B LA CK HI S TOR Y M ONT H
U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE Hannibal Bolton, Assistant Director– Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs (WSFR) MY INSPIRATION
My father. My dad helped me expand my world view, and see the world differently. His talks helped me learn to be more malleable and open to guidance. That fundamental support helped me get to college and get ahead in my career. In college, the dean of the school of agriculture guided me through my educational career and propelled me toward my career goals. My first employer also saw my openness and willingness to be guided, and helped me ascend the career ladder.
Charles K. Marful Director, Canada’s Talent Team–Assurance GIVING BACK
Working with the BBPA (Black Business and Professionals Association), our firm has supported a leadership program for African-Canadian high school students for several years, and I have always participated in that. I speak at churches about career and education issues that concern young people. I counsel many college and high school students, and their parents, on a regular basis. And I participate in many community panel discussions on education and career issues.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to consider what I have been asked to do as a privilege, and to do the best job I can. I try to get other people’s input and advice in resolving issues. Most people are willing to assist when asked. And including their advice usually results in better solutions.
Dare to dream. Envision how you can contribute and serve. Obtain all the technical and professional skills relevant to your career. A champion or mentor is always helpful. Your credibility will surpass your skills. Your spouse will influence your career far more than you might imagine. And paying attention to the last three is as important as the first two.
I give back to the African-American community through my fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi, and have been doing so for 45 years. I work with young African-American men, teaching them to work with community elders, family, and mentors to be responsible and accountable to themselves and our community. My fraternity also offers numerous programs to help teenage boys and young men succeed, including Guide Right and Kappa Kamp. Each of these programs provides mentorship and guidance in STEM careers. Kappa Kamp incorporates a weeklong opportunity in the outdoors to learn about science, technology, and survival. I currently serve as chairman of my chapter’s scholarship endowment. Each year, we sponsor 10 young men who have recently graduated and are attending college. Each award recipient gets $2,000 a year for four years.
There is one lesson I live by: Responsibility lies totally with me. I can’t wait for or depend on someone else to do things for me. Whether I succeed or fail, it is my responsibility to give it my best.
FISH & RICHARDSON Taj Clayton, Attorney MY GREATEST STRENGTH
While I take pride in my work ethic, communication skills, and reasoning ability, my greatest strength is my ability to exercise good judgment. In the legal profession, and in life, good judgment is an invaluable asset that enables those who have it to maximize opportunities and minimize problems. As a lawyer, major corporations rely on my judgment when the stakes are extremely high. In many instances, I have to make difficult decisions in the absence of perfect information, while under tough time constraints and intense pressure. Good judgment allows me to make sound decisions which lead to positive results for my clients on a consistent basis. This engenders a significant amount of trust, which is essential to healthy and enduring attorney-client relationships.
OUR GREATEST CHALLENGE
From my perspective, the greatest issue facing the African-American community today is our society’s collective inability to truly understand the complex, systemic issues facing black Americans with depth and nuance. The problems facing our community today are vast and varied. Some of the problems I face as a black professional in corporate America are very different from the problems I faced as a black teenager growing up in a working class community, and different from many of the problems facing black women on a regular basis. Too often, I hear people misdiagnose, under-diagnose, and oversimplify what these problems are. There are no silver bullets. Instead, we all need to develop a more comprehensive and thorough understanding of what these issues are and take personal accountability for fixing them in rational and thoughtful ways on both macro and micro levels.