Dr. Saidah Leatufufu-Burch, director of the Dream Keeper Initiative, joined the ceremonies in the Latino Heritage Room of the San Francisco Main Library
by Jackie Wright, photos by Johnnie Burrell
San Francisco – The participants of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women San Francisco Doris Ward Workforce Development OEWD Dream Keeper Initiative Program are one step closer to realizing their dreams of obtaining a position in California’s $79 billion housing industry.
On Wednesday, April 27, the first cohort of the program graduated with ceremonies, including Dr. Sheryl Evans Davis, executive director of the City and County of San Francisco’s Human Rights Commission.
“It was so inspiring for the women in the program that is focused on uplifting Black women to see a visionary and tireless worker like Dr. Sheryl Davis on hand to engage and speak with them, to let them know the city cares,” said Sharon Lee, president of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Inc. – San Francisco Chapter. She also serves in the hospitality industry as a chef.
“Congratulations on your achievements,” said Dr. Sheryl Davis. “But it’s important to remember this is not just about you. What you are accomplishing is also about those following behind you as you pave a better way for those to come.”
Davis talked about how the late Dr. Aileen-Hernandez, Dr. Doris Ward, Effie Lee Morris – an African American children’s librarian, educator and activist and the first Black administrator for the San Francisco Public Library – and others created pathways to success for people of color who are benefiting from their effort.
Davis’ powerful and impactful speech embodied the African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone; If you want to go farther, go together!” She encouraged the class to continue to stay connected as they utilize the Dream Keeper Initiative Program to advance their careers.
The ceremony culminated 12 continuous weeks of training by culturally relevant and high level professional instructors: Kelly Armstrong, business consultant and creator of the original 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 human resources training and development executive; Madelyn Mackie, a certified career coach, trainer and motivational speaker; and Jackie Wright, a San Francisco Chamber of Commerce Leadership San Francisco alumna, nonprofit leader, publicist for the San Francisco Black Film Festival and Oakland International Film Festival, award-winning journalist, filmmaker and founder of the NCBW SF Doris Workforce Development Program.
Dream Keeper Initiative Director Dr. Saidah Leatufufu-Burch was on hand to present the program completion certificates. “As part of the Dream Keeper Initiative, one of our goals is to foster business relationships, entrepreneurs, to support economic development in everything like the National Coalition of 100 Black Women San Francisco Chapter is doing,” she said.
“We are happy to celebrate their cohort of graduates, and also happy to maintain our partnership with them as part of the Dream Keeper Initiative.”
“I have been so blessed to be a part of this program,” said Tanisha Cyprian. “I will be able to work in the hospitality industry while I continue to develop my internet-based candle company, Essence of Queens,” said Tanisha.
One of the highlights of the graduation was a special performance by playwright Jamie Zimmer, who debuted her musical of original songs by the U.S. National Park Services’ oldest park ranger, Betty Reid Soskin, during last October’s SFBATCO New Roots Theatre Festival.
Zimmer sang “Sign My Name to Freedom,” based on Soskin’s memoir by that name. She was accompanied by guitarist Max Brody.
“The theme of ‘Sign My Name to Freedom’ and the excellent performance were perfect for the occasion,” said Dr. Maxine Hickman, past president of NCBW SF, former NCBW board member and chief operating officer for the Doris Ward Workforce Development Program.
“It was inspirational, and the performance tied into the fact that NCBW SF honored Ms. Reid Soskin as our 2015 Golden Girl Awardee, a full circle moment.”
The evening was capped with a visit to the African American Center and the exhibit “Black Excellence, Black Invention.” Inspired by the Black Excellence bookmark celebrating Black inventors created by Dr. Carolyn Ransom-Scott, the display uses library materials and archival resources to show how Black invention is joyful and resistant.
Shawna Sherman, librarian and manager of the African American Center, gave a well-received presentation about the exhibit to graduates, their families and friends.
In related news, see the recent NCBW SF article that gives more information about their Doris Ward Workforce Development Program that has teamed up with the city and county’s Office of Economic Workforce Development and the Dream Keeper Initiative.
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.
Special thanks are extended to the Nikko Hotel for its support to date of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women – San Francisco Chapter Doris Ward OEWD Dream Keeper Initiative Program.
Jackie Wright is the president of Wright Enterprises, a full service public relations firm serving the corporate, nonprofit and government sectors. A seasoned media and public relations professional, Wright has over 20 years of media experience, including more than a decade of award-winning journalism experience in radio, television and print communications, and holds degrees in both journalism and drama from the University of Georgia. With the release of her short documentary, “Love Separated in Life … Love Reunited in Honor,” she is also an award-winning filmmaker. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @wrightenternow, Instagram @1jackiewright and LinkedIn @wrightenterprises.
Johnnie Burrell is a renowned San Francisco videographer, who records Black history as it’s made in countless videos. Visit his website, www.internationalmediatv.com, and his YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/johnnieburrellstv. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.