Katherine Johnson to Deliver 147th HU Commencement Address
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Katherine Johnson

Hampton University is pleased to announce that Katherine G. Johnson, one of the leading inspirations behind the Hollywood feature film Hidden Figures, will serve as the University’s 147th Commencement speaker on May 14, 2017. Commencement will be held at Armstrong Stadium at 10 a.m.

Considered to be one of NASA’s human ‘computers,’ Johnson performed the complex calculations that enabled humans to successfully achieve space flight. In 1961, Johnson was tasked with plotting the path for Alan Shepard’s journey to space, the first in American history. Johnson was later responsible for verifying calculations of the “machines” and giving the “go-ahead” to propel John Glenn into successful orbit in 1962.

Johnson has been honored with an array of awards for her groundbreaking work. Among them are the 1967 NASA Lunar Orbiter Spacecraft and Operations team award, and the National Technical Association’s designation as its 1997 Mathematician of the Year. On Nov. 24, 2015, Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, from President Barack Obama.

“With her razor-sharp mathematical mind, Katherine G. Johnson helped broaden the scope of space travel, charting new frontiers for humanity’s exploration of space, and creating new possibilities for all humankind,” said Obama. “From sending the first American to space to the first moon landing, she played a critical role in many of NASA’s most important milestones. Katherine Johnson refused to be limited by society’s expectations of her gender and race while expanding the boundaries of humanity’s reach.”

Johnson earned a B.S. degree in mathematics and French from West Virginia State College. In 1999, that university named Johnson “Outstanding Alumnus of the Year.”

Johnson had three daughters with her late husband James Goble. All of the daughters are graduates of Hampton University: Joylette Goble Hylick, ’62, Constance Goble Garcia (deceased), ’73, and Katherine Goble Moore, ’70. Johnson is married to Lt. Col. USA(ret) James A. Johnson, ‘52. Johnson has six grandchildren (three of whom graduated from HU) and 11 great-grandchildren.

Continue onto Hampton University’s newsroom to read more about the commencement speech.

Maria ‘Chica’ Lopez Becomes the First Latina LBTQ+ Creator To Join Fortnite Icon Series
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Maria Chica

By Yamily Habib, Be Latina

When we say Latinas are breaking through in every industry, we mean every industry. Just look at the outstanding achievement of Twitch streamer Maria “Chica” Lopez, who has joined the icon series of Epic Games‘ popular game, Fortnite.

As announced by the company, Chica’s icon set is now available in the item store and includes five different costume styles.

The icon set is one of 17 rarity types in Fortnite: Battle Royale. This rarity focuses on notable celebrities, artists, and influencers. The most notable inclusions are emotes (Twitch-specific emoticons that viewers and streamers use to express many feelings in chat) with copyrighted songs and other cosmetics based on streamers and artists.

Chica thus joins professional athletes such as LeBron James and Neymar Jr, pop star Ariana Grande, fellow streamer Kathleen “Loserfruit” Belsten, and others in the Icon Series, which immortalizes celebrities and high-profile content creators with skins and other cosmetics in Fortnite.

Maria “Chica” Lopez is an American Twitch streamer and professional eSports player known for her talent in multi-person shooter games like Fortnite.

Chica started gaming full-time during college and has since garnered over 2 million followers on Twitch, making her one of the most successful streamers on the platform. Maria has also become known for being one of the only prominent streamers to broadcast games in two different languages.

Chica has been a professional eSports player for several years. She first signed with TSM as their first player. Then she signed with DooM Clan and later joined Luminosity Gaming as a content creator and streamer.

Now, the young Latina breaks the glass ceiling and becomes the much-needed representation in the gaming world.

“I take a lot of pride in being not only a content creator but also in my identity as a Puerto Rican woman in the LGBTQIA+ community,” Chica said. “I wanted my Set in Fortnite to be true to who I am. I’ve been able to build such an awesome community within the Fortnite family, and I can’t wait to share my Set with everyone. I’m thrilled to be the first Latina to join the Icon Series.”

