In honor of Black History Month, every Wednesday in February Glendale Unified School District will host special webinar series featuring Black and African American leaders who serve their communities in wonderful and different ways. The theme for Black History Month 2021 is The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity. We encourage all students to participate in these webinars to learn more and celebrate Black History.
Wednesday, February 3
DeMark Liggins is the Chief of Staff/CFO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The SCLC is the venerable civil rights organization, founded in 1957 and is most noted for its founding President, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Many of the stalwart leaders in movement came out of SCLC and Mr. Liggins follows in the footsteps of such noted leaders as Ambassador Andrew Young, Dr. Bernard LaFayette Jr., Rep. John Lewis, Rev. C.T. Vivian and others. The organization is committed to faith-based community advocacy, with non-violent direct action being the lynch pin of its movement. Additionally, the organization partners with municipalities, corporations, foundation and philanthropic interest on strategies and initiatives that are particular concern to minorities, the working poor, and traditionally disenfranchised and marginalized groups. Mr. Liggins is responsible for managing the organizations staff as well as point of contact for its external partnerships. These partnerships include the Kingian Nonviolence training the company facilitates, corporate strategic alignments, panel discussion, keynote speaking engagements, etc.… Additionally, he is the project manager on most of the organizations nationwide special events. As CFO he also oversees the organizations budget and accounting functions.
He also manages the publisher role for the SCLC Magazine the company’s official publication. He is a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. and spends time working with the newly minted Council for Black Progress and is was a co-founder of My54.org. He was a member of Leadership Montgomery Class XXI, served on the board for Leadership Montgomery, a member of the Project Understanding 2017 class of the Atlanta Black and Jewish Coalition and has served as a CASA for Dekalb County as well as an advisor to the Atlanta National Urban League and New Leaders Council.
World renowned saxophonist Mike Phillips is known as one of the most electrifying instrumentalists today. Mike is the only musician in the world to have recorded and toured with the legendary “Big Three” of American soul and pop music: Michael Jackson, Prince, and Stevie Wonder. Prince once quoted “I was offstage, listening to Michael Phillips take his solo. I was thinking ‘Wow, listen to those people responding, and all he’s doing is playing a saxophone.’ They can feel that what he’s doing is real. So many shows now…they are so dead. But here’s one man breathing into an instrument, and the whole room feels alive. It made me want to rise up to that level when I came back onstage.”
Mike is the first non-athlete signed by Michael Jordan to the Nike Jordan Brand, and is no stranger to the professional sports world. Phillips has performed the national anthem for the PGA, MLB, NBA, and NFL. His version of the anthem during the 2016 NFC Championship was deemed one of the best ever done instrumentally and is known as the “SAXTHEM”. In addition, he has played three (3) NFL halftime shows with various artists and served as Music Director for the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration.
Mike’s latest album “Pulling Off The Covers” (SRG) features a host of friends including; Stevie Wonder, Brian McKnight, Trombone Shorty, Keyon Harrold, Leela James, PJ Morton, Avery*Sunshine, Raheem DeVaughn, and Eric Roberson to name a few.
Wednesday, February 10
Joi Blume is a skilled commercial insurance professional who has worked in the insurance industry for over 10 years. She is a highly motivated insurance professional – having a true zest for the industry. Joi is currently AVP-Underwriter at Intact Insurance Specialty Solutions f/k/a OneBeacon Insurance Group where she participates on large comprehensive specialty property placements. Blume has been recognized by Insurance Business America as an insurance “Young Gun” and was named in The Alabama State University 2020 Class of 50 Under 50. She is passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion and women succeeding in male-dominated industries. Joi holds a B.A. in Communications and an MBA; she is a licensed Property and Casualty agent for the State of Georgia. Joi is an active member and serves as an officer for the Atlanta Association of Insurance Professionals (AAIP) the local chapter of the National African-American Insurance Association (NAAIA).
