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2013 April

11 Apr

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Summer Internship 2013

April 11, 2013 | By |

IMPACT-Logo

Founded by a group of emerging leaders in 2006, IMPACT is an organization whose purpose is to: (1) enhance knowledge of the political and legislative processes; (2) foster civic engagement, and; (3) enhance economic empowerment opportunities for other emerging leaders, ages 21 to 40. Whether these leaders have joined corporate America, became CEOs of their own companies, worked on Capitol Hill, lead non-profits, or are officials elected to lead their cities, states, or our Nation to greatness – the mission of IMPACT is to strategically link these leaders with one another to help in accomplishing their goals.  To that end, our primary means of accomplishing this mission is to host a range of events catering to young professionals including forums,workshops, receptions and galas.

IMPACT partners with businesses, organizations, and high-powered leaders to host candidates’ forums, roundtable discussions, lecture series, workshops, and strategic networking events. Some of the events we have hosted in the past include forums at the Annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, panel discussions at both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions of 2012 and work with various organizations to help people become and stay #VoteReady.


IMPACT is currently in the process of interviewing for Summer Interns.

Interns are expected to blog for our website, assist with Expansion and Development ideas, research various topics, like community service ideas and civic engagement organizations, and ensure that IMPACT has proper support for our events.  Because IMPACT does not have an office, we communicate via email on the daily bases.  With that, the time commitment is usually between 10-15 hours a week.

Necessary skills include, but are not limited to:

  • Completing assigned tasks within time allotted.
  • Completing tasks with minimum supervision.
  • Ability to be responsive and engaged with the Staff.
  • Interest in personal growth and willingness to step outside of one’s comfort zone.
  • Clerical skills.
  • Interest in and experience with social media campaigns.

 To Apply: Email Krystal.Leaphart@impact-dc.com an updated resume, cover letter and two 500 word writing samples.  The deadline for these applications is close of business April 30, 2013.  Interviews will be scheduled with qualified applicants.

11 Apr

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Summer Interns 2013

April 11, 2013 | By |

Inline image 1

Founded by a group of emerging leaders in 2006, IMPACT is an organization whose purpose is to: (1) enhance knowledge of the political and legislative processes; (2) foster civic engagement, and; (3) enhance economic empowerment opportunities for other emerging leaders, ages 21 to 40. Whether these leaders have joined corporate America, became CEOs of their own companies, worked on Capitol Hill, lead non-profits, or are officials elected to lead their cities, states, or our Nation to greatness – the mission of IMPACT is to strategically link these leaders with one another to help in accomplishing their goals.  To that end, our primary means of accomplishing this mission is to host a range of events catering to young professionals including forums,workshops, receptions and galas.

IMPACT partners with businesses, organizations, and high-powered leaders to host candidates’ forums, roundtable discussions, lecture series, workshops, and strategic networking events. Some of the events we have hosted in the past include forums at the Annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, panel discussions at both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions of 2012 and work with various organizations to help people become and stay #VoteReady.


IMPACT is currently in the process of interviewing for Summer Interns.

Interns are expected to blog for our website, assist with Expansion and Development ideas, research various topics, like community service ideas and civic engagement organizations, and ensure that IMPACT has proper support for our events.  Because IMPACT does not have an office, we communicate via email on the daily bases.  With that, the time commitment is usually between 10-15 hours a week.

Necessary skills include, but are not limited to:

  • Completing assigned tasks within time allotted.
  • Completing tasks with minimum supervision.
  • Ability to be responsive and engaged with the Staff.
  • Interest in personal growth and willingness to step outside of one’s comfort zone.
  • Clerical skills.
  • Interest in and experience with social media campaigns.

 To Apply: Email Krystal.Leaphart@impact-dc.com an updated resume, cover letter and two 500 word writing samples.  The deadline for these applications is close of business April 30, 2013.  Interviews will be scheduled with qualified applicants.

02 Apr

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IMPACT Your World… Spring 2013 Financial E-Newsletter

April 2, 2013 | By |

This quarter’s newsletter focuses on the importance of financial literacy for young professionals of color. All Americans are in need of financial literacy skills and financial planning know-how. But minorities are seemingly in particular need of those information, knowledge, and skills. Since April is tax season, now is the perfect time to brush up on financial literacy 101.

