The Spelman Boston Alumnae chapter has returned with a bang. Hard fought and much deserved, the chapter and the new executive board (Tavina Offutt, Queen Pilar Symone, Kerri-Lynne Kellam, Bridget-Ray Canada, and Alisha Caliman) and many Spelman Alumnae in the community participated in the first event at Siros Restaurant in Marina Bay on June 20th.
There are many more events on the books, including a Spelman Send-off for the upcoming first year students. If you are interested in learning about these events and more, please email the group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, let me introduce you to the new executive board.
Tavina Offutt, President
Tavina Offutt was raised in Chicago, Ill and Tampa, Fl. She graduated from Spelman College in 2010 with a B.S in Chemistry. She completed her PhD in Chemistry from the University of California, San Diego. She is currently Co-Founder and CEO of STEMing LLC, an educational consulting company that the improves outcomes of graduate and undergraduate students in STEM fields, especially URM and female students, through in-person workshops, individual and group coaching, and editing services. Tavina enjoys volunteering, traveling, exercising, hanging out at the beach, writing, dancing, and watching movies. Tavina is excited to help revive the Spelman Boston chapter, because she loves the Spelman sisterhood, and wants to ensure that Spelman College has a strong presence in the Boston area.
Vision for Spelman Boston/Message from President
I envision the Boston Chapter of NAASC as being a community where Spelman alumnae who matriculate into the Boston area can find sisterhood beyond the Spelman gates. I can still recall when I initially moved to Boston upon graduating from Spelman; it was a huge cultural shock. Meeting Spelman women in the Boston area significantly impacted my transition in a positive way, and I want to ensure that we continue to provide that community of sisterhood in Boston.
I also look forward to establishing and cultivating existing partnerships with organizations in the community to serve the Boston area, especially young girls. Boston is such a unique and vibrant city, and the opportunities to significantly impact the surrounding communities are endless. Specifically, I look forward to bringing back the Girls Blueprint Conference, one of our largest signature community programs that provides a space for middle and high school girls to discuss various topics ranging from self-esteem, education, civic engagement, and more. I foresee our presence in the community inspiring young women of color to see themselves at a place like Spelman, and have the tools and resources to accomplish their academic and personal goals. I am thrilled that NAASC Boston is back, and we are ready to make our footprint in the community.
Queen Pilar Symone, Vice President, and Founder and CEO of Empower Our Crown
Pilar was raised in Boston, MA with two biological sisters and many other sisters that she has formed lifetime bonds with over the years. She has always truly valued and committed herself to sisterhood. Thus, she graduated from Spelman College in 2014 with a B.A. in Psychology, where she expanded the number of sisters exponentially— sisters from all over the continental United States and abroad.
Her experiences at Spelman and beyond, as well as her motivation for women’s empowerment, self-love and mental health, stimulated her love for self and others. Pilar has been running girls’ groups for the past decade, has been a “big sister” to young girls, and tutors and mentors teen girls at risk. For the past three years, Pilar has served as School Counselor and Mental Health Advocate to empower women and girls to achieve a healthy mind, body, and spirit.
In 2017, Pilar created a platform for women and girls of color who shared the desire to develop self-love and self-confidence, as well as identify their God-given purpose. She launched the “Black Girl Magic Brunch” in June of 2017 and in December of 2018, which provides a safe space for women and girls of color to celebrate individuality and sisterhood, as well as to network and identify steps to build overall excellence.
Pilar is committed to walking in her truth, walking by faith, growing in self-love and loving others the way God loves all. She is dedicated to changing the narrative for women and girls of color by providing a space that inspires self-love, encourages self- growth, promotes unity, and advances individual and community prosperity.
Kerri-Lynne Kellam, Treasurer
Kerri-Lynne was raised in Boston and graduated from Spelman with a B.A. in Psychology in 2009. From the moment she attended Spelman, Kerri-Lynne knew her life would be forever changed. The sisterhood has and will always mean everything to her. There is just something so special about Spelman Women. Kerri-Lynne can remember meeting alumnae who still had a passion for their beloved Spelman. This story inspired her to be active during her time at Spelman and now after graduating. Our Spelman hymn begins with the phrase, “Spelman thy name we praise…” Serving as Treasure for the Boston NAASC Chapter is Kerri-Lynne’s way of praising Spelman for all it’s done for her.
