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Profiles in Leadership: Celebrating Black History Month

January 30, 2018

In honor of Black History Month, we highlight some of our African American team members who share their perspectives on inspiration, motivation, and leadership. Read their thoughts below.

What figure in Black History would you most like to meet and why?

Steve Griffin, Regional Vice President Gulf Region, FedEx Ground

Steve GriffinAs I reflect on Black History and the pivotal role that countless African Americans have achieved and contributed to the fabric of America, I instantly think of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For me, Dr. King represents the true notion of the best that America can be.

Dr. King had the ability to unite, influence and inspire people across generations — demanding that one gives the best version of themselves, in order to drive purposeful action, which in turn, produces hope and love for all of humanity.

Dr. King’s dream held America true to its founding principles – justice, equality and peace for all; regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation and ability. I would love to have a conversation with Dr. King and I’d ask him: “How are we, as an American society, doing with honoring your dream?”

I believe Dr. King would say that the full dimension of his vision is still a work in progress and there’s still much work in America that needs to be done. I challenge all of us to reflect and dig deeper within ourselves to become advocates that elevate Dr. King’s dream in all that we do, 365 days a year.


What inspires you, professionally or personally?

Gina Adams, Corporate Vice President, Government Affairs

Gina AdamsToday, I’m reminded of a brilliant, soft-spoken patriot—long departed—who foresaw our country in 2018. He loved it deeply enough to believe in our possibilities and honestly enough to call us out when we fell short. While looking back at MLK Jr’s murder and America’s promise, he once wrote “the moral of the story (and the hope of the world) lies in what one demands, not of others, but of oneself”.

Usually, our motivations to do our best are mixed, driven by ideals, practicality, selfishness and spirituality, and I am no different. But I know we all will ultimately despair if we cannot—or will not—find an equilibrium between our own needs and a more outwardly-focused view of what it should mean to be an American today. Dreams do matter, particularly in this age of tribalism, fear and cynical attacks on truth, enabled by the easy anonymity of the internet that is, finally, a form of cowardice.

I don’t want to dust off my dog-eared copy of The Green Book and I don’t want ANYONE else to have to either. We can all be better; we can all do better. This is my hope.


What is your ultimate goal?

Steven Sanders, Sr. Marketing Specialist, DA Global Programs, FedEx Services

Steven SandersMy ultimate goal is to leave the world in a better place than I found it, by having a positive impact on those that I have the privilege to come in contact with on a daily basis.  I’ve found as I’ve gotten older that I’ve never really feared the idea of death, but rather dying and not having added something to the world.  It’s with this thought that I try my best to put my time, effort, and resources into people and things that ultimately seek to do the same thing.  Realizing that my life is not my life, but a life that I’ve been blessed with bears a significant amount of responsibility to make something of it and not squander it.  I believe that I can do this by dedicating myself to my family, friends, and community that mean the world to me, with the focus of making a genuine positive impact, in whatever capacity it calls for.  At times I’m called to lead, at others to support, and even at others to just get out of the way.  My goal is to leave, having it matter that I existed.


Who is your s/hero and why?

Janas Jackson, Diversity & Inclusion Advisor, FedEx Express

Janas JacksonWhen it comes to heroes, I continue to be inspired by two individuals of another era — my maternal great-grandfather, Alex Miles, and his slavemaster’s son, Theodore Brevard. Alex was born on the Brevard plantation in Montgomery, Alabama and was nine years old when slaves were freed. Alex’s chore as a slave child had been to escort the slavemaster’s three children to and from school each day. The two daughters would ride one horse and Theodore, the son, would ride the other. Young Alex would walk, leading the horses. One day, Theodore told Alex, “I don’t think it’s right that we can go to school and you can’t so I’m going to teach you how to read, write and do arithmetic.” Theodore secretly became Alex’s teacher and gave him pages to study but warned him to hide this material because what he was doing was against the law. Alex studied every day and kept the pages hidden in his bosom until they became as limp as rags. My great-grandfather later became a minister, landowner and businessman. By 1900, he had employed 75 people. His youngest daughter, my grandmother, always shared this story of how two courageous children worked together to make a difference.  They are my heroes.