Click here to read the full article on Be Latina.

Young L.A. Latina wins prestigious environmental prize
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Nalleli Cobo holds the ouroboros environmental prize

By Edwin Flores, NBC News

At age 9, Nalleli Cobo was experiencing asthma, body spasms, heart palpitations and nosebleeds so severe she needed to sleep in a chair to prevent herself from choking on her own blood.

Across the street from her family’s apartment in University Park in South Central Los Angeles was an oil extraction site owned by Allenco Energy that was spewing fumes into the air and the community around her.

After speaking with neighbors facing similar symptoms, she and her family began to mobilize with their community, suspecting that was making them sick. They created the People Not Pozos (People Not Oil Wells) campaign. At 9 years old, Cobo was designated the campaign’s spokesperson, marking the start of her activism and organizing career.

In March 2020, Cobo, the co-founder of the South Central Youth Leadership Coalition, helped lead the group to permanently shut down the Allenco Energy oil drilling site that she and others in the community said caused serious health issues for them. She also helped convince the Los Angeles City Council and Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to unanimously vote to ban new oil exploration and phase out existing sites in Los Angeles.

After pressure from the community and scrutiny from elected officials, Allenco Energy agreed to suspend operations in 2013. The site was permanently shut down in 2020, and the company was charged in connection with state and local environmental health and safety regulations. There are ongoing issues around cleaning and plugging up the oil wells.

Cobo co-founded the South Central Youth Leadership Coalition in 2015 to bolster efforts against oil sites and work toward phasing them out across the city.

That year, the youth group sued the city of Los Angeles, alleging violations of the California Environmental Quality Act and environmental racism. The suit was settled after the city implemented new drilling application requirements.

Cobo, now 21, was recognized Wednesday for the environmental justice work that has spanned more than half her life. She received the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, which is awarded annually to individuals from six regions: Europe, Asia, Africa, Islands and Island Nations, North America, and South and Central America.

“I did not want to answer the phone because it was an unknown number,” Cobo, who was getting bubble tea when she received the call about the prize, told NBC News in a Zoom interview Wednesday. “I didn’t even know I was nominated. I started crying.”

During the 1920s, Los Angeles was one of the world’s largest urban oil-exporting regions. More than 20,000 active, idle, or abandoned oil wells still reside in the county, and about one-third of residents live less than a mile from an active oil site.

Studies have shown that living near oil and gas wells increases exposure to air pollution, with nearby communities facing environmental and health risks including preterm birth, asthma and heart disease.

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

10 Women Scientists Leading the Fight Against the Climate Crisis
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Rose Mutiso speaks at TEDSummit: A Community Beyond Borders. July 2019, Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo: Bret Hartman / TED | Flickr/TED Conference

By Tshiamo Mobe, Global Citizen

Climate change is an issue that affects everyone on the planet but women and girls are the ones suffering its effects the most. Why? Because women and girls have less access to quality education and later, job opportunities. These structural disadvantages keep them in poverty. In fact, women make up 70% of the world’s poor. In a nutshell, climate change impacts the poor the most and the poor are mostly women.

Poverty is driven by and made worse by climate change also makes girls more susceptible to child marriage, because it drives hunger and girls getting married often means one less mouth to feed for their parents. Climate change also leads to geopolitical instability which, in turn, results in greater instances of violence — which we know disproportionately impacts women and girls.

Ironically, saving the planet has been made to seem a “women’s job”. This phenomenon, dubbed the “eco gender gap”, sees the burden of climate responsibility placed squarely on women’s shoulders through “green” campaigns and products that are overwhelmingly marketed to women.

There are several hypotheses for why this is. Firstly, women are the more powerful consumers (they drive 70-80% of all purchasing decisions). Secondly, they are disproportionately responsible, still, for the domestic sphere. And finally, going green is seen as a women’s job because women’s personalities are supposedly more nurturing and socially responsible.

