Pride Magazine - 2023 September/October "Health & Education" Issue

Page 48

September-October 2023 The Health and Education Issue Charlotte’s African-American Magazine Leading CharlotteMecklenburg Schools Q&A with Superintendent Dr. Crystal Hill Black Girls Film Camp Giving young creatives a voice Finding a Match We need more Black stem cell donors HBCU Educates Birthing Professionals Creating help for Black mothers
Committed to saving you more Learn more at
It’s your time to thrive. Sometimes, the key to feeling better mentally comes from feeling better about your money. So, we created Money and Mindset. It’s a free financial education resource full of tips, tools, and even a podcast to help you reach your financial goals. Get started at Truist Bank, Member FDIC. © 2023 Truist Financial Corporation. Truist, the Truist logo and Truist Purple are service marks of Truist Financial Corporation. Loans and lines subject to credit approval. • 704.372.1000 Group Sales: 704.348.5752 AT BLUMENTHAL PERFORMING ARTS CENTER PHOTO CREDIT: JEREMY DANIEL SEPT. 12-17 • BELK THEATER AT BLUMENTHAL PERFORMING ARTS CENTER OCT. 17-22 • BELK THEATER AT BLUMENTHAL PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
48 45 Departments 8 From the Publisher 10 Notable Names 11 By Faith 14 Book Review 17 The Mindful Parent 66 FYI News & Notes Features 19 Black Girls Film Camp Helping young girls tell their stories 23 New Leader in Charge Q&A with CMS Superintendent Dr. Crystal Hill 26 Finding a Way Out Combating domestic violence 30 JCSU Educates Birthing Professionals Nurturing new doulas and lactation specialists 32 Finding a Match The need for more Black stem cell donors Log on to for more features. September – October 2023 37 Youth and Gun Violence Searching for ways to stop an epidemic 40 Pioneers in Black Mental Health 100 years of leadership in psychology 43 Playing with the Band HBCU offers senior band members scholarships 45 Roddie Jr.’s Watchdog Foundation Helping to make owning dogs safer 57 Private Schools in Charlotte The impact of technology in the classroom 37 On the Cover:
19 September-October 2023 | Pride Magazine 5
Dr. Crystal Hill, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Photo by Qiana Hasberry
Feeling sick? You’ve got our 24-hour guarantee*. We’ll get you a same-day or next-day sick visit with our primary care or pediatric teams. Whether you’re a new or existing patient, all you need to do is call your Novant Health primary or pediatric clinic or the one nearest to you. Our team will schedule you an in-person or virtual visit at that clinic or one nearby. So you can get back to what you love faster. Find your clinic’s number or explore all our clinics offering same-day and next-day care. Visit © Novant Health, Inc. 2023 7/23 • NH-1430114 * The next available appointment may not be with your regular primary or pediatric care team member. The appointment may be scheduled at one of the following venues of care: Novant Health primary care, urgent care, express care or on-demand virtual care point of service. Guarantee excludes Novant Health pediatric clinics in the Wilmington area.


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September-October 2023 | Pride Magazine 7


Remembering Rolfe Neill – G.O.A.T. R

olfe Neill, one of Charlotte’s greatest leaders of all time, died on July 14, 2023. I had the privilege of experiencing first-hand the unique qualities of his leadership style when he was publisher of the “Charlotte Observer” during the late 80s and 90s. Without question, he opened a door of opportunity for me, which has led to a career in Charlotte, North Carolina, I never imagined in my wildest dreams.

The first call back from Rolfe

I’ve told this story often. Having moved back to my parents’ home with three children after a traumatic divorce, I was looking for a job — not a career. It was a harrowing time in my life. At one point, I read something in the Observer about the difficulty in finding qualified minorities to work. Livid and planning to give Rolfe Neill a piece of my mind, I called the Observer and asked to speak to him. As expected, I was told he was unavailable, so I left my name and number. To my surprise, Rolfe Neill actually called me back! I was dumbfounded. Long story short, with a recent master’s degree in urban administration, I ended up as an admin at the Observer in human resources.

For two years, Rolfe would occasionally ask me what I wanted to do at the newspaper. Finally, I responded by saying I wanted to sell advertising and thus began my career. A Black magazine — Community Pride — was born in 1993 during Rolfe’s tenure, and I was a part of the sales team.

I, along with many others, was saddened by Rolfe’s retirement in 1997. The quality that struck me the most about his leadership was his intuitiveness and uncanny ability to ask you a deep and unexpected question. He actually listened and remembered the conversation when he saw you again. It was a well-known fact Rolfe knew every employee by name and treated each with dignity and respect — no DEI training needed. After spending 14 years at the Observer, I left in 2001 as an entrepreneur, becoming the owner and publisher of “Pride Magazine.”

The final call back from Rolfe

Over the years, I periodically connected with Rolfe. In fact, he was one of the legends at our 2020 Pride Awards luncheon. It was such an honor to include him among

such heroes as Ophelia Garmon-Brown, Harvey Gantt, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, Dorothy Counts, James Ferguson and Thereasea Elder. Rolfe stood out as the only nonBlack person on the stage. I was so very pleased to have him there!

Several months ago, I was saddened upon receiving the news Rolfe was in hospice. Reluctantly, I decided to give him a call, thinking he surely would be unable to talk. He did not answer, so I left a message. Shortly thereafter, he called me back — one last time! We talked and I was able to thank him for being such a meaningful part of my life’s journey.

Did you know there is a public tribute to Rolfe called the “Writer’s Desk” on 7th Street? It is a beautiful collection of quotes from his Sunday columns. I spent time reading them all. I like one in particular:

“If we listen carefully, our critics instruct us better than our friends.” – Rolfe Neill

With fond memories,

Rolfe Neil Honoring Rolfe Neill at the 2020 Pride Awards luncheon
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The Writer’s Desk monument on 7th Street in Uptown Charlotte honors Rolfe Neill



Dr. Pam Oliver is the new executive vice president and chief medical officer of Novant Health. In this new role, Oliver has oversight of safety and quality measures as well as credentialing staff across the Novant Health enterprise, one of the largest health care systems in the Southeast. She most recently served as president of the Novant Health Physician Network and has been practicing at Novant Health since 2005.

“As chief medical officer, I’ll have the opportunity to expand my focus on safety and quality, medical education, clinical research and health equity, which remains the driving force behind my work as both a physician and a woman of color,” said Oliver.

A native of eastern North Carolina, she received her undergraduate degree in biology and her medical degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead Scholar and Board of Governors’ scholarship recipient. She also earned her master’s degree in public health from the UNC School of Public Health.


Chanelle “C.C.” Croxton is the new director of state strategies and organizing at the North Carolina Justice Center and winner of the 2023 Defenders of Justice - Policy Research and Advocacy Award. The award program celebrates the inspirational work of experts in policy and advocacy who are helping eliminate poverty and establish equity in North Carolina.

Croxton, an activist and freedom fighter, envisions a world where all Black people are free. She previously served as organizing director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, where she led recruitment and membership for campaigns defending Black care and domestic workers. In her new role, she continues to expand on organizing projects and campaigns around the country focused on raising standards for direct care and childcare workers.


Fushcia-Ann Hoover, assistant professor of geography and Earth sciences at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, was inducted into Harvard Radcliffe Institute’s 2023-24 class of fellows. As a Radcliffe-Salata Climate Justice Fellow, Hoover will explore Black feminist ecological theory as a means for anti-racist environmental planning.

The fellowship offers scholars in the humanities, sciences, social sciences and arts – as well as writers, journalists and other distinguished professionals –a rare chance to pursue ambitious projects in vibrant interdisciplinary settings. Hoover, an interdisciplinary researcher, employs a range of approaches and perspectives in her work surrounding race, environmental justice and placemaking in social-ecological urban systems and green infrastructure performance.

Hoover earned her master’s degree and Doctor of Philosophy in ecological sciences and engineering from Purdue University. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of St. Thomas.


Bre’Asia Demery, a senior psychology major at Johnson C. Smith University, has been chosen to intern with the Be the Match stem cell and bone marrow donor registry. Be the Match helps individuals who, like her, have been impacted by sickle cell and bloodrelated illnesses.

“I jumped at the opportunity to intern with Be the Match because I know what it feels like to have no voice. I’m happy to be a voice for patients who need it most,” said Demery.

During her internship, Demery will collect DNA samples, host events where she tells her story and help anyone interested in finding a donor match. Learn more at P

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Remain Committed

There are times in life when we don’t follow through with what we have committed to doing. Whether it’s eating right, exercising daily, getting up early, completing a project or doing something that we promised to do, this is a reality for all of us. We get distracted. We lose track of time. We choose to be lazy. We procrastinate. We want to do what we want to do in the moment. For whatever reason, we come up short when it comes to our commitments.

Similarly, as Christians, we give into the distractions and pressures of this life and thus compromise living out our most important commitment — our faith. Over time, our lack of commitment can progress to the point where we even forget God.

In Scripture, we meet a Jewish teen named Daniel who understood what we face today. He was taken into Babylonian captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar, who destroyed the city of Jerusalem and kidnapped the people of Israel, including the royal family and the people of nobility (Daniel 1:3). He targeted young nobles who were good looking, full of skill, wisdom and knowledge, able to serve in the king’s palace and able to teach the language of the Chaldeans. Once in captivity, the king gave Daniel access to the privileged food in the palace for him to enjoy. The end game was to heavily indoctrinate Daniel and his friends into the culture of Babylon in hopes of them forgetting the God of Israel.

However, Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself by partaking in the king’s food or wine (Daniel 1:8). Compromising his commitment to God and his Jewish dietary restrictions wasn’t an option for him. Instead of giving in to the pressure to compromise his faith and forget his God, he determined in his heart and mind not to give in to the toxic Babylonian culture. What can we learn from Daniel to help us not to compromise our faith or allow ourselves to be enticed by the culture’s offer to forget God?

Like he did for Daniel, God empowers Christians to stand for him. Daniel didn’t hunker down or have the strength within

our convictions prior to being tempted to compromise. Oftentimes, we wait until the temptation is too great before we begin to consider what our convictions are. Then, it’s too late.

How can we fight through these two barriers to stand firm? First, we need God’s word to transform and renew our hearts and minds, which keeps us from being enticed by the allure of an anti-God culture (Romans 12:2). We need to be people of the word. Not simply on Sunday, but every day of our lives. Secondly, we need to grow in our love for God in order to establish firm convictions (Luke 10:27). Do we really love God or do we love the idea of God? Either we love God, or we don’t. If we love God, then we seek to please him in all things, which helps to shape our convictions.

Where are you? Do you have a vibrant and growing faith in God, or is your faith in him waning due to compromise or a lack of firm convictions? Ask God to show you areas

where you can grow. Once you identify those areas, seek God’s word to understand how to grow, and pray that God gives you a persistent resolve to trust him. You will miss the mark in trusting God perfectly.

But there’s one who never missed the mark. His name is Jesus Christ. He trusted in his Father and fully obeyed him even in the sacrifice of his own life for ours. Instead of giving in to pressure, stand firm in the faith, trust in his ability to provide what you need, and learn to trust him no matter what season you find yourself in. May we be a people who remain committed to God to the end. P

September-October 2023 | Pride Magazine 11
“What can we learn from Daniel to help us not to compromise our faith or allow ourselves to be enticed by the culture’s offer to forget God?”

With financial education, the future looks brighter

With financial education, the future looks brighter

With nearly 15 million visits in the past two years, Better Money Habits® online tips and tools have helped people improve their financial lives.

With nearly 15 million visits in the past two years, Better Money Habits® online tips and tools have helped people improve their financial lives.

We’re committed to helping people in Charlotte improve their lives through financial education. In the past 10 years, we’ve donated millions in national and local grants to help people learn the ins and outs of budgeting, saving and reducing debt.

We’re committed to helping people in Charlotte improve their lives through financial education. In the past 10 years, we’ve donated millions in national and local grants to help people learn the ins and outs of budgeting, saving and reducing debt.

Go to to learn more

Go to to learn more

What would you like the power to do?®

What would you like the power to do?®

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. Equal Credit Opportunity Lender © 2023 Bank of America Corporation. All rights reserved.
Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. Equal Credit Opportunity Lender © 2023 Bank of America Corporation. All rights reserved.