In this issue, we delve into the world of ALIAKIM, an accessory and clothing line by Mikaila Brown that blends fashion with activism. She discusses her experience of being a young entrepreneur and the challenges it presents, both financial and otherwise.

Ryan Mack, president of Optimum Capital Management, LLC, reminds readers to shift the political focus to financial literacy within the African American community. Dominique Broadway, a financial advisor in the Washington, D.C. area, offers financial tips to help the busy, young professional stay on a stable financial track. Business owner Deshon Owens breaks down the negative psychological effects of what he coins as the “Trick Bank.” By reducing expenses and training your mind to spend less, you will unlock the key to financial success. Lastly, Certified Financial Planner Robin Young shares the behaviors that separate the wealthy from everyone else. Establishing a new attitude and establishing reachable financial goals are the keys to turning your income into wealth and experiencing financial freedom.

ALIAKIM offers Revolutionary Chic to Fashionably Aware Women

ALIAKIM is a distinctive accessory and clothing line that blends fashion with activism. Each piece uniquely melds cultural images with high-end fashion elements to artistically raise awareness to current world affairs. Our mission is to provide cultivated women everywhere with clothing and accessories that express their advocacy as sophisticatedly as their femininity. Giving meaning to the term “revolutionary chic,” it is the intention of this line to put the “wear” in “awareness” and, as a result, inspire change.

Who is Mikaila Brown?

I am ALIAKIM’s founder and I have a doctorate in Anthropology and Education from Columbia University. I initially took a conventional anthropological route, working seven years with domestic and international non-profit organizations. In 2008, after a mildly major burn out, I decided to creatively re-channel my commitment to raising awareness of social issues around the world.

I have always had a fanatical passion for fashion and so it was an obvious next step for me after quitting my cushy job as a non-profit executive, overlooking the pressure of looming student loans and embarking on a new course of education. While attending courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology and the London College of Fashion, I plunged into a two-year period of hodge-podge jobs. This work included experience with a variety of world-class designers like Reem Acra, Pamela Rolland, and Oscar de la Renta.

How does ALIAKIM use images with negative connotations to to represent visions of power and beauty?

My newest collection, ENLISTED, primarily inspired by my custom fabrics, which flip counter-cultural images of things considered sad, bad and other people’s problems. For example, some fabrics have grenades, brass knuckles and child soldiers. I turn into visually stimulating images like butterflies and flowers. War meets nature, making it all more relatable. My intention was to visually and stylistically empower my customers. It’s hard to be a wall flower or a push over while wearing a skirt adorned with brass knuckles. Famed fashion photographer Bill Cunningham put it best when he said, “Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.” My primary inspiration and thus motivation with this collection is to provide women with an armor that is strong, discernible and commanding.

What is the most exciting part of being an entrepreneur for Brown?

I live for the creative process. I experience stomach somersaults with every new design concept. I enjoy the process of refining an initial idea, I find it gratifying yet challenging by the puzzle of making that idea a reality. Being a creative entrepreneur means I get to leave my mark on the world. I am fulfilled by the knowledge that something now exists in this world because I exist. Designing for myself rather than an established fashion house allows me the freedom to create without the restrictions of time and supervision or other people’s intentions.

Financial Literacy: The Foundation Toward Financial Freedom

By: Ryan Mack

During 2012, we witnessed a rigorous U.S. presidential election with controversial debates that pulled in high television ratings. Democrats, Independents and Republicans were glued to their TVs night and day to monitor polling data; economists, such as Nathaniel Silver, were sought-after for predictions. Everyone was watching. But was the heightened political focus a positive occurrence or a distraction from other significant issues in the African-American community?

Consider the following statistics:

  • 55% of African Americans are unbanked or under-banked: they do not have a bank account or the appropriate bank account (Federal Deposit Corporation Survey)

  • About a quarter of all Hispanic (24%) and Black (24%) households in 2009 had no assets other than a vehicle, compared with just six percent of white households. These percentages are little changed from 2005. (Pew Research)

  • For the first time in a decade, African-American households reported saving less than $200 per month. African-American households reported saving $189 monthly compared to $367 among Caucasian households. (Ariel Investments 2010 Black Investor Survey)

  • Author Lee Jenkins of Taking Care of Business wrote: “93% of our income is spent outside the community.”

