Female Entrepreneur Reflects on Success in Male-Dominated Tech Industry

Women’s History Month has allowed Tonya Buckner time to reflect on her successful business, the role of her parents including her father who raised five children alone, and her faith.

Buckner owns and operates Buckner Management & Technology, Inc., (BucknerMT), a Bowie-based management and technology consultant firm that provides cybersecurity, information technology infrastructure, information technology integrated management, and supply chain management solutions to public and private sector businesses.

“Often times opportunity is created by a crisis, thus the reason for the BucknerMT formation,” Buckner said, in explaining how she started her business.

“My husband, Michael, was an employee of a federal contractor supporting a Department of Defense contract which was up for re-compete.

“Due to the uncertainty of what the future held, employees were leaving at a mass rate and, in order to retain him and his expertise, the contractor offered him more money and an opportunity to become a 1099 employee,” Buckner said.

Previously, she enjoyed a 25-year career with the U.S. Army, ExxonMobile Corp., Booz Allen Hamilton and the federal government as a subject matter expert in information technology and supply chain management.

Now, in her role as CEO, Buckner is responsible for enriching shareholders by providing the vision, leadership and strategy needed to grow her business. She also leads her firm’s cyber business segment, which consists of security governance and supply chain risk management.

Buckner attributes much of her success to her parents and to God.

“My mother provided the foundation to succeed, however, her passing did not allow me the opportunity to receive the lessons, guidance and unconditional love that mothers provide,” Buckner said. “But God said, this is not where my story would end. God blessed me with many incredible women to fill my mother’s shoes.”

Buckner said she would be remiss if she didn’t acknowledge her father, who “had the strength and courage to raise five kids alone after my mom’s passing.”

Since 2007, BucknerMT has supported the DOD’s Defense Information Systems Agency by providing engineering, integration and sustainable solutions to protect its critical military infrastructure, platforms and data.

“The breadth of my experience in governance and risk management, and program management, combined with my solid grasp of complex information technology and supply chain management issues, positions me to successfully support my clients,” Buckner said. “I have deep domain knowledge and experience in the areas of government contracting, financial management, marketing, sales and customer service, communication and negotiation, leadership, project management and planning, delegation and time management, problem solving, and networking all which are critical to running a business.”

While she has done well, Buckner says women remain scarce in the IT sector.

“While the technology industry is growing at an exponential rate, women and minorities continue to be underrepresented,” said Buckner who also is a participant in the Women President Education Organization Sage Advice Program. “Clearly progress has been made, but we still have a long way to go to achieve gender and racial parity in technology.”

With additional knowledge and skills from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, BucknerMT

recently expanded its support to commercial organizations and the company is experiencing rapid growth in revenue and contracts.

“It was the business and leadership skills learned through the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program that lead to our ability to expand our business to the commercial sector,” she said. “Our growth opportunity involved expanding the Cybersecurity, IT Infrastructure, IT Integrated Management, and Supply Chain Management solutions we were providing to the DoD to other federal agencies, state and local government, as well as commercial organizations. We accomplished this goal prior to graduating from the program.”

BucknerMT offers mentoring programs, personal development and workforce diversity.

“As a woman in technology, I find that it is still a male dominated industry. Often, I am one of the few women in the room and innovation is led by my male counterparts,” she said. “It is important remember that there is competitive strength through diversity. It enhances capacity for innovation. We need to continue to encourage women participation, urge leadership support, improve managerial relationships, and implement programs that hold companies accountable.”

Buckner also volunteers by serving on the Washington, D.C. Veterans Affairs Medical Center Infectious Disease Advisory Board.

Protect American Ideas Through Trade

We take for granted that the “ordinary” things we use every day are in fact extraordinary inventions and breakthroughs that took years of investment, work, and commitment to bring to life.

Among these are the technologies that allow you to watch a movie on a streaming platform or read the new novel from your favorite author on your tablet, or the life-saving medicine that wasn’t around 10 years ago, or even 10 months ago.

