Question [Jacqueline] : Welcome back Wayne! You were a guest last year. So we wanted to check in and see what you have been up to over the last 12 months. We know that you are a very busy man.
Answer [Wayne]: It’s been an exciting year, within the BDPA family, I found a way to put 3 hats on my head. I am a local member of the BDPA Cincinnati chapter, working with the chapter president Dalric Webb and his board of directors. I agreed to be the VP of member management for the local chapter. We began the year as the 5th largest chapter in the national and we are now the 2nd largest with 172 members. We started with 86 members we literally doubled our membership. We have doubled our membership by adding some specific, exciting and new programs to attract new members and increase membership over the first 7 months of the year by 100%.
At a national level, I’m the corporate sales director. Primary objective is to make the 36th annual BDPA National Technology conference a profitable affair. We have been working with Conference Director Pam Sexton and her team to help share information about the conference with corporate America to bring in corporate sponsors to host golf tournaments, host receptions, sponsors scholarships and to be at the career fair. Close to 4 dozen companies will be at the conference career fair. We are very, very proud. It’s just an exciting time to from a corporate sales and corporate sponsorships point of view.
The third hat, that I always wear, is the executive director of the non-profit 501C3 charity, called the BDPA Education Technology Foundation (acronym BETF) or BDPA Foundation. It was first created in 1992 when it was first created by the BDPA National board of directors. We are extremely pleased that we will be working with BDPA to give away 129,000 dollars in scholarships at the National Conference in Indiana next month (Aug 5 -10).
Question [Jacqueline]: It’s clear you have been doing this for a while, you are committed and you are very passionate about this, can you share with the audience, “Why do we need to make sure BDPA continues to have the funding they need to keep doing what they do?”
Answer [Wayne]: At the end of the day, BDPA resonates with me and resonates with many of our stakeholders and sponsors because it is very clear why BDPA exist and what we stand for BDPA exist to advance the careers of African Americans in the IT industry, from the class room to the board room. Each of our 46 chapters, our National Board and our 4 regions, that’s what they do, they give out scholarships, they are going to put on programs and provide services that are going to advance your career, whether you are a CIO, or own your own company or whether you are a K-12/middle school student just learning programming. Any where in the spectrum, BDPA is engaged. I personally got engaged in the late 80’s. I took a job as branch manager. running a computer operation branch. I had never been in IT or in a computer room before that in my career. I was just known as a good leader and good manager. And that’s what they were looking for to run their 24/7 – 3 shift a day operation. So I joined BDPA, quite frankly, to get a certificate to hang on my wall to give me credibility on my new job in IT. That was literally the reason why I became active and paid my membership dues But since then obviously I learned and watched it have an impact on people, On folks improving their careers. I credit BDPA for advancing my career and me eventually becoming the youngest executive in my federal agency was a direct result of the skills and experience I got from volunteer leader with BDPA.
I just enjoy the story. I enjoy watching students one year coming to the conference in high school, the next year they are going to college, the navy, and along the way winning scholarships to fund their dreams. That energizes me as much as anything else
I will tell you 2 weeks ago I was in Indianapolis at the Indianapolis Black Expo promoting the conference with Pamela Sexton and a few other folks.. A young lady volunteered to work our booth , she works at Eli Lilly. She had just moved from Delaware to Indianapolis in the last 2 weeks. Her name is Sharece Poole. Sharece as a high school student in Delaware participated in BDPA’s IT Showcase where she did research on IT topics and presenting that to African American PhD’s. She ended up using BDPA scholarship money to go to NC A&T and got her 4 year computer science degree. And then one of our BDPA president Indiana chapter was doing interviews at NC AT&T and he offered her job. She is now an IT professional now on her first real job. BDPA produces that kind of story.
Question [Jacqueline] : Wayne, I see you a lot on social media helping to get the word out and inspiring stories out like the one you just shared with us. How are you leveraging social media and how can people connect with BETF and connect with you?
Answer [Wayne]: BETF started out on LINKEDIN many years ago, we have a LinkedIn account and BDPA/BETF LinkedIn group, there are about 4 to 5 thousand subscribers. I use to say Facebook was for kids but then I begin to realize there are a lot of black CIO’s and CEOs and owners of companies on Facebook. And I then realized we’ve been giving out scholarships and training kids for years and most of them are were on Facebook. Our HSCC alumni from 1986 and sense. So we started reconnecting with past high school students who have gone on to college and bringing them back together. And when we reconnected they wanted to give back.
I will say that I was back in Indiana this past weekend, the reason I was there was an invitation to speak with a group called Prince Dog Grand Lodge of Indiana. I was a keynote speaker for about 400 free masons and matrons. That invitation came from a BDPA member I met back in Atlanta back in 2008. That member owns his own company in Indiana. This year his company made an investment to become the largest black owned sponsor of BDPA has in the country. He invited me and had a wonderful time. Talked to them about number of issues that impact our community.
It’s just one of those examples of using your network and keeping in touch. Whether its online or old fashion by phone. That’s one of the biggest benefits, is networking with like minded people of color.
Question [David]: A lot of company’s that are sponsors for BDPA are very sincere about supporting what we do and not just checking a box – do you find that to be true?
Answer [Wayne]: When you talk about corporate sponsors and corporations they are very honest, there are a number of them that they want to give back to the community, want to be good corporate citizens and want to help improve STEM education being given to K-12 students (and know that through BDPA at the local level they can do that).
They are also looking at this as an “investment”, this is not a gift, this is an investment. They are looking for a return on their investment, they are looking to recruit diverse IT talent. They say they can’t find that talent, all these jobs that are going unfilled by American born people of color with IT talent. So BDPA is helping fill that void, like the national BDPA Conference Job Fair in Indiana next month on August 8th and 9th (go to bdpa.org for more information).
We also provide job opportunities 24/7 on our job board, there are over 10K current job opportunities on our board, you can find that at ITDiversityCareers.com. So these corporations are purchasing id/passwords to access the job board and to access our minority talent. They attend our local BDPA programs to see local talent and to meet entrepreneur because they have minority spending goals and they can make that connection with minority business. And they do it for minority dollar market share so that’s another reason to support BDPA.
The beauty of my job is to show them how to get that return on investment.