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  • 1 Apr 2024 12:05 PM | Kemi Oyebade (Administrator)

    Kara LC Jones (CAIC, CRMT, BA) 

    I’m white, American born, cisgender woman with Italian heritage, and though I know all the curse words in Italian, truly, I only speak English. Since 1996, I’ve been in a monogamous, heterosexual commitment with a cisgender man who is Black and German. (Truth be told, I also know a few curse words in German, too.) We live in a community we were lovingly introduced to by a friend on Vashon Island, Washington. 

    My biggest grief experiences came with the deaths of three babies at birth. I’m a mom who has living and dead children, mom in a blended family, and now a 

    grandma, too. 

    My continued exploration of grief comes in around chronic illness. I have multiple chronic illness diagnoses (ME/CFS, PCOS, MCAS), though some of what is happening with my health is still a mystery. Given the state of our healthcare system here in America, I’m not entirely sure the root cause will ever be found. Anxiety and depression are part of my experiences at times, too, as the mystery part of being chronically alive can get to me. For the most part, I pass as abled which has both advantages and disadvantages. 

    I’m a Certified Appreciative Inquiry and Whole Systems Coach, and a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, holding double degrees in Literary and Cultural Theory and Creative Writing. I also have a minor degree from Chatham College in Early Childhood Development. I interned for three years at Family Communications (FCI) on production of Mister Rogers Neighborhood. I have authored several books including Mrs. Duck and the Woman, Flash Of Life, and 1000 Permissions Granted. I have contributed to publications such as They Were Still Born, Journal of Family Social Work, Living With Grief, Elegy, and more. For more see either GriefAndCreativity.comor 

    What year did you join BPW? 


    WHY did you join BPW? 

    Well my very best, very first friend ever Daneene Monroe Rusnak introduced me to BPW and invited me to speak at a JDEI meeting on my creative grief heARTwork around raising grief literacy for individuals but also as a cultural imperative. It was a lovely Zoom meet up, and Sher and Daneene both encouraged me to check out more about BPW. And here we are. 

    HOW has BPW helped your career and personal lifestyle? 

    Learning the history of the organization going back to 1919, it's heartening to think of all the women who've come before me unfolding the paths I've been able walk in my GenX iteration! I'm looking forward to learning more about the different programs and goals of BPW currently happening. 

    What wisdom can you pass on to other members? 

    One of the things that I keep seeing in the past few years is how much unprocessed grief and trauma we are enduring as individuals, all the way up to the socio-cultural level. It feels similar to me to seeing the unprocessed grief I saw when I was young in the WWII survivor generation of our family when they were all still alive. Today it feels like seeing a mirror of that unprocessed grief in my grandchildren as they are urged to "get back to normal" and "get back in the classroom in person" as quickly as possible without a lot of processing around the realities that they are sick over and over again. Not much has changed in infrastructure to protect them. But they have to get on with it. I keep seeing videos and social media posts from people my age or my childrens' ages saying things feel "off" or they've not been able to "go back to normal" and they wonder if they are alone in it. I am encountering more and more newly disabled people everyday who can no longer work the way they once did and question how to continue on with very little support. I see new videos every single day from people saying their work is no longer meaningful, they can barely make the ends meet, they don't understand why they are "failing." 

    As I witness all this, my inner monologue is naming it grief, grief, grief; not individual failing, but collective experience of systems failure. Grief shakes our sense of identity, our priorities even in things like the work we used to hold dear, our faith even. Because the grief we are all experiencing is unnamed, it hasn't even begun to be processed. So much of what we are experiencing, personally and collectively, is grief. But our grief literacy levels in this world are not great. I would say the wisdom I have to share is this: if you feel any level of what I'm describing here, please know you are not alone. This is the reaction humans are meant to have in the face of loss. We are meant to re-making meaning. We are meant to question. We are allowed to be creative in the face of grief. Being creative is more than artmaking or dancing. It is an approach to life. It is an approach to living in the face of loss and on-going humanness. 

    How does BPW benefit by having you as a member? 

    It struck me in the JDEI session that maybe talking about raising our grief literacy skills on a larger platform for women would be a beneficial thing to do for all of us. So many of us are carrying around the role of holding the grief for ourselves, our families, our workplaces. We need more support in doing that, in fortifying our grief literacy skills, in being with each other individually and collectively in grief support. It seemed maybe with your focus areas on advocacy as well as health and wellness, maybe there would be a good match here.   

    List any social media handles you'd like us to tag you with. 




