The Black Professional Magazine, Winter 2023 Issue

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Professional The Black A GUIDE TO BUILDING THE VILLAGE! WINTER 2023 The Change You Wish to See Jazmin Long, Da’na Langford, and Veranda Rodgers * PLUS * Update on DE&I Goals 2022: Were They Met? DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION

BPACF Officers 2023-2024


Michele Scott Taylor, Ed.D., GCDF, PgMP

Chief Program Officer, College Now Greater Cleveland; CEO and Principal, Global Learning Solutions, LLC



Vice President

Tyson Mitchell, JD/LLM



Email: LinkedIn:


Email: LinkedIn:

2 | WINTER 2023
Please join us in congratulating our new slate of leadership!
Diversity, Equity
Keesha Salters, SHRM-SCP Director,
Victoria’s Secret & Co.
Treasurer Paul Farrington Senior Manufacturing Financial Analyst Pentair
Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity, City of Cleveland | 3 CONTENTS WINTER 2023 • VOL. 2 • ISSUE 4 Black History 365: History Makers & History Shapers Keep it Warm and Fashionable This Winter by Charron Leeper 13 Health Disparities Series: Improving Our Health Literacy is Essential to Improving Our Health Outcomes by Charles Modlin, MD, MBA 18 11 8 4 Surefire Ways to Nail Your New Year’s Resolutions in 2023 by Jennifer Wainwright Thank You Volunteers! 42nd Annual Gala a Resounding Success! 35 COVER STORY 29 by Montrie Rucker Adams, APR Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Any Progress? by Montrie Rucker Adams, APR 30 VIP Reception & Professional Night Out Holiday Mix & Mingle 33 Take the next step in your philanthropy and make an impact in your community by Terri Bradford Eason 39 Inflation Protection by LaRese Purnell 22 The Change You Wish to See 24 BPACF Professional Profiles 41 Leveraging Technology to Manage Your Professional & Personal Life by Courtney Harris 14 Buy That House! Don't Hesitate on the Real Estate Market by Andrea Wilson 17 BPACF News: BPACF Scholars: Reflections on the Journey 34
4 | WINTER 2023 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 Jennifer Coiley Dial Coy Lee Media, LLC EXECUTIVE PHOTOGRAPHER / PHOTO EDITOR Alvin Smith Black in Cleveland ADVERTISING / SALES MANAGER Charron Leeper EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Laurie Murphy, MBA, MPH, MS BPACF OFFICE ADMINISTRATOR Adrianne Sims BPACF MEDIA RELATIONS COORDINATOR James W. Wade, III BPACF Subscribe for free at: A quarterly publication of the Black Professionals Association Charitable Foundation (BPACF), 11327 Shaker Blvd., Suite #400, Cleveland, OH 44104 MAGAZINE PRODUCTION: Coy Lee Media, LLC 3 Severance Circle #18496 Cleveland, OH 44118 Short Stack Printing 4425 Renaissance Parkway Cleveland, OH 44128
rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be distributed electronically, reproduced or duplicated in
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of the publisher. The Black Professional Follow BPACF on social: @bpacf @bpacf @bpacf1985 Click here to subscribe now!
2022-23. All



It’s our final issue of 2022, and it has been a complete honor to inspire, inform and entertain you. As we close out this year, it is important to look back on all the wonderful things we’ve been able to accomplish individually and collectively.

It’s an important time to celebrate our successes, spend time with those we love and enjoy some much-needed down time. During this time of reflection, it is equally vital that we reflect on the pivotal moments that were not so pleasant to experience and watch. We must learn from those moments, and work to ensure those stains on our lives, community and world are never repeated. Good, bad, and ugly... history was made and will be studied for generations to come.

George Santayana is credited with the famous quote, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Our Country continues to repeat the parts of our history that perpetuates the disparities, inequities, and injustices amongst Blacks. We will not forget.

We will forever say the names of all the heros our community lost to senseless violence. I am crazy enough to believe that together we can stop this part of history from repeating itself.

I’m inspired by women like Da’na Langford, Jazmin Long and Veranda Rodgers who are Black women leading the charge to breakdown the health disparities for Black women and babies in the Black Community.

I am also inspired by the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) executives like Kathryn M. Hall and Alan K. Nevel, leading the DE&I efforts at their respective companies. Finally, I’m inspired by leaders and individuals like you and those we profiled, impacting positive change in your respective homes, workplaces, and communities.

As always, in our Winter issue, readers will journey with inspirational contributors who motivate us to reach further in our personal and professional lives. Take a creative look at high fashion, then celebrate the Black leaders in our community that are leading the charge of change and equity.

Our Winter issue has great variety and deep content that will be great to cozy up by the fireplace, with some hot cocoa and read, while the snow falls.

Don’t leave 2022 the same and don’t go into 2023 unchanged. Repeating some of the ugliest parts of our past is not an option. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than the things you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain.

From our Family at Black Professionals Association Charitable Foundation to Your Family... Happy Holidays, Blessings, Peace, Joy, and Prosperity!

Meltrice D. Sharp, CPA President, Board of Trustees, BPACF | 5
I’m Inspired!


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Charron Leeper Fashion Entrepreneur Charles Modlin, MD, MBA Medical Director Office of Inclusion, Diversity & Equity The MetroHealth System Jennifer Wainwright Writer, fitness enthusiast Andrea Wilson, MBA Broker Brick House Realty Terri Bradford Eason Senior Director, Advancement Equity Initiatives The Cleveland Foundation
Interested in writing for The Black Professional? Contact
LaRese Purnell, MBA Managing Partner, CLE Consulting Firm
Connect with us!
Courtney Lynn Harris Visual Branding Strategist Web & Graphic Designer Owner of Courtney Creative Studio



It has a been 20 years since I was “inducted” into Crains’ Cleveland Business’ 40 Under Forty Club. There were five African Americans that year (only four in the first class in 1991). I was floored when their 2022 issue boasted at least 16 people of color. That’s a 180 percent increase. While I am happy Crains’ is making progress, our nation has a lot of work to do.

As I watch what’s happening in our current diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) landscape, I’m hopeful.

The Woman King and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever are two of the best movies I have seen in years. The big screen harnessed the power of the Black woman. Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis played a powerful role as General Nanisca, the leader of the all-female Adojie warriors. Their job was to protect the African Kingdon of Dahomy in the 1800s from rival kingdoms and the threat of slavery. These Black women were disciplined, fierce, focused, physically powerful, and uncompromising.

Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o and Dominique Thorne were four powerhouses in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. I was mesmerized watching their superior Blackness in all forms: Vision, leadership, combat skills, compassion, and superb intelligence. If you haven’t seen them, put these movies on your “must see” list.

I was reminded of these movies when I wrote “The Change You Wish to See” (page 24). Like the characters, the women who lead The Village of Healing Center, Birthing Beautiful Communities and Pregnant with Possibilities Resource Center are fierce and passionately determined. They recognized the health disparities Black women face. Instead of lamenting about what is, they are fighting to change the outcomes of the social determinants of health as they lead these much-needed community organizations. Da’na

Langford, Tenisha Gaines, Jazmin Long and Veranda Rodgers are visionaries. They are fighting for health equity for the Black women they serve and the communities in which they live.

When I graduated from college, happy-go-lucky armed with a BA from Baldwin Wallace University, I went on numerous interviews and sent hundreds of letters. There were very few corporate diversity programs seeking young diverse talent. Even more, there were even fewer African Americans in positions to hire or even recommend or make referrals. I moved around the country seeking employment. Looking back, those were stressful times. One positive situation that came out of our COVID experience is that employees now have various career options.

“Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Any Progress?” is a follow up to our first 2021 diversity issue. We circled back to six of the companies we profiled. We wanted to see if there had been progress, or…if those who are charged with DE&I feel that their work is meaningless and in vain.

Of those who responded, DE&I efforts in their organizations are taken seriously. For organizations where it’s not, it starts from the top, at the board of directors’ level as one respondent noted. Righting centuries old wrongs is not a quick fix. One report from the Corporation for Enterprise Development states that, “It will take African American families 228 years for their household wealth to reach that of white families.”

Yes, I am hopeful. Knowing that there are people dedicated to making strides in the areas of DE&I, whether it’s in the workplace or in our communities, gives me hope.

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

NOTE: We’re always looking for good writers. If interested, please contact me at | 7
I’m Hopeful
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“A new year is like a blank book, andthepenisinourhands.It’sour chance to write a beautiful story forourselves.” –Anonymous

4 Surefire Ways

to Nail Your New Year's Resolutions in 2023

Ready or not, a new year is here. While some cynics have bemoaned the efficacy of New Year’s Resolutions in recent years, there’s nothing like the fresh energy of a new year to reset, recalibrate, and reimagine another kind of existence for yourself and those with whom you share your life.

You may need a little help, though, and there’s no shame in that. This is especially true if you’re trying to live a more intentional life, whether it’s losing weight, saving money, or getting organized—starting strong and finishing well can be a challenge.

So, while many of us know better than to give in to the temptation of flouting New Year’s Resolutions simply because they’re a little cliché, just how do you make them stick? Here are four surefire ways to make your resolutions a reality in 2023.

For your resolutions to be sustainable, they must be specific, small, satisfying, systematic, and synergistic. Plenty has been said, resaid, and said again on why specificity is important when it comes to setting goals; I dare not bore you with restating the restated here. What I will say is that the more detailed and granular you get with your resolutions, the better your odds of success, which leads us to number 1.


Make them small, as small = doable. To sustain any resolution, it must feel achievable. If the goal is to read more in 2023, rather than target a certain number of books per year, strive for a certain number of minutes per day. Minutes-per-day is a much more straightforward metric to track, and won’t give you as much wiggle room to weasel out of your commitment to yourself.

For example, if you set a resolution to read one book per month, you can easily forfeit a daily reading habit by telling yourself you have all month to complete the book, a procrastination trap.

However, if the goal is ten minutes per day, the longest you can procrastinate without completely shirking your responsibility to yourself is ten minutes before bedtime, thus daily accountability is built into the resolution. (Accountability is also important, but that’s a topic for a different article.)

Further, ten minutes is small enough to reassure your ego that it can be done, yet significant enough to foster progress. The certainty of progress amounts to another reassurance for your ego, who’s always on the hunt for ways to keep you safe, even from wasting your own time.

Make them satisfying. The resolutions you set must be synonymous with what you want for yourself. While it may please you to witness your mom’s pride when you tell her you’ve decided to go back to school after years of her encouraging you to do so, the gratification will be temporary—for both of you. Neither her will, nor your trepidation about how let down she might feel if you quit, will be sufficient motivators for you to stick it out when things get thick. Only the value you’ve personally assigned to the effort can do that.