  • “Blacks on the average are six times more likely than Whites to buy a Mercedes, and the average income of a Black who buys a Jaguar is about one-third less than that of a White purchaser of the luxury vehicle.”  Earl Graves, Black Enterprise Magazine

These frightening statistics reveal a financial literacy problem that is not a political issue, but an economic one. A politician cannot write legislation that will  force someone to open a bank account, save more income, support local businesses or purchase a car within their means of income. Principles of financial literacy are the foundation for economic advancement within your household and community.

I wrote the book “Living in the Village” with a mission to shift the national political focus to the economic survival of the African-American community. I am not saying politics does not matter; I was a true political junkie during the 2012 election.  However, we must learn how to walk and chew gum at the same time; we must know what our politicians are doing and time take control over our finances. We should focus more on issues within our own control such as our own economic survival.

We must learn how to prioritize our thoughts and our actions based on what is truly important in our community. During my workshops, I always ask participants why financial literacy is important. I usually receive self-serving answers such as: it helps to fulfill the desire to purchase a home, send kids to school and plan for retirement.  In addition to these important individual goals, we must pay attention to the larger picture of our role within our communities.  Financial literacy helps your household, and positions you to make a financial IMPACT within your community.

Individuals within our communities must learn how to manage money and take advantage of financial resources to help others. If you are going through a foreclosure or dodging bill collectors, it is hard to help someone else with their finances.  But if you manage your resources well enough to start your own business there will be others in your community who will benefit through employment opportunities.

It is difficult to create economic advancement for our communities if we are constantly spending our money outside our community. The essence of economic survival is  found in our willingness to support each other by adhering to sound money management principles in our homes.

As we pay attention to politics let us pay attention to our bank accounts.  Let us pay attention to where we spend our money, how to improve our credit,  new business ventures and more to create a strong financial foundation for future generations.

Ryan Charles Mack is President and CEO of the financial planning firm, Optimum Capital Management, LLC. Ryan can be regularly viewed on television networks such as GMTV, CNBC, CNN, Thomson Reuters, and BET discussing economic/social issues that impact American citizens. He has also written and published the book “Living in the Village.” You can reach Ryan on Twitter at @ryancmack or visit his website at www.optimum-capital.com.


Reclaim Control of Your Finances Now!

By: Dominique Broadway

Personal finance is rarely discussed.  Growing up, people were taught to leave money and politics out of conversations; it was rude to ask people how much they make. Unfortunately, people have carried these rules throughout their lives. As we develop in our careers and begin to earn more money, we do not know who to go to with our money concerns, and how to really have full control over our financial situations.

Track Your Spending

The first step to reclaiming control of your finances is to know exactly where your money is going each month. Using free systems such as Pageonce.com or Mint.com will allow you to link all of your bank accounts and closely monitor your spending habits. Knowing where your hard-earned money goes each month gives you more control regarding how to allocate those funds.

Budget

Once you know where your money is going, you can then begin to create a budget to fit your current income.  Having your funds pre-allocated for certain spending categories will reduce your chances of overspending. When allocating funds for each spending category (housing, food, entertainment, etc.) it is also very important to ensure that you allocate funds for savings.

Rainy Day & Retirement Savings

As you begin to save you should set a specific amount that you are comfortable to save each month.  Then take that amount and break it up into a weekly or bi-weekly amount depending on your pay schedule.  Once you’ve set the amount, make the savings automatic! Waiting until the end of the month greatly decreases your chances of saving.  In addition to saving for your emergency fund, which should be 3-6 months of your monthly expenses, it is also pertinent to begin saving for your retirement. If your employer offers a retirement plan, contribute to it. Not only do these contributions reduce the amount of your income that is taxed each year, but in most cases, your employer will provide a match (free money) based on the amount that you contribute to the plan.

Debt

Finding the best method to tackling your debt can be very daunting. Using a free website such as ReadyforZero.com will allow you to link all of your current loan accounts, and they will create the best strategy for you to pay down your debt and even provide you with your debt free date.  This system can even automate your debt payments for you to stay on track.

Implementing all of these steps will afford you more control of your personal finances and provide a clearer picture of your financial future. Using money as a tool and not as a crutch is the key.  You don’t have to worry about your finances taking control of you if you are always in control.