What motivates you?Randy Irving

Randy Irving, Manager, Human Resources, FedEx Services

I am motivated by many of the influences that shaped me growing up. My father was a truck driver and my mother an assembly line worker. They both believed in working hard and being disciplined in your approach to work.  Growing up in Binghampton (a neighborhood in Memphis, TN) provided me with lessons, images and memories that have motivated me my whole life. The memory of childhood friends that went astray, thoughts of those that didn’t have opportunities and the angst of being told what you would not be has provided fuel that still motivates me to this day. I am motivated to be a representative for those that I felt did not and do not have a voice.


What’s your definition of success, and how do you/did you achieve it?

Camille D. Washington, Manager, Segment Engagement Strategy, FedEx Services

Camille WashingtonMy definition of success is two-fold. It is accomplishing my goals, which then allows me to be positioned to help others.  I fully subscribe to the belief that to whom much is given much is required.  I have been given much therefore I strive to give much.

I am well aware of that fact that I am standing on the shoulders of others who have gone before me.  Some people I know, many I do not.  Numerous barriers to success have been challenged and removed which continues to allow me the opportunity to accomplish my goals.  So I share my knowledge, experiences, skills, and abilities with others to help them obtain the goals they have set out to accomplish.  It is very gratifying to see others achieve their dreams and knowing that I was positioned to help them in some way.


How is success measured and realized?

Sequoyah Lewis, Global Marketing Foundations, Associate Marketing Specialist, FedEx Services

Sequoyah LewisI believe that success is measured by results and how fulfilled I feel when achieving those results. Success is an ongoing process that requires hard work, dedication, and planning. My success is explicitly calculated by results, ensuring that they are trackable and obtainable.

Before one can obtain success, they must set themselves up for success! Here’s an example of how I set myself up for success: First I decide what my aspirations in life are (personal and professional), what necessary steps are needed to get there, and the obstacles I can expect to encounter during the process. I enjoy creating goals, whether it be short, mid, or long-term goals because it gives me something to work towards. Once I set my goals, I then develop an action plan and possible outcomes. My personal success story is how I embarked on my career at FedEx; during my time in college, I created three mid-term goals upon graduation and within those goals listed my action plans. I concentrated in Marketing, obtained a Marketing internship, performed well, and later landed a full-time job on the Global Marketing Foundations team.


What’s been your best lesson learned?

Lewis Fort, Program Management Advisor, Global Business Transformation, FedEx Express

Lewis FortThree of the most important life lessons I’ve learned are listening, communicating effectively and the importance of learning.

As a FedEx intern, my mentor taught me the value of listening to understand before offering an opinion. Often times, we listen to respond instead of listening to understand and as a result we miss out on absorbing vital information. By listening to those around me, I was able to develop a core understanding of the business while also building relationships.

After undergrad, I worked in London at a financial institution.  The company I worked for was fast paced, extremely large and diverse.  Most of the projects I worked on were with colleagues who lived in other parts of the world. When working with peers domiciled all over, the downside was there are only so many hours in the day where you are actually in the office at the same time, as a result it taught me how to use that time to communicate effectively.

Lastly, no one ever said learning was going to be easy, but it’s part of the process of evolving as a person, and we all have to go through it. Looking back, I appreciate all the difficult times because I learned a lot about myself.


What are you most proud of?Tiffany Brunson

Tiffany Brunson, Managing Director, Sr. Litigation/Employment Counsel, FedEx Office

I’m most proud of the fact that I have been able to accomplish significant success in my career without compromising my values, my integrity or the principles for which I stand.  I take great pride in this because I recognize that I am standing on the shoulders of my grandmother and so many other high character role models who sacrificed to pave the way for me to break barriers.  I am incredibly grateful for this, and it motivates me to inspire others to achieve greatness.


