Stephanie graduated from VIP program in 1999, served on AAP Cabinet for past four years

By Bradley Roberts

When Stephanie Gloster moved to Atlanta in 1998 from Virginia, she knew that she wanted to get involved in community work in some way.

She was familiar with United Way —she was introduced to the organization at her previous company— but she wanted to find a way to serve in other ways outside of her donation.

“That was when I found out about the VIP program,” Stephanie says.

United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Volunteer Involvement Program has helped transform volunteers into community leaders for the past 25 years.

This is a program that raises a diverse group of community leaders to serve on boards of nonprofit organizations and in leadership positions in the Greater Atlanta area.

“It gave me that connection with United Way, and I liked the fact that it would train you for board service — that training has paid off over the years for me,” she says.

Stephanie went through workshops on fundraising, strategic planning, marketing and financial and legal decision making.

“Since then, I served on different boards,” Stephanie said. “I was on the board for transitional housing and homelessness, I have served as the director of technology for National Black MBA, Back on My Feet Atlanta, American Cancer Society Cobb and I’m currently on the Science, Engineering and Mathematics Link board.”

She is also on the Duke University Engineering Alumni Council and the Duke Alumni Association in Atlanta, Stephanie says.

“I had some times when I was serving on two or three boards at the same time,” she said with a laugh.

After serving on multiple nonprofit boards, Stephanie said she became heavily involved in United Way of Greater Atlanta.

“I got an email from [Senior Director of the VIP Program] Janice [Robinson] that she had sent out to VIP graduates talking about the [African American Partnership] and asking us if anyone was interested in serving on the Cabinet, and I sent in my application,” Stephanie said.

Stephanie was a graduate of the program in 1999. She was “very eager” to serve on a board, Robinson said.

“My goal is to make sure that all alumni have an opportunity to serve, so I always share with them open board opportunities,” Robinson said.
Robinson said she has helped Stephanie develop board connections and United Way opportunities since she graduated through the program.

“VIP trains community leaders like Stephanie to be effective board members,” Robinson said. “By doing so, community organizations become stronger and more effective.”

Stephanie was selected to serve on the AAP Cabinet. She has served as the membership committee chair and vice chair of the AAP affinity group. She’s currently wrapping up her term as chair, she says.

United Way of Greater Atlanta’s African-American Partnership was formed in 2000 after Dr. Johnnetta Cole saw there wasn’t enough leadership positions for African-Americans in Greater Atlanta.

Since its formation, AAP has garnered more than 1,000 members and raised more than $2.2 million annually for United Way.

AAP’s signature cause is powering the potential of African-American boys and young men toward academic achievement.

AAP Director Bryan Vinson said Stephanie “leads by example.”

“She sets the pace for the Cabinet with her unwavering commitment to community, leveraging networks to expand resources and drive toward innovation and increased efficiency,” Vinson said. “During Stephanie’s four years on the AAP Cabinet — two years as chair— our brand and presence in the community has grown exponentially.”

Stephanie said since she’s been on the Cabinet she’s seen the group expand to include more corporate sponsors, they have equipped six schools with after school-type activities they call, “Build a Library,” they hosted different youth mentoring events and have seen the annual Leadership Luncheon grow exponentially.

“Our largest fundraiser is the luncheon, and the first year we did it we had about 100 people in attendance,” Stephanie said. “We have more than 1,300 that attended the last one.”

Stephanie said AAP is a group that is important to her “because [AAP is] focusing on a segment of people that are often overlooked.” She has enjoyed interacting with the students over the years.

Stephanie was recently recognized for her service to the community with the Women of Excellence award from the Atlanta Tribune. She credits her time at AAP for helping her come out of her shell. It has helped her grow into her leadership roles as she’s taken on new career paths.

“Indirectly, AAP helped build my leadership skills and helped me with public speaking and community engagement,” she says. “I’ve met wonderful people and built lifelong friendships. I’m looking forward to attending different events after my time as Chair ends.”

African-American Partnership Cabinet Spotlight: Hugh E. Rowden
Senior Vice President, Engagement Initiatives & Mortgage Outreach, Community Relations, Wells Fargo & Company

 

AAP: Tell us about your role at Wells Fargo and how you impact the company’s strategic goals?
Hugh: As part of Community Relations at Wells Fargo, I lead an Innovation team, a management collaboration team, and a housing outreach team focusing on critical enterprise-wide community engagement initiatives for housing issues, as well as a host of other responsibilities.

I often say “we’re problem solvers” that connect Wells Fargo to some of the communities’ most pressing needs.

 

AAP: What advice could you give to someone pursuing a career in the financial industry?Hugh:No matter what industry you’re in it’s important to understand your strengths, and what you do well. Become an expert at what you do. Become the person that people go to when they need to know about your role and how it can make a difference.

My passion for solving problems, coaching and teaching, coupled with my management experience, became the foundation of my work life here at the bank. Many people are good at a job but can’t teach others. It’s important to find a way to develop your skills and use them often, especially in engaging teams and in developing talent. You’ll get a lot of pleasure out of your work if you view it as an opportunity to bring others along on the journey.

