Carl Howell Fall
Carl Howell Fall

CTI Celebrates Local Black Leaders of Excellence ~ Carl W. Howell

Throughout Black History Month, CTI has been publishing profile features of local Black leaders to celebrate #LowellBlackExcellence. Check back regularly throughout the year as we continue to honor leaders by learning about their experiences, perspectives, and the wisdom they share in our local, national and international communities.

Carl W. Howell

Nominated by Community Teamwork, Inc.

What is your title/role/organization and/or involvement in the community?

  • CPO at Community Teamwork and Advocate

What does Black History Month Mean to you?

  • Black History Month to me is both humbling and upsetting. This month traditionally recognizes and honors Black Excellence and it is humbling learning about the people that helped shape this country. However, Black History is American History and I find myself exasperated by the tokenism that occurs during the month. Our impact on American history ought to be promoted throughout the year and not just a 28-day period of time. The African-American is a community that had their culture and origins erased. At times, Black History Month reminds me of that as well as how our contributions over the last 400 years continue to be diminished and concealed.

What can the community do more of to recognize Black History during the year?

  • Communities can make a concerted effort to address their curriculum in their educational institutions to bring awareness to Black History that is beyond slavery but makes our youth and college students aware of our country’s real history- the good and the ugly.  I also feel communities should make more intentional efforts to identify Black figures to honor and promote- both historical and current. Its important to recognize the Martins and Malcolms in our history but it is just as impactful to identify the history and community leaders from the community.

What has been the most rewarding part of your commitment to the community?

  • The most rewarding aspects is experiencing changes in the community that was caused by our commitment and resilience. Changes that are systemic may not have an immediate impact but overtime it has the ability to impact generations.

What advice would you give to future generations of leaders in the community?

  • Find what you are passionate about and fuel that passion. Whatever it is that you are doing, find people that lift you up and help you grow and stay away from those that don’t. Lastly, leaders are life long learners, you can never know enough and you can change your perspective through listening more and talking less.

How did you become inspired to make a difference in your community?

  • As a young person, I benefited from some adults who cared enough to set an example for me. From a young age I witnessed the impact that small gestures and advocacy can do for people who are disadvantaged. Since I was a teenager, I have been motivated to help others and improve my community.

What advice would you give to young people looking to make a positive influence in their community?

  • For the next generation, your lived experience is your power. Us old-heads will try to dismiss your naivety and lack of experience but don’t listen and keep speaking from your truth. It is always the young people that influence the greatest changes- show-up and show-out!

What was the most difficult obstacle you had to overcome to become a leader in your community?

  • The most difficult obstacles I’ve had to overcome would fall under two topics. The first, is overcoming my own insecurities. Imposter syndrome is a negative mindset that at times can be challenging to overcome and is a constant obstacle to overcome. The second, is navigating the negativity that comes with challenging the status quo. I’ve learned when you begin experiencing antagonism from those that are benefitting from the status quo, you are talking about the heart of the issue. This doesn’t make it easier but helps me find comfort in the opposition.

#LowellBlackExcellence #CommunityLeader #Leadership #Appreciation #BlackHistoryMonth #BlackLivesMatter #grateful #DEIatCTI

Isa Woldeguiorguis
Isa Woldeguiorguis

CTI Celebrates Local Black Leaders of Excellence ~ Isa Woldeguiorguis

Isa Woldeguiorguis

Nominated by Carl Howell, CPO, Community Teamwork, Inc.

Isa Woldeguiorguis – she/her – is the Executive Director of The Center for Hope and Healing Inc. Isa began as the Executive Director of CHH eleven years ago.  Isa has worked in the anti-violence field for twenty years, holding several statewide and national roles. Isa first came to Lowell in 1994 as an intern doing substance abuse alternative sentencing work at the Lowell District Court.

Isa is a well-respected leader and national trainer in the field of children, domestic and sexual violence, systems change, policy and practice. She is well known as a dynamic speaker, trainer with a unique style and teaching skills on these topics and for her activism in the areas of racial disparities. She has authored several articles on topics such as family-centered practice in child welfare, racial and ethnic disproportionality and immigration. She sits on the Board of the Massachusetts Women of Color Network and the National Women of Color Network, Inc.

We are excited to honor Isa Woldeguiorguis for her leadership and dedication in advocating for her community.

