Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Message from the Founder (August 2015)

Earl Pace
40 years ago David Wimberly and I pooled our resources, rented a hotel meeting room at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Philadelphia, invited a bunch of our friends who were in the “data processing field” and started Black Data Processing Associates. Of course it had no name at that time but several meetings later, we had an organization. Unfortunately, David Wimberly met with a premature death before the organization was actually formed but we continue to be indebted to him. David was tenacious! We worked in the same building on the same floor but for different companies. It seemed that each time I left or entered my office David was there lobbying me for the creation of an organization like BDPA. Eventually, I agreed and the rest is history. So it is on this 40th anniversary that I say to David, “Thank you!”

Usually, on occasions such as this, announcements, articles and speeches appear with congratulations extolling the accomplishments of the organization and all the wonderful things it has done. Along with this comes statement of how the industry would not be the same were it not for the organization’s contributions. All of these things are appropriate and fitting for BDPA but in the Information Technology industry where it’s all about “keeping up with the changes”, there’s no time for self-indulgence. There’s too much to be done! In the United States, there are now over 116 million people employed of which 7 million are employed in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) occupations. Blacks or African Americans hold but 6% of these STEM positions despite being 13% of the population. In an economy with 26 million firms, Black or African American businesses comprise but 7% of the functioning businesses, 90% have no paid employees! Access to investment capital for business start-ups is almost non-existent and racial inequities continue to prevent African Americans and others of color from participating fully in the American Dream. The past 40 years have merely been “a race to the starting line”.  Now the real work begins!

BDPA has been doing excellent work since its inception. Over the past 28 of our 40 years of operation, we have introduced tens of thousands of students, from middle school, high schools and colleges, to the IT industry and given them actual IT skills through our Student Information Technology and Education Scholarships (SITES) programs and internships. We have contributed to the development of the careers of our IT professional members and others through our jobs bank, our Project Management development and support and networking opportunities. Along with our local chapter’s contribution to the development of technical and management skills through their monthly program meetings, webinars and local networking, BDPA has been making a difference . But we have been too busy “doing the good work”, without doing an adequate job of blowing our own horn! Now that STEM has come into vogue, other organizations are very publicly entering into an arena that BDPA has been functioning in for decades. It’s time for BDPA to be recognized for its foresight and industry contributions! The year 2015 seems like the right time to do so!

National BDPA has developed a plan to increase recognition of the BDPA brand. Our local chapters are to be included in this effort through the coordination and efforts of the regional representatives. This year’s National Conference in August at the Washington Hilton, in Washington DC, will be a BDPA Conference like no other! More important to this effort is the participation of our membership. You have seen, participated in and benefited from the programs and opportunities provided by BDPA. Don’t keep it a secret! One characteristic of the group that attended the organizational meetings of BDPA in 1975 is that they recognized that the value of the organization was enhanced by bringing in others. A strong BDPA would be of value to them and those that they brought in. That’s what we call a “social and selfish motivation”. They spread the word – and they didn’t have the Internet! Each of us must be eager to tell the BDPA story!

BDPA is 100% dedicated to contributing to your journey “from the classroom to the boardroom. There is strength in numbers so each of us needs to be a spirited evangelist, for the BDPA mission. Let’s make 2015 the year we make the world aware that for 40 years past, BDPA has been an Information Technology Thought Leader with proven results. That BDPA is ready to take those programs and more forward for, at least, another 40 years! Let’s all be as tenacious as David Wimberly!

Earl A. Pace, Jr.
BDPA Co-Founder

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