3. Make them systematic. Design a routine, ritual, or regimen around whatever new habit you’re trying to cultivate. Let’s say it’s meditation; build it into a practice you already have. For example, if you take a daily lunch (and you should, even if you choose not to eat), use the first five minutes of your break as your mindfulness time, then eat, then check in with your friend who is also on her lunch break, then do a brisk five-minute walk. Boom. There’s your system, a series of steps you take every day, at approximately the same time and most often in the same place, to make sure you are consciously creating the experiences that matter to you.

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And finally, make them synergistic. Aim for harmonious habits, ones that will ebb and flow naturally with your environment—this includes your relationships, recreation, and the rhythms that require your presence. If you want to quit your job and pursue your dream of being an actor, converse with your partner about what kind of sacrifices you’ll both be required to make. Consider how those who love and depend on you will be affected. Will this new pursuit enrich the ecosystem of your life, balancing the challenge of something new with the joy of something worthy? Or overcrowd it, where every person and practice must compete for space and significance? If it’s the former, go full speed ahead. If it’s the latter, proceed with caution.

From personal experience, I can tell you that if you integrate these

jfour tips into your resolution-setting practice, the likelihood of your success will be nearly guaranteed. Even if your intentions for the new year involve no more than making your bed every morning and flossing after every meal, if you apply these four principles, your bedroom will be neater, and your teeth will be cleaner.

However, the advice above doesn’t even begin to delve into deeper issues of what it means to be a person who is whole enough to take yourself seriously and set goals. We can’t grow into who we want to be if we aren’t already present with who we’ve been—advancing with awareness is key. Furthermore, our personal values, coupled with the relationships that help us actualize them, are instrumental in keeping us oriented in the right direction.

But let’s not get too deep here. We’re talking about resolutions, not enlightenment.

So, choose two or three of your fa vorite resolutions and create a plan at home and at work to maintain them. Set clear boundaries—do not breach them or allow others to.

Finally, let’s not forget to congratu late ourselves for the extra effort we’re making, and resolve to never take it for granted. Here’s to 2023 bringing you everything you can’t wait to see in it.

Jennifer Wainwright is a writer who is passionate about storytelling, find ing the joy in every experience, and encouraging others to do the work to become the best version of themselves.

Happy New Year!

The Black Professional magazine is looking for people like you to write for us. If you have a passion for one of our quarterly columns, please consider joining our writing team.

Columns include: Marketing & Social Media Mental Well Being Health / Health Literacy Finances / Financial Literacy

Travel • Real Estate • Food Fashion Trends Philanthropy Politics/ Political Literacy Microagression & Antiracism

If one of these topics doesn’t move you, we’re always open to exploring more.

BPACF is a non-profit volunteer-driven organization, so we cannot provide monetary compensation. You will receive byline recognition, and an opportunity for 5,000+ people to receive your article and experience.

Interested? Please click here to submit your information. We look forward to having you contribute to our magazine.

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History Makers & History Shapers

At the BPACF, we recognize that contributions from Black people are not relegated to just the 28 days in February when we celebrate Black History Month. We do our society a disservice if we only take one month to educate and celebrate the many contributions Black people made and continue to make. In this Winter 2022-23 issue, we present Mr. George Fraser as our History Maker. Ms. Vanessa Whiting is our History Shaper, who is making history now. We hope you are inspired by their contributions and see yourself as one who is making history.

In 2011 Fraser was inducted into the Minority Business Hall of Fame and Museum. He has been awarded over 350 awards and citations from around the world including three Honorary Doctorates, a Chaplain cy, and an Ambassadorship. He has hosted the popular PowerNetwork ing Conference for over 15 years. In 2015, the PowerNetworking Confer ence was elected by Forbes Magazine as one of "The Top 5 Conferences Not to be Missed by Entrepreneurs."

FraserNet, Inc. is an award winning over 32-year-old global leadership network of 91,000 Black professionals, business owners and community leaders. The goals of FraserNet are to:

History Maker

Dr. George Fraser is a Cleveland-based author, entrepreneur and speaker who focuses on improving networking skills, building wealth, and improving diversity and inclusion. He is a staunch supporter of economic and business development, specifically in the Black community.

• Help Black people build wealth that can be transferred inter-generationally.

• Help Black people become the number one employer of Black people in the 21st century

• Facilitate building a global network of Africans throughout the diaspora who's focus is personal and business excellence and use it to build partnerships, joint ventures and strategic

role modeling for people of African descent.

In 2019 Fraser launched WINDS: Wealth Building Centers and Curriculum, a faith-based and organizational initiative to provide Black people financial education.

He launched FraserNation, described as a nation without physical boundaries, borders or barriers. “We are affiliated with continental African descendants, their extended family throughout the diaspora and eons of African Ancestors that preceded them. Our slogan is ‘Freedom, Unity, Progress for All.’” | 11
Dr. George Fraser FraserNet, Inc.

History Shaper

Vanessa L. Whiting, Esq. ident of A.E.S. Management Corpo ration, a Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen franchisee in Northeast Ohio. A.E.S. Management Corp. employs over 350 Cuyahoga and Summit County residents at its 15 Popeyes locations, giving workforce experience to those in our community. After the death of her late husband Anthony E. Smith, the founder of A.E.S. Management Corp., Whiting took the helm and has served as CEO since November 2014.

Whiting is also an attorney and has extensive experience in economic and community development law, real estate law, tax credit law, public finance, and small business enter prise law. She has frequently served as counsel to lenders, developers, and business owners. She has also served as both bond and underwrit er’s counsel. Whiting has served as a consultant on numerous low-income housing tax credit projects, conven tional market rate housing projects and commercial retail developments. She has been recognized by Northeast Ohio Live (ital) as one of the top 100 attorneys in the State of Ohio. Whiting is also a real estate developer and is working on several development projects.

Whiting was an associate at the law firms of Bryan, Cave, St. Louis, MO and at Calfee Halter, Cleveland, OH. She established her own firm in 1995 and practiced as a sole practitioner until 2007 when she became a partner at the law firm of Roetzel & Andress, Cleveland, OH. She reestablished her firm in 2011 and con-

tinued to assist clients in revitalizing Cleveland’s neighborhoods. While practicing law, Whiting was licensed in the states of Missouri, Ohio, Illi nois and the District of Columbia. She still maintains her Ohio license.

She is the Board of Chair of the MetroHealth System where she has also served as Chair of the Diversi ty & Inclusion Committee, the Legal and Government Relations Commit tee, the Governance Committee and Board Secretary. In 2012, Whiting successfully led the effort to estab lish a diversity and inclusion Board Committee at MetroHealth. She is also a member of the Cuyahoga Community College Foundation Board, the Board of Directors of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, the Board of Directors of Cleveland State University, and the Board of Direc

the Cleveland Branch NAACP and a sion Committee, served as a mentor, and is currently Chair of the Personnel Committee. Whiting has taught Sunday School and Chaired the Faith Formation Committee.

Most recent awards include in 2021 The Cleveland YWCA Women of Achievement and the Maltz Museum Heritage Award, Black Professional of the Year, 2019, and Women of Color Hall of Fame.

She is the mother of three adult children, Taylor, Lorin and Anthony Smith, II.

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Vanessa A.E.S. Management Corporation dba Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen

Keep It Warm & Fashionable

This Winter

A guide to achieving great looks without compromising comfort

When the winter months hit so do the pounds and the layers, especially if you live in the Midwest. Here is a quick guide to hit these cold streets in the hottest looks.

Your first step in ensuring your winter wardrobe works for you is to make an investment in quality outer wear. This includes classic wool trench coats and cropped puffers. You don’t need to break the bank for these. Target and Zara have a quality selection of these coats for an affordable price that will keep you warm and stylish all winter.

Secondly, we all may not remember the days when we wore onesie’s but as an adult, we affectionately call them jumpsuits. They should absolutely be a part of your winter wardrobe! Long sleeves, fleece lined or nicely cut corduroy jumpsuits are a must have in your wardrobe. Layer these with a thick scarf, hat and trench and you are out of the door. A few places to find some of these jumpsuits also at Target, Athleta, and Free People.

Lastly, the third staple you need in your winter wardrobe is thigh high black combat boots. These boots are versatile and can be worn casually or with more elevated looks. Some great examples of these are Aldo’s GrandMode boot. If you are looking luxury, try Versace’s Leonidas Thigh High Boots.

Just because it’s cold, doesn’t mean you can’t be stylish. Try out some of these ideas or create your own. Either way, be hot this winter.

Charron Leeper is a freelance wordrobe stylist and fashion entrepreneur. | 13

Leveraging Technology to Manage Your Professional and Personal Life

You’re probably juggling a lot of balls right now - work projects, family responsibilities, social engagements, and on and on. It can feel like you’re constantly spinning plates, and sometimes it feels impossible to keep them all in the air.

Technology can be a huge help when it comes to managing your professional and personal life. By using the right tools, you can take some of the burdens off your shoulders and make your life a little bit easier. In this article, we’ll explore a few different ways to use technology to manage your time and responsibilities.

We’ll look at ways to improve communication with your co-workers, stay organized, and reduce stress. Technology has come a long way, and there are plenty of tools out there that can make your life easier. So read on, and see how you can start leveraging technology to manage your (business/work/personal) life.

Work-Life Balance

Do you ever feel like you’re always working? That there’s never enough time in the day to get everything done? You’re not alone. In today’s high-tech world, it can be tough to find the work-life balance we all crave. But it’s not impossible.

There are several tools and technologies that can help us manage our

professional and personal lives more efficiently. For example, using a calendar app to keep track of your appointments can help you stay on top of your schedule.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, there are apps that can help you organize your tasks and priorities. By using these tools, we can take control of our lives and create the work-life balance we deserve.

Leveraging Technology in the Workplace

You’re probably using technology to manage your work life, but are you using it to its full potential?

Let’s look at some of the ways you can leverage technology to get ahead in your career. First, there’s email. Are you using folders and labels to keep your inbox neat and organized? This is a great way to keep track of what’s important and what can be dealt with later.

And speaking of email, are you using templates to save time on formatting and drafting messages? This is a great way to ensure consistency in your communication style.

What about social media? Are you using LinkedIn to build your professional network? Are you using Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp for business communications? There are

so many ways to use technology to make your work life easier.

Automating Your Workflow

Are you tired of doing the same tasks over and over again? Well, there’s good news: There are plenty of tools out there that can help automate your workflow, making your life a whole lot easier.

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Technology can be a huge help when it comes to managing your professional and personal life. By using the right tools, you can take some of the burdens off your shoulders and make your life a little bit easier. | 15

For example, let’s say you’re a business owner. You can use software to help you manage your finances, keep track of your inventory, and more. And if you’re a busy professional, there are plenty of apps that can help you stay organized and on top of your game.