Financial Health 101: 5 Ways to Improve Your Financial Health

When it comes to self-care, traditional elements of wellness like exercise, healthy eating and work-life balance are often the first things that come to mind. However, financial wellness is a frequently overlooked and equally important component of our mental and physical health.

Whether you’re budgeting for childcare, planning a vacation, or saving for your dream home, financial wellness is critical to achieving your short- and long-term financial goals.

At Bank of America, financial health is at the heart of our banking approach. Our goal is to educate our clients and provide the personalized solutions needed to accomplish their financial goals. No matter where you are on your financial wellness journey, these pillars are a great way to build smart habits:

Simplify Your Finances

Between checking and savings accounts, rent/mortgage, utilities, car payments, subscriptions, unexpected expenses and more – managing the many aspects of your finances can quickly become overwhelming.

It’s critical to create a spending plan and a good rule of thumb for your budget is the 50/30/20 method: 50% of your income should cover needs, 30% should cover wants, and 20% should go into savings.

Additionally, it is important to update your budget regularly to account for factors like rising everyday prices or changes in income. You might also benefit from breaking down your budget into a weekly

view, making it easier to track spending habits and identify any increasing bills.

Manage Your Money

Once you have a budget in place, Erica®, Bank of America’s virtual financial assistant is great way to help manage your finances and budget. For example, Erica provides proactive insights to let you know about recurring charges, merchant refunds and duplicate charges. In addition, Erica provides your financial picture with a weekly snapshot of your month-to-date spending and tools to search past transactions, view rewards, access account information, manage credit cards, personalized guidance on maximizing excess cash and much more.

Beyond your day-to-day needs, digital tools can also help plan for your future. Bank of America Life Plan® (, available in Online Banking or in the Bank of America Mobile app, helps you prioritize and set short- and long-term financial goals with just a few taps, break them down into achievable milestones, access resources, adjust goals when priorities change and get personalized help along the way when you need it.

Build Knowledge

Taking control of your financial wellbeing requires you to educate yourself of potential opportunities and resources as your financial priorities evolve. A strong foundation of money management essentials can help you make more informed choices.

A great place to start is Better Money Habits® (, Bank of America’s free financial education platform that offers a simple way to access relevant resources, tools and guidance to take control of your finances.

Seek Expert Advice

Don’t know the difference between an IRA and Roth IRA? No worries! Don’t be afraid to tap into various resources for financial advice about the best solutions for your financial needs.

Whether it’s getting advice digitally with tools like Erica or receiving free inperson customized coaching with resources like an Operation HOPE financial well-being coach at the 2405 Freedom Dr, Charlotte, NC 28208 Financial Center. Communicating with financial experts is the best way to help you reach your financial goals.

Get Help When Needed

Even with the best habits, unexpected financial hardships can steer you off course. That’s why Bank of America is always available to assist clients through whatever channel they prefer – digital, online, over the phone, or in person through our financial center network.

There’s no denying, maintaining your financial health takes time, effort and intention – but developing these habits more than pays for itself. Financial wellness is a process that lasts a lifetime and starting with these five pillars and revisiting them periodically can help you control your finances and your financial future.

September-October 2023 | Pride Magazine 13
of America, N.A., Member FDIC Equal Housing Lender © 2023 Bank of America Corporation

Powerful Health and History Stories for the Fall

Viola Ford Fletcher was seven years old when her mother woke the family to hurriedly gather their things. It was 1921 and they lived in Greenwood, a thriving Black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma, dubbed the original “Black Wall Street.” At 109 years old, she is the oldest living survivor of the Tulsa Massacre where Black people were killed, injured, and threatened with the same if they didn’t leave town. Fletcher has become a proponent of accountability for the events of that day and its impact on the descendants of those who survived.

“Family Lore”

As the recipient of several awards for her Slam Poetry, poetry and books for young adults, Elizabeth Acevedo’s first adult novel is a glimpse into the lives of a fictional Dominican American family. Told from the perspective of the family’s women, their secrets emerge as they anticipate attending an event that will change their lives. Flor, Matilde, Pastora, and Camila are sisters with stories that will linger in our hearts well beyond the last page.

“The Slave Who Loved Caviar”

One of our country’s greatest writers on the African American condition, Ishmael Reed has been sharing his award-winning satire, wit, and talent for more than 50 years. Known for his biting wit, surrealistic style and fearless opinions, Reed’s latest offering is a blazing examination of the relationship between JeanMichel Basquiat and Andy Warhol in its complete and unabridged text.


As a Harvard-trained physician, trauma surgeon and professor, Dr. Brian H. Williams has seen it all. On July 7, 2016, he was on staff in Dallas the day a Black man killed five white police officers and injured nine others. Thrust into the spotlight as an American hero, Williams has had time to reflect on what he witnessed that day and over the years. He sees a correlation between gun violence, white supremacy, and healthcare inequality. His book provides a raw and intimate look at the issues and proposes several solutions.

Children's Choice

“Something, Someday”

Amanda Gorman captured the hearts of the nation with a stunning performance of her original poem, “The Hill We Climb” on President Joe Biden’s 2021 Inauguration Day. She has collaborated with Caldecott Honor winning illustrator Christian Robinson to bring an inspiring children’s book, “Something, Someday.” The book encourages readers with a similar message: Keep striving, keep going and never give up on your dreams. P

14 Pride Magazine |
“The Bodies
Coming: Dispatches from a Black Trauma Surgeon on Racism, Violence, and How We Heal”
“Don’t Let Them Bury My Story: The Oldest Living Survivor of the Tulsa Massacre in Her Own Words”
Viola Ford

Our nationally-accredited programs will prepare you for leadership in the global workforce of the 21st Century.

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Students can earn their degrees

We Came Here to SERV: Charlotte’s Premier Launchpad

Connie and Tika, co-owners of Lucky You Salon and Suites, are now celebrating 13 years of serving the community and 10 years of partnership! Through the years, Lucky You Salon and Suites has allowed cosmetic arts students to experience salon life through shadowing, employment and career coaching, as well as assisting in their startup businesses. Connie and Tika were eager to offer additional coaching and mentorship to cosmetic arts students post-graduation. They discovered that recent grads desired entrepreneurship but faced a high barrier entry into the salon industry. Some barriers included the stress and anxiety of working alongside seasoned stylists and being able to afford marketing and supplies as beginners. They are now proud to present their latest endeavor, S.E.R.V. Salon (Seeding Entrepreneurs Reverently and Victoriously). S.E.R.V. is a

unique launchpad specifically designed to launch careers of recent grads and stylists who are new to the Charlotte area. S.E.R.V. Salon is a safe learning environment where new stylists can practice their Craft and grow skills, while receiving daily guidance. A special thank you to our clients and supporters that have supported us through our journey. Our continued mission is to set a new economic standard in our community! The stylists of S.E.R.V. (The Official LaunchPad) Salon are #Ready2SERV by supporting your family's haircare needs. Visit us at to seeview services offered, sign up for our mailing list and to schedule your appointment today! Follow us @servsalon on Instagram to participate in specials. Take advantage of our DoubleUp Special* (bring a friend/family member and RECEIVE $20 OFF total service combined). Call 980-219-0901 for details!

Experience the Elevation and Transformation! Orangeburg, S.C. / Claflin Online
100 percent on-line in the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Track or the Nurse Leader (NL)Track. In-person clinicals are required for FNP students once per semester. APPLY NOW! 400 Magnolia Street, Orangeburg, S.C. 29115 • 1-800-922-1276 •
Claflin President Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack with seven of the “Divine Nine” - Claflin scholars in the Spring Class of 2023 who graduated with cumulative 4.0 grade point averages. From left: Dr. Warmack, Jaliah Robinson, Nickeisha Cuthbert, Emmanuel Frimpong, Khari Oglesby, Mindal Reese, Tenia Sanders, and Arielle Wiggins. Not pictured are Kuti Ra and Assiya Desoky.
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Claflin’s “Super Seven” – the inaugural graduates of Claflin’s Master of Science in Nursing program at their Pinning Ceremony. From left: Deonte Thompson, Adrain Sims, Azuree Page, Heidi Reno, Dr. Shannon Smith, Dean and Associate Professor of Nursing, Dr. Warmack, Alecia Moody, Chevron Vice, and Patrice Burgess.


Family Matters: Disconnecting for Self-Protection

Many of us were raised with the understanding that family comes first. You honor and respect your parents because they are your parents and elders are held in high regard. We protected the family at all costs and blood was always thicker than water! Many were raised to be quiet about abuse, discrimination and wrongdoing to protect the reputation of the family and to remain cohesive. However, in this environment, dysfunction can persist and become normalized, and abuse and hurt can continue. This façade leaves many silently in pain, anxious and resentful.

As the Black culture becomes increasingly open to therapy, the experience has been life changing. Therapy provides a space to process grief, come to terms with the past and regain self-love and healing. During the process of healing and self-preservation, many people eventually distance themselves or become completely estranged from their families. Research by Karl Pillemar in 2020 showed that 1 in 4 Americans are estranged from their families. The idea of honoring parents and remaining connected to the family unit has seen a shift. More individuals are choosing to protect their mental health and decide which relationships are worth maintaining and will create space between themselves and those family members whose behaviors or ideals don’t align with what is considered healthy for them. More young adults are free to think independently and will move away from any relationship they consider unsupportive or toxic. More people, especially younger generations, are empowered to use their voices to speak up for what they believe is right. This liberation allows individuals to choose themselves and their own needs over those that might have been considered best for the family unit in the past.

Distance and estrangement from unhealthy relationships can improve mental health and well-being. In many cases it is necessary. However, it is often

difficult for all involved. The ParentChild estrangement is one of the most difficult. Parents make tremendous sacrifices and efforts to care for their children and provide the best they can and still can find themselves cut off by their children as they transition into adulthood. Parents and children often have different understandings about why the estrangement even occurred, making resolution more complicated. Severing the generational bonds between parents, children and grandchildren, aunts, uncles, and nieces and nephews, the special connections between cousins and siblings is not without cost. The emotional toll of estrangement can increase risk for depression, isolation, grief, lack of trust, decreased loyalty, chronic stress and limits access to needed supports and protection.

Where do we go from here? The alternative forces us to be mindful of how we treat others, to respect values and beliefs, to acknowledge our wrongs, make necessary changes and grow. We are left

to reflect on what matters most to us and do better by the people we love. Family on its own is simply a genetic relation, but the family bond is much more. The bond offers reprieve under stress, boosted self-esteem, reduced anxiety, a sense of belonging and protection, improved academic and behavioral functioning and resilience.

When these relationships are healthy, they are invaluable, and life is richer. Therapy can help in the process of reunification by guiding relationships towards healthy communication, reduced defensiveness, honesty, empathy, releasing control and rebuilding. When reconciliation is safe, healthy and possible, it might not be easy, but it is a journey worth taking. P

September-October 2023 | Pride Magazine 17
“We are left to reflect on what matters most to us and do better by the people we love.”
We Are All Super Heroes When We Recycle Right! 2.CARDBOARD & SMALL BOXES (Clean Pizza Boxes - Okay) 1. PLASTIC BOTTLES & JUGS with Necks 3. EMPTY METAL CANS 4. MILK & JUICE CARTONS 6. GLASS BOTTLES & JARS (Lids On - Okay) 5. PAPER & MAGAZINES Only Recycle These SIX items pictured below!

FILM CAMP Helps Black Girls Tell Their Stories

The mission of the BGFC, a Charlottebased nonprofit, is to provide creative safe spaces for Black teen girls to build critical literacy skills and construct narratives of their own, centering on Black girlhood, that they can share with the world. “It’s all about identity, beliefs, stylistic language and imagining,” said Anderson. “It’s Black Girl ownership through liberation, and we’re using film as a gateway.”

The hybrid (virtual and in-person)16week camp attracts hundreds of Black teen girls from around the nation to vie for one of the 10 coveted spots. If selected, the young ladies receive star treatment with free technology, including cameras, lighting kits, boom mics, tripods and free screenwriting and video editing software. They also are given a personal production team of professional Black women creatives, including an editor and creative coach, who are contracted to help the girls make their own films.


