Villages at Carver YMCA Impresses at AAP Leadership Luncheon

Of the many attendees at the 4th Annual AAP Leadership Luncheon, two young men stood out a head above the rest, Deron Dill and Christopher Wright, program participants from AAP Build a Library site at Villages at Carver YMCA.

These two gentlemen, along with the teen center director, Bilal Blake, were featured in a video about AAP’s signature cause, Powering the Potential of African-American Boys and young men toward academic achievement.

Villages at Carver YMCA is one of the original after-school sites that AAP invested in when the group took up the goal to improve academic outcomes for African-American young men and boys back in 2016. Today, students participate in the book clubs, leadership workshops, team building projects, creative writing classes and homework tutors. Tricia Crossman, United Way’s Senior Director, Youth Development, manages the program.

Hear more from Deron and Christopher here.

African-American Partnership Member, Michael D. Brown
Vice President, Human Resources
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Georgia

AAP: Tell us about your role at Kaiser Permanente and how you impact the company’s strategic goals.

Michael: I am accountable for the design and execution of the Human Capital Strategy for Kaiser Permanente of Georgia, the state’s largest nonprofit health plan. The organization has 4,000 health care workers, 26 medical centers, contact centers and administrative offices. My key accountabilities involve delivering Human Resources solutions to the business, including: culture design, change management, succession and talent development, learning and organization effectiveness, employee engagement, equity, inclusion and diversity, workforce planning, employee wellness, employee relations, and labor relations.


AAP: What are your suggestions for individuals who are interested in a career in healthcare?

Michael: I can’t think of a better industry than health care to start a rewarding career.  It is a well-known fact that health care costs in America are too high and unsustainable.  And health care may be the single most important issue facing us today. Becoming a health care professional not only gives you the opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives but you can also be a part of the innovative and progressive thinking that will help change the system and move us forward. At Kaiser Permanente, we believe all Americans should have access to affordable and quality health care. We are looking for professionals who are ready to take the journey with us and be a part of the bold moves that will transform health care as we know it.


AAP: How have you seen the role of human resources within a company evolve during your career?

Michael: Since 2000 when I started my career there has been a steady transformation of human resources from an administrative support function to a strategic and consultative business partner.  Increasingly, human resources professionals are counted on to solve business problems and lead large-scale change management. Many companies have realized – and rightfully so – that people are their most important assets.  As a result, the smart companies are investing in the development of their people at all levels of the organization; and they look to human resources to create systems and process to identify and cultivate the talent.


AAP: Why is philanthropy important? How do you give back to the community?

Michael: I realize that I have benefited greatly from the generosity and benevolence of others.  From the local small businesses that sponsored my youth sports teams, to the charitable donations of individuals who covered the cost of my college ACT and SAT preparation classes, I have been given opportunity, exposure, and education that I may not have otherwise been afforded.  I give back through volunteering as a coach.  My win-lost record would not suggest that I have a future in coaching, but I try to make it fun for the kids and help instill basic life skills and lessons.  I also participate on local boards.  Although I have only been living in the metropolitan Atlanta area for less than two years I am a proud board member of the Andrew & Walter Young Family YMCA. I have also joined my colleagues in the Kaiser Permanente African American Professional Association business resource group in supporting various United Way African American Partnership events.


AAP: AAP is building libraries where youth play and learn, what is your favorite book and why?

Michael: The Game of Life and How to Play It, by Florence Scovel Shinn.  It’s one of the more recent books that I’ve read.  It is a short book, less than 100 pages.  It is filled with messages about thinking and speaking positively.  The simple and powerful messages in the book apply to anyone, at any age, and any stage in life.  I recommend it to anyone who wants a positive mindset.

It is hard to believe that the 4th Annual AAP Leadership Luncheon is almost here and I, for one, could not be more excited. Of course, I am looking forward to hearing from one of the most influential African-American artists of our generation, Common. This will also be a great opportunity for AAP members to network and share our signature cause with the Atlanta community.

We are offering guests a powerful networking tool. Did you know that once you’ve registered for the Luncheon, you can view the names of the other guests? Simply, use your email address and confirmation number to log in to log-in and select “Information” then “Attendees.” You can create a networking plan before the Luncheon!

At the Luncheon, we are counting on you to help “chat AAP up”. As a member, you know about, not only the many opportunities United Way creates for volunteerism, we are also raising money to fund our signature cause, Powering the Potential of African-American young men and boys.

Lastly, it is not too late to ask Common a question. Send your questions to and one or more may be included in the discussion the AAP Leadership Luncheon.

See you on March 2nd! #LeadWithAAP2019

Kind regards,
Stephanie Gloster
AAP Cabinet Chair

#WhyWednesday: Natasha Chambliss

Meet Natasha Chambliss, Home Depot employee and United Way of Greater Atlanta African-American Partnership board member! Watch Natasha’s Share Your Why video to learn how being a part of AAP helps her fulfill her passion for improving literacy, by getting hands-on in the Build-a-Library program.

