American Airlines African American Diversity Network Hosted Conference for Employees in Tempe

Conferees donating a cargo van filled with needed toiletries, sundries and personal care products for the Sojourner Center for Domestic Violence and Abuse.

Conferees donating a cargo van filled with needed toiletries, sundries and personal care products for the Sojourner Center for Domestic Violence and Abuse.

Story written Brian W. Mosley

“Take a leap of faith,” to leverage your career and help your community Karl Gentles, implored more than 100 employees and guests of American Airlines’ 2016 National Development Conference of the African American Diversity Network in Tempe last weekend.

Gentles explained how he leveraged his strength to help build a successful public relations firm, the Good Wright Gentiles Agency, through the recession and urged attendees from across the nation, and several attendees from Canada and Belgium, to engage their talents maximally. His experience, as one of the first African Americans to work locally in Senator John McCain’s office, lent to his point to leverage one’s skills to be assertive, and to communicate artfully, but clearly, to help create solutions for American Airlines’ goal as a formidable global transportation platform.

Douglas Parker, CEO of the nation’s largest airline, by revenue, addressed conferees and engaged them in a dialogue Friday evening at the opening reception of AADN, held at the Halle Heart Children’s Museum of the American Heart Association in Tempe. “It was a great opportunity to learn more about the direction of the airline as he allowed us to ask questions, first” said Robert Williams an attendee from Dallas said of Parker’s comments.

Charles “Chuck” Schubert, vice president for operations and crew performance, talked of the new employee recruitment effort at Howard University and other Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) but also impressed on the audience those who have merited promotions, in part, through the culture and mission of the corporation. He applauded the conference theme, “A Foundation for a Diverse American,” as an inclusive theme that recognized the corporation’s mission, its employees and the communities it serves. By way of background, American Airlines Group, Inc., through the merger of AMR with US Airlines Group, Inc., in 2013, remains one of the state’s largest employers headquartered in Dallas and Tempe with more than 10,000 employees statewide, according to the 2015 Arizona Republic’s 100 survey.

Bridget Tarkington, who is the Diversity Advisory Council Representative and Chair of the Conference locally, organized the conference with help from the AADN Phoenix Chapter, Robin Hicks-Robinson, Ria Morales, Veronica Holden, Julia Bethea and Abina Phillips. She also gave special achievement recognition to those who gave of their talents and resources outside of their day jobs. The civic club, “Buffalo Troopers Motorcycle Riders” spectacularly served as honor guards and presented the colors of the flag followed by a richly intoned rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by “Brothers with Soul.”

Noted author and motivational speaker Dr. Will Moreland asked conferees to “stretch” and learn, knowing that their initial experience may be uncomfortable, but crucial to their growth. Moreland talked of his experience growing up in Compton, among gangs and daily shootings, and learning from his experiences as an US Army veteran, and guiding his career, through mentors, to earn his doctorate degree. “We are all the same, inside,” Moreland said. The conference, which now enjoys more than 10 chapters across the nation, emanated out of the need for mentoring and fostering better communication and networking opportunities for employees and their careers as an investment in their futures.

Culinary artist Gerry Garvin and American Airlines Federal Credit Union Manager Cynthia Coleman hosted, among others, impactful and informative workshops for attendees.

At the end of the day, conferees capped their engagement by donating a cargo van filled with needed toiletries, sundries and personal care products for the Sojourner Center for Domestic Violence and Abuse. The center, open since 1977, has provided shelter for women and for thousands of families at risk. Donations may be made to the following website: https://www.sojournercenter.org/about-us.

 

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