  • 2 Nov 2023 12:05 PM | Kemi Oyebade (Administrator)

    BPW Pennsylvania

    “I see myself as a positive and encouraging leader within the BPW organization because this is how I live in my everyday life.”

    Dr. Twila Lee Wynn, Owner/Founder of Diamonds Women in Wisdom, is an Evangelical spiritual leader with a mission focused on bringing women closer to Jesus Christ.

    She earned her Doctorate in Biblical Studies with the completion of Doctor of Theology, Ministry, and Divinity from the Signal of Light Bible Seminary and has served as Preacher / Associate Pastor and Family Service Counselor.

    Dr. Wynn is an award-winning author of Good Morning! Have a Nice Day! She is also a radio host of the show:  Diamonds Women in Wisdom  Love~Support~Unity and may be breaking into television soon! In addition to preaching, motivational and inspirational speaking engagements, Dr. Twila recently won the Pennsylvania State Speak-Off Winner 2023-2024. She is the mother of three, grandmother of ten, great grandmother of six.

    Dr. Twila is a talented and passionate woman and has been a BPW member for five years. She is currently serving as her Club’s president, and we are so happy she has joined the BPW National and International Sisterhood. Going forward, Dr. Twila is interested in furthering NFBPWC’s focus area on Justice, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

  • 23 Aug 2022 3:30 PM | Lea-Ann W. Berst (Administrator)

    A member of NFBPWC/PA since 2020, Amanda Owen is the co-founder of the Justice Bell Foundation (JBF) - a nonprofit dedicated to reclaiming women's history and promoting voter participation.

    Amanda has written and directed a documentary, Finding Justice: The Untold Story of Women's Fight for the Vote, which premiered at the National Women’s History Museum on August 26, 2020. Finding Justice has aired on PBS (WQLN and WHYY) and for a number of institutions, organizations, and film festivals.

    Watch the trailer:

    In her role as the Executive Director of the Justice Bell Foundation, Amanda commissioned a public art project in partnership with the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, a replica Justice Bell that travels to institutions, museums, and organizations, to educate the public about this lost icon of the women's suffrage movement and the women who fought for voting rights. Amanda has also participated in creating a school program that introduces children to the story of the women's suffrage movement.

    Amanda Owen, NFBPWC PAAmanda is the author of two books published by Penguin, 'The Power of Receiving: A Revolutionary Approach to Giving Yourself the Life You Want and Deserve' and 'Born to Receive: 7 Powerful Steps Women Can Take Today to Reclaim Their Half of the Universe'. Her work investigating and researching the benefits of receiving has earned her accolades from her peers and her seminars and workshops have helped thousands of people transform their lives.

    Amanda is currently writing a book about the Justice Bell's role in the American women's suffrage movement.

    A couple of questions for Amanda --


    I enjoy being in communication with women who are committed to advocating for women’s equality. My local affiliate members have been very supportive of my work on behalf of my nonprofit, the Justice Bell Foundation, and I am glad that the BPW programs give me the opportunity to engage in activities that support women.


    You can learn about the work of the Justice Bell Foundation at and our newest program, OUR HISTORY PROJECT:

    OUR HISTORY PROJECT is a joint initiative of the Justice Bell Foundation, Wild West Women, Inc. and the National Women's History Alliance. Our goal is to create a central location with free resources to help families locate their ancestors, particularly those who fought for voting rights and for equality.

    Wow, Go Amanda!

  • 26 May 2022 5:41 PM | Lea-Ann W. Berst (Administrator)

    A member of the Virtual Club since April 2022, Rebecca Ajibola is the Founder & CEO of the Humanity & Health Foundation.

    As a passionate public health social change agent, Rebecca founded the foundation with a mission to prevent disease, promote health and literacy among populations in the poor socio-economic environment.

    Rebecca AjibolaRebecca is versed in infectious and communicable disease, outbreak management, disease reporting and monitoring, data analysis, surveillance, statistical software applications, and mental health management.

    A conversation with Rebecca:

    Where do you attend school?

    • Walden University, United States
    • The University of Manchester, United Kingdom
    • College of Education, Nigeria
    • Queens School, (High School) Nigeria

    What are your career and personal aspirations?

    • I want to be a motivator, restore lost hope, and aim to maximize the potential of those around me!

    What brought you to this career path?

    • Personal loss, a quest for success and self fulfilment.

    Can you tell us about an important life lesson you’ve learned so far?

    • Always perceive issues or stumbling blocks as a challenge and resolve to overcome it.

    Is there a particular person who helped get you to where you are today? 