The United States stands alone as the global leader in innovation. For decades, we have recognized the tremendous value of innovation and creativity and established a strong intellectual property (IP) system that consistently rewards, protects, and pushes the boundaries of future possibilities. This system attracted investment from markets with weaker protections and gave birth to the core driver, and future, of the U.S. economy.

An unlevel playing field with our trading partners threatens this future by handicapping and hampering creative and innovative U.S. industries.

Trade enforcement and strong new trade deals are the keys to breaking this trend and putting U.S. innovators back on course. That’s why the recording, telecom, tech, motion picture, publishing, and other IP-intensive industries launched the American Creative, Technology, and Innovative Organizations Network for Trade (ACTION for Trade). ACTION for Trade is dedicated to shaping U.S. trade policy to protect our competitive advantage as innovators. We call on America’s trade negotiators to ensure our global trading partners properly reward and protect the innovation and creativity that drives our economic future and fosters development of tomorrow’s inventions.

As the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations and other trade talks continue, it’s critical to prioritize policies that support our global leadership.

IP-intensive industries drive our economy through job creation, high wages and increased exports. In 2016, U.S. innovative biopharmaceutical companies invested an estimated $65.5 billion in the search for new treatments and cures, bringing the total invested since 2000 to more than $600 billion. The industry supports almost 4.7 million U.S. jobs with average wages that are higher than most other industries and accounts for exports in 2016 that exceeded $52 billion.

Unfortunately, some international trade partners are threatening this progress.

Take price controls. When trade partners arbitrarily set prices of innovative medicines, or peg innovative products to older products, incentives for future innovation falter. Canada is one of the worst actors, with its Patented Medicine Prices Review Board, or “PMPRB”, grossly undervaluing innovative U.S. medicines. Not only does this raise numerous concerns under existing trade rules but it is also an area that a reinvigorated NAFTA must address.

Or, take the failure to protect creative works on the Internet. Too many of our trading partners employ overbroad safe harbor provisions that deny copyright holders the ability to protect their work from infringing activities online. Strong trade deals and enforcement of trade rules can tackle this threat.

Other nations are aware of America’s intellectual property leadership. They are prepared to deploy every tool to undermine it and bolster their own positions and industries. They undervalue and steal U.S. inventions and ideas. Weak and unenforced IP and market access trade rules encourage this behavior. Let’s put a stop to this and protect our innovative advantage. We can start with a strong NAFTA.

The IP-intensive industries that are a part of ACTION for Trade stand ready to work with the Administration and Congress to preserve and protect our creative and innovative industries and the nearly 60 million American jobs they support.

Brian Pomper is the executive director of ACTION for Trade.

Maryland Celebrates its Birthday With A Wide Range of Events

Maryland Day Weekend is filled with fun family friendly events that are free or just $1. There is a wide range of historical and cultural events that include nature hikes, historic home and garden tours, wedding reenactments, drum circles, playing with oysters, performances, walking tours and kids activities. The weekend of April 6-8, 2018 is a great affordable way for everyone to get out and enjoy the State of Maryland. This is the 11th year that the Maryland Day celebration has been sponsored by the Four Rivers Heritage Area to highlight the areas heritage and cultural sites. The sponsorship allows sites that typically charge an admission fee to either waive the admission fee or only charge $1 for the weekend. Most sites also bring on extra staff for tours, demonstrations and other events for the public to enjoy and enhance their visit during the Maryland Day weekend. “This is an opportunity to visit a wide range of historical and cultural sites that fits in every families budget.” says Erik Evans, the Marketing Director for Maryland Day. “The participating sites want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to come out learn about the heritage and culture of their community,”

The events and activities are all located at sites within the Four Rivers Heritage Area, located between Annapolis and the southern tip of Anne Arundel County. You will have the option to customize your weekend into themes if you wish. Pick options like historic home tours, maritime history, outside tours and hikes, African American history, kid’s activities, arts, historical reenactments and demonstrations.