Women should be involved in fighting the climate crisis at every level — from the kitchen to the science lab to the boardroom. Ruth Bader Ginsburg explained it best when she said: “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” However, women are underrepresented in the science field (including climate science), with just 30% of research positions held by women and fewer still holding senior positions. The Reuters Hot List of 1,000 scientists features just 122 women.

Click here to read the full article on Global Citizen.

This tech titan shares her tips on how women can break into the industry
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smiling asian woman on her laptop seated at a desk

By Paola Peralta, EBN

The tech industry is filled with opportunities for women seeking new careers, but in a male-dominated field, it can be difficult to find them.

Women make up 28.8% of the tech workforce, according to a 2020 study by AnitaB.org, a global organization that advocates for women in tech. That’s up from 25.9% in 2018, signaling a steady increase in representation. Today, as more women are exiting their current jobs and joining the Great Resignation, the tech industry is an appealing place to make a fresh start — if you know how to break in.

“The landscape is still competitive,” says Amy Kim, CEO of Jugo, an immersive virtual events and technology company, and a tech veteran of almost a decade. “The hands aren’t in women’s favor to this day, that’s just reality. And it’s something that we’re going to continue to recognize.”

Kim has worked in several different realms of the tech world, from gigs at big-name operations like Google and Microsoft, to serving as founder at smaller firms. Her experience has made something very clear: just because the industry is male dominated doesn’t mean it isn’t suited for women.

“Tech is one of the hardest industries [to break into] because in Silicon Valley, there is such a strong, preconceived notion of engineers being men, or intelligence coming out of male engineers,” she says. “But that’s just a numbers game — you’ve only got five to 10% of women engineers in that stack.”

Only 2% of VC funds in the U.S. go to women entrepreneurs, Kim points out. And it’s not because they’re not successful — in fact, companies in the Fortune 1,000 that have women as board members are 23% more profitable and see a 28% increase in higher end performance.

“Lift as you rise,” she says. “For the next generation, I want females and female leaders to help drive a path and make it easier to create that equality and eliminate some of the preconceived notions of women in tech and women leaders in general.”

Kim shared a few tips and tricks with EBN, both for women looking to break into the space for the first time and for those who’ve already established their place but are looking to move up.

Click here to read the full article on EBN.

Formulating the Perfect STEM Resume for 2022
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Portrait of a young african woman holding resume document indoors

A fresh start is one of the gifts of a brand-new year, especially coming out of unprecedented times. If you’re looking to change up your career, here are some tips to help you revise your current resume and make the kind of impact you really hope for.

Polish visual elements

A resume that’s too visually distracting or disorganized can make an employer dispose of it without actually delving in. Use plenty of white space, and sharp, consistent formatting for each job. Use a limited number of fonts, preferably just one or two. Avoid using too many attention-getting methods such as all caps, bold and increased font sizes, or the reader struggles to know where to look. Make it neat and scannable by using clear headings.

Focus on Technical Skills

This is one of your strongest opportunities to introduce yourself; every organization, and even different jobs within one organization, may require you to make subtle tweaks to your resume to make it count. For STEM-related fields, it’s always best to showcase your skills for a specific position and the specific certifications that meet their needed criteria. Avoid listing expected skills required in any job and focus on special abilities that make you the best candidate for the job. It may also be helpful to list your expertise level (expert, proficient, etc.) to drive home your skillset.

Show Your Experience Across Disciplines

Though you want to be specific to the job, you will also want to showcase how your disciplines have crossed paths, especially in a time where scientific innovations and technological advances are increasing in overlap. Tell your reader about the experience you’ve had in your lines of work and school from outward appearance and design to the more behind-the-scenes work of sample collecting and data recording.

