducing your stroke risk. In fact, Blacks also tend to require more vitamin C and folate than other racial/ethnic groups, and these essential vitamins help with an array of critical human processes including strengthening our immune system and facilitating mental focus and memory.

Vitamin K is critical for normal blood clotting and there is no dispute there. But African Americans have an increased risk of forming bad blood clots after surgery and associated with strokes, heart attacks, and DVTs (deep vein thrombosis). While vitamin K serves a useful purpose and keeps us from bleeding to death, there is no evidence that African Americans have a need for more vitamin K. YOUR ELECTROLYTES ARE VITALLY IMPORTANT TOO!

People often overlook the value of minerals and their impact on your health. Magnesium has been shown to improve diabetes control SOME VITAMINS AND MINERALS CAN as well as stabilize blood vessels. The Black BE BAD? As I researched scientific journals regarding community has the highest diabetes risk as health disparities and best practices for African well as significant vascular (blood vessel) Americans while writing my book, Patient- problems. Research studies show that as a Centered Clinical Care for African Americans, population, African Americans tend to need I also found some disturbing results... some more magnesium replacement, and some think 38 | SUMMER 2022

to our daily practices. Sequence Multivitamins have the appropriate amount of vitamin D, vitamin C, and folate to support the needs of African Americans while leaving Potassium doesn’t get enough credit as a very beneficial out vitamin E, selenium, and vitamin K. Sequence also nutrient for good health and potassium deficiency (low distinguishes itself as one of the few multivitamins potassium) has been directly related to high blood that has added potassium and magnesium to address pressure, heart problems, diabetes, muscle weakness, the population-wide deficiencies seen in the Black fatigue, and more. Multiple studies have also confirmed community. A lot of thought went into the formula for that African Americans are much more likely to lack Sequence Multivitamins making them the single best potassium. multivitamins for African Americans. Blacks across A SOLUTION TO ALL OF THESE DEFICIENCIES the country are buying Sequence Multivitamins with a Sequence Multivitamins for African Americans has passion, and we take pride that it started right here in revolutionized the nutritional supplement market. As Cleveland with a Black professional that grew up in the the first multivitamin designed to address the unique Glenville neighborhood. nutritional needs of the Black community, Sequence has taken patient-centered care to the next level. Dr. Gregory L. Hall is the founder and board chairman Years of health disparity research shouldn’t just gather of the National Institute for African American Health dust on medical school library shelves. We need to and CEO of Sequence Multivitamins learn from these studies and apply what we’ve learned the poor control of diabetes in Blacks may be related to this widespread deficiency. | 39

BPACF PROFESSIONAL PROFILES The BPACF is all about highlighting and is happening. We are filling seats at all the tables. promoting Greater Cleveland professionals (hence, Black Professional Association). In our summer issue, we’re presenting 13 professionals who exemplify BPACF’s vision As the ranks of Black, Indigenous People of and mission. Please join us in cheering them on. Color (BIPOC) in corporations, non-profit Where you can support them, please show them organizations, entrepreneurship, and government lots of love. continue to grow, we are encouraged that change Jennifer Bliss is a professional guitarist and music educator. As a touring musician, she’s played all over the world, but found that the most important and enjoyable music to play is for your own community and for the people you love. With this in mind, she created JBliss Guitar Studio, where she helps people “Learn To Play The Music They Love, For The People They Love.”

Jennifer Bliss Professional Guitarist & Music Educator JBliss Guitar Studio

What is your Superpower? I can inspire people to manifest the power of music in their daily lives. In fact, I believe that “Music is a superpower that anyone can have.” So, as I guide my students on their guitar journeys, they not only learn to jam to their favorite songs, but also add the language of music to their arsenal of self-expression and self-care. Why did you choose your career? I enjoy performing, but I also really love teaching. When I see a student

Charles Donaldson, Jr. Digital Technology Talent Acquisition Specialist Sherwin-Williams 40 | SUMMER 2022