    • Having lost my mother at a tender age, I cannot pin my success on a particular person.  I have had many persons in my journey so far. Mentors, Teachers, and Managers, that held my hands, cheered me on, all have been instrumental in my progress. I am forever grateful for the building blocks they laid on my path.

    How did you find BPW? 

    • I found BPW through a discussion with a family member. I followed it up with a web search, and was impressed with what I was able to glean.

    How can BPW help you on your career path? 

    • My interest is in advocacy, mentoring and humanitarian efforts; with the ability to make a difference in the less privilege.

    Welcome Rebecca! You can connect with Rebecca on LinkedIn!!

    Humanity & Health Foundation

  • 6 May 2022 8:25 PM | Lea-Ann W. Berst (Administrator)

    Laurie Dameron is a BPW/Boulder member since 2007. She is an award-winning musician who has been playing the guitar for nearly 50 years and singing even longer.

    Between solo performances and performances with her band, Laurie D and the Blues Babes, this Billboard Magazine award recipient has performed for hundreds of venues in and out of Colorado over the past 25 years. A broad repertoire folk, blues, and jazz allows her to perform many different venues. She has produced three CDs and is currently working on fourth and fifth.

    Laurie is a long time member of Colorado Music Business Association (1987) and has won numerous other songwriting contests including COMBO. She is also a member of Denver Musician's Association AFM Local 20-623 (Union).

    Laurie is also an environmental activist and in 2012 started her project Spaceship Earth: What Can I Do? Multimedia Presentations to inspire folks to be better stewards to our beautiful planet Earth!

    Her song “What Can I Do?” made it to the top ten finalists in the 2011 Tipperary World Peace Song Contest. She passed the first round of auditions for America’s Got Talent in Denver in December of 2013.

    In 2015 Laurie was elected chair of Environmental and Sustainability Development (ESD) for BPW Colorado and is past chair for NFBPWC ESD Committee.

    In 2017 she was awarded “Trailblazer Woman of the Year” at BPW Boulder’s biggest annual event Celebration of Women.

    A couple of questions for Laurie --

    Laurie DameronWhat has being involved in NFBPWC meant for your career? 

    I originally joined BPW Boulder in 2007 to get my business on a more professional level by taking advantage of the networking and other events...which it did!

    In 2014, my BPW colleague and mentor, Kathy Kelly, took me to coffee to tell me "Laurie, you're a lone wolf with your environmentalism and you need to get more involved with BPW."

    I realized she was right and I started attending board meetings and learning so much about how our government works and about how legislation is created, dealt with and passed.

    I now realize just how important my membership is to BPW and that as a citizen, how important it is to understand such structure and how extremely important it is to vote in every local and national election. And especially as a woman and fighting for social justice. And now more than ever!

    In the summer of 2015, at our annual conference, I was elected as chair of Environmental and Sustainable Development Committee. Prior to that, BPW had never had such a committee. I guess I convinced them that none of these other issues will be important unless we get a handle on climate change.

    BPW has also given me a platform to be heard on the important issues of climate change.

    What's your Call to Action for our readers? 

    I believe what the EPA says:

    “Over 40% of our greenhouse gases come from the way products are extracted, produced, transported, used, and even disposed of. Striving for Zero Waste is one of the quickest and easiest ways to address climate change and build healthy communities”

    I also agree with Bill McKibben when he said: “We're under attack from climate change — and our only hope is to mobilize like we did in WWII.”

    We all need to be fighting climate change every day.
    Don’t allow your car to idle
    Avoid using drive-throughs
    Have a no-drive days every week
    Shop and bank locally and divest from big banks that support oil and gas
    Turn down the heat
    Turn off lights when you leave a room
    Minimize single-use plastics
    Bring your own cup to your coffee shop
    Use a reusable water bottle
    Strive for zero waste.

    Please share environmental posts when you see them on social media.

    For more information:


  • 1 May 2022 9:59 AM | Lea-Ann W. Berst (Administrator)

    Sabrina Chu lives in San Gabriel, CA and is a member of East Los Angeles-Montebelllo. She is the current Development and Grants Manager at the Asian Youth Center, a community-based nonprofit organization that provides employment, educational, and social services to low-income, immigrant youth and families in the San Gabriel Valley. 

    A member of East Los Angeles-Montebello, Sabrina lives in San Gabriel. She is the current Development and Grants Manager at the Asian Youth Center, a community-based nonprofit organization that provides employment, educational, and social services to low-income, immigrant youth and families in the San Gabriel Valley.