Add Results to Build Context

Do your jobs appear lacking in results? Maybe you didn’t track your statistics to — down the road — accurately report them on your resume. But numbers and impact are helpful to get a picture of what you’ve done. For example, a Conservation Corps worker described his experience as, “Coordinated group of 25 volunteers. As leader of 25-person team, removed invasive species growth over 50-acre wilderness, restored and maintained over 10 miles of trails. Developed new team protocols that led to improved communication and more efficient trail practices.” These numbers add more weight.

Revise Repeatedly, Even When You Can’t Stand It

The last thing you want is for your resume to be rejected over simple errors that could have easily been fixed. Go over your resume, use spellcheck, have a friend or trusted individual read through it, and ask for feedback from qualified individuals willing to help.

With these tips in mind, your resume will not only be ready to take on job opportunities, but your confidence will only increase. 2022 is a fresh start from the past two years; go make it count!

Source: CareerOneStop, KForce

A Maine city that’s 90% White now has a Somali mayor
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Somali Mayor, Deqa Dhalac, poses for a portrait at her home in South Portland in 2018. Of becoming the city's mayor this week, she said, "I'm...really proud of the fact that I'm going to be opening a lot of paths for other folks who look like me."

By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN

Deqa Dhalac saw it in their faces when she started campaigning. Some people, she says, seemed scared to open their doors when she knocked. Others saw her hijab and assumed she didn’t speak English. But Dhalac kept knocking and telling her story. And she says a lot has changed since those days back in 2018, when she first ran for City Council in South Portland, Maine — and won. On Monday she became the first Black mayor of the small city on the state’s Southern Coast. And she’s believed to be the first Somali American mayor in the United States. South Portland’s other city councilors, who are all White, elected her in a unanimous vote, heaping praise on Dhalac for her dedication to the community and thoughtful consideration of issues.

Dhalac, 53, says her election shows what can be accomplished when people find ways to connect with each other instead of putting up walls.

“People will always have some kind of reservation…but will get to know you, listen to you and see who you are through that,” she says. Given that Maine is the whitest state in the country, and that South Portland is 90% White, Dhalac knows her election sounds surprising to some. But she says that it shouldn’t be. And that’s one reason she ran for office in the first place. She hopes her election as mayor will inspire others to follow in her footsteps.

“I’m…really proud of the fact that I’m going to be opening a lot of paths for other folks who look like me, especially our young community members, to say, ‘If this woman can do this, actually I can do that,'” Dhalac told the City Council last month after her nomination. “And also not only for immigrant, first-generation or Black people, but also young, White individuals who may have been afraid or don’t want to be a part of the civic duties that we all have. … I say, ‘Yes, if I can do this, yes, you can do it. We really, really need you, each and every one of you in this beautiful city of ours, to step up.'”

Her election marks multiple milestones
Dhalac’s inauguration is a milestone for Somali immigrant communities that have grown in size and become more established in states like Maine, Minnesota, Ohio and Washington. As that’s happened, more Somali Americans are taking on roles on local school boards and city councils — and also serving as lawmakers, like Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota.

Dhalac is the first Somali American mayor in the United States, according to New American Leaders, an organization that trains and encourages immigrants to run for office. But the organization says they hope she won’t be the last.

“Her leadership will certainly make a big difference not only in South Portland, but around the country,” said Ghida Dagher, the organization’s president. “She’s going to serve an example for Somali Americans across the country to step up and step into their own leadership journey. … It’s about owning their own power and potential in our democracy.” Dhalac’s election is also a historic first for South Portland, which has never had a Black mayor before, says Seth Goldstein, vice president of the South Portland Historical Society. Goldstein, who teaches history and leads historical tours in the area, says he’s happy to watch this new chapter in his city’s history unfold. “It’s very exciting, I think that it is reflective of the way that the community here is gradually changing,” Goldstein says. About 6,000 Somalis live in Maine, Goldstein said, thanks to a wave of migration that began in the early 2000s.

Their arrival hasn’t always been met with open arms. In 2002, the mayor of Lewiston, Maine, drew national media attention when he wrote an open letter telling Somali immigrants not to come to his city.

