Monday, December 21, 2009

Take Five: Rick Leggett (Triangle)

There have been hundreds of chapter presidents in the 35-year history of BDPA. In my opinion, Rick Leggett is would rank in the all-time Top Ten of BDPA chapter presidents in our history. In 2005, he took a small and forgotten BDPA chapter located in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina and turned it into a outright powerhouse. The chapter is currently the 2nd-largest in the nation ... and it recently hosted a highly profitable and critically-acclaimed national conference.

Rick agreed to participate in our Take Five interview series:

  1. How did you get involved in working with BDPA? - During the mid-90's, BDPA representatives were featured on a television series (Excellence By Choice: The Television Show for College Bound Students) that I created and produced in Washington, DC. The show exposed students and viewers to higher education and Career opportunities. I became aware of the organization after researching information about national organizations in technology. We invited and featured BDPA representatives on the thirty-minute show to expose students and viewers to careers in IT. High school students served as host & production crew of the highly acclaimed weekly tv series, assisted by industry professionals.

    In 2002, some IT colleagues asked me to attend an informational meeting about an effort to re-establish a BDPA chapter in the Triangle (NC) region. They were aware that I had launched a model economic development initiative, known as City-wide Technology Enrichment Program (CTEP), a comprehensive computer literacy, academic enrichment, informational and workforce development program serving 10,000 residents (youth, adults, and senior citizens). While serving as it's Executive Director, CTEP had been nationally and internationally recognized as well as replicated around the world.

    During the meeting I agreed to provide seed capital, meeting location, computer lab and additional resources to re-establish the Triangle Chapter. I was later asked by (then) National BDPA president Wayne Hicks to lead the effort to rejuvenate the Triangle Chapter after the chapter's current president was facing imminent military deployment. We only had about 5 or so members at the time. I reluctantly agreed to the task at hand given my other significant responsibilities, but appreciated the importance of BDPA's mission.

  2. What is the most rewarding aspect of working with BDPA? - Another avenue to serve God's will. Our chapter's creed is "Impacting our communities through IT". We’re making a significant impact in the community through our chapter monthly Professional, Technical and Personal Development Series; Collegiate Speakers Series; Project Management Professional Study Course; SITES/HSCC Saturday Technology Academy for area high school students; in addition to, the Durham Technology Expo held during Black Family Technology Awareness Week; partnership with the City-wide Technology Enrichment Program; the Dewayne Washington Foundation to help area high school graduates receive laptop computers and printers for college, as well as, providing volunteers for Science and Technology Day at local public Middle Schools.

    BDPA Triangle Chapter consistently holds monthly chapter meetings, with high-quality presenters at a great facility at the First Flight Venture Center located in Research Triangle Park, NC. We’ve developed strong strategic alliances (such as Council for Entrepreneurial Development, Raleigh-Durham Chapter of the National Black MBA Association, Carolina Minority Suppliers Development Council) and relationships with corporate sponsors (such as North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, Credit Suisse, Compuware, RBC Bank, GE Healthcare, Blue Cross & Blue Shield, IBM, Cisco Systems, AT&T and others).

    We’ve proudly embodied the BDPA mantra: “From Classroom to the Boardroom”. Working with a dedicated and talented team, we’ve increased membership to (200+) and (Ranked #2) nationally; developed and maintained working relations with area organizations; showcased membership & businesses in newsletter; supported local & regional area businesses; facilitated contracts & job opportunities for members; facilitated student internship opportunities for members; and trained & exposed youth to advanced technology; and of course, we’re proud to have been host to a first-class, successful annual National BDPA Technology Conference in the organization’s history.

  3. Tell us about a defining moment in your life? - There has not been any one in particular. I've been very blessed throughout my life, having had an array of prominent mentors and exposures. Early in life, we were instilled with values that we'd have a big job to fill and our role was to carry the torch of those great warriors before us who'd paved the way for us. God continues to prepare, guide and use me and many others to do his work. As they say, "it's not about the destination, its about the journey".

  4. Who is your hero and why? - As I've said before their are many who suffered and struggled for us, shedding their blood and tears to pave the way for all of us. Those untold heroes & sheroes positively impacted our lives. It's important that we carry-on that legacy. We also must instill in our youth that they are connected to this journey and its their's too. As an extension of us, they too serve a vital role to collectively succeed for the continued enrichment of each generation to come.

    People like my grandfather, grandmother, father, mother, uncles and aunts, extended family, along with numerous others come to mind as my hero/shero. They and others were most influential in my life, and certainly played an integral role in shaping my life in addition to many others. People like affirmative action pioneer Dr. Arthur Fletcher whose initiatives paved the way to changing America’s employment, education and business opportunity culture forever. The late Dr. Fletcher served as former Deputy Secretary of the U. S. Department of Labor, advisor to four United States Presidents, and one of the nation’s foremost economic development advisors as well as one the most influential Americans of the 20th Century. I can name many others who were and still remain my hero. Each and every one made a significant positive impact on our lives.

  5. Any advice for people considering donation to BETF? - I always felt BDPA has the potential to be the most influential African American organization in the world. The vast talent pool within the organization is incredible. BDPA members are running Corporate America, Governments, Communities and beyond. Its vital that we pool our resources to have mechanisms in place to impact the lives of our youth and communities in a most positive manner. Its imperative that we maintain our own engines to drive our own destiny, thus being not be so dependent upon others. The BDPA Education and Technology Foundation (BETF) serves as an important channel for us to achieve this goal by providing our youth financial assistance for higher education through scholarships in addition to support for our local chapters' initiatives.

Rick proved that you can build a BDPA chapter with both quality and quantity if you stay focused on the organization mission and if you deliver measurable programs and services to your members and community.

What did you think of Rick's response?

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