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Embracing Diversity, Inclusion and Equity: A Recap of the 2nd Annual Black Affinity Network Leadership Retreat

Black Affinity Retreat

Guest post by Leticia Stallworth ’99, MBA’13

More than 60 Babson students, alumni, faculty, and staff converged in Atlanta from June 1–3, 2018, for the Black Affinity Network’s (BAN) second annual Leadership Retreat. Student leaders, including CWEL, Diversity, and Global Scholars, spent the weekend getting to know alumni, faculty, and staff while participating in a multitude of professional development activities. You can view a Flickr album of the experience.

The venue’s proprietor, Lecester “Bill” Allen, greeted us in the theater of his hotel. He got a feel for who was in the room by having each student stand up, share where they were from and their short- and long-term goals. After starting his career as a teacher, Allen went on to invest in real estate, own and operate charter schools all over the country, and ultimately purchase a 150-acre property to house his Allen Entrepreneurial Institute, the location of our retreat. The institute’s goal is to increase the size and number of minority- and women-owned businesses in the United States and globally.

Babson’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Dr. Sadie Burton-Goss, and Undergraduate School Dean, Dr. Ian Lapp, kicked off the retreat with a warm welcome. Lavinia Marshall, corporate trainer and parent of Babson alumna Nicole Marshall ’16, set the tone with a discussion about “Vision, Voice and Values.” She noted, “You need to have vision, understand the power of your voice, and recognize your value.” Associate Director of the Undergraduate Center for Career Development Larinda Cole pitched in to help students learn to tell their stories through résumé writing, elevator pitching, and networking.

Babson Professor Fred Opie facilitated a session based on his book, “Start With Your Gift.” After his experience with the students, he commented, “It is the first time in my life I have seen an African American who has lived the philosophy: ‘Live now like nobody else so you can live and give later like nobody else.’ ” He further shared that he was, “thankful for the opportunity to spend time with Babson students outside of the classroom,” and he was happy to be able to share wealth-building tips he wished he had known when he was their age.

Atlanta-based serial entrepreneur, author, and Brookings Institute Fellow Rodney Sampson held a fireside chat with me about his book, “Kingonomics: Twelve Innovative Currencies for Transforming Your Business and Life Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” There was so much meat in the discussion that I asked him to narrow down the top three currencies he had found most useful in life. His response was diversity, personal responsibility, and character. His company, Opportunity Hub, focuses on building inclusive innovation, entrepreneurship, and investment ecosystems for all.

Atlanta-based author, social innovator, and graduate of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program Anthony Flynn closed out a packed weekend with his session, “Eight Steps to Problem Solving.” From developing a practical vision statement to defining the metrics and rewiring your brain for thoughts of success, attendees left feeling empowered with new tools.

Babson Admissions, both graduate and undergraduate, provided material for information sessions geared toward potential Atlanta-based students. Babson’s Campus Life generously donated writing journals and the books utilized in the sessions. Caitlin Capozzi, associate dean of Student Life, was happy to have taken part in this annual retreat and experienced it for herself. Gabrielle Alias ’20 reflected on the weekend’s retreat, “beautiful conversations and inspiring speakers, we are all enormously grateful.”

Several times during the weekend, I was asked what inspired me to spearhead this special retreat. In my experience as a first-generation college student at Babson, there were things I wish I had known and opportunities I wish I had taken advantage of. I truly believe that this weekend and the exposure to the Allen Entrepreneurial Institute, exponentially changed the life and career trajectories of many attendees, student or not. I was happy to have curated such a unique experience in collaboration with a team of students, alumni, and Babson administrators.

In keeping with BAN’s mission of recruitment, retention and re-engagement, along with Babson’s hub strategy, the BAN Leadership Retreat travels around the country to champion the Babson brand in diverse communities that may enhance the student pipeline to Babson’s various programs.

Last year, BAN hosted its first Leadership Retreat in Washington, D.C. Next year, the BAN Leadership Retreat heads to Chicago. Room, board, and travel are paid for by BAN so student leaders can participate for free. BAN funds are raised through individual donations, corporate, and foundation sponsorship. If you would like to support our mission, please click here.

The BAN is just shy of two years old. We are still trying to get the message out. Anyone who believes in diversity, inclusion, and equity is welcome to join our communities.

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