California’s $79+ billion hospitality industry is now more accessible to BIPOC women helping their families
by Gina Snow, GSA Communications
San Francisco, April 7, 2022 – The National Coalition of 100 Black Women Inc. San Francisco Chapter (NCBW SF) and the City of San Francisco Office of Economics and Workforce Development Department (OEWD) joined forces to provide hospitality industry training and employment opportunities for underserved women of color in San Francisco.
Launched on Jan. 15, 2022, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, the first class of the Doris Ward Workforce OEWD Dream Keeper Initiative Program will graduate later this month.
Created in 2011, the NCBW SF Workforce Development Program was renamed the Doris Ward Workforce Development Employment Training Program in honor of Doris Ward, the first Black president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and long-time NCBW member.
The current iteration of the program receives funding from the City and County of San Francisco’s Dream Keeper Initiative, made possible by Mayor London Breed’s reallocation of funds and managed by the Human Rights Commission, headed by Executive Director Sheryl L. Davis. The commission’s initiative is investing $100,000 in the program to train Black women and women of color with the main objective of teaching workforce skills to help them secure jobs in the hospitality, restaurant and retail sales industries.
“Our thanks are extended to San Francisco Mayor London Breed; Sheryl Davis, executive director of The Human Rights Commission; City leaders Kate Sofis, director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, and Joshua Arce, director of workforce development and their entire Office of Economic Workforce Development team,” said NCBW SF President Sharon Lee.
Opportunities for hospitality industry jobs in California’s $79+ billion tourism industry is expected to grow with post-COVID pandemic travel restrictions being lifted. San Francisco’s tourism and hospitality industries suffered a major downturn due to the pandemic since March 2020.
Tourism is a significant source of tax income for San Francisco, generating $819.7 million in 2019, which decreased to $257.4 million during the height of the pandemic. San Francisco Travel reported that trend is now reversing with a boost in tourism up 25 percent since 2020.
The importance of the tourism and hospitality industries was highlighted by Mayor London Breed’s recent 10-day trip to Europe sponsored by SFO, with the airport’s executives accompanying her to promote travel to San Francisco. With the expected increase in tourism to continue in FY 2022-2023, tourism and hospitality industry jobs are returning. The NCBW SF training program provides an opportunity for Black women to secure them.
“As we work to recover and make San Francisco a better place to live, work and do business, we have to invest our resources in a way that lifts up and supports African American small businesses owners, entrepreneurs and the entire community,” stated Mayor London Breed.
“The City of San Francisco is happy to support the objectives of the Doris Ward Workforce Development Employment Training Program to that end.”
Workers are the “face” of San Francisco, and tourists remember how they were treated, especially by staff and employees they encounter while visiting the City. Program participants learn about customer service and how to greet visitors and make them feel welcome to San Francisco. In addition, they learn leadership skills, dressing for success in professional attire, mastering emotional intelligence, financial literacy, effective communications and business ethics.
The program is open to women of color 21-59 years of age and is an opportunity for those who are just starting their work experience or others who are older and need to recharge or redirect their careers due to the COVID pandemic or other economic factors. Participants receive 12 weeks of classes and are paid a competitive stipend to supplement costs of housing, food, transportation and childcare. In addition, they receive on-the-job training with hospitality and retail industry companies.
The NCBW SF chapter’s Doris Ward Workforce Development Employment Training Program is a prototype for over 60 chapters of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Inc. nationwide. Competitive stipends and paid on-the-job shadowing opportunities are intended to help the women bridge to new job positions and help stabilize their families financially.
“This training program demonstrates the importance of the work that we are doing in advocating for Black women. We have to work diligently to overcome the inequities that Black women have faced due to centuries of not being paid and decades of underpayment,” said Dr. Maxine Hickman, immediate past NCBW SF chapter president and National NCBW Inc. board member, who now serves as chief operating officer for the program.
The NCBW SF Workforce Development Program was founded in 2011 by Program Director Jackie Wright, a public relations professional and award-winning journalist and filmmaker. Wright created the program based upon her decade of experience as a Red Cross executive director in San Francisco. She was also on the National Red Cross’ Rapid Response Communications Team and educated her staff in how to train volunteers for various positions.
Competitive stipends and paid on-the-job shadowing opportunities are intended to help the women bridge to new job positions and help stabilize their families financially.
In a recent interview with KMEL’s Larry Dorsey, Wright shared her motivation for the creation of the program. During Women’s History Month, her alma mater, the University of Georgia, wrote about Wright’s ground-breaking work with the first Black radio station in Athens, Ga., WXAG.
Courses are taught by high level Black female professionals, Kelly Armstrong, business consultant and creator of the original OEWD Primed and Prepped Culinary Program, now conducted by the YMCA of San Francisco; Lisa Bishop, a leadership consultant, executive coach, facilitator and trainer; Karen Johnson, a a human resources training and development executive; and Madelyn Mackie, a certified career coach, trainer and motivational speaker. Hospitality industry professionals are invited to be guest trainers as part of the program as well.
Since its founding, the NCBW SF Doris Ward Workforce Development Program has trained women to assist with Covered California, health programs of California Pacific, nonprofits such as I.T. Bookman Community Center and the San Francisco Black Film Festival, where both female and male youth were trained as customer service workers and brand ambassadors.
“The program has inspired and enabled me as a low-income Black woman with an impactful small business to pursue my passion as a public health worker and job readiness engagement specialist to start my very own job readiness and interviewing training program that is currently helping 10 women living within District 10,” said LaJeana Thompson, founder and executive director of Loyal Butterflies Women Wellness Empowerment Program.
NCBW SF invites companies interested in securing a better future for Black women in the Bay Area to invest in the chapter’s efforts. Individuals, corporations and businesses interested in supporting the initiative with job placements are encouraged to learn more about the program here.
Applications for the training program are accepted on a continual basis. Applicants can learn more about applying to the NCBW SF Doris Ward Workforce Development Program at www.ncbwsf.org. More information about the work of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Inc. San Francisco can be found at the website as well.
Gina Snow is an independent journalist with GSA Communications.