Dominique Broadway is a Financial Planner and Personal Finance Coach in Washington, D.C. She works closely with young professionals and entrepreneurs to bring their Dreams2Reality! Dominique is also the founder of Finances De•mys•ti•fied and the “Social Money Movement”. You can find her on Twitter at @MsFinanceCoach or visit her website at www.dominiquebroadway.com


Understanding Your Budget and Its Effect on Your Net Worth

By: Deshon Owens

As Mother’s Day approaches, most Americans are making dinner reservations at restaurants that they have patronized in the past and what would typically cost $45 any other day will be priced as $150 on the holidays. Why do most Americans fall this outlandish practice?  The answer: the TRICK BANK®.

The Trick Bank is the world’s trap to get you to spend money on goods and services that you do not need. Consumer spending is accountable for ~70% of the U.S. gross domestic product.  It is defined as the personal purchase of goods and services such as food, clothing, gasoline, toiletries, entertainment or a trip to the dentist. These types of expenditures typically have a negative impact on your net worth. As Americans struggle to recover from an economic recession, most people will have to cut back on spending due to reduced income and economic uncertainty. However, you can use this time of economic difficulty as a conduit to greater financial independence in the future.

Why is it that Americans spend more money during good times than hard times? The Trick Bank disguises the identity of a dollar as a relative value rather than its true absolute value. Do not be fooled, $100 today equals $100 whether you have $500 or $500,000 in the bank.  Regardless of how much money you have, everyone needs a financial budget, especially during times of national economic hardship.  I challenge you to use these circumstances as a means to correct your spending habits and permanently eliminate (or at least reduce) expenses that you do not need from your budget. Use this time of financial difficulty as an opportunity to train your mind to avoid the Trick Bank; no expenditure is too small.

Think about your budget during times of economic hardship. With reduced disposable income, the majority of your spending is allocated to the necessities such as food, shelter, clothing and transportation. Within necessities, there is probably some variation in quality and quantity of these expenditures as compared to more prosperous times; maybe you buy less fashion accessories, switch to generic household goods or downsize your automobile.

Upon economic recovery, I encourage you to think twice before re-inflating your budget. Was life really that bad without HBO and Showtime? Is it cheaper to stream your favorite shows online?  Think about cost effective alternatives for consumption and their effects on your budget.

Understanding your budget is simple because there are only three possible outcomes: you spend more than you make, you spend exactly what you make or you spend less than what you make. The first two instances are less desirable because you are either accumulating debt or living check to check.  In the latter instance, you are accumulating cash. You are creating a surplus of capital that can be used to positively IMPACT your net worth by paying down debt or investing to generate returns.

In conclusion, spending has a significant impact on your net worth over time. Imagine if you could walk into the Trick Bank and make a withdrawal for just half of the money you have spent over the last ten years on designer apparel, partying, alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, fines and other consumables for which you have nothing to show. When you are 65 years old, would you rather have a closet full of old shoes (Air Jordan’s excluded) or a $150,000 savings bond? The Trick Bank collects dust in your closet, the real bank pays dividends.

Deshon Owens has participated in the investment of more than $300 million of capital across various asset classes. He is a highly committed analytical and quantitative investment professional with expert proficiency in financial modeling, enterprise valuation, due diligence and industry research. He founded The Deshon Owens Company, LLC in order to bridge the gap between Wall Street veterans and young high networth individuals. Visit his website at www.DeshonOwens.com or tweet him at @DeshonOwens.

Are You a Person Behaving Wealthy?

By: Robin A. Young

Everything you’ve been taught about money is wrong!

As a financial adviser, I managed nearly a billion dollars for more than  500 millionaires. During those 13 years of working with wealthy individuals, I cracked the wealth code. There are two main differences between people who are wealthy and people who are not. I call the two differences – the 2 Cs: Confidence and Customization.

Wealthy people use both to turn income into wealth.  If you are like some of my clients who are not yet financially free, then you can follow my easy to implement step-by-step process to develop the financial confidence and customization you need to turn your hard-earned income into wealth.

Most people ask me this question: “How do I achieve financial independence?”

My response: Take baby steps to emulate wealthy habits. Rich people have a different set of behaviors and habits than those who financially struggle. To achieve financial freedom, you must learn, embody and implement proven, successful behaviors that propel you financial control and freedom.

Wealthy people habitually customize their financial goals by first calculating the cost of said goals.

Let’s say you want to retire in 20 years, you are currently contributing to your retirement account, but you have no idea whether you could retire comfortably or not.