Are Doin’ It For Themselves” by the Eurythmics, featuring the late great Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin was the unofficial ladies anthem in the mid1980s. The song — still relevant today after 40 years — could easily serve as the motto for the Black Girls Film Camp.

Best friends and University of North Carolina at Greensboro grads, Dr. Jimmeka Anderson and Sierra Davis, founded the Black Girls Film Camp (BGFC) in 2020, during the covid pandemic, to help Black girls in high school create narrative stories using the powerful medium of film.

The instruction, software and access to equipment are all free of charge for all camp participants. “We’ve been blessed to be able to receive grants, conduct fundraisers, and have great donors and sponsors,” Davis said. “Even our industry professionals donate their time. Many saying they wish they had this when they were their age,” Anderson added.

All of the camp participants are taken on an all-expense paid weekend retreat in Los Angeles

September-October 2023 | Pride Magazine 19
Black Girls Film Camp founders, Dr. Jimmeka Anderson (left) and Sierra Davis

where they attend free workshops given by awardwinning Black women filmmakers and scholars. Some of the titles of films the 2023 cohort of young filmmakers created include: “A Thin Line Between Black and White,” “5 Angry Black Girls,” and “Uncensored.”

Camp speakers have included Academy Awardwinning producer Karen Toliver, Emmy Award and NAACP Image Award winner Ava Duvernay, screenwriter/director Christine Swanson, casting directors Tracy “Twinkie” Byrd and Donyell Kennedy-McCullough, actresses Karyn Parsons (“Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”) and Quvenzhané Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild” lead actress), and countless others.

The BGFC filmmakers’ projects are showcased during a live event during the summer and some are featured in film festivals across the nation like the Essence Film Festival and the Mill Valley Film Festival, and on college campuses throughout the year such as the University of Southern California, Georgia Tech, and the University of North Carolina at

their teenage years, so they can be successful based on talent and not politics,” she added.

“This is not just a film camp,” Davis said. “This is about ensuring these young girls have a space where they feel validated, heard, and can be their authentic selves and that their dreams are attainable,” Davis continued.

Anderson and Davis recognize Black boys also have unique stories to tell, and they’ve been asked frequently about a film camp for boys. “My son asked me about doing a boys camp,” Davis confessed. “It’s something we have discussed possibly for the future, but we want to make sure our Black girls’ voices are heard,” she added. “Black girl voices are often marginalized, so we want them to be able to tell their stories at full capacity.”

Anderson said sometimes she and Davis have to “pinch themselves” when they reflect on the Black women luminaries who have joined them to make the Black Girls Film Camp a success. “That’s nice and I’m grateful,” she said, “but I’m glad to be a part of a story that is bigger than me.

Charlotte. Previous camp partners have included Beats By Dre, Final Draft, TikTok, PBS, Array and Women In Film.

Anderson and Davis said they want to establish a budding Black girl film industry sisterhood. “We want to create a pipeline for the industry,” Anderson said. “Getting them connected to the industry early in

This program is our love and passion. We, personally, will go without, so the program can grow, thrive and succeed.”

Sisters are, indeed, doin’ it for themselves. The Black Girls Film Camp is preparing young Black girls in Charlotte and around the nation to not only reach for the stars but to shine among them. P

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“The Black Girls Film Camp is preparing young Black girls in Charlotte and around the nation to not only reach for the stars but to shine among them.”
Film Director/Producer Ava DuVernay is among the many lauded Black women leaders in film who have spoken at Black Girls Film Camp events and encouraged the young filmmakers. Top: Black Girls Film Camp 2023 participants with speakers: casting director Twinkie Byrd (right of center) and actress Paige Hurd (left of center). Bottom: Some Black Girls Film Camp 2022 participants


We are strengthening our system, upgrading equipment and investing in new grid technology. We are improving response and restoration times by identifying potential issues in advance and installing technology that will allow us to reroute power to avoid outages.

HURRICANE PREP IS EVERY DAY, 24/7 WHAT WE’RE DOING: WHAT YOU SHOULD DO: For additional tips, please visit Have a plan to move yourself and your family. Sign up for outage alerts by phone or email or text REG to 57801. Prepare an emergency kit with water, nonperishable food, first-aid and more.
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From providing for your family to supporting nonprofits and causes close to your heart – you have the power to make a meaningful impact and create a lasting legacy for generations to come.

And when it comes to your charitable legacy, Foundation For The Carolinas can help. With our deep knowledge of the local community and decades of experience with charitable planning, you can trust us to help bring your unique vision to life. | 704.998.6412 |

Q&A with Dr. Crystal Hill

Superintendent of CharlotteMecklenburg Schools

In May of 2023, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools named Dr. Crystal Hill as the new superintendent of schools. She's the first Black woman to hold the position 141 years after the school district, known then as Charlotte City Schools, started. Hill, who has worked in education for 25 years in North Carolina — from elementary school teacher in Guilford County to other positions, including Chief of Staff and Interim Superintendent of CMS — responded to our questions regarding her life and exciting new role as leader of the massive system of 181 schools.

Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Dee Dixon: Congratulations, Dr. Hill, on becoming the first Black woman superintendent of CMS! What has been the

biggest obstacle you’ve overcome on your path to becoming the superintendent?

Crystal Hill: The biggest obstacle I am continuing to overcome is being mentally tough. The role of the superintendent is intense and requires mental acuity and toughness. I am faced with multiple decisions and challenges daily. I’ve learned how to compartmentalize and focus in the moment while managing the million other things that are occurring at the same time. I’ve [hired] … cabinet members

Top: Superintendent of CharlotteMecklenburg Schools, Dr. Crystal Hill Bottom Left: Superintendent of CharlotteMecklenburg Schools, Crystal Hill (left) is speaking with the Publisher of Pride Magazine, Dee Dixon. Photo by Qiana Hasberry
September-October 2023 | Pride Magazine 23
Photo by Qiana Hasberry

who can support me in effectively leading our district.

DD: Please describe what kind of person you were growing up. Did anyone in particular have a profound influence on your life?

CH: I was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I lived with my mom and grandparents until I was seven when my mom remarried. My parents divorced when I was two years old after the accidental drowning death of my older sister Felicia — I was only 6 months old at the time. While my parents divorced, I was extremely close with my dad and his wife, and my mom and her husband. My grandfather was an educator and taught me to read. I traveled with my grandparents every summer and during the school year they took me to school. … The legacy of educators in my family and the opportunity to take a child development pathway at my high school influenced me to become a teacher.

I was blessed to have a loving family, but the most influential people in my life are my mom and best friend, Cynthia. My mother is a pillar of strength, beauty and poise. She taught me that leaders run to problems, not away from them. My mom also taught me that in every situation, even living through the nightmare of losing a child, God is always with me, and He will never leave or forsake me. … I am the superintendent of the 17th largest school district in the country today because of my mom’s daily encouragement and belief in me.

DD: What do you consider the foremost challenge facing CMS currently?

CH: Our most critical challenge is overcoming instability in leadership. As you know, I am the third superintendent in the last 15 months and the seventh superintendent in the last 12 years. This

instability has led to inconsistent processes, procedures and systems to ensure we are efficient and effective in meeting our goals and associated metrics. Eventually, this shows up in how our students are performing. The performance gaps that we have experienced are not because our teachers and staff are not working hard, it is because of instability of leadership which takes the entire organization offtrack and focus. We have worked over the last several months to resurrect solid practices and destroy ineffective practices. … We have worked extremely closely with the Charlotte Executive Leadership Council to support us with this work. We now have systems and a cadence for continuous improvement.

DD: We hear a lot about keeping our children safe at schools. How is this being addressed in CMS and do you foresee any changes in this area going forward?

CH: My predecessors, Mr. [Earnest] Winston and Mr. [Hugh] Hattabaugh, began procuring and installing [weapons detection] scanners at our K-8, middle and high schools. The number of weapons on our campuses has drastically reduced due to their efforts. We are now in the process of adding additional scanners to accelerate the amount of time it takes for students to get through the process and get to class so learning can begin. We have also enhanced our security cameras and building access points. … We are consistently evaluating and re-evaluating to improve safety.

DD: There has been quite a bit of coverage in the news about teachers leaving the profession. Is this true at CMS? If so, give us your perspective on how this might be rectified?

CH: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is like any other district across the country. We

are experiencing a teacher retention and recruitment crisis. … Teachers have a skill set that is transferable and other industries are taking advantage of that.

On a local, state and national level, teachers are not getting the respect, accolades and compensation they deserve. I am proud that in Mecklenburg County, our school board … has been intentional about their support for our teachers. They approved my recommended budget which targeted compensation for teachers and other staff. … Housing is expensive, and teachers cannot afford to live in Mecklenburg County. We need our business community to lean in on this issue and work to support affordable housing.

DD: CMS often gets a lot of “bad rap” from the media. Please share one or two of the biggest successes of CMS our readers need to know about.

CH: Everyone needs to know that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has a core of committed staff who are in pursuit of excellence for our students and our community. We are outpacing the state and the nation in learning recovery from the pandemic. Enrollment in CMS continues to increase.

DD: Please talk a bit about the importance of parental involvement in elementary and secondary education.

CH: I believe parents are their child’s first and best advocates. … The most important thing we need all parents to do is commit to having their child in school, on time every single day. School attendance is a predictor of school success. We also need parents to support their child by making sure they get plenty of sleep and are prepared to learn. … We need parents to prioritize supporting their child with completing assignments, and we need parents to speak positively and encourage their child to work hard and have fun every day.

DD: What is your vision for CMS in the next five or 10 years?

CH: My vision is for every student to graduate from CMS with entrepreneurial skills and be enlisted, enrolled or employed. The current achievement and opportunity gap between our student groups will be eliminated. We will be a beacon of excellence in North Carolina and across the nation, charting a pathway of endless possibilities (students and employees) through a connected ecosystem of families, community and organizations. P

Left: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Crystal Hill greets a student at a CMS middle school
24 Pride Magazine |
Photo courtesy of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
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Surviving Domestic Violence: Finding a Safe Way Out

Chances are you know someone who is a survivor of some form of violence. In fact, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 20 people per minute on average are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. In one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.

Closer to home, there were over 100,000 reported incidents of domestic violence in North Carolina in 2019, according to the North Carolina Department of Justice. To combat these numbers, Legal Aid of North

Carolina is undertaking a domestic violence and sexual assault statewide outreach campaign — made possible by a grant from the Governors Crime Commission to help combat the increasing scope and magnitude of the problem in the state.

“Domestic violence remains a significant issue in the state of North Carolina, with various challenges that need to be addressed,” said Helen Hobson, chief communications officer of Legal Aid of North Carolina (Legal Aid NC).

Between 2019 and 2021, the Criminal Justice Analysis Center, housed within the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission, found that there were 21,199 incidents of aggravated assault and

26 Pride Magazine |

homicide and 138,375 reports of simple assaults committed by current or former intimate partners or family members during this 3-year period. In 2021, there were 67 domestic violencerelated homicides reported in North Carolina.

While there was a slight decline in 2022 to 47, in 2023, there were 39 homicides reported in the first six months, indicating an upward trajectory, according to the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCCADV) Fatality Report. Adults aren’t the only ones impacted as there were 24,542

The organization also seeks to empower survivors to break free from abusive situations, raise awareness about domestic violence, promote education on the issue, and conduct outreach programs and community workshops to inform individuals about their legal rights, available resources, and avenues for seeking help, said Hobson.

Legal Aid NC also collaborates with stakeholders like local domestic violence and statewide sexual assault agencies, law enforcement agencies, shelters, counseling services and other support services to strengthen and create a more holistic and effective overall response to domestic violence, Hobson added.

“Understanding their rights, obtaining protective orders, securing custody of children, and pursuing legal action against

manipulation and social stigma cause many victims to hesitate to come forward and seek help, which can prevent them from accessing the support and protection they need, said Miller. This can be particularly true for marginalized communities.

Domestic violence in North Carolina can disproportionately affect low-income individuals, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people with disabilities. These populations may face additional difficulties and hurdles in accessing appropriate resources and culturally competent services. For instance, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that African Americans are 22 percent of North Carolina’s population, but according to the state’s Criminal Justice Analysis Center, make up 48 percent of domestic and family violence victims.

children involved in domestic violence incidents reported to North Carolina Child Protective Services in 2019, according to the NCCADV.