There are also tools that can help you manage your personal life. For example, there are now apps that can help you keep track of your spending, your calories, and even your fertility!

The bottom line is that technology has come a long way, and there’s something out there to help you manage just about anything. So don’t be afraid to leverage it to make your life easier!

Managing Your Digital Presence

You know that technology is constantly evolving and that you need to stay ahead of the curve to keep up with the latest trends. But it’s not just about using the latest and greatest gadgets and tools. It’s also about using them in the right way.

For example, you may be using social media to stay in touch with your friends and family, but you can also use it to stay connected with your professional network. LinkedIn is a great example of a platform that can help you do both. You can use it to reconnect with old colleagues, find new opportunities, and build your brand.

The key is to use technology in a way that works for you. Figure out what tools and platforms work best for you and use them to your advantage. You’ll be amazed at how much easier life can be when you have the right tools at your fingertips.

Staying Secure Online

You’re probably familiar with the importance of online security, but are you doing everything you can to protect yourself and your data? Here are a few tips to help keep you safe online:

• Create strong passwords and don’t use the same one for multiple accounts.

• Make sure your computer is up-todate with the latest security patches.

• Be careful about what information you share online

• Use a VPN when you’re working from public Wi-Fi networks.

• And finally, always remember that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t click on links or download files from unknown sources. Be especially cautious when it comes to emails from unfamiliar senders.

Track your projects and maximize productivity

Are you looking for a way to track your projects and maximize your productivity? Well, you’re in luck, because there are a number of tools out there that can help you do just that.

For example, there’s Evernote, which is a great way to keep all your notes in one place. You can also use it to create to-do lists and track your deadlines. And if you’re looking for a way to keep your inbox organized, check out Boomerang, which can help you schedule your emails and set alerts for follow-ups.

These are just a few examples of the types of tools that are available to help you manage your professional and personal life. The key is to find the

ones that work best for you and then use them to your advantage.

Strengthening Customer Connection and Satisfaction

It’s no secret that technology has changed the way we live and work. One of the great things about it is that we can use it to help manage our professional and personal lives.

For example, you can use technology to stay connected with your customers. You can send them automated emails, or set up a system where they can book appointments online. This makes it easy for them to connect with you, and it helps you stay organized.

You can also use technology to manage your time. There are lots of great tools out there that can help you stay on top of your schedule and keep track of your to-do list. This is a great way to stay organized and make sure you’re meeting your deadlines.

Technology has definitely made our lives a lot easier, and it’s something we should continue to leverage in order to make the most of our time.

You can use technology to manage both your professional and personal life, and there are lots of ways to do it. Talk to industry leaders about how they use technology, build a digital presence for business, automate workflow, and invest in cybersecurity. Doing these things can help you stay on top of your game and get ahead in life.

Courtney Harris is the owner of Courtney Creative Studio.

16 | WINTER 2023

Buy That House!

Buy the house! This is what I tell all my clients who are on the fence because interest rates have increased, and housing inventory is low. It is important for people to understand the importance of buying today for the home you plan to live in or if you want to build a rental portfolio.

The year 2023 is going to be one of the last few to purchase real estate at an affordable price.

Let me explain. Have you ever wondered how places like California have become so unaffordable? Yes, we know movie stars and beautiful weather play a part, but it is deeper than that. When you drive down the streets even in highly distressed neighborhoods in California it is hard to find a “For Sale” sign. Sure, there are signs in the front yards for local real estate companies, but in many cases those signs say, “For Lease.” Even the new construction homes say, “For Lease.” This is because real estate investors bought all the housing inventory long ago and are now controlling the housing market in California.

If you are reading this article, chances are you live in or around Northeast Ohio and you may be thinking the California market is across the map and has nothing to do with you. Wrong! Those investors have mas-

tered the real estate market and because no new real estate is being created in California (and many of those investors have been outpriced) they have decided to venture out and look at other areas where they can buy real estate at a lower price and rent the property out to the locals.

When the real estate market crashed in the early 2000s that was the first opportunity for many investors to enter the rental market. Many of the houses in foreclosure were in “move in” condition and investors were buying in bulk. Since the early 2000’s the Midwest has been an area of focus for real estate investors. Due to the lowcost housing inventory as it compares to other markets and strong stable rents, the Midwest is a prime area for investors.

Typically, how investments work is that “investors” see the vision long before it catches up to the public. They are slowly building quietly under the noses of the public, all while increasing rents and controlling the housing inventory. As a real estate professional, I am watching historically affordable first-time homebuyer neighborhoods such as Maple, Bedford and Garfield become less affordable and are more rental neighborhoods. I am also seeing move-up neighborhoods that typically neighbor these areas be-

coming out of reach for many buyers/ owners’ occupants who may be looking for better school districts or more land.

As the sales prices of homes continue to increase, and if employment wages do not increase at the same speed, families will have no choice but to rent because home ownership will become out of reach for many. Even in the cases of renting, families may have to look at smaller places to live to have affordable rents.

While housing prices are projected to cool off as we head into 2023, we still have a lack of housing inventory due to the slowdown of new builds and older housing inventory and increased population. When you combine the lack of housing and increased number of investors buying up housing in the marketplace, eventually these two things will catch up with each other and real estate investors and people who already own real estate will control the market.

continued on page 18 | 17
Don’t Hesitate on the Real Estate Market – Part I by Andrea Wilson

Buy That House!

continued from page 17

Housing is a necessity so people will have to figure out creative ways to afford housing. Going back to the California example above, it includes moving with roommates, buying multifamily houses, renting out rooms in your homes or working a second job.

The good thing is you still have time to secure your place in real estate by acting now and not waiting for real estate prices to increase. In 2023, housing prices are expected to increase by another two percent, but even with this news you should still buy. The increase is not going to go down anytime soon, it will continue to rise. If you can afford it now, do it.

Jeff Johnson, Real Estate Agent and Acquisition Manager at Simple Homebuyers, shares similar predictions:

“The US housing market is predicted to face a peripheral change in 2023. Home prices are not expected to fall, as the Federal Government will not be lowering interest rates. However, it will cause a minor escalation in housing prices of one to two percent.”

Source: housing-market-predictions-2023/

Health Disparities Series:

Improving Our Health Literacy is Essential to Improving Our Health Outcomes

African American populations (both adults and children), especially black males, suffer disproportionately from a variety of chronic disease states and health disparities, due to a variety of causes.

Examples of such health disparities in black populations include much higher incidence rates and poorer outcomes from hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, prostate, colon, lung, breast, and cervical cancers. These and other conditions, collectively contribute to a shorter life-expectancy in Blacks in comparison to whites in America. Life expectancy (2020) for Black people was only 71.8 years compared to 77.6 years for white people and 78.8 years for Hispanic people. Life expectancy was even lower for Black males at only 68 years (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2022).

ner-city Cleveland has a more than a 23 year-shorter life-expectancy than a person living merely five miles away in an affluent suburb such as Shaker Heights (Plain Dealer Newspaper, 2018).

Andrea Wilson, MBA, is the owner and a broker of Brick House Realty.

Hereditary predisposition does contribute to the higher rates of some of these conditions, combined with dietary and lifestyle/behavioral contributions, such as smoking and alcohol consumption. However, current research points to the fact that up to 80 percent of these health disparities are related to what is called the “social determinants of health” (Health Affairs Forefront, 2021). To illustrate this, life-expectancy data in Cuyahoga County demonstrates that a person’s zip code determines their life-expectancy more so than their genetic code. A person living in in-

Some examples of social determinants of health (SDOH), more commonly experienced by minority populations, include Poverty and unemployment, (which of course contributes to lack of access to quality health care); lack of transportation; living in food deserts and in toxic environments (air and water pollution as well as living in lead toxicity housing); racism; and the consequent chronic stress states caused by systemic and individually directed racism (overt and microaggressions). There is also historical distrust of the health care system which prohibits many minorities from seeking medical care or undergoing routine preventive health checks, and lack of education, which includes deficiencies in health literacy and more (Healthy People 2030).

We, as Black individuals, nor as Black communities, should accept the existence of these health disparities which afflict us. While the contributing causes of these health disparities may seem insurmountable and impossible to overcome, there are, in reality, several things that we as individuals and as communities can do, right now to improve the health outcomes of ourselves, our families and our communities.

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I will outline the many actions that each of us can take in a series of articles in this magazine, but I would like to highlight one important thing that each of us can do to improve our health outcomes and that is for each of us to improve upon our own and our family’s health literacy.

Of course, health providers need to do better in providing patients and the community with health information that they can read and interpret which is not filled with medical jargon.

1. “Nearly nine out of 10 adults struggle to understand and use personal and public health information when it’s filled with unfamiliar or complex terms.

2. Limited health literacy costs the healthcare system money and results in higher than necessary morbidity and mortality. Improving health literacy could prevent nearly 1 million hospital visits and save over $25


HEALTH AFFAIRS FOREFRONT. Finding Effective Ways To Address Social Determinants Of Health

Kaiser Family Foundation. Key Facts on Health and Health Care by Race and Ethnicity

Where you live determines how long you live. Plain Dealer Newspaper, 2018.

billion a year.” (Centers for Disease Control, 2021).

Nevertheless, we as individuals can also do more to understand what are the most important health screenings that we should undergo and at what age we should start getting screened for certain conditions.

One stark example is that Black males should start undergoing screenings for prostate cancer at the age of 40, as opposed to age 55 for white males. Whites should start screening earlier than age 55 if they have a strong family history. Black men need to start screening 15 years earlier than whites due to having twice the incidence and nearly twice the death rates from prostate cancer than whites.

All too often, as a urologist, I encounter and diagnose prostate cancer in Black men in more advanced stages that that seen in whites which underscores the importance that Black men (all men) need to become

Healthy People 2030: Social Determinants of Health.

Health Literacy. Health Literacy Talking Points. CDC. 2021. TellOthers.html#:~:text=Nearly%20nine%20out%20 of%2010,than%20necessary%20morbidity%20 and%20mortality

more health literate to understand the importance for them to undergo preventive health examinations and screenings for prostate cancer and other serious medical conditions that can be prevented or if detected early can be cured.

Health literacy is essential for every one of us to possess, because during some point during our lives, we need to possess the ability to obtain, interpret (understand), and utilize health information and access health services for ourselves and our families. In this age of the Internet, accessing medical information and improving our health literacy is much more accessible than ever before. Of course, some of the information contained on the Internet is not reliable, but there are many reliable sources one can access to improve their health literacy, their understanding about health conditions that run in their families. Some reliable websites that are replete with valuable health information include the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), American Cancer Society, National Kidney Foundation, American Heart & Stroke Association, American Diabetes Association, among many other legitimate and reputable websites.