Born and raised in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Charles Donaldson Jr. earned his bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Business Administration from Xavier University of Louisiana. During his undergraduate years, he joined the United States Coast Guard and earned his officer commission. Donaldson completed two active-duty tours, including a tour with the Coast Guard’s Ninth District in Cleveland, Ohio. After completing his Cleveland tour, he resigned from service and earn a master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Indiana

serenade their spouse for Valentine’s Day, or teach a grandma how to play “Purple Rain,” or give a beginning guitar player the skills to write their own music, it gives me great satisfaction and an increased depth of purpose. Who inspires you? Who are your role models? Prince and Mr. Rogers. Prince for his musical genius and business savvy. Mr. Rogers for the way he used music to “make feelings mentionable and manageable.” What personal/professional advice do you have for our readers? If you are experiencing a glass ceiling in your personal or professional life, pride may be what the glass is made of. Humility helps you to let go of the old and embrace the new. So, examine yourself for pride, then put on “humility.” The mental reset will help you to change your life for the better. University. Donaldson is currently a Digital Technology Talent Acquisition Specialist for Sherwin-Williams and he recently earned his certification as a Society for Human Resource Management Certified Professional. He loves being outdoors and traveling to new places with his husband. Donaldson is also a cycle instructor at GrooveRyde, which allows him to blend his love of cycling with his love of music. What is your Superpower? My superpower is perseverance. Al-

though it has been a bumpy road to get to where I am, I appreciate my journey and I’ve learned the importance of effectively managing self-doubt. Why did you choose your career? I previously worked as an Assistant Manager for Target in both Guest Services and Human Resources. My time as a Human Resources manager shed light on opportunities within Human Resources and eventually led me to continue my career in recruiting.

Jordian R. Foster Director of Education AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland

Me’Chele D. Frierson, LISW-S Social Worker M Frierson Therapy LLC

Jordian R. Foster was born in Kingston Jamaica and came to the United States when he was young. He is the Director of Education at the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland, which is an AIDS service organization that works to provide care and services for those who are infected and affected by HIV and AIDS. The organization advocates for those in need, especially in the LGBT community and provides prevention, supportive, and educational services to its clients and the community. Foster is a graduate of Benedictine High School. He graduated from Cleveland State University with a bachelor’s in social work and from Purdue University Global with a Master’s in Public Health.

Who inspires you? Who are your role models? I am inspired by my family and friends. I am blessed to be surrounded by many people who are successful in various professions. What personal/professional advice do you have for our readers? Discover, acknowledge, and pursue your true passions – even if they are outside of the workplace.

Why did you choose your career? I went to school for Social Work because I’ve always wanted a job where I am able to help those in need. After I started working for the AIDS Taskforce, I later started gaining interest in the Public Health field because I felt I could make a greater impact on the community. Who inspires you? Who are your role models? My role models are my mom, my grandmother, and my grandfather. Growing up watching these immigrants work hard to build a new life, definitely inspires me to work to build something great and make my family proud.

What is your Superpower? My superpower is being able to see the limitless potential and goodness of the human spirit.

What personal/professional advice do you have for our readers? Try to empathize with others a little more because you truly never know their story.

Me’Chele D. Frierson is a Supervising Independent Social Worker with over 13 years’ experience as a psychotherapist and five years as a solo private practice owner. She is a proud native of Cleveland, Ohio where she obtained a Bachelor of Social Work from Cleveland State University and earned a Master of Science in Social Administration from Case Western Reserve’s MSASS program.

Frierson is passionate about helping individuals understand their thoughts and feelings, helping them separate mood challenges from natural responses, and normalizing what it truly means to feel and emote. Her clinical experience includes work with anxiety, depression, complex trauma/PTSD, grief and loss, infidelity and divorce, child sexual abuse and assault, work related stress, and life transitions. | 41

What is your superpower? My superpower is patience. Why did you choose your career? When I was a preteen, my eldest brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia. His psychologist at that time did an amazing job with educating the family on his illness and how our support was so instrumental to the prognosis of his disease. This experience allowed me to support my brother in a compassionate way and handle the cycles of his diagnosis from a more grounded position. Being introduced to a severe mental illness at a young age really aided in my development of empathy and compassion. Since then, I have always been interested in working with people who struggle with mental illness and mood challenges. Who inspires you? Who are your role models? My husband and son inspire me to be a better version of myself. My mom inspires me. She is highly intelligent, community driven, strong, compas-

Stephanie Goggans Law Student Cleveland State University Law Clerk Yourkvitch & Dibo LLC