To Isa, Black History Month means learning about and celebrating the truth of Black history in this country and around the world. It means lifting up Black excellence, Black joy and Black futures. When asked what can the community do more of to recognize Black History Month during the year, she stated, “There is so much for all of us to learn about Black history. We can all make that commitment. We can also build genuine relationships with Black people, listen and validate our lives and experiences”.

We are privileged to have a strong, and fearless voice in our community. We thank Isa for all of her hard work and dedication to creating a safer, and better city.

#CommunityLeader #Leadership #Appreciation #BlackHistoryMonth #BlackLivesMatter #DEIatCTI #LowellBlackExcellence

Bobby Tugbiyele and familyrev
Bobby Tugbiyele and familyrev

CTI Celebrates Local Black Leaders of Excellence ~ Bobby Tugbiyele

Bobby Tugbiyele

Nominated by Carl Howell, CPO, Community Teamwork

What is your title/role/organization and/or involvement in the community?

I am the Founder and CEO of The Leap Network, LLC a multi-specialty recruitment and consulting firm specializing in the placement of medical professionals and healthcare administrators. Prior to launching my firm in 2017, I was the Recruiting Manager for Lowell Community Health Center and have been in the corporate and non-profit Talent Acquisition, Workforce Development and Human Resources fields since 2005. I currently serve as a Board Member for the Massachusetts Workforce Association, Advisory Board Member for EforAll Merrimack Valley, Corporator for Lowell General Hospital, and Advisory Board Member for University of Massachusetts Lowell College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (FAHSS). I am a former Trustee of the Merrimack Repertory Theatre and former President of the Center City Committee which advocated and spearheaded public-private collaborative projects for the betterment of the downtown area. I am a Co-Founder of The Foundation Mixer, a networking event series for ascending professionals to foster greater connections, engagement, and collaboration. I am also a member of the DEI Consortium- Lowell. I currently reside in Downtown Lowell with my wife and two sons.

What does Black History Month Mean to you?

When I think of Black History Month, I wonder what resistance and roadblocks Carter G. Woodson experienced while fighting for Black history to be taught in public schools. His staunch desire and fight to ensure that Black history wasn’t solely relegated to the history of the transatlantic slave trade, was something that we should all be thankful for. And we should all be thankful and grateful for this because the social, political, and economic fabric and benefits of America would not be what it is today without the ingenuity, sacrifice and perseverance of Black people. I think about W.E.B DuBois and Booker T. Washington and the diversity of thoughts and approaches when addressing the plight of Black people. I think about Ida B. Wells, the racism that existed within the suffrage movement and the rise of Black feminism. As Ida once said, “The very frequent inquiry made after my lectures by interested friends is “What can I do to help the cause?” The answer always is: ‘Tell the world the facts.’” There are forces who are working hard to revise, sanitize, or erase history. To me, the work during Black History Month, and all the days before and after, is simple- Tell the Truth and Fight for it!

What can the community do more of to recognize Black History during the year?

Being of Nigerian ancestry, I have come to understand more and more that there is a real disconnect and understanding of Black history amongst fellow Africans, those in the Caribbean and overall in the diaspora. When Carter G. Woodson wrote “Miseducation of the Negro” in 1933, he argued that schools conditioned Black people to accept a low status in society and not to be proud of their heritage. This conditioning was purposeful and systemic and has caused generations of Black people around the globe to either question their identity or believe they are lesser than. I believe education will always start at home so parents and families have an even greater responsibility to invest in continuous learning and some unlearning so that their children can be more enlightened.  The greater community which, to me, includes educational and political institutions can play a great role by bridging gaps in learning and promote healing through on-going community conversations and ensuring that policies and laws that disproportionately impact Black people are informed by the lived experiences of that community. Recognition of Black History is one step. However, in my opinion, creating and sustaining an environment and culture that invests in it and hold others accountable for it is the harder part. This is the challenge I believe our community faces.  We all have a collective responsibility to read, keep reading, and read some more. Read the good, read the bad and read the ugly. Shielding our young people from history will doom them to repeat it.

How did you become inspired to make a difference in your community?