What advice would you give emerging leaders?

Jeff Greer, Sr. Vice President, Human Resources, FedEx Freight

Jeffery GreerTo emerging leaders, I encourage you to reflect upon the opportunity you have been given.  It’s a privilege so few will ever enjoy.  You will influence so many people and impact so many lives.  Recognize that leadership carries with it lots of responsibilities.

One key to your success is that you appreciate the enormous shadow you cast for those who follow you.  Be mindful of that.  Embrace this powerful achievement by seizing the opportunity to do great things.  Focus on what’s good for the organization, group or team you are leading.

Understand that you succeed only when those you lead succeed.  Surround yourself with people who have diverse opinions and be willing to listen.

Always be humble and remember how you got to this point.  The good choices you made in getting you here should be carried forward as you embark upon your new role.  In fact, your choices become even more meaningful at this point.

But whatever you do, have some fun.  You deserve it and so does your team.


Why is it important to seek out and value diverse perspectives?

Tracee Walls, Manager, Diversity & Inclusion, FedEx Freight

Tracee Walls

Diversity is the heartbeat of the world in which we live and work.

From childhood, we learn to offer our perspectives and seek others’ opinions on fashion, food, music, history, literature, and many other facets of life. Seeking out and offering different perspectives is common to human existence. These perspectives help us to grow as people and expand our horizons beyond our natural individual limits.

We live in a world filled with amazing cultures that contribute to our unique society. These cultures, perspectives and differences are all links in a chain that spark innovation and diversity. As a result, innovative ideas drive actions that lead to success and satisfaction – both personally and professionally.

We work in an environment in which the term “diversity and inclusion” has become a buzzword for many companies and brands. Many see the value of hiring diverse talent to build high- performing teams and achieve business goals. However, it is important to remember that diversity is about more than ethnicity. It is developing an appreciation for our workmates’, neighbors’, and acquaintances’ backgrounds and welcoming new perspectives that may push us outside of our comfort zones. It is empowering employees to build on their experiences and challenge the status quo. Accepting diverse perspectives creates a culture that fuels creativity, drives performance, and makes work fun.  To achieve success and maintain a competitive edge, it is imperative we recognize, embrace, and intentionally seek perspectives that reflect the rich, diverse world in which we live and work.

 


Comments

    Dorris Forstall says:

    All I can say is “WOW!” This was a most inspiring blog! I truly enjoyed reading each response and even more than ever, appreciate the commitment FedEx has made to celebrating diversity in the workplace. DJ, thanks so much for this publication.

    Angela Mosley says:

    Every article touched the fabric of the past, present, and future. It is wonderful to be on winning team of African Americans that represent our FedEx family in an inspiring and professional manner. It shows that FedEx is building it’s strengths through a diverse culture of proud Americans.

    Nikki Williams says:

    This was so inspiring> I truly enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts on various topics

    CONTESSA DICKSON says:

    FANTASTIC ARTICLE!

    Taneika L. Allison says:

    This was a very inspirational article to read. Hats off to each and every one of you!

    Carol Bregenzer says:

    Magnificent insights told in a most engaging form! D and I is the most important subject to talk about and understand today. Dr. King’s dream must be realized to make our world truly great. Thanks, DJ!

    Willie Robison says:

    Yes, D and I are the most important subjects for our time.

    Marvin White says:

    The excerpts were wonderful. Sharing the spotlight on these current and emerging African American FedEx leaders was also inspiring.

    Lisa Lee says:

    Amazing!!! Thank you FedEx for the platform and DJ for being creative.

    Patrice says:

    Inspiring article!

    Danielle W. says:

    Great article! I love reading about leaders at every level and across the many operating companies. Great post!