 

AAP: How do you use your role at Wells Fargo to improve economic empowerment in our community?
Hugh: My team helps customers who are having payment challenges through Outreach, addresses housing issues for cities through examining barriers and coalition-building, and we create innovative solutions that bring together the power of Wells Fargo’s lending and philanthropy to produce outcomes that solve issues identified by community stakeholders.

I personally understand what it’s like to be homeless because I was at one time in my life, and I know what it’s like to own a home. Those feelings will always be top of mind for me and understanding the full spectrum of housing challenges and opportunities influences the way I bring ideas forward and how I create programs that can benefit underserved individuals and communities. In my role, I work across Wells Fargo to pull in experts from our lines of business and our community relations team to create impact. In particular, we focus on affordable housing, small business growth, job skills and financial health as pathways to economic advancement.

 

AAP: Why is philanthropy important to you? What other community organizations are you apart of?
Hugh: Philanthropy is critical to help address the inequities that exist in today’s society. Minorities and women have a different starting line than others. For society to succeed, I believe we all need to play a part in addressing diversity, equity and inclusion. Our philanthropy allows us to collaborate with nonprofits and expert local leaders to create greater access to safe and affordable housing, more assistance with homeownership for families and critical support for small businesses to grow and thrive. In turn, many of these families and businesses go on to giving back to the community in their own way so it’s a positive ripple effect.

What’s unique about my job at Wells Fargo is that I get to help hundreds of community organizations and bring people together who care about making life better for others.

Outside of the volunteer work I do with United Way of Greater Atlanta’s – African-American Partnership, I’m on the Georgia Gwinnett College – School of Business Board of Visitors, and support activities at my church.

 

AAP: Who is your favorite African-American trailblazer that serves as a source of inspiration to you?
Hugh: My source of inspiration is my family and friends. Most people think about individual trailblazers they don’t know. I focus on all my family has done to create the platform for me to do what I love, “being a provider”. That’s inspirational!

During my developmental years a lot of people did a lot of praying and the best they could with what they knew, and the small resources they had. It reminds me of a quote, “If you see a turtle on a fence post, you know it didn’t get there by itself.” 

AAP Partners with Georgia State University’s African-American Male Initiative

United Way of Greater Atlanta’s African-American Partnership (AAP) is committed to improving outcomes for African-American boys and young men in the metro area through partnerships that will increase educational opportunities and pathways to employment. AAP’s signature cause Powering the Potential of African-American boys and young men began in 2016 with a laser focus on literacy through the Build A Library project at six partner agency locations. Thanks to dramatic response from AAP stakeholders, increased fundraising and recommendations from program experts, the efforts have broadened beyond basic literacy to include additional learning opportunities targeted to support youth’s overall academic achievement and future success. Each site exposes youth to career pathways, including STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), through career exploration, job training and work experiences.

AAP partners with the Georgia State University’s African-American Male Initiative (AAMI) at Booker T. Washington High School as one of the six sites in areas of low and very low child well-being in Atlanta. The mission of the Georgia State University African American Male Initiative (AAMI) at Booker T. Washington High School is to enhance the graduation rate of African-American males at Booker T. Washington High School while also increasing the number of diplomas conferred upon this population couched within a college access and readiness focus. With support from generous AAP members, AAMI provides a true STEM experience using digital literacy to address themes of Black male identity.

Recently, AAMI gave us an update on their work. The young men participate in discussions and activities twice a week covering topics that include the formation of Black male identity, spirituality, critiquing modern music, adjusting cultural lens about Africa, and interviewing and digital media training. Over the course of the school year, the students have fostered an environment that makes it acceptable for young men of color to be vulnerable and not feel ostracized.

AAMI has been able to leverage the Build A Library program to purchase books on various topics including subjects that have enhanced their media skills training like camera, editing, film, graphic novels, books on fantasy and anime. The students have developed their own graphic novels and film projects. This year, two veteran program members who are working to complete their comic book character origin stories, which they began last spring, delivered a presentation about the process for developing their comic origin stories at the Sources Conference hosted by the Georgia State University’s Alonzo A. Crim Center for Urban Educational Excellence.

Beyond their work on graphic novels, AAMI facilitators taught the young men about shot and angle composition. The young men were tasked with shooting a short-film utilizing the information from their lessons. They came together and completed the assignment within one hour. The short-film was edited and presented to them to show their accomplishment. Check out their video here. They will be utilizing their media skills at an upcoming career fair being held at Washington High School.

The young men were exposed to activities that went beyond the afterschool program on their school campus. Some of the young men went on college tours to Georgia State University and Clark Atlanta University. The group had the opportunity to complete unique teambuilding challenges at the Escape Room and the retreat at Georgia State’s Indian Creek Lodge.

You can be part of the great work happening at Booker T. Washington High School and AAMI. First, make a commitment to support United Way’s AAP which funds six sites in areas of low and very low child well-being in our region. Give now. Second, AAMI are looking for volunteers for their upcoming Summer Institute to chaperone field trips and discuss their education and career pathways with the students. Sharing your story could shine a powerful light ahead for these young men. Contact aap@unitedwayatlanta.org to coordinate a date and time.