Charles Modlin, MD, MBA is a kidney transplant surgeon, urologist, Black Professional of the Year, 2015 and the Medical Director of the Office of Inclusion, Diversity & Equity at The MetroHealth System. | 19

Meet Airica Steed


Dr. Airica Steed became MetroHealth’s President and CEO on December 5, 2022, a er serving as Executive Vice President/Chief Operating O cer of Sinai Chicago Health System and President of its agship Mount Sinai and Sinai Children’s Hospital.

In those roles, the fourth-generation nurse led a clinical, operational, nancial and cultural transformation that generated over $200 million in improvements while radically improving quality and reducing hospital-acquired infections and mortality rates by 40%.

In 2020, Modern Healthcare named Dr. Steed one of its “Top 25 Healthcare Innovators” and last year included her among the “Top 25 Minority Leaders.”

She brings to MetroHealth a passionate commitment to erasing health disparities. Dr. Steed has a Doctorate of Education in Leadership from Olivet Nazarene University, a Master of Business Administration from Governors State University, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Rush University and is pursuing a Master’s in Global Development with a focus on Healthcare from Harvard University Extension School.

20 | WINTER 2023


At MetroHealth, we believe every person in our community deserves access to high-quality care. Vision and innovation have brought us to this moment, and we’re excited to move forward with our President and CEO, Dr. Airica Steed. Dr. Steed—alongside the more than 8,000 dedicated providers, specialists, nurses, and sta who call MetroHealth home—will shape a future dedicated to a healthier community. | 21
Dr. Airica Steed, President & CEO MetroHealth
It’s about hope, equity, and a healthier community.

Inflation Protection

One thing I think we have all noticed is that people around us are hesitating to spend money. Based on the possibility of a recession, consumers are uncertain about the future of their current position and their employers’ goals. Making large and unnecessary purchases, even investing in what is perceived to be an unstable stock and real estate market, may not be wise.

What can’t be ignored is historically when our country has faced challenging times and financial concerns and pandemics, statistics have shown it was typically when the greatest number of millionaires were made, and billionaires made even more billions.

So, my advice to you is not do nothing but be mindful of your current finances and gain more respect for your money. Times like these are where we must ensure that we have a team of experienced advisors that can help guide us. Most importantly, consider hitting the reset button and shifting our mindsets.

I want to give you a few tips not only to deal with the current times, but to ensure that you finish 2023 strong and set a foundation for an even better 2024 and beyond. I have mentioned some of these tips before, year after year, and you have probably read them in other publications or books and have seen them shared on websites and on social platforms. As we enter 2023, I am encouraging you to not do what most people do. Don’t create another New Year’s resolu-

tion and by February it becomes a past thought .

1. The 401K and Roth IRA contribution amounts for 2023 have increased. If you are not enrolled in your employer’s plan, contact your HR department, and enroll today. At least contribute what your company is willing to match. Entrepreneurs have the option to create a simple IRA or a traditional IRA to ensure that you are creating future wealth while running your business. Also, if you are currently enrolled in a retirement plan, review your document by first opening the quarterly reports.

2. Hire a financial advisor that is a fiduciary to help you create a financial plan for your current and long-term goals. If your employer offers this assistance, meet with your designated advisor to discuss your portfolio. You can also contact your bank to set an appointment with a financial advisor.

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3. Look for opportunities to increase your earning potential: Gain additional education and training, apply for a higher or new role that will possibly allow you to negotiate a pay increase, get a second job, create another stream of income (real estate, online, etc.).

4. Create a budget to track how much you are spending each month. This will allow you to hold yourself more accountable for your spending habits. Cut out expenses for subscriptions, technology, and other items that you are not using. Utilize the 50/30/20 plan. This suggests that you should spend 50 percent of your budget on your needs, 30 percent on investing, tithing, and saving, and 20 percent on your wants. There may be a few drastic reductions to meet these numbers. Challenge yourself to live like no other for a one-year period.

5. Meet with an Estate Attorney to discuss wealth planning documents and strategies, trust agreements, wills, and other estate planning strategies.

6. Take advantage of the increased money market rates that are offered at your financial institutions. Visit to see who is paying the highest rates in your area.

Don’t let the inflation discussion deflate your financial bubble. Utilize the advice and expertise offered to make any necessary adjustments and moves that will impact you as you prepare to accomplish your financial goals and success.

You know what to do. It may not be easy but it’s necessary. Just don’t ignore what will take you longer to address in the future.

I wish you enormous success and many blessings with your finances!

LaRese Purnell is a Managing Partner at CLE Consulting Firm | 23

The Change You Wish to See

There is a popular quote by the Indian nationalist leader and nonviolence advocate Mahatma Ghandi: “Be the Change You Wish to See in the World.” Many have read and heard this legendary quote. However, there are very few who live by it.

Dr. Charles Modlin, Medical Director of the Office of Inclusion and Diversity at MetroHealth, who is providing a Health Disparities Series for our readership, mentioned the social determinants of health (SDOH) in his article “Improving Our Health Literacy is Essential to Improving Our Health Outcomes” (page 18). He writes about how the SDOH disproportionately affects the African American community. He states that the lack of quality health care is caused by “…the consequent chronic stress states caused by systemic and individually directed racism (overt and microaggressions). There is also historical distrust of the health care system which prohibits many minorities from seeking medical care or undergoing routine preventive health checks….”

African Americans have suffered for many years from systemic racism. A group of Cleveland-area women have stepped up to be the catalyst for change for women’s health.

Addressing the Issue Village of Healing Center

While participating in local community-based committees that were organized to address the racial disparities in maternal and infant health, Da’na Langford and Tenisha Gaines became disillusioned with what they experienced. Each had served a combination of over 26 years working in Cleveland’s healthcare systems. They knew what it took to reduce the dis-

parities Black women faced in the communities they served.

With the understanding that something had to change, in 2019 Langford and Gaines co-founded Village of Healing (VOH) and later opened the Village of Healing Center (VOH Center) in 2022.

The VOH Center opened its doors as the first and only OB/Gyn clinic designed by Black women for Black women, offering culturally sensitive care from a 100 percent Black provider team. The Center’s care model addresses long-standing multi-generational racial disparities in health care. Culturally sensitive, congruent care increases a woman’s opportunity for better health outcomes, reduces maternal complications and increases full-term deliveries that give infants a healthy start in their first year.

Birthing Beautiful Communities

In 2014, Birthing Beautiful Communities (BBC) was founded in the Glenville neighborhood by trained African American Perinatal Support Doulas (PSDs). Their mission: To “address and improve the systemic and community structures that lead to poor birth outcomes through culture, education, advocacy, support and engagement (CEASE).”

BBC goes beyond the traditional peripartum support model and addresses the SDOH and real-life circumstances that at-risk mothers face, making them vulnerable to infant mortality.

It serves as a hub to heal and empower families, equipping them with tools and resources to help increase the likelihood of infant survival up to and beyond their first year.

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by Montrie Rucker Adams, APR

Their model is to mobilize community residents and organizational partners to address the social, structural, and economic determinants of health and promote health equity.

Pregnant with Possibilities Resource Center

Pregnant with Possibilities Resource Center (PPRC) serves youth that are at-risk of premature pregnancies and women who are pregnant or parenting a child under age one.

Founded in 2015, PPRC’s mission is to provide culturally competent sexual health education, perinatal support, tools, and techniques that equip individuals to overcome barriers.

The staff is trained to give free and confidential individualized care. Whether their concerns are about risky sexual behaviors, basic primary needs, or how pregnancy will impact career or educational goals, PPRC offers much needed support.

PPRC’S vision focuses on empowering all to excel by encouraging healthy decisions which improve birth outcomes in the communities they serve. Their programs and services are research-based,

reflect best practices, and are designed by African American women for African American teens and young women living in Cleveland and its southeast suburbs.

Collaborating to Better Serve

It takes a village to save Black mothers and Black babies. –Veranda Rodgers

When asked about the three organizations’ collaboration, “For me, it made sense,” answered Da’Na M. Langford, CNM, who is a certified nurse midwife and VOH Center’s CEO and medical director. “I had worked with BBC doulas at University Hospitals (UH) which is where I was introduced to the infant mortality crisis.”

It was while at UH that Langford realized it was difficult to build much-needed relationships in a large hospital system. “Black women needed complementary care, which works for Black women. It’s a Black team-based care approach provided by a doula and a midwife.” Langford noticed that what was best for Black women they were not receiving in large medical environments. | 25
Pregnant with Possibilities Resource Center partner brunch: Tenisha Gaines (VOH), Jazmin Long (BBC), Veranda Rodgers, Dr. Heather Rice (Cleveland State University - Researcher), and Dana Langford (VOH).

“From the very beginning, when we were planning the center, we knew we wanted to work with BBC and PPRC,” she said.

By putting Black women in front of Black doulas, Black midwives, Black faces on the walls, from the front of the clinic to the back, Black women are continuously exposed to positive people and images who look like them.

Jazmin Long, BBC’s executive director since 2021 mentioned that often philanthropic organizations doing similar work absorb the others or are pitted against each other. “ ‘We fund so-and-so, but we won’t fund you.’ We wanted to come together to advocate for each other and show how collaboration really works,” said Long. “It’s how do we manage and navigate our work, not duplicating services, but they are complementary.”

“We are stronger together,” offers Veranda Rodgers PPRC’s executive director. “As African American women, serving African American women, we have to show unity and collaboration. African American organizations only received about five percent of philanthropic funding

and far too often one organization may be asked to be the ’token’ solution. Well guess what, individually we can’t be the solution, but collectively we have the bandwidth/ capacity to cast a wider net and create a greater impact,” she said.

Rodgers continues by adding that overall, together the three organizations:

• Save more lives, work better and more efficiently as a collective

• Collaborate to create opportunities

• Collectively solve for poor Black birth outcomes

The collaboration is described as a sustainable, collective model with comprehensive solutions for positive Black birth outcomes. This ecosystem allows the organizations to communicate to provide education, labor and delivery care/support, mental health tools and techniques and resources to address barriers. Overall, this model allows them to focus on Black families by building equity and breaking down systems that have for decades led to unfavorable outcomes.

Through collaboration, PPRC provides education and social

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support, VOHC delivers medical support and BBC offers perinatal support. They all render additional wraparound services.

Tackling the Social Determinants of Health

Black babies born in Cuyahoga County are four times more likely to die before their first birthday than white infants is the first thing you see on PPRC’s home page. It’s the SDOH that causes many Black families to not celebrate their child’s first birthday.