I am the son of immigrants who left Nigeria in the early 1970s and made a new life for themselves and their children in New York City. At a very young age, I saw what hard work, sacrifice and perseverance looked like. It wasn’t always pretty but it did teach me many lessons that guide me today. I’ve been inspired by my parents, uncles and aunts, cousins, and siblings. I’ve been inspired by teachers who would push me to learn history and develop stronger skills in writing and critical thinking. I’ve been inspired by my in-laws who raised their children with the same values that I was raised in. I remember my parents always sending money back to their relatives in Nigeria to make sure they had clothes on their back or make sure they finished their schooling. Giving back and thinking about others has always been a part of my DNA.

What has been the most rewarding part of your commitment to the community?

Over the past decade, I am truly fortunate to have been surrounded by groups of like-minded Lowellians who believed that the city could do more to be more welcoming. Welcoming not only through the actions of individuals but also within its institutions and its systems. I believe that people will always come and go but the problems tend to remain the same. And so, I have committed myself to working hard to address systemic issues that ultimately impact the lives and livelihoods of so many in the community. There have been many rewarding aspects of my community involvement which, to name a few, include:

  • Successfully co-leading organizing efforts for more Human Resources and DEI investments within Lowell Public Schools, City of Lowell and within non-profit and corporate organizations
  • Successfully engaging over 150 residents around the “Meet The Finalists” campaign to petition the City of Lowell to modernize its hiring and selection process for Chief of Police.
  • Successfully co-leading organizing efforts to push for Human Resources Audits for both City of Lowell and Lowell Public Schools
  • Leading the Center City Committee which advocated and spearheaded public-private collaborative projects and advocacy efforts for the betterment of the downtown area.
  • Successfully co-leading organizing efforts to have the City of Lowell publish Covid-19 data by race and ethnicity setting the stage for declarations of “Racism Is a Public Health Crisis” in Lowell Public Schools and ultimately within the City of Lowell.
  • Co-Founding “The Foundation Mixer” which led to more connections, engagement and collaboration between young professionals and the business, arts, and greater non-profit community.

What advice would you give to future generations of leaders in the community?

Leadership can look and feel differently to many people. Some of our most celebrated humans throughout history were not always public-facing. Many of these individuals operated away from the lime-light and preferred it that way. Sometimes those who are labeled “leaders” are those that the community tend to see most often in various events or are affiliated with specific board(s), companies, organizations, or are known for their philanthropy. I believe that leadership needs to be broadly defined and assessed regardless of title or station in the community. There are too many people who limit themselves or make themselves smaller because they believe they do not have a certain observable status or title in society. And so, to the future generations of leaders, my advice would be for them to lead boldly wherever they feel most comfortable and to never compare themselves to other people. Having a high net worth or an advanced degree or being a life-long resident of a community are not prerequisites to leadership. Ultimately, I believe it’s a heart and mindset thing. Make sure the work you do affects other hearts and minds. This is how change happens!

What advice would you give to young people looking to make a positive influence in their community?

  1. Take risks but do your homework! Being passionate but uninformed, in my opinion, is counterproductive. Take your time in learning the history and the people behind what you’re passionate about so when you speak, write, or engage others in your passion, you are able to provide substance as well as context.
  2. Be ready to stand alone for some time. If you are not willing to take the hits for your passion, then maybe you’re pursuing the wrong thing. The road to making a positive influence isn’t always pretty. You will build relationships along the way, and you will lose some. Be fiercely guided by your north star but understand that not everyone will buy into it initially or ever.
  3. Your uniqueness is your gift. Every human being has a unique skill set. A gift! Our ability to understand and accept what these gifts are and use them in such a way to inspire others will help to make a positive influence in the community. Tapping into your gift is one level. Tapping into other people’s gifts, that’s next level.
  4. You will fall, but always get back up!
  5. Push through fear. If you’re not uncomfortable or scared, you’re not doing it right. The presence of fear or nerves is normal for anyone who cares deeply enough about something. The long road to making a positive influence will require you to look fear and intimidation in the face push through it. The goal is to become more comfortable with being uncomfortable. In my opinion, that’s where the change starts to happen.

What do you hope to accomplish in the future to further your positive impact?

My legacy are my sons. Anything I do in the future or any positive impact I make, will have them in mind. If they can grow up to be active participants for doing good in their community or any line of work they choose, then I will be happy. You can’t become so ambitious and lose your family in the process. We have to think about our children. They will inherit the results of our actions or inactions.