42 | SUMMER 2022

If you were limited to one word describing native Clevelander Stephanie Goggans, that task would be nearly impossible, but the word would be: Herself. As a rising third year law student at Cleveland State University, Black woman millennial, and proud military veteran, Goggan’s story has many unique perspectives which she draws upon at Yourkvitch & Dibo, LLC, a Cleveland-based boutique law firm specializing in business litigation, public nuisance abatement, and business transaction matters. Her passion for advocacy combined with a resilient, humor-infused personality undoubtedly suits her for a second act as a business law attorney supporting local small businesses. Goggans is a member of multiple

sionate, and extremely giving. Everything she sacrificed to raise me, and my four older siblings is my fuel to do everything in life. When I was growing up, my mother was very intentional about building a village of educated and loving Black women around me. They are all my role models and are always involved in some way with each level I climb in life. My mother, my siblings, and all of these women are my role models. What personal/professional advice do you have for our readers? Take time to build a good sense of self awareness and trust yourself. All you need is within. You have the personal power inside of you to reach that desired next level in life (mentally, physically, emotionally, etc.). Some call it gut, intuition, or God. However, you identify it, listen for that quiet but confident voice…that grounding and knowing feeling you experience. When you follow that, things work out in your favor.

advocacy and service-based organizations but is most proud of the Students Against Marshall (S.A.M.), a collective she and a diverse group of law school peers formed in December 2021. S.A.M. is an ad hoc working group consisting of diverse CSU-Law students whose sole goal is to remove references to US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall from the law college due to his support of the human trafficking of Black Americans and biased legal decisions that were harmful and discriminatory toward Indigenous people. What is your Superpower? Being at the right place at the right time to help people and effortlessly finding humor and light in all cir-

cumstances. Why did you choose your career? I was looking for a professional way to serve my community without being away from my family. Who inspires you? Who are your role models? Regular people I see and meet every

Edwin Hubbard, Jr. V.P. of Development NewBridge Cleveland Center for Arts & Technology

Edwin Hubbard Jr. is a Cleveland native and graduate from the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. Hubbard has a long history of serving his community, and serves on the board of directors for numerous local organizations including 100 Black Men of Greater Cleveland, United Disability Services, Heart to Heart Leadership, and is a member of both the NAACP Cleveland and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. Hubbard serves as the Vice President of Development for NewBridge and oversees the growth and sustainability of the organization by cultivating key relationships among corporate and individual donors. What is your Superpower? Emotional Intelligence. Always being aware of who I am and how I feel allows me to communicate with others in a positive way. This superpower allows me to organically build life lasting relationships that have the potential to transform, not only lives but, communities through partnership. Why did you choose your career? I chose non-profit because I wanted to be in a position where I could positive-

day in Cleveland, my classmates, my family and friends. Really, everyone who dares to take risks and dream big. What personal/professional advice do you have for our readers? Practice gratitude at all times and take life one day at a time.

ly impact the lives of others who look like me. As a professional fundraiser, I can secure dollars for underserved and underrepresented Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) citizens who have been denied opportunities for equitable education, employment, and economic advancement. Who inspires you? Who are your role models? In terms of who inspires me, I’d say my wife, Siobhan, and our two sons Edwin III (7) and Ezra (3). I strive to be a great example of a husband, father, and community leader to my boys. In terms of role models, I have so many. I couldn’t be the man I am today without my parents. My mother and father continue to challenge me daily to be great. Professionally, Billy Taylor (Linked XL) and Laura Duda (Goodyear) have always supported me through the advancement of my career and continue to be positive forces in my life. What personal/professional advice do you have for our readers? Show up every day like you mean it! Our days are won and lost on our attitudes. If we are intentional and deliberate in our actions, positive results will follow. “See it through!” | 43

Robert Addison Lampley, Esq. Staff Attorney U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights

Travis Lewis Assistant Coach, Cleveland State University Men’s Basketball

44 | SUMMER 2022

Robert Addison Lampley, Esq. was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Juris Doctor at the University of Wisconsin Law School. He is a Staff Attorney in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. He previously served as the Assistant Director of the Office of Civil Rights and Institutional Equity at Central Michigan University. In the community, he is a deacon at Mt. Zion Congregational Church UCC and member of the Cleveland Heights Racial Justice Task Force. What is your Superpower? Believing in the unseen is my Superpower. From an early age, I was taught the practice of imagining my success before its manifestation. Believing in the unseen allows me to be patient in my journey, blossom where I am planted, and trust that all things are working together for my greatest good.