But Dhalac says the people she’s met in Maine have been welcoming, and in recent years she’s seen more Somalis and other immigrants taking on leadership positions in the state. In the past, she says, immigrants were more hesitant to run because they were focused on making ends meet and supporting their families.

“I think we were always kind of afraid to get involved. … We were waiting on somebody (else) to do something,” she said.
In 2018, Dhalac got tired of waiting.

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

Jessica Watkins will be the first Black woman to live and work on the space station
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NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins waves at the audience during the astronaut graduation ceremony at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, in January 2020. In April 2022, she will become the first Black woman to live and work on the International Space Station.

By NPR

For the first time, a Black woman will live and work on the International Space Station, starting in April of next year. Jessica Watkins, who was born in Maryland but now considers Colorado home, is slated to spend six months on the ISS as a mission specialist. It will be her first mission in space. The crew for this mission — known as Crew-4 — will be the fourth rotation of astronauts on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft to the ISS.

Watkins joined the ranks of NASA astronauts in 2017 and has worked in the space agency’s research centers, particularly on the Mars rover, Curiosity.

Watkins says she grew up admiring astronauts like Mae Jemison, the first Black woman in space, and Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. And she hopes her work aboard the ISS will inspire more kids of color to aspire to space travel.

“I do hope that all young girls, especially young girls of color that are interested in STEM and interested in exploring space, feel empowered to do so,” Watkins told Colorado Public Radio last year. “I just hope young girls across the country feel that way now.”

Click here to read the full article on Make It.

Lego pledges to make toys more gender-neutral and eliminate stereotypes after global survey
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Searches for Lego sets based on gender are no longer available on the company’s website.

By Amy Cheng, Washington Post

Lego, the world’s largest toymaker, has pledged to eliminate gender stereotypes from its products — including labeling that marks toys as “for girls” or “for boys” — as part of a bid to match the wishes of its young customers.

“Despite the progress made in girls brushing off prejudice at an early age, general attitudes surrounding play and creative careers remain unequal and restrictive,” the Danish company known for its colorful building blocks said in a statement on Monday, which was also the United Nations Day of the Girl. “Girls today feel increasingly confident to engage in all types of play and creative activities, but remain held back by society’s ingrained gender stereotypes as they grow older.”

Lego’s move comes amid heightened debate about the role that toys play in creating and perpetuating gender stereotypes. On Saturday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a new law requiring large retail stores in the nation’s most populous state to provide gender-neutral shopping sections for child-care items and toys beginning in 2024.

The toymaker’s announcement also comes in response to a global survey, commissioned by Lego and conducted by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, that found that parents and, to a lesser extent, their children, are still influenced by gendered notions of career. Young girls are also more willing to participate in activities that cut across “gender norms” than their male peers, the poll found.

For instance, when asked which gender immediately comes to mind upon thinking of scientists, parents from seven countries were much more likely to say “male,” researchers found, using online, opt-in surveys.

And while 82 percent of girls saw nothing wrong with them playing soccer and boys doing ballet, only 71 percent of their male counterparts felt the same way.

While it was heartening to see girls becoming more confident, Madeline Di Nonno, the institute’s chief executive, said the discrepancy might also reflect that boys fear being teased or bullied if they play with toys associated with girls.

“Let the kids decide what they want to play, how they want to play with it and how they want to express themselves,” she said in an interview.

“Our job now is to encourage boys and girls who want to play with sets that may have traditionally been seen as ‘not for them,’ ” Julia Goldin, Lego’s chief product and marketing officer, told the Guardian newspaper.

The company said in an emailed statement that it would work to offer a more diverse array of characters and roles so that no child would “feel that they weren’t welcome or represented” in Lego products.