#CommunityLeader #Leadership #Appreciation #BlackHistoryMonth #BlackLivesMatter #DEIatCTI #LowellBlackExcellence

Pictured – Bobby and Alexandra Tugbiyele with their two sons

Maria McDuffie Clark scaled
Maria McDuffie Clark scaled

CTI Celebrates Local Black Leaders of Excellence ~ Maria McDuffie Clark

Maria McDuffie Clark

Nominated and written by Zarais German-George, Youth Navigator, Housing and Homeless Services at CTI

CTI is honored to recognize the Assistant Director of Multicultural Affairs at UMass Lowell, Kids in Tech-Board Chair, Maria McDuffie Clark, during Black History Month for their exemplary dedication to the community.

Maria McDuffie Clark has called Lowell their home since moving from North Carolina to pursue their master’s at UMass Lowell in Community Social Psychology, where they focused on learning the steps to develop civic engagement projects and systematically build community as well as analyze psychological trends that enhance positive social change. During their practicum at UMass Lowell, they served as the African Cultural Club advisor in the Multicultural Center at Middlesex Community College. There, Maria was inspired to use creative solutions to empower students to serve domestically and globally.

After connecting their passion with higher education and social justice, Maria served two years as a member of AmeriCorps Volunteer In Service To America (VISTA) with Massachusetts Campus Compact (MACC). In their second year of service, Maria took on the role of Co-VISTA Leader, supporting 25 VISTAs placed at universities in Massachusetts, leveraging campus resources to partner with community organizations. After their VISTA service, they worked at MCC as the Multicultural & International Student Services Coordinator, guiding diverse students through the enrollment process and engaging students in co-curricular activities centered around identity development and exploration of other identities.

To Maria, Black History Month means expressing a complex history within the U.S. and honoring those who have paved the way. When asked what can the community do more of to recognize Black History Month during the year, they stated, “Learn, unlearn, and then learn again! It’s not enough to attend events just this month. Please learn more about Black History to get a sense of where we can be in the future”.

We are grateful for Maria’s passion in giving back to the community and we thank them for creating leaders along the way.

#BlackHistoryMonth #BLM #DEIatCTI #LowellBlackExcellence #grateful #Leader #appreciation #BlackLivesMatgter #Leadership

Florence Mwangi
Florence Mwangi

CTI Celebrates Local Black Leaders of Excellence ~ Florence Mwangi

Florence Mwangi – Nurse, Founder and Chair Homeless Reform Project

Homeless Reform Project (HRP), 325 Chelmsford Street, Lowell, Massachusetts, Tel: 857 373 9626


Nominated by Elizabeth Wando, Case Manager, Residential Programs, Housing and Homeless Services at Community Teamwork


“I believe that my patience and love for people is what has brought me this far and led to the formation of HRP. I know that nothing is impossible with GOD which is the same attitude I have towards helping people in tough situations.” Change comes by acceptance and trying”.

Our role as Homeless Reform Project (HRP) in our community is to eradicate homelessness by providing hope and shelter to those afflicted. Whether you’re affected or effected, homelessness is a concern to all.

Since the initiation of HRP in February 2019, I have witnessed homeless individuals with alcohol and substance abuse recovering and going back to normalcy, which is very rewarding and, is a motivation to continue.

Black History Month reminds me of the untold stories of all the great heroes who paved the way for us so that we can continue to make a difference in this world. The month is also an excellent reminder, for me to celebrate and teach the new generations of Black and American leaders, who have led the way for us to continue this journey.

I believe that the community can recognize Black history by utilizing the power of reading. If the city of Lowell can build/make little free libraries for the community e.g., at the park, grocery stores, and highlight books from black authors – those focusing on black leaders will bring more awareness to the community. Secondly, recognition and appreciation will also come if the community supports Black-owned businesses in Lowell and its environs and has cultural events and festivities for African Americans and Africans.

#CommunityLeader #Leadership #Appreciation #BlackHistoryMonth #BlackLivesMatter #DEIatCTI #grateful #LowellBlackExcellence

Stacey Thompson rev
Stacey Thompson rev

CTI Celebrates Local Black Leaders of Excellence ~ The Honorable Stacey Thompson

The Honorable Stacey Thompson

Nominated/Interviewed by Carl Howell, Chief Program Officer, Community Teamwork

CTI feels privileged to recognize the Honorable Stacey Thompson, Lowell School Committee Member and the Director of Workforce Learning & Development at Lowell Community Health Center.