    Sabrina ChuWith four years of nonprofit experience, she had her start at AYC in direct services as a bilingual tutor at their various K-8 After School programs on local campuses in Alhambra Unified School District and San Gabriel Unified School District. She became the Development Coordinator in 2019 and the Development Manager in 2020.

    Q&A with Sabrina --

    Where did you go to school?

    I graduated in 2018 with a B.A. in Psychology from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. I was a research assistant during my time at Cal Poly Pomona under the Asian American Transnational Research Initiative and was part of the 2018 Cohort of the iSchool Inclusion Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, hosted by the University of Pittsburgh.

    What are your career aspirations?

    I am currently the Development and Grants Manager at the Asian Youth Center. As someone who started in direct services, I appreciate working directly with the people and getting to know their stories and their needs. When I was working as a bilingual tutor with immigrant students and their families, I related deeply to their struggles, such as language barriers and lack of access to basic needs.

    In 2019, I had the opportunity to move into Development and I have appreciated working from a macro level perspective in the organization. I have learned many skills through event planning, fundraising, campaign implementation, and grant writing. I recognize that I will always have something new to learn so I do not necessarily have an end goal for my career, but I would like to continue to work in a space where I can empower and be in solidarity with historically marginalized and disenfranchised communities. My next professional or career goal currently is to go to grad school for Social Work.

    What brought you to this career path?

    I started working at the Asian Youth Center in 2017 as a tutor. Although I had worked other jobs as well, working at AYC appealed to me at the time because it was a community-based non-profit. I wanted to be involved with the community that I live in and build power through creating relationships and solidarity. I was also working as a research assistant at my college at the time under the Asian American Transnational Research Initiative (AATRI), where I spend many hours developing research projects to better understand communities of color, as well as transcribed many interviews documenting the legislative movement through the 80's revolving the passing of the federal designation Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISI).

    This had been a piece of legislation that allowed colleges that had a certain percentage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) to be designated as an AANAPISI (similar to other Minority Serving Institutions, like Hispanic Serving Institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities), which would then be eligible for capacity-building funds that allowed the college to create programs that would better serve its student population.

    It was through this project that I learned more about the Model Minority Myth and about how important it is to disaggregate data on AAPI's in order to dispel that myth, instead of considering AAPI's as a monolithic population. Many Asian immigrant stories do not align with the idea that one "can pull up their bootstraps" because they are facing systematic struggles such as racism, xenophobia, lack of language access, and fleeing from imperialist wars as refugees.

    It also deepened my understanding about the Asian American experience and how many stories have been untold and simultaneously helped contextualize my work at AYC. With a broader understanding of this, I've been able to integrate that into grant writing and working with immigrant communities.

    Can you tell us about an important lesson you've learned in your career so far?

    I think the most important lesson I've learned in my career is maintaining a work/life balance. I am consistently working on asking for help, learning to trust others and letting things go, as well as being patient and kind to myself.

    Is there a particular person who helped get you to where you are today?

    I would like to give a fair attribution of where I am today to Dr. Mary Danico at Cal Poly Pomona, who was my research professor, for giving me all the opportunities to learn and travel to broaden my horizons, to Dr. Kayla Booth and Dr. Elizabeth Eikey for all their work and dedication to the iSchool Inclusion Institute, and to Michelle Freridge, my Executive Director at AYC.

    I try to practice as much gratitude as I can and honor those who have put all their labor and care into empowering folks like myself. I once gifted Michelle a really spicy ramen package for Christmas and she ate the whole packet without knowing how spicy it was! But she told me with such grace and humor. I appreciate and respect her openness to my ideas and decisions, on a professional and personal level.

    How did you find BPW? 

    I was fortunate to have been nominated by my Executive Director and direct supervisor at the Asian Youth Center, Michelle Freridge, who is a member at East Los Angeles-Montebello BPW. The most memorable experience I've had, is that I delivered an emotional speech at the last Sierra Mar conference and all the members were so supportive of me.

    How can the BPW club and its members help you on your career path? 

    I am open to collectively learning and struggle with others, so I would appreciate a space to be able to hear about other people's stories and connect with them on a human level. In my professional life, I would like to improve on my public speaking skills and also learn more about Public Policy or law. Currently, I am working on getting into grad school, so I would love any advice on good MSW or MPP programs out there.


  • 6 Apr 2022 11:35 AM | Lea-Ann W. Berst (Administrator)

    Marsha Riibner-Cady joined the Virginia Dare BPW club in 2009, where she held the leadership roles of Corresponding Secretary then President for 2 years.

