Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Reflections on 40th BDPA Anniversary * Norman Mays

Norman Mays
Guest Blogger: Norman Mays, Past National President
'My 40-Year Historical Overview'

From Alpha to Omega - beginning to end – is an age old way of telling a story or reflecting upon the life of someone or something. For my brief story, there is a definite Alpha and may there not be an Omega for ages to come.

My 40-year journey with BDPA (Black Data Processing Associates) began in 1975, when founders Mr. Earl A. Pace, Jr., and the late David Wimberley created BDPA Philadelphia Chapter. I heard about the organization from Mr. Wilbur McReynolds, a mutual friend of Earl Pace. At that time, I was a Captain in the US Army, stationed at Fort Meade, Maryland and assigned to the first official US Army organization dedicated to Computer Systems Security. After being invited to be a speaker at one of the Philadelphia Chapter’s monthly program meetings, and coming to understand the value of the mission statement, I joined BDPA in 1976, not realizing that I had begun one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

I have remained involved with BDPA for the past 39 of those 40 years because the original mission statement spoke to me.
To accumulate a pool of data processing knowledge and business experience with the intention of utilizing these resources to strengthen the expertise of the minority members of the data processing community; offer this expertise to minorities evaluating data processing for future career / business potential; and broaden the data processing knowledge of the minority community as a whole and participate in all activities directly related thereto.”

NOTE: The current mission statement has fewer words, but still embraces the original vision.
That was it for me. Throughout my 20 years of service in the US Army, my experiences have taught me that service and commitment are crucial keys to personal and organizational success.

Now, before I go any further, I want to give a standing ovation and strong kudos to those persons who over the years have volunteered their time, energy, talent, expertise, counsel and on occasion, a personal 'coin or two' while serving as: active members; committee chairpersons; chapter officers; outside directors; national officers; and any other positive support activity/position.

Some of the past National presidents
As our elected servant leaders (though not listed here), the lineup of National Presidents over the past 40 years deserve special praise. Like life, being a National BDPA President is not always an easy task, but from my experience, it is and certainly has been worth it. Life goes in cycles, sometimes up and sometimes down. But through it all, we have been blessed to have had some awesome, very talented 'Captains at the helm' of our BDPA ship. May that blessing continue.

My personal advice?
By keeping one’s eyes on the mission and one’s heart on the people it takes to make it happen, one will rarely, if ever, go wrong.
During the early days of my membership, I served as a National Vice President, two terms as National President, founded the Washington, D.C. Chapter, founded the Cleveland Chapter, and helped other chapters form to enter the BDPA family. As of this writing, I am still actively involved in BDPA Cleveland Chapter.

So here is a question: What is your commitment to the mission and vision of BDPA and how are you serving?

Throughout the years, BDPA and our members have been recognized for their accomplishments, via many media sources. One special media source has been the Diversity Careers in Engineering & Information Technology Magazine.

 I have selected two issues for you to review online.
  1. You can go to: www.diversitycareers.com. There you will see their last issue (December 2014/January 2015); however, their previous issues are available by selecting the link “Click here for Digital Edition”, then select the “Archives” tab near the upper right corner.
  2. My specific selections are: [“October/November 2010”, pages 90, 91 & 93 and100 & 101] -- highlights from our 2010 National Conference and Career Fair. 
  3.  The next selection is: [“October/ November 2012”, pages 93 to 96 and 98 & 99] – it highlights the work of Dr. Jesse Bemley and Kevin Robinson as part of the STEM portion of our high school student program.
  4. Additionally, the Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF), born out of BDPA, is highlighted on pages 100 & 101 of the same issue. They are comprised of senior level IT professionals whose role has been to mentor members seeking greater career responsibilities.
Dr. Jesse Bemley
This story would not be anywhere close to telling without recognizing a true, “in the trenches” supporter of BDPA. He is one who has implemented the Mission by creating and guiding the BDPA High School Student Computer Competition (HSCC) and the BDPA IT Showcase -- Dr. Jesse Bemley. His foresight, patience and commitment have been invaluable. Through the BDPA family, the lives he has touched and their personal and economic impacts are astronomical. Why wouldn’t a person join BDPA when they have friends like Jesse? (EDITORIAL NOTE: Honor Dr. Bemley with donation to the Dr. Jesse Bemley Scholarship Fund).

Dr. Demo Solaru
On another note of interest – in 2008, while listening to the Ambassador of Tanzania during his conference keynote speech, Dr. Demo Solaru (BDPA Cleveland) and I were inspired by the ambassadors request for BDPA to become more involved globally. Dr. Solaru and I represented BDPA on a trip to Tanzania, Africa to explore and promote a student-based IT educational concept we called 'The BDPA IT Corps'. It’s similar to the Peace Corps, except the design is with computer technology and our HSCC students. The concept was enthusiastically received by everyone to whom we spoke. Timing became the primary downside. The effects of the recession of 2008 reared its ugly head for our corporate sponsors, members, and ultimately for BDPA. Though the original form of the program has been downsized, the greater concept is still viable.

There is so much more that could be said about the past 40 years – the outstanding people, programs and events that have occurred in our local chapters is a story all by itself. The corporate support has been fantastic. Participation in the annual BDPA Career Fairs has been great. I love the coffee cups and pens! I understand the business case and many members have elevated their careers through BDPA. Kudos to each of you!

Earl Pace, Jr.
The value of the non-profit “wing” – our BDPA Education and Technology Foundation cannot be overlooked as a major growth factor for BDPA. One of our former National Presidents, Mr. Wayne Hicks, has been at the helm for many years. He is another of BDPA’s blessings.

In closing, I think it’s only fitting that we recognize our co-founder, Mr. Earl A. Pace, Jr. for all the work he has done over these past 40 years. Along with your blood, sweat and tears, BDPA has been elevated to the high levels of credibility. For example, Mr. Pace was inducted into the CompTIA Information Technology Hall of Fame in 2011, joining the likes of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

Please remember – WE – All of us are BDPA. So don’t hesitate to flash a warm smile and give a Big BDPA Family Hug as often as you can.

Much love to everyone. WOW! It’s been an awesome 40 years!!

Norman Mays, Past President
National BDPA

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