Maryland Day Weekend Event Highlights:

Tour Historic Homes: Visit and tour the Deale Area Historical Society filled buildings from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Visit a two-room home, a one-room school, an African-American beneficial society building, an outhouse a tobacco barn, a Russian Orthodox chapel and various smaller buildings. In Annapolis check out the homes of two of our signers of the Declaration of Independence, the William Paca House and the Charles Carrol House and see the newest restoration work at the Harwood Hammond House. Plus don’t forget our Statehouse that is packed with history.

Enjoy the Outdoors at Historic London Town with a variety of demonstrations and explore their garden, the Paca House garden will have a historic wedding reenactment, watch a flag raising ceremony at the City Dock, and take a history hike in Bacon Ridge and a walking tour of downtown Annapolis or Brewers Hill Cemetery. If you want help creating your own native plant garden then the seminar and shopping specials at Green Street Gardens is a must. You can even play on the docks of the Annapolis Maritime Museum with fresh live oysters.

Kids activities are in abundance this weekend. Sites with kids activi ties include the Chesapeake Children’s Museum, Annapolis Maritime Museum, Historic London Town, Paca House, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts and several of the local libraries. Also check out the flag raising ceremony at Susan B. Campbell Park with the Mayor and music by the Annapolis Drum and Bugle Corps and flag detail by the award-winning USNA League Cadets of the Training Ship Mercedes.

Take in the Arts at Maryland Hall’s annual open house “Art Fest”. It’s an afternoon of fun for all ages; events include children’s drama and theater showcase, monoprinting, digital photo booth, music, dance, art demonstration and sale, exhibits, food trucks, and FREE Ice-Cream from Annapolis Ice Cream Company, Cow Tails and Caramel Creams from Maryland’s own Goetze’s Candy, Popcorn and Much More. If you have the kids with you walk across the ball fields behind Maryland Hall and take the kids to the Chesapeake Children’s Museum for more hands on fun.

Learn about our African American History at the Banneker Douglas Museum which is currently hosting two exhibits, Deep Roots and Rising Waters and Bent But Not Broken: An Artistic Celebration of the Spirit and Legacy of Frederick Douglas. Tour the Brewer Hill Cemetery the final resting place of ancestors from the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and members of the African-American Community and be a part of a drum circle with Kunte Kinte at the Chesapeake Children’s Museum. At the Galesville Heritage Society meet a 12th generation farmer and owner of Ivy Neck Farm. His great, great, great grandfather James Cheston, Sr. wrote a will in 1843 freeing 77 slaves upon his death. Learn about the court battle that ensued.

With three days of events you can make it the ultimate weekend experience by choosing to spend the night at a historic local inn or bed and breakfast or take the family out to dinner and enjoy our Chesapeake Bay cuisine and Smith Island Cake. For those that prefer cooking at home stop by the Farmers Market and shop directly from our local farmers and artisans.

Check out all the Maryland Day events below and visit Maryland Day online atwww.MarylandDay.org for event listing updates and shopping discounts. Some events require pre-registration.

President Trump, GOP Can’t Afford to Ignore Black Blue-Collar Workers

President Trump was voted into the White House in 2016 on the backs of the so-called, blue-collar workers, who live in the industrial Midwest of the country and a few southern battleground states. These folks reside in states like Wisconsin (Trump +.7), Michigan (Trump + .3), Ohio (Trump + 8.1), Florida (Trump + 1.2), and Pennsylvania (Trump + .7), etc.

Just like when discussing illegal immigration, most people think of people from Mexico; similarly, when you say blue-collar worker, most people think of white factory workers.

The Trump political operation and the Republican National Committee (RNC) are both making a flawed strategic calculation by not recognizing that blacks are also a part of this blue-collar pool of voters that are open to Trump’s plans and the Republican message of economic nationalism.

Just like with whites, blacks in the above states were devasted with the closing of the steel mills and the automation of the auto industry in the 80s and 90s. Many were high school graduates who didn’t go to college, but were good with their hands and were able to make a middle-class living the old fashioned American way—through hard work.

What Republicans fail to realize is that many Blacks are against amnesty for those in the country illegally and would also like to limit legal immigration.

