BDPA will "ignite, inspire and empower" this summer in Chicago
"The benefits of BDPA membership are not about who you know, they're about who knows you!" – Curtis Jenkins, BDPA national VP for strategy and planning
By Dan Margherita
Editor in Chief
The thirty-third annual Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA) Technology Conference and Career Expo promises exciting new features in addition to the panels, workshops and competitions attendees have enjoyed in past years. It will be held August 3 to 6 at the Hilton Chicago, located downtown on the Michigan Avenue Cultural Mile.
This year's conference will be attended by a host of organizations including Johnson & Johnson, Monsanto, Oracle and Allstate. The Air Force, Marines and Navy will be there. Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Illinois is sponsoring the dignitaries reception on Friday evening.
Milt Haynes of the BDPA says, "The number of companies will probably be similar to last year but the size of their financial commitment is larger."
Two CIO panels and more
Navy CIO Terry A. Halverson will be heading one of this year's two CIO panels. One of them is scheduled for the dignitaries reception: "It will bring a different flavor to the reception," declares Monique Berry, BDPA president-elect and VP of business management. Pamela Sexton, BDPA Chicago chapter president, explains that this is an invitation-only event comprised of high- level company officers and directors.
Also new in 2011 is a chief diversity officer panel. Berry explains that "We thought it would be good to hear what strategies companies are going to use to meet their diversity needs. We want attendees to hear what they're looking for and what their projections are for the future, five or ten years out."
An entrepreneurship panel will focus on challenges facing smaller businesses. Sexton explains that "Not everyone has the technical savvy to become an entrepreneur, so we're going to provide expert advice from people who were able to do it successfully."
Keynote plus networking
This year's keynote speaker is LaVerne H. Council, Johnson & Johnson corporate VP and CIO, who will address the conference theme, "Ignite, inspire and empower: the GPS of future technologists."
Council oversees J&J's $61.9 billion global IT group. She's a member of the J&J corporate global operating committee; her organization includes more than 250 operating companies and 4,000 IT pros.
HSCC and more!
The famous High School Computer Competition (HSCC) will feature twenty-five teams competing for Jesse Bemley scholarships. "We have Jesse Bemley scholars all over the nation studying everything from CS to bioengineering," says Wayne Hicks, executive director of the BDPA Education and Technology Foundation (BETF). "We're looking forward to meeting more new scholars in Chicago."
Then there's the IT Showcase, now in its ninth year, where students, some of them alumni of the HSCC, have the chance to showcase their talents. "They are doing research that's really PhD-type work on things like robotics," Hicks points out. "We, as black IT professionals, have to invest some time with them."
The "best companies for blacks in technology" awards will be presented at the dignitaries reception. Each year BDPA surveys Fortune 1000 companies with respect to their organizational climate for African Americans, and recognizes the best in four categories: tenure, promotions and terminations; leadership development and advancement; supplier diversity; community outreach. This year's top companies, announced in mid-May, are Allstate Insurance; American Airlines; BlueCross BlueShield of IL, NM, OK, & TX; Intel; Johnson & Johnson; Merck; Northrop Grumman; State Farm Insurance; Wal-Mart Stores; WellPoint and Wells Fargo.
Don't miss the awards gala!
On Saturday the Awards Gala concludes the conference with the presentation of the annual Epsilon awards to corporations and individuals. Winners are companies that promote a workplace environment that supports the advancement of African Americans in the IT industry.
Individual Epsilon award winners will be recognized in five categories: career achievement, professional achievement, outstanding technical contribution, community service and most promising technologist.
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