Black Alumni Society

Celebrating Black excellence

By Nastasia Boulos

Celebrating Black excellence

By Nastasia Boulos
The Black Alumni Society is hosting Our Story: Black Excellence, a three-day virtual reunion featuring forums providing insight on topics impacting wealth, health, and education, led by prominent institutional, student, and alumni leaders.

It's an event like no other, for a time like no other: a three-day virtual celebration of Black excellence featuring notable institutional, student, and alumni leaders—all joined by a common interest in advancing the University of Miami's commitment to racial justice, diversity, and inclusion—coming together to lead enriching conversations that increase awareness and help ignite change.

Developed by the University of Miami Black Alumni Society (UMBAS), in partnership with the Division of Development & Alumni Relations, Our Story: Black Excellence, will include activities and forums centered on building wealth, health, and education among alumni. With the aim of addressing inequities afflicting the lives of Black people within our society, carefully planned session topics range from investing, to systemic oppression, to confronting injustice, breaking stigmas, and the cost of racism.

"Participants will have the opportunity to learn, engage and grow through a series of thought-provoking sessions reflecting on the challenges, truths, and triumphs often experienced within the Black community," said Dorean Gordon Williams, senior director for special constituencies at the University of Miami. "We hope the event provides inspiration for the coming year and beyond."

Among the impressive lineup of speakers and panelists are notable University leaders who have been at the forefront of efforts to promote racial justice on behalf of the University including: Dr. Donald Spivey, special advisor to the president for racial justice, who will open the celebration with a State of the U on diversity and inclusion initiatives; Dr. Laura Kohn-Wood, dean of the School of Education and Human Development, who will moderate a discussion on systemic oppression and the urgency of venturing beyond cultural entrenchment; and Dr. Henri Ford, dean of the Miller School of Medicine, who will open Saturday's sessions on health topics impacting the community's growth and longevity. 

The event will also highlight the talent and expertise within the community and alumni leadership, including Marilyn J. Holifield, University of Miami Trustee and Senior Partner, Holland & Knight LLP; Kerlin Blaise, B.B.A. '97, formerly of the Detroit Lions of the National Football League; Kembala Evans, B.B.A. '95, renowned speaker, author, and entrepreneur; and Nicole Henry, B.S.C. '00, award-winning American jazz singer.

Two alumni who are innovative executives in the financial industry, Alice S. Vilma, B.B.A. '99, Alumni Trustee, President's Council member, and managing director, Morgan Stanley, and David Mullings, M.B.A. '03, B.S. '00, chairman and CEO, Blue Mahoe Capital Partners, will lead a conversation on why leadership matters.

Understanding that students lead the way in making progress in the halls of academia, former student leaders who've forged a path for change, including United Black Students founder Harold Long, A.B. '68, J.D. '71, will participate in a discussion on the history of Black student advocacy. They will be joined by current student leaders who continue to speak truth to power and inspire positive change, including: United Black Students President Landon Coles, Black Student Law Association President Ronnie Graham, Student Government President Abigail Adeleke, and Student Trustee Jordan Rhodes.

In addition to building awareness and highlighting the wide range of expertise within the University's Black community, the event will provide mentoring and networking opportunities for alumni and students. It will also include the One Book, One U program's signature event – a discussion with author Ijeoma Oluo around her book, So You Want to Talk About Race, which explores racial equality and social justice.

Led by UMBAS executive leadership, the reunion gathering reflects months of outreach and planning by leaders and committee members. "We hope participants will find actionable recommendations that can be implemented for robust and meaningful social change," said organizing committee member Michael J. Langley, A.B. '04.

Guests are invited to come together, celebrate, and support the work of UMBAS as they amplify the University's commitment to engendering a diverse, inclusive, and just culture throughout our institution. 

To see the complete schedule and register for UM Black Alumni Society Reunion, Our Story: Black Excellence, click here. For the schedule at a glance, see here

Our Story: Black Excellence is one of many events encouraging enriching conversations to advance social justice within the University community. Earlier in the month, the University of Miami Citizen's Board hosted a panel conversation in which students shared how those in leadership positions can create change and promote conversation about social injustice. For more Black History Month events at the U, see here.