Ms. Thompson is the first African-American elected to the School Committee and the first Black woman elected to any municipal office in the City of Lowell. She is humbled by what she feels is a tribute to Birdie Bell Malbory’s dream of an African-American sitting in an elected role after some 40 years since Birdie’s initial campaigns to become a City Councilor. While Ms. Thompson has broken though race and gender barriers, she identifies seeing the changes in engagement in our young people and finally having City leadership declare racism a public health crisis (albeit through contentious spaces and years of folks sharing very painful and traumatic experiences) as two of the most rewarding aspects of her roles as a member of the School Committee and DEI Consortium-Lowell.

Ms. Thompson’s perspective on Black history is that it is American History. It is often limited to stories of a few people and narratives of pain, suffering and poverty. Nevertheless, Black History is so rich.  It does, and should, tell stories of overcoming the cruelties and inhumanity associated with slavery. However, to be a full history, it needs to shine a light on the ingenuity, the impacts, the very sweat equity that has allowed this nation to flourish in the ways that it has. Should it be relegated to one month? Absolutely not – although Ms. Thompson is glad that it does allow for all people to have a central focus and that unified work is done to amplify Black voices, work and people. Stacey expressed that, “Through ongoing conversations, we cannot change the hearts and minds of people without being willing to listen and learn.  If you don’t know about Black history, educate yourself, bring it into your homes, your book clubs, your places of business, and in spaces like affinity clubs. Black history for too long has been seen as a non-priority but, to me, equipping young people and the community with the truth is never secondary. We need accountability to ensure it is being celebrated in every educational space and taught/incorporated throughout the year.”

It has been an honor for Ms. Thompson to experience seeing so many young people engage in her School Committee motions and reach out to her personally to thank her. She was humbled when she learned that her work in the community was being featured by students as a part of the Public School’s Civics Day Project.

Politics was not something Ms. Thompson ever was interested in pursuing. She didn’t have name recognition like some other folks who have either run for office before or who were a part of the political machine. However, she knew she needed to step up for our young people, especially with the civil unrest and the lack of representation in any number of spaces by people who looked like them. Stacey knew it was important for people to see a Black woman holding space and fighting for change – change that would not just be discussed, but implemented.

Her advice for the youth and future leaders “Your voice matters.  NEVER let anyone take your voice from you.  Always walk in integrity.  Remember, this is a MOVEMENT not a MOMENT.   Lastly, your presence, your successes, the use of your voice, and your votes all make a difference. Protect your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health”, and also know that Stacey is there.

The City of Lowell is indebted to Ms. Thompson for her leadership, vulnerability and vision.

#CommunityLeader #Leadership #Appreciation #BlackHistoryMonth #BlackLivesMatter #DEIatCTI #LowellBlackExcellence

Christa Brown Marta Bobinski
Christa Brown Marta Bobinski

CTI Celebrates Local Black Leaders of Excellence ~ Christa Brown

Christa Brown

Christa Brown is a Black, Queer storyteller, actor, and public speaker with a passion for bringing stories to life that have often been under-explored.

Brown founded the Free Soil Arts Collective in 2019 as a means to bridge the gap to opportunities for artists of color in the Merrimack Valley and beyond. The mission of the Free Soil Arts Collective is to seed liberation through storytelling. The Free Soil Arts Collective curates paid opportunities for artists of color, in an environment that promotes and fosters care, agency, and exploration.

Nominated by Marta Bobinski, Lead Case Manager, Housing and Homeless Services, Community Teamwork

We are excited to honor Christa Brown for her leadership and the creative ways she develops opportunities for BIPOC artists in the Merrimack Valley.

Here is a message from Christa on what Black History Month means to her:

“Black History Month is a reminder to celebrate the past, present, and future of Black lives and our contributions to the planet.

Black History Month was proposed and launched by Carter G. Woodson. According to Vanderbilt University, “In 1926, Carter G. Woodson, both the child and the student of formerly enslaved people, proposed and launched the annual February observance of “Negro History Week.” He lobbied schools to participate in a special program to encourage the study of Black history.  February was chosen for the initial week-long celebration to honor the birth months of two abolitionists; Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln.

