Asian Women Breaking Barriers

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These powerful women are bringing more diversity to top positions

These Asian women are proof that the numbers are changing—with their success, they are challenging the underrepresentation of women, especially Asian women, in senior-most executive jobs and in boardrooms. Collectively, they’ve reached some of the highest positions in the country, in both government and the corporate world. Meet this group of accomplished women who are leading the way for other Asian women to follow.


First Asian-American Woman Senator

Mazie K. Hirono was elected to the Senate in 2012 and sworn in as Hawaii’s first female senator and the country’s first Asian-American woman senator. Born in Fukushima, Japan, Hirono was nearly eight years old when her mother brought her and her older brother to Hawaii to escape an abusive husband and seek a better life. Hirono served in the Hawaii House of Representatives from 1981 to 1994 and earned a reputation as an advocate for consumers and workers. After being elected as Hawaii’s lieutenant governor in 1994, Hirono led efforts to support Hawaii’s tourism industry through visa reform. Voters in Hawaii’s second congressional district elected Hirono to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006.


Top Washington Correspondent for Al Jazeera

Asian Women

Joie Chen is an American television journalist, anchor of Al Jazeera America‘s flagship evening news show America Tonight, which was launched in August 2013. Chen has been a Washington-based correspondent for CBS News, reporting from the White House, Capitol Hill and other beats for all of the network’s programming. She also contributed to CBS Sunday Morning and won an Emmy for her coverage of the D.C. sniper attacks. She has been an anchor at CNN and CNN International, covering world affairs and domestic issues, and she reported for USA Today on TV.

Before CNN, she worked for six years as a reporter and anchor at Atlanta‘s WXIA-TV in Atlanta from 1985 to 1991, and also as a correspondent for USA Today On TV.


First Woman Direct of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Asian Women

Michelle Kwok Lee is Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Ms. Lee also serves as the principal advisor to the President, through the Secretary of Commerce, on domestic and international intellectual property policy matters. Ms. Lee is the first woman to serve as Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in the country’s history.

As the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Michelle K. Lee provides leadership and oversight to one of the largest intellectual property offices in the world, with over 12,000 employees and an annual budget of over $3 billion.


Activist Delivering for Other Women

Asian Women

Ai-jen Poo is an American activist. She is the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. She is also the co-director of Caring Across Generations, a national coalition of 200 advocacy organizations working to transform the long-term care system in the US, with a focus on the needs of aging Americans, people with disabilities, and their caregivers.

She is a 2014 recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Award, and she has received the Open Society Institute Community Fellowship, the Union Square Award, the Leadership for a Changing World Award, the Ernest de Maio Award from the Labor Research Association, the Woman of Vision Award from Ms. Foundation for Women, the Alston Bannerman Fellowship for Organizers of Color, the Twink Frey Visiting Scholar Fellowship at University of Michigan Center for the Education of Women, and the Prime Movers Fellowship.


First Chinese American Woman Elected to Congress

Asian Women

Judy May Chu is the first Chinese American woman elected to the U.S. Congress. She serves as the U.S. Representative for California’s 27th congressional district, serving in Congress since 2009.

Chu currently serves on the House Judiciary Committee, where she is a member of the Subcommittees on Intellectual Property and the Internet as well as Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations.

Chu was first elected to the Board of Education for Garvey School District in 1985. From there, she was elected to the Monterey Park City Council, where she served as Mayor three times. She then was elected to the State Assembly and then California’s elected tax board, known as the State Board of Equalization. In 2009, she became the first Chinese American woman elected to Congress in history.


Tech Manager is a ‘Star in Technology’

Asian Women

Northrop Grumman Corporation manager Anita Lee Wright recently received the Industry Corporate Responsibility award at the 21st Annual Women of Color STEM Conference. Wright received the Corporate Responsibility award for her efforts to support Northrop Grumman’s assistance to under-represented communities and provide technology tools and education services for minority youth and adults.

Wright, a manager of business development for Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, has been a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion in Northrop Grumman and the community. She is active in Northrop Grumman employee resource groups that support women, Asian-Pacific Islander professionals, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender professionals, and individuals with disabilities.

La La Anthony: Power Through Philanthropy

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La La Anthony speaking on stage to audience

By Brady Rhoades

So, La La Anthony, how do you become a movie star, TV star, producer, best-selling author, and fashion icon?

You might be surprised things don’t come so easily to the self-described Afro Puerto-Rican, considered one of the most beautiful and glamorous women in the world and currently starring in the much-anticipated final season of Power (first episode is Aug. 25).

“Hard work! You can’t fake that,” she said, in an interview Hispanic Network Magazine.

Anthony is affable. Movie star looks and chops with a girl-next-door approachability.

She’s never forgotten where she came from.

She started working as a radio DJ at 15, when she was very green and made mistakes that she learned from. Those mistakes were forgiven by radio executives at WQHT-FM, HOT 97.5 and 102.3 in Los Angeles because they saw her star power and her toil and sweat.

Also: humility, kindness, resilience and friendships.

Anthony has forged relationships with former First Lady Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King, and she’s sponge-like: she learns from those who forged paths before her.

“She embodies the type of woman I aspire to be,” she said of

Power Play Playbook by La La Anthony
La La Anothony attends the La La Anthony “The Power Playbook” book signing at Barnes & Noble. PRINCE WILLIAMS/WIREIMAGE/GETTY IMAGES

Michelle Obama. “I read her book, Becoming, in one day and it’s still one of my faves.”

“Renaissance Man” is a common term. Anthony is a 21st Century woman. She’s a realist when it comes to obstacles, but she’s not so big on putting limitations on yourself, and she wants other Hispanic women to think likewise.

“You can do anything you want,” she said. “But it doesn’t always happen overnight.”

And you don’t do it alone.

“Being kind goes a long way. People want to work with people who are nice and who they like.”

In an effort to make a difference in the lives of inner-city kids, Anthony formed La La Land, Inc. Foundation. Better schooling and greater opportunities for children are at the top of the foundation’s list of goals.

“I would love to continue to grow my philanthropy efforts to help inner-city kids through my La La Land, Inc. Foundation,” she said. “This is something dear to my heart. I would like to continue building the confidence of young inner-city kids by providing better schooling and opportunities that may not already be afforded to them. The youth are our future; anything I can do to help them achieve their hopes and dreams would bring me the most joy.”

Anthony, born in Brooklyn, New York, came to prominence as an MTV VJ on Total Request Live in the early 2000s. She was the host of the VH1 reality television reunion shows Flavor of Love, I Love New York, For the Love of Ray J, and Real Chance of Love, and was a dean on Charm School with Ricki Lake.

Anthony, 36, ventured into acting, landing roles in Two Can Play That Game, You Got Served, Think Like a Man, Think Like a Man Too, November Rule and Destined.

In 2011, she made her stage debut in the off-Broadway production of Love Loss and What I Wore. Anthony also starred in and executive produced five seasons of La La’s Full Court Wedding, one of VH1’s highest-rated shows, which chronicled the time leading up to her wedding to NBA star Carmelo Anthony.

In 2012, she launched MOTIVES by La La, at the Market America World Conference held at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. Her cosmetic line—for women of color—consists of mineral-based products for face, cheeks, eyes, lips and nails.

La La Anthony speaking on stage onstage about her clothing line
La La Anthony attends her Denim Collection Launch at Ashley Stewart. CASSIDY SPARROW/GETTY IMAGES

In 2013, she created a clothing line, 5th & Mercer. No, you don’t have to look like her to wear her clothes. And you don’t have to be a billionaire.

In 2014, she released her debut book, The Love Playbook, in which she shares how she found love and success on her own terms. The book hit No. 1 on the Barnes & Noble Best Seller list and The New York Times Best Seller list. Anthony’s second book, The Power Playbook, was released in May 2015.

This year, she is wrapping up the sixth and final season of the critically acclaimed, StarzTV show, Power.

Any secrets about the final season of the crime drama series and what’s in store for Anthony’s character, Keisha Grant?

She laughs.

“Anything and everything’s going to happen,” she said. “It’s really going to be crazy.”

Power is a megahit; fans will surely be in mourning following the final season.

The show centers on James “Ghost” St. Patrick, a wealthy New York night club owner who has it all, catering to the city’s elite and dreaming big. He lives a double life as a drug kingpin.

Initially, Anthony’s character, Keisha, did not have a starring role.

That changed.

Anthony has turned her character into a fan favorite. She gets involved with drug-dealing Tommy. She’s in over her head. We find ourselves rooting for her. We know in season six the bills are coming due.

Anthony, who is married to NBA star Carmelo Anthony and has a son, stresses that she is not Keisha, and Keisha is not her.

La La and Power cast at a party
Rotimi Akinosho, La La Anthony,Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Lela Loren attend STARZ “Power” Season 4 L.A. Screening And Party at The London West Hollywood.

Keisha has plenty going for her—including a legion of adoring fans—but she has not lived the life Anthony has. She’s not as street-smart or as accomplished. She’s not in a position to “pay it forward.”

Anthony is.

So take heed, inner-city kids.

Here are three of Anthony’s secrets to success, emphasized through her foundation.

—Forget “fake it until you make it.” Work until you stake it, Anthony says;

—Be kind. Hollywood is big-time, yet it’s a small town, all in all. Besides, being kind helps you live your best life;

—Never give up.

Anthony never did, despite challenges that an Afro Puerto-Rican from Brooklyn would inevitably face.

“I believe in myself,” she said. “Who else will? I never believed the haters.

5 times when using paper and a pen is better than using an app

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woman writing at laptop with a pen and paper on table

We’re living in a digital world—one where screens dominate our time. The average American adult spends three hours and 43 minutes on mobile devices, according to 2019 research by eMarketer. This doesn’t include the time spent on a computer at work or parked in front of the television at home.

It’s easy to find an app or software platform to help you do run your life, making paper and pen feel old-school. But paper products offer advantages that tech does not.

Here are five times when you should choose analog over digital:

When you need to recall something

“One of the biggest assets that paper can provide is that it stimulates our reticular activating system,” says Holland Haiis, digital detox expert for How Life Unfolds, the consumer content site for the Paper and Packaging Board. “It boosts learning and helps with goal achievement by providing better recall and performance.”

This reticular activating system is responsible for filtering out unnecessary information, helping with memory. Instead of taking notes on a smartphone or laptop, use a journal or notebook to record important information you need to remember. For example, if you are working on a speech you want to deliver with fewer notes or slides, consider writing it by hand to boost retention.

When you need a fast option

Working with paper can make certain tasks faster, says Christine Hofler, owner of Curate for Joy!, a Marie Kondo-certified organizing professional.

“If you only have a short list, a simple calendar, or a small number of contacts to keep track of, paper is faster and easier,” she says. “You can grab a pen and paper and write out a few words much faster than you can open your digital device, locate the app or program, and type in those same few words.”

Retrieving the info can also be quicker, says Hofler. “Just a glance at the paper or page,” she says. “Paper doesn’t go to sleep or run out of power as a digital device can. Another advantage: A single piece of paper is more portable than even the smallest device.”

When you need to focus

When you are working with paper tools, your focus is increased, and you cannot attempt to multitask, says Haiis. “When we hold a device, we are subject to its rings, tings, pings,” she says. “The more we task switch, the more we get into brain fog and burnout.”

Paper commands your focus in and doesn’t have built-in distractions that can take you off track. If you need to finish an important project or get caught up on reading, consider paper tools instead of digital.

When you have an important meeting

Paper can help foster deeper collaboration during meetings because it doesn’t distract. If people take notes in a meeting with laptops, however, it can be too tempting to check email. When you’re looking for an email, you’re not contributing, says Haiis.

“Any time you are distracted by a device, you go into less depth with a conversation,” she says. “This creates less trust and less camaraderie. If you’re going to move projects forward, you need to work together as a team. Too often, we meet a week later and wonder why we haven’t moved forward. It’s because the meeting didn’t have our attention.”

Make a policy of no technology in meetings, and use paper to take notes instead of your laptop or phone.

When you don’t want things to fall through the cracks

Out of sight is out of mind, and if you store notes or to-do lists in a digital app, it can be easy to overlook them.

“You can’t accomplish what you need to do if you don’t know what that is,” says Debra Eckerling, author of the upcoming book Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals.

She recommends creating a dedicated notebook for your to-do lists, keeping it in the same location on your desk. “That way, you always know where to find your upcoming tasks and action items,” says Eckerling.

At the beginning of each week, put the date at the top of a new page and make as detailed a list as possible. Eckerling recommends dividing your list into categories, clients, or projects. “Whatever makes the most sense,” she says.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Rosario Dawson: Called to Action

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Rosario Dawson speaking in to microphone

By Erica Sabino

Rosario Dawson is more than just another famous face in Hollywood. In addition to her high-profile film career, she’s a philanthropist, activist, and entrepreneur. Not to mention producer, singer and comic book writer!

First and foremost, Dawson is fiercely passionate about her philanthropy and her desire to serve her community. Her early life wasn’t easy. Her family lived in a squatter’s apartment in New York’s East Village, where she grew up seeing poverty, sickness, and suffering all around her. “Growing up here in New York, with a mom who was a teenager when she had me, I had family and friends who were either trans and/or had HIV or AIDS and/or had drug problems or housing issues or issues with access to education,” Dawson said in an interview with the lifestyle website mindbodygreen. “I saw the whole maelstrom of privilege and access.”

Growing up in a liberal-minded family, she was raised to understand the value of social change at a young age. “My mother worked for a women’s shelter when I was young,” she said. “To see strangers helping other strangers, just showing up and giving, was so inspiring to me.” It’s not hard to see how her experiences have inspired her to make a change for others. She serves as a board member of V-day, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. She supports charities like the ONE Campaign, Amnesty International, Oxfam, International Rescue, and Lower East Side Girls Club, and the Environmental Media Association, among many others. She is also active in such programs as Conservation International, Doctors Without Borders, National Geographic Society, The Nature Conservancy and Save The Children.

In 2013, Dawson partnered with her longtime friend Abrima Erwiah to found Studio 189, a fashion and media brand based in Ghana that produces African and African-inspired clothing and lifestyle content. In an interview with Google, when asked about their decision to launch in Ghana, Dawson and Erwiah had this to say: “We were impressed by the culture of creativity, craft, and innovation and the rich history present in Ghana. We felt it was a wonderful place to develop social infrastructure, to add value to natural resources, to create opportunities for work and support capacity building. At the same time, we wanted to support the growth of a local market of consumers as well and help create a space for more people to enter conversations and be included in the growth of the global fashion industry.” For these two partners, Studio 189 is not just a business, but also a social enterprise. Through their brand, they have been able to make changes in the community through educational workshops, counseling, and employment.

Eva Longoria, America Ferrera, Gina Rodriguez, Zoe Saldana and Rosario Dawson are seen prior to the Latinas Stand Up rally ALEXANDER TAMARGO/GETTY IMAGES
Eva Longoria, America Ferrera, Gina Rodriguez, Zoe Saldana and Rosario Dawson are seen prior to the Latinas Stand Up rally ALEXANDER TAMARGO/GETTY IMAGES

Politically active for much of her life, Dawson says, “The American future is here, and there’s great news: the future votes.” She co-founded the pioneering civic media nonprofit organization, Voto Latino, in an effort to boost Latino participation in the political process. Established in 2004, Voto Latino’s mission is to provide culturally relevant programs that engage, educate, and empower Latinos to be agents of change. It also seeks to transform America by recognizing Latinos’ innate leadership. Whenever we do voter registration, we ask, ‘Why haven’t you voted before?’ The response is often, ‘No one’s asked us.’ It’s not about telling people what to do—it’s about sharing what they can do.

“Voting is the umbrella to everything else that I’m doing,” says Rosario. “Women’s issues, health and disease, poverty, housing—these all fall under that voting power.” In recognition for her efforts, she was awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2017.

Also a health advocate, Dawson, a self-proclaimed oat enthusiast, recently partnered with Quaker Oats to create a three-part video series that encourages people to incorporate healthier practices into their everyday lives. “I’ve been eating Quaker oatmeal since I was a young child, ever since my aunt taught me how to make it from scratch, so I’m excited to team up with them to help spread the word about the benefits of oats,” Dawson said. “As an advocate for health and wellness, I never want to short-term my health—I think it’s so important to have long-term plans. And what’s great is that you don’t have to start big, because even small steps can make a difference.”

Rosario, Abrimaand guest
Designers Rosario Dawson, Abrima Erwiah and guest attend as STYLE360 THOMAS CONCORDIA/GETTY IMAGES

Dawson’s first step on her journey to fame happened by accident when she was just 15 years old. Sitting on the front porch step of her apartment building, she was spotted by photographers Larry Clark and Harmony Korine. Aspiring screenwriter Korine thought Dawson would be perfect to cast in the 1995 film, Kids, where she played Ruby, a sexually active adolescent. From there, Dawson went on to star in more films, like Rent, He Got Game, Men in Black II, Seven Pounds, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, and Sin City, among many others. In the music industry, she had a speaking part in the re-release of Prince’s 1980s hit, “1999,” renamed “1999: The New Master.” She also appeared in the music video for Out of Control by The Chemical Brothers and was featured on the Outkast track, She Lives in My Lap.

Currently, Dawson is set to voice the iconic heroine Diana Prince in the DC animated original film, Wonder Woman: Bloodlines, a character she’s voiced since 2015’s Justice League: The Throne of Atlantis. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the actress has also been cast in Sony Pictures’ next installment of the post-apocalyptic comedy, Zombieland 2. She will be working alongside original cast members including Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, and Abigail Breslin, as well as newcomers Zoey Deutch and Avan Jogia. In addition to these roles, Dawson will both produce and star in the upcoming drama series Briarpatch from Sam Esmail, the creator of Mr. Robot. Based on the Ross Thomas novel, the first season of the series will be produced by Universal Cable Productions and Paramount Television. In this drama, Dawson will be playing a Washington, D.C.-based investigator who returns to her hometown in Texas to help search for her sister’s murderer.

Last year, she announced her guest collaboration on La Borinqueña, an original character and patriotic symbol presented in a classic superhero story created and written by graphic novelist Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez. Her powers are drawn from history and mysticism found on the island of Puerto Rico. Dawson and her writing partner David Atchison joined Dawson’s uncle, comic book artist Gustavo Vazquez on the project.

Although she has a full workload, she still finds time to make an impact outside the world of Hollywood. From being a political activist to running a sustainable fashion line, Rosario Dawson is continuously showing her passion and commitment to the causes she advocates for.

Using her platform to make a difference, Dawson’s activism has allowed her to not only witness change but also effect it. “I’m really moved by everything I’ve seen achieved over the years, and there’s so much that’s being worked toward now with many more people,” Dawson says in an interview with InStyle. “I’m inspired to just do whatever I feel called to do and to be of service and to be of use… There are so many different ways that we can serve, and I want to figure out as many ways as I can to fit into this lifetime.”

Being Intentional: Convening in a World with Too Many Conferences

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group of people gathered at table discussing STEM

By: Rochelle L. Williams, PhD, ARC Network Project Director, AWIS

The ARC Network, an initiative of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS), elevates thought leadership on the successes and challenges to realizing equity in STEM. Since 2009, AWIS has worked with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to convene ADVANCE institutions and NSF Gender in Science and Engineering (GSE) program to discuss synthesizing quantitative and qualitative approaches affecting gender composition and representation in STEM education workplaces.

By combining AWIS’ convening power and the ARC Network’s mission to advance equity in STEM, we’ve sought to create community, not another conference that promises a magical solution to research problems.

The 2019 Equity in STEM Community Convening builds on the momentum of the NSF ADVANCE/GSE Workshops, while simultaneously curating an experience that embodies a culture of innovation and inclusion. Traditional meeting features (i.e., poster sessions, networking coffee breaks and interactive breakout sessions) are infused with components that amplify, revolutionize and cultivate a community of researchers and practitioners.

Amplify.

To increase the reach and visibility of proven strategies that promote equity in STEM, additional avenues for authentic storytelling have been incorporated into this year’s programming. To start, presenters will stretch themselves by submitting visual abstracts, visual summaries of their presentations instead of the traditional text-based abstract. Shifting to visual abstracts allows easy distribution of their work within the ARC Network and with external audiences using social media. In addition to having prominent keynote speakers and poster showcase, the Equity in STEM Community Convening will also feature Lightning Talks during the networking reception. The Lightning Talks will challenge presenters to outline the highlights of their work and explain its importance within five minutes.

Revolutionize.

The Equity in STEM Community Convening will highlight high-quality research and works-in-progress that have potential to advance and transform STEM workplaces. The Early-Stage Innovations sessions will support new researchers and practitioners looking to share the initial phase of their work or seeking feedback from the community. Experience Reports, sessions dedicated to those on the frontline of change, are designed for well-developed and/or later-stage initiatives or research.

We’ve also introduced a new priority area, ADVANCE to Market. Presentations will center on research, programs, and practices that discuss academic STEM entrepreneurship and commercialization, including social equity issues and taking diversity and inclusion research and resources to market.

Cultivate.

Advancing equity in STEM requires an intentional focus on creating authentic, sustainable and inclusive environments while simultaneously cultivating a community that collaborates, shares and implements promising practices and tools shown to affect change. Presenter-designed Symposia and Workshops are meant to give participants the time to reflect and create, both individually and with others. The informal setting of the Networking Breaks make way for relaxed exchanges that are crucial for the learning process.

In a world with too many conferences, too many broken promises and not enough time, you’ll leave the convening inspired to take your work to the next level and, more importantly, knowing there’s a community ready to support you in your efforts toward #EquityinSTEM.

Building and Gathering a Community

Join the ARC Network Community! This AWIS initiative connects scholars and practitioners committed to equity in STEM at no cost. In collaboration with Mendeley, the ARC Network hosts a dedicated online group for members to access and contribute to a rich library of curated resources – including reports, articles, datasets, toolkits, videos and more – that serve as an important part of systemic change efforts. As the go-to hub for community collaboration, the platform also offers members the opportunity to share events hosted by the community and their institutions as well as online learning opportunities, such as webinars and virtual workshops. There is no cost to register. AWIS Membership not required.

Equity in STEM “First Look.” Published on SSRN, this quarterly digest allows peers to share a wide range of STEM equity content and early stage research, empowering the community with early access to the tools and knowledge needed for change. The inaugural publication provides a historical perspective of the NSF ADVANCE program and outcomes of and lessons learned from past awardees.

Dr Rochelle L Williams standing outside with buildings in the backgroundRochelle L. Williams, PhD, is Project Director for the ADVANCE Resource Coordination (ARC) Network for AWIS. The ARC Network has a primary focus on organizational and institutional systemic change from both the research and practical perspectives. Before joining AWIS, Dr. Williams served as Research Scientist in the Office for Academic Affairs at Prairie View A&M University. Since 2012, Dr. Williams has worked as a subject-matter expert for the National Science Foundation on issues about cultures of inclusion, broadening participation, and university education programs. Dr. Williams received a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Spelman College and both a Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering and Doctorate in Science and Mathematics Education from Southern University and A&M College.

AWIS is a global network with 80 grassroots chapters and affiliates connecting more than 100,000 professionals in STEM with members, allies and supporters worldwide. Founded in 1971, AWIS has been the leading advocate for women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to achieve business growth, social change, and innovation. We are dedicated to driving excellence in STEM by achieving equity and full participation of women in all disciplines and across all employment sectors.

Funded by the National Science Foundation ADVANCE Program, Award HRD-1740860, the ADVANCE Resource and Coordination (ARC) Network seeks to achieve gender equity for faculty in higher education science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. As the STEM equity brain trust, the ARC Network recognizes the achievements made so far while producing new perspectives, methods and interventions with an intersectional, intentional and inclusive lens. AWIS serves as the backbone organization of the ARC Network.

How One Family Turned their Recipes into a Restaurant Sensation

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Shawna Stanley is seated at dinner table toasting wine with family

America is considered to be the land of opportunity, and for one immigrant family, they harnessed the power of that to have a successful business. Armed with a desire to succeed and a variety of traditional Lebanese family recipes, the Chebat family brought their culture’s cuisine to the Woodbridge, Virginia, area. Not only has their restaurant survived, but it has thrived in the ten years since they first opened their doors. They have learned a lot of lessons along the way regarding what it takes to succeed in the restaurant business.

“Layla’s Lebanese Restaurant is a success story of one immigrant family coming together to build something special,” added Michael Chebat, the father and chief operating officer. “Many people believe that family shouldn’t work together, but if you have the right mindset and shared goals you can thrive and grow a successful business. Our success depends on our family synergy and happy customers, combined with our commitment to offering people high quality traditional recipes.”

When Michael started the restaurant with his wife, Mathil, they wanted to offer people a variety of authentic Middle East dishes. Each of the dishes served at the restaurant comes from traditional family recipes and are the same dishes that the family has eaten in their home for generations. The unique flavors and atmosphere help to create a dining experience that brings people back time and again.

The restaurant is run by the Chebat family, which includes their eight children. Together, they have created a menu that appeals to many, including those who are health-conscious, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and seeking organic options. Not every family can come together to create a successful business. There are lessons that they have learned and share regarding what it takes to succeed:

  • You have to approach what you are doing as a labor of love, and never forget who you are doing it all for, which is the customer.
  • Everyone on your team needs to be committed to growing the company and invested in helping it to succeed.
  • Define your core values and build your business around them. At Layla’s, their core set of values include love, family, trust, quality, and flavor.
  • You should infuse your business with your own styles, culture, and unique offerings, but always keep in mind what the market wants. For example, Layla’s Lebanese Restaurant has identified the growing trend in people wanting vegetarian, vegan, and organic foods when dining out, and they are happy to meet that need.
  • Have the team make a pact that they refuse to go anywhere but up. There is no failure; there is only multiple ways to succeed, and you have to find the route that will get you there.
  • Define your focus and don’t be afraid to stick to it. At Layla’s, they have committed to focusing on the family. Their entire business model is focused on the family, both within their team and in reaching their customers. They aim to bring families together and help them have a great dining experience.

“We wanted to introduce people to our food and culture, and a restaurant as well as a new product line was the perfect way to do that,” explains Jimmy Chebat, the uncle and president of Layla’s Lebanese Restaurant. “With that in mind, we worked to create something that would infuse a bit of our culture and flavors into the area. We are thrilled that it has been well received and look forward to many more years to come.”

Layla’s Lebanese Restaurant, located at 2217 Old Bridge Road in Woodbridge, offers a menu filled with authentic Middle East dishes, including kabobs, falafel, hummus, grape leaves, beef shawarma, meat pies, stuffed cabbage, a Lebanese version of steak tartar, and a wine and beer menu. The restaurant also offers full catering services for birthdays, graduations, business events, work lunches, and more. Those who sign up for their email list will receive 10 percent off their next visit. For more information about Layla’s Lebanese Restaurant, visit the site at: laylas.net.

The company also offers a line of ready-made products that are available in stores and farmer’s markets throughout Virginia and New York. The Layla’s Food Company product line includes Layla’s Garlic Whip, available in original, honey garlic, jalapeño cilantro, cranberry, and sun-dried tomato, and Layla’s Hummus, available in original and black bean. The website offers recipes and a free cookbook that can be downloaded. For more information about Layla’s Food Company, including which stores carry the product line, visit the site: laylasfood.com.

About Layla’s Lebanese Restaurant

Located in Woodbridge, Virginia, Layla’s Lebanese Restaurant has been serving up authentic Middle East cuisine for over 10 years. Family-owned and operated, the company offers a wide variety of traditional dishes made from family recipes. The restaurant also offers catering and has a dip product line that is available in stores. For more information, visit: laylas.net.

An Arkansas Lawyer Bought 1,500 Pairs of Shoes From a Payless Going Out of Business. Now She’s Donating Them to Kids in Need

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woman holding her children with boxes around them

When Carrie Jernigan was doing some last-minute, pre-vacation shopping with her kids at a Payless ShoeSource near their home in Alma, Arkansa, she had no idea she would soon be taking home upwards of 1,500 pairs of shoes.

“What have I done?” the 37-year-old lawyer and mother of three says she initially thought to herself.

But this was possible because in February, Payless ShoeSource announced it would be shutting down all of its stores across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. It was the second time in two years the company was filing for bankruptcy — the latest casualty in what’s been dubbed over the years as the “retail apocalypse.”

Jernigan was taking advantage of the sweeping sales one day this past May when her 9-year-old daughter asked if they could buy Avengers tennis shoes for a classmate that needed a new pair. Inspired by her daughter’s act of kindness, Jernigan, jokingly, asked the clerk how much it would cost to buy the entire store. Hours later, she had purchased nearly 350 pairs of shoes with the intention of donating them all.

“We made a deal to buy almost all [that] was left on the shelves,” she says.

When she returned to pick up the shoes, she found out that a new delivery was coming in — days before the store was set to shut its doors. When her kids asked to take those too, she told them they could take a peek to see if there were any children’s shoes.

“Of course, the first box I opened up was JoJo Siwa shoes,” she says, referring to the mega-popular Nickelodeon star. “Pink glitter was everywhere.”

When it was all said and done Jernigan took home nearly $21,000 worth of merchandise — the majority of which she saved from the store’s blowout sale. She intends to donate roughly 1,100 pairs to kids, and local schools and give the remaining shoes to adults in need.

Being the local school board’s president, Jernigan knows how much some parents struggle to afford school supplies, let alone new shoes, for their children. When she realized that she had way too many shoes for her school alone, she decided to hold off for few months to do a back-to-school fundraising event.

Continue on to Money.com to read the complete article.

10 Reasons to Work for the Federal Government

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three professionally dressed women

Are you thinking of working for the federal government? If so, opportunities and benefits lie ahead. Check out these ten reasons to pursue a career in the field.

  1. Make a difference
    The work of government employees impacts the lives of every American and the lives of people around the world. Federal employees can play a vital role in addressing pressing issues, from homelessness to homeland security. Students interested in working in government can engage in high-impact work, such as helping disrupt the laundering of billions of dollars derived from illicit U.S. drug deals.
  2. Great benefits/competitive pay
    Average government salaries are competitive with the private and nonprofit sectors. Recent graduates can expect a starting salary from $32,415 to $42,631 a year. Pay can also increase fairly quickly for top candidates with experience and a strong education. Federal benefits, including health insurance, retirement and vacation, are extremely competitive with, if not superior to, other sectors.
  3. The government is hiring
    The Bureau of Labor Statistics projected an employment increase of ten percent through 2018 in federal employment.
  4. Location, location, location
    Federal opportunities are not only found in the D.C area. Eighty-four percent of federal government jobs are outside of Washington, D.C. If students are interested in international job opportunities, more than 50,000 federal employees work abroad.
  5. Jobs for every major
    Working in the federal government is not just for political science majors. In fact, 28.4 percent of federal employees work in STEM fields. There are federal jobs for every interest and skill, from art history to zoology.
  6. Opportunities for advancement and professional development
    Federal employees have many opportunities for career advancement in government. An internal Merit Promotion Program helps ensure that new employees succeeding in their job have easy access to information about job openings within government. The government also offers excellent training and development opportunities and has human resources personnel to help connect current employees with these opportunities.
  7. Interesting and challenging work
    Today’s government workers are leading and innovating on issues, such as developing vaccines for deadly diseases, fighting sexual and racial discrimination, and keeping our massive systems of transportation safe.
  8. Work-life balance
    Flexible work schedules, including telework, are a major plus for those with busy schedules or long commute. Competitive benefits also include generous vacation time combined with federal holidays and sick leave. All of these packaged together make government an attractive employer for students looking to successfully balance their work and personal lives.
  9. Job security
    Government work is steady and secure, an attractive selling point, especially during difficult economic times.
  10. The federal government can help pay for school loans
    Some federal agencies can help pay back up to $10,000 per year in student loans, up to a total of $60,000.

Source: ourpublicservice.org

The Top 25 Highest Paid Federal Jobs

Did you know that the 25 highest paying government jobs all pay over $50,000 per year?

Below is a list of 25 of the most sought after federal jobs, ranked by the Office of Personnel Management as the highest paid jobs currently offered by the U.S. Government.

1) Astronomer – $116,072

2) Attorney – $114,240

3) Financial Manager – $101,022

4) General Engineer – $100,051

5) Economist – $94,098

6) Computer Scientist – $90,929

7) Chemist – $89,954

8) Criminal Investigator – $88,174

9) Microbiologist – $87,206

10) Architect – $85,690

11) Statistician – $81,524

12) Librarian – $78,665

13) Accountant – $78,030

14) Chaplain – $76,511

15) Ecologist – $76,511

16) Human Resources Manager – $76,503

17) Health and Safety Specialist – $73,003

18) Air Traffic Controller – $72,049

19) Budget Analyst – $71,267

20) Correctional Officer – $67,140

21) Nurse – $65,345

22) Technical Engineer – $63,951

23) Border Patrol Agent – $63,550

24) Medical Technician- $59,840

25) Customs Inspector – $59,248

Source: Office of Personnel Management

Looking to Be the First Woman in the NFL

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Toni Harris-Headshot

Antoinette “Toni” Harris aims to be the first woman to play in the National Football League (NFL). “If it doesn’t happen, I can just pave the way for another little girl to come out and play, or even start a women’s NFL,” Harris said in a recent interview with NBC News, following her decision to sign with the Central Methodist University football team. Harris, a 5-foot-7 free safety, is on track to become the first female football player in school history as well as the first female skill position player to sign a letter of intent to play college football on a scholarship.

Harris chose Central Methodist over five other offers. “I picked Central Methodist because of the resilience within the school itself and how Coach Calloway had been communicating with me,” Harris said.

The endeavoring NFL player gained national notoriety after starring in a Super Bowl commercial for Toyota earlier this month and has been interviewed by the likes of CNN, NBC News, and Sports Illustrated. She spent two seasons at East Los Angeles College and says she felt Coach Calloway had her best interest at heart during the recruiting process.

“Sometimes you have to pick and choose,” said Harris. “I feel that Central Methodist will be the perfect place for me.”

Sources: becauseofthemwecan.com, cmueagles.com

Taraji P. Henson: A Real-Life Heroine

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Taraji stands behind a podium while speaking to an audience

By Lori Denman-Underhill

Not every actor or actress has the privilege of telling a story on screen whose message is completely synergetic with their own. Actress Taraji P. Henson would tell you it’s no accident. Films that cover controversial subjects, female achievements or human rights within the African-American community are exactly her cup of tea.

Much like her role in the acclaimed drama Hidden Figures, where Henson plays the brilliant Katherine Johnson, an African-American female mathematician whose calculations as a NASA employee were critical to the success of one of the greatest space operations in history.

“I feel like it’s my obligation,” Henson explained in an interview with Ebony.com. “I’m an artist. I want to tell stories that matter. I’m always interested in movies that move humanity forward, change perspectives of people you know.”

The Golden Globe winner and Academy Award-nominated Henson, 48, is conscious about picking projects that speak to her heart and further her own message of equality and progress for the African-American community.

She addresses the historic yet still relevant topic of race relations in her latest non-fiction film, The Best of Enemies. Set in Durham, North Carolina, in 1971, the film—based upon the novel by Osha Gray Davidson, The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South—centers around a two-week-long discussion of ordinary citizens on the subject of school integration.

Based on a true story, the film brings together members of the black and white community—most dramatically the two main characters; Ann Atwater, played by Henson, a local firebrand of a Civil Rights activist, and Claiborne Paul “C.P.” Ellis, played by Sam Rockwell, the head of the Durham Chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.

Cast: (L-R) Bill Riddick, Taraji P. Henson, Sam Rockwell and Robin Bissell attend a photo call for 'The Best Of Enemies’. DIA DIPASUPIL/GETTY IMAGES FOR STXFILMS
Cast: (L-R) Bill Riddick, Taraji P. Henson, Sam Rockwell and Robin Bissell attend a photo call for ‘The Best Of Enemies’. DIA DIPASUPIL/GETTY IMAGES FOR STXFILMS

Portraying the true-life character of Atwater gave Henson a chance to show the integral part segregation has played within American society. It also gave the actress a platform for her own civil rights advocacy offstage, she explains in an interview with Oprahmag.com.

“What’s happening today is that everyone is doing a lot of talking, but not much listening. We should try listening to understand the other side…Often, we can find better solutions that way,” Henson said. “But if you try to match hate with hate, you’re not going to get anywhere.

“At the end of the day, we just need to have more compassion for each other and unconditional love, no matter our differences or background,” she adds.

Born and raised in southeast Washington, D.C., Henson grew up watching Solid Gold and was inspired by the likes of such acting legends as Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett and Flip Wilson. She studied acting at the famed Howard University and began her Hollywood career guest starring on several television shows before making her breakthrough in the coming-of-age film Baby Boy in 2001. She received praise for her performance as a sex worker in Hustle & Flow (2005) and as a single mother of a child with a disability in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008). She also made noteworthy appearances in the action comedy Date Night and the remake of The Karate Kid.

While she is now happily engaged to former NFL quarterback Kevin Hayden and residing in Chicago—her self-proclaimed dream town where everyone is ‘real’—her own life story has not been without its share of strife.

In a recent interview with Variety, Henson opened up about her personal battle with anxiety and depression following two tragedies in her life in 2003—the death of her father, Boris Henson, and also her son’s father, William Lamar Johnson. “We’re walking around broken, wounded and hurt, and we don’t think it’s okay to talk about it,” Henson told Variety’s Elizabeth Wagmeister.

She shared that her depression and anxiety escalated during the skyrocketing success of her pivotal role on the hip-hop TV drama Empire. During that time, she says the desire to pull away from the limelight was strong, as was the longing for more privacy and time for self-care, in addition to caring for her son, Marcell, who was also suffering from depression.

It was while looking for a relatable therapist for Marcell that Henson discovered how tough it was to find one of African-American descent. The experience jump-started her effort to get rid of the taboo associated with metal health, specifically within the African-American community.

“People are killing themselves,” Henson said in the Variety interview. “People are numbing out on drugs. Not everything is fixed with a pill.”

Taking her efforts a step further, the actress created the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation in honor of her father, who also suffered from mental issues following his service in the Vietnam War.

Washington DC Mayor, Muriel Bowser (R), honors actress Taraji P. Henson with a Proclamation to the City at the Office of the Mayor. PAUL MORIGI/GETTY IMAGES FOR PARAMOUNT PICTURES
Washington DC Mayor, Muriel Bowser (R), honors actress Taraji P. Henson with a Proclamation to the City at the Office of the Mayor. PAUL MORIGI/GETTY IMAGES FOR PARAMOUNT PICTURES

Henson explains that there is still a lot of work to be done, but the first step is to lift up the carpet and talk about it. Her personal advice for others who are struggling is to find a professional therapist—someone who has no stakes involved so that “when you’re on the ledge, you have things to say to yourself that will get you off of it,” she explained.

Henson remains true to herself and her work. Her latest project will be released in 2020 and promoted later this year—a Netflix original police drama called Coffee and Kareem. Henson will star as the girlfriend of a Detroit cop who aims to clear his name and take down the city’s most ruthless criminal with the assistance of her 11-year-old son.

Henson’s main message was perhaps best summed up during her recent Glamour interview: “The fight continues,” she said. “Just like so many women before us who fought so that we could sit here. Now’s not the time to drop the torch.”

“We have to continue fighting,” she insists, “so the ones coming behind us—maybe one day this is not their narrative. So we have to keep fighting.”

Maysoon Zayid: Advocacy With Humor

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Maysoon Zahid on stage speaking to an audience

By Brady Rhoades

What do you see when you look at Carol Burnett? How about Rosie O’Donnell or Margaret Cho? As for Maysoon Zayid, an actress who’s butted up against thousands of closed doors, she saw beauty. The beauty of opportunity.

“I realized that comedy was my way into Hollywood,” said Zayid, a stand-up comedian set to debut her new television series, Can Can. “I lucked out because I’m funny.”

Zayid galloped after her acting dream once she earned her degree in theater from Arizona State University … but it was a rocky start.

“I realized very quickly that casting directors were not taking me seriously because of my disability, cerebral palsy,” said Mansoon, in an interview with DIVERSEability Magazine. “I also became acutely aware of the fact that I didn’t see people who looked like me, a multiple minority, on TV.”

Born and raised in Cliffside, New Jersey, Zayid is of Palestinian descent.

She’s done plenty of comedic work, including starring in Stand Up: Muslim-American Comics Come of Age. She’s also appeared in films, most prominently in Adam Sandler’s You Don’t Mess with the Zohan.

As an advocate for equal rights for people with disabilities, she’s a shot in the arm to others who continue to face closed doors.

“People who have CP or other disabilities have often thanked me for being shameless about my shaking,” Zayid said. “Parents of kids with disabilities who are not disabled themselves tend to be inspired by how influential my father was in my life. They say it gives them hope that if they, too, are a good parent their child will thrive. People who feared disability seem relieved to be able to laugh about it while learning to be more inclusive. Some people just laugh because it’s funny. They are not learning, they are not inspired, and that is totally fine by me.”

ABC agreed to pick up Can Can last year—Zayid is still waiting for the word on when it will air.

Serena Williams and Maysoon Zayid at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women 2018 in Philadelphia.
Serena Williams and Maysoon Zayid at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women 2018 in Philadelphia. MARLA AUFMUTH/GETTY IMAGES

“I am creator writer, star and producer on Can Can,” she said. “I definitely don’t want to direct myself. It is a comedy series that revolves around a woman who happens to have CP balancing work, family and relationships. That’s all I can tell you for now. Stay tuned!”

You might learn a lot by watching Can Can, or you might learn nothing at all but simply laugh out loud. Either way, Zayid will be pleased.

“I’m here to make people laugh, not to preach. If they learn to be better people in the process, that’s great, too,” the 45-year-old comedian said.

Zayid started her acting career spending two years on the popular soap opera As the World Turns, and she has also made guest appearances on Law & Order, NBC Nightly News and ABC’s 20/20.

During her early acting experiences, she found both her disability and her ethnicity repeatedly limiting her advancement. Zayid then turned to stand-up and began appearing at New York’s top clubs, including Carolines on Broadway, Gotham Comedy Club, and Stand Up NY, where she tackled some serious topics, such as terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

She co-founded the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival in 2003 with comedian Dean Obeidallah. Held annually in New York City, the festival showcases Arab-American comics, actors, playwrights and filmmakers.

In late 2006, Zayid debuted her one-woman show, Little American Whore, at Los Angeles’ Comedy Central Stage; it was produced and directed by Kathy Najimy. In 2008, the show’s screenplay was chosen for the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. Production began with Maysoon as the lead in the fall of 2009.

Zayid usually tours by herself or as a special guest on the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour. She also co-hosts the radio show Fann Majnoon (Arabic for “crazy art”) with Obeidallah.

Zayid performs onstage during Ms. Foundation for Women Comedy Night
Comedian Maysoon Zayid performs onstage during Ms. Foundation for Women’s 23rd Comedy Night at Carolines On Broadway. ASTRID STAWIARZ/GETTY IMAGES FOR MS. FOUNDATION FOR WOMEN

Zayid can be seen in the 2013 documentary, The Muslims Are Coming!, which follows a group of Muslim-American stand-up comedians touring the United States in an effort to counter Islamophobia. The documentary also features various celebrities such as Jon Stewart, David Cross, Janeane Garofalo and Rachel Maddow.

Cerebral palsy is extremely difficult, even torturous, so how does one make it funny?

Here’s Zayid in one of her stand-up routines, talking about getting passed over for the part of—can you guess?—a person with cerebral palsy.

“I went racing to the head of the theater department, crying hysterically like someone shot my cat, to ask her why, and she said it was because they didn’t think I could do the stunts,” Zayid said, with a quizzical, comical look. “I said, ‘Excuse me, if I can’t do the stunts than neither can the character!’”

Welcome to Zayid’s world, where one’s misfortune can be funny. It’s okay.

Audiences probably feel for her—“It’s exhausting,” she says of the constant shaking. But soon enough, they’re laughing from the gut up as they become more familiar—and following Maysoon’s lead, more comfortable—with her condition.

That’s key. Her shows have a family feel. Out of decency, respect and, yes, fear, folks do not laugh about a disability until they’re given permission to by an insider.

Here’s how Zayid-the-insider introduced herself at one show in San Francisco: “I don’t want anyone in this room to feel bad for me,” she said, scanning the crowd with her trademark goofy gaze. “Because at some point in your life, you’ve dreamt of being disabled. Come on a journey with me: It’s Christmas Eve. You’re at the mall. You’re driving around in circles looking for parking, and what do you see? Sixteen empty handicapped spaces. And you’re like, ‘God, can’t I just be a little disabled?’”

Of people with disabilities, Zayid says, “We are not happy snowflake angel babies. We grow up, have relationships, experience a range of emotions, and deal with things like chronic pain. Not everybody in the disability community wants to be ‘cured.’ We can have multiple disabilities and also be multiple minorities. Disability intersects with every community.”

She points out that about 20 percent of Americans have a disability. “Disability doesn’t discriminate—you can become part of this group at any time,” she said. “We are 20 percent of the population, and disability rights are human rights.”

So, if you haven’t already, put Can Can on your radar as a must-see show. It’s possible you might learn a little something, but one thing is sure—you’ll definitely laugh.

Source: DIVERSEability Magazine