What’s your passion? Come fulfill it in partnership with United Way of Greater Atlanta! Whether you’re ready to step up as a board member in your community, want to volunteer more or are interested in joining a group, you can plug into your purpose with United Way.

African-American Partnership Champion, Chris Womack
Executive Vice President and President of External Affairs, Southern Company

Chris joined Southern Company in 1988 and has held a number of leadership posts within Southern Company. Chris is an active civic leader in our community serving in leadership positions with many organizations including the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, the East Lake Foundation and the National Center for Civic and Human Rights.

AAP: Tell us about your role at  Southern Company and how you impact the company’s strategic goals.
Chris: As executive vice president and president of external affairs, I am responsible for the company’s public policy strategies, federal and state governmental and regulatory affairs, corporate communication initiatives and other external engagements.

I work with my teams to shape national energy policy that goes beyond building a better business. We are constantly developing innovative programs and leveraging strategic partnerships to meet Southern Company’s goal – to build the future of energy.

AAP: What are your suggestions for individuals who are interested in a career in energy?
Chris: It’s an exciting time to be a part of the energy industry. With advancing technologies, an evolving regulatory environment and shifting customer preferences., those wanting to work in energy must be excited about the future of the business and the opportunity to deliver solutions.

The rapid evolution of the industry means you’re always learning and growing, no matter which part of the business you work in. It is important to stay up to date on industry trends as the business and expectations of customers continuously changes.

AAP: How long have you been involved with the African-American Partnership?
Chris: I moved to Atlanta some 20 years ago. Once I relocated here, I have been involved and contributing to the United Way since that time. Giving has always been important to me. I’ve been excited since the being a giver.

AAP: Why did you join the African-American Partnership?
Chris: I think it is very important for us to give back and help others. Because of all the wonderful blessings that we have received, it’s important to share. So with the good work that flows through the United Way, it was a wonderful platform to engage and help others.

AAP: AAP is building libraries where youth play and learn, what is your favorite book and why?
Chris: My favorite book is Make Your Bed by William H. McRaven. Making my bed is something my grandmother always challenged me to do. In the book, McRaven shares the ten lessons he learned from overcoming the trials of Navy SEAL training. The ten lessons shared are equally important in dealing with the challenges of life — no matter who you are.



#WhyWednesday: Kim Boykin

Kim Boykin, Delta Air Lines employee and United Way of Greater Atlanta African American Partnership board member, is passionate about creating opportunities for youth, because “if they can see it, they can be it!”

Today, she shares her why:

How do you fulfill your passion for community? Whether you volunteer, donate or serve on a board, we want to hear how and why you give back to the causes you care about. Share Your Why with United Way of Greater Atlanta!

The Power of Books for Our Children

AAP Youth Spotlight

In the summer of 2017, when AAP Director Bryan Vinson came to deliver books for AAP’s Build-A-Library project at Raising Expectations, Akeem Haqq was there to help him unload the books. When AAP spoke with Tangee Allen, co-founder of Raising Expectations, she was excited to share Akeem’s progress thanks to the Build-A-Library project.

Akeem is now a senior at Washington High School and participates in Early College through Georgia State University. He is applying for colleges in Georgia and Alabama and wants to study engineering with a focus on computer science and gaming.

Why highlight Akeem?
“We have worked with Akeem since he was in middle school. We have really seen him grow and benefit from this project supported by United Way of Greater Atlanta and the African-American Partnership.”

What changed for Akeem through working with the project?
“The project has allowed him to believe in himself. Akeem comes from a background with challenges. His mother never graduated from high school and his father is a pet tech at a local pet store.

Thanks to this project, Akeem has people in his life to remind him that he is academically gifted. It encourages him to celebrate his love of reading at a time when reading isn’t considered ‘cool’ for a young African-American man. Akeem has a path to a postsecondary education that he can really actualize.”

What has been one of the most impactful experiences for him through the project?
“Mentorship from older men of color has been particularly meaningful. Before working with Build-A-Library, most of our mentors were college-age students. Our work with the African-American Partnership opened the door to add mentorships with professional African-American men, providing ongoing mentoring sessions with our students. Many of the young men in our program are growing up in single parent matriarchal households. This element makes a real difference.

Akeem works with his mentor Quinton on a weekly basis. One of the more impactful activities Akeem and Quinton did together was read books by African-Americans who had to survive difficult circumstances. The two discuss each book. They read The Kid by Sapphire. Quinton related parts of the story to his own journey which added context to the book.

Quinton complements others in Akeem’s life who all work to hold him accountable for the choices that he makes in his life.”

