Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

2012 January

30 Jan


Congrats Semhar!

January 30, 2012 | By |

Join us on January 30th, as we celebrate IMPACT Founder Semhar Araia  and thirteen other American community leaders that are recognized as Champions of Change. These community leaders will join together at the White House for a celebration of work they have done influencing the lives of those in the African our diaspora communities.

In addition to her work with IMPACT, Semhar founded  and served as the executive director of the Diaspora African Women’s Network. Founded in 2007, the Diaspora African Women’s Network (DAWN) is a non-profit organization that serves as a global network for professional women of the African Diaspora focused on African affairs. You can learn more about the White House Champions of Change series at We invite you to watch the event live at 3:00 PM EST on

On behalf of Team IMPACT we say congratulations to you Semhar. Please continue to IMPACT Your World….

Watch Semhar talk about her work with IMPACT HERE



15 Jan


40 Under 40: Captiol Hill Edition

January 15, 2012 | By |

We hope that you and your loved ones enjoyed a wonderful holiday season. As we begin the New Year we would like to announce an exciting partnership between IMPACT and a search for the most influential young people of color, 40 and under, in our nation’s capital.

Though a great deal of national media coverage is already focused on the presidential election, we want to take this opportunity to highlight those who may not be widely known, but who are doing the substantive day-to-day work that keeps our government running. If you, or someone you know, is under the age of 40 and doing extraordinary work as a staff member working with or for Congress, the White House, media, or with an influential non-governmental advocacy group or consultancy in our nation’s capital, please click here and fill out the brief nomination form for “40 Under 40: Capitol Hill Edition.” (Please note nominees will not be considered without a completed nomination form.)

Finalists will be selected by a panel of judges comprised of notable Capitol Hill veterans. The 40 honorees will then be notified the week of February 6th.

If you have any questions about “40 Under 40: Capitol Hill Edition” please e-mail:

Thank you in advance for your participation. Here’s wishing you a terrific 2012.



15 Jan


IL: Zakiya Smith

January 15, 2012 | By |

Ms. Zakiya Smith is as a Senior Advisor for Education at the White House Domestic Policy Council, where her focus is on higher education policy.  Prior to this appointment, Ms. Smith worked at the US Department of Education in the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, where she developed programmatic, policy and budget solutions to respond to pressing challenges in college access, affordability, and completion.  Prior to her work in this administration, she served on the staff of the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, where she conducted research on college access programs, community colleges, and on the ability of low- and moderate-income families to afford college.  Zakiya has also worked on staff in various capacities for Teach For America, helping to train new teachers, and for the federal GEAR UP program in East Boston, Massachusetts, providing college preparation and financial aid information to high school students. She was introduced to federal policy as an intern on Capitol Hill with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, working for her former hometown Congresswoman.  Zakiya holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and secondary education from Vanderbilt University, and a master’s degree in education policy and management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  In her spare time, she serves as a tutor and mentor for young women at her church, and volunteers with local DC organizations throughout the year.

INTERVIEW | Getting to know Zakiya Smith
Senior Advisor for Education at the White House Domestic Policy Council,

1.    What inspired you to pursue your current career path?
I’ve always felt that education is the centerpiece of our democracy, and that higher education, more specifically, is important to achieving economic mobility.  The promise of opportunity is something that is central to the American dream, and my current role, with the White House Domestic Policy Council, allows me to play a part in ensuring that opportunities for social and economic mobility are available for the neediest individuals in our society.

2.     How did you discover and develop your passion for education?
Even as a child, I always felt that there was something empowering about being able to think and reason for oneself. One of my favorite quotes is “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” Throughout my lifetime, I’ve always enjoyed teaching, and I continue to use my teaching skills in my current role; whether briefing senior staff or sharing the administration’s policy objectives, I use my teaching skills to share new knowledge with others. However, when I was in high school, as I started to think about my future, I noticed that the decisions of the adults in a school often had a profound impact on the trajectory of the students. This realization made me become interested in educational policy, and compelled me to think about a career beyond just teaching.

3.     What is the biggest mistake young professionals make?
Too often, young professionals think of their goals as “when I grow up”—as if it’s some far off dream.  Identify what you need to do or change to get to that ‘grown up’ place and DO it NOW!

4.     What advice would you give other young professionals who are interested in careers in federal policy making? What is the best advice you have received?
My best advice is to know your issue.  Become an expert.  Washington is a city where information is prized, and it’s surprising how far you can get ahead in this town just by doing extensive research, and knowing an issue inside and out.  The best advice I’ve received is to read everything. Every memo, every article, and every piece of possible information that can help you make the best decision, and be valuable to the conversation- find it, read it, and internalize it.

5.     What’s been the best experience of your career thus far (or the most rewarding)?
It’s difficult sometimes to see the impact of your efforts at the 50,000 foot level—when you work at the Federal level. However, I am extremely excited to be engaged in changing the dialogue about college-going. The conversation is becoming more focused on improving outcomes for students, especially college completion, which is critically important given the rising cost of college and the growing importance of a higher education credential in the labor market. Seeing the conversation shift to one that is more student-centric is amazing.

6.     What’s next for you in your career? What should we look out for?
I want to continue making a difference, but in different venues. I hope that my next job allows me to have an impact on policy, from outside of the federal government.

7.     Lastly, give me three words to sum up Zakiya?
Southern, passionate, and honest!

14 Jan



January 14, 2012 | By |

10 Jan


IMPACT + Greater DC Cares Honor MLK with SERVICE!

January 10, 2012 | By |

Thanks to those that joined Greater DC Cares and IMPACT in honoring the life and legacy of Dr. King through service!

Did you come out today? Watch this video recap of the event HERE