Legal Aid NC is an independent organization and not affiliated with the government, the District Attorney’s office or social services. It aims to help victims, regardless of immigration or financial status, and everything discussed with clients is confidential and protected by attorney-client privilege.

One of the primary goals of Legal Aid NC is to offer free legal representation to victims of domestic violence and to ensure that they have access to legal services and assistance in navigating the legal system. This includes helping victims access protection (restraining) orders, advocating for the best interests of the children regarding child custody and visitation arrangements, and guiding victims through the divorce or separation process.

“Legal Aid of North Carolina believes in empowering survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault to take control of their lives. Through legal advocacy, they help survivors understand their rights, provide guidance on available legal options and assist them in making informed decisions,” said Hobson. “By doing so, they empower survivors in breaking the cycle of violence and building a future free from abuse.”

their abusers can be overwhelming and emotionally challenging. Limited access to legal representation and knowledge about available legal remedies can exacerbate these difficulties,” said TeAndra Miller, director of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Project at Legal Aid NC.

While it’s essential to understand that the responsibility for domestic violence lies solely with the TeAndra Miller abuser, Miller said, some contributing factors to its causes are a desire for power and control over the victim; growing up in environments where they witness or experience violence leading to a normalization of abusive behavior; and substance abuse.

Miller also said cultural norms, traditional gender roles and societal attitudes can play a role in shaping behaviors and perpetuating domestic violence; as can mental health conditions, such as personality disorders, impulse control disorders, or untreated trauma — although, Miller said, it’s important to note that the majority of individuals with mental health issues are not violent.

Unfortunately, underreporting is a major issue, as a range of factors like fear, economic dependence, emotional

“[Marginalized communities] may face unique challenges and barriers when seeking help and support due to systemic factors such as racial discrimination, limited access to resources, and cultural dynamics,” Miller said. “Black women may face additional barriers in reporting incidents due to mistrust of the criminal justice system, fears of repercussions, economic concerns, or cultural factors.”

Impediments to seeking assistance include financial constraints, lack of awareness about available resources, fear of retaliation and other obstacles, which can make it challenging for victims to escape abusive situations and access the necessary support services.

In addition, many victims may be unaware of their rights, so it is important to consult with legal professionals or organizations specializing in domestic violence to understand the specific rights and legal protections available in their jurisdiction, Miller advises.

Some common rights include the right to safety and protection; the right to be heard in court proceedings and to have their perspective and concerns considered by the judge or legal authorities; the right to access support services, such as counseling, medical care, and shelter; and the right to be informed about their legal rights, available resources, and the legal processes involved in addressing domestic violence.

While navigating the complexities of the legal system can be daunting for victims of domestic violence, legal help is key to stopping the cycle of violence and exploitation. Only lawyers can provide the legal solutions that victims need to stop their abusers and start new lives defined by freedom and safety, according to Legal Aid NC. P

“According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 20 people per minute on average are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. In one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.”
September-October 2023 | Pride Magazine 27

OurHealth, Priority, Zip Codes, Community.

Office of Health Equity-Community Engagement

Making Health a Shared Value

Village HeartBEAT (Building Education & Accountability Together) is a collaborative program organized to reduce risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) through Faith- Based Organizations (FBO) in Mecklenburg County. For more information about the Village HeartBEAT (VHB) program, visit


- Competition Challenge

- Thereasea Clark Elder Community Health Leadership Academy

- FBO HUB Expansion Program

- Capacity Building

16-Week Competition

This year marked the 10th season of the VHB fitness competition challenge, which incorporates a 16-week team challenge utilizing a community-based framework to provide tools and resources to reduce risk factors associated with chronic disease and health conditions due to poor diet and physical inactivity. Three new teams were recruited this year, bringing the total number of teams to 43 and the total number of participants to 547.

VHB Season 10 Kick-Off Celebration at Park Road Park Community Engagement Staff from left to right: Lisa Reid, Jessica Montana, Michelle Rambert, Shawana Mack, Tamara Hawkins, and Keith Bailey, Jr. Photo by Qiana Hasberry, Zuri Creative Services

The Results Are In…

227 participants lost weight

207 participants lowered their BMI

196 participants reduced their waist circumference

260 participants lowered their A1C

207 participants lowered their cholesterol ratio

223 participants lowered their systolic BP

230 participants lowered their diastolic BP

384 participants had a change in at least one health outcome

Hispanic/Latino Engagement

Faith and Health Coalition

In 2023 Mecklenburg County officially welcomed the Faith and Health Latino Coalition (FHLC) as a vendor. Staff worked with the FHLC Board of Directors throughout the year to help them understand the process for applying for grant funding and overseeing grant-related activities and supported FHLC in updating their marketing materials, social media accounts, and building a new website (feysaludnc. org). Additionally,

My overall experience was a 10 out of 10! I was able to meet new people and fellowship with other teams. I would not change a thing. This year’s program really changed my life.

Darryl Pharr lost 63 pounds and took home the first place award for the greatest percentage of body weight loss during the competition.

staff supported the work of the FHLC’s Holistic Health Committee to build their knowledge of existing resources and their capacity to promote health. Through sponsored training opportunities, 6 additional congregations joined FHLC bringing the total membership to 24 congregations.

Training Opportunities

Sponsored by FHLC

–Healthcare resources access

–Health insurance plan access

–Faith Community Health Promoter

Training through Atrium Health

–Leadership training through Crossways Consulting

Latin American Coalition Partnership

In August 2022, Mecklenburg County experienced a significant uptick in migrant populations. The Latin American Coalition (LAC) led local efforts to coordinate support services for newcomers with complex needs, including housing, employment, food, and clothing. The LAC requested assistance to implement health and resource fairs for newcomers.

In response, Community Engagement staff collaborated with MCPH peers to offer COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters, test kits, HIV/STI testing and education, and educational sessions to discuss county services like food security resources, clinical services, and immunizations. Community Engagement staff also connected the LAC with Novant Health to offer mobile health screenings at events.


Spanish-speaking newcomers were reached through LAC’s health and resource fairs

Grantees were awarded funding to address health disparities and chronic disease prevention and education and to support policy, systems and environmental change (PSE). Grant funding was also used to establish community gardens and provide transportation for seniors to the Uptown Farmer’s Market. For more information about grant opportunities, please visit

33 grantees awarded a total of $447,933

3 new community gardens established 13,643 residents provided with access to food through food distribution/pantry programs

Faith and Health Latino Coalition Leadership Training Health Disparities Grassroots and Faith-Based Organization Grant Initiative 2023 Trips for Kids Saturday bike riding event.

The Birthing Professionals Program at JCSU

Changing the narrative of Black maternal health

It’s no secret. We are in a Black maternal health crisis. These issues stem from a lack of proper care, resources, and discrimination. Many mothers have chosen home births and other forms of alternative care to lessen their chances of complications, hoping for more advocacy and better health for their newborns.

To help reduce the occurrence of high Black maternal health mortalities and to support the healthy birth and growth of Black babies, Johnson C. Smith University is offering a much-needed program. The school’s Birthing Professionals Program (BPP) provides student birth workers with the education to aid in the Black maternal health field. It includes doula and lactation courses aimed at having more assertive representation and improving the outcome of deaths and care of mothers of color.

The program’s goal is to improve maternal and child outcomes of families of color by making birthing professional training for people of color more accessible.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 allocated nearly $1 million in grant funding to support JCSU’s birthing program. Last fall, the university submitted a proposal for a grant to the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners and received $943,000 to specifically address Black maternal health, Townsend-Ingram said.

Meeting the need

The shocking numbers don’t lie. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women are more than three times more likely to die during childbirth than white women. In 2020, Black women experienced 55.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to 19.1 deaths per 100,000 live births, and 18.2

deaths per 100,000 live births for white and Hispanic women, respectively.

Yvette Townsend-Ingram, Director of Foundation Relations at JCSU and co-writer of the grant, explained why this program is vital. “JCSU is acting to contribute solutions to a critically important disparity in maternal health,” she said.

She goes on to share staggering statistics, “Black women die at three times the rate of white women during or after childbirth,

“Black women die at three times the rate of white women during or after childbirth, more than any other industrialized nation/ country. Statistics have shown that adding Black maternity professionals to whom Black mothers can relate improves their outcomes.”
—Yvette Townsend-Ingram
Left: A doula, typically a woman, is a professional birth coach who guides and supports a pregnant woman during labor.
30 Pride Magazine |
Right: A mom breastfeeding her baby

more than any other industrialized nation/ country. Statistics have shown that adding Black maternity professionals to whom Black mothers can relate improves their outcomes.”

Dr. Antonia Mead, Professor/ Department Chair in Health and Human Performance at JCSU, explains why this program goes beyond the classroom: “Health literacy is critical. The more knowledgeable the community is about maternal health, the quicker the statistics can change. You have to be your own advocate.”

Additionally, the representation of Black professionals in this field is scarce. JCSU aims to change these staggering numbers with its doula and lactation programs.

According to the JCSU website, the goal of the lactation program is to “help diversify the field of lactation to include more people

Funds are being used for salaries, operational expenses, materials and student scholarships.

Giving knowledge

The birthing program has three concentrations: Childbirth Educator, Birth Doula, and Lactation Consultant.

Advocates and Black mothers have voiced their concerns about pregnancy and birthing experiences. The BPP has formed a curriculum with these concerns in mind. Some topics the program offers are Informed Consent, Labor Support, Anatomy and Physiology of Pregnancy and Birth, Patient Advocacy and Labor Variations, and Medical Interventions.

Students who complete the Lactation Consultant Certificate program are eligible for the exam given by the International Board of Lactation Consultants Examiners — the International Board of Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) exam.

interest in changing the maternal health demographics.”

Fruits of the program

According to a January 2022 Women’s Impact Fund article, many BPP graduates are now working in the community. One graduate is working as an EMT, and another graduate is helping to build the Mecklenburg County Health Department’s perinatal educator program.

The BPP administrators and instructors are hopeful that changing the narrative now by educating future birth workers will have positive results. Mead said she believes resources will increase. She said the Birthing Professionals program will hopefully make more certified doulas, childbirth educators, and lactation consultants available in the community.

of color, positively impact health outcomes and help address breastfeeding and health disparities and inequities.”

Because of the severity of the Black maternal crisis, Mead said the program is open to “anyone who has a sincere

She also shared how the community can advocate and help. “Continue to ask for birthing professionals. Continue to speak up when something isn’t right,” she said. The current statistics are alarming, but Mead said, she hopes this will be a thing of the past P

Dr. Antonia Mead Here’s a JCSU Black Birthing Professionals training session.
“Health literacy is critical. The more knowledgeable the community is about maternal health, the quicker the statistics can change. You have to be your own advocate.”
September-October 2023 | Pride Magazine 31
—Dr. Antonia Mead

Nonprofit Works to Increase Pool of Black Stem Cell Donors

Every three minutes, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with blood cancer; worldwide it’s every 27 seconds. For many Black people diagnosed with blood-related illnesses like cancer (leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma) or sickle cell anemia — the most-likely lifesaving treatment, a stem cell transplant, can be out of reach. The reason: a lack of registered Black donors. But DKMS, a global nonprofit which recently opened an office in Charlotte, is dedicating its resources to deleting the minority donor deficit.

Finding a match

Finding a donor-patient match isn’t easy. Matching is based on the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) tissue characteristics. HLA are proteins — also known as markers — found on most cells in the body. HLA is

heavily influenced by genetics, which means a patient has a greater chance of finding a match with a family member. Problem solved, right? Ask family members to get tested. The problem is, in fact, not solved.

“We don’t share the exact same DNA with our family; there are some variations,” explained Maya Ward, public relations manager for DKMS. The reality is that 70 percent of patients must find a match outside of their family, she said.

“When a patient is in need of a match, the first step is to test their family members and hope they are a match. If they are not, then their physicians will search the global donor pool for a match,” said Ward.

Using the global donor pool, the objective is to find a donor of the same ethnicity. This is because certain genetic markers are often shared within the same ethnic background. For Black patients, the odds of a match are not in their favor. Minorities are underrepresented in the global donor pool.

