Category

Women in Diaspora

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In 1975, Brooklyn witnessed the birth of a heroin and a spectacular trailblazer. She was born as Ludmya Bourdeau but presently known as Mia Love.

Mia Love who happens to be the first black female Republican Party member to be elected into a US Congress was born on the 6th of December 1975 but was raised in Connecticut by her Haitian parents, Maxime and Marie Bourdeau.

She was raised with very little resources and had a humble childhood. She was the youngest of three children born to her Roman Catholic parents. When Mia’s parents migrated from Haiti to the US, things were a bit difficult because they got into the country with a tourist visa which only afforded them a temporary stay. At the birth of Mia, the couple got a permanent residue status based on the immigration law at that time that grants immigrants from the Western Hemisphere who had a child born in the United States stay.

Although the law expired in early 1976 the couple had already become naturalized citizens.

After graduating from the University of Hartford with a degree in fine arts in 1997, Mia worked as a flight attendant, and then she moved to Utah to stay with a friend. At Utah, she met Jason Love, whom she fell in love with and got married. They are blessed with three children.

Mia launched into politics in 2003 having been engaged in various community matters in Saratoga Springs, Utah her settlement.

Also, with a vast experience gathered in numerous leadership roles, where she proved herself worthy to handle issues between residents and the city’s bigger developers of Saratoga, the city found her most reliable and nominated her for the Saratoga Springs City Council in 2003. An idea birthed her neighbors and other supporters.

Mia successfully won the election making her the first Haitian-American to win an election in Utah County, Utah.

She resumed her government position in January 2004 but was faced with an economic decline which was affecting the city at the time. She pushed for a shift from the agriculture tax to municipal tax and urged that most budgets be decreased.

Mia joined forces with other city council members to ensure the deduction of all expenses; the deduction of budget reduced the City’s loses during the economic downturn from $3.5 million to $779,000.

After six years of service as a council member for Saratoga Springs City Council, she won the mayor’s seat winning her opponent Jeff Francom with 861 votes to 594.

She served as Mayor from January 2010 to January 2014, in her stead she was able to fight against natural disasters which hamper on the city.

Having lost an election for Republican Utah 4th congressional district to her opponent Jim Matheson by 768 votes out of 245,277 votes cast she participated in the re-run.

Fortunately, Jim Matheson announced his decision not to participate in the rematch. On April 26, 2014, during the Utah Republican Convention, Mia was announced the winner of the Republican nomination for the 4th congressional district with 78% members vote at the convention, making her the first the first black female Republican Party member in the U.S. Congress.

The 4th Congressional District of Utah held another election for the U.S. House of Representatives on November 8, 2016. Again, incumbent Mia Love defeated Doug Owens and Collin Simonsen (Constitution Party) in the general election. Love and Owens competed in the rematch of the 2014 race, in which Love defeated Owens by five percent.

In as much as there are a lot of women out there who are capable of leading businesses and organizations as well as starting up their dream agencies like their male counterparts, they still face limitations that emanate from the aged long adversary called gender inequality.

Records have been broken, times have changed, and women are very hungry, hungry to change circumstances, to become somebody, to be famous and to also impact their world.

Many of the women in these categories have not been far from their dreams even in places like the diaspora where it might seem impossible.  Women in the diaspora have done and are still doing tremendous things in places that they do not refer to as their place of origin.

That is why we take our time to document and celebrate the women in diaspora whom we sometimes call the women of color, their achievements, and engagement in private and public sectors of the countries where they reside.

In this edition, we take a look at Kimberly Casiano the Latin-American woman of color born on December 21, 1957, in New York City.

The former President and Chief Operating Officer of Casiano Communication currently serves as a member of Board of Directors of Ford Motor Company, Mutual of America and Mead Johnson Nutrition Company.

Kimberly Casiano is a Puerto Rican by birth her father was the Chairman of the Board of Casiano Communications.

After spending 12 years of her life in New York City, her family moved to Puerto Rico when her father joined Governor Luis A. Ferré’s cabinet as Economic Development Administrator.

Casiano studied Politics and Latin American Studies at Princeton University, she graduated in the year 1979, after which she moved to Harvard to pursue a master degree in Business Administration and in 1981 she was done and was recognized as the youngest woman to receive an MBA from Harvard at the time.

In the same year she became a master’s degree holder, that same year she established her very own Caribbean Marketing Overseas Corporation.