To help alleviate this problem, the three organizations have current and future plans to provide the following services to Black women who are pregnant and parenting:

Mental Health

A Black network of mental health therapists, psychiatric doctors, and nurse practitioners for Black mental health practitioners

Antepartum (Pregnancy)

• Black-owned hospital with Black providers focused on

sensitive care for Black patients. VOH has a five-to-sevenyear plan. BBC will include a birthing center unit.

• Identify and partner with home birth practices


• VOH to provide home care visits by a nurse for the first year

• Bereavement support

• Peer support for addiction

• Addiction support service referral network (2023)

• Black operated and run recovery agency (2025)


• Universal risk assessments, referral and intake forms, attitudes toward Black providers, etc.

• White papers and speaking engagements

Women’s Health

• Sexual health education research

• Pre-pregnancy planning

“So often our voices have been silenced, and decisions for our clients have been made by individuals who lack empathy and cultural understanding,” Rodgers said. “This col- | 27

laboration has allowed us the opportunity to define our lanes and hone in on our niche areas to build a powerhouse that saves Black babies.”

Desired Collaborative Outcomes

“I know life isn’t always perfect nor does it always have a happy ending, but if we can accomplish 95 percent successful birth outcomes, we’ve hit the mark,” said Rodgers.

“Studies show that Black newborn babies in the United States are more likely to survive childbirth if they are cared for by Black doctors. Building


a network of support for families from conception to postpartum care will combat the disparities that have plagued Black families. Also, we know that about 80 percent of pregnancy-related deaths were preventable, according to 2017-2019 data from Maternal Mortality Review Committees. If 95 percent of our clients have access to mental health services, we’ve changed a family’s future,” she continues.

As the Black women who run the Village of Healing Center, Birthing Beautiful Communities and Pregnant with Possibilities Resource Center strive to eliminate the centuries long SDOH in

Cleveland’s African American communities, Black families will become stronger, bolder and better able to be the catalyst for healthier Black communities.

“We will actively work to ensure that our clients are able to advocate for their health, that they are seen by Black providers and doulas, that they have Black community health workers and that they feel heard and seen,” adds Rodgers.

Rodgers concludes, “This is only the beginning. I can’t wait to see what the future holds. The only way is up from here.”

Black Newborns More Likely to Die When Looked After by White Doctors

Four in Five Pregnancy Related Deaths in the U.S. Are Preventable (MMRCs).

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The engine that fuels BPACF are our volunteers. This issue we want to recognize our fantastic 2022 Gala team who gave their time, talent, treasure and voices in support of our signature event that raises funds for student scholarships and youth programming. We want to recognize, thank and celebrate volunteers who chose to make a difference through service in support of the BPACF mission, vision and values. Job well done!

Administration Committee

Linda Briggs

Barbara Cooper

Remmie Crawford

Christal Crosby

Esha Hand Goodwin

Tobili Hatcher

Zoni Madison Adrianne Sims

Meredith Turner Evaluation Committee Tiffany Miller

Brenda Shepherd

Host & Hostess Committee

Dr. Roderick Adams

Angela Benton-Smith

Vanessa Hinton

Charlene Jones

Valerie Love

Logistics Committee

Marquita Benn

Linda Briggs

Brandi Burton

Crystal Davis

Pat Dorroh

Andrea Freeman

Dr. Deborah Hardy

Delores Moton

Raymond Moton Marketing Committee

Veranda Rodgers

James Wade

Peggy Woodson

Program Committee

Geeya Gibson Parker Ron Woodford

Special Events/Sponsorship


Marcella Brown Jazmin Long Laurie Murphy Tyniece Wingfield

BPACF Scholars

Cleveland State University LINK Program

Cleveland State University ESS Scholars Diamonds in the Rough Lakeland Community College Tri-C Mandel Scholars Academy

Volunteers at the 2022 BPACF Gala

Left to right (sitting): Vanessa Hinton, Pat Dorroh, Charlene Jones, Nancella Harris, Adrianne Sims, Barbara Cooper, Valerie Love, (standing) Remmie Crawford, Tobili Hatcher, Christal Crosby, Brandi Burton, Andrea Freeman, Marquita Benn, Delores Moton, Raymond Moton, Dr. Deborah Hardy. | 29

One year later, we’ve reached out to them again. This time we want to know if any progress has been made on their goals. Here’s what the respondents said:

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Any Progress?

In our first diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) issue, we profiled Cleveland-based organizations. In the article: 2022 –

The Year of Accountability for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, we reached out to DE&I professionals: Kevin Clayton, Kathryn Hall, Tonya Horn, Tyson Mitchell, Alan Nevel and Heather Clayton Terry to get their take on Cleveland’s DE&I climate. Our biggest question: How will you determine

for her expertise locally and nationally. Kathryn has been employed at JACK Entertainment for two years.

Did you meet your company's DE&I goals for 2022?

We are pleased to report that we exceeded many of our 2022 diversity and inclusion goals. Of particular note we successfully established and branded our program. We then educated every team member on the Diversity Pillars and the importance of why we have a program and how it should benefit them, our customers, and the community at large.

What were your biggest challenges in reaching your desired goals?

Kathryn has more than 20 years’ experience in the field of diversity, equity, and inclusion. She is passionate about helping others and deeply committed to the community. She is regarded as a leader in nontraditional approaches to inclusion and supplier diversity. She is frequently sought out

We provide numerous opportunities for our team to be involved in our efforts and to provide feedback. We tripled the number of boards that we serve on; we doubled the amount of community sponsorships that we provided; we increased the number of vendors that we engaged through our Supplier Diversity Program; while also rolling out engagements and professional development in the area of diversity and inclusion for our team. We were even fortunate to be named a Top Workplace for the fifth year in a row by our employees.

The Gaming industry is fast paced and always addressing several things at once. Our challenge is there are not enough hours in a day. As a 24/7 operation, we would love to provide additional engagements for our team. Those efforts always must be balanced with providing the best possible customer service to our guests. This is exasperated by the current state of a lack of applicants in the workplace. We always have at least 100 jobs available and would love to expand our diverse workforce. We know that our diversity contributes to the success that we are having as an industry and contributes to the innovation that we adopt daily.

Has the DE&I momentum slowed at your organization or in general?

Not at all. Diversity and inclusion are part of our company's core values. It is considered in most of our business practices and decisions. As we proceed to launch our new Sports Betting Division, betJACK, it has provided an opportunity to cast our inclusion net even wider.

Sports betting is new to Ohio and will

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Kathryn M. Hall Corporate Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion JACK Entertainment
your company’s success as it strives to reach its DE&I goals?

launch at midnight on January 1, 2023. It is an exciting time as we introduce to the residents of Northeast Ohio a new industry along with new career opportunities. Hiring hundreds of positions enables us to introduce new opportunities to a wide range of individuals of all persuasions. The diversity and inclusion of these new team members is uppermost in our minds.

What is new and relevant regarding DE&I since the last DE&I issue?

The challenge is keeping up with the demand for qualified diversity and inclusion professionals across all industries. For efforts to be successful, individuals who are charged with this work must (ital) be trained, educated, and qualified to do the work. It doesn't work when the job is merely another duty as assigned. Diversity and inclusion when done properly by qualified individuals adds value, innovation, and profit to the organization.

To be successful, what are the best DE&I practices that organizations should incorporate?

A successful program will ensure that the Board and executive leadership understand and support diversity, inclusion, and equity. Policies and their implementation must be fair and equitable for all. Company spend includes all types of businesses that reflect diverse vendors. Recruitment and hiring efforts cast a wide net to hire diverse individuals that add innovation and creativity to your company. Sponsorship and philanthropic dollars are supporting diverse organizations across your community. Succession planning considers a diverse team of candidates across your organization.

Overall, do you think the push for DE&I programs at many organi-

zations is sincere? Or are they just checking boxes?

I believe that most organizations are sincere in their efforts.

Please share other thoughts on DE&I initiatives at your organization or in general.

I am proud of our efforts in diversity and inclusion over the past year. We took our time to develop a program with extensive input from every area of our business. We branded the program and took the time to educate our team members on our efforts and how they play a major role in the success of our work. We solicited feedback and ideas that were included in strengthening our initiatives.

We have also ensured that diversity and inclusion was taken into account in every major area of our business. Of particular pride for us at JACK are our community efforts across a number of diverse communities in Northeast Ohio. We make sure that our sponsorship dollars and Board service is actually making a difference in significant ways.

Alan K. Nevel has over 25 years of experience in successfully guiding large Fortune 500 organizations in designing inclusive organizational cultures, systems and programs that enable business leaders to harness the power of diverse talent, thoughts, backgrounds and experiences to drive innovation, speed, productivity and growth.

For MetroHealth, he is responsible for defining the overarching vision, identity and strategy to ensure that equity is the underlying central principle in all that the system does.

Did you meet your company's DE&I goals for 2022?

Yes! We have had a great year in spite of many challenges, including the recent opening of two new hospitals: The Glick Center – Main Campus and the Behavioral Health and Addiction Hospital in Cleveland Heights. We also successfully launched our MultiCultural Health Centers of Excellence across multiple sub-specialties.

Has the DE&I momentum slowed at your organization or in general?

No, not at all. MetroHealth is committed to racial equity and inclusion and enhancing the culture by building a foundation of training that examines the history and the impact of race, racism, and the importance for cultural competency. We accomplish this in part through educating employees across the system and striving to sustain a culture of inclusion, diversity and equity in the workforce and to improve the wellbeing of the patients and the communities we serve.

To be successful, what are the best DE&I practices that organizations should incorporate? | 31

Build cultural competence at all levels of the organization. Exercise empathetic listening (both heart and mind). Provide a psychologically safe working environment where employees feel valued and are able to bring their whole selves to work on a daily basis without fear of discrimination, retaliation or retribution.

Overall, do you think the push for DE&I programs at many organizations is sincere? Or are they just checking boxes?

I honestly believe that the answer to this question is “it depends.” In my humble opinion, it really starts at the top. This work must be visibly and verbally championed at the Board of Directors’ level. It must be a true business imperative that can be measured both quantitatively as well as qualitatively or else it can literally whither on the vine.

Senior leadership must then own it and be held accountable for making the necessary changes in mindset, processes, and systems to eliminate the inequities and disparities that exist for their employees, customers (patients in the case of healthcare), as well as the communities in which we live and work.

There is a definite need for partnership and shared ownership across organizations and industry sectors to make the types of changes that will ensure equity for generations to come. Together, we have a moral stewardship and responsibility to address disparities in our community and eradicate historical and systematic barriers to provide quality healthcare to all.

Please share other thoughts on DE&I initiatives at your organization or in general.

I am most proud of the effort of my Office of Equity Team to gain the commitment of MetroHealth in recognizing systemic racism as a national health crisis and the work that has been and is currently being done to eradicate racism and health disparities within our health system.

goals for 2022.

Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation committed over $1 million to 7 universities. Promesa: Hispanic Higher Education Initiative, which will support Hispanic and Latinx students at seven colleges and universities (2023-25). With Promesa, Dominion Energy builds on a history of investment in educational institutions serving under-represented communities as we did in 2020 with the HBCU PromiseSM and earlier this year with the Building the Hispanic Talent InitiativeSM. Through these programs

Dominion Energy hopes to build a pipeline for diverse talent to enter the energy industry.

Additionally, our $10 million scholarship fund called the Educational Equity Scholarship program continues to provide scholarships to underrepresented students across the company's service territory.

What will be your biggest challenges reaching your goals?

Heather Clayton Terry is responsible for the company’s foundation, sponsorship and volunteer efforts across the state of Ohio. She also leads Dominion Energy’s Social Justice Grants Initiative, a commitment of $5 million over 24 months, to address the fundamental causes of systemic racism across the companies 15 state footprint (2020-22).

Terry also collaborates with Central State University and Wilberforce University to honor the HBCU PromiseSM, a commitment of $25 million over six years to 11 HBCU’s across the company’s footprint (2020-25).

Please explain your company's diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)

We successfully distributed our $5 million pledge for the Social Justice Grants Initiative in 24 months (202022). We are now tasked with issuing out surveys to our 60 grant recipients so that we can share with the community the outcomes of our leadership and community grants. Our biggest challenge will be to find creative and innovative ways to share how our initiative advanced social justice, promoted equity and fostered diversity and inclusion in the communities we serve.

What metrics will you use to gauge your success?

We will look at customer feedback, employee engagement as well as quantitative and qualitative data.

32 | WINTER 2023
Heather Clayton Terry Philanthropy Consultant Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation

BPACF Scholars: Reflections on the Journey

At the 42nd Gala, Chanya Byrd-Simpson and Keandre Graves, two BPACF Scholar graduating seniors shared their personal reflections on the journey to earning their undergraduate degrees.

Chanya Byrd-Simpson

College: Kent State University Major: Human Resource Management

2022 Internship: The NRP Group, Human Resources Department (Cleveland, OH)

Reflections on the BPACF Scholar Experience: BPACF has provided scholarships for my tuition, peer mentorship, networking with other professionals, assistance with resumes, mock interviews, and career readiness with internship opportunities. I would like to give a special thank you to BPACF staff for guiding me with my career decisions and internships.

What’s Next? I am seeking a fulltime position in Human Resource Management

LinkedIn: chayna-byrd-simpson-199611246/

Keandre Graves

College: Capital University Major: Intervention Specialist Education Reflections on the BPACF Scholar Experience: BPACF has helped me in various ways throughout my educational journey with mock interviews, resume assistance, scholarships, and internships. I am truly thankful for all the support and help I have been given.

What’s Next?

My plan following graduation is to obtain a basketball graduate assistant coaching position. I will also be working towards completing my master's degree in education administration or sports administration to help me get my foot in the door as a collegiate basketball coach.

Career Connect Internship Program Video Premieres at Gala | 33

VIP Reception & Professional Night Out Holiday Mix and Mingle

December 1, 2022, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Narsina Inspires Event Center, Beachwood, OH

BPACF VIPs came out to help shoot a video and mix and mingle at our yearend Professional Night Out. VIPs included BPACF honorees, Corporate Supporters, and Past Presidents. President Meltrice Sharp provided an overview of the new Legacy Champion Committee that will launch in 2023.

Members of the Legacy Committee will consist of individuals who are willing to give critical assistance, and whose interests, expertise and support are important to the Foundation, but have limited time to sit on the Board of Trustees. The 11 to 15 member committee that convenes twice a year will be composed of two board members, past honorees, past presidents, company/community champions, and early/mid-career professionals.

Focus areas of the Legacy Committee:

1. Support the Organization’s Goals and Objectives

2. Advise board leadership in specific subject matters

3. Participate in the nomination committee for signature awards

4. Inform and Support Strategy for Endowment Fund Planned Giving

Following the VIP Reception was the Professional Night Out Mix and Mingle that was open to the community with a photography station, DJ, and gift raffle. Many thanks to our stellar volunteers that included Patricia Dorroh, Andrea Freeman, Linda Jordan, Kermit Knight and Valen Wills.

We want to recognize our vendors who came together to make the evening memorable:

Bar Service: Signature Sipz; Catering: Pearl Flower; Entertainment: Spoonful of Entertainment DJ Service; Event Coordination: The Digital Wing; Graphics: Courtney Creative Studio; Photography & Videography: Wake Up Call Media; Venue: Narsina Inspires Event Center.

34 | WINTER 2023

42nd Anniversary Gala a Resounding Success!

BPACF is proud to announce the resounding success of its 42nd Anniversary Scholarship and Awards Gala & Black Professional of the Year Salute to Renee Tramble Richard, Esq., on Saturday, November 12, 2022. Taking place at Driftwood Catering at Landerhaven with sold out crowd of 625 guests, this incredible evening raised more than $300,000 for BPACP’s Emerging Professionals Programs for youth in Northeast Ohio. This includes a trio of offerings -the BPACF Scholars Program, the Career Connect Internship Program, and the College-to-Career Series.

During the VIP Reception sponsored by AES Management Corp and the General Reception sponsored by The Cleveland Browns Foundation, guests took turns posing before the BPACF step and repeat, grabbing a picture with BPOY Richard, and mingling with each other before the start of the dinner program.

Highlights of the dinner program revolved around the theme “Sowing Seeds for a Legacy of Promise” and included warm welcoming remarks by BPACF President Meltrice D. Sharp, personal remarks by Gala Co-Chairs Alex Johnson, PhD and Vanessa Whiting, Esq., as well as reflections on their college journey by BPACF Scholars Chayna Byrd-Simpson (Kent State University Senior) and Keandre Graves (Capital University Senior). The keynote provided by BPOY Richard was heartwarming, wisdom packed, encouraging and resonated with everyone in the room. Her words will not soon be forgotten.

“…The seeds of inclusivity, of kindness of mutual respect, of love, of encouragement, all lead to a legacy of promise. I am so grateful to have a God, a family, a community of all of you in this room, that have enabled a girl like me, from the inner-city neighborhood of Hough to sow seeds that have made a difference in someone’s life. That is why I am able to be at this podium this evening. I will always remember this year, this night, this honor. I am truly and forever grateful for all the warmness and kindness you have shown me during the journey to this evening. Thank you so much and may God Bless you all.”

The festivities were ushered in by Mistress of Ceremonies extraordinaire Carmen Blackwell from WKYC Studios, and the fabulously entertaining seven-piece band, Hubb’s Groove brought their unique sound to make the

night even more special. Guests were also treated to the award presentation of the BPOY Crystal Bowl, and premieres of the BPACF Career Connect Internship Program short video and the Honoree Video. At the conclusion of the event President Elect Michele Scott-Taylor and Vice President Elect Tyson Mitchell provided works of thanks and tokens of appreciation to Meltrice Sharp and Ramona Lowery for 10+ years of service and outstanding leadership on the BPACF Board.

We would like to thank everyone that supported our 42nd Gala! We are extremely grateful to our sponsors, donors, board members, students, volunteers, dignitaries and everyone that attended or watched the livestream. Your generosity of time, talent, and treasure in support of our students will make an incredible, indelible difference to their lives.

Gala Highlights Reel: Full Program: Honoree Video: Career Connect Internship Program:

| 35
BPACF President-Elect Michele Scott Taylor, Black Professional of the Year Renée Tramble Richard, Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, and BPACF President Meltrice Sharp


Dr. Alex Johnson

President Emeritus, Cuyahoga Community College

Vanessa L. Whiting, Esq. A.E.S. Management Corp.


Lewis Atkins

Roetzel & Andress

Michael Baston Cuyahoga Community College

Jack Bialosky Bialosky Cleveland

Laura Bloomberg Cleveland State University

Alexandria Johnson Boone GAP Communications Group

Akram Boutros The MetroHealth System

Michael Bowen Calfee

Shelly Cayette Weston Cleveland Cavaliers

JR Clark

Squire Patton Boggs

Kevin Clayton Cleveland Cavaliers

Joseph and Tammy Coney Retina Associates of Cleveland

Fred Cummings Elizabeth Park Capital Management

Joe DeRocco Fifth Third Bank

Trina Evans Key Bank

Umberto P. Fideli Fedeli Group

Lee Fisher Cleveland- Marshall College of Law

Sandra Fleming-Brooks United Health Group

Helen Forbes-Fields YWCA Greater Cleveland

Ann Frangos

Community Volunteer

Wesley H. Gillespie


Dee Haslam Cleveland Browns Foundation

David Heller The NRP Group

Andrea Hogben Medical Mutual

Ronald Holman II

Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP

Carole Hoover Hoover-Milstein

Claude Jones Care Alliance Health Center

Eric Kaler

Case Western Reserve Univ.

Alberta Lee Cleveland Cavaliers

Cecil Lipscomb United Black Fund

Steven McHale UnifyWork

Darrell McNair MVP Plastics

Randell McShepard RPM International Inc.

Teresa Metcalf Beasley McDonald-Hopkins Law Firm

Robyn Minter Smyers

Thompson Hine

Jeneen Marziani Bank of America

Marsha Mockabee

Urban League of Greater Cleveland

Frederick Nance Squire Patton Boggs LLP

Patrick Pastore PNC Bank

Jeffery Patterson

Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority

James Quincy III Lee Road Baptist Church

Albert Ratner RMS Investment Group

Neal Restivo Oatey Company

David Reynolds Key Bank

Ronn Richards

Cleveland Foundation

Victor & Danielle Ruiz Esperanza

Danielle Sydnor NAACP Cleveland Branch

Timothy L. Tramble, Sr. Saint Luke's Foundation

David Whitehead Retired, First Energy Sonali Wilson

Cleveland State University

Sheila Wright The Good Community Foundation


Presenting Sponsor St. Luke’s Foundation

Platinum Sponsor A.E.S. Management Corp

Gold Sponsors Cuyahoga Community College KeyBank RPM International VIP Reception Sponsor A.E.S. Management Corp. General Reception Sponsor The Cleveland Browns

Silver Sponsors Avery Dennison Brownstone LLC Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority Cleveland Department of Public Utilities

The Cleveland Foundation Fifth Third Bank FirstEnergy The Good Community Foundation Jabali Group Medical Mutual The NRP Group Oatey Co. PNC

Thompson Hine


WKYC Studios



Alpha Omega Foundation Inc. Ann Frangos

Francine Jasper Willie E. and Esther M. Jones Civic Champion

Roderick & Linda Adams

Florence Carter

Deborah Hardy

Donna Johnson

Carl Stitz

Change Agent

The Sweet Fix Bakery Robert & Allison Craig

Tyson Mitchell Laurie Murphy

Tanisha Taylor


Lynn Tisdale

Sharon Tisdale

Willie & Peggy Woodson

Community Supporter

David H. Adams, MD

Ethan Adams

Gary Adams

Marguerite Adams

Erica Brenner


Organizations & Institutions

Alpha Omega Foundation, Inc

Back to Beautiful

Landscaping, LLC

Carter Family Charitable Trust Cuyahoga Community College

Good Hair Good Body LLC

Key Bank

The Good Community Foundation

The MetroHealth System


Squire Patton Boggs LLP United Black Fund WKYC Studios


Arthur & Marilyn Baker

Dr. Laura Bloomberg

Michael Bowen

Arthur Childress

JR Clark

Joseph M. Coney, MD

Tammy Moore Coney

Paul Farrington

Rev. Bruce Gibson

Nancella W. Harris

Harold Harrison

Carole Hoover

Dr. Alex Johnson

Keesha Salters

Robyn Minter Smyers

Justice Melody J. Stewart

Marsha Mockabee

Frederick Nance

Neal Restivo

Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton David & Ruvene Whitehead

In Memoriam

In Loving Memory of Thomas A. Hamilton, Jr.