32 Pride Magazine |
DKMS Public Relations Manager, Maya Ward

Less than 3 percent of the of the U.S. population is registered as a donor. Of that number, less than 10 percent of registered stem cell donors are African American. And for those in the database, there’s only a 29 percent chance that African American patients will find a match in the global donor pool. The odds improve for Latinos/Hispanics to around a 48 percent chance of a match. White patients have a 79 percent chance of finding a match.

“For individuals who are minorities, we lack appropriate donor pools from around the world,” said Dr. Nilay Shah, transplant physician with Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte. “We need more donors in the pool to allow for more patients to have a suitable donor and a chance at a cure.”

Removing the barriers to participation

Among the reasons for low minority donor representation is a historic lack of interest from the medical community.

“Historically, stem cell donor recruitment has not been targeted to these communities,” said Ward.

Black donors like Jasmine DeBerry Thompson are determined to help reduce the number of lives lost to blood diseases. When she was 16, Thompson found out a close friend was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia and needed a stem cell transplant to live. Inspired, Thompson did everything she could to help her friend.

“When it came time for her to find a donor, [my community] hosted a drive, but I was too young to sign up. Our youth group did all we could to support her and her mom, but she passed away in 2010,” Thompson said. “Later, when I was in college, I was finally old enough to do something. So, I [registered] in her honor. I was blessed to be able to donate.”

A few years later at age 21, Thompson found out she was a match for another young girl who was also battling sickle cell. Thompson immediately agreed to the life-saving donation. Now 30, Thompson continues to advocate for more minority donors.

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“Less than 3 percent of the U.S. population is registered as a donor. Of that number, less than 10 percent of registered stem cell donors are African American. And for those in the database, there’s only a 29 percent chance that African American patients will find a match in the global donor pool.”

‘A second chance at life’

Donors like Thompson and organizations like DKMS are working overtime to highlight the need for minority stem cell donors. Thompson said it’s important that Blacks take time to consider that a cure for someone, “… may be in your veins. This is giving someone a second chance at life.”

contribute to our progress.” In addition to medical advancements, he stressed, “We have to avoid complacency. This requires increasing our awareness to these disorders.”

According to Shah, “Newer therapies, improvements in existing therapies … and better understanding [of] expectations all

As part of its strategy to attract more people to the global donor pool, DKMS is offering free cheek swab kits by mail. Potential donors can visit to request a kit. After the cheek swab, simply return the kit by mail. For those who go on to become donors, DKMS covers the costs, and lends support before, during and after the donation.

“I know oftentimes we have the mentality of, ‘What’s in it for me?’” said

Thompson. “I believe God put us here to be helpers of one another. It’s that simple.”” P

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Transplant physician with Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte, Dr. Nilay Shah Stem cell donor Jasmine DeBerry Thompson
“I know oftentimes we have the mentality of, ‘What’s in it for me?’ I believe God put us here to be helpers of one another. It’s that simple.”
34 Pride Magazine |
—Jasmine DeBerry Thompson

A Place for Renewal


Aldersgate is proud to set new standards in senior living and strives to foster diverse, caring communities where everyone has a voice and value. Come see why Aldersgate is right for you. As a premier non-profit Life Plan Community, our expansive campus has it all: hundreds of acres of nature, bocce ball, an urban farm, wood shop, indoor pool and spa, six dining venues (two with full-service bars), a dog park, fitness center with daily exercise classes, and more! Live your best authentic life with us.

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Life Plan Community.
September-October 2023 | Pride Magazine 35

Atrium Health Cabarrus is Preparing the Next Generation of Health Care Leaders

Ask recent Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) graduate Tiffany Dixon about her summer internship with Atrium Health Cabarrus and you’ll hear the optimism and excitement in her voice.

“To have this exposure inspired me to at least start or put my foot in the management position in human resources,” she said.

Dixon, a health care management graduate, was one of few interns selected to participate in Atrium Health Cabarrus’ internship program. The initiative purposely brought students from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to the hospital to expose them to career possibilities throughout the health care industry.

“We wanted to tailor the program like the administrative fellowship, but with the process being dedicated to an undergrad student and their level of understanding with health care administration,” said Hatiya Dunlap, business manager of nursing administration at Atrium Health Cabarrus.

Asha Rodriguez, vice president and facility executive of Atrium Health Cabarrus, first put the plan in motion last year. Five FAMU students were provided an opportunity to gain insight into how far a career in health care could take them. From there, Rodriguez partnered with leaders within the hospital and Pia Woodley, assistant professor and internship coordinator at FAMU, to start recruiting students for the first cohort of the program in the summer of 2022.

Earlier this summer, the program completed its second cohort and has expanded to include students from other HBCUs, such as Howard University, and students of color from predominantly white

institutions. Rodriguez said she wanted to start this program because she saw a need and she’s had support from leaders across the health care system including Fernando Little, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer for Atrium Health.

“Our HBCUs are one of the largest untapped talent pools in the country,” Little said. “When I think about science, technology, engineering and math careers, as well as those in health care, it’s an opportunity for us to cast a wider net to talent that would be game-changing in the space of health care. Our commitment reflects what having access to an outstanding talent pool means for us from a health equity standpoint,” said Little.

The internships are set up in rotations, with students being exposed to clinical and

business operations. They also had an opportunity to work on projects to help push the strategy of Atrium Health Cabarrus forward.

One hurdle the program was able to overcome before the students arrived in Charlotte was housing. Through donor funding and partnership, each intern was housed for the program.

“We don’t want students to be bound by their geography,” said Rodriguez.

The leaders at Atrium Health Cabarrus are intentional about partnering with universities outside of the communities the system normally serves to attract and recruit diverse talent.

“This exposure really puts a footprint on students’ career paths,” said Dixon. “It helps students, like me, figure out what we want to do with our degrees.”

Rodriguez said leaders are also learning from the interns.

“They infused us with this fresh, young energy, and they’ve been able to help give us unique feedback that we probably wouldn’t see every single day because we’re in the environment,” she said.

Woodley believes these types of partnerships and commitments are crucial and it’s important that they are sustained over time.

“That’s when we can really groom, to a high degree, the next generation of health care professionals,” she said.

Tiffany Dixon, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Graduate. Cohort II Interns pictured with Vice President and Facility Executive Asha Rodriguez. Pictured from left to right: Amari Freeman, Jackson Link, Armani Jones, Ava Moreau, Asha Rodriguez, Khadija Moody, Lauryn Fraction and Tiffany Dixon.
36 Pride Magazine |
Cohort I interns pictured from left to right: Ichana Destin, Gabrielle Jennings, Jared Donald, India Bryant and Brooke Hawkins.

Addressing the Epidemic of Gun Violence Among Black Youth

Astudent at Rocky River High School was shot and killed after stepping off his school bus last fall. He played tight end on the football team, and he was planning to graduate this year. The murder happened near The Reserve of Canyon Hills community in Charlotte, where homes can sell for upwards of $400,000. Two juveniles were arrested for the murder; at least one suspect was only 16 years old.

If this doesn’t shock you, that may not be a surprise. Sadly, we may be getting desensitized to the occurrences of gun violence among Black youth in and around Charlotte, seemingly every day. If it seems that Black children are increasingly the

perpetrators and victims of gun violence, it’s because it’s true.

The entire country is struggling with rising gun violence, especially among Black youth. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Black children die from gun violence at a substantially higher rate than children of any other race or heritage. Although Black children represent only 14 percent of children in the United States, they account for 46 percent of youth deaths by firearms.

Chablis Dandridge works to save Charlotte’s at-risk youth from the cycle of crime and punishment he experienced. Photo courtesy of Chablis Dandridge
“The young population in [Charlotte] … can get you a gun faster than u (sic) can order a pizza.”
September-October 2023 | Pride Magazine 37
—Facebook User

% Charlotte Gun Violence Statistics

as of June 2, 2023

Homicide by firearms victims: 27

Homicide by firearms victims under 18: 3

Juvenile suspects of violent crime involving firearms: 90

Juvenile victims of violent crime involving firearms: 426

Guns Stolen: 679

Guns found/seized as evidence: 1,392

From the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department

In Charlotte, during the first half of 2023, there were at least 426 juvenile victims of violent crimes involving firearms and at least 90 juvenile suspects of violent crimes involving firearms. The obvious question is: Where are children getting guns?

According to one Facebook user, the answer is simple — “break-ins.” In his words, “The young population in [Charlotte and [other cities] can get you a gun faster than u (sic) can order a pizza.” The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department agrees and says teens get guns in a number of ways but the most common seems to be theft. The issue is not going away and is actually getting worse, according to CMPD.

In 2021, CMPD formed the crime gun suppression team to combat gun violence. The team was merged from the former Gang Unit, Shooting into Occupied Property Task Force and the Targeted Response and Apprehension Unit. In its first year, the team seized 283 firearms, an increase of 83 percent, and 36 firearms, an increase of 57 percent over 2021.

One theory to explain the prevalence of gun violence among Black youth is that their world is saturated with sounds, images and concepts that glorify gun violence. Movies, social media live streaming/tagging and, of course, music offer a nonstop infusion of violent, anti-social behavior.

Chablis Dandridge knows that world all too well. By the age of 14, he was already living a life of delinquency. At 18, he was shot four times during an attempted robbery; as a result, he has been confined to a wheelchair ever since. Even so, Dandridge continued with his criminal life, mostly in drug trafficking, leading to incarceration for the majority of his adult life. He left prison for the last time just five years ago. Now 46, he is committed to saving youth from his fate.

Today, Dandridge works with juveniles to keep them from making decisions that lead to incarceration. He also works with juveniles already incarcerated and after release. Dandridge agrees that although there are multiple other factors, music is a big contributor to the epidemic of violence we are seeing. “It is the culture today and the music,” he said.

Rap music from the 1980s has evolved and spawned aggressive, rage-filled versions of itself. During a class he teaches in the

jail system, Dandridge learned about a new kind of rap — beyond gangsta rap. It’s called drill music. The lyrics are even more violent, and they are difficult for a layperson to comprehend, written with extremely fractured sentences and isolated words that seem to do nothing more than provide a platform for references to guns, violence and blatant disrespect for women. “This rap is predicated on killing,” said Dandridge.

“See, I am Wonder Mike, and I’d like to say hello to the Black, to the white, the red and the brown, the purple and yellow…” No! This is not your Sugar Hill Gang. The evolution of rap music from the 80s is dramatic and disturbing.

Here is a sample of the messages that are amping up many Black teens and preteens:

“I got all the Glocks cause back then I had to get ahead of it … had to turn that boy into Swiss cheese.”

“F--- a shooter because I am one. … got murder all in my eyes, you see, it’s torture in my heart.”

“I’ll rob you, b----, I’ll shoot you, b----, I’ll jack you out your paper.”

Clearly, not all Black youth are being influenced by guns and violence in entertainment. But there is a subset of juveniles who are locked into lives with limited parental supervision or positive role models, and they have a constant diet of messages promoting misogyny, guns, violence, hate and revenge that too often does not lead to positive outcomes. P

Chablis Dandridge and his good friend Quentin Snead, a formerly incarcerated person who is now a business owner and community development worker.
38 Pride Magazine |
Photo courtesy of Chablis Dandridge

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Pioneers of Black Mental Health

Historical adversity that has led to modern-day racism, oppression, trauma and other social issues has increased the need for mental health resources among people of color. Over 16 percent of Black people living in the U.S. reported having a mental illness in the past year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration; this equates to over seven million people.

Black mental health advocates and experts in the U.S. have worked tirelessly for more than 100 years to shed light on the great need for resources in underrepresented communities. Here are just a few of their stories.

Linda James Myers, PhD

A specialist in psychology, culture and intersections of race, gender and class,

Dr. Linda James Myers developed the theory of Optimal Psychology, which suggests there’s an optimal worldview that emphasizes the interrelatedness of all living people and things. In 1988, Dr. Myers published her book, “Understanding an Afrocentric World View: Introduction to an Optimal Psychology,” in which she identifies the essential factors of racism and other social issues and how we can change them. Dr. Myers has received numerous honors for her work in psychology, including the Bethune/Woodson Award for Outstanding Contributions in the Development of Promotion of Black Studies from the National Council of Black Studies and the Building to Eternity Award from the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilization.