Wednesday, February 17 - Panel Discussion
Cheryl Brown Pollard is an Engineering Project Manager within Lockheed Martin Rotary and Missions Systems (RMS) in Marietta, GA. Supporting the C-130J Maintenance and Aircrew Training System (JMATS) team, Cheryl serves at the Lead Systems Engineer responsible for project cost, schedule, technical and subcontractor management of several military aircraft weapon system training devices across the world. Previously, Cheryl was employed with Raytheon Company and was awarded the 2012 RMS Presidential Up and Coming Award for her work in anti-tamper, exploitation and systems security engineering.Cheryl is a member of the Mount Paran Church Atlanta, National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), the International Council of Systems Engineers (INCOSE), and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.A native of Woodville, Mississippi, Cheryl holds a Master’s degree in Systems Engineering from The Johns Hopkins University and Bachelors in Computer Engineering from Thee Jackson State University. In her spare time, she enjoys painting and hiking with her husband Emmett and son, Emmett “Chip” III.
Michelle Rojas-Soto is managing director at Encompass, a nonprofit racial equity consultancy. Throughout her career, Michelle has been an advocate for racial justice, women’s rights, disability rights, and LGBTQ+ rights. She is currently the social justice director at the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council, and serves on the Coalition for an Anti-Racist Glendale. She was a founding member of Gender Equity in Animal Rights (GEAR), served as treasurer for Pearls of Africa Children’s Home in Gulu, Uganda, and was co-organizer for LA Tech4Good. Michelle has a Master’s in Biology from Caltech and a Master’s in Business Administration from USC. She lives in Los Angeles, CA with her husband and four children.
Credit Products Associate, Govt. and Institutional Banking, Regions Bank
Eboni Walker is a veteran and professionally certified coach & mentor. A mom who knows the struggle of trying to balance a career and family. In her coaching practice, she provides the tools, strategies, and support to help people create meaningful change in their lives. She has spoken at several conferences and events and is a go-to panelist for all things parenting, relationships, and goal setting. Eboni loves her work because helping people achieve success and fulfillment is deeply meaningful to her.
Before coaching, Eboni spent eleven years in the military, where she certified as a Master Resilience Trainer and Sexual Assault Prevention & Response advocate, which have made a significant contribution to her foundation as a coach. She enjoys spending time with her family, singing, and cooking when she is not busy transforming lives as a Homemaker, Life Coach, and Marriage Mentor.
Session on Wednesday, February 24
Gerda Govine Ituarte, Ed.D.
Ituarte is the author of four poetry collections, Poetry Within Reach in Unexpected Places (2018), Future Awakes in Mouth of Now (2016), Alterations | Thread Light Through Eye of Storm (2015), and Oh, Where is My Candle Hat? (2012). She established the Pasadena Rose Poets in 2016. In February 2017 and created poetry readings at Pasadena City Council Meetings. Served as Editor of the Pasadena Rose Poets Poetry Collection 2019 Reflection Resistance. Reckoning. Resurrection. Five of her poems are included in the award-winning When the Virus Came Calling COVID-19 Strikes America, September 2020 featuring 45 writers from across the country. Her work has been published in domestic and international publications. Pasadena Magazine, January/February 2021 issue, interviewed her as the “Pasadena Poetry Lady.” Govine Ituarte read at diverse venues in Los Angeles and San Diego Counties including Glendale Unified School District, Pasadena Unified School District, South Pasadena School District, Huntington Gardens, LitFest Pasadena, Pasadena Museum of California Art, Vromans Bookstore, Commission for Women Los Angeles County, Art Produce, The Front Gallery and Bonita Museum. International venues include British Columbia, Canada, Ceréte, Colombia; Havana, Cuba; and Tijuana, B.C., Mexico. She continues to read poetry on Zoom with domestic and international poets, educators, and other professional groups.
Govine Ituarte received her Ed.D. from Teachers College Columbia. She is a former high school teacher and lecturer at colleges and universities. Her family immigrated to New York City from St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands when she was nine.