Let’s say you estimate that you need to save an additional $1,000 per year in order to achieve your retirement goal. You now have the power. You have choice. You can decide how to save that additional money.

You can buy one less designer item or you can save $83/month or some combination of the two options. By calculating how much your goals cost, you are empowered to take action to reach your goals. Once you choose your course of action, you build confidence. That confidence is then used as momentum for attacking other financial goals.

What if you determine that you don’t have an additional $83/month to save? Start planning to use part of your next raise to increase your retirement contribution.

Let’s say you will receive a $500 raise. I suggest allocating it to several particular accounts or “buckets.” Set aside 25% of your raise to an account dedicated solely to your pleasurable activities (e.g. traveling, entertainment, shopping, etc.). You worked hard, and it is time to reward yourself responsibly. Another 25% can go to saving increasing your 401k contribution or increasing your savings or investing amounts. A third 25% should be allotted toward paying down any debt you may have. The final 25% should be earmarked for another goal of your choice. Your percentages may be different but the strategy holds true for anyone.

The key to saving more money is to have a clear vision of why you are saving. Being connected to your goals helps you have the discipline to forego something today in exchange for saving for what you can enjoy tomorrow. I recommend writing down a specific goal and its cost.  Determine if you are on track. If so, great – keep doing what you are doing.  If not, rededicated yourself to saving more!

Please visit www.womenbehavingwealthy.com to learn more about my simple step-by-step process of achieving your financial goals and to schedule your free consultation for customized guidance.

Robin A. Young is a Certified Financial Planner and Founder & CEO of Women Behaving Wealthy. She may be reached at Robin@womenbehavingwealthy.com. Please reach her on Facebook at  www.facebook.com/WomenBehavingWealthy or on Twitter at @behavingwealthy.


Stop Procrastinating, Start Saving

By: David Hawkins

When it comes to retirement savings, have you been caught up in “planning to make a plan?” A 2010 Prudential Financial survey offers welcome insights that will help women of all ages stop procrastinating and get their financial plan on track.

The fifth biennial Prudential Financial survey, “Financial Experience &  Behaviors Among Women,”  indicates that in the last decade women have taken greater control of their finances and increasingly recognize the need for a plan that will meet their long-term goals.  Other findings from the survey:

  • 95% of women today are involved in household financial decisions. That includes life insurance and family protection goals.

  • More than 20% are more involved today than they were five years ago.

  • But not all of the survey results were positive. While many more women are involved in financial decisions, few admit to having the confidence to move forward in any meaningful or strategic way. While the economic crisis has heightened women’s recognition of the need to develop a plan that will meet long-term financial goals, only one third have one in place. Reasons vary from limited time, lack of knowledge about financial products, and the lack of a relationship with a financial professional.

Another factor is that younger women may not feel a sense of urgency when it comes to planning financially. But the fact is, for women ages 25-34, time is on your side when it comes to tapping into the power of compound interest. Money you set aside now will help you build wealth and financial security and avoid having to play “catch up” in your 40s and 50s, when the retirement years begin to near.

For women who are ready to stop procrastinating and take action, several key steps can help you get moving in the right direction:

  • Call a financial professional and ask for an assessment of your situation. How much have you saved already? How long do you plan to work? Will having children impact your ability to save for the future? These are all good questions to discuss with a financial professional.

  • Have you established adequate safeguards such as life insurance or long-term care insurance? While conversations about what happens when you’re no longer around and/or able to take care of yourself can be difficult, they are an important aspect of a solid financial plan.

  • Do your homework. The internet offers a wealth of educational materials to help you build confidence and knowledge when it comes to financial products and services. For example, Prudential offers specific financial and educational needs through its research and women and money microsite (www.Prudential.com/women).

No matter where you find yourself now, taking even a small step in the right direction can get you out of the “planning to make a plan” rut and onto the road to financial success. Turn procrastination into pro-activity by taking steps to get started today.

Provided courtesy of Prudential for more information, contact David Hawkins, insurance license DC, MD & VA. A Financial Professional with The Prudential Insurance Company of America’s CMDA agency located in Vienna, VA. David Hawkins’s private office is located in Vienna, VA.  He can be reached at (703)245-5014.