The Caribbean Marketing Overseas Corporation is a consulting firm that addresses areas between the United States, Caribbean and Central America on specifics such as financing, trade, and investment promotion.

She was totally involved in managing her company until 1988 when she joined Casiano Communications her father’s company and rose to the position of the president in 1994.

 

Her connection to the ford motors dates back to her undergraduate days at Princeton university in the 1970s when she was studying Latin American studies alongside with Bill Ford Jr. who is presently the chairman of  Ford Motor Co.

Bill and Casiano were the Tom and Jerry of the class because they never agreed on any topic. Casiano wondered why Bill of an American prestigious family will be interested in learning a Hispanic language because at that time he was the only non-Hispanic in the class.

The thought of it always made her furious and she decided to antagonize him in all of their lectures. She was always against his point and whatever he said in class.

After twenty years, bill who took over the family’s organization met with Casiano who is the president of her family-owned publishing and marketing business, but this time not as enemies because times and seasons had taken away the youthful exuberance and they were able to relate on a mutual ground which went deeper and in 2003, Bill ford called on Kimberly Casiano to come on board as member of the company’s directors.

She continued to take up top positions as a member of the board of directors of other organizations and associations including being part of the current board of directors of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF), an NGO that provides an annual budget of close to $50 million scholarships to Hispanic college students in the US.

And Mead Johnson Nutrition board of directors, a leading nutrition company for babies and children In 2011, these two are parts of the others which are not mentioned.

Casiano is married to Juan F. Woodroffe who is a Peruvian and they have two children.

Janice Bryant Howroyd is an African-American woman, born on the first of September, 1952 in Tarboro of North Carolina, United States of America. Her father had a mixed race, his ancestry was of both Irish and Cherokee, but Janice mother is an African-American.

This astute woman is energetic and passionate, self-inspired and very diligent. Being self-inspired is traceable to her early days in life, as a teenager in Tarboro. She suffered the torments of racism being a black girl in the midst of other white children. She was the first and only black student while in high school.

According to Janice, “back in high school, there was so much racial discrimination, there was no joy in returning to school the next day if you succeeded in surviving the bad day you had the day before.” She recalls one of her worst days in school, when one of her teachers “explain why Africans were so well suited to slavery and how we’d be much poorer as a society if we went any further with this affirmative action,” these words got to Janise that she had to bite the inside of her jaw to avoid shedding tears, as she believed crying could depict accepting defeat.

On getting home that day she cried herself to stupor as those words kept ringing in her head. She had no intention of going back to school because she had lost her motivation at that point. She begged her parent to allow her to stay back home the next day but her father refused. He gave her the options of going back to school while he confronts the teacher himself, or that she be enrolled in an all-black school. These options gave her no choice than to pick up herself and continue with the journey.

She fought to put all the negativity behind. She fought to become the image she had painted in her heart. She fought to become better than what others expected of her, and today she wins on every side, with that challenging in the past.

Janice eventually became one of the first African American students to desegregate her town’s previously segregated high school. Her personal motto is, “Never compromise who you are personally to become who you wish to be professional”

After high school, Janice was awarded a scholarship to study English at North Carolina State Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro, she was there for few years and then graduated with a degree.

She got her first job with the American Red Cross and the National Academy of Sciences, she worked there for some time until 1976 when she visited her sister who was married and lived in Los Angeles, California. On getting to California she fell in love with the place and lifestyle and the decided to pitch her tent over there.

Unknown to Janice that her dream was about to start its formulation. Janice brother-in-law Tom Noonan worked as a top official in the Billboard magazine. Janice worked as Noonan’s secretary at billboard, and was opportune to meet with business executives and celebrities through Noonan, she began traveling from place to place and learned diversity through her job.  After two years at Billboard magazine, she had learned so much that it built her strength and she began stretching her tentacles for a life of entrepreneurship.

At that point, she had gathered over $1000, $987 from her savings and $533 which she borrowed from her mother and brother. But what was she going to do with the money?

While at billboard magazines, Janice discovered that a large number of the support staffs at a billboard, took the job because they had been aspiring to get into the entertainment industry, and they thought that working in a magazine firm as huge as billboard could get them closer to their dreams. So, Janice’s idea was to start up an employment agency that will recruit permanent workers who do not aspire to be actors or screenwriters but are interested in building their career on a long term dedicated service.