The mainstream media-appointed, radical liberals of the civil “entitlement” industry have been bought and paid for by the Democratic unions. In my opinion, groups like the NAACP, the National Urban League, the Congressional Black Congress, etc., do not reflect the views of the black community— those groups merely reflect the views of their members.

When you look at the margin of victory by Trump in the five above states, you can plainly see that targeting black voters could increase his margin of victory.

If Trump were to give a series of speeches in front of black blue-collar workers in these five states, there is no doubt that they could insulate him from the typical liberal attack lines that he is a racist and only cares about his wealthy friends—as though there is something wrong with being wealthy.

I would go a step further. Can you imagine Trump giving a series of speeches with black blue-collar workers alongside black entrepreneurs?

Just picture a couple hundred blacks in a room; a black carpenter in overalls sitting next to the tie and jacket wearing CEO of a black IT firm; or a black electrician sitting next to the managing partner of a black CPA firm; or the black owner of a landscaping company sitting next to the owner of a black construction company.

Wow! What a visual.

What do all these blacks have in common? They all have been negatively impacted by illegal immigration and would be devastated by giving amnesty, i.e. citizenship, to those in the country illegally.

Can you imagine if President Trump were to ask someone like Harry Alford to organize such an event? Alford is the President and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce.

Alford’s Black Chamber of Commerce is by far, the most preeminent black chamber in the U.S. If you want to get the pulse of the black business community, one need only reach out to them. They have some of the most insightful data on the state of the black business community; they give the most insightful analysis on major policy issues and their impact on the black business community.

Here is a message to the Republican Party: Blacks are not opposed to the Trump administration’s agenda; simply put, no one is speaking to them in a language they understand and in a manner that is relevant to them.

Black blue-collar workers and black entrepreneurs both have been and are being devastated by workers who are in the country illegally. Why hire a blue-collar American worker at $25 per hour when you can hire an illegal worker for a lot less?

Entrepreneurs are being undercut on government contracts, because big companies are hiring engineers from India through the insidious H-1B program, while small business owners have to pay American engineers a lot more in order to compete.

Liberals have tried to equate Trump’s America First promise with America alone. America is the only country on earth that is putting others before its own national interest.

If this White House were to speak directly to black blue-collar workers and black entrepreneurs simultaneously, I can guarantee you that this effort would be quantifiable at the ballot box in this year’s congressional elections, as well as the presidential election in 2020.

Raynard Jackson is founder and chairman of Black Americans for a Better Future (BAFBF), a federally registered 527 Super PAC established to get more Blacks involved in the Republican Party. BAFBF focuses on the Black entrepreneur. For more information about BAFBF, visit www.bafbf.org. You can follow him on Twitter @Raynard1223.

Money Power Day Scheduled for April 7

The region’s biggest free financial fitness fair, “Money Power Day,” returns Saturday, Apri1 7 at Poly-Western High School.

More than 1,000 adults, teens and children are expected to attend the event sponsored by the nonprofit CASH Campaign of Maryland and its partners.

The event aims to boost the financial well-being of residents with activities designed to inspire and inform individuals of all ages and income levels, officials said.

Free workshops, exhibitors, credit counseling, financial planning and children’s activities will be available at the event which kicks off at 9 a.m.

“Money Power Day is all about hope and building a prosperous financial future regardless of where you are in that journey,” said Courtney Bettle, the director of Financial Capability for the Cash Campaign.

“It’s your one-stop shop for getting the support you need to achieve your financial dreams whether that’s starting or growing your business, home ownership, or paying for college,” said Bettle, a graduate of Goucher College and Johns Hopkins University.

As a whole, the African-American community has systematically been locked out of wealth building opportunities since being brought to this country and the CASH Campaign, along with its partners, are working to change that by reducing the barriers to accessing the resources and information Baltimoreans need to grow their savings and build wealth, Bettle said.

She said the tenacity and resilience of CASH Campaign clients inspires her each day. “It’s incredibly motivating to see our clients exceed their personal financial goals and gain peace of mind when they take control of their financial lives,” she said.