    She was then elected as the BPW/NC State President – a position she held from 2015-2017. Today Marsha is the NFBPWC/NC State President and 2020-2022 Chair of the National Digital Training Committee.

    A few questions for Marsha --

    Marsha Riibner-CadyWhat HAS your career path lookED like, and where are you today?

    I attended Drury College in Springfield, Missouri and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and minor in Chemistry. My career began in Baltimore, Maryland at The Johns Hopkins Hospital Blood Bank as a Medical Technologist. From there I sold laboratory equipment in Boston where I met and married Lyle Cady in 1989 on Grand Cayman, BWI. Mitchell and Roland were born which began my career as a stay-at-home mom. Then I moved onto various “mommy friendly jobs” and volunteering for the Boy Scouts. In 1999 I was named Boy Scout volunteer of the year for the Shenandoah Area Council.

    Our family moved to Manteo, North Carolina in 2004. In 2006 I became the membership specialist for the Girl Scouts. I received several awards – including volunteer of the year for Manteo Middle School and NC Governors Medallion Award for managing volunteers. I also worked as the Director of the 5 After-School Enrichment Programs in our county and completed my certificate in Early Childhood Education.

    Cady CPR SolutionsCOVID hit. In September 2020 I started my own business, Cady CPR Solutions, a CPR and First Aid Training company. I also serve on several “children associated” boards in Dare County, NC.

    In my spare time I enjoy traveling to my cabin in West Virginia, seeing plays in New York City, walking our Rottweilers, Astoria and Indie and sometimes the grand puppy Annie (corgi). Lyle and I enjoy going to the movies on the weekend and I like to be outside doing yard work.

    What has being involved in NFBPWC meant for your career?

    I have always referred to NFBPWC as Big Girl, Girl Scouts. NFBPWC is a support system I had when I started my own business during a global pandemic. Without the support of the members, the Mentoring and Health Committees, I wouldn't have been able to do what I needed to do to get Cady CPR Solutions started.

    In the process of starting my own business, I was introduced to a member who needed an administrative assistant. I am running my own business and I'm also helping someone else with their business! Women helping women succeed is what NFBPWC is all about.

    What's your Call to Action for our readers? 

    I would like my BPW sisters to look at Cady CPR Solutions as your resource for CPR and First Aid training and AEDs. Visit my website for more information about my in-person and online training:

  • 28 Mar 2022 3:17 PM | Lea-Ann W. Berst (Administrator)

    Dr. Jo Naylor is a NFBPWC Virtual Member who lives in Provo, Utah. She has worked as a pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist for the past 23 years.

    Jo is also the Owner of Joniqua's, a small business offering unique hand-crocheted scarves, hats, crafts, & earrings. Her product line is sold online and at the Provo Farmer's Market during the summer.

    Dr. Jo NaylorAn active member since 2003, Jo has held several leadership positions: President of BPW/Corpus Christi (Texas), Foundation Scholarship Chair of BPW/North Carolina, and twice Secretary of BPW/North Carolina.

    Jo enjoys collaborating and working with other business and professional members from all over the world.

    A couple of questions for Jo --

    What has being involved in NFBPWC meant for your career?

    BPW has allowed me to gain the knowledge and confidence to present at local professional meetings, state conferences, and national conferences during my years with BPW. I have also been able to share my experiences and current events that impact women in my life.

    WHAT's your Call to Action for our readers?

    I would like for readers to help support me and the Koalas I support at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in Australia by either donating directly or buying my products from (I send $1.00 per item sold at the end of the year).

  • 31 Jan 2022 8:46 PM | Lea-Ann W. Berst (Administrator)

    Emily VanVleck is a member of the NFBPWC/NYC Chapter.

    Emily was born and raised in Oregon and started her professional life working in a bank. She was promoted to management and was running her own branch within three years but had always wanted to travel. This led her to apply to American Airlines where she has been a flight attendant for seven years! She was first based in Texas where she spent three years before moving to New York City.

    Emily loves going on adventures and traveling as much as she can. She really likes going to places with a lot of history and culture. The more off the beaten path the better! Emily loves trying new things and learning as much as possible.

    Emily Van Vleck Where do you attend school?

    I attend CUNY City College of New York and am on track to graduate in May 2022. I am completing my bachelor’s degree in international studies with a double minor in human rights and public policy.

    What are your career aspirations? 