The campaign to make toys and other children’s products more gender-neutral has been around for several years. Advocates including Evan Low, a Democratic assemblyman who helped write the new California law, note that gender-based divisions of such products have contributed to “the proliferation of [science, technology, engineering and mathematics]-geared toys” for boys and “pursuits such as caring for a baby, fashion, and domestic life” for girls.

Some conservative organizations, however, pushed back on the California bill, arguing that a government-imposed view on gender constitutes a violation of free speech and reflects attempts to impose a gender-neutral ideology.

Click here to read the full article on Washington Post.

Hispanic Heritage Month: Two Latinas are working together to create a pipeline of diversity in STEM
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young Hispanic woman in lab coat with technology equipment behind her

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, collectively known as STEM make up the fastest-growing and highest paid fields in the U.S. with diverse job opportunities in careers ranging from aerospace engineers, programmer to operations director, yet Latinas only account for 3% of the industry.

Unfortunately, many Latinas are discouraged from pursuing STEM careers and loose interest in these disciplines as early as middle school. This is why early intervention curriculums like the ones provided by XYLO Academy are key to increasing the representation of Latinas in the STEM workforce.

Getting to college is another challenge as underrepresented students face steep costs and challenges to higher education. According to a recent study published in the journal Education Researcher Latino college students drop out of STEM programs at higher rates (37%) that their white peers (27%).

Continual increases in tuition and fees have pushed the cost of college education beyond the means of most minority and underrepresented students. This is why IO Scholarships offers free access to scholarships and financial education so high school, undergraduate and graduate students can find life-changing scholarships where their diverse background is valued.

Despite all the challenges, these two Latinas are working together to fix the leaking pipeline, providing scholarships, and creating STEM curriculums for women of color.

Gabriela Forter
Co-founder XYLO Academy

Gabriela Forter headshot

Born and raised in the California San Joaquin Valley, Gabriela’s first introduction to entrepreneurship was during a course with Professor Rostamian at UCLA in 2015. This class significantly shaped not only her academic interests but also her career path. Gabriela and Professor Rostamian have now launched XYLO Academy to scale this same impact. After spending two and a half years at Deloitte Consulting, Gabriela joined Facebook, focusing on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. She is confident that the most meaningful changes in society will come from advancements in disruptive innovations and seeks to inspire students to pursue careers in STEM. She is committed to increasing diversity in STEM and believes that change starts with education.

“Our goal at XYLO Academy is to educate students on disruptive innovation and inspire them to pursue degrees and careers in STEM and with our partnership with IO Scholarships we are creating a pipeline for these students to have access to the best scholarships in STEM and realize their dreams.”

María Trochimezuk
Founder IO Scholarships

María Trochimezuk headshot

Her determination and hard work paid off as she won grants and scholarships to pay for her entire education. In realizing how time consuming and complicated the process of finding scholarships for STEM diverse students was, María Fernanda created IO Scholarships to make things much easier. She learned first-hand to find, apply for and win scholarships and became an advocate promoting scholarships nationwide.

“IOScholarships was inspired by my own experience as I was very fortunate to access scholarships to attend prestigious universities and realized that more could be done to support minority students especially now as STEM education becomes more important to workforce opportunities,” said María Fernanda Trochimezuk, Founder of IO Scholarships. “IO Scholarships will not only help underrepresented students find scholarships, but level the playing field so all students have the opportunity to achieve their education goals.”

ABOUT XYLO ACADEMY

We are a group of passionate and skilled storytellers. We believe that students everywhere should have the power and ability to access a world-class education. We believe that technology and innovation, especially disruptive innovation, provides unlimited potential for the future. XYLO Academy introduces this space to students in a bold, story-telling format breaking down any barriers that impede equal opportunity to explore, learn and thrive in the 5 disruptive innovation platforms: Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain & Cryptocurrencies, Robotics, Energy Storage and Bio Tech. We have diverse experiences and backgrounds across technology, product innovations and education. We are united in our passion to provide equal access to the study of technology and innovation. Our diversity is our strength, and our mission is our singular focus. XYLO – Unlimited space for learning and opportunity.

