Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Take Five: Harvetta Kashka (Los Angeles)

Harvetta Kashka is a long-time BDPA member. She was a key volunteer on a number of national conference teams as well as a part of the original financial team for the BDPA Education and Technology Foundation (BETF). She has spent the past few months helping create the SITES Endowment Fund within BETF.

She agreed to participate in our Take Five interview series:

  1. How did you get involved in working with BDPA? - A BDPA Los Angeles meeting announcement was placed on the company bulletin board; since I was looking to do volunteer work, I went to the meeting. I worked in downtown Los Angeles, and the meeting was held at one of the downtown businesses. The memorable thing about my first meeting was the number of people in attendance, especially Blacks in IT. Historically, I had found myself to be the only Black IT person attending many IT training classes and conferences.

    I felt that I could contribute to the organization, so I joined the LA Chapter in 1983. I went on to be the LA Chapter Treasurer in the 1983 election (since I had a BS degree in Accounting); and I helped the chapter with the National BDPA Conference held in LA in 1984. You might say, the rest is history as I later served as National BDPA Finance Chair, National BDPA Conference Finance Chair, and was on the BDPA Team that formed the BETF, and served for a number of years as the BETF Treasurer.

  2. What is the most rewarding aspect of working with BDPA? - Since I was a project manager when I joined BDPA-LA, I was able to be a resource to others looking for IT jobs. It was very rewarding to reach out and help other Blacks in IT. In BDPA, I really learned the true meaning of networking. Over the years, I have made friends from coast-to-coast and border-to-border. Some of my closest and life-long friends, I met through BDPA. Being a member of the financial BDPA team, it was especially rewarding to be able to acquire funding for the high school computer competition (HSCC) teams. Words can not express how rewarding it is to see all the youth that attend the National BDPA HSCC championships each year.

  3. Tell us about a defining moment in your life? - During the 20+ years I was an active member of BDPA, it is difficult to find a single defining moment. However, I have developed friendships with people in BDPA that have been with me through thick and thin.

  4. Who is your hero and why? - I have 2 heroes in BDPA, Earl Pace and Gerri McClamy. I’m just in awe, when I think of the vision Earl had to create an organization like BDPA during a time when Blacks in IT were few and far between. Earl is a gentle giant, and has always offered his professional expertise to BDPA Chapters, National office, and the BETF.

    Many in BDPA are not aware of the contributions Gerri made to the National BDPA Conference. As a member of her conference team for 5 years, Gerri introduced BDPA to national companies that had previously shunned the organization, and obtained their support.

  5. Any advice for people considering donation to BETF? - With the advent of H1-B visas and international outsourcing, Blacks in IT lost a lot of ground in corporate IT shops. BDPA and BETF have been instrumental in keeping our plight in front of the lawmakers and corporations. During these hard economic times, it is very important to help fund the programs that support Blacks in IT. Since BETF is the 501(c)3 charitable arm of BDPA, it makes good business sense to donate to BETF, by whatever means possible. For the baby boom generation who are nearing retirement, think about leaving a charitable donation to BETF in your “will”.

Harvetta's interview reminded me of some of the great times in BDPA. I hope you enjoyed her interview just as much as I did!

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