This dynamic panel led by members of the BL²END Board of Directors and a financial representative from Edward Jones will include shared experiences of young professionals of color during the pandemic, how to leverage your unique skills in the workplace, and tangible tools on how to attain financial sustainability. COVID-19 has directly impacted our community. Join us as we highlight the importance of staying prepared in the face of another possible crisis.
Moderator: Erica Soto, President of BL²END
Panelists: Dr. Andrea Blue- President Elect, D.L. McKinney- Vice President Elect, Naomi Silas- Digital Marketing Chair, Jessica Lehti- Edward Jones
- How have you adjusted to the challenges & changes connected to COVID, professionally?
- How have you advocated for yourself and your entrepreneurship during COVID?
- What should young professionals avoid in order to ensure they will be prepared for possible crisis?
- How can young professionals negotiate for better pay according to their skills and experience?
- What are some adjustments you have made to your work/life balance?
- What are some tangible tools our participants can utilize in order to be better prepared financially?
- What are three ways our participants can ensure sustainable financing and stable cash reserves for the future?
- How can your organization continue to connect young professionals to important resources during and beyond COVID?
Erica Soto has lived and served in the City of Grand Rapids for over 15 years. She is a mother and dedicated community leader. Erica joined the BL²END Board of Directors in 2017, as Marketing and Communications Co-Chair and was elected President of the BL2END organization in 2019. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree from the University of Phoenix in 2017.
Erica’s leadership experience includes advocacy for under-served communities, advocacy for the disability community, youth development and programming, bilingual education, and community connection. A graduate of the Latino Talent Initiative, now known as LEADeres, through Ferris State University and serves as the Kids Summit Coordinator for the City of Grand Rapids Neighborhood Summit. Erica was recognized as a Top 50 Latina in Michigan in 2018 by the Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan for her service and leadership in the community. Erica believes that all professionals of color deserve intentionally created spaces that support their growth and uplift them to their highest potential.
Dr. Andrea Blue is the founder and owner of B & J Enterprises, LLC where Blue Pathways Educational Mentorship Services and Paramount Recruitment Agency were birthed. Dr. Blue’s education includes a Doctorate of Management and Organizational Development in Higher Education Organizations; Colorado Technical University. This business is dedicated to helping students, parents, business owners, and organizational leaders develop a plan for success for themselves and others. The focus is on career, education, employment, entrepreneurship, and personal development through mentorship. Dr. Blue enjoys working with startups, small or midsize businesses, large corporations, and non-profits. These plans are designed to increase student retention rates and decrease student dropout rates with black and brown girls in underprivileged and underrepresented populations.
D.L. McKinney is a Detroit native turned GVSU “Laker for a Lifetime” Grand Rapids resident. With a work history that is everything but orthodox, D.L. boasts a hefty career in laboratory science, leadership, and social justice change. D.L. has earned degrees in Business Administration Economics and a Master’s in Public Administration and Health. Currently, serves as support to QTPOC folx as a member of various community committees, Director of Drop In (AYA Youth Collective), Co-owner and Principal Consultant (Paradigm Shifts), and Vice President-Elect of BL2END. D.L. continues to work from a lens of racial and social justice to support individuals and communities, in building their capacity to challenge internal and external systems of oppression to create sustainable change.
Naomi was raised in Gary, Indiana. She is a graduate of Kendall College of Art and Design, receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design in 2008. She is the Principal Designer at Seventh Creative in Grand Rapids and is also a Community Builder at Urban Core Collective. Currently she is pursuing a Master’s degree in Social Innovation at Grand Valley State University and will graduate in April 2021. Naomi is the 2019–2020 Orosz Fellow at the Johnson Center for Philanthropy, researching effective nonprofit board development. She has been the Diversity & Inclusion Director for AIGA West Michigan since 2017, a local chapter of the Professional Organization of Design. Naomi is passionate about using design and research as tools to work interdisciplinary and to create systemic change across sectors and industries.
As an Edward Jones financial advisor, I believe it’s important to invest my time in understanding what you’re working toward before you invest your money. Working closely with you and your CPA, attorney and other professionals, we will determine appropriate financial strategies for you and your family.
In 2013, I began my career as a financial advisor serving clients in the Jenison/Hudsonville area. I became a limited partner with Edward Jones in 2018. I believe in the spirit of giving back and have held numerous leadership roles with Edward Jones, including field trainer, diversity inclusion specialist and mentor, as well as completed two asset-sharing programs.
I earned my bachelor's degree in finance from Adrian College.
I earned the AAMS® professional designation in 2017. The College for Financial Planning awards the AAMS® designation to individuals who successfully complete a professional education program, pass a final examination, commit to its code of ethics and agree to pursue continuing education.
I earned the CFP® professional designation in 2019. The CFP® designation represents an individual's ability to apply financial planning knowledge to client-specific situations in the areas of financial planning, taxes, insurance, estate planning and retirement.
My family and I have lived in the community almost 20 years. I love being able to serve and make a difference in the community. A special passion of mine is helping widows, divorced women and single women understand where they have their money, what it is doing for them now and what they can expect in the future.
I believe investments should be tailored to your needs and not based on generic guidelines for someone your age or at your stage of life. We offer investment solutions tailored to all your financial goals.
I would like to help provide answers to your questions so you can make informed, financially sound decisions. Please contact me to discuss your situation and options.