BMe Community mobilizes local Black veterans to drive the agenda for Black L.O.V.E.

B Who? BMe!

by Leonard Hammonds II
For New Pittsburgh Courier

BMe Community is a Black-led network of social innovators, community leaders and champions who invest in aspiring communities. A leader in the diversity, equity, and inclusion field, BMe Community is the No. 1 provider of asset-framing training to senior executives of major foundations and social enterprises.

As part of its commitment to advance the agenda for Black L.O.V.E., BMe Community has awarded fellowships designed to unite, celebrate, and elevate Black leaders. This is to achieve greater influence and impact in creating more caring and prosperous communities.

After a rigorous selection process from candidates nationwide, BMe Community awarded remarkable Black veterans in the Pittsburgh area the BMe Vanguard Fellowship. The fellowship is an elite leadership experience designed and facilitated by leading global authorities on social innovation, influence, health, finance, narrative, race, culture and more. These men and women who have served in various branches of the military will now also serve their country by shifting the narrative for Black people and affect real change during these tumultuous times.

“Fixing broken systems isn’t enough,” explained Trabian Shorters, CEO/Founder of BMe Community. “We need leaders who are able to build communities of love and power based on truer narratives.”

Since 2013, BMe has mobilized 367 Black community leaders throughout the nation to be the vanguards of the next narrative for Black America in which Black people are free to live, own, vote, and excel. The agenda for Black L.O.V.E. is a four-part strategy that goes beyond battling injustices to building the next narrative for Black America. They are:

* Live. Prioritize the value of Black lives, mental, physical and spiritual health, and heritage.
* Own. Increase financial literacy, asset ownership, and creation of generational wealth.
* Vote. Remove barriers to voting, end corrupt policing and turnout the Black vote and census.
* Excel. Amplify narratives that make it impossible to ignore Black excellence.

BMe Community veteran fellows from Pittsburgh are sponsored by The Heinz Endowments.

“The Heinz Endowments is proud to support BMe Community’s military veteran fellows. We believe strongly that the life and leadership experience of Black men and women who have served in our armed forces are true and valued assets in our community,” said Megan Andros, the Endowments’ senior program officer for veterans.

The 2020 BMe Vanguard fellows are:



*Kevin Alton, Founder/CEO, The Way Organization (Army)

*Monte Banks, CEO, Unico Vino (Air Force)

*Rashad Byrdsong, President & CEO, Community Empowerment Association, Inc. (Army)

*JaQuay Carter, Founder and President, Greater Hazelwood Historical Society of Pittsburgh (Marines)

*Darnell Clark, Canteen Worker, VA Hospital Pittsburgh (Marines)

*Douglas Connor, Road Supervisor, Port Authority of Allegheny (Air Force)

*LaQuala Hammonds, Surgical Tech Student and Entrepreneur, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (Army)

*Kelvin Isom II, Legal Extern, EEOC (Army)

*Sheena Hancock, Principal Interior Designer, Sheena Hancock Interior Creations, LLC (Air Force)

*Saloam Knox, CEO/ Credit Education Expert, Credit Power LLC (Army)

*Gordon Manker, Business Development Specialist, Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (Army)

*Blair Mickles, Student, University of Pittsburgh (Army)

*Terri Williams, Director of Operations and Innovation, Penn Hills Charter School of Entrepreneurship (Navy)

*Bart Womack, Program Manager, COO, Public Speaker, Author, Syracuse University (Army)




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