JWU Magazine Fall 2021

Page 24


by Katelyn Silva

Tipping Points

Ikimi Dubose ’04

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR THE ROOTS FUND When Ikimi Dubose ’04 co-founded The Roots Fund a year ago to empower communities of color through wine education, she received more than 500 submissions for scholarships. The stories were different, but a common thread emerged: a lack of opportunity, often due to unconscious bias in hiring and financial constraints. “I heard from people who were in college but had to drop out because they could no longer pay tuition. Some couldn’t afford to purchase the wines needed for their studies. Others needed to do an overseas internship to complete their certification, but didn’t have the resources, and of course, there were stories of discrimination,” explains Dubose. “I’ve had a great career in food and beverage, and I want that for others. A career in wine mostly requires passion and for those with less, a champion to get them the needed education and mentoring.” Success is where preparation and opportunity meet, and Dubose is nothing if not prepared. She studied under an Austrian chef at the World Trade Center


Fall 2021

Marriott before applying to JWU as a culinary student. A scholarship through Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) is the opportunity that allowed her to afford to attend. She spent two years after graduation working for JWU’s Career Services, a role that exposed her to international travel and cuisine. She was the youngest and first woman to complete the Marriot & Ritz Carlton management training program and went on to head management and culinary teams across the country. Perhaps most impressively, she led the culinary team on Capitol Hill to create

the largest sustainable food initiative in the U.S. She also designed an international food hall in D.C. Today, she has stepped away from the corporate world to focus full time on The Roots Fund, a nonprofit that largely relies on grassroots donations. To those in the philanthropic world who want to do more for communities of color, she has an important message: “You can’t build a program for people of color with no one of color in the room. Partner with organizations that are already doing the work instead of wasting time and money building something new.”

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