Originally from West Philadelphia, Bettle once worked for Baltimore City Public Schools in its Engagement Office where she supported the planning and implementation of district-wide community engagement initiatives like the community design process of the 21st Century Building initiative.

Prior to that, she was also involved in efforts to reduce hunger and poverty in Maryland and around the country.

“I was drawn to CASH because of the underling mission to build financial security for the most vulnerable families and support families in growing their personal wealth, particularly for people of color and women,” Bettle said, noting that she’s been at CASH since 2014.

“Money Power Day is so special because it’s an opportunity for individuals and families to receive support and encouragement in all areas of their financial life without the fear of being taken advantage of,” Bettle said.

“All the partners that make Money Power Day possible; the nonprofits, government agencies, financial institutions. They’re committed to helping Baltimore residents achieve their financial goals and to make it fun at the same time,” she said.

Congressman Elijah Cummings, Mayor Catherine Pugh and Bettle plan to engage attendees at the event while Pastor Franklin Lance of Mount Lebanon Baptist Church will give the Invocation. Fox 45’s Chardelle Moore will serve as master of ceremonies.

Bettle said the CASH Campaign of Maryland was awarded the Neighborhood Builder Award by Bank of America. In addition to a generous grant to the organization, Bettle represents CASH as the organization’s Emerging Leader in Bank of America’s national leadership program with Neighborhood Builder Awardees from the other markets across the country.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to learn and develop my skills as a leader,” she said.

For more information about Money Power Day, visit www.moneypowerday.org

Baltimore Native Among Superhero Line-up in Marvel Universe LIVE!

As the blockbuster hit movie Black Panther continues to set box-office records, Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes soars into arenas across the country. Feld Entertainment’s newest production smashes into Royal Farms Arena on Thursday, April 5 and runs through April 8, 2018.

The iconic Marvel Super Heroes Spider-Man and The Avengers are joined by the Guardians of the Galaxy, including Star-Lord, Gamora, Groot, Rocket and Drax, in a legendary battle to defend the universe from evil.

Baltimore native Anthony Briggs, Jr. portrays “Drax.” The 29-year-old Towson University graduate grew up in the Yale Heights area of Baltimore City.

“I am basically the muscle,” said Briggs. “Drax is of the warrior class.

He is always ready to go in any situation and jump in the heat of the battle. Playing Drax is a blast. I have a lot of fun. Drax is a muscle-bound dude who fights anything. The character also gives me the opportunity to highlight my field in Martial Arts.”

Briggs says he received his Martial Arts training at the U.S. Ninpo Academy under Sensei Robert Stevens.

“Growing up, Martial Arts was always a part of my life,” said Briggs who is 2nd Degree Black Belt. I also did some acting and stunt gigs.”

Briggs joined Feld Entertainment in 2017. He talked about how he “landed” the role of Drax.

“A friend sent me audition information on Facebook,” recalled Briggs. “I went to Washington, D.C. to audition, and received a call a year later for the show. Being a black male from Baltimore, I feel good about the work I am doing and being a positive role model. It helps to bring a positive light to the city, because now, we need it more than ever.”

Called on by Doctor Strange, the Guardians of the Galaxy join Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes on a momentous crusade against the scheming Nebula who teams up with the conniving and loathsome villains Loki and Green Goblin. The incredible superhuman forces of Iron Man, Thor, Black Panther, Hulk and Black Widow unite in clashes that pit student against mentor, sister against sister and brother against brother.

“This show is entertaining for everyone,” said Briggs. “It’s geared towards kids, but there are many things in the show that adults would appreciate such as the choreography and circus-style themes.”

The show boasts immersive video projection, cutting-edge special effects, dynamic aerial stunts, and daring motorcycle skills in the ultimate race against time to save mankind.

Briggs said he is looking forward to his return back to Royal Farms Arena in another capacity.

“I used to work at Royal Farms Arena when it was 1st Mariner Arena,” he said. “I was a transporter responsible for putting food on a pallet. To come back and perform is amazing. I had no clue that this was a possibility. It is really a blessing.”