    My dream is to work for the UN or an international NGO helping people and creating a more equitable world for all. My paths of study align with my ambitions, and I have done several internships related to these fields of interest. My first internship was with NFBPWC in the NYC chapter as the advocacy and UN intern. In this position, I was able to sit on an NGO Committee on Migration subcommittee gaining relevant experience. I have also been a special committee member for the Afghan Women Project with NFBPWC which has allowed me to be a part of devising and implementing a large scale project in line with my career goals. Apart from BPW, I have participated in the ETR Women’s Public Service program where I was placed in a New York State Assembly member’s office and learned more about public service and policy formulation. I also volunteer in my spare time with READ718 as a literacy tutor helping to bridge literacy gaps for children from low-income families.

    Afghan Women Project

    What brought you to this career path?

    I am an extremely empathetic person and have always had a strong desire to help others. When I returned to college, I knew I wanted to help people. I considered a career in social work but felt it would be too emotionally tolling. Instead of helping people after bad things happened to them, I want to fix the broken systems that fail people to begin with. When I started to learn more about the UN and the work it does to make a more equitable world and promote human rights, I was inspired to one day work there.

    Can you tell us about an important lesson you've learned in your career so far?

    Flexibility and adaptivity are paramount! Life is always changing and willingness to adapt to new things will take you so far, the pandemic is a prime example of this.

    Is there a particular person who helped get you to where you are today? 

    There are numerous people who have helped me get where I am today. The first person who started me on my path was a stranger who, based on my customer service skills at the Subway sandwich shop I worked at, offered me my job at US Bank, kickstarting my professional career. Without that initial push, I have no idea if I’d have the ambition to take the risks I have.

    When I got my job as a flight attendant, my friends and family were extremely supportive. I was afraid to leave my home in Oregon along with everything and everyone I knew. My best friend gave me the encouragement I needed to move to Texas and take on the unknown.

    When the Covid-19 pandemic hit and my career was in jeopardy, my partner gave me unwavering support as I returned to school. I could not have done it without his help. Since I have become a member of NFBPWC, each member I have interacted with has also helped me get to where I am. Especially NYC president Nermin Ahmad, NYC secretary Voyka Soto, and my fellow intern and friend Djenabou Bah. Each of these ladies pushes me to be my best self and I am incredibly grateful for them.

    How did you find BPW? Tell us about one memorable experience you've had with the club so far!

    I found BPW through an internship at my college. I was selected for the Edward Koch Public Service Fellowship in summer 2021. NFBPWC/NYC was listed as a partner organization through the fellowship and I was interested in the UN/advocacy role available. My internship ended in August, but I am thrilled to continue as a student member.

    The most memorable experience I’ve had with the club so far is being a part of the Afghan Women Project. My desire to help people is what motivated me to return to college, and I feel that is exactly what the Afghan Women Project is accomplishing.

    How can the BPW club and its members help you on your career path? What do you wish we knew about you and your pursuits?

    I would love to be more involved in our work with the UN!

    Would you like to share how you have evolved since Covid-19 disrupted 'normal' business life?

    My life was changed drastically by Covid-19! Before the pandemic I was comfortable in my career as a flight attendant. I sometimes struggled with feeling as though my work was not particularly fulfilling but didn’t do much to change that. When the pandemic hit, it upended my career. I knew I was going to be furloughed so I took the opportunity to make some big life changes. I decided to return to school and finish my bachelor’s degree and try to find a career that brought me more fulfillment. I went from being a career flight attendant to a mature student returning to college. It has been an immense change, but I am so grateful for it. I am now back to flying and trying to balance my flight attendant career with the new opportunities.

    Connect with Emily on:

  • 10 Nov 2021 3:57 PM | Lea-Ann W. Berst (Administrator)

    Djenabou Bah was born and raised in Ivory Coast but her parents come from Guinea, Conakry, both counties in west Africa. She is a native French speaker and loves outdoor activities and adventures that do not involve heights! She likes tourism because it gives her the possibility to travel around the world to learn more about other cultures, meet new people and taste homemade food which allows her to try new recipes. She loves cooking!

    Djenabou also likes spending her free time volunteering for food pantries, soup kitchens, Food Banks and other organizations that help people like Habitat for Humanity. She is interested in working with non-government organizations that are concerned with social issues especially poverty, unemployment, women's issues and quality education.

    What is the name of your BPW Club?

    I am member of the NFBPWC/NYC Chapter. I live in NY City in Manhattan precisely in Harlem.

    Where do you attend school? What are you studying?

    I have a degree in Tourism Management from "L’Ecole Supérieure du Tourisme et de l’Hôtellerie (ESTH)" in my country Guinea before coming to the US in 2017 to study. I first attended the CUNY Borough of Manhattan community college (BMCC) where I got my associate degree in Liberal Arts. Then I transferred to CUNY City College of New York (CCNY) where I am doing my bachelor's degree in International Studies with a concentration in Development and a minor in Community Change Studies.