ABOUT IO SCHOLARSHIPS

Most of the scholarships featured on the IOScholarships website come directly from corporations and organizations, rather than solely from competitive national pools – thereby maximizing the number of opportunities students have to earn funding for their education. Each month IO Scholarships adds hundreds of new curated scholarships to its database and posts “The Scholarship of the Week” on its Twitter, Facebook and Instagram social media accounts (@IOScholarships), making it easy to find new scholarship opportunities.

In addition to providing scholarships, IO Scholarships website offers a free scholarship organizer, news articles designed to provide guidance on how to apply for scholarships, and money saving tips. The platform also offers a Career Aptitude Quiz designed to help students identify the degrees and professions that best fit their skills.

For more information about IO Scholarships visit www.ioscholarships.com or for weekly STEM scholarships email maria.fernanda@ioscholarships.com.

We Asked, She Answered: Ashley Mehta, President & CEO, Nolij Consulting
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Businesswoman at desk checking phone with tech graphs in background

Professional Woman’s Magazine  recently spoke with Ashley Mehta, chairwoman, CEO and president of Nolij Consulting, a woman-owned, solutions-focused healthcare IT company that specializes in digital healthcare modernization for the military, public and commercial sectors.

Mehta founded the Northern Virginia-based Nolij Consulting in 2013, and since then, has scaled the company to be the leader in healthcare IT.

We asked the Ohio native more about Nolij, her challenges as a female business owner and her goals for the future: 

Professional Woman’s Magazine  (PWM): Tell us a little bit more about your background. Were you always interested in IT? 

Mehta: I am a graduate of the Ohio State University’s Max. M. Fisher College of Business. I have two children and am privileged to be in a position where I can create a positive, impactful work environment for my employees while giving back to the community and championing causes that I am passionate about, including veterans’ and women’s issues. I love working in IT because, whether it’s making systems more efficient, reducing client expenditure or producing better outcomes, technology is able to create a significant and real change in organizations and people’s lives. Yes, I’ve always been interested in technology as it increases business efficiencies and brings people together to solve the most pressing business problems.

PWM: What led you to create Nolij Consulting? 

Mehta: I was a former stay-at-home mom with two young children who found herself in a position where I needed to go back to work. I joined a large consulting firm and had the opportunity to learn the entire spectrum of the business – from compliance to proposals, business development, technology and everything in between. As the industry started shifting from large business opportunities to more small business opportunities, I recognized my chance to start my own company and make a real difference in the industry while having the work/life balance I wanted so I could juggle all of my responsibilities. From there, Nolij was born. Over the past 9 years, we have made great strides against considerable odds in establishing ourselves amid a crowded GovCon marketplace! Ironically enough, I have trained several previously stay at home moms in this business and they now work for Nolij.

PWM: What challenges, if any, have you experienced as a female founder and CEO in this space? 

Mehta: The biggest obstacle I’ve faced to date is the lack of prime IT opportunities specifically set aside for women-owned businesses. As Nolij has grown its footprint across the GovCon space, and is now expanding into the commercial sector, I’ve continued to focus on key areas, such as cybersecurity, RPA and AI, where we can expand our partnerships to create new opportunities for women-owned businesses. 

PWM: What would you say is your greatest accomplishment to-date?  

Mehta: Building a successful, thriving business and creating an outstanding consulting company with a great work environment for my employees while being a great mother is my greatest accomplishment so far. Our employees gave us a 4 on Glassdoor, which is no easy feat to achieve for an organization. Glassdoor is a website where current and former employees anonymously review companies. I am proud of employing leading talent across the industry and having the expertise to serve our clients and add to their success.

Nolij is proud to give back to various charities and support the less fortunate in our community. As a little girl, I’ve always dreamed of having extra money to give to those in need.

I’ve been able to do this while raising two beautiful children who have worked hard as well and have bright futures ahead of them. These successes inspire me every day to keep moving forward.

