Friday, February 26, 2016

Message from BDPA Atlanta Chapter President

BDPA Atlanta – The President’s Roundup – A Dialogue on Race

Derrick Brown
Race continues to be a point of conversation, confusion, condescension, convolution and equivocation. As our society and culture evolves so too does the conversation and concept of race. On Wednesday February 17, 2016 BDPA Atlanta continued its conversation on race with expert facilitator Tia Buckham-White of Notre International.

Why do I describe the issue of race in the fashion I just did? Because quite simply that is how race has changed over time. It has always been difficult, however as colors change, people change, ethnicity and cultures rise and combine we have begun to regard race with both simplicity and complexity in equal measure. Was he being racist? Was he not being racist? Did she really man to do that? Can you be a racist and Black? Was she subject to unconscious bias? And now we have Asians, Indians, Arabs, Africans, East Europeans, Gays, Trans, Muslims … you name it, we got it. The Diversity Wheel Turns and Rises!

Race and racism are no longer just about Black and white.

Now, just to be clear as I have done before and I will reiterate again, my perspective on race (and it is mine) is quite simple. There is only race with regard to sentience on this planet, and that is the human race. We come in all shades, shapes, and sizes. The more real differentiator is the ethnicity of our origin and the cultures that arise out of our societal structures.

That’s done.

Tia led us through a discussion of what we as African Americans have experienced in the corporate environment. She shared many of her personal experiences leading Circle Dialogues with executives at fortune 500 companies. A Circle Dialogue is a powerful tool used to generate deep personal conversation between people on difficult topics, often leveraging personal experiences and backgrounds.

One of the most powerfully illuminating stories she relayed to our membership was how in one dialogue a white female executive who many Black people thought might be racist for whatever reason revealed that she was practically raised by a Black family. Another vice president revealed how hurt he was because he could not allow his kids to visit his parents. His wife was white, his kids were white, but his parents were staunch racists and he absolutely refused to expose his children to such hate. Pause, and simply late that settle in for a moment.

Our conversation on Wednesday continued along these lines. We discussed tools that we might use in order to better manage the overt as well as subtle challenges we might encounter in the work environment. Often enough these challenges are exercises in perspective, and the clarity that can come from good dialogue that embraces positive conflict and a sincere effort to lean into discomfort can readily drive us towards a good outcome, dispelling racism and driving towards tolerance and acceptance.

BDPA Atlanta will continue these exercises with Tia Buckham-White and over the course of 2016 we will offer workshops that dig deeper into how we manage the angst, conflict and lack of opportunity that can arise from racism. This is the commitment BDPA is providing to you. A value proposition we are certain you can believe in. If you are not a member become a member today!

The Aspiring Critical Thinker,
D.S. Brown, President
BDPA Atlanta

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Yash Shirsath Uses Bemley Scholarship at University of Pennsylvania

Yash Shirsath
Yash Shirsath is on of the rare students to earn a Dr. Jesse Bemley Scholarship for all five years of eligibility as a member of the BDPA Atlanta chapter. His scholarship earnings included winning the entire High School Computer Competition (HSCC) championship in both 2012 and 2015.

Yash will use his Bemley Scholarship towards his education at the University of Pennsylvania.  Yash is a National Presidential Scholar and part of the Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology.  As part of this selective program, Yash will receive a bachelors degree in Economics from Wharton Business School and another bachelors degree in Computer and Information Sciences from the University of Pennsylvania. He is very interested in entrepreneurship and plans to innovate in the startup space.

When asked to share his memories of the HSCC journey, Yash wrote,

"I have had the pleasure of being part of the HSCC program for five years. I came in as a timid rising 9th grader who knew nothing about the fantastical world of computing. HSCC not only gave me concrete and marketable but it also fostered a great passion within me.

2015 HSCC Champions
One of my favorite memories from HSCC that really encapsulates my experience in the program occurred right in the maelstrom of competition. We had just completed eight grueling hours of coding and we were pitching our product to a panel of judges. It had all come down to those few moments. Months of preparation and dedication. From myself. From my teammates. From my coaches.

I was in the middle of explaining the intricacies of the security features that we had encoded into the product, when it hit me. This wasn't just a competition. I could have just as easily been standing in a boardroom, talking to executives about our product. We had gained so many skills from this program that we blurred the line between student and professional. This knowledge has really propelled me throughout my career as a computer science student. When I look forward and envision all of the opportunities that lay ahead, I know that HSCC opened the door to so many of them."

Yash is a remarkable young man. BDPA looks forward to following his career as he progresses through college and on into the boardroom within Corporate America or his own company! Please note that the Bemley Scholarship Fund is made up of individual donations from people like yourself. Please take a moment to recognize young people like Yash with a secure online donation!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

2015 Oracle Scholarships for BDPA Students

National BDPA recognized six students for its annual Oracle Scholarship for BDPA Students. The six winners are:
  1. LaRae Adams (BDPA Greater Birmingham) - Tuskegee University
  2. Yaw Asante (BDPA Cincinnati)- Walnut Hills High School
  3. Rariety Monford (BDPA Cincinnati) - North Carolina A&T State University
  4. Lauren Ravenell (BDPA Indianapolis) - Ball State University
  5. Preethiya Sekar (BDPA Southern Minnesota) - Carleton College
  6. Malik Swanson (BDPA Chicago) - Chicago State University
Each of these young people earned a $3,000 college scholarship for their pursuit of a career in Engineering, Computer and Information Science, Computer Engineering or Mathematics.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Grant Declination * Bradley Foundation (BDPA Milwaukee)

BDPA Education and Technology Foundation learned today that our $10,000 letter of inquiry submitted to the Lynne and Harry Bradley Foundation has been declined. Our LOI was submitted on behalf of the Student Information Technology Education & Scholarship program in Milwaukee.