Travis Lewis is an assistant coach for the Cleveland State University’s (CSU) men’s basketball program. Lewis is entering his second year with the Vikings. He arrived at CSU after serving as head coach at St. Francis De Sales High School in Toledo, Ohio. There he owned a record of 108-77 overall and took his squad to eight state tournament appearances. Prior to St. Francis De Sale, Lewis spent three seasons as the associate head coach of the men’s basketball program at Owens Community College and as the director of video operations and player development at Eastern Michigan. He also competed at Eastern Michigan University as a two-sport student-athlete as a member of the Eagles’ basketball and football teams. In this community, he has spearheaded social platforms to discuss equal rights for African American men, as well as

Why did you choose your career? I choose a legal career to allow my gift of public speaking to make room for me and use my education in service to others. I wanted a career rich in evolution, complexity, and eradicating injustice for those at the margins. Most of all, I want to inspire Black youth to realize their full potential and use their gifts to fortify future generations. Who inspires you? Who are your role models? My late mother, Helen Louise Lampley, is my role model and biggest inspiration. She taught me how to trust God, love without bounds, and persevere through adversity. I too am inspired by our enslaved ancestors whose brilliance, resilience, and beauty demonstrates that there is agency even in the direst circumstances. What personal/professional advice do you have for our readers? Your testimony is the answer to someone else’s test. Share it often. systemic racism in college athletics. Lewis is a self-employed Real Estate Agent in both Michigan and Ohio. What is your Superpower? I’m a chameleon. Why did you choose your career? Sports were a vessel to change my life in a positive way. Coaching is an opportunity to pay it forward by teaching others the lessons I learned as an athlete, both positive and negative. In the future young athletes will have an opportunity to have their life impacted because of sports in an even more positive way. Who inspires you? Who are your role models? My sons inspire me. Not knowing my father gives me great joy to have them know me. My role model is TBA. That’s tough since no one has ever invested in me.

Niké Olabisi-Green Creator and Chief Movement Leader Nola Movement IG: @nikeolabisi_green

What personal/professional advice do you have for our readers? Always bet on yourself because how you view what you do determines how you do what you do. When you bet on

yourself, success becomes what you do to have your mind at peace. I have always bet on myself from a walk on football player to self-employment, to a Division 1 Assistant Coach.

Niké Olabisi-Green shares her contagious energy for movement and wellness as the Creator and Chief Movement Leader at Nola Movement. She specializes in wellness coaching for high achieving women in leadership roles and entrepreneurship. In the community, she serves as an advocate and mentor for women and marginalized groups. A Northeast Ohio native, Olabisi-Green graduated from Kent State University with a Bachelor’s in Fashion Merchandising and a Master of Business Administration.

curate the entire experience they have when they attend a class, workshop, or retreat. I know that every detail plays a part and allows the kind of thoughtful reflection that brings clarity and healing.

What is your Superpower? I curate high energy spaces and conversations. I am a lightworker and have a unique gift that allows folks to feel seen and heard. I am the voice that offers reflections and ideas while encouraging others to trust themselves, take care, move from a place of love, and honor their mental health. Why did you choose your career? Stepping out to create my business Nola Movement was a dream that I believe was given to me to serve the women in my community. I am able to

Mary Orelaru-Oyalowo Founder My Fortune Vault

Mary Orelaru-Oyalowo is an author, a personal finance educator/founder at My Fortune Vault, and a senior consultant at one of the Big Four accounting firms. As a personal finance educator, she teaches people how to manage their money to grow it. Orelaru-Oyalowo loves photography, enjoys reading, baking, and volunteering. One of her favorite things is learning. She has a Bachelor’s degree in economics from Tai Solarin University

Who inspires you? Who are your role models? I am inspired by Black women. I could name so many – from my Mom and sister, to national leaders. In Cleveland, I see so many phenomenal women that are quiet change-makers, leading organizations, running businesses and I’m proud to be counted among them. In a place where the Black woman is often mistreated and disrespected, I am inspired by our beauty, grace, and enduring ability to find joy and carry on. What personal/professional advice do you have for our readers? Take care. And I mean that in the sincerest of ways. I deeply believe that as professionals, we get to intentionally integrate healthier ways of being and practice some of the lessons we learned when the pandemic forced us to slow down.

of Education, Nigeria, a Master’s degree in finance for development from the University of Bradford, UK, and a Master’s degree in accountancy from Cleveland State University. What is your Superpower? Super-Stretching abilities. Why did you choose your career? To impart people with the knowledge needed to make good financial | 45

sions, and help businesses safeguard their financial standing and shape organizational success. Who inspires you? Who are your role models? Ngozi Okonje-Iwela, Warren Buffet, and Thasunda Brown Duckett.

Marques Hillman Richeson Lawyer, Jones Day 216.586.7195 (office)

Marques Hillman Richeson is a litigator who handles significant, highstakes litigation, representing clients in federal and state courts throughout the country at the trial and appellate levels. He has served as national or coordinating counsel for Fortune 500 and global companies, providing strategic advice on matters related to product liability, complex commercial litigation, class actions, and multidistrict litigation. He is a board member of the Cleveland Ballet, LAND Studio, HELP Foundation, and the Euclid Schools Foundation. He is also a Fellow of the Leadership Council for Legal Diversity and has written and spoken related to social justice and diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession.

