When Jessica’s father bought her a one-way ticket to the States from Guatemala when she was 25, that was his way of saying, “I believe in you, hija, and I expect you to truly ‘be ‘somebody’.’” Now go do it.
Over the years, I’ve attended press conferences, graduations, receptions, and concerts at Volkswagen Chattanooga’s conference center, but I’ve never before seen it decorated entirely in pink. The event was the first ever Volkswagen Women Who Rock Awards Brunch. After having my picture taken in the photo booth wearing a pink Volkswagen hard hat, I meandered through the crowd waiting to hear from the keynote speaker, Julie Baumgardner, CEO and Founder of Chattanooga’s family oriented nonprofit, First Things First.
We watched profiles of the award nominees on the overhead screens as we listened to each of their favorite songs. It was a musical lesson in diversity. True to Volkswagen’s techie mindset, the playlist could be downloaded on Spotify. After much munching and brunching, we were brought to attention by Shireena Avery, the Volkswagen Diversity Sponsor to the featured Employee Resource Groups (ERG). The Women Who Rock program got underway with Megan Herndon, President of Volkswagen’s Women in Motion ERG.
Ms. Gerber is Editor and Director of Content at Chattanooga’s daily newspaper, The Times Free Press. She manages a newsroom of 75 people who produce a daily newspaper, three magazines, and five weekly community newspapers. Alison serves on the boards of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government and the Associated Press Media Editors.
The newspaper recently launched an initiative proposed by the Mayor’s Council for Women in partnership with Chattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute (CWLI) where prominent women in the community contribute articles to the business section. The Times Free Press has been recognized with awards including the Tennessee Press Association’s top honor for the past three years. The paper was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in three of the last five years.
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Every child deserves the opportunity to have a healthy and successful life – and the first 1,000 days are the most crucial. Across the state of Tennessee, 13 innovation grants funded by Governor and Mrs. Haslam were chosen as a part of the statewide “Building Strong Brains Initiative” to promote public awareness about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). ACEs are caused by traumatic experiences and severe neglect or toxic stress, which can damage the connections being built in a child’s brain in the earliest years of life.
Engineers from regional corporations, agencies, universities, schools, and professional associations, came together to kick off Engineers Week 2017 at The Chattanoogan conference center. E-Week is designed to help the world understand what engineering is and how it impacts us at multiple levels: from cars to bridges, electric blankets to electrical grids, or farms to supermarkets. Whether chemical, electrical, mechanical, or civil, engineers shape our lives.
Today’s political and social climate in the world and in the United States seems to accentuates disagreement in thoughts and ideologies, give rise to disunity, create a sense of fear and insecurity, and in some cases even loss of human life and destruction. Chaos and confusion are reaching such intensity that they are affecting the fundamental structure of society; uprooting its time-honored constitutions and institutions; destroying the bonds of human relationships; and driving its inhabitants away from their homes as refugees. To counter these forces, significant productive and constructive energy will be required to sustain human societies. One way to look at our community, country, and the world for a path forward is to practice the concept of Unity in Diversity. The American Diversity Report provides an effective avenue for meaningful discourse on the subject.
The attendees at the International Business Council (IBC) of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce were a diverse mix of nationalities, professions, expats, and industries. The annual meeting of the IBC, the Chamber’s newest council, attracted students, family members, colleagues, and executives. The diverse crowd illustrated the broad participation in Chattanooga’s national and international booming growth. (Photo by Suzanne Ocsai)
A few years ago, Chattanooga was traumatized by Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez. After shooting at a recruiting center, he drove to a U.S. Navy Reserve Center and opened fire again. Before he was killed by police in a gunfight, four marines and a navy sailor were killed. The FBI determined that the shootings were inspired by terrorist propaganda. Chattanooga responded with memorials across the area and an interfaith service that was memorable, inclusive, and high-profile in a city with little interfaith infrastructure.
Jean-Marie Lawrence with Valoria Armstrong
(Photo: Adrian J. Edwards/Chattanooga News Chronicle)
For the third year, the Chattanooga area Chamber of Commerce hosted its Diversify marketplace, showcasing the area’s growing number of diverse vendors and connecting businesses of all sizes. The luncheon and its speaker are highlights of the event, coordinated by the Chamber’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Maria Noel. This year’s speaker was Valoria Armstrong, the first African American and female president of Tennessee American Water. Hundreds of civic leaders packed the banquet hall, enjoying the food and some networking time as they waited for the speaker.