African-American Partnership Cabinet Member, Kim Boykin
Brand Advisor & Digital Engagement Specialist
Delta Air Lines

AAP: Tell us about your role at Delta and how you impact the company’s strategic goals. What are your suggestions for individuals who are interested in a career in the travel industry?

Kim: I recently celebrated my 10th anniversary at Delta Air Lines and currently serve as a Brand Advisor & Digital Engagement Specialist. My role often requires that I trouble shoot international service issues and partner with a wide array of stakeholders to review complex processes and build efficiencies. This all must be done under a customer-centric model. Individuals interested in joining the travel industry should demonstrate experience as an innovative leader and think outside of the box. They should also highlight accomplishments that display creativity and the ability to balance multiple priorities.


AAP: As president of Delta’s African-American Business Resource Group (BOLD), please share your goals for the organization. 

Kim: We’re currently focused on growth across our multi-city footprint. We plan to increase professional development, service and networking opportunities. We want our associates to connect outside of the board room. We are also looking for ways to be more inclusive and partner with other Employee Resource Groups, gaining additional supporters for our mission. Also, AAP’s volunteer opportunities have been a great way for our members to connect. Our associates readily see the need of exposing boys and young men to positive literacy & S.T.E.A.M. programming and appreciate the turnkey opportunity to share their knowledge and expertise. We had 30 participants at the June AAP Day of Service and expect to have that many at the November “Mentoring Our Youth” Volunteer Event.


AAP: Why is philanthropy important to you? How do you give back to the community?

Kim: Giving back is at the core of who I am. Whether organizing a United Way Shoebox Party or renewing my annual AAP membership pledge, I enjoy helping people thrive and helping others live their dreams. Small solutions impact the greater good. I want to see people prosper. In 2003, I founded the non-profit Literacy Leadership Program for Boys, boys who d.a.r.e., Inc., and saw firsthand the impact of philanthropy. I’m grateful to continue that work today as an AAP Cabinet Member and their signature cause, Powering the Potential of African-American boys and young men towards academic achievement.


AAP: Who is your favorite trailblazer that serves as a source of inspiration to you? 

Kim: Nelson Mandela! He was uncompromising in what he stood for. He didn’t allow naysayers to change his mind or stop his progress. I am energized by his resilience.


AAP: What is your favorite restaurant?

KimL Desta Ethiopian Kitchen is my absolute favorite restaurant to enjoy good food and culture with my son, friends and family. 

It is the season of thanks, and on behalf of United Way of Greater Atlanta African-American Partnership Cabinet, I would like to thank you for your continuous support to AAP’s mission of empowering our young African-American males and your commitment to your community and AAP.

As we transition into what is coming up next for AAP, it is with great enthusiasm that I share our keynote speaker for the 4th annual AAP Leadership Luncheon on SATURDAY, March 2, 2019: Common – American hip hop recording artist, actor, film producer and poet from Chicago, Illinois.  The AAP Cabinet has worked diligently to bring Common to Atlanta and we’re excited about the energy he will bring to our community agenda. Expect to hear details about his rise to the top across multiple entertainment genres as well as his philanthropic outlook on our shared passion of positively impacting youth will be brought to life at this year’s annual luncheon.

As we look ahead to an exciting future, it’s also important to acknowledge our fall accomplishments.  Earlier this month, AAP members and guest came together to support the 4th annual “Mentoring Our Youth,” Volunteer event.  Over the course of the evening more than fifty students from Price Middle School and Carver High School participated in a College/Greek Life workshop; a mock networking reception and small group discussion.  Feedback from both the students and school administrators confirms that we broadened their perspectives on colleges and careers along with furthering the possibilities of their future if they commit to studying hard now.  Special thanks to all of our volunteer mentors who made the event a fantastic success. Click here to see photos from the event.

Lastly, as we round out the month of November, please help us spread the word about AAPs service and leadership opportunities.  For those interested in beginning or renewing annual membership, please contact

Happy Holiday Season to all!

Stephanie Gloster
Digital Business Integration Consultant, Accenture Applied Intelligence
AAP Cabinet Chair

We are writing to extend a special invitation to an exciting opportunity coming up on October 18—A Concert & Conversation with Peter Buffett at Morehouse College. You may know that Peter is the son of investor Warren Buffett. More importantly, Peter has an inspiring story to tell about making your own path. He is:

– Author of New York Times Bestselling book, Life is What You Make It

– President of NoVo Foundation, which is working to advance the rights of adolescent girls and end violence against girls and women around the world

– An advocate for racial and gender equity

Learn more about Peter Buffett here.

Additionally, Morehouse students will be present to participate in a rich dialogue about the issues facing our local communities and their ideas for philanthropic solutions.  Come join in the conversation, sharing your wisdom and unique perspective.

We hope to see you there!

Bryan Vinson, ’03, United Way of Greater Atlanta

Ricky McLeod, ’99, Comcast

Jesse Owens, ’98, Southern Company Gas