Shining a Light on Five Team Members Who Shared Their Stories During Black History Month

By Kris Estrella  | 

Black History is undoubtedly American History, to be celebrated today and every day. But this month especially, we recognize the lives, struggles, innovations, triumphs, complexities and excellence across generations of Black Americans. At Extreme Reach, we’ve participated in a series of events that recognize the unique journey and groundbreaking contributions of a community whose legacy has been integral to the wealth, culture and fabric of this nation.

Extreme Reach stands proud in our commitment to uplifting the diverse experience of team members. Beyond our corporate measures of success, we build on a culture of respect and offer platforms to educate and celebrate our workforce on a human level that impacts and elevates our personal lives with new dimensions of understanding.

We’re pleased to share these spotlights of five team members, nominated by colleagues, who agreed to give us some insight into themselves and their lives.


Courtney Allen 

Director of Client Relations & Chair of ER’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee, New York, NY

Courtney Allen was elected to helm the DEI Group during a period of racial reckoning and cultural conflict that affected the entire country. Courtney’s emotional bandwidth and inner strength have allowed her to lead the team through difficult conversations with grace and compassion. Her work ethic has fueled her ability to carry out her duties as the Director of Client Services as well as shepherd multiple groups and projects within the DEI committee. The challenge of leading a team committed to racial justice and diversity during these historic times cannot be overstated. Courtney has proven that the DEI participants who elected her as the leader of the committee chose wisely. ER is a better place thanks to her efforts. 

What do you most want people to know about you?
Three things. I love hard, and in doing so, I fight even harder to protect the things that matter most to me. While I may know how to draw in the lines, that is very rarely my preference and I reject being stuffed into a box to satisfy someone else’s sense of ease, convention or normalcy. I value family, sincerity, freedom and adventure, and for as long as I can remember, art has been my portal into those spaces. 

What is your first, best memory?
My job dress. One year, one of Mommy’s best friends took me to “Bring your Daughter to Work Day.” Mom treated me to an adorable dress with red Polka Dots, which became known as the infamous “job dress” amongst my siblings. I was quite young but pretty serious and dramatic about this little outfit. Obsessed! We still casually bring up that dress and giggle about it these many years later.   

Who or what inspires you?
Love is both my gift and my inspiration. Every day I am inspired to be a better person so that I can pour into others without extinguishing my own fire. I am filled with the vastness of my Mother’s grace, generosity and the magnificence handed down from her Mother and I am moved to expand into the best versions of me. 

Who are your favorite writers?
I’m so glad you didn’t ask for just one!  The written word breathes life into me and I have been mesmerized by far too many avenues of brilliance to choose a single favorite. Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Audre Lorde, Lucille Clifton, Neruda are all among my favorites.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
We operate in a world where most relationships are transactional. In an ideal reality, I’d shift our values to honor compassion and empathy over power, monetary wealth and possessions. I think that level of exchange would open us up to huge change within ourselves and how we relate to one another. I’m both a dreamer and realist, so I’d happily settle for more compassion and less greed.

Is there a tradition you grew up with that remains important in your life?
Food is a full-on character in my family’s story. We laugh, cry and mend over meals. Whether it is a holiday or an impromptu family dinner, when we all get together, my women and I take over the kitchen, whatever kitchen, peppering whatever we prepare with pure heart and soul. After my grandmother passed away, I watched my Mom carry this labor of love for many years, alone, happily feeding our enormous bunch. It is my absolute honor to take her off of her feet and further this language of love.

 


Scott Walker

Traffic Manager, Pasadena, CA

Scott Walker is a remarkable colleague, amazing father, husband and storyteller. Over the last 7 months of a challenging year, Scott has poured passion, research and delicate care into crafting a two-part webinar series to share with Extreme Reach team members during Black History Month. “America Through Another Lens” achieves a beautiful balance of historical fact, inspiration and personal family history.

We posed a handful of questions to Scott to gain some insight into his big, generous spirit.

What’s your idea of perfect happiness?
Watching my 3 daughters (15, 14, 7 years old) laughing and having a good time together.

What’s your favorite quote?
From Ephesians: “For by grace you have been saved. It is not of your own doing.”

Can you share an aspect of Black culture that is meaningful to you?
Joy in spite of difficult circumstances

What gives you cause for optimism?
My daughters (#girldad)

Do you have a personal hero from fiction?
Black Panther


Latisha Griffiths

Director, Traffic Account Management, New York, NY

Latisha is one of ER’s Black female leaders. This Q&A provides insight into why so many of us adore her, both personally and professionally. Creativity, empathy and appreciation are woven into Lathisha’s leadership style. She’s been an outstanding source of support during a tumultuous period, generously and consistently offering tools, and her own time, to help her colleagues manage the stress and uncertainty of the past year while maintaining a sense of calm amidst the chaos. The effects of her holistic approach to managing are reflected every day in the collaboration and efficiency of her team. 

Describe what you most want people to know about you?
I am a lifelong Brooklynite who still marvels at the city’s beauty. I love the color purple. My favorite Brooklyn spots include Prospect Park and Peach Hothouse. When not working, I am playing with my new dog Charlie, hanging out with my kids and grandkids (I am the happiest when we are all together under one roof!) or being the first one in line when Dunkin and Starbucks launch their pumpkin spice latte in the fall! I have a passion for fundraising for cancer and autism. And I have found the secret to people opening their wallets through coquito fundraisers (my grandmother’s recipe!)