    Carol Bregenzer says:

    Magnificent insights told in a most engaging form! Today D&I is the most important subject to talk about and understand. Dr. King’ dream must be realized for all. Justice must be blind. Thanks, DJ, for your excellent message!

    Lisa Adkins says:

    FedEx thank you for sharing and celebrating those African Americans whom work for FedEx and their views on Black History Month.
    It is important for “US” to see “US” in these positions within FedEx. It is also important to know that FedEx as a corporation supports the month of February.

    Robin Tucker says:

    Awesome article! Insightful!

    Demetria says:

    What an inspiring article. So proud of all of these amazing individuals. Hats off to everyone!

    Tasha Hamilton says:

    Great job DJ! I love how you asked each person a different question, which in turn gave a well rounded view of opinions.

    Ed Cabrera says:

    My compliments to Steven Sanders. I can see why you are a great person to work with. Your view on life is puts you on firm ground to take on anything.

    Felicia Tagivakatini says:

    You are all great inspirations. Thank you for being great role models for our children. Thank you Fedex for this blog which we should share with our families and younger generations everywhere.

    Avis Brown-Riley says:

    I enjoyed reading everyones amazing journey…congratulations! We all are Champions in Life. I am an Operations Manager at JBKA and Author of newly released book “Building of A Champion” How I became a Champion in Life…The Avis Brown Riley Story. It is a pleasure to share greatness and history with the world as one of the finest African American Golfers in America. What an honor to be apart of FedEx for 24 years..thanks for being apart of my amazing journey. The book is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble…I am proud to be an African American and honored to celebrate Black History Month.

    Jane Cross says:

    Excellent article!
    Thank you for sharing.

    Randi Taylor says:

    Thank you all for sharing!

    Joe Pulliam says:

    Ms.Jackson has always been a amazing lady congratulations Janis

    Ron Haley says:

    Great Blog! It is pleasure to read such inspiring words from these outstanding Americans.

    Helen Brooks says:

    The opportunity to see someone who looks like you cannot be underestimated; particularly in Corporate America. I was taken back to my family travels from New York to North Carolina and the green book that was ever present on the dashboard of the car. This blog made me happy!

    Preamiller says:

    What a wonderful, inspirational story.Thanks so much for sharing!

    Jen McCarthy says:

    Fantastic article with great insight. Thanks, DJ!

    Jacqueline Garner says:

    Really good stuff and very inspirational!!
    It was great to read the comments from team members from multiple levels and across organizations.

    Daisy Sharpe says:

    I’ve just been inspired by reading this blog.

    Deidre Thompson says:

    Inspiring and congratulations to our recognized leaders.

    Carolyn Allen says:

    Loved this article! Great comments! I’ve watched Camille Washington during her career at fedex. So glad she is a part of management! We need more people like her in that role.

    Ron Turner says:

    Thank you all for sharing your thoughts. I’m truly inspired by what I have read. Again, thanks!

    Robert Jenkins says:

    Great Article! Leadership at every level delivering on the Purple Promise.

    Dana Butts says:

    I took a piece of each and every story. Thanks for sharing.

    Angela Haslip- says:

    I am very inspired by this blog. The professionalism and words of inspiration proves that FedEx is a company built on a People First philosophy. I am proud to serve with each of you.

    Angela Haslip-Farris says:

    I am very inspired by this blog. The professionalism and words of inspiration proves that FedEx is a company built on a People First philosophy. I am proud to serve with each of you.

    Bonnie Fells says:

    Being a recent retiree of FedEx (33 years) I was always very proud to work for a company the truly embraced diversity. It was important to me to see and work with people who looked like me. Great article. Bravo Zulu to all of you.

    Kendra Butler says:

    This is such an inspiration. I find serenity in knowing there is opportunity for women like me to grow in corporate America. Thank you FedEx for sharing.

    Jan Elbert says:

    Inspiring! Thank you for sharing these perspectives.