The declination letter read as follows:

Dear Mr. Hicks:

I regret to inform you that the prospective proposal you describe does not fall within the Foundation's mandate and its current programmatic interests.

Thank you once again for your interest.

Daniel P. Schmidt
Vice President for Program

Although we are disappointed by this response we will continue to seek out funding on behalf of our BDPA Milwaukee chapter. You can help by making a secure online donation in support of the young people being trained by this chapter.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Briana Abraham Uses Her Bemley Scholarship for Computer Science Degree at George Mason University

Briana Abraham
BDPA Education and Technology Foundation (BETF) is proud to award a Dr. Jesse Bemley Scholarship to BDPA Greater Columbia student member Briana Abraham.   This is the second scholarship provided to Briana in recent months.  Briana plans to use it to continue her studies at George Mason University. Briana seeks a computer science degree with a focus on cybersecurity. Her career goal is to become a reverse engineer. She worked the past two summers as a research intern at the University of South Carolina.

We asked her to share thoughts on her experience with BDPA.
"I joined BDPA during my junior year in high school, shortly after I became interested in Computer Science. BDPA gave me a space to hone my programming skills, while also allowing me to collaborate with peers who held similar interests, and who were passionate about software development. My time at BDPA has greatly increased my teamwork skills, presentation skills, networking skills, and of course my programming skills.

My most
2014 HSCC Team (Greater Columbia)
memorable moment in BDPA is during the 2014 National BDPA Technology Conference, when the awards were announced for the High School Computer Competition, and it was revealed that my team had placed second. That moment was filled with elation, joy and camaraderie. My teammates and I, were thrilled to see that the days spent together in preparation for the competition had paid off. We were shocked. The moment for me was particularly special, as prior to this venture, I had no experience with web development, and being able to contribute meaningfully to the team's success, was fulfilling.
This is the 30th anniversary of the High School Computer Competition.  We have given out hundreds of Bemley Scholarships over the years.   We are grateful to Best Buy Foundation and the Information Technology Senior Management Forum for providing major donations in support of the Bemley Scholarship Fund this year.   However, this is truly a scholarship fund that is supported by BDPA members and supporters.  I encourage you to make a secure online donation today!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Top 10 BDPA Chapters (Membership, January 2016)

The lifeblood of any nonprofit association is its membershipBDPA Cincinnati remains the #1 BDPA chapter in the nation for the tenth month in a row.   The chapter ... led by its new president,  Shawnda Peterson ... continues to amaze others by its consistent growth.   It will be interesting to see if the chapter can continue growing towards the next milestone of having 300 members this year.

We are very happy to see that National BDPA VP-Membership Management Mildred Allen has been asked by the current administration to stay on in her leadership role.  Her efforts have allowed BDPA to continue to grow.   She realizes that we need to work hard to keep membership growth and retention higher.

Loraine Stewart-David
BDPA Detroit had a great month in January as they grew their chapter by over 18% in that single month.  As a result  the chapter moved up in the national rankings to become the 3rd-largest in the nation.  The chapter president, Loraine Stewart-David, takes over a chapter with a powerful legacy.  Her chapter recently announced four winners (Gerald Curtis, Austin Little, Nicole Middleton and Amber Young) of the Fiat Chrysler Automobile Scholarship administered by the BDPA Education and Technology Foundation.  It is no accident that active efforts within a local BDPA chapter results in more members ... more members results in more membership dues ... which makes it easier to implement more consistent and effect programs and services. How are things going in your local chapter?

BDPA believes in the management maxim -- you get what you measure.  Let us assess the numbers in order to honor those local BDPA chapters who are demonstrating success in their efforts to recruit and retain members. Congratulations to BDPA Dallas chapter for moving into this month's Top 10 list!  Let's take a look at the ten largest chapters in BDPA-Nation:
  1. Cincinnati - president, Shawnda Peterson
  2. Chicago - president, Reggie Rush 
  3. Detroit - president, Loraine Stewart-David (up 1 slot from last month)
  4. Atlanta - president, Derrick Brown (down 1 slot)
  5. Philadelphia - president, Cedric Edwards
  6. New York - president, Tyrone McKinney
  7. Indianapolis - president, Terry Morris (up 1 slot)
  8. Washington DC - president, Perry Carter (down 1 slot)
  9. Milwaukee - president, Carmen Giles
  10.  Dallas - president, Chad White (up 2 slots)
The number of chapters now belonging to the 'BDPA Century Club' currently stands at six.  The benefit of having powerful leadership is obvious when we see that Cincinnati, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, New York and Philadelphia each have over 100 members. One of the common denominators for each of these chapters is that they place a high premium on the delivery of quality programs and services to their members. These chapters work hard to ensure that there is a strong return on the $100 investment that each member makes thru annual dues.

National president Mike Williams recently touted the value that organizational re-branding has made on BDPAWhat are your thoughts about the value of BDPA membership? What can your local chapter do to improve the value-proposition for you on a personal or professional level?