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a tool of oppression, denying basic human rights and dignity to African Americans and persons who identify as LGBTQ. I wanted to use the law to uplift my family and community, and to promote justice and equality for all. By incorporating a pro bono practice into my work at a large corporate law firm – where I have advocated on behalf of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Services & Advocacy for LGBT Elders (SAGE), and the Innocence Project – I have been able to “do good and do well” at the same time. Who inspires you? Who are your role models? Justice Thurgood Marshall and Charles J. Ogletree, Jr.

Why did you choose your career? The law has historically been used as

What personal/professional advice do you have for our readers? My three keys to success are: (1) intellectual curiosity, (2) hard work, and (3) devotion to family and community.

Shaleeta A. Smith is the Director of Family Health at the Summit County Health Department. She is a graduate of the University of Toledo where she received her Bachelor of Science in Biology and her Master’s in Public Health, Epidemiology. Smith oversees services and programming that focuses on women, families, infants, senior services, harm reduction, housing, and minority health. Smith works closely with the City of Akron, social service agencies, grassroots orgs, and the hospital system to improve health outcomes in Summit County. She is also the CEO of Allynne Time, LLC, an event planning

and photo booth company. She is active in the community, serving as President of the Akron Urban League Young Professionals, Board of Directors for Community Support Service and Students with a Goal (SWAG). She is an active member of the Lambda Phi Omega Chapter, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Smith’s awards and recognitions include: Current member of Leadership Akron’s Signature Program: Class 38; Athena Young Professional of the Year (2021); Mothers on a Mission’s Dr. MLK Jr. Drum Award (2021); the Greater Akron Chamber 30 for the Future Award (2020); and graduate of

What is your Superpower? Listening.

Shaleeta A. Smith Director of Family Health Summit County Health Department

What personal/professional advice do you have for our readers? Build relationships, earn their trusts, and be willing to accept challenges. These will ultimately open new opportunities and facilitate cooperation.

Leadership Akron’s Diversity on Board: Class 4. Smith’s mission is to live life with no excuses and cultivate change in the communities where she lives, works, and serves. What is your Superpower? Invisibility. Although I can’t always be seen, I feel that I can always be heard and felt. Why did you choose your career? As a professional, I knew I wanted to

Clifton Ronald S. Williams, III Director of Public Affairs Taft Advisors 216.706.3596 (tel) 216.241.3707 (fax)

Clifton Ronald St. Clair Williams III is director of public affairs for Taft’s Public Affairs Strategies Group, the multidisciplinary government relations team that represents corporations, companies, nonprofit organizations, and associations with matters before federal, state, and local legislative and executive branches of government. Prior to joining Taft, he worked for 13 years in the Washington DC, and Cleveland offices of Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge, Ohio’s 11th Congressional District. He is a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. What is your Superpower? My superpower is my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Without that nothing that I have achieved in life would have been possible. Why did you choose your career? As a child I remember going to Cleveland City Hall with my father fighting for land to build our church Mt. Zion Fellowship. I went to every meeting with him as a child in my suit and tie. Those meetings exposed me to politics, and were my first taste of lobbying and consulting. I worked for Congresswoman Fudge to help my community, I work for Taft Advisors to help busi-

be a part of the solution and work in a career that advocated for social justice while working to provide solutions with a community focus. Who inspires you? Who are your role models? The women in my family and my uncle. What personal/professional advice do you have for our readers? Live everyday like it is your last with no regrets and meaningful moments. nesses, non profits, and associations make my community better. Who inspires you? Who are your role models? My father, Dr. C. Ronald S. Williams, II, is my top role model. I’ve often said everything that I am is a result of all he planted in me, and all I’ve watched him do. My forever boss, Secretary Marcia L. Fudge, always taught me that, “If you take care of the people, the people will take care of you.” Finally, my co-partner in charge of Taft’s Cleveland office, and partner in charge of Taft’s DC office, Adrian Thompson and Lacy Johnson, both inspire and encourage me in my work on a daily basis. What personal/professional advice do you have for our readers? 1) Be the Best – a phrase that an administrator always told us in grade school. In whatever aspect of life, be the best that you can be. 2) Work Hard, Play Hard – Don’t let work be your only focus in life. Take time for yourself and the things that you enjoy doing the most. 3) Protect Your Brand – All of us have a professional and personal brand/identity. Make sure the decisions you make and your actions align with your brand.

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