Currently, Kerri-Lynne is the Ambulatory Care Operations Director-Group Practice Manager for Providence VA Medical Center. After Spelman, she received her Master’s in Public Health with a concentration in Health Policy and Administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health. She began working at the Syracuse VA Medical Center in June 2011. Four years ago, she returned back to Boston and joined the Bedford VA Medical Center.
As Kerri-Lynne truly believes in service, she is a member of the American College for Healthcare Executives (ACHE) and serves as the organization’s Early Careerist Network Co-Chair for the Membership and Networking Committees. She is a member of the Black Caucus of Health Workers, American Public Health Association, and Women in Healthcare Management Organization. She embraces and values diversity within healthcare and has always tried to stay engaged by enhancing and promoting diversity to improve the quality of her organization’s workforce. Kerri-Lynne is also a mentor through Year Up Boston and the ACHE’s Mentoring Program.
She is extremely excited to take her personal and professional experiences to help the Boston chapter grow and thrive. More importantly, she is excited to get to know everyone better and continue building our sisterhood beyond the Spelman walls.
Bridget Ray-Canada, Recording Secretary
Class of 1989, Bridget was a dual degree engineering major at Spelman and majored in Physics and Industrial Engineering (Ga. Tech). She received her MBA from Georgia State in 2010. Bridget currently works for Cabot Corporation as a Global Supply Chain and Feedstock Strategy Manager in the Boston area. She lives in Newton, MA, married, and has two children: a son attending Hampton University in the fall and step-daughter who lives in Atlanta.
Bridget is involved in several organizations and initiatives that reflect her passion for service. She was elected to the Newton School Committee in 2017 and is currently in the process of running for a 2ndterm. She has volunteered with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO), Newton PTO, Inroads Alumni Mock Interviewers, 2016 Blueprint Conference planning committee, and participated on several STEM panels for young girls. She enjoys traveling, reading, and working out. She believes self-reflection is important to grow. Iyanla Vanzant said it best, “The journey into self-love and self-acceptance must begin with self-examination. Until you take the journey of self-reflection, it is almost impossible to grow or learn in life”.
Bridget is excited to be involved in reviving the Boston chapter and hope other Spelman sisters in the area join the efforts to make this a vibrant and strong chapter.
Alisha Caliman, Correspondence Secretary
Alisha D. Caliman graduated from Spelman College with a B.S. in Biology. Afterwards, she received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of California, San Diego. She currently works for the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT as a computational chemist.
Alisha is involved in several organizations inside and outside of the Broad Institute. At the Broad Institute, Alisha is on a steering committee called Women@Broad, which is striving towards increasing representation in the computational sciences. In the community, Alisha is Communication’s Chair of BAGIM, which is the computational modeling group representing Boston and hosts 10-12 meetings throughout the year. Most importantly, she is a “Big Sister” in the Big Sister’s Association of Greater Boston, and mentors a 13 year old girl in the community interested in science.
Alisha strongly believes that without her experience at Spelman, she would not have found the strength or courage to spend 6 years getting her Ph.D. at a primarily white institution. For this reason, she wants to give back to the school she loves so much in the best way she know how.
120 Girls. 20 Committee Members. 40 Facilitators. 8 Corporate Sponsors. 50 Individual Donors. 3 Days. Infinite Memories.
The 10th Annual Blueprint Conference for Middle and High School Girls is a weekend like nothing else. From June 10th until June 12th, 2016 the campus of MIT was turned into a safe space for young women to talk, listen and share. More than 40 women of color volunteered their time to conduct workshops on mental and sexual health, self esteem, branding and entrepreneurship. Our young attendees laughed, danced, questioned and offered answers throughout the weekend. Here's a look at the weekend through both photos and videos.
Patti O’Brien-Richardson is an author, professor, health researcher, and mom. Her career in health began in sub-Saharan Africa where she lived for over a decade studying health inequalities among women and children, working with families affected by HIV/AIDS, and managing inter-continental humanitarian projects for cities, communities and villages from Zambia to Madagascar.