Inez Beverly Prosser, PhD

Dr. Inez Beverly Prosser became the first Black woman to earn her PhD in psychology. She’s considered to be “the mother of Black psychology.” Her dissertation, “The Non-Academic Development of

Negro Children in Mixed and Segregated Schools,” revealed that Black students benefited more in segregated schools because they were more likely to receive affection, support and a balanced curriculum versus an integrated school where they more were likely to have problems adjusting academically, socially and in accepting their identity. Dr. Prosser was tragically killed in a car crash just a year after her dissertation was accepted. However, her work in childhood development among Black students helped influence the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case.

Francis Cecil Sumner, PhD

Dr. Francis Cecil Sumner, considered to be “the father of Black psychology,” was the first Black man to earn his PhD in psychology. Dr. Sumner was accepted into Clark University’s doctoral psychology program but was then drafted to serve in WWI. After returning home, he re-enrolled and his dissertation, “Psychoanalysis of Freud and Adler,” was accepted in 1920. While he struggled to receive funding from research agencies because of racism, many of the articles he wrote focused on understanding racial bias and supporting educational justice. Dr. Cecil is credited as one of the founders of the psychology department at Howard University, which he chaired from 1928 until his death in 1954.

Joseph L. White, PhD

Often credited as “the father or godfather of Black psychology,” Dr. Joseph L. White became the first African American to earn a PhD in psychology from Michigan State University. His research

[Dr. Prosser's] work in childhood development among Black students helped influence the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case.
Dr. Cecil is credited as one of the founders of the psychology department at Howard University.
40 Pride Magazine |

emphasized the importance of the application of Black psychology as a separate entity than that of white psychology. In 1970, he published the groundbreaking work, “Toward a Black Psychology.” That article received acclaim as the first-ever strengths-based ––rather than deficit-based –– evaluation and description of Black behavior and culture. In the article, Dr. White argued that applying white psychology to Black people often unfairly created the illusion of Black inferiority, when ultimately it was a reflection of the culturally irrelevant psychological principles being applied. A pioneer in modern Black psychology, he helped found the Association of Black Psychologists as well as the Black Studies program at San Francisco State University in 1968. Dr. White received many awards during his career, including the Citation of Achievement in Psychology and Community Service from President Bill Clinton. P

September-October 2023 | Pride Magazine 41
Dr. Joseph L. White
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HBCU Offers All West Charlotte H.S. Marching Band Seniors Scholarships

The vibrant notes of success continue to resonate at West Charlotte High School, as Morgan State University offered all 11 gifted seniors in the school’s marching band full-tuition scholarships.

Two of the seniors, Jaquorian Miller and JaRon Nelson, chose to accept the offer. The rest of the senior band members have committed to other colleges and universities. Their dedication and commitment to their craft have earned them not only the admiration of the West Charlotte community but also the attention of prestigious music institutions.

Nelson, a tuba player, explained the scholarship was the result of a visit from Morgan State’s band director Jorim Edgar Reid Sr., who stopped in to hear the band play during the school year.

“We were in the middle of practicing, and he was watching,” he explained. “He asked how many of us were seniors and if we’d like to audition. And next thing you know, we were all offered full [scholarships].”

Though the scholarships were offered to individual students, Nelson and Miller said it was the chemistry of the entire band that earned the full-tuition scholarships.

“All of my peers were also getting recognized for their musical talents, so I think it was pretty exciting for all of us to receive this [together],” Miller said.

Nelson and Miller credit the opportunity to West Charlotte High School’s band director Adam Sobers, who helped bring multiple classes of West Charlotte’s band to the next level of musicianship.

The offer wouldn’t have happened “if we all didn’t have the amount of dedication and discipline we had earned from working so hard with Mr. Sobers,” Nelson said.

Morgan State University is the largest of Maryland’s historically black colleges and universities. There are three other HBCUs in the state: Bowie State University, Coppin State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Morgan State’s marching band, known as the Magnificent Marching Machine, “is known for their high-

energy performances, intricate marching maneuvers, and dynamic musical arrangements,” according to the school’s website.

Nelson said attending an HBCU is important to him because he wants to be around other students and faculty members that look like him.

“I’m excited that I get to study with other Black students,” Nelson said. “It’s just like a comfortable feeling, and it was kind of my goal to find an HBCU.”

Outside of band, Miller and Nelson have big plans to further their careers at Morgan State. Nelson said he hopes to major in criminal justice, a subject he’s been eyeing since he was little.

“Since I was little, I’ve always wanted to study criminal justice,” he said. “I know it’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication. That’s what band took — hard

work and dedication, so I’ll use those things to focus on my goal and stay on track between band and my schoolbooks, which is very important.”

With such major accomplishments under their belt, no matter what these students take on in the years after high school, they said they’ll always carry that ‘Lion Pride’ with them. The band is known as the West Charlotte Marching Lions.

“Our talent is finally getting recognized,” Miller said. “People know how great our band director is at teaching others who come in who probably have never touched an instrument.”

“To be a be a part of that and have West Charlotte’s name put with it, that puts the game higher,” Nelson said, “because not only is it showing the band on that platform, but it shows what can be made at West Charlotte High School.” P

Top: Morgan State University’s Magnificent Marching Machine performed with six other marching bands at the Honda Battle of the Bands, Feb. 18, in Montgomery, Alabama. Left: The West Charlotte High School marching band.
September-October 2023 | Pride Magazine 43
Morgan State University
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Roddie Jr.'s Watchdog Foundation Helps Make Owning Dogs Safer

An 8-year-old boy named Roddie Philip Dumas Jr. was fatally mauled by his father’s three pit bulls while innocently playing in his grandmother’s fenced-in yard in Charlotte on April 16, 2004. Tameaka Brown, Roddie’s mom, first learned about it while she was at work and was 7 1/2 months pregnant. The pain that Brown experienced is indescribable, and the void left by the loss of her beloved son remains.

As she grappled with the devastating tragedy, Brown said she couldn’t ignore the staggering statistics surrounding dog bites, attacks and fatalities. According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 4.5 million dog bites occur in the U, S. each year, although the vast majority of incidents go unreported. In 2021, there were 81 fatal dog attacks during 2021, and children account for a high percentage of all bite-related deaths, according to,

When Brown was grieving the death of her son, she said it was a “horrific time” in her life. “I didn’t want people to forget this sweet, angel-of-aboy that I had, named Roddie,” she said. So, during her time of grief, she founded Roddie Jr.’s Watchdog Foundation Inc. (RJWF) — a beacon of hope rising from unimaginable darkness. Unable to bring her son back, Brown found solace in knowing she could honor Roddie’s precious life by playing a vital role in preventing similar tragedies and heartbreaking losses.

RJWF’s mission and objectives

The uninformed might think RJWF is some sort of dog-hating organization that’s hell-bent on eradicating pit bulls from the face of the earth. That’s far from the truth. RJWF champions responsible dog ownership and advocates for the safety of our youth. “We want to minimize dog bites and fatalities to our youth in the United States,” Brown explained.

Roddie Jr. lost his life when dogs attacked him in 2004. His mother, Tameaka Brown, started the Roddie Jr. Watchdog Foundation to minimize dog bites to children and educate the public on responsible dog ownership.

By equipping children with the knowledge, skills and empathy needed to interact safely with dogs, RJWF Inc. empowers families to become responsible and compassionate pet owners. Through interactive workshops, engaging resources and community events, they impart valuable information that promotes positive relationships between humans and dogs. Additionally, their website ( offers a wealth of resources such as educational materials, articles and videos, that provide a comprehensive guide to responsible dog ownership.

September-October 2023 | Pride Magazine 45
Tameaka Brown (below), Founder of Roddie Jr.'s Watchdog Foundation Inc.

“We are trying to partner with the community to do our due diligence to make sure that we are protecting what’s ours,” said Brown. “By doing your part and following simple rules, you can change the dynamic of life or death.” Most dog owners find it hard to believe their beloved pets can inflict harm. But according to RJWF, 80 percent of the bites come from a family pet or a pet that you know. If you’re thinking “not my dog,” you better think again, Brown said. “Your dog might not bite you. But who’s to say it might not bite someone else?”

Darrell Bonapart, a member of RJWF’s board of directors, is a dog owner himself. “This is about education. Enjoy our loving pets. Let’s make sure that we’re getting all the knowledge we need to have to ensure that our children don’t get harmed,” Bonapart said. “Something that might feel worse than death, is being permanently deformed, disabled, disfigured, or

Dog bites can have lasting physical and emotional consequences, even if a fatality does not occur. Brown added, “For those kids that live through it, with permanent disfigurements to their face and bodies, this can be mentally, physically and emotionally damaging.” RJWF provides support to children from infants to 17-year-olds who have sustained injuries inflicted by dog bites. This support includes educational, emotional, physical and financial assistance.

“We’ve partnered with entities like (the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department), Animal Care and Control,

Domo, and the Brooklyn Collective,” said Brown. “But we need MORE. We need the backing of our COMMUNITY; the school systems, veterinarian offices, hospitals and trauma centers, insurance companies, etc. We need to be at the hospitals and trauma centers where injured kids are having pediatric plastic surgeries,” she added.

“We’re asking to collaborate with different leaders, institutions and corporations. We want the phones to ring uncontrollably — not because someone was bitten but because they weren’t,” she said.

RJWF is currently looking for pediatric plastic surgeons to help with some pro

bono work, Brown said. “We’re far from where we want to be, and we can’t change this dynamic without you. We need resources, corporate sponsorships, visibility and selflessness to support our initiatives. I can’t fathom the thought of another child losing their life because we turned a blind eye, because we weren’t educated.”

Triumph despite tragedy

With all that Brown has endured, it may seem surprising that she allows Karrington, her 8-year-old daughter, near a dog, much less own one. But Karrington was recently gifted with a Maltese Pomeranian mix named Amina.

Here are some safety rules Karrington said her mom has taught her:

“You should never put your face in her face. You should never pull her fur, ears, or their tail. You should never yell or shout at them. You should never try to ride on them,” she explained.

Roddie Jr.’s Watchdog Foundation is devoted to creating a safer society through educating people on responsible dog ownership. RJWF is forging a path towards a future where dog bites are minimized and the memory of Roddie Jr. is cherished, Brown said, “Our focus is to do something. Don’t just stand by and do nothing. Be the difference. If you do your part, don’t worry about it if someone else is not doing theirs. That’s how change happens.”

Bonapart added, “We want to turn a tragedy into triumph!” P

Foundation's Ambassadors Roddie Jr.’s sister Karrington and her beloved dog, Amina
“We’re asking to collaborate with different leaders, institutions and corporations. We want the phones to ring uncontrollably — not because someone was bitten but because they weren’t.”
46 Pride Magazine |
—Tameaka Brown
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Jazz, Ballet, Theater and More: Everything Art in Charlotte

Charlotte offers some of the most culturally-relevant and exciting cultural activities in the Southeast region all year round. Here are some of the highlights of events coming to the Queen City this fall.

Arts & Science Council

The Arts & Science Council (ASC) is a hub for cultural resources. Their mission is to combine advocacy, cultural planning, fundraising, workshops and other resources from local and state governments to maximize community impact and equity when it comes to local culture. Learn more at


• Jazz at the Hut: October 6 at 7 p.m. Presented by Dapper Street Productions, this Culture Blocks event (an ASC-sponsored initiative), brings live jazz to The Hut where bassist John Shaughnessy will lead a tribute to some of the greatest jazz bass players of all time. Light refreshments will be served. Visit for more info.

• TJ Entertainment & Sol Kitchen

Presents: Anthony David, featuring DJ Arie Spins: September 30 at 8 p.m. Anthony David’s music has been lauded for its soulful sincerity. David, a grammynominated musician from Savannah, Georgia, has been compared to the legendary Bill Withers because of his soulful voice and gift of storytelling. His music is a mix of flavors, including R&B, folk and soul.

Blumenthal Performing Arts Center

The Blumenthal Performing Arts Center is a nonprofit arts organization with a mission to strengthen education, build community cohesiveness, and advance economic growth in the performing arts sector. The Blumenthal houses six theatres including the Belk Theater, Stage Door Theater, the Knight Theater and Festival Stages in Romare Bearden Park. Learn more about upcoming events at


• Shawn Wayans at the Comedy Zone: September 8 – 9

Join American actor, screenwriter and comedian, Shawn Wayans, at the Comedy Zone.

