It’s not enough to identify and rally around the young rising stars in our communities, we must also “want to handhold [them].”
That’s what technologist Jumoke Dada said at Leading into the NExT Century, a leadership conference hosted by NExT Philadelphia, the Urban League’s network of young professionals.
By “handhold,” Dada and her fellow panelists — women from the finance and healthcare industries — emphasized the importance of taking a personal touch with young people. It’s a sentiment that resonated deeply with attendee Zarifa Roberson, who believes in the importance of supplying young people with the opportunity to “see life outside of Philadelphia because so many don’t get [that] chance.”
Hosted last Saturday, Leading into the NExT Century focused on equipping young Philadelphian professionals with vital leadership skills for their careers and highlighting industry growth in several key sectors in the city. To better understand the future of business trades for young African Americans in the area, NExT hosted an industry specific panel that featured Dada, cofounder of Project ALOE and founder of Tech Women Network; Dixieanne James, VP of strategic planning and business development for Albert Einstein Healthcare Network and Jasmine Richards, lead international equity analyst at FIS Group.
Next Tuesday Drexel’s ExCITe Center will feature a poignant discussion about how we need to be more innovative about tackling education inequality in a talk led by guest speaker Leah Buechley. When Buechley was younger she saw a deep divide between arts and sciences. She is now a designer, engineer and educator and is known for inventing whimsical pieces of technology, like the LilyPad Arduino toolkit. Initially, she concentrated on sharing her creations with young people outside of school hours in order to show how art can be used to expand technology beyond our imagination.
However, as her own child approaches school age, Buechley has become more introspective about the gap between technology and learning innovations and the various issues within our education system. She’s especially invested in confronting how diversity and inequality in our education system impacts young students and progressive methods that we can use to tackle these issues.