She took her money and rented a small office space with a telephone line on the Beverly Hills address and she called it the ACT∙1 Personnel Services in 1978. Janice was hopeful about the step that she had taken, this is the attitude of every entrepreneur, they always believed in themselves and they are risk takers.

Fortunately, she started getting clients, and her first client was Billboard, she got the billboard without stress may be based on the fact that she had a relationship with the company, but she soon found others by calling businesses and offering to send them the right.

It wasn’t a smooth ride for Janice, but today she is known as the first Black woman to own a billion-dollar company that started as a single-office operation. Currently, ACT∙1 employs over 1,300 workers in 240 satellite offices in the U.S. and eight other countries, providing services with detailed information from the employee background checks to executive travel management.

ACT∙1 is also known as the largest woman minority-owned employment agency in the United States making it distinct from other firms in the same field of work.

Janice is a successful woman of color, a wife, mother, mentor, ambassador, businesswoman, author, and an entrepreneur. She is happily married to Bernard Howroyd and they are blessed with two children. She received several recognitions and awards in the course of her career, including a key Presidential appointment by President Barack Obama in May 2016, as a member of the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. She also received The BET Honors Entrepreneur Award.

According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, Howroyd is “an individual who has had a significant impact on the well-being of her community and who has had the foresight and generosity to recognize that her success is best savored when she pays it forward.” Through scholarship funding and personal service, she supports universities such as Harvard University, University of Southern California, California State University, San Bernardino and her own alma mater, North Carolina A&T, women’s support organization, Minority serving organizations, and serves as a mentor to others through personal work and media engagements.

Howroyd teaches people to understand that “One cannot effectively lead without passionately serving” and has said that one of the greatest gifts of her business is that it enables her to help others.

As a successful woman of color, we celebrate all her efforts and impact in the women society at large.

 

Tolu Olubunmi is definitely a Nigerian native but working endlessly in achieving the American dream.

She was 14-years-old when she moved to America and wanted to become an engineer. Tolu worked hard in school to make her way into a top university and she achieved her goal. She graduated with a degree in chemical engineering in 2002. But unlike so many other college graduates, Tolu’s undocumented status kept her from the jobs that she was otherwise qualified for.

Being a determined young woman, she began to think of how to improve the life’s of immigrates like herself, then she decided to devote her time to changing immigration policies in the US so that others will have the opportunity to realize their own dreams in the country they love and call their own. Just last year, Tolu was given one of the biggest opportunities of all: to introduce President Obama at the White House before his speech on immigration reform! Tolu was also recognized by the World Economic Forum as one of 15 Women Changing the World in 2015.

She is a member of the Board of Directors of USAIM for IOM, the United States based non-profit partner of IOM, the UN Migration Agency. She is also a founding board member of the United We Dream Network and co-founder of Welcome.us and Immigrant Heritage Month.

She currently serves on the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on the Future of Migration and co-chairs the Mobile Minds – an innovative initiative advancing cross-border remote working as a 21st century alternative to physical migration.  She made the World Economic Forum’s list of outstanding women entrepreneurs, focusing her attention on international migration issues and access to opportunity for all people.

In 2015, Tolu joined 26 CEOs, Executives, Olympians, Activists, and other inspiring women to walk the runway at designer Carrie Hammer’s New York Fashion Week show featuring “Role Models Not Runway Models.” Her story has been profiled by several media outlets, including TIME and MSNBC and she has been a featured speaker at the White House, the World Bank, and the US Congress.

The social entrepreneur is guided by a quote from John Wesley ‘’ “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways, you can. In all the places, you can. At all the times, you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

Olubunmi is a strong believer that if each of us, in our own way, should all aspire to live out these words then there’s nothing we can’t achieve. Tolu says ‘’it took her own setbacks to open her eyes to this truth’’.

 

Born in Ethiopia and raised in Kenya and the United States, Mimi Alemayehou is a development and finance professional. She attended St. Austins Academy, then moved to St. Austins Academy secondary school, Nairobi, Kenya, and Drew College Preparatory School, San Francisco, California, USA. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from West Texas A & M University, Texas, in the USA, and a Masters degree in International Business and International Law & Development from Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Medford, Massachusetts, USA

 

Alemayehou is currently the Managing Director of Black Rhino Group, an investment consulting firm focused on promoting greater efficiencies in African infrastructure development. She is also the Executive Advisor and Chair of Blackstone, one of the world’s leading investment and advisory firms. In 2010, Alemayehou was nominated Executive Vice President of OPIC by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed by a full US Senate. As Vice President of OPIC, Alemayehou managed a portfolio of approximately $16 billion invested in over 100 countries. During her tenure, OPIC partnered with President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative.