As a social entrepreneur, Patti is the founder of Move it Nation, Inc., a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower families to move their minds, bodies and souls. Patti is also the creator of “Move it-n-Groove it”, a childhood obesity prevention fitness curriculum and video series that has been used in over twenty-five schools, serving over 1,000 children in New York and Boston. She also teaches a course she helped develop entitled “Hair: Culture, Politics and Technology” at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Patti is in the process of completing the final year of her doctoral program at Rutgers University where she studies cultural hair practices and physical inactivity among urban African-American girls. She recently started an afterschool program based on this research called GLAMM (Girls Leading and Moving More) that combines hair and health education with movement and leadership skills. In her spare time, Patti enjoys yoga, baking, biking and gardening with her four daughters, triplets plus one.
Patti, joined by her triplet daughters, will be our keynote speaker for the 10th Annual Blueprint Conference for Middle and High School Girls. We are excited to have Patti share her motivations and also how she's empowering her own girls to be future leaders. For the first time, we have expanded to an additional evening that will involve both parent/guardian and our conference attendees. Friday night will invite both parents and daughters to share questions, concerns and solutions through a night of open dialogue.
To learn more about Patti's work, check out her blog or connect with her on social media at @moveitwithpatti.
As a Wholistic Health Practitioner & Motivational Speaker, Katia Powell has over a decade of experience in healthcare and research, and five years of Doctoral Studies. These years of experience, her own personal journey of losing 200lbs (and keeping it off!) have ignited her passion for being a Health and Wellness Entrepreneur. Katia has also found that being a licensed Zumba Instructor and AFAA Certified Group Exercise Instructor, “allow me to be a part of something innovative, creative and bigger than myself to solve a problem that society can benefit from.” Katia shared, “I want to create a living legacy that has an impact beyond my lifetime.”
Ms. Powell always knew she wanted to be her own boss and make her own rules. She is the CEO and Founder of Black Girls Nutrition (BGN), the social network that understands your nutritional needs and provides 24/7 support through technology. BGN’s motto is to "Lose the Weight, NOT your culture!" The company is grounded in a mission to inspire and motivate women and girls of color to release unhealthy nutritional habits, design a healthy lifestyle, and intentionally empower each other to walk in their own truth. Some of the best advice she received was: You can’t be poor while being poor – learn to marry your passion with profit.
Katia is an active member in her own community. She currently serves on the Board of the Fenway CDC, the Planning Committee for the New England Science Symposium at Harvard Medical School, is a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar, and a member of the Health Committee for the NAACP Boston Branch.
Katia is no stranger to the Blueprint Conference. A few years ago, Katia led a Zumba physical activity and is ready to participate again this year. Her hope is to inspire within each Conference attendee that “anything they want to achieve is POSSIBLE with the right resources and mentors. It will take hard work but the payoff is so worth it in the end.” This year Katia will be sharing her story to becoming an entrepreneur and using technology as a facilitator for our Ideation workshop.
For as long as she can remember, Anna Foster has always thought like an entrepreneur; a skill that has helped her carve out her niche as a visionary leader and “maven” in the worlds of business consulting, fashion, lifestyle and beauty. Owner of A Maven’s World Lifestyle Brand and president of Eat, Drink, Dress Live Magazine, Anna is a respected businesswoman, highly sought after for her consulting services in marketing and branding, and lauded for her ability to inspire and motivate entrepreneurs, organizations, and corporations in Boston and beyond. “I love being involved in a vision that surpasses your expectation of success,” she says. “The best advice I’ve received, and I give, is to focus on being the best you. Controlling your brand ultimately lets you control your destiny.”
One glance at her resume, and it’s clear that this advice has come in handy for Anna both in- and outside the boardroom. The recipient of business and law degrees from Suffolk University, Anna serves as the Vice Chair of the Network for Women in Business-Massachusetts and host of the radio talk show “Life is Fabulous with Anna Foster” on WZBR 1410 AM. These diverse experiences set her apart as a tenacious business leader, who sees tough skin, innovation, and diligence as key characteristics of any entrepreneur. “Being a boss means not just standing up and accepting ownership and responsibility when the business is successful, but also through its failures,” she says. “Life is made up of choices. Choose wisely, make smart decisions, and you will have a much better chance of being successful.”
Anna will facilitate both Branding and Finding your Passion/Public Speaking workshops at this year’s Blueprint Conference for Middle & High School Girls. To learn more about her, visit her website or connect with her on social media at @amavensworld.