My family is most important to me and I balance my priorities daily. I consider MY TEAM my family as well!  I want people to know that I do my best and give my all when I commit to something and I expect the same from others :). I love my job and MY TEAM. I am fully committed to the quality of work we produce andam a big advocate for the whole teamI love God and keep the Faith in everything I do. I’m proud of myself and my achievements as the journey has not always been a smooth one. I always seek to improve myself and learn everyday. I am in awe of the amazing and talented people at ER. It is such a pleasure connecting with others and collaborating on various projects. I have learned so much in the last 4 years. I am passionate about making this world a better place. Who’s with me?! Small acts = huge results!!!

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
World Hunger (and homelessness). Growing up, I learned at an early age from my hispanic grandparents how food can feed the soul. My grandmother kept her doors open and fed the entire neighborhood. I still have people reminding me many years later, how my grandmother fed them and made them feel at home and a part of our family. My grandmother taught me to never let anyone go hungry.

What is your first, best memory?
One of my fondest memories is when I was a little girl (4 or 5 years old through my 20s) how I would sit at the kitchen table and drink coffee (Cafe Bustelo) with my grandmother and her friends. Her friends would come down stairs and sit and chat for hours. I learned how to speak spanish and to love the aroma of Cafe Bustelo brewing. Those times gave me a closeness with my abuela that I will always remember and treasure.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“From a Traffic standpoint…”,  “This makes no sense”

What is your most marked characteristic?
Being optimistic and having empathy

Who are your favorite writers?
Paulo Coehlo, Miguel Ruiz

 


Brian Hamilton

Director of Client Success, New York, NY

Working with Brian is an absolute pleasure. In the midst of onboarding an exciting new client, he and his team have pulled everything together and rallied all team members. The account has been very active and extremely busy. Because of their dedication, I am able to do my job more efficiently. #teamwork

What do you most want people to know about you?
At this point in my life I’m very passionate about mental health and making a positive impact in society. If we are fortunate enough to live life and learn lessons that garner positive results we have a responsibility to serve as an example and help pay it forward.  I want to make a difference in a personal way. If my mistakes can be a lesson and help another person then my purpose is fulfilled.

Which historical figure do you must admire/has most influenced your life or beliefs? Growing up as an African American Catholic Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Teresa were always included in my lessons. At an early age I learned the importance of equality and selfless giving, but struggled to understand why it was a difficult lesson for us to learn as a society. As an adult I do lose my way at times, but I strongly make attempts to model my life after these two very important people.

Can you share an aspect of Black culture that is especially meaningful to you? Strength and resilience. To be constantly told and shown that you don’t matter, or that you are less than, takes a significant toll on a person’s mental health. I have great admiration for anyone who can get up, day after day, to face the same ridicule — especially if they do not know when they will be on the receiving end of it.It sparks tremendous pride in my spirit to be part of a culture that has shown that kind of resilience for generations.

Who is your hero of fiction? This is a little embarrassing lol, but the nickname my close friends gave me is Superman. I have t-shirts and coffee mugs and keychains with the big “S”.  There are other reasons for the nickname, but I’m keeping that to myself 😉

Who or what is your biggest inspiration in life? My mom! She taught me what it means to be strong.  She taught me what it means to have a good work ethic. She taught me what it means to be humble and grateful and for that she will forever by my #1 inspiration.

 


Jameelah Barrett

Group Account Manager, Los Angeles, CA

As a leader, Jameelah communicates well with her team members. She is confident and remains calm in challenging  situations. With her knowledge of industry and system changes and challenges, she provides the support her team members need to apply new knowledge to their work. Her integrity, honesty, and overall character are reflected in everything she does.

What do you most want people to know about you?
Born and raised in Chicago where good food and many cold winters was my normal for most of my entire life. Throughout my childhood, I was heavily involved in performing arts. I enjoyed acting, singing, and dancing as well as playing basketball and being a member of the track team. I graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago, with a degree in Communications. I was also part of a dance troupe and looked forward to our many performances, which provided a creative outlet for me. 

In 2007, I began my career in advertising and spent five years at Talent Partners Chicago as well as working in production almost every Saturday as a video engineer with the legendary civil rights activist, Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Push Coalition organization. From there, I joined McGarryBowen in Chicago and in 2013 decided to pick up my entire life to move 2000 miles away from home to sunny California and begin my wonderful Extreme Reach journey.  

I have a passion to educate, as many would say, “with a calming demeanor”. I love to see people grow and flourish while we share that journey together. 

Self care is a priority in my life. My mindset is if you are not able to take care of yourself, you will be no good to others. I make sure that I take time to relax, get proper sleep, exercise and talk with family. I enjoy cooking and movie nights with the hubby! If you ever decide to hop on the plant based journey, feel free to check out my Instagram page @plantbasedfever for some inspiration. 

Can you share an aspect of Black culture that is especially meaningful to you?
The versatility of black cultural hair styles. 

Is there a tradition you grew up with that remains important in your life?
I grew up in an environment where exchanging gifts for holidays, special occasions, and celebrations was and still is very important to my family and I. 

Which living person do you most admire and why?
Michelle Obama – She’s a Chicagoan, intelligent and attended Princeton and Harvard Law. I love her passion for the youth. She exudes so much grace and has a great sense of humor.

What is your go-to comfort food?
Baked Mac & Cheese

What gives you cause for optimism? 
My strong belief in faith, as it helps to encourage me to push through tough times as well as hope for positive outcomes

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