Actor and comedian Shawn Wayans
48 Pride Magazine |
Musician Anthony David

• MJ the Musical: September 27 –October 8

Experience MJ the Musical, a jukebox musical based on the life of Michael Jackson, featuring Jackson’s music with a book by Lynn Nottage and choreography by Christopher Wheeldon.

BNS Productions

Brand New Sheriff Productions, Charlotte’s award-winning and only Black repertory theatre company, has several plays coming this fall. Learn more at


• Speakeasy: September 22, 23, 24 and November 18

Set in 1978 Pennsylvania, Speakeasy follows the story of Virginia, a young woman who decides to take control of her life by unlearning everything she was taught about how a woman should be. From opting out

“For the Love of Harlem” takes place during the Harlem Renaissance and celebrates the courage, achievement, frailty and hardship of artistic visionaries like Alberta Hunter, Bessie Smith, Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston.

Charlotte Ballet

Charlotte Ballet is known for its strong dancers and versatile repertoire, ranging from the “Nutcracker” to bold, contemporary works. Learn more at


• Breaking Boundaries: October 5 – 28 Experience “Kamuyot,” an inspiring and moving motion picture that engages the audience watching, featuring the groundbreaking choreography of Ohad Naharin.

• Nutcracker: December 8 – 23 Experience the most beloved classic, “Nutcracker,” with glittering snowfall, jumping candy canes and the magnificent Land of Sweets performed at the Belk Theater in Uptown Charlotte.

Children’s Theatre of Charlotte

The Children’s Theatre of Charlotte (CTC) has over 250,000 technically imaginative productions and educational experiences for children and families. Find out more at

with Charlotte Ballet

The 2023/2024 Season begins with Breaking Boundaries, featuring a brand-new work by acclaimed choreographer Mthuthuzeli November.

Performances run October 5-28 at Center for Dance.

Tickets on sale now!

of her marriage to losing her childhood home and meeting someone who sees and loves her for who she really is.

• For the Love of Harlem: September 29, 30, October 1 and November 18

Photo by Quinn Wharton. Dancer: Raven Barkley. Writer, filmmaker and anthropologist, Zora Neale Hurston
September-October 2023 | Pride Magazine 49
Tired Souls will be presented at the Children's Theatre of Charlotte in October.


• Tired Souls - The Montgomery Bus Boycott: October 7 – 8

Take a trip back to December 1, 1955, with this interactive show. Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a city bus, which forever alters the course of U.S. history and becomes a catalyst for the civil rights movement. Written and performed by Mike Wiley.

The Harvey B. Gantt Center

• Life Doesn’t Frighten Me: November 4 – 19

Inspired by Dr. Maya Angelou, this show brings to life the fears we face, teaching that each of us has what it takes to combat them. Stories are told through spoken word, hip-hop and dance, encouraging audience members to sing from their seats.

The Harvey B. Gantt Center for AfricanAmerican Arts + Culture serves as a community epicenter for various art forms and community outreach. Their mission is to preserve and celebrate the excellence in African-American art, culture and history.


• Seeing Stars: April 1 – September 24 “Seeing Stars” highlights some of the groundbreaking, traditionally

underrepresented artists, with paintings, sculptures, photography and multimedia that provide commentary on American race and gender relations.

• Where the Sun Shines: June 16 –October 29

• “Where the Sun Shines” is an immersive dreamworld showcasing artist, Stephanie J. Wood’s, local school memories, lunches and encouraging words from her childhood in Charlotte.

The Mint Museum

The Mint Museum is a leading, innovative cultural institution with one of the largest international collections in the Southeast. Explore more on their website at


• Walter Scott Lenox and American Belleek: September 23 – January 21

Featuring 80+ works from the Mint’s permanent collection, as well as other notable public and private collections, this exhibition focuses on American Belleek production and the role Walter Scott Lenox played in its development as an art form.

• The Vault Exhibition: July 1 –September 17

The Vault exhibition will have over 500 objects, ranging from vintage photography and original paintings to sculptures, furniture, vinyl records and other Black ephemera from Black art collectors. P

One of The Vault’s collectors, Jessica Gaynelle Moss, sits beside a piece — “Lena Blanket” — by Mickalene Thomas. Ceramic Art Company/Lenox, Inc. (Trenton, NJ, 1889-), Depasse Manufacturing Co. (U.S., 1909-15). Decanter Set, circa 1905-15, Belleek porcelain, silver mounts, silver overlay. Collection of Bob Cunningham.
50 Pride Magazine |
Photo by Jade Lilly
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The only K-8 independent school in Charlotte's center city, Trinity shapes the next generation of scholars and citizens through academic excellence, service learning, and fostering an inclusive community.

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Christ-centered. College preparatory. Educating the whole child.

Spiritual Formation

A Charlotte Christian graduate will leave with the opportunity to develop a personal relationship with Christ, knowledge to understand and defend their faith and experiences to serve God and love others. They will learn that Christ is the center of all and synthesize information using a biblical worldview.

Pursuit of Excellence

A Charlotte Christian graduate seeks excellence with their God-given gifts. Excellence in the form of academics with robust college preparatory and college level class offerings; engagement in multi-faceted co-curriculars, effective communication skills and collaboration with others; and practicing empathy while embracing diversity and respecting other perspectives.

Focus on Innovation and Creativity

A Charlotte Christian graduate approaches new concepts with creativity and the courage to be innovative and resilient when taking risks.Through this pursuit they develop self-confidence, self-awareness and self-motivation with the desire to be challenged. Formation of integrity is developed and they are taught the ability to engage responsibly with new technology.

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Private Schools in Charlotte The Impact of Technology in the Classroom

Backpack? Calculator? Highlighters? Check. Once upon a time, these were the types of basic items that comprised a typical back-to-school classroom checklist. Now, students must also have devices such as Chromebooks and USB adapters, access to certain platforms and various applications.

Technology is rapidly changing today’s classroom environment and transforming how students learn going forward. Here, we take a look at how local private and independent schools are finding creative ways to incorporate various technological advancements into their daily agendas and curriculum.

According to a 2023 report, 90 percent of K-12 schools in the U.S. have at least one computer for every five students, and 98 percent of American classrooms now have internet access.

“We have a hybrid model, that is, a mix of digital and traditional modes,” said Jay Hancock, head of school at Carmel Christian School. “We desire to pair the best practices and

September-October 2023 | Pride Magazine 57
Carmel Christian School

established methods while integrating use and discernment of new methods as they emerge,” he said. Paper planners are not required in high school, and Google classroom is the go-to resource for middle and high school students, he added.

At Providence Day School, students are assigned individual iPads starting in 4th grade while classroom sets of iPads are available for students in Pre-K to third grade.

Teachers direct the use of the iPads and use Google Workspace for Education for email, calendar, file creation and management, and websites, explained Matt Scully, director of digital integration and innovation at Providence Day School. Students in grades 6-12 use the iPads daily for classwork as required, he added.

Private and independent schools are adjusting to remain on par with the digital reality into which today’s young people have been born. The Fletcher School has been an Apple Distinguished School since 2015 and at the forefront of the digital revolution over the past 10 years, said Heather Ramsey, Ed.D., director of educational technology at The Fletcher School.

“Because our school serves students with learning differences, we utilize technology to help students accommodate their specialized learning needs. Our students are taught and encouraged to use speech recognition and voice-to-text features to support their reading and writing skills,” she said.

Adopting a K-12 Digital Literacy and Citizenship Program has enhanced higherorder thinking and skills in the classroom at Fletcher, said Ramsey. “Digital citizenship helps users understand how to use technology appropriately and includes the norms of appropriate, responsible technology use. The Fletcher School’s digital citizenship curriculum is infused in all classes and is a way to help prepare students for our technology-rich society.”

Although Charlotte Preparatory School’s classrooms and its computer lab are equipped with laptops and computers, students in grades 3-8 bring their own devices to school each day.

“While all our teaching is still conducted between teacher and student, we understand that technology is an inevitable part of our students’ lives, and when harnessed appropriately, it can be a powerful tool,” said George Marshall, Charlotte Preparatory School’s director of marketing and communications. “For example, recently, while learning about coding and robotics, our fourth graders designed a robot that could sort trash from recycling.”

Charlotte Christian School’s competition VEX robotics teams in their lower, middle

and upper schools demonstrate hands-on STEM skills in a collaborative, competitive environment as they use the engineering process to problem-solve and apply STEM principles to build a robot and compete in VEX robotics competitions, according to Laura Goodyear, director of communications at Charlotte Christian School. Students use the VEX Code IQ app on the iPad devices or VEX VRC to independently write, test and download programs to their robot. Over the past decade more than 12 robotics teams from all three school divisions have advanced to world robotics competitions.

To advance the faculty and program support and to continue to build expertise at Charlotte Christian, all three of their technology facilitators have completed the Apple Learning Coach program.

“We use several learning management systems to aggregate and share content and material with students [such as] Google Classroom [and] Seesaw,” said Stephanie Griffin, assistant head of school for academics at Trinity Episcopal School.

Their students and teachers are “well versed” in the Google Suite. In the lower school, students are using Raz Kids, Splash, Reflex, VR headsets and other content-based tools for learning, while middle school students are podcasting, recording videos on Flip, designing Co-Spaces Edu for virtual reality, using Canva, and learning from Newsela.

“Teachers are constantly trying and piloting new digital tools to enhance the student experience,” Griffin said.

There are pros and cons to using technology in classrooms. Increased digital creativity, preparation and readiness for future careers, increased resources and information, and increased collaboration are some of the advantages that Hancock identifies for Carmel Christian students. However, one of the most common disadvantages of using technology in the classroom across the board is student distraction.

“While there are limits to which apps are accessible on school-issued devices, it’s still easy for students to get distracted. Just as good classroom management kept students engaged and on task before the advent of technology, the same is true today,” said Shannon Drosky, director of marketing and communications at Charlotte Country Day School.

Other cons include: additional screen time contributing to mental health issues, a decrease in student attention span, potential addiction when used without boundaries, increase in desired instant gratification, altered behavior when used without boundaries (irritability), and difficulty reaching consistency between grades and classes due to teacher comfort levels, added Hancock.

For Fletcher’s students and teachers, like other schools, the pros do outweigh the cons.

“Many of our middle and upper school students have [attention-deficit/hyperactivity

Charlotte Country Day School
58 Pride Magazine |
Providence Day School

disorder], and the biggest con is digital distractions during class. However, we do focus on executive functioning skills to help students learn to balance these distractions,” Ramsey shared.

“The pros of using technology in the classroom include increasing student engagement, enabling our teachers to modify and provide accommodations for students struggling with various subjects, accessing a wealth of information and online resources, and helping students prepare for the future by learning skills like collaboration and problem-solving.”

Because technology is ever-changing and sometimes intimidating, not only might students face a significant learning curve, teachers may also have a difficult time adapting to new tools such as video lessons.

“As we learned during remote learning, students and teachers are often learning together, and the teacher is modeling for students that mistakes are OK and that lifelong learning is a process,” said Drosky.

Introducing technology for technology’s sake adds no value if it doesn’t enhance and deepen the existing curriculum, Drosky said. “Building in purposeful transitions, like using iPads then Surfaces, migrating from Google Docs to Office365, mirror the experiences our students will face as they move through college and the workforce. The focus should be on transferable skills rather than the technology itself.”

Scully agrees that “just using a tech tool will not increase engagement.” Providence Day’s approach is to leverage all tools and methods that further its mission of inspiring a passion for learning. Examples range from their youngest students moving from learning center to learning center — developing the skills to self-regulate and stay on task — to their seniors conducting research and designing labs. “While we have not abandoned any modes of teaching, our faculty are

committed to crafting and creating learning experiences based on both the art and science of teaching and learning. It is our goal to ensure that students develop the proficiencies and competencies necessary to thrive, which in part means a healthy relationship with technological tools,” said Scully.

Starting in kindergarten, students at Charlotte Preparatory School take a technology class once a week. Their goal, said Marshall, is to teach students to use technology safely and responsibly.