He added, “It takes me back. I remember seeing the circus come through, but had no idea I would be performing in this arena. I am still star-struck even after doing more than 200 shows. I am looking forward to coming back home and performing for everyone.”

Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes opens at Royal Farms Arena Thursday, April 5, 2018 and runs through April 8, 2018. The character “Drax” is pictured far right.

Courtesy Photo/Marvel

Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes opens at Royal Farms Arena Thursday, April 5, 2018 and runs through April 8, 2018. The character “Drax” is pictured far right.

For tickets to see Briggs and the other Marvel Universe LIVE! performers, visit www.marveluniverselive.com.

Former Ravens Cheerleader Creates Hats for Preakness, Special Occasion

Ashley Clark, former Baltimore Ravens cheerleader.

Courtesy Photo/Soigné Hats

Ashley Clark, former Baltimore Ravens cheerleader.

Ashley Clark is a former Baltimore Ravens cheerleader who once dreamed of ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange and making hats with the word “Soigné” inscribed.

That dream— at least the one about the hats— has become a reality for the former University of Maryland student who has a vast collection ready for sale for upcoming high-society events like the Preakness Stakes and the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Both events are scheduled for Saturday, May 19, 2018.

“I’ve attended Preakness and other horse races for years and had trouble finding a hat I wanted to wear so I would make my hat. Then one night during graduate school I had a very vivid dream that woke me up out of a sound sleep,” Clark said. “In this dream I saw the name Soignè, myself creating hats on a grand scale and I was ringing the bell at the New York stock exchange. I woke up in a cold sweat and knew I’d just seen my life flash before my eyes. The next day, I went and postponed my graduate degree and devoted my life to learning the art of millinery and created the company.”

The result is the 2016 launch of Soigné Hats, which she followed up with a successful appearance at Boston Fashion Week and the confidence to make a hard push to the upcoming Preakness, the Royal Wedding and the duration of horse racing season.

Clark says she is excited to be part of the Preakness frenzy, and have Soigné be the go-to brand for women looking for high-end hats to complement their outfits.

“I can remember being five years old in ballet and tap having dreams of being in the spotlight, that light didn’t dim as I got older, it only became brighter; making the Ravens was a dream come true for me,” Clark said, reminiscing about her first practice on the field and how there’s nothing like standing on the sidelines at M&T Bank Stadium where she performed as a Ravens cheerleader for three years before applying to law school.

Today, Clark’s company has hats for all tastes. There is the “scandalous nobility” collection; the “sophisticated aristocracy,” and “daring dames.” From those are styles like “The Royal Orchid,” “The Angelic Queen,” and “The Countess.”

“My favorite style is a homburg, because it’s a mash-up of a pork pie and fedora,” Clark said. “I try to create a variety of styles that will be unique and innovative. Every day I see something that gives me an idea for a piece. I always carry a notebook and pencil, so I can sketch out a rough draft of something right away. Once I get the idea on paper I then create an official drawing and write down all the material I want to use next to the drawing. I order the supplies I need or grab them from my studio – it’s always over flowing with fabric and sequence, feathers and beads – then I sit down and start to build the piece.”

Clark, whose family members are Italian immigrants says, she draws inspiration from her mother and grandmother.

“They both were single mothers who raised their children and gave us everything they had while still being the most stylish women I’ve ever met. It impresses me just to think about it,” she said.

Outside of her family, Clark says her fashion icon is Iris Apfel because “she is incredibly fearless and brilliant with her fashion sense.”

Coco Chanel also counts as a fashion favorite because Clark says a little-known fact about the icon is that she started out by making hats and Clark’s goal ultimately is to take Soigné public and build a legacy and fashion empire.

Her response to what advice she would offer to aspiring women entrepreneurs, “Always ask for help when you need it. I am never afraid of constructive criticism, it makes my product better,” Clark said. “Also, be sure to spend fifteen to twenty minutes meditating and recognizing the blessings in your life— thanking the universe out loud by naming the great things that have gone on and are currently going on. It keeps you grounded and focused. The positive energy makes every day more productive for me.”

