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 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.