Friday, January 21, 2011

Take Five: John Hoffler (Charlotte)

Can you tell me what Linnie Bailey, James Banks, John Hoffler, Norman Mays, Michael McCrimmon and Jimm Middleton have in common?

I'll share the answer at the end of this Take Five interview with John Hoffler.

  1. How did you get involved in working with BDPA? - It's hard to remember now, but I believe I was introduced to BDPA through an article in Black Enterprise. The article included the national site URL, so I searched the site for a St. Louis chapter. Once I joined BDPA I quickly became involved in the St. Louis HSCC program. Mark Grady was the chapter president and we had frequent conversations about what the chapter could do to make an impact on the St. Louis community. Mark encouraged me to run for president.
  2. What is the most rewarding aspect of working with BDPA? - I have often commented that when we are young we imagine that we can change the world. As we grow more mature we begin to realize that changing the world requires a broad range of skills. BDPA St. Louis was an organization that collected people with different skills and different life experiences, but the same overarching goals. We sought to make volunteering as easy and stress-free as possible, building a chapter of teachers, database administrators, project managers, programmers, and even graphic artists. We felt like we could take on any program that was sufficiently valuable. That feeling was the most rewarding aspect of working BDPA -- the feeling that we could change the world.
  3. Tell us about a defining moment in your life? - During my freshman year at MIT I answered a volunteer request to help the supply officer at my Navy ROTC unit. My first semester had not gone very well, both from an academic and military point of view. Only in hindsight do I see that I wasn't successful because I wasn't engaged. I believe that many people obey the rule, "the less you do, the less you want to do." Working in the supply office made ROTC a bigger part of my college life, which led me to invest more in all other facets of the ROTC program. I also got more engaged outside of ROTC. I joined the MIT Jazz Band and volunteered as a physics and math tutor with the Black Student Union. The turn-around was profound. I was a poorly ranked freshman, nearly kicked out of ROTC by an academic review board. Junior year I earned the first straight-A's in my life during what is supposed to be an MIT Physics major's most difficult semester. That feat helped me become Midshipman of the Year for Academic Excellence. The following year I was appointed Battalion Executive Officer, the second highest rank in the ROTC unit. My college experience has taught me that engagement counts - I fully engage in all endeavors and I only undertake activities that justify the time commitment associated with full engagement.
  4. Who is your hero and why? - I don't have the sort of personality that contemplates hero status for people.
  5. Any advice for people considering donation to BETF? - BDPA is a volunteer organization focused on the relationship of Information Technology and African Americans with regard to education, business, and the general community. Monetary funding is only one third of the support BDPA needs for its mission. We need experience and ideas about how BDPA can make a positive impact on the world. That's what gives your donation meaning. Finally, we need "boots on the ground" - your volunteer time gives these world-impacting ideas concrete substance. If you've given of your purse, also consider giving your mind and your hands.

John is a remarkable man. It is worth noting that his daughter was a member of the BDPA Charlotte HSCC team that competed for the 2009 national championship in Raleigh NC.

Oh yeah ... the answer to the question in the opening paragraph? Methinks that these are the only five people in BDPA's history to serve as chapter president for more than one chapter: Bailey (Washington DC and Inland Empire), Banks (Bay Area and Kansas City), Hoffler (St. Louis and Greenville), Mays (Washington DC and Cleveland) and McCrimmon (Indianapolis and Atlanta).

No comments: