Aja Brown, Compton’s Youngest Mayor, Re-Elected For Second Term

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Aja Brown, the incumbent mayor of Compton, California, has been re-elected to lead the city for a second term.

The 35-year-old ― who made history in 2013 at age 31 when she was elected as the city’s youngest mayor ever ― won about 60 percent of the vote, defeating former Mayor Omar Bradley in Tuesday’s election, KABC reported.

During the primary, Brown won by 20 points, a little less than what she needed to avoid a runoff with Bradley, according to KABC. Brown’s campaign strategy was to stress the work that she started and needed to finish in order to improve Compton via a “12-Point Plan.” That includes youth development, economic growth, culture and arts, safety and infrastructure.

Bradley’s conviction for misusing city funds after he left office in 2001, though overturned on an appeal, didn’t help his campaign. Brown told the local outlet that after the city “overcom[ing] decades of corruption,” it’s time for progress.

“Our unemployment rate has dropped from 18.5 percent to 7 percent so we’re focusing on the last 7 percent to make sure Compton residents are involved in the beautiful restoration of our city,” Brown said.

Brown doubled down on her promises to “build a better Compton” in a post-victory statement on Wednesday.

“Throughout this campaign, we witnessed the love that Compton residents have for their city and the interest they have in our shared vision for Compton’s future,” said Brown, who’s campaign slogan was “Let’s Finish The Work.”

Continue onto the Huffington Post to read more about Aja’s work in Compton.

Explosive: Former Theater Major, Now Navy Bomb Squad Leader, is Real-Life Action Hero

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When Hollywood makes movies featuring female soldiers and sailors, those characters typically have some improbable combination of strength, intelligence, grace and courage. Throw in a quirky backstory – She studied theatre! She plays clarinet! – and you have the makings of a perfect, albeit unrealistic, female military action hero.

But these women do exist. America’s Navy is filled with them, and few have a more interesting story than Ensign Brianne “Brie” Coger, a 10-year Navy veteran who was one of just 12 female enlisted Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) technicians in the entire fleet before earning her commission in 2018.

EODs are part of the Navy’s elite Special Warfare community. This is the territory of Navy SEALs – exceptional men and women who have the intelligence, physical fitness, and drive to rise to the top. It’s work that demands a state of mind marked by extreme courage and capability under fire.

Quirky background

Coger grew up in Staten Island, New York. She excelled in sports, particularly swimming, and still holds some swimming records at her high school. A talented musician, she also played clarinet with the school orchestra and marching band. Later, at the University of Miami (Fla.), she studied theater and dreamed of becoming a Hollywood stunt woman.

Coger competes in the 2013 CrossFit Euro Regionals in Copenhagen. Coger is a dedicated CrossFit competitor and has competed in individual and team CrossFit events at home and abroad.

Coger spent two challenging years after college working odd jobs back home in New York, trying to pursue an acting career. When the opportunities fizzled, Coger looked for a different kind of challenge and found it in the Navy.

Nothing typical

“What I love about EOD is that there is no typical day,” she said. “Whether we’re going out to do some diving and an underwater detonation, or we have to go to a remote location in the mountains to do some IED training, or just working a chemical or biological problem in a laboratory situation – there’s nothing typical about any of that, and that’s exactly what I needed in my life.”

EODs are the world’s ultimate bomb squad, trained to disarm conventional bombs, mines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and chemical – even nuclear – weapons. They perform some of the most harrowing, dangerous work on earth to keep others from harm’s way — but that was precisely what appealed to Coger.

“I was really drawn to EOD because I wanted to be part of a protective force,” she said. “You still get to do all the cool stuff, but an EOD doesn’t go out and cause trouble; they’re there to make the situation better. That really spoke to me.”

Another competition, this time from the Epic Series in 2014. “Epic is like a like a strongman competition with multiple stations doing things like assault bikes, telephone pole tosses, sledgehammer smashing – stuff like that,” Coger says. “That was a keg race.”

Forging ahead

Coger says she’s never felt that her gender was an issue in her Navy career. In fact, she has enjoyed tremendous success in a relatively short time, rising to chief petty officer – a senior enlisted rate – in just eight years before being selected for officer training in 2017. After more than a decade as an enlisted Sailor, Coger earned her commission in 2018 after completing Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I. Coger has since graduated from the exclusive Navy Dive School in Florida and is now in San Diego getting ready to deploy. Her first assignment as a new officer? Leading a platoon of EOD Techs – the same people she worked with as an enlisted sailor.

“People think that joining the military means giving up things, but I’ve never seen it like that,” she said. “You aren’t losing something; you are gaining opportunities. The biggest thing that has helped me in my career is saying yes; embracing whatever’s out there and keeping my eyes and ears open to what’s possible.”

Forge your own path. Go to Navy.com

What You Need to Know About WBENC Certification

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Not only is the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the United States, but it is also one of four organizations approved by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) certification, as part of the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting program.

Each year, the federal government sets a goal to award at least 5 percent of all federal contracting dollars to certified Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs), particularly in industries where WOSBs are underrepresented. Becoming a certified WOSB and joining the SBA’s contracting program ensures your business is eligible to compete for federal contracts set aside for this program.

Who is Eligible?

To be eligible for WOSB certification, your company must:

  • Be at least 51 percent, unconditionally and directly, owned and controlled by one or more women, who are U.S. citizens.
  • Be “small” in its primary industry in accordance with the SBA’s size standards for that industry. Use the SBA’s Size Standards Tool to check your industry.
  • Have women manage day-to-day operations and also make long-term decisions.

What Are the Benefits?

Becoming a certified WOSB and participating in the SBA’s WOSB contracting program allows your business to compete for federal contracts within a more limited pool of other qualified WOSBs, thereby increasing your chances of winning business.

These contracts are for industries where WOSBs are underrepresented. Check out the SBA’s list of eligible industries and their NAICS codes.

How Do I Get Started?

If you are already a WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE), you can easily apply for WOSB certification as part of your recertification process at no additional charge.

Before starting the application process, please review the criteria for certification and ensure you meet the SBA’s size standards for your industry. When you are applying for recertification, select “Yes” to the WOSB certification question and upload the documents labeled “WOSB Applicants.”

If you are a women-owned business and not yet certified by WBENC, take a moment to read about the benefits of WBENC Certification to see if it is a fit for your business. WBENC is the nation’s largest certifier of women-owned businesses and our world-class certification standard is accepted by more than 1,000 corporations representing America’s most prestigious brands. If you choose to apply for WBENC certification, you can apply for WOSB certification at the same time.

It’s important to note that once you receive your WOSB certification, you still must complete additional steps to participate in the WOSB Federal Contracting program, including providing proof of certification information through certify.SBA.gov, and updating your business profile at SAM.gov to show contracting officers that your business is in the women’s contracting program. Check out SBA.gov for details.

Where Can I Learn More?

  • Visit wbenc.org/government for details on the WOSB certification process, documentation required, and frequently asked questions.
  • For more information about the SBA’s WOSB Federal Contracting program, visit SBA.gov.

Explosive: Former Theater Major, Now Navy Bomb Squad Leader, Is Real-Life Action Hero

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When Hollywood makes movies featuring female soldiers and sailors, those characters typically have some improbable combination of strength, intelligence, grace and courage. Throw in a quirky backstory – She studied theatre! She plays clarinet! – and you have the makings of a perfect, albeit unrealistic, female military action hero. 

But these women do exist. America’s Navy is filled with them, and few have a more interesting story than Ensign Brianne “Brie” Coger, a 10-year Navy veteran who was one of just 12 female enlisted Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) technicians in the entire fleet before earning her commission in 2018.

EODs are part of the Navy’s elite Special Warfare community. This is the territory of Navy SEALs – exceptional men and women who have the intelligence, physical fitness, and drive to rise to the top. It’s work that demands a state of mind marked by extreme courage and capability under fire.

Quirky background

Coger grew up in Staten Island, New York. She excelled in sports, particularly swimming, and still holds some swimming records at her high school. A talented musician, she also played clarinet with the school orchestra and marching band. Later, at the University of Miami (Fla.), she studied theater and dreamed of becoming a Hollywood stunt woman.

Coger spent two challenging years after college working odd jobs back home in New York, trying to pursue an acting career. When the opportunities fizzled, Coger looked for a different kind of challenge and found it in the Navy.

Nothing typical

“What I love about EOD is that there is no typical day,” she said. “Whether we’re going out to do some diving and an underwater detonation, or we have to go to a remote location in the mountains to do some IED training, or just working a chemical or biological problem in a laboratory situation – there’s nothing typical about any of that, and that’s exactly what I needed in my life.”

EODs are the world’s ultimate bomb squad, trained to disarm conventional bombs, mines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and chemical – even nuclear – weapons. They perform some of the most harrowing, dangerous work on earth to keep others from harm’s way — but that was precisely what appealed to Coger.

150506-N-CW570-290
AQABA, Jordan (May 6, 2015) Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Brie Coger, assigned to Commander, Task Group 56.1, discusses anti-improvised explosive device techniques with Jordanian and United Arab Emirati military personnel at the Royal Jordanian Naval Base in Aqaba during exercise Eager Lion 2015. Eager Lion is a recurring multinational exercise designed to strengthen military-to-military relationships, increase interoperability between partner nations, and enhance regional security and stability. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Arthurgwain L. Marquez/Released)

“I was really drawn to EOD because I wanted to be part of a protective force,” she said. “You still get to do all the cool stuff, but an EOD doesn’t go out and cause trouble; they’re there to make the situation better. That really spoke to me.”

Forging ahead

Coger says she’s never felt that her gender was an issue in her Navy career. In fact, she has enjoyed tremendous success in a relatively short time, rising to chief petty officer – a senior enlisted rate – in just eight years before being selected for officer training in 2017. After more than a decade as an enlisted Sailor, Coger earned her commission in 2018 after completing Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I. Coger has since graduated from the exclusive Navy Dive School in Florida and is now in San Diego getting ready to deploy. Her first assignment as a new officer? Leading a platoon of EOD Techs – the same people she worked with as an enlisted sailor.

“People think that joining the military means giving up things, but I’ve never seen it like that,” she said. “You aren’t losing something; you are gaining opportunities. The biggest thing that has helped me in my career is saying yes; embracing whatever’s out there and keeping my eyes and ears open to what’s possible.”

Forge your own path. Go to Navy.com

Navy To Launch First All-Female Flyover To Honor Pioneer Fighter Pilot Rosemary Mariner

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Capt. Rosemary Mariner, one of the first female fighter jet pilots, died last week of ovarian cancer.

For the first time in military history, the Navy is deploying a ceremonial flyover with only female jet pilots to honor the death of retired Capt. Rosemary Mariner, the Navy’s first woman to fly a tactical fighter jet.

The flyover will take place during Mariner’s funeral service in Maynardville, Tennessee, on Saturday. The aeronautic display is known as a missing man flyover traditionally held in honor of pilots or military personnel.

Mariner, 65, died Jan. 24 after a five-year fight against ovarian cancer.

An aeronautics graduate of Purdue University, Mariner joined the Navy in 1973 after being one of eight of the first women to be admitted into military pilot training. During her military career, Mariner made history as the first woman to fly a tactical fighter jet ― specifically an A-4C and A-7E, according to her obituary ― and the first woman to command a military aviation squadron.

She earned a master’s in national security strategy from the National War College in Washington, D.C., and went on to serve in the Pentagon with the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Her obituary noted that Mariner was grateful to the pioneers who paved the way for her career to flourish.

“My role models were African-American men who had led the vanguard in integration of race in the armed forces and studied many of the lessons that they had to pass on,” Mariner once said, according to NPR.

Continue onto the Huffington Post to read the complete article.

Kamala Harris Joins Democratic Presidential Field

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Senator Kamala Harris, the California Democrat and barrier-breaking prosecutor who became the second black woman to serve in the United States Senate, declared her candidacy for president on Monday, joining an increasingly crowded and diverse field in what promises to be a wide-open nomination process.

The announcement was bathed in symbolism: Ms. Harris chose to enter the race on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, an overt nod to the historic nature of her candidacy, and her timing was also meant to evoke Shirley Chisholm, the New York congresswoman who became the first woman to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for president 47 years ago this week.

In addition, Ms. Harris will hold her first campaign event on Friday in South Carolina, where black voters are the dominant force in the Democratic primary, rather than start off by visiting Iowa and New Hampshire, the two predominantly white states that hold their nomination contests first. She will hold a kickoff rally Sunday in Oakland, Calif., her hometown.

For the first time, the Democratic presidential race now includes several high-profile women, with Ms. Harris joining two other prominent senators who have announced candidacies, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New YorkRepresentative Tulsi Gabbard, a Hawaii Democrat, has also said she is running, and more women could enter the race in the coming weeks.

Ms. Harris made her announcement on “Good Morning America” and also released a video aimed at supporters and other Democrats.

“The future of our country depends on you, and millions of others, lifting our voices to fight for our American values,” Ms. Harris said in the video. She also debuted a campaign slogan that played off her background as a prosecutor: “Kamala Harris, for the people.”

Continue onto The New York Times to read the complete article.

‘Si, Se Puede’: With Inauguration, Latina Legislators Make History In Congress

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Congress’s youngest member, its first two Texan Latinas and first South American were sworn in on Thursday.

The youngest woman ever elected to Congress, first South American and first two Latinas from Texas: With their inauguration on Thursday, a group of Hispanic women made history in the 116th Congress.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., enters the Congress as its youngest woman elected and its current youngest member. Ocasio-Corterz, 29, of Puerto Rican descent, beat a veteran Democratic incumbent in the primaries with a grassroots campaign focusing on progressive policies such as “Medicare for all” as well as free higher education or trade school for all. She has publicly said she willoppose her own party’s rules against deficit spending if it takes money away from areas such as health care.

On Wednesday, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted out a picture of her and other incoming women legislators with the phrase “Si, se puede,” (Yes, we can), the words that were coined by labor activist and United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta and then immortalized by President Barack Obama during his campaign.

Another women in the picture is Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, one of two Latinas who are the first to represent Texas in Congress.

Escobar takes the place of Beto O’Rourke, also a Democrat, in representing Texas’ 16th Congressional District, which includes the heavily Latino border area of El Paso. She was previously a county commissioner and county judge.

On Twitter, Escobar took on Trump’s insistence on $5 billion for a border wall — which has led to the current government shutdown — by writing that “the border has never been more secure” and “immigration is lower today than it was a decade ago.” Escobar instead argued for the need to work with Central American countries to address the root causes of migration.

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

Lauren Underwood is the youngest black woman to serve in Congress

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The 32-year-old registered nurse is one of three Democrats from Illinois sworn in to the House on Thursday.

Lauren Underwood, a Democrat from Naperville, Illinois, became the youngest black woman in history to be sworn in to the House of Representatives on Thursday afternoon.

Underwood, 32, a registered nurse with two master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University, began her political career as a policy professional in the Obama administration in 2014. Two years later, she became a senior adviser at the Department of Health and Human Services where she worked to implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Underwood announced her candidacy in Illinois’s 14th Congressional District in August 2017 on a platform of expanding job opportunities, investing in infrastructure and improving the ACA. She defeated the incumbent Republican, Randy Hultgren, in the Nov. 6 election, garnering 52.5 percent of the vote.

“Are you excited to make history?,” Underwood was asked Thursday afternoon as she posed for pictures on her way to the Capitol.

“A moment in history,” Underwood responded, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Underwood is one of the three Illinois Democrats who were sworn into the House on Thursday; the other two are Sean Casten and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. Her appointment means that Democrats now have a 13-5 advantage over Republicans in Illinois’ House delegation.

For her, losing was never an option.

“I learned to be a black woman in this community,” Underwood toldThe New York Times in July. “This is my home, and the idea that I might not be a good fit is an idea I never gave a lot of consideration to.”

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

Dr. Gladys West, Who Helped Develop The GPS, Inducted Into Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame

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This “hidden figure” is finally getting her due praise.

A “hidden figure” in the development of GPS technology has officially been honored for her work.Mathematician Dr. Gladys West was recognized for doing the computing responsible for creating the Geographical Positioning System, more commonly referred to as the GPS.

On December 6, the 87-year-old woman was inducted into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame by the United States Air Force during a ceremony at the Pentagon.

The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority member, born in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, earned a full scholarship to Virginia State University after graduating high school at the top of her class. Gwen James, her sorority sister, told The Associated Press she discovered her longtime friend’s achievements when she was compiling a bio for senior members of the group.

“GPS has changed the lives of everyone forever,” James said. “There is not a segment of this global society — military, auto industry, cell phone industry, social media, parents, NASA, etc. — that does not utilize the Global Positioning System.”

Dr. West spent 42 years working on the naval base at Dahlgren, Virginia. During this time, she was one of the few women hired by the military to do advanced technological work. During the early 1960s, she was commissioned by the U.S. Naval Weapons Laboratory to support research around Pluto’s motion. From the mid-1970s to the 1980s, her computing work on a geodetic Earth model led to what became the first GPS orbit.

“This involved planning and executing several highly complex computer algorithms which have to analyze an enormous amount of data,” Ralph Neiman, her supervisor who recommended her for commendation in 1979, said. “You have used your knowledge of computer applications to accomplish this in an efficient and timely manner.”

Continue onto Blavity to read the complete article.

America’s first female Soldiers on screen for WWI centennial

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When Jim Theres first read about the “Hello Girls” of World War I, he knew the story of America’s first female Soldiers needed to be told on the silver screen.

So the Veterans Affairs employee set out on his own time to produce and direct an award-winning documentary, “The Hello Girls: The Army’s Special Weapon in World War I.”

The film was shown Saturday as part of activities surrounding the grand re-opening of the Army Women’s Museum at Fort Lee, Virginia.

Prior to that, the film won best documentary feature last month at the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

Broadcast journalist Cokie Roberts also introduced the film Oct. 8 at the Washington Convention Center during the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition.

“I had never heard of the ‘Hello Girls’ and I write women’s history,” Roberts said. “That shouldn’t be.”

UNTOLD STORY

In 1918, the U.S. Army Signal Corps sent 223 women to France as telephone operators for the American Expeditionary Forces. They donned Army uniforms and swore an oath of allegiance. They often operated near the front lines, connecting calls between trenches, and they endured artillery barrages. Two of them died and were buried in France.

Yet, when the rest of the women returned to the states, they were told they were not eligible for veteran’s benefits, until an act of Congress changed that in 1977.

Now their story has finally been fully documented.

Theres had already produced one documentary film when he decided in May 2017 the time was right to look for a World War I story because the 100th anniversary of America’s participation in the war was coming up.

“I Googled by accident … I meant to do World War I men, but I accidentally typed World War I women and I looked at the screen.” A webpage popped up about Elizabeth Cobbs’ book published last year: “The Hello Girls — America’s First Women Soldiers.”

Continue onto The Army to read the complete article.

Latina progressive Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will be youngest member of Congress

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Alexandria Ocasio Cortez

Heavy rains on Tuesday didn’t stop voters from showing up at the polls and assuring Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of her congressional victory.

At 29, she will become the U.S.House’s youngest member of Congress.

“Rain is hard for turnout, sometimes people literally decide not to vote because is raining. Don’t do that,” said Ocasio-Cortez during Cosmopolitan’s Instagram-takeover on Election Day.

The newly-elected Congresswoman won on Tuesday night against her Republican opponent Anthony Pappas in New York’s 14th congressional district, which includes parts of Queens and The Bronx and it’s considered a safe Democratic district. “As the Congresswoman for New York’s 14th district, my job would be to basically commute between The Bronx and Queens and Washington D.C. to really write and pass the laws that would really govern this land,” said Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday morning during a radio interview with the New York-based station HOT 97.

Ocasio-Cortez first made national headlines back in June when she won her district’s House primary against Democratic incumbent Joe Crowley with a proudly progressive platform to address issues surrounding immigration, healthcare, education.

“We’re really fighting for a working class agenda. We’re fighting for universal healthcare. We’re fighting for tuition free colleges and universities. A 100 percent renewable energy, this is what — not just what our district needs — but what the city needs and what the country needs,” Ocasio-Cortez told HOT 97.

The 29-year-old first-time candidate of Puerto Rican heritage represents a district that is 46 percent Latino, 24.6 percent white, 16.4 Asian, and 11 percent black.

Continue on to NBCnews.com/latina to read the complete article.