For twelve years, Evy Poumpouras put her life on the line almost every single day. But she never let fear run the show. As a Special Agent for the United States Secret Service and a part of the Presidential Protective Division for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, Poumpouras had plenty to be scared of, but when she talks about her experience, one thing is clear: she is always in control, even in her confidence that you can't plan for everything.
Have you ever wondered why women have been kept out of board rooms? Or why we have seen very few female world leaders? Why is our advanced world still holding back power from the beings that birthed us? Divine feminine energy has long been oppressed and possessed by those who would like to own this power for themselves. This imbalance has caused disease, famine and war. Fueled by greed these people and structures have used fear to rule the planet. There is a better way, we only have to look to a not-so-distant past where indigenous people honored the divine feminine within, and all around them. Our ancestors survived for thousands of years on systems built with divine feminine and divine masculine balance in leadership.
My name is Tracy Garley, I was born in the West African country of Liberia, and moved to the US at the age of eleven. I attended Western International High School in Detroit and graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Food Industry Management. I'm the owner of West African lifestyle brand Zarkpa's, founder of West African catering company Culture in a Bowl, founder of City Girl Big Dreams, and CEO of its sister brand, GoFundHer.com. In each of these roles, I try to create opportunities for girls and women to transform their dreams into reality through collaboration and social networking.
I have been bullied both at school and at work, and I know of others who have suffered the same plight. It is not fun! Bullying makes people feel bad about themselves, leading to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem and even physical symptoms. The repercussions of bullying can cause people to miss school or work as well as countless other negative side effects.
The murder of George Floyd was a lightning rod galvanizing the Black Lives Matter movement and highlighting the vast inequalities that remain within our society and economy. Perhaps among the most striking of these is the widening racial wealth gap with Black families holding roughly one-tenth the wealth of white families. One key to ushering in a new age of greater social and racial equity lies in narrowing the vast wealth and earning disparities among the Black population, and Black women specifically.
I've worked in Human Resources for nearly a decade, and throughout all my roles, I've passionately incorporated diversity initiatives to help make companies more inclusive. Recently, many businesses have made public pledges around diversity in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. Statements are one small step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done.
If you needed to hire a professional to let's say cater a dinner, head your marketing department, or perhaps act as an expert for you on a legal matter. How would you expect them to dress? I will take a guess here and say you imagine each person with a different look, vibe, and as presenting themselves in unique ways. If their style fell short of what's perceived to be acceptable within their industry, you may even underestimate their skill set. You may question their ability to be trustworthy, confident, or knowledgeable.
As a mental heath clinician, I was fascinated by the podcast on NPR One last spring entitled "The Shrink Next Door" (produced by Wondery and Bloomberg) for several reasons. For one, it is an alarming story of betrayal and of a degraded mental judgment on the part of the patient that occurred in this day and age, this century, which is probably the main reason for most of the shock. However, I have to say that most shocking of all was the tepid response to Marty Markowitz' initial conclusive complaint and the many steps that he had to take to receive an appropriate interest into his remarkable story of psychological mistreatment and betrayal. His damning complaint took four whole years to review, and it was not even completed at the time of the story's broadcast. What's more, it appears that once the responding agency got wind of the media attention following the story's publication, their handling of the issue changed for the better — which is even more discerning and telling of American culture and its feckless systems.
Racism is a multifaceted monster that thrives on visual and audible cues. From elementary to high school, as a person of color, I experienced what I can only describe as counter-cultural racism. I felt severely isolated and often degraded by the Black community. As a result, I had many more white friends than Black for most of my life. As I got older, my interactions with white women would sting with traces of biased and superior behavior. This was painful and unexpected, and again, I felt isolated and at times degraded.
My career has always been deeply rooted in community. I'm the Cofounder and CEO of Makelab, a Brooklyn-based 3D printing company. I also sit on the board of Women in 3D Printing, an organization on a mission to close the gender gap in additive manufacturing. In the simplest of terms: the 3D printing industry is not diverse. Currently, women make up 10% or less of the industry. A significant part of the reason I've been able to establish a successful company is that I've developed and magnified my voice in a space with very few women.
Melissa "MJ" Jacques is the Director of Human Resources at Mustache Agency, a Brooklyn-based full-service creative content agency. Since joining Mustache in 2019, MJ has spearheaded Mustache's first-ever intern program, "Content-oisseurs," and promoted various internal and external diversity, inclusion, and company culture events that have bonded Mustachers. More specifically, MJ created Lunch and Learns focused on embracing Black History Month and Pride, as well as supported black-owned businesses for event specific needs. Additionally, MJ has established relationships with various companies with aligned missions, partnered with Sparked for multiple agency networking events (with diversity at the forefront of recruiting), and worked with Cutter for women-driven screenwriting and networking events.
Dr. Mary Beth Wilkas Janke is a former United States Secret Service Agent and current consultant in the fields of forensic and clinical psychology and professor at George Washington University, where she teaches Abnormal Psychology and the Psychology of Crime and Violence. Mary Beth holds a Doctoral Degree in Clinical Psychology, a Master's Degree in Forensic Psychology, and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. She is also the author of " The Protector: A Woman's Journey from the Secret Service to Guarding VIPs and Working in Some of the World's Most Dangerous Places"
Aji Oliyide is a Senior Program Manager at Google who has worked on a number of projects related to product launches, and mergers and acquisitions. Aji sits on the board of directors for San Francisco CASA, a San Francisco non-profit devoted to supporting youth in the foster care system. In addition to board service, she enjoys volunteering and travelling. In 2011, she traveled to Nepal to participate in a charity trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp resulting in over $5,000 personally raised for a local Nepalese non-profit. In her spare time, Aji explores her creative side through her blog (Pivot Points) and her podcast Eat.Plank.Live. Her blog is focused on sharing insights from the decisions and events in people's lives that have influenced their path and how they interact with the world. Her podcast focuses on the role that food and fitness plays in our lives and is now live on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher. Aji holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and an MBA from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.