Navigating Risky Waters How You Can Protect Your Retirement Assets

By: David Hawkins

Saving for retirement cannot take place in a vacuum. Whether you are just starting out, nearing retirement, or already enjoying those golden years, it’s important to be aware of the risks we all face. That’s where a retirement plan comes in—it helps you identify risks to your retirement assets and formulate strategies for addressing them.

Risk is usually defined as the potential for loss. When most people think of financial risk, they focus on investment risk and the potential for loss due to downturns in the economy, changing interest rates, inflation, or poor management of the companies in which they invest. These risks are typically addressed through diversification of one’s assets—selecting different types of investments across several industry sectors.  Please note that there is no guarantee that diversification will ensure a profit, or protect your investment against losses in declining markets.

But risk of loss also arises from life events such as illness, disability, or death.

Health Risks:

While most people look to health insurance to pay for health care, finding adequate insurance is increasingly difficult. Rising premiums have forced many employers to shift a greater share of the burden to employees and to discontinue health coverage for retirees. The answer is to be prepared for the unexpected. Many experts recommend health insurance with high deductibles and co-payments as a way to keep premiums down, yet protect against catastrophic loss. This suggests keeping a portion of your retirement assets in cash to pay for doctor and emergency room visits, routine physicals, tests, and prescription drugs.

Long-term Care Risks:

Another risk is chronic illness or a disability that requires not only medical treatment but also ongoing custodial care. Whether the care is delivered in your home or at a nursing facility, it can be expensive.

Keep in mind, that while Medicare covers most medical procedures and treatment for individuals, it is not intended to pay for extended or long-term custodial care. And although Medicaid, a program sponsored jointly by state and federal governments, covers long-term care services, eligibility depends on meeting strict guidelines and you may be forced to “spend down” to qualify.

A possible solution is long-term care insurance.  As more and more people live longer lives, the risk of requiring long-term care increases.

Death and Disability Risks

The financial loss due to the death of a wage-earner can be devastating.  Sometimes overlooked is the impact on a surviving spouse’s retirement. Assets that had been earmarked for retirement including IRAs, mutual funds, and 401(k) s may need to be tapped for immediate needs. Life insurance can be an affordable way to provide generally income tax-free death benefits (See IRC Section 101(a)) to survivors at the time they need it most. Death benefits can be used to settle outstanding doctor bills, funeral expenses, and other death-related costs. The balance can be used to help pay off mortgage and other debts, fund college education tuitions, and provide income for survivors, leaving retirement assets intact for the purpose for which they were intended.

Many individuals find that life insurance needs diminish during retirement as mortgages are paid off and children become financially independent. On the other hand, increasing estate values and the potential for increased death taxes can increase life insurance needs during retirement. Life insurance can also be a good solution for retirees who wish to provide a bequest to a favorite charity or create a legacy for their heirs.

A long-term disability results in a financial strain that is similar to the death of a breadwinner. With a wage earner unable to work or earn at the same level, it is easy to divert retirement savings to more immediate needs.  Individual disability income insurance is a good solution, for self-employed professionals and other high-income individuals.

Conclusion:

While risk cannot be avoided, it can be managed. It’s important to keep in mind that in a world with many risks, you’re not alone.

*This article provides general information for the subject matter covered. Prudential Financial, its affiliates and representatives do not render tax or legal advice. An individual’s particular circumstances should be discussed with a personal tax or legal advisor.

Provided courtesy of Prudential for more information, contact David Hawkins, insurance license DC, MD & VA. A Financial Professional with The Prudential Insurance Company of America’s CMDA agency located in Vienna, VA. David Hawkins’s private office is located in Vienna, VA.  He can be reached at (703)245-5014.

01 Apr

By

IL: Ebonie Johnson Cooper

April 1, 2013 | By |

EJC_Photo

Congratulations to our April 2013 IMPACT Leader of the Month, Ms. Ebonie Johnson Cooper.

After seven years of providing marketing and communication management to corporations and private sector institutions, Ebonie currently uses her experiences  and passion for giving to  serve as a millennial thought leader focused on social responsibility leadership and philanthropy, a community engagement consultant and a freelance writer.

