The traffic was fierce on Martin Luther King Boulevard as people flocked to the community-wide interfaith service at Mount Olivet Baptist Church. Olivet, had grown from humble beginning in the 1920s to one of the city’s largest African-American churches. Yet, the church was packed, overflowing with elected officials, police officers and FBI, military veterans, and media among the diverse crowd of Black & White, Christians, Jews, and Muslim. Together, we prayed over the loss of four marines and a wounded sailor, who would die just hours later. We prayed over the trauma to our entire community inflicted by lone gunman, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez.
This article is reprinted honor of Madeleine K. Albright turning 78-years old.
Albright is a petite woman who can fill large university auditorium with her presence. These days, Dr. Albright teaches, lectures and writes. She frequently speaks to university audiences land enjoys telling young people that they can be anything they want to be with hard work. Her audiences listen enthusiastically and a recent crowd at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga was no exception. A packed house and 2 overflow rooms with video feeds were arranged for the presentation by our 64th Secretary of State. She was the highest ranking woman in government from 1997-2001 and the first female Secretary of State.
The push to attract women to STEM education and careers is gaining steam, but the impact is questionable. Young women have ample cause to be discouraged given the decrease of the number of women professionals in many STEM fields. Bucking the trend, efforts to encourage women to embrace STEM have increased dramatically. Those efforts span the country, including in Tennessee where the Women Ground Breakers recently held their annual Chattanooga GroundBreaking Storytelling featuring women in STEM.
A diverse group of leaders recently came together in Chattanooga to discuss the United States’ International Affairs Budget. The speakers were an unusual combination of representatives of the U.S. military, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC), and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce. They mingled with us attendees from corporate, government, education, and nonprofit organizations. Given the tumultuous events around the globe, we were more than curious to hear what they had to say.
The president of the Chattanooga area Chamber of Commerce opened the combination reception, celebration, and press conference at Chattanooga’s Hunter Museum on July 15, 2014. The online invitations had gone out only 24 hours earlier, but the room was packed with 800 people. It had been six years since I attended the announcement of the Volkswagen plant coming to Chattanooga in this room. This year was noteworthy because of the wrangling over union representation, politics, state funding, and various personality driven conflicts that would determine whether Volkswagen would build a second car here.
A discussion of engineering careers for women was recently held at the office of the Interim Dean at the UTC College of Engineering and Computer Sciences/ University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The dialogue highlighted issues of work-life balance, career choices and STEM education. Convened by Lulu Copeland, the diverse discussion group included the following participants from the Chattanooga and North Georgia area.
Roberto Rios was the first in his Latino family to “set foot on American soil,” as he described it. Roberto was embarking on a college career at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tennessee. The son of a Church of Christ minister, Roberto spent the majority of his 23 years involved in the church in his hometown of Lima, Peru. A move to America away from all his family was not going to change his Hispanic heritage. When Roberto graduated two years later with a degree in computer information systems, he quickly secured a job in computer networking in Arizona. After marrying his bride Jeana, he moved his family back to Lima where their first child was born. “We really wanted our child to be born in Peru,” said Roberto who anticipated returning to the States.
When 25-year-old Lucia Montas moved to the City of Chattanooga, it was the first time in her life to live in a multicultural place where the Hispanic people and the Latino culture were not the majority in the population. As she described, it was the first time that she experienced the diversity, the culture clash and felt that she was living in the United States.
La Paz de Dios is the trusted guide for the Latino community in Chattanooga. Bridging the diverse Latino community to local and regional community resources, La Paz also provides service organizations a network in the Chattanooga community for those seeking to serve Latinos and learn how to better access and gain the trust of that population. Since its formation in 2004, La Paz has sought to identify and address the social and humanitarian needs of the immigrant Latino community, locate and foster relationships with trusted organizations that can serve them, and provide the community with the confidence, capability, and education to become self-sufficient and resourceful. The mission of La Paz is to enable individuals to become more engaged community members to create a healthy, culturally inclusive Chattanooga.
One of the positive side effects of the recent, rather dismal, report on Google’s diversity workforce data is the determination to see it as “a double dog dare” challenge. When PBS NewsHour alerted me in advance of the airing of the show, I leaped at the chance to jump into the fray. My thanks to PBS for providing a transcript for “Google’s diversity record shows women and minorities left behind.” Here are highlights from the PBS NewsHour conversation on the diversity of STEM nationally and how Chattanooga is responding to that challenge on a local level.