August 24 cannot come soon enough for Rochelle E. Oaks, Ph.D., as she prepares to participate in the 2009 Blacks In Government National Training Conference in Baltimore, Md. Viewing the chance to conduct eight workshops during the four-day convention as a great opportunity for her business, Oaks says excitement and anticipation is building day by day.
“I’m hoping this conference will be a great door opener for business,” she says. Oaks is scheduled to present her Power of Your Personality workshop during the groups’ 31st annual conference. The theme of the conference is Meeting Today’s Objectives—New Challenges, New Government, A New BIG.
In business for 10 years, Oaks is the president and CEO of the Oaks Group, LLC, a certified Minority Woman Business Enterprise, veteran and women-owned training and development company that specializes in diversity and inclusion, leadership development, personality assessments and team building. Based on the North Side at 700 River Ave., she describes the business as offering quality custom-designed training workshops and consulting services to meet the specific needs of the client. “Our aspiration is to provide excellence services to profit and nonprofits organizations, federal, state, city, county and local government agencies,” she said.
The mission of the Oaks Group is to teach, train and build individuals, organizations and communities with the goals to bring together the principles of education and lifelong learning and to prepare individuals, teams and organizations to succeed. Oaks says to accomplish her goal that the belief of the firm is the transformation process that focuses on human beings is the key to all possibilities.
|THNKING BIG—CEO and President of the Oaks Group, Dr. Rochelle Oaks is excited as she prepares to participate in the Blacks in Government’s 31 convention in Baltimore.
Services provided by the Oaks Group are designed to provide clients with an extension of their management team for both short- and long-term projects, is how Oaks describes what she does. She says her team concentrates in three core areas; diversity, capacity building and consulting.
Diversity is inclusive of personality assessments, demographic realities, team building, diversity and inclusion, effective communication skills and micro-inequities. Her capacity building workshops include topics on sustainability, marketing strategies, program evaluation and expansion and SWOC (strengths, weakness, opportunities and threat) analysis. Leadership development, customer services, program, project and change management round out her consulting training. Able to offer her clients personalized and unique training, Oaks utilizes personal assessment tools that she designed as well as other popular assessments.
Clients she works with are the Mel Blount Youth Home, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Robert Morris University, Fifth Quarter Enterprise, Central Baptist Church and the Allegheny County Sanitation Authority.
Enthused about her work, she explained that she is currently involved in a project with the Department of Human Services which involves agencies in the east, north and central neighborhoods of the city as well as the Mel Blount Youth Center. “I’m developing three components of ‘It Takes a Village to Raise a Child’ to assure that young males receive services they need to prevent them from going into placement,” she said.
She was also the lead facilitator and member of the Diversity Action Team that was responsible for training more than 1,700 military personnel in diversity initiatives.
A retired captain from the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, Oaks credits her 22 years of military service as a tool that has assisted in developing her skills to get her where she is today. She says the military was a good experience because it provided her with discipline, an opportunity to grow and to travel and see the world. Joining the Air National Guard one day before her 30th birthday, Oaks says at that time in her life, she needed to accomplish something. “I wanted to be a positive role model for my children,” she said.
She also credits her Christian background as a basis of starting her business. In 1999 she operated as a sole proprietorship after gaining experience by conducting training in the areas of personality, temperament and leadership for her church. Now she is an ordained minister.
Oaks, too, has gained experience from working in the nonprofit sector for over seven years. Considering her layoff in 2006 as a blessing, she says after navigating through the five stages of grieving and loss—denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance— she now is able to operate on a full-time basis.
A strong believer in education, Oaks has a doctor of science degree from Robert Morris University, a master’s from the California University of Pennsylvania, a bachelor of arts from Geneva College and an associate’s degree from the Community College of Allegheny County.
Appreciative of the opportunity to utilize her distinguished background in diversity facilitation and leadership during the BIG Conference, Oaks hopes to utilize what she learns to meet her goals to gain anchor clients to enable her to train in the corporate sector. “My vision is to become the training and development consultants of choice in the Pittsburgh and surrounding areas,” she said.
A native of Pittsburgh, she is married to Benjamin Oaks and has three children and three grandsons.
BIG was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1976 by a small group of African-Americans at the Public Health Services which is a part of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare in Rockville, Md.