By the late 1960s, thanks in part to the Civil Rights Movement and a growing awareness of Black pride and identity, Negro History Week had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses. In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month. President Ford called upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

I charge our community to continue to spread the word of our rich Black history right here in Lowell, Massachusetts. It’s the perfect time for our community to formally acknowledge the significance of Black people in Lowell. Not many people know that Lowell High School was the first desegregated public school in the United States or that there are 34 Underground Railroad stops in Lowell, or of the life of Birdie Malbory, the first Black person to run for the Lowell City Council in 1979. She ran three times with her last run in 1989 and did not win. Someone threw rocks and set fire to her campaign office in two separate incidents.

These are facts that should be publicly acknowledged throughout our community. If there’s any time to begin teaching Black history in our community, it’s during Black History Month.

More info can be found here:”

#CommunityLeader #Leadership #Appreciation #BlackHistoryMonth #BlackLivesMatter #DEIatCTI #grateful #LowellBlackExcellence

Dr. Shannon Mokoro by Wando
Dr. Shannon Mokoro by Wando

CTI Celebrates Local Black Leaders of Excellence ~ Dr. Shannon Butler-Mokoro

Dr. Shannon Butler-Mokoro

Shannon Butler-Mokoro, MSW, Ph.D. is the Dean of First-Year Students at Wellesley College. She is the interim Chairperson of the African Community Center of Lowell. Dr. Shannon Mokoro has worked in higher education for over 20 years as student affairs professional and social work educator. Her areas of research and interest include helping to build culturally humble and proficient organizations, social welfare history, the history of higher education, faith-based social work. She is a social work educator and conducts workshops and trainings for various schools and nonprofits around the issues of diversity, equity, access, and inclusion.

Nominated by Elizabeth Wando, Rehousing and Stabilization Case Manager, Residential Programs, Housing and Homeless Services, Community Teamwork

Primary Questions:

What is your title/role/organization and/or involvement in the community?

I am the Dean of First-Year Students at Wellesley College. I am also the Vice-Chair of the African Community Center of Lowell and the Assistant Social Secretary of the Cameroonians of Lowell Association. I am trained as a social worker who engaged in clinical work for a couple of decades before going into higher education. I taught in a few social work programs before I landed where I am today. Along the way I have done quite a bit of DEIA training for various organizations.

What does Black History Month Mean to you?

For me, every day is Black History. History making is fluid and occurs every day. So February is just a month to highlight what happens daily. A month to educate others who are not aware of what is happening every day in the Black/African American communities.

What can the community do more of to recognize Black History during the year?

Have ongoing conversations, speakers, workshops, social media posts of the accomplishments of Black people currently and historically. This is true of all of the cultural and racial and ethnic groups – celebrate all the ongoing accomplishments monthly to normalize the contributions of people of color consistently.

Optional Questions:

What has been the most rewarding part of your commitment to the community?

Anytime I am with groups of “Black folx” it is rewarding! Getting to learn about the different histories and cultures from which African Americans come has been wonderful. I am a social worker by training, so just talking with people – hearing their stories, learning their cultures, helping people meet their goals – all of it is rewarding!

How have you seen your efforts make a positive difference in people’s lives?

What advice would you give to future generations of leaders in the community?

How did you become inspired to make a difference in your community?

My parents and grandparents were active in their communities. I come from a long line of social workers and educators. I feel it is almost in my genes! I am inspired by my own family and those who came before me, but quite honestly I am most inspired by the people who are younger than me. They are awesome, energetic, well-informed, passionate, tireless, – I draw my inspiration from them.

What do you hope to accomplish in the future to further your positive impact? 

What I would truly love to do is to spend more time mentoring the next generation of community leaders and activists. I’d love to encourage them, guide them, and lift them up to do the work that needs to be done. I am ready to step back and let others take the reigns and shine.

What have been some of your greatest accomplishments in your field?

What advice would you give to young people looking to make a positive influence in their community?

What would you say are the most important qualities needed to become a leader in the community?

How has your experience as a Black person influenced your work?