PWM: What advice would you give to another female entrepreneur?  

Mehta: I would say that leading by example, putting yourself in front of clients and marketing your company on social media is very important. It’s also critical to set yourself apart and create a differentiator for your company. Distinguish your company and invest heavily in training resources and certifications for your organization and your employees. To build a successful team, be sure you are offering the right benefits that will keep employees with you and give them the chance to grow professionally. It’s no longer expensive to provide the benefits and resources that larger companies do. It is important to create a strong foundation to make people feel valued and enjoy coming to work each day. And remember, once you have a strong service/product offering, no one will care if you are a man or a woman.

PWM: What are your goals for Nolij Consulting? What do you hope to achieve in the future?  

Mehta: We are focused on strategic growth in a number of areas going forward to make the company future-ready. We are also focused on strong partnerships and relationships to further strengthen our capabilities to meet our clients’ goals. We’ve created three new joint ventures (JV) focused on cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, emerging technologies and health IT services. These joint ventures are a combination of 8A, WOSB, Hubzone, and SDVOSB managed JVs. We also have a mentor protégé JV relationship with a large health IT company where we plan to win opportunities under relevant IT contract vehicles. We are currently working to win several contract vehicles that give us the ability to win task orders under those vehicles. We just recently won GSA 8A STARS III and Navy Seaport NxG. We are also strengthening our AI /ML solutions to establish a strong capability in software testing and Electronic Health Records (EHR). We just won an artificial intelligence sole source opportunity with Health and Human Services (HHS). We’ve established several emerging, next-generation technology product partnerships and are currently establishing a workforce that is well trained on delivering these products. Our goal is to achieve an even stronger health IT company focused on our employee’s wellbeing while providing excellent health IT services to our clients.

PWM: What is something colleagues would be surprised to know/learn about you? 

Ashley Metha
Ashley Mehta, chairwoman, CEO and president of Nolij Consulting

Mehta: I have a twin brother who is also in IT. He is more in the sales and software product side of the business. My son looks quite a bit like him. I also have an older brother who is in healthcare mergers and acquisitions. I grew up with my father owning his own consulting business around continuing education for CPAs. He did not have the luxury of the business conveniences that we have today. Due to the lack of technology, he had to educate CPAs in person, ship heavy training materials for his classes and had to conduct business over a phone hooked up to a wall. Today we can offer e-learning opportunities, send large documents over the internet, use our mobile phones to have Zoom or WebEx meetings with clients across the world. As a business owner and mother, I have a tremendous amount of respect for what my dad accomplished while raising kids without the technological advances we have today.

PWM: Anything else you would like to add that we missed? 

Mehta: If your company has predominately male leadership, if it’s not leaning more towards a healthy even split, then the next generation of women will consider your company yesterday’s product. A product not worth their investment and time; a place where innovation and creativity will be stifled by outdated norms.

I want to take a moment to recognize the bright daughters of my outstanding employees and all that they are accomplishing. It’s exciting to think about a future where their contributions will not only be recognized but will be sought-after. Ultimately, empowering women in the workplace ensures your company will be ready for whatever challenges lie ahead.

Air Force Civilian Service

Air Force Civilian Service

Leidos

United States Postal Services-Diversity

United States Postal Services-Diversity

lilly

American Family Insurance

American Family Insurance

Alight

Alight
 

Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. San Diego Unified Construction Expo 2022
    July 13, 2022
  4. Business Beyond Barriers Conference + Expo
    July 14, 2022
  5. The 2022 NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference Heads to Las Vegas!
    August 2, 2022 - August 5, 2022
  6. WIFLE 22nd Annual Leadership Training
    August 8, 2022 - August 11, 2022
  7. Commercial UAV Expo
    September 6, 2022 - September 8, 2022
  8. Wonder Women Tech Immersive Tech & Hybrid Summit
    September 14, 2022 - September 15, 2022