“We teach them to research essential questions and then think critically about the information they are finding and reading online,” Marshall said. “We teach them how to stay safe online, how to construct emails appropriately, and talk to them about setting boundaries for themselves when using their devices for personal entertainment — all of this through an age-appropriate and childcentered lens,” he said.

Perhaps at no other time in recent history has teaching with technology been more critical than during the pandemic when students and teachers found themselves shifting to a new classroom normal.

“Given our existing one-on-one technology platforms, Country Day was well-poised to continue delivering a quality education to students during remote and hybrid learning,” said Drosky. “Teachers were quick to be even more creative using existing tools. Some of those innovations have been adopted beyond the days of remote learning.”

For example, the Upper School modern and classical language teachers at Charlotte Country Day School leaned into tools like Flip, a Microsoft video discussion app, while teaching students remotely. It was so effective that, Drosky said, they continued to use it.

“Within a secure online space, the teacher makes a video with instructions and a prompt. Students, in turn, respond with their own videos,” she explained. “The

process allows students to build confidence and present their best selves via video before doing live presentations for oral mid-terms and major presentations. Additionally, both students and teachers can easily access past recordings to assess progress in fluency.”

Students gained a level of confidence with online interactions at Providence Day during the pandemic that empowered them to reach content with learners and teachers across the globe, said Scully. Their social entrepreneurship course, for instance, allowed students to meet with entrepreneurs via video conference as well as in person. Students have been connected with everyone from Mark Cuban to local business owners, he added.Now that artificial intelligence (AI) is greatly increasing its presence in our society, it has inevitably become a part of the learning process. The key is to establish parameters, use it responsibly, and avoid academic impropriety such as plagiarism.

“Artificial intelligence has been here. Each time you ask Siri, Alexa or Google, you are using AI,” said Trinity Episcopal School’s head of school, Imana Sherrill. “I don’t want our teachers to be afraid of the technology — our students certainly are not. If it can be used to enhance the educational experience and work for our teachers, then we should use it.”

Sherrill said that one example is using AI to generate quick writing prompts or creating specific equations to test for understanding. Scully said an English teacher, for example, could ask students to have ChatGPT generate seven thesis statements regarding Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and then have students evaluate the merits of these thesis statements.

Sherrill added, “All ‘new’ technology can seem intimidating at first; however, with a little practice and education, you can find ways to use it to your advantage while also keeping students safe and academic integrity in place.” P

Trinity Episcopal School
September-October 2023 | Pride Magazine 59
The Fletcher School

A cast of characters to reflect the world itself

Charlotte Prep empowers children to write their own stories through our distinctive academic model, intentionally small size, and diverse, welcoming community. Our PreK-8 structure is a research-proven model that celebrates every stage of childhood. Our students stay a step removed from the presence and pressures of high school, allowing them to be children a little longer and leaders a little sooner.

Scan Code to RSVP for an Open House

Montessori Oct. 12

Montessori (virtual) Oct. 18

K-8th Grade Nov. 1

K-8th Grade (virtual) Nov. 15

• 100% of Country Day graduates are accepted to colleges and universities around the world; the Class of 2023 received $7.8 million total scholarship offers based on academic merit, athletic abilities, or special talents

Ready. For. You.

As a school, we seek to admit talented and motivated students from diverse backgrounds. Central to preparing our students for this world is creating an academic community that is diverse socioeconomically, racially, ethnically, and inclusive for all. In fact, research has proven that a diverse environment leads to better learning outcomes for all students. Families who feel the full tuition cost is out of their reach should not hesitate to visit or apply to the school. We are here to help you determine the best options for your family with this very important educational investment.

• 20% of our enrollment comprises students of color

• 100% of our faculty engage in professional development each year including diversity, equity, and inclusion

• Over 20% of our Board of Trustees comprises people of color

• Learn more about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging at Country Day: charlottecountryday. org/about/deib

Call us today to learn more about the opportunities at Country Day! | (704) 943-4530 Did you know?

The place for big IDEAS

IDEAS@PD is a reimagining of the computer science department that offers students the chance to explore and expand their passions around innovation, design, entrepreneurship, analytics, and sustainability. Using resources such as computer programming with Alice, EV3 robotics, and broadcast media (to name a few), students have the opportunity to identify challenges they care about and want to pursue while also working across disciplinary boundaries.

We exist to inspire!

Providence Day School will conduct Open Houses this fall for all rising grades. Visit for more information or to schedule a tour.

PEEP Teaches Teens Financial Literacy and Career Readiness

Recently, Harold Dixon, who celebrated 37 years with CharlotteMecklenburg Schools (CMS), has taken on a new role – he’s now president of the board of directors of the Pride Entrepreneur Education Program (PEEP). As PEEP’s president, Dixon oversees the day-today operations of the organization, implementing strategic initiatives, fostering partnerships, and ensuring the PEEP’s mission is upheld.

Dixon began his CMS career driving a school bus while a student at Johnson C. Smith University, then taught math and science at CMS. He later transitioned to his current job as a family engagement specialist for CMS.

“We have a lot of exciting plans for PEEP,” said Dixon. PEEP helps parents understand their role in education, and offers leadership and mentoring. The program will also involve parents in workshops, staff meetings and other events, he added.

With his deep understanding of the local community and its specific challenges, Dixon is responsible for overseeing the dayto-day operations of PEEP, in addition to implementing strategic initiatives, fostering partnerships and ensuring the organization’s mission is upheld.

Some of his future plans for PEEP — which serves high school juniors and seniors — include expansion into the local community to help address some of its specific challenges. More members will be

invited to join the First Generation Investor’s Program, a not-for-profit organization that teaches high school students in underserved communities the power of investing.

“We’ll be meeting entrepreneurs, taking field trips, delving into financial literacy, and various career paths. Many organizations want to participate,” Dixon said.

Getting parents involved through partnership considerations and programs, and emotional support, such as hiring a family specialist to deal with life issues, will make a great deal of difference in students’ lives and future goals, he added. PEEP is also exploring a college and career readiness program, he said. “We want to focus on the whole child, the whole family, and get the parents fully engaged with the school.”

The history of the PEEP program goes back to 2006 when Pride Magazine featured a story about how many Black children in the Charlotte area were underserved. Motivated to help, Dee Dixon, Pride Magazine’s CEO and Publisher, founded the non-profit organization which has connected students in elementary through high schools with mentors and speakers and provided them with in-school programs focusing on entrepreneurship, financial literacy, career development and scholarships.

PEEP Pride is based on three foundational pillars: career mentoring, entrepreneurship and wealth creation. The fundamental goal is to tackle the wealth gap by eliminating future socioeconomic disparities within the African American community.

Jennifer Wyatt Kennedy, a specialty school coordinator with CMS, serves as PEEP’s First Generation Investors program coordinator for IMeck Academy at Cochrane Collegiate Academy in East Charlotte. Her

specialties are civics and economics, and this fall she’ll teach students how to handle their personal finances skills.

“We’ll study everything from balancing a checkbook to having savings and checking accounts to learning about purchasing stocks and bonds to eventually building generational wealth,” she said. “These are all skills they need to start learning now so they can build and grow their personal finances.”

iMeck Academy graduate Demar Mackins, 18, is now working on a career as a content creator and computer engineer, all due to the knowledge and training he received in the PEEP program.

“It’s the best of both worlds,” Mackins said. “It challenges you and you can make great connections and learn how to make your money grow.”

Harold said this is just the type of result the organization is looking for. P

Harold Dixon, president of PEEP’s board of directors. Jennifer Kennedy, PEEP’s First Generation Investors Program coordinator
64 Pride Magazine |
iMeck Academy students attend PEEP’s First Generation Investors Program held at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte campus.

If you think college is out of reach, think again.

At Central Piedmont Community College, we offer $3 million in scholarships that help students afford their education, get closer to their goals, and conquer possibility.

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24389 60 years of serving our community
Being able to go to school without worrying about costs — I’m just grateful.


Leon Levine Foundation Donates to Charlotte Arts Festival

JCSU Names Alum 15th President

Johnson C. Smith University’s board of trustees announced the selection of Dr. Valerie Kinloch as the university’s 15th president, effective Aug. 1, 2023. Kinloch is a 1996 graduate of Johnson C. Smith University and a member of its Board of Trustees.

She currently serves as Dean of the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh, where she oversees 300 fulland part-time faculty and staff, and nearly 1,000 students. She has led academic transformation, recruited top faculty, exceeded fundraising goals, overhauled operations and overseen more than $9 million in capital projects and renovations.

Previously, she held positions as associate dean and professor at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, as a faculty member at Teachers CollegeColumbia University in New York City and the University of Houston-Downtown.

“It’s a dream come true to be invited to lead one of the finest Historically Black Colleges and Universities in America — and at the same time come home,” Kinloch said.

Kinloch was the board of trustees’ unanimous choice. “Valerie’s proven leadership, deep background in academia, and intimate knowledge of Johnson C. Smith University give her 4the expertise and credibility to continue our transformation,” Chairperson Steven Boyd said.

Kinloch holds a bachelor’s degree in English and literature from JCSU as well as a master’s in English/African American Literature and a doctorate in English, both from Wayne State University.

Blumenthal Performing Arts announced that The Leon Levine Foundation (TLLF) has pledged $100,000 toward the Charlotte International Arts Festival (CIAF). A past sponsor of Blumenthal, this newest pledge marks the foundation’s largest gift of support to the nonprofit performing arts center to date. CIAF will return for the second year Sept. 15 – Oct.1.

“From the very beginning, our founder knew that Charlotte would be something special, as the city he called home continues to grow,” remarked Tom Lawrence, TLLF’s President and CEO.

“TLLF is dedicated to its development as a world-class cultural destination. Blumenthal Performing Arts has contributed to this work for decades, and we’re proud to support them as they bring the arts to unreached and underserved audiences through the Charlotte International Arts Festival,” he added.

The Charlotte International Arts Festival, a Blumenthal Performing Arts original, uniquely brings together Charlotte’s local and international communities with global artists in a cultural celebration filled with live performances, art installations, food from around the world and more.

The Vault Opens at the Mint Museum

The Mint Museum announced the opening of “The Vault” at Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts in July. The exhibition, which runs through September 17, leads off “The Year of the Collector” which includes a roster of special exhibitions that feature outstanding collections with works that are as diverse as the collectors.

Organized by guest curator Jessica Gaynelle Moss, “The Vault” presents the private collections of four prominent Charlotte-based collectors: Judy and Patrick Diamond, Nina and James Jackson, Christy, and Quincy Lee, and Cheryse and Christopher Terry. Though each couple has a different philosophy on what they collect, each has amassed an incredible selection of works by Black artists in addition to significant pieces that represent cultural, artistic and historical interests.

The exhibition emphasizes the significant responsibility and privilege that comes with being a custodian of Black art. From works by some of the greatest Black artists of the 20th century — including Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, and Jacob Lawrence — to hundreds of magazines, records, and other culturally specific ephemera, the exhibition is a presentation of collector theory and methodology. P

FYI News & Notes
Dr. Valerie Kinloch
66 Pride Magazine |
Leon and Sandra Levine

live purpose fully

At Atrium Health, it’s important that our teammates represent the communities we serve. That’s why we work every day to create a space where all belong and live out our mission to improve health, elevate hope and advance healing – FOR ALL.

our team where you can live life fully.

We proudly invest in women

Women make up 50% of our workforce at Bank of America. We proudly continue to recruit and invest in helping women succeed within our organization. Outside, we support the economic empowerment of women in our communities and all around the world.

We believe that achieving strong operating results — the right way — starts with our teammates, and we know we must reflect the diversity of the clients and communities we serve. We offer a range of development programs for female leaders who show potential as future business and C-level executives, including our Women’s Executive Development Program, to engage, develop, retain and support the career advancement of high potential talent.

Our ongoing work to invest in women means supporting women business owners and putting into action the belief that female entrepreneurs are fundamental to driving strong, healthy economies.

Through our partnerships with Vital Voices, the Tory Burch Foundation, the Cherie Blair Foundation, Cornell University and Kiva, we’ve helped 75,000 women from more than 85 countries grow their businesses.

To learn more, visit our Empowering Women page at

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