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.
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. 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.
The Federal Reserve and Chattanooga Discuss National & Global Economic Trends
A Federal Reserve Director of Regional Economic Information Network, Galina Alexeenko, recently spoke at the International Business Council (IBC) of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce. Alexeenko is an international economist, headquartered in the Fed’s Atlanta office and connected to its five branches in the Southeast region. She participated in an interactive discussion with fellow international economist Anton Demenchuk, president of the IBC. The meeting was supported by the Office of International Programs and the College of Business /University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) and sponsored by AIM/Career Link. Alexeenko shared her personal perspective on a wide range of fiscal and economic topics with the audience of educators, entrepreneurs, and civic leaders.
Chattanooga is one of many small and medium size Southern cities to see its business trends shaped by an influx of international companies. Their impact has greatly influenced the direction of the South’s economy. They have generated elevated job expectations, developed new vendors, expanded exporting efforts, and are changing the local education system.The most recent meeting of the International Business Council (IBC) of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce hosted Alnoor Dhanani, President of Double Cola USA, and Nick Wilkinson, Deputy Administrator of Economic Development at the City of Chattanooga.
Women GroundBreakers Storytelling
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 Chattanooga’s Women GroundBreakers Storytelling featuring women in STEM.
Chattanooga’s Women GroundBreakers Storytelling Series
We began with a session on immigrants. Introduced by entrepreneur Denise Reed, three women who immigrated to the US and Chattanooga shared their stories, followed by Dr. Lisa Clark Diller, Chair of History & Political Studies/ Southern Adventist University. Diller explained, “Historians collect stories over time and then try to draw conclusions about them, so I hope to make some general observations here about women and immigration in Chattanooga—which are set in the larger U.S. historical context.”
Educating for Going Global
The International Business Council (IBC) of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce recently hosted a panel of educators who have much to teach us about globalization. IBC speakers often represent the international businesses that have flocked to this small Southern city. This month’s speakers spoke of how higher education is at the heart of our growing local-global connection. Their new initiatives, and in some cases, still emerging programs, aim to simultaneously bring greater numbers of international students to local campuses while globalizing Chattanooga’s students through study abroad.
Where better to hear a speech on The Power of Words than at a library? That was Tom Griscom’s topic at the annual meeting of Chattanooga’s public library board of directors. I couldn’t resist joining them atop four floors of books, DVDs, and periodicals. Griscom had revitalized my passion for writing almost a decade ago. As editor and publisher of The Chattanooga Times Free Press, he created a cadre of community correspondents who reported weekly on events in their neck of the woods. I hemmed and hawed when first contacted, but the young reporter got me when she said, “C’mon. You know you want to.” Yes, I did, for years, and never regretted it.
Tennessee is home to hundreds of international companies worth billions of dollars. Chattanooga, the smallest of Tennessee’s four major cities, is the site of the only Volkswagen plant in the United States. VW is not the only German company in our area, but its arrival made cultural competence a high priority. German companies orient their executives to Southern culture, energizing Chattanooga’s globalization and investment in cross-cultural training.
Chattanooga’s Lean In – Women GroundBreakers is a Think Tank of diverse faith, community, youth, and business leaders. The women meet monthly to discuss trends and strategies for making a difference. As part of the international Lean In movement, their Think Tank discussions are published locally and globally. Be inspired by their Words of Wisdom on Global Leadership. First, check out their strategies for building a global mindset.
4 Top Strategies for Building a Global Mindset
1. Be Aware
- Acknowledge your biases.
- Be open to the ideas of others.
- Know yourself and be authentic.
2. Be Educated
- Learn about issues on a global level, not just locally or nationally.
- Know the customs of other countries and religions.
- Learn a foreign language.
- Continue your education. You can’t speak out on something you don’t understand.
- Research how other women developed into global leaders.
3. Communicate across Cultures
- Consolidate your ideas into a format that is easily shared with others.
- Listen and understand life from a person who is not like you.
- Respect the customs of different countries and religions when you speak your mind.
4. Put your Ideas into Action
- Decide how you want to make a difference.
- List and then prioritize the paths you want to take.
- Contact the community leaders working in your areas of interest.
- Pursue your mission and encourage others to pursue their dreams.
Groundbreakers’ Words of Wisdom
Carrie DiMemmo, nonprofit and development professional
“Global leaders did not wake up one day and decide to lead on a global scale. They started doing small things within their local communities and built on that. They may have a global vision, but they always have a local start. You can’t change the world without changing yourself first.”
Tina Player, Event Planner
“We should recognize who we are and the purpose of our existence. Never be classified or placed in a specific box. Create your own box with a unique size, color, and bow. It’s most important to know who you are and WHY!
Denise Reed, Chief Business Connector at The Concierge Office Suites
“Share your life experience and business experience so other can see the opportunities in front of them and make a positive difference.”
Brenda Freeman Short, Lawyer, teacher, and political leader
“Global leadership requires the recognition of all human beings as valuable citizens of this plant, However, caring for others does not necessarily mean acceptance of another’s lifestyle. Leadership can agree to disagree.”
Laura Hessler, Owner of The HR Shop
“Everyone has a story and a part of leadership is understanding the solicitation, verbalization, and promotions of those stories that in turn can inspire others to act.”
Cathryn Cohen, Retired attorney and county library executive director
“Remember that women, whether by birth or by choice, are entitled to everything men have always had.”
Ardena Garth, Attorney and former public defender
“Fear keeps me from getting to know and understand what is going on in the world around me. Caring about others is a start to develop global leaders. Knowledge will help combat that fear.”
Leanne Baron, Consultant
“If we can come together in our local communities and identify the top issues and then make a plan to work together, we can can make a difference which can spread to the national global level. We’ve been good at coming up with ideas, but need to be better at putting those ideas into action and bringing about change.”
ASPIRE & INSPIRE!