 

Prior to OPIC, Alemayehou was Executive Director of the African Development Bank (AfDB). She is a global leader in the field of investment and finance and one of the most powerful female executives in America.

 

Appointed by President Obama in 2010, she currently serves as Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a United States government entity that provides credit and insurance products designed to encourage American investment in developing economies.  She is excited about pending projects that OPIC anticipates being able to support in Ethiopia.  President Obama also appointed Mimi as a Member of the Board of Directors of the African Development Foundation, where again she is the only woman board member.

 

Mimi has been active in her community in addition to her work.  She became the co-publisher of the African Yellow Pages, the first phone directory targeting the large African immigrant community in the US. She served on the board of directors of the Tahirih Justice Center, the leading advocacy group providing pro-bono legal service to women immigrants and refugees and combating the scourge of Female Genital Mutilation in Africa and sat on the board of the Citizens League of Ethiopian Americans.  She has been a committed supporter and fundraiser for the Fistula Foundation and hopes that the organization will be able to close down during her lifetime because women will no longer suffer from this horrendous condition.

A mentor to several young women colleagues during her career, she believes strongly in the importance of mentoring for young women.  She credits her own success to strong mentoring she has received, to the powerful examples of her strong mother and grandmother who encouraged her to believe she could do anything she chose to, and to her stubborn perseverance in pursuing opportunities she was interested in.

 

Mimi Alemayehou is a mother of two, a global power player with an adorable sense of fashion.   Mimi is the second most powerful person at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, [OPIC], the US government’s development finance institution headquartered in the nation’s capital, Washington D.C.

Shriti Vadera, Baroness Vadera was born in Uganda, East Africa, to an Indian family on June 23, 1962. Her family owned and operated a small tea plantation until 1972, when they were exiled from Uganda, following President Idi Amin’s expulsion of Ugandan Asians from the country. Her family fled to India.

A determined young lady, Vadera, at the age of only five, insisted that her family find the money to pay the school fees of her caregiver, who could not at the time afford to pay them herself. At 14 she went on hunger strike demanding to be sent to school in England. The family later relocated to the UK, where she studied at Northwood College before proceeding to gain her degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Somerville College, Oxford.

After her education, Vadera worked for 14 years at UBS Warburg as an investment banker; her job at UBS included debt relief and restructuring and advising governments of developing countries. She also played an important role in the partial privatization of the South African Telecom. While in the UK, she built a reputation as a formidable economist, with the wit of mind and the strength of argument to persuade both the British government and the banking sector that she is someone to have inside their tent.

In 2007, Vadera was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for International Development by the Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Following her appointment, she was made a life peer as Baroness Vadera, of Holland Park in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on 11 July 2007.

After six months as a Minister in International Development, she was moved to the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (now known as the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills), and she also became a Parliamentary Secretary in the Cabinet Office in October 2008.

ShritiVadera_Director_high

In September 2009, it was announced that she would be stepping down as minister to take up a new role advising the G20, and in December 2010, she was appointed to the Boards of BHP Billiton and AstraZeneca as a non-executive director.

Baroness Vadera was announced Non-Executive Chairman of Santander UK, replacing Terence Burns, in December 2014, and She joined the board in January 2015 and succeeded Burns on 30 March 2015.

She has been commended by various reputable organizations including a listing as one of BBC’s 100 Women in 2016.

 

La June Montgomery Tabron is the president and CEO of The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), one of the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States.

The first African American to head the foundation in its 83 year history, Tabron 54, is a native of Detroit, United States. She was raised in a family of ten children in inner-city Detroit, and studied at the University of Michigan graduating with a business degree in business administration. She also has a Master’s degree in business administration from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University

Tabron has a long history with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), having started her career there at the age of 24. She began as a financial controller and rose in the ranks of the company within a time span of 26 years, into her current role as the president and CEO in January 01, 2014.

It is no myth that African American top CEO’s are rare and African American Women CEO’s are even rarer, taking a look the landscape of Fortune 500 companies across the United States.

This woman of colour has set the pace for many more to come.