36 | WINTER 2023
Save the Date 43rd Annual Scholarship and Awards Gala Saturday, November 11, 2023 | 37
38 | WINTER 2023

Take the next step in your philanthropy and make an impact in your community

The end of the year is a time when people reflect on their values and experiences, plan for their futures, and give back to the people and causes they care about. As 2022 comes to a close and we look ahead to 2023, I have two questions for you: what changes do you want to see in the world, and what actions are you taking to realize them?

My advice is to start local and focus on the values and issues that are important to you and your community. The definition of philanthropy is a love of humanity. Whether you are giving your time, talent or treasure, philanthropy is inherently a social endeavor and an act of community.

The theme of this issue of The Black Professional Magazine is diversity, equity and inclusion, three values that are vital to a healthy and prosperous community. In my role at the Cleveland Foundation, I see firsthand the ways that philanthropists are advancing diversity, equity and inclusion through their giving, grantmaking, volunteering and more. I am a firm believer in the power of philanthropy to drive change, but it requires action on the part of individual philanthropists.

As a regular contributor to this magazine over the past year, I’ve shared my thoughts and insights on a number of topics related to the field of philanthropy – intergenerational giving; charitable strategies for small businesses; and the environmental, social and governance (ESG) framework in philanthropy – just to name a few. I hope you have found these articles useful or learned something new. Now, it’s time to put that learning into action.

Today, I’ll share a few best practices that can help you take the next step in your philanthropy:

1.) Start where you are. You may think you need a large sum of money to be philanthropic, but that’s simply not the case. Being philanthropic starts with your values and vision. You can take action now by defining your charitable values and vision. When the time is right, you’ll be prepared to give where it matters most to you. Your philanthropic approach might also depend on your stage of life. A young professional who is just starting to build their savings might prefer to volunteer their time at an organization that matters to them instead of making a big cash gift. On the other hand, an older adult with a retirement account might benefit from making a qualified charitable distribution directly to a nonprofit organization to avoid tax penalties.

2.) Make it personal. There is no one “right way” way to give back – each person’s approach to philanthropy is different. Some people prefer to leave money to charity in their will, while others like to give actively throughout their lifetime. The causes you support are also personal. Whether you want to support education, arts and culture, workforce development, the environment, racial equity and justice, or something else entirely, there are a number of outstanding organizations here in Greater Cleveland working in these areas. There are also a number of community funds, like the Say Yes to Education Scholarship Fund, where your contribution can support a number of different organizations and recipients over time. | 39

In addition to charitable gifts, it’s also possible to align your investments with your personal values. You should ask your financial advisor about opportunities for socially responsible investing. Many donors opt into socially responsible investment pools or racial equity investment pools, both of which offer customized ESG frameworks that screen investments for certain social criteria.

3.) Be strategic. Giving back is a selfless act, but you can do it in a way that achieves multiple goals – a win-win! For example, small businesses that give back to their community can raise their visibility among future customers or employees while strengthening their brand reputation. Someone who receives a windfall can use the extra money to contribute to a donor advised fund (DAF), receiving an immediate tax advantage while enjoying the flexibility to make grants from the fund at a later time. DAFs are especially useful during volatile economic conditions, allowing fund holders to contribute when their finances are strong and use the accumulated funds to continue their charitable giving during a bear market, inflation or other difficult economic conditions. It can pay to work closely with your lawyer or financial planner when exploring your charitable giving options to find an approach that works best for you.

4.) Focus on relationships. Philanthropy can be even more rewarding and impactful when you involve your family, friends and other people around you. Donor advised funds offer opportunities to name a family or friend as a donor advisor or successor. You can also invite your friends, family and broader network to make contributions to your donor advised fund as a gift or to mark a special occasion.

Recognizing the transformative power of relationships, the Cleveland Foundation recently launched a new program, Friends of the African American Philanthropy Committee (AAPC), which brings together people who want to support the AAPC by attending events, advocating for and promoting the AAPC among their networks, and volunteering or fundraising in support of the AAPC. Friends of the AAPC also provides special onramps for prospective donors to establish a fund at the foundation without the required minimum contribution that traditionally applies.

As you reflect on your philanthropic goals and options and prepare to act in 2023, reach out to our team at the Cleveland Foundation or other organizations that are ready to help you take your next step.

40 | WINTER 2023
Terri Bradford Eason is the Senior Director, Advancement Equity Initiatives at The Cleveland Foundation


The BPACF is all about highlighting and promoting Greater Cleveland professionals (hence, Black Professional Association). As the ranks of Black, Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) in corporations, nonprofit organizations, entrepreneurship, and government continue to grow, we are encouraged that change is happening. We are filling seats at all the tables. In our summer issue, we’re presenting 13 professionals who exemplify BPACF’s vision and mission. Please join us in cheering them on. Where you can support them, please show them lots of love.

byAtteraul Consulting provides brand development, project management, process improvement, and strategy development and execution services. To provide personalized customer solutions, byAtteraul begins with a comprehensive business review to understand its current state. It then devises a tailored plan to work toward reaching desired goals and outcomes.

What prompted you to choose your career?

I wanted to create a way to help small businesses with meeting their organizational needs. My professional background in public relations, marketing, and event management has allowed me to help clients envision the span of possibilities within their reach.

What have been some of your challenges?

Like most entrepreneurs, a challenge was simply getting started. I was concerned I needed everything to be in place and perfectly aligned. With the help of mentors, I learned that there is no perfect time to start, which allowed

me to gain the confidence to send my proposal to my first client. The fulfillment of helping other businesses and entrepreneurs continues to fuel me.

What is your superpower?

My superpower is adaptability. I have a strong ability to handle change adeptly, problem-solve quickly, and continue to earn new skills, which fuels my professional and personal development. These skills also allow me to remain positive when things are not going as expected.

What words of wisdom can you share?

I have cultivated many relationships that have positively impacted my personal and professional life. Building a meaningful cohort of friends and mentors has helped shape me into the person I am today. When I speak of my successes, I cannot help but pay tribute to my family for their continuous guidance and the amazing mentors who have poured into me through the years. My mantra is: “your network is your net worth.”

Dr. Kammeron Brissett is a third year resident who develops and manages treatment plans for pediatric patients in a variety of general and subspecialty inpatient and outpatient settings. She works under the supervision of a pediatric attending physician.

What prompted you to choose your career?

I love working with children and

originally entertained becoming an educator. However, I also developed a fascination for studying how the human body functions in times of health and disease. Pediatrics presents the opportunity to care for medical needs, serve as a role model, and advocate for a vulnerable but resilient population.

What have been some of your challenges?

Lauretta Y. Amanor, MPA byAtterual
LinkedIn: Lauretta Y. Amanor
Kammeron Brissett, MD 216-773-2960 beyondblesessed_md | 41

The academic transition from high school to college was challenging...I learned to surround myself with friends who had similar career aspirations, as well as to seek help. The next challenge came when it was time to study for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and apply to medical school. I became filled with doubt and anxiety about whether I could succeed in medical school and then a career in medicine. However, through much prayer, faith and the support of my family and friends, I overcame my fears and pursued my passion.

What is your superpower?

I can focus and eliminate/minimize

Kammile Brissett consults with business professionals to analyze their current marketing and communications plans. She explores enhancements that may aid in increasing clients’ return on investment or market share. Through strategic building and planning, she helps reach media relations goals by issuing press releases or adapting analytical software.

What prompted you to choose your career?

The ability to use my leadership, creativity, and communication skills to gain the attention and potential sale of consumers is what initially attracted me to marketing. In my undergraduate courses and work experiences, I was further enthused when learning about marketing tactics and analyzing consumer behavior. Marketing also forces me to stay abreast of new trends. Working together with clients to achieve their goals further encourages me to expand my repertoire of tools

distractions while remaining calm in all situations.

What words of wisdom can you share?

1. Focus on breaking long-term goals into smaller tasks that can be tackled one step/day at time.

2. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and will encourage you.

3. Remain humble, teachable, and approachable. Find mentors who can give you advice and support others who are trying to accomplish similar goals.

4. Find time to reflect and balance it all. Take care of your mental, spiritual, and physical health. It is impossible to care for others when you are not caring for yourself.

that may be used to garner their success. Through marketing, I can highlight my clients’ businesses' capabilities empowering them to new heights.

What have been some of your challenges?

After obtaining my bachelor’s degree, I initially was excited to enter the workforce. However, shortly thereafter, the Coronavirus pandemic altered my trajectory as businesses were implementing new procedures and restructuring their work model. To navigate this unexpected hurdle, I prayed, relied on the support of my family and mentors, and took any opportunity available to enhance my skills.

What is your superpower?

My superpower is the ability to adapt to any environment while forming and sustaining relationships with diverse groups of people. Connecting with others based on similarities and respecting differences allows me to gain

Kammile Brissett Media Relations Representative Cision PRNewswire 216-856-2613
42 | WINTER 2023

a broader perspective and enables me to better serve my clientele as well as develop personally.

What words of wisdom can you share?

Always stay true to who you are. Operating in your authentic self will always give you the best outcomes. When you know your values and live according to

Simaya Burton creates files cases, composes journal entries outlining hearing events, assigns case party roles as needed, and checks in each family when they arrive for their hearing.

What prompted you to choose your career?

I wanted to learn more about the American legal system before making the decision to attend law school.

What have been some of your challenges?