I always show up knowing that someone needs to see my Black face and body – someone needs to know there is someone with whom they can identify. I extend myself beyond my defined role to make sure I am making connections with the other Black/African/African American people wherever I am. That has often led me to then be involved in DEIA efforts, which is ok even though that is not my job. I show up and then make sure I use my experience and knowledge to help the other folx of color, especially those of African descent who may not always have a voice or power or influence. I have many privileges at this moment in my life and with those privileges come lots of asks and responsibilities. I am always happy to step up.

What advice would you give to other young Black people looking to make a difference in their communities?

You do not have to wait until you are older or have more experience to make a difference. You have something to contribute now. Get involved by being a youth member to an organization or a community board. Mentor someone younger than you. Use social media to be an advocate for others and to bring attention to what your community needs.

What was the most difficult obstacle you had to overcome to become a leader in your community?

#CommunityLeader #Leadership #Appreciation #BlackHistoryMonth #BlackLivesMatter #DEIatCTI #grateful #LowellBlackExcellence

world day of social justice
world day of social justice

The United Nations Observes February 20th as World Day of Social Justice.

The main goal of the World Day of Social Justice celebration is to raise awareness of social injustice and to bring together diverse communities around the world to eradicate poverty, gender, physical discrimination, illiteracy, and religious discrimination and create a society that is socially integrated.

2023 Theme: “Overcoming Barriers and Unleashing Opportunities for Social Justice

Below you will find a link to lists of books, movies, shows, and podcasts related to social justice issues. A great way to celebrate with us is by delving into any one of these amazing resources, and to learn more about a new topic, such as racial injustice, climate justice, voting rights, LGBTQ+ history, and more.

#socialjustice #blacklivesmatter #justice #humanrights #equality #blm #activism#love #LGBTQ+ #RacialInjustice #ClimateJustice #VotingRights #DEI #DEIatCTI #poverty #inequities

Gordon R. Donkoh Halm
Gordon R. Donkoh Halm

CTI Celebrates Local Black Leaders of Excellence ~ Gordon R. Donkoh-Halm

Gordon R. Donkoh-Halm

Gordon is the Founder and Executive Director of the African Community Center of Lowell (ACCL). He holds a master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from UMass Lowell. He serves as a fence viewer for town of Dracut, and has a charitable foundation called the Donkoh-Halm Foundation Inc, incorporated since 2012.

In celebrating Black History Month, Gordon opined in an interview with Gifty Korankye, Case Manager – Steward ACO, Community Teamwork

What does Black History Month mean to you?

It is a time of reflection and a continuation of what has been achieved by our ancestors and how to bring attention to issues such as racial injustice, inclusiveness, and unequal access to education and opportunities. A lot has been achieved, but we still need to go the extra mile to do more than what has already been done. With that, we will be highlighting the contributions and achievements of African Americans which to me is an inspiration to act and work towards creating a more equitable and just society for the future generation.

What can our community do more to recognize Black History during this month and during every month?

We need to consciously include minorities and making sure that a particular group of people or persons are not marginalized or set aside because the future of Black History Month will depend on the ongoing efforts of those who support its recognition and societal attitudes towards race, economic status, and cultural diversity.

How did you begin your work here at ACCL?

I realized lack of resources for African immigrants and refugees in Greater Lowell. There was no place to call home and no one to lead you to find the right information and resources, and this was an issue decades ago. As you may know, Africans represent strength, diversity with a rich history of culture and traditions so why not bring this richness to Greater Lowell. Nothing good comes easy so with hard work and networking, we now have a place here in Lowell where immigrants, refugees and asylees are free to connect with resources to transform their lives.

Why do you do what you do?

I do what I do because it is innate. It comes natural to me. I wake up in the morning with the intent to put a smile on someone else’s face. Remember we are humans so when I give a helping hand, it places the receiver in a better position to be hopeful and help others along the way. What goes around, comes around!

What are your goals for 2023?

Continue to take each day one step at a time; focusing on making impact especially when we can make a positive change in our society for a better future because our actions today will contribute to the experience of our future generations, and we need to be conscious about what we leave behind.

Are there any other messages you would like to share?

We need to prepare for future eventualities. The Pandemic, for instance, changed our world because we were not prepared. We need to be aware of our surroundings, focus on the most important things and learn to prepare our minds, bodies, and inner selves for any eventuality and celebrate each other’s accomplishments.

#CommunityLeader #Leadership #Appreciation #BlackHistoryMonth #BlackLivesMatter #DEIatCTI #grateful