College Bound

Thanks to United Way of Greater Atlanta’s partner, Delta Air Lines, we are zeroing in to ensure ALL students have access to a college education by helping families complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Did you know that on average less than 50 percent of high school seniors in Georgia will apply for federal aid money? Unfortunately, students who could benefit the most from financial aid are less likely to apply. Why is that? These students are exposed to a disproportionate amount of barriers, including confusion about the process, lack of awareness about the money that is available and fear of the unknown, among others. Preparing students for college is in strong alignment with our child well-being initiative, so ensuring all students, regardless of economic stance or zip code, can achieve a postsecondary education is absolutely pertinent in furthering our goal.

Paying for college is the number one barrier in getting people to go to college, while not filling out FAFSA is the number one barrier in being able to pay for college. That’s why we’re bringing the resources to them with the help of volunteers like you! College Bound season for us will be October through January. United Way of Greater Atlanta will recruit and train volunteers who will work one-on-one with families to complete the FAFSA paperwork at events we will host. By deploying information campaigns, collaborating across sectors, increasing training, tracking student data, and providing more strategic FAFSA reminders and assistance, communities can provide the support more students need to get the FAFSA done.

Colleges and universities use this form to determine your eligibility for federal, state and college-sponsored financial aid, including grants, educational loans and work-study programs. FAFSA determines eligibility for financial aid by calculating how much families can afford to pay, using past tax records– the lower the income and assets, the more aid is available. Additionally, FAFSA completion is strongly associated with postsecondary enrollment. In fact, data indicates that a 2% increase in FAFSA completion nationally could lead to 172,500 additional postsecondary degrees per year.

By volunteering your time and services, you can join us in ensuring that all students have a fighting chance at obtaining a postsecondary education. Sign-up to volunteer at AAP’s Day of Service today!

AAP Member Spotlight: Ashaki T. Wilham
Principal Scientist, Flavor Research and Development,
The Coca-Cola Company


AAP: Tell us about your role at The Coca-Cola Company and how you impact the company’s strategic goals.
The Coca-Cola Company is an industry leader in the beverage category and is one of the most recognized brands worldwide. I lead the Global Flavor Research and Development team which focuses on flavor development in the areas of continuity, innovation and productivity for The Company. Our work ensures that there is continuity of supply for strategic agricultural ingredients. We provide customized flavor solutions enabling innovation and growth. My team has supported productivity initiatives which help generate savings that are reinvested into the business. We also support strategic reformulation initiatives to reduce sugar in core company brands.


AAP: What suggestions could you offer to an individual interested in pursuing a career, such as yours?
Food Science is a very broad and diverse field of study offering many diverse disciplines, one of which is Flavor Creation. Becoming a Flavorist takes years of careful training and is a role that requires diligence and perseverance. Flavor Creation allows you to explore your technical side while tapping into your creative side in order to curate an experience that consumers will want to enjoy time and time again.  Although it is not a widely known career choice, it is both lucrative and rewarding. The tangible nature of the work offers the satisfaction of seeing your finished product in the local grocery, restaurant, or convenience store shelf.

 

AAP: Tell us about your experience at the AAP Day of Service last year when you operated a booth at the S.T.E.A.M. career fair last summer.
When I was in the 10th grade, I had a phenomenal biology teacher that instilled in me a passion for science. I was always curious and loved science in elementary and middle school, but she helped make it fun and relevant to me. Once I decided to pursue science as a field of study, I initially wanted to be a doctor, not realizing that Flavor Chemistry even existed. Since I’ve been in this industry, it has been a passion and purpose to share careers in Food Science with our youth from kindergarten through college. I believe that children of all ages are like sponges who, once exposed to knowledge, will soak it up. It gives me honor to provide that exposure. S.T.E.A.M. events energize me, and I am always overwhelmed by the sense of engagement and inquisitiveness that the students display.

 

AAP: Who is your favorite trailblazer that serves as an inspiration to you?
The trailblazer that inspires me is Dr. Mae Jemison. She began studying at Stanford at 16 years old, received her doctorate in medicine from Cornell University, and orbited the earth 126 times as an astronaut. Dr. Jemison didn’t stop there, she also found ways to give back by first volunteering with the Peace Corp and later founding the Jemison Group, an organization that encourages the pursuit of science. Her passion for science, quest to be the best and to offer a hand back makes Dr. Jemison a truly motivating force.

 

AAP: Why is philanthropy important to you? How do you give back to the community?
Philanthropy, defined as the desire to help others, through the donation of money, time or skills, is integral to my core value system. I take pleasure in serving others, using my gifts and talents to make things better in the communities where I live and work. It is also important to me that I model the behavior for my children, taking the opportunity to create a family culture of compassion. My favorite ways to give back include performing random acts of kindness, supporting the First Impressions, Children’s and Cleaning Ministry’s at church and educating children about the field of Food Science.

 

AAP: What is your favorite quote?
Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you. ~Mother Teresa

 

 

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 aap@unitedwayatlanta.org 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.