A D.C.-based organization that pushes for black professional development and entertainment recently held its fourth annual Black Alumni Networking Expo and Ball, aiming to propel black career opportunities and networking.
The event, held by Network DC along with NX Level DC at the Renaissance hotel in Northwest from Aug. 11-13, drew a crowd of over 1,200 registered participants and featured various seminars focusing on financial empowerment, networking, resumes and career building and social civil changes.
“These expos serve as a really great opportunity for black graduates,” said Jarrett Walker, one of the co-founders of the weekend’s events. “Black Americans have the highest unemployment and underemployment rates in this country often experiencing stagnation within their perspective careers.
“During these annual expos, we put together various workshops, panel discussion and provide attendees the opportunity to hear from various speakers including entrepreneurs and successful businessmen in order to help better equip them with additional skills and connections for their future,” Walker said.
One special panel discussion that took place in the organization’s Main Room was “Your Career in Politics: A Conversation with Various Members of the Obama Administration,” including former White House Liaison Ashlee Davis, who spoke candidly about her experiences working at the White House, the application process and how to make it after the president’s term ends.
“There’s truly no difference between myself and you,” Davis said. “It’s just the opportunity being out there and being ready for that moment. My parents didn’t graduate from college, there’s nothing in my background that says I was destined to work at the White House.
“If you are thinking, ‘that couldn’t be me, there’s no way to serve,’ you’re thinking the wrong way,” she said. “If there is a president that you feel aligns with your core beliefs and you want to serve, go online and apply.”
Though the panel was well-received, one attendee pressed the panel on whether they pushed Obama to make reparations for slavery a priority during his time in office, which led to an awkward silence before the moderator said that the panel had no real connection to those type of inquiries.
The weekend’s festivities finished with a festival ball, as elegant attendees celebrated the success of the event.
“The Black Alumni Ball is really just about positive black people coming together with other positive black people,” said Jonathan King, co-founder of the Black Alumni Ball and expo. “What other great way to bring people together and present them within an opportunity to connect, network and have fun doing it?”