Today, I'm taking a brief break from my #talentswithoutburnout series to celebrate Juneteenth. With that said, in place of highlighting a particular CliftonStrengths talent theme, I'd like to highlight and celebrate the good works of five special African-Americans I've met during my life. Some of these people I got to know over a long periods of time. Others I met briefly, but they left a lasting impression. All of them continue to do great things.
Before I proceed, I must admit that even as a History major in college I was never exposed to Juneteenth. Granted, I didn't focus on Civil War era history, but that's beside the point. As such, I still recognize I have a lot to learn about my African American brothers and sisters. This post is but one small step in my longer journey of learning and appreciating those who live and celebrate differently than I do. Now onto those who I wish to celebrate today...
I met Kyle as a first-year student at Saint Michael's College. While I was starting my Saint Michael's experience as a student, he was starting his as an Assistant Director of Admissions. Kyle would eventually become the Director of Multicultural Affairs. Kyle is a larger-than-life figure (both figuratively and literally), but what I remember most is that he was one of the kindest people I've ever met. His kindness and thoughtfulness has made him a great community leader as the current CEO of the Burlington YMCA. You can read his whole story here.
Billie is one of the most knowledgeable and patient people I had the privilege to work with. Billie's specialty is information technology, a field know for not having great representation from people of color. Billie keeps a low profile on social media so I can't share any of her links here.
A fellow basketball aficionado, I met Jeff through some mutual friends on a basketball court and quickly found him to be a very kind and funny soul. I also appreciated that at the time I met him, Jeff annually served an assistant boys basketball coach at Mount Mansfield Union HS, where he taught boys not only the game of basketball, but a lot about life. Jeff is also a talented woodworker who recently opened his own shop -- Ashari Woodworks. Jeff also continues to give back to his community as a Board member of Crows Path.
While I never worked directly with "Mo" at Saint Michael's College, I was always struck by his passion to bring people together and build understanding among people from very different backgrounds. He revitalized the College's MLK Jr. Convocation to ensure the Saint Michael's and Vermont community always had opportunities to hear from experts who worked to promote inclusion and cultural understanding. As the Director of Multicultural Affairs and a Political Science professor he continues to bring people together.
I only had a chance to meet Charlie on a few occasions when I worked as part of the development team at Saint Michael's College, but it only took those few times for him to make an impression. Charlie is one of the most accomplished African-American collegiate basketball coaches and administrators in the country. He's been inducted into three Halls of Fame for his athletic prowess and contributions to sport. Alongside his coaching and athletic administrator role, Charlie also happens to run youth sport programs in West Africa to better others.
I'm grateful to have had even brief experience with each of these individual and celebrate how they have coached & enriched my life, and of those in their communities. On this Juneteenth, let us all take a moment to celebrate the millions of African Americans who continue to contribute to the tapestry we call these United States.
Who are you celebrating today?