    What are your career aspirations? 

    I want to create a non-government organization (NGO) that will focus on development and tackle social issues such as quality education, unemployment, women's issues and developing the tourism sector of my country.

    I want to find a way to engage the national government to invest in its tourism sector, invite shareholders and partners to the country, and facilitate excursions for the country to become a world-class tourist destination both in Africa and in the world. This will not only boost Guinea’s economy, but also create several job opportunities for the populations.

    My current objective is to obtain a position within a non-government or international organization that will fully utilize my skills and offer me an opportunity for continued professional growth.

    I aspire to work with international with UNDP, UNICEF and USAID and also non-profit organizations that have the task of achieving sustainable economic growth and human development. I am doing all my best to make this happen by participating in many programs that have influenced my development by providing me with opportunities to develop my advocacy skill and learn how to identify and access key city, state, and federal government stakeholders.

    School programs such as the CUNY USS (University Student Senate) and the CUNY Malave Leadership Academy program I have lobbied in Albany and Washington DC for CUNY students. I have participated in service projects that address issues important to The City University of New York (CUNY).

    This has helped me develop leadership values and skills through experiential civic engagement, advocacy activities, and leadership competency training.

    I have learned how to be an effective leader both within CUNY and in my community.

    I am also making sure to do as many internships as possible before I finish my studies. Among them is the CUNY Women’s Public Service Internship Program which is coordinated by Edward T. Rogowsky Internship Program in Government & Public Affairs -- which provide students the opportunity to learn by doing in the offices of selected legislators working to benefit women and promote women’s issues in New York.

    As I also want to know how the organizations I want to work with attain their goals. That is why I joined the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs (NFBPWC) as an intern as its' mission is to " develop the professional, business, and leadership potential of women." NFBPWC works to empower women through education, advocacy, mentoring, networking, skill-building, and economic empowerment programs and projects. This is a perfect organization to work with as I will have the opportunity to learn those things while interning.

    What brought you to this career path?

    I am passionate about anything related to international development. That includes tourism because it can be a tool for developing a country especially if that country has the criteria necessary which Guinea has. Guinea has a varied tourist and cultural potential. Its biological diversity conceals appreciable aesthetic values, diverse and varied natural beauties composed of natural parks and aquariums, thermal springs, specific animal species and mountain ranges with numerous rivers, wide coastal beaches with dense forest, the foothills of the Fouta Djallon and the vast plains drained by the Niger river and its tributaries. The country has a seafront of 300 km and a continental shelf of 56,000 km2 among the largest in West Africa extending up to 80 nautical miles from the coast.

    Unfortunately, this is not known to the rest of the world. So, I want to be able to participate in developing this sector in my country. Access to quality education, lack of job opportunities and women's issues is something my country is struggling with. So, I feel obligated to help find solutions to those problems.

    Can you tell us about an important lesson you've learned in your career so far?

    1. One of the things I learned and am still trying to apply is that: if you do not show your work and achievements or talk about them, you will not be seen or recognized. From where I come from, that would have been considered bragging about yourself. But here making sure that everyone knows the good work you are doing or did is putting yourself in front of the podium which can open a lot of doors for you.
    2. Another thing I also learned, whatever career you are pursuing, make sure to get enough experiences and skills as it sets you up to the game and gives you more change and opportunities. So, for someone that is still in school, I will suggest doing as many internships as possible, attend workshops and do some training and participate in projects and also learn a second language if possible before entering the job market.

    Is there a particular person who helped get you to where you are today? 

    There has not been only one person that helped me get to where I am today and I could spend a whole day sharing stories about them.

    • My family, especially my mom and dad have always supported me and made everything possible for me to get an education even though they did not get a chance to have one.
    • My friends from both my country or here have also played a role by supporting and encouraging me as much as they could.
    • Also, faculty and staff from both my schools, the Borough of Manhattan Community College and City College of New York have played a significant role by providing me with learning material and opportunities from both in school and outside school for my professional growth and personal development. 
    • Members from the NFBPWC have also helped by not only mentoring me but also providing me the tools necessary for my future career. I am so grateful and feel blessed to have crossed paths with all these amazing people.

    How did you find BPW? What is one memorable experience you've had with the Club so far?

    I found out about BPW through the City College Edward I. Koch Fellowship in Public Service for Summer 2021. Deborah Cheng, the Director of Fellowships and Public Service Partnerships introduced me to the Club which was in their partner list for the summer internship which I was more than happy to join after learning about what the NFBPWC/NYC does.