    Carlos Hill - Operation/Logistics Manager says:

    “Have a vision. Be demanding.”
    —Colin Powell
    Great article…

    Willie says:

    Yes, diversity and inclusion are the most vital topics that needs discussion and action

    Priscilla Fogle Johnson says:

    It’s so wonderful to see FedX has such professional staff. It’s so heartwarming to know they celebrate Black History Month. Thank you for sharing. My son is an employee of FedEx here in Kentucky! Keep up the great work.

    Amy Black says:

    Great read! I am so proud to work with such inspiring people and appreciate FedEx for really pushing to move forward and make Diversity & Inclusion a primary focus as it will pay dividends for many now and in the future.

    Cheryl Mulloon says:

    Inspirational!

    Pat Brown says:

    Very inspirational, and at times humbling, stories from the heart. These should encourage all of us to bring our best to life.

    Eva Smith says:

    These individuals are so inspiring. I’m blessed to see and read about leaders of today that encourages others like me to continue to have hopes and dreams.

    Mike Johnson says:

    Well written DJ Vaughn…

    Teresa says:

    Fantastic article!

    Paul Richards says:

    I am very inspired to see that FedEx Corporation takes pride in utilizing the diverse talents of my fellow African American people. I can not wait to see my own profile being highlighted on through our FedEx footprint.

    Trina Alford says:

    Truly awesome reading thanks for sharing!

    Yuri Mayorga says:

    Outstanding achievement on your career and nice article.

    Ginger Ross says:

    These comments and stories solidify the value we have as a FedEx family. We can learn from each other, support each other, but most importantly value each other.

    Altrena Sutton says:

    Wow this inspires me, and makes me glad that I am apart of the FedEx Family. I be a graduate with my Bachelors in Business Management in Many of 2018 and I have to say #goals. I will setting a few goals over the weekend because I have now envisioned myself to be like you all! Thank you for this blog!

    Monique Knowles says:

    Awesome and very inspiring! Thanks for sharing your stories.

    Laura R Carangelo says:

    Thank you for sharing your stories !!

    Tevies Wright says:

    TO GOD BE THE GLORY.

    Brandon Lake says:

    Thank you for sharing your inspiring testimonies…Rocket fuel for motivation!!

    Kelly Tunstall says:

    Great read! I am so inspired and motivated. Thanks for sharing!

    Melissa R says:

    Very inspirational!

    Nicholaus McNeal says:

    Awesome read!!!!

    LaTonya Kelley says:

    Great, Awesome, Great article!

    Kelia Wade says:

    Great article!

    Anonymous says:

    Man, so proud to see these women & men standing in strong, visible positions which provide a real perspective on wanting to achieve what matters to self.

    Blessings to you all.

    Joseda Cook says:

    Awesome article! Thank you for sharing your inspiring stories.

    TJ Keasal says:

    Each individual profiled shared an amazing story that made me proud of I am as an individual, a young African American and a vital link within FedEx. Even with those being celebrated there is diversity in their outlook, upbringings and approach to life. There are moments like this where I am reminded of why I work where I do and why FedEx continues to thrive and grow.

    Gloria C says:

    DJ, what an amazing tribute to black history month!

    Tracey Askew says:

    Great article!

    Silver says:

    So proud to see both Janas Jackson and Tracee Walls featured in Profiles in Leadership: Celebrating Black History Month they are 2 of my S/hero’s. Awesome and very inspiring Thanks for sharing your stories.

    Heidi Hill says:

    Thank you for these inspirational comments as a tenured African American employee at FDX I am proud to see the future of FDX is in good hands with such great leadership. Bravo Zulu to you All !

    Kimberli Bell says:

    What a wonderful article! Thanks to everyone for sharing their words of wisdom and inspiration.

    Kristie Castilow says:

    Wonderful inspiring article. Kudos to FedEx for proudly displaying African American Leaders within the company. It’s uplifting and motivating to see relatable examples of greatness!