To preview Clark’s collection, visit http://soignehats.com.

Videos Created by Youth Speak About Violence in City

A ray of hope prevailed in Baltimore City as the Kennedy Krieger Institute: Center for Child and Family Traumatic Stress brought together students, trauma experts, and community groups to screen two mini-documentaries March 22, 2018 at the Parkway Theatre. About 50 persons attended.

The students from the Trauma Stress Center created the videos with the help of New Lens, “a youth-driven social justice organization that makes art and media about issues where a youth perspective can inspire change.”

Break the Chain; the first video screened showed how middle school students through the Kennedy Krieger program come together to face violence and abuse.

The video begins with the middle school film creators explaining the mission of the video. “There are a lot of events throughout this video. They might make you emotional or angry. This video shows how we come together in group therapy to face violence and abuse,” they said.

The second film, “B’more Loving” expresses the sentiments of high school students living with gun violence.

“Everyday I look at the news and because of guns…. he barely missed me,” said one of the youth about facing gun violence in her neighborhood.

Another young person said, “I lost a cousin to gun violence and it still affects me.” “Life can be taken away in a snap,” said another youth. “It upsets me, and I try to forget about it. Then, it’s like “I am used to it,” another youth said.

Crevontaye Lee, one of the high school student producers of B’more Loving, said, “We created the film to show that guns are not the answer.”

After the video screenings, the creators of “B’more Loving” served on the first panel. Erricka Bridgeford of Baltimore Cease Fire; and James Timpson, of Safe Streets spoke of their organizations’ efforts to stem violence on the second panel.

Safe Streets is a City of Baltimore program that puts savvy street mediators in marginalized unsafe communities to prevent violence and to avoid police intervention. Erricka Bridgeford, director of the nonprofit Community Mediation program, created Baltimore Cease Fire to appeal for the end of gun violence murders over a 72-hour weekend. The program runs periodically.

Both panelists used colorful, audience-appealing language to describe their missions. Timmons talked of “thug recovery” and Bridgeford,” described the “Huxtables of the ghetto” using Bill Cosby’s television family sit-com.

Sarah Davis, a Kennedy Krieger Institute trauma therapist, who helped the youth pull together the video, defined violence as “an intentional act to cause harm to other people.”

Dr. Elizabeth Thompson, Assistant Vice President, and Director of the Kennedy Krieger Institute: Center for Child and Family Traumatic Stress underlined the mission and her passion for the work.

“We desire to provide high-quality treatment to underserved, and under-resourced youth to facilitate better-coping strategies,” Dr. Thompson said. “Traumatic stress is a significant event that happens to a child that overwhelms their psychological or physical ability to cope.”

Youth and parents in need of the Center’s services, should contact the intake coordinator at 443-923-5980 or email: Diggs@KennedyKrieger.org.

Don’t Dissuade Your Kids From Pursuing Liberal Arts

— Approximately 3.6 million seniors will graduate from high school in the spring, and it is estimated that more than 65 percent of them will enroll in colleges and universities. Their parents are rightly concerned about their futures, but too many of them push their kids to pick the so-called “practical” majors in science, technology, engineering and math.

“They think degrees in STEM subjects will ensure a prosperous future. It’s only natural. But, they may be making a big mistake by trying to dissuade children who want liberal arts degrees,” according to author, publisher and education advocate, David Bruce Smith.

Smith believes that the study of such subjects as history, literature and philosophy can be the infrastructure of a successful career.

And, so have others. According to Philipp Frank, the author of Einstein: His Life and Times, Einstein said: “It is not so very important for a person to learn facts. For that he does not really need a college. He can learn them from books. The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks.”

Despite a decline in the number of students who choose to study the liberal arts, there is a growing demand among employers for those who graduate with degrees in the humanities. Employers are just beginning to realize that prospective employees with this credential, understand the human condition, better—and the things that motivate us, according to Smith.