    Every day spent with this Club and its members, especially Nermin Ahmad the President of the Club and Voyka Soto the Secretary, who I have been working closely with during my internship is a memorable experience for me. I am so amazed about those women's dedication and passion about what they are doing and also about the knowledge and experience they have.

    Another experience is tied to our Afghan Women Project. Even though our internships have come to an end, my friend Emily VanVleck, another hard-working person who I have come to have a strong relation with and have continued as student members of the Club and have been instrumental in developing the Afghan Women Project. Our President fully supports us, and the National President, Megan Shellman-Rickard has made it a priority project for the national organization. This project aims to assist displaced Afghan women and girls arriving as they adapt to life in the US.

    We aim to make the transition smoother and reduce some of the shell shocks that come with sudden migrating to a new country. We have a multi-dimensional project for assisting these women. This includes

    • a guidebook for ease of adaptation to ‘American life’, 
    • a robust mentoring program, 
    • an advocacy campaign, and 
    • resource gathering. 

    Many of the fleeing refugees could only bring with them what they were wearing. We have found that there is an urgent need to assist them with new goods such as undergarments and gently used clothing, particularly head coverings such as large scarves. Our organization has already started a restrictive clothing drive for these items which are delivered to the women on the military base where they are being processed. Emily and I have also reached out to our school for assistance in this project which was very welcome and supported by dean Andrew Rich and his staff who are doing their best to assist us.

    I can not express enough how happy and grateful to be part of this amazing project. I have always wanted to work on such a big project and now I am part of it, I will do my best for its success. This is an experience I am not going to forget.

    How can the BPW Club and its members help you on your career path? What do you wish we knew about you and your pursuits?

    BPW is already equipping me with practical skills, experiences and knowledge which will increase my self-confidence. I joined the Club in the Grant Development and Management position. I was tasked to:

    • Identify suitable grant opportunities for the Club and those to engage in for advocacy
    • Assist with relevant topic research
    • Assist with grant applications and grant writing
    • Coordinate and follow-up with grant partners and participants
    • Generate and analyze reports and make general presentations of information. 

    I did not know much about grants before joining the Club but I have learned so much about it now and am still continuing learning. I know for sure this will set me up for jobs in development and fundraising which all nonprofits have to engage in.

    I am more than happy with this internship as I am not only learning more about non-profits work but also help the Club fulfill its mission to “develop the professional, business and leadership potential of women at all levels, advocate and to strive toward equal participation of women and men in power and decision-making roles.”

    This is also exposing me to a broader professional network where I can get to know people who may be or have been in similar situations as me or have continued to advance in their career and can help me take that next step toward where I want to be. I truly believe that I will fulfill my potential by working with the Club.

    Would you like to share how you have evolved since Covid-19 disrupted 'normal' business life?

    Before Covid-19, I hated online classes, remote learning or virtual meetings and was always avoiding them. I like human interaction, so, I tend to be bored, lose focus and concentration virtually. However, this has changed in some way since I started taking remote classes due to the pandemic. It was either I took those classes remotely or wait until school started in person which was not clear. I did not want to waste my time, so I tried.

    At the beginning, I really struggled, especially with classes with longer hours. But, education is something I have learned to value since I was young. I know and believe in the importance of earning a college degree through hard work and dedication. I finally got used to it and even found that it has some advantages for me. I was able to:

    • Save money for my monthly MetroCard for transportation, 
    • Cook more often than to buy food outside which I did not even like, 
    • Finish my classes and go to my work without leaving my room since my job also moved remotely,
    • Intern with organizations and companies, attend workshops and other programs which would have required me to travel long distances and in other cities,
    • Learn more about computer skills and be familiar with many computer programs and software. 

    I am happy to have experienced it as I learned a lot and saved money and time. However, as I said, I like interacting with people. So, I can not wait for things to get back to how it was.

    Connect with Djenabou!


    Anything else you'd like to share? 

    In regard to the Afghan Women Project, we are looking for immigrants to interview for our guidebook, all names will remain anonymous. 

    • If you want to share your Experience Settling into the American Way of Life: click here for a Google Doc.
    • If you are interested in assisting with this project, please fill out this quick survey.
    • Contribute to our direct fundraising campaign for displaced Afghan women in the United States. We will be purchasing and providing new undergarments (panties, bras, socks) that are modest. DONATE HERE
    • Email the leaders of this Special Committee at Let us know how you can support us with these goals in mind.
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