    Carl Howard says:

    Bravo to all. They all were great articles and words of motivation. Let’s all continue to look forward.

    MsB says:

    Truly Inspiring!!!

    Terri says:

    Thank You for this wonderful tribute of our African American leaders within FedEx each bio was an Amazing read. To all the leaders who were highlighted congratulations on your success.

    Domita Dixon says:

    These stories from each of these individuals is truly inspiring to me and reminds us that success is not given it’s earned. Helps me to keep striving for perfection.

    Jalecia Vonner says:

    This article is very inspiring. I loved it from beginning to end. Thank you for sharing this.

    George Baldwin says:

    This is amazing, what a great read!

    Pamela Porter says:

    WOW what amazing articles! All were truly motivating and inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing your views and thoughts with us! smile Pamela

    Daniel Gitonga says:

    Gina Adams’ thoughts are as true today as they were the day Dr King was murdered.

    “Dreams do matter, particularly in this age of tribalism, fear and cynical attacks on truth, enabled by the easy anonymity of the internet that is, finally, a form of cowardice.
    Indeed, dream matter!

    James Sloan Fleet Tech CLT says:

    Thank you for the article. I really enjoyed it. It was very inspiring!

    Roberta Matthews says:

    Very good article. Enjoyed reading it this morning and just being thankful for each and every day. Just be kind to everyone.

    Denise says:

    Very refreshing article. I am grateful for each individuals words of wisdom and inspiration!

    Jessica Elizondo says:

    Thank you for sharing it was very Inspiring!

    Samuel Forman says:

    Great article! Very inspirational; we all have a part in making society better!

    Stuart Baxter says:

    Very Inspirational! So proud that we highlighted these great leadership examples.

    Michael Feliciano says:

    Thank you all for sharing, truly inspirational.

    I am reminded of many excellent quotes from Dr. King and this one stood out, today, the most for me.

    “Everyone has the power for greatness, not for fame but greatness, because greatness is determined by service.”

    – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    —o-o-Ộ-o-o—

    Jacob Christensen says:

    I am grateful for the wisdom and words spoken. The world needs more unity, more love, and more kindness.

    Lenora Edens says:

    This was so inspirational to read of how pure determination to make dreams come true is still living in todays world. I have shared this with my daughter and more youths to reassure them that doing the right thing is your path to success. Thank you to each and everyone for keeping the Dream Alive.

    Marsha W says:

    These stories positively stimulate the spirit of work ethic. So great to work among these inspiring individuals.

    TRACY SMITH says:

    I enjoyed reading and very inspiring

    Helen Simmons says:

    My son proudly works at Fedex 2 year and 1 month..loves his job…these are his role models! Thank you for this tribute to your heroes and being one for the younger generations!

    BELLE says:

    Keep up the great work up and help someone along the way, then your journey will have not been in vain….BRAVO ZULU….

    Alicia says:

    Enjoyed reading each one! Glad to see the diversity and proud to so many success stories!

    Carmela Kidd says:

    Truly I enjoyed reading this article. It encourages us all to not only be readers, but to be about doing something to make a positive difference. My goal is to make at least 3 people smile each day.

    Anitra Keys says:

    Kudos to all as this was truly inspirational! I appreciate the wisdom and encouragement shared in this blog. WOW!

    Valencia McCowan says:

    All writings were inspirational, enlightening,and uplighting.Each gave us a glimpse of the many wonderful people we are honored with to be apart of the FedEx community. My goal is to live a life that will touch the lives of others to understand that no matter the struggle which may be, “With God all things are possible”.

    Kevin Pickett says:

    Even after 18 years I can’t get enough of the great stories of empowerment and wisdom after reading ALL of the stories. Keep the stories coming all year round.

    Michelle says:

    Glad to have engaged in such great vision and testimony’s of each person story. Thank you for sharing!

    Sheng Ding says:

    Thank you all for sharing your thought, belief, and story! You do inspire me!

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