“The study of math and the sciences certainly makes one an effective practitioner in the workplace. But, a successful liberal arts education produces decision makers who are able to draw on a diversity of viewpoints and opinions. In the workaday world of business and commerce that is an exceptionally valuable asset,” said Smith who is co-founder of the Grateful American Book Prize.

Smith and the late Dr. Bruce Cole, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, founded the Prize in 2015 to encourage young learners to acquire a love of reading and history. They saw that a 21st Century obsession with technology was creating a deficit of interest in the humanities among students, and a noteworthy lack of knowledge about their nation.

“So, we created the Grateful American Book Prize as a way of encouraging authors and their publishers to produce more historically accurate works of fiction and nonfiction that would capture the imaginations of America’s younger generations. Our hope is to instill a wish to learn more about the events and personalities of our country’s past. The aim is to help them grow into practical thinkers and good citizens–qualities that can make them productive, responsible, and successful leaders in whatever careers they choose in life.”

Johns Hopkins Study to Examine Role of Fruit, Vegetables in Protecting Kidneys

Johns Hopkins University is collaborating with the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities will try to determine if eating meals high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and lean meats can protect the kidneys and reduce damage.

The study titled, “5+Nuts & Beans for Kidneys,” targets low-income residents in East Baltimore who have high blood pressure and early stage kidney damage.

The participants will receive free, healthy groceries from ShopRite and will meet on a regular basis to discuss how they can maintain a healthy diet. They will also meet with coaches and clinicians during the trial.

“While in the past research was focused on how best to treat chronic kidney disease, in recent years there has been greater interest in preventing chronic kidney disease in the first place, and the role that diet, and dietary pattern can play,” said Dr. Deidra Crews, an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. “Interventions to improve the dietary quality of this high-risk group should consider these factors.”

The National Kidney Foundation discovered that because of high rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, African-Americans have an increased risk of developing kidney failure.

Foundation officials say African-Americans need to be aware of these risk factors and visit their doctor or clinic regularly to check their blood sugar, blood pressure, urine protein and kidney function.

Tests reveal that African-Americans suffer from kidney failure at a significantly higher rate than whites— more than three times higher.

African-Americans constitute more than 35 percent of all patients in the U.S. receiving dialysis for kidney failure, but only represent 13.2 percent of the overall U.S. population.

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure in African-Americans, who are twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes as whites. Approximately 4.9 million African-Americans over 20 years of age are living with either diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes.

“The homes of urban African-Americans with risk factors for chronic kidney disease were often lacking either the foods or needed appliances for preparing [appropriate] meals,” Crews said, adding that she is looking at whether improving eating habits may help address the differences. “Disparities in kidney disease have not received the attention that they should. There are not very many people working in this area.”

Reportedly, people who eat diets rich in meat, cheese, eggs and other animal-based foods tend to have a higher acid load in their bodies that some research has shown can injure the kidney. Fruits and vegetables have more alkaline qualities.

Beginning this year and continuing for five years, the study will test the effectiveness of dietary advice delivered by a study coach and assistance with weekly online ordering of $30/week worth of potassium rich foods delivered by a local grocer to a community location for reducing urinary albumin excretion among African-Americans with hypertension and chronic kidney disease.

Participants will be recruited from primary care clinics in Baltimore City.

There are two phases of the study.

In Phase 1 (months 1-4), one study arm will consist of minimal guidance from the study team and a weekly allowance of $30 dollars to purchase food and drinks of their choosing from a local grocer.

In Phase 2 (months 5-12) neither study arm will receive a food allowance, however the second arm will receive telephonic visits and dietary advice from the study coach.

Officials are hoping to find concrete solutions after the study is complete. Meanwhile, Crews says diet remains important.

“People who live in poverty have less healthy dietary patterns and their dietary patterns could influence the rate of kidney disease,” she said. “My hope is to examine this modifiable risk factor for poor health and determine if this method of delivering healthy foods improves outcomes for African-Americans with hypertension and kidney disease.”

For more information about the study, visit http://fiveplus4kidneys.weebly.com/.