A challenge I've faced since starting this job is learning how to become a people person. My role requires me to interact with a lot of different people

Kierra Cotton is a three-time Emmy Award reporter and host. She reports and enterprises original content for all WKYC TV3’s platforms, serves as the co-host of “We the People” a weekly community advocacy show, and acts as the in-game host for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

What prompted you to choose your career?

In high school, I had a teacher that poured into me and took into account my skillset and interests and asked me if I’d ever thought of a career in broadcasting. From there, I shadowed at a local TV station and began pursuing it as a career path.

What have been some of your challenges?

them, you are able to bet on yourself.

Regardless of the situation that may arise to alter your steps, be tenacious in the pursuit of your ambitions, know you are your best advocate and have the power within you to allow you to persevere.

in different ways and that has been a challenge because I've always been very introverted.

What is your superpower?

I think my superpower is my resiliency. No matter what negativity tries to make its way into my life, I always find a way to push through.

What words of wisdom can you share?

Don't let the things that other people have to say stop you from doing what you want to do. There are plenty of people in our lives that will give us advice or try to discourage us from certain things, but at the end of the day, only you know what's best for you.

I think one of my biggest challenges is my struggle with imposter syndrome. I took a very non-traditional route to where I am today and sometimes it causes me to doubt myself in situations/positions where I know I have put in the work to be there.

What is your superpower?

I believe my superpower is my ability to persevere through adversity.

What words of wisdom can you share?

I know I’m not inventing the wheel when I say this, but my words of wisdom would be to ’Never quit your daydreams.’ If it’s something that you can’t stop thinking about, then it’s worth your time, effort, and dedication. With those things, anything is possible.

Kierra Cotton 216-647-5054 Instagram: KierraCotton_ Twitter: @KierraCotton
Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court 216-375-9331
Simaya Burton
Clerk | 43

Devontá Dickey is responsible for the planning, development, implementation, and management of all internal and external communications, community engagement initiatives, branding initiatives, and outreach activities.

Why did you choose your career?

I have always been drawn to the field of communication and marketing because it combines my passion for storytelling with my desire to connect with people. I believe that effective communication is the key to building relationships, whether it be between individuals or between a brand and its audience. I have always been fascinated by the power of words and the way they can be used to persuade, inform, and inspire.

I decided to pursue a career in communications and marketing because I wanted to be able to use my skills and talents to make a positive impact on the world.

What have been some of your challenges?

Some challenges include keeping up with the ever-evolving communications and marketing trends, encouraging myself to establish a work-life balance, prioritizing mental health, and overcoming imposter syndrome.

What is your Superpower? Tenacity and translation.

Who inspires you? Who are your role models?

My parents and youth inspire me. My role models are my mentors, my parents, Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama, and Malcolm Gladwell.

What personal/professional advice do you have for our readers?

As Brené Brown said, "Vulnerability is not weakness; it's our most accurate measure of courage." My personal and professional advice is to dare to be vulnerable and courageous.

Samuel Jordan is responsible for providing the highest level of customer service to MGM International Resorts guests. For consumer feedback, he participates in direct engagement on leading review sites, social media platforms and other online channels.

What prompted you to choose your career?

Through experience and commitment to finding my purpose in life, I was able to identify my passion for people. A passion that wants to see people progress in life as well as help problem solve conflicts they my experience, whether it’s personally or professionally.

What have been some of your challenges?

I was raised in a single parent household following the tragic death of my father when I was five years old. Grow-

ing up in this circumstance required me to grow up very fast and be able to adapt to my surroundings very quickly. However, because of these conditions, I was able to learn what it was to “figure it out” and realize even if I don’t have the answers, the most important thing is to find the person who does.

What is your superpower?

My faith is my superpower! Growing up in the African American church, I was taught in order to go where you want to go in life, you need a sound foundation that gives you something to believe in when you can’t believe in yourself! My faith has grounded and shaped me into the person I am today.

What words of wisdom can you share? “We can have more than we’ve got because we can become more than we are.” — Jim Rohn

Samuel Jordan MGM International Resorts 216-673-0949 Instagram & Tiktok- Slj.216 Facebook- Samuel Jordan
The Saint Luke’s Foundation 773-816-3307
Devontá Dickey
44 | WINTER 2023

Alexandria Keller 216-407-5936

https://alexandriakeller82.wixsite. com/website

Facebook: alexandria.keller.927 LinkedIn: alexandria-keller

Alexandria Keller is a writer who, under award-winning author and food historian Toni Tipton Martin, researches and writes about advances of African Americans in culinary arts. Keller also manages projects for the Toni Tipton Martin Foundation by mentoring young women in food writing. She helps her mother, award-winning writer Margaret Bernstein boost child literacy by sharing her children’s books that celebrate fathers of color.

What prompted you to choose your career?

For two decades I resisted becoming a writer mainly because that was my mother’s occupation, and I was hellbent on making a unique identity for myself. But...having a mother who always guided me through writing projects, taught me how to correct myself, and develop my ability to craft strong stories.

What have been some of your challenges?

Load management and self-advocacy.

What is your superpower?

Trusting. I try to still my mind and become as open as I can to whatever is coming next.

What words of wisdom can you share?

*Forgiving keeps you nimble/young. *Water, sleep, and turmeric root will change your skin’s life.

*I realized in a yoga meditation that life is but a culmination of moments... strung together in a little line. Be grateful for each moment.

*Radical Acceptance: Practice being “okay” with everything as it comes up (“good” or “bad”).

*ASK FOR HELP when you need it. *Monks are perceived as quiet. I learned from former monk Jay Shetty that it’s because they’re taught to use their words extremely wisely before speaking.

Sherman D. Lee is responsible for creating and maintaining purposeful business opportunities and relationships that align with MetroHealth’s mission and strategic initiatives. He provides visionary and innovative leadership to empower cross functional and cross organizational teams to achieve MetroHealth’s goals. Lee identifies risks as well as opportunities to accomplish goals and desired outcomes.

What prompted you to choose your career?

At the core of my career decision was

the ability to make a difference in the lives of those around me. Healthcare is an industry that allows numerous opportunities to impact the outcome of those we serve. Healthcare crosses several industries and the unlimited possibilities for improving the care of our communities.

What have been some of your challenges?

When I graduated from college, I couldn’t find a job, so I decided to go to grad school immediately following graduation. Even after receiving my

Sherman D. Lee, MHA Principal, Strategic Operations The MetroHealth System 216-410-6879 sherman-lee-6565056/ | 45

Tiffany Short, M.S., SPHR Director, Community Education and Workforce Development 216-203-9361 tiffanymshort

master’s degree, it took a while before receiving my initial job offer, but through tenacity and prayer, I persevered.

What is your superpower?

I have two superpowers, discernment and empathy. I believe both discernment and empathy have assisted me throughout my career and in life. As healthcare stewards, we’re responsible for meeting people in their most

vulnerable state, so it’s imperative that we approach our patients with compassion, empathy, and discernment. We must take the time to put ourselves in their shoes to ensure we’re giving them the best possible care and experience.

What words of wisdom can you share? The race is not given to the swift nor the strong but he who endures until the end, therefore remain steadfast.

Tiffany Short serves as the Director of Community Education and Workforce Development at MetroHealth. responsible for creating career pipelines into the MetroHealth System and developing workforce training programs focused on upskilling and preparing job seekers and internal employees for in-demand careers in healthcare. She also oversees the partnership between MetroHealth and Lincoln West Science and Health High School, located inside of the hospital. She executes workforce programming designed to complement the school’s educational curriculum.

What prompted you to choose your career?

I believe that my career chose me. I knew all along that I wanted to be in a position to “help others.” I feel called to the work and have a passion for serving, protecting, and advocating. Working in various capacities in human resources, diversity and inclusion, and workforce development has allowed me to be a trusted resource to

employees, patients, and the community.

What have been some of your challenges?

Early in my career I struggled with feeling comfortable bringing my authentic self into the workplace. The intersectionality of being a Black woman rising through the ranks, I had to learn to affirm myself, trust my skills, and assert my voice.

What is your superpower? Advocacy. I feel that it is important to advocate and empower those around you to be the best version of themselves. All things are not created equal, and it will take all of us to work together and provide resources, opportunities, and support to meet individuals where they are.

What words of wisdom can you share? Don’t get in your own way. Let your values, intuition, and God’s promise guide you.

46 | WINTER 2023

Phillip Studmire is a real estate professional who is passionate about affordable housing and dedicated to the idea that all housing should facilitate access to educational opportunities, employment, transit choice, and good health equity for the underrepresented. He’s a lifelong Cleveland resident and loves all Cleveland sports. His favorite pastime is spending quality time with his family and staying active.

What is your Superpower? Observation.

What prompted you to choose your career?

I care about my community and believe everyone should have access to affordable housing.

What have been some of your challenges?

My challenges are learning that we (meaning “Black Americans”) are judged and critiqued more than our counterparts. I was naïve as a young man but soon realized we’re not on an equal platform. We cannot be afraid to obtain more for ourselves and enter unknown spaces that’s foreign to us. This is why I love supporting the BPACF college scholarship fund.

Who inspires you? Who are your role models?

My fiancée inspires me to be a better man and partner every day.

What personal/professional advice do you have for our readers?

The best teacher is self-reflection. Teach yourself to be better every day.

VARR Studies is a creative video and photography production company with a state-of-the-art studio based in Cleveland. They plan and produce videos, photography, podcasts, websites and more. VARR delivers dynamic and authentic content at the intersection of church and culture.

On the VARR platform are Christian-based masterclasses, documentaries, articles, and the latest in Kingdom talk from some of the church’s best including Pastor Mike McClure, Kierra Sheard-Kelly and Dr. R.A. Vernon.

VARR Studios is where one can participate in the production. They are a one-stop shop for all content needs.

What prompted you to choose your career?

We noticed there was no essential hub in the Christian community for the dopest Christian content! At VARR, we choose passion over paycheck any day, and this is our passion. Passion is the key to having joy in what you

do. Having joy in what you do leaves a lasting impact and legacy that will live beyond you!

What have been some of your challenges?

The first challenge is balancing everything at once. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. The second challenge is being young and building a revolutionary company while being married. It’s a blessing that we can build this together. Lastly, trying to be revolutionary definitely comes with unavoidable bumps in the road, but we roll with the punches.

What is your superpower?

Our superpower is our discernment. We discovered and followed the call on our life at a young age. We looked for purpose and went for it, even as we continue to figure it out. We go for it.

What words of wisdom can you share? Don’t wait to begin your passion. Start now. Study it and attack it.

Phillip Studmire Estate Professional
Rainnell & Anasja Vernon VARR Studios 216-778-9886 | IG: @varrstudios | @wearevarr FB: @varrstudios | @Wearevarr | 47
BPACF Scholar Alumni


through one-on-one mentoring,
advising sessions, educational workshops and more.