Ebonie is the founder and president of social responsibility and career enrichment firm, Friends of Ebonie. Specifically targeting young black professionals and philanthropists in the New York City and Washington, D.C., areas, Friends of Ebonie raises social awareness, develops educational resources and facilitates events related to strengthening and defining young philanthropy. As a freelance writer, Ebonie muses on life, relationships, religion and giving. Her articles have been most notably featured on EBONY.com. In her philanthropic leadership, Ebonie is a vice president for the Junior Board of New York Cares, Inc. and is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (North Manhattan Alumnae Chapter), Black Benefactors Giving Circle, the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA), Black Women for Black Girls(NYC), the Alvin Ailey Young Patrons Circle, and the 1869 Society of the Corcoran Gallery.

Ebonie holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and is currently pursuing her masters in public relations and corporate communication at New York University.

INTERVIEW | Getting to Know Ebonie Johnson Cooper

What inspired you pursue a career in (your field/Industry)?

I think it’s in my DNA. My parents were both social workers. I grew up in a home watching them go above and beyond for kids they didn’t know just to save their lives. My alma mater, N.C. A&T, taught me the importance of civic leadership and gave me my basis for business and marketing. I also learned from my early career mentors, who are now family friends, the importance and value of board governance. As I look back on my life, each chapter has prepared me for where I am in my career now.

What is the key to balancing your professional, philanthropic and social commitments?

Ha. While I still don’t do it often enough, the key is taking time for me. Whether it’s sleeping an extra 30-minutes, taking five to paint my nails, or simply taking a walk to nowhere in particular. I have to remember to take care of myself so I can take care of others well.

What is the biggest mistake young professionals make, especially when pursuing careers in your field/industry?

Ouch. I’d like to attribute this to my millennial cronies but every generation has its coming of age moments, right? Lol. One of the biggest mistakes young professionals make is thinking we know everything. We burst onto the work scene equipped with a fancy college degree and no one can tell us anything. Particularly as creatives, we think we’re always right. Wrong. Every profession has its disciplines and business practices, as newbies it is our time to watch, listen and learn.

What advice would you give other young professionals who desire to excel, especially young men/women of color?

Do less talking and more listening. I have learned throughout my career, we often give our input at the least opportune times. If no one else is talking, you probably shouldn’t be either. We happen to be a very emotionally driven people; but it’s business it’s not personal. In an interview I did with GenX thought-leader, Dr.Curtis Odom, he advised in order to win the game, we should learn from those at the top who look least like you. It was great advice. We often build comfort zones instead of professional networks. The more we seek to understand than be understood, we can gain better perspective to get what we want.

What’s been the best experience of your career thus far (or the most rewarding)?

There are two experiences I find most rewarding. The first was early in my career when I led the launch of BET Networks in the UK. It was the largest project I’d ever managed. With a budget of $100,000, the GM told me I could do what I thought best- and I did. From production management to the launch event, I planned it all. The launch event received more than one million impressions, Alicia Keys headlined the on-air campaign and I walked away with a skill set I have been able to use throughout my career.

The second is still happening. I’m in a season of career growth right now. Having industry leaders and audiences notice my work is very rewarding. I never imagined this is where I would be. The days where I receive an email or a phone call about a new client, gratitude for my work or a request to be featured, it reassures me I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

What’s next for you in your career? What should we look out for?

Oprah?! Yes? *smile* I’m on a mission to raise awareness around black millennial civic engagement. There is a void in the giving world that needs to be filled and I’m doing it day by day. As a marketing communications consultant, my goal is to continue to help my clients reach new, diverse, millennial donors through effective strategies and messaging. As a millennial thought-leader, I will be doing more public speaking and freelance writing about millennials and giving. I plan to have a column on a major online platform and I have an e-book I’m finalizing that will be a guide to board leadership for young professionals. And of course, Friends of Ebonie isn’t going anywhere. We’re in our 2.0 phase for sure. We continue to be the platform for black millennials and young black professionals to gain insight into philanthropy, learn about giving and engage with like-minded individuals. June 13-15 in NYC we will be hosting the first ever African American Millennial Summit on Giving and Civic Leadership, entitled: Changing The Face of Philanthropy. The opportunity for us to equip our generation with the tools they need to be successful as leaders in the community is just awesome! We have such a dynamic line of speakers and supporting organizations, I can’t wait to see how impactful it will be. So yeah, I can’t imagine adding anything else to my plate but as I have learned much of what has happened thus far in my career, isn’t planned at all.

Lastly, what three words sum you up?

Spunky, Sassy and Classy

What is your Twitter Handle? What email address can people use to reach you?

@EJCThatsMe | ebonie@friendsofebonie.com