Engage with BL²END leaders as they participate in a panel discussion titled, 'Reflecting on Success.' During the session, BL²END leaders will share their personal and professional journeys, and reveal the secrets to how they are using their skills to attribute to their individual success as well as the success of the organization.
Mercedes Barragan is the Senior Consultant on the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion team at Spectrum Health. In her role she is focused on consulting, working with Internal Resource Groups and is also responsible for creating (I&D) communication strategies.
Prior to her current role, Mercedes started her career at Spectrum Health in June 2015 as a Community Manager in Information Services where she created and implemented the communication strategy for the Information Services department and managed the internal website. Prior to her career within Spectrum Health, Mercedes jump-started her professional career as a Marketing Communications Specialist at Cascade Engineering focusing on internal communications, design and event planning. She also was involved in the development and implementation of Cascade Engineering’s diversity and anti-racism activities and policies.
Mercedes holds a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising and Public Relations from Grand Valley State University and a Master of Business Administration from Cornerstone University. Barragan also serves on the BL²END Advisory Council (Business Leaders Linked to Encourage New Directions) after serving as the Marketing Communications Co-Chair from 2011 to 2014 and President from 2015 to June 2017. She is also a member of the Society of Latino Professionals and Latinas of West Michigan Network and a graduate of the Latino Talent Initiative from Ferris State University Latino Business and Economic Development Center. Since 2012 Mercedes has helped launch and spearhead the Young Professionals of Color Conference (YPCC) touching hundreds of young professionals in Grand Rapids. Through her work with BL²END and YPCC, Mercedes lives her passion of helping advance professionals of color in their careers and in their communities.
Brian was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. He attended Grand Valley State University where he obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance and Economics in 2008. Brian began his career as a commercial credit analyst for Mercantile Bank of Michigan then transitioned to Herman Miller in 2011 as a financial analyst and leader of the Black Inclusiveness Resource Team. He is continuing his education as a graduate student in Grand Valley State University’s MBA program. In the community, he volunteers as a trustee for Revolution Christian Ministries and participates on the Junior Achievement Titan Business Challenge organizing committee. Brian joined the BL²END Board in January 2009.
Charise Tucker was born and raised in Detroit, MI and graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Journalism with a French Minor from Grand Valley State University in 2010. She is a writer for the Grand Rapids Times and does freelance work in writing in Grand Rapids. In addition to her work with BL²END, Charise has been an active member of Alpha Kappa Psi Co-ed Business Fraternity since 2012 serving as the Professional Development Chair, continuing her passion to serve the community and develop as a professional. When she is not writing, she is dancing in hip hop classes in Grand Rapids or creating choreography to share with her old dance team at GVSU, Rhythm in Blue. Charise joined the Board in January 2013.
Latoya was born and raised in Flint, MI, and relocated to Grand Rapids in 2002. She graduated from Davenport University with a Bachelor’s of Business Administration and a concentration in Human Resource Management in May of 2010. Latoya currently works as a Sr. Recruiter and Managing Partner for Management Business Solutions, a staffing firm in downtown Grand Rapids. She is an active member and Sunday School Teacher at New St. Mark Baptist Church. She also co-founded One In Christ Ministries, an organization committed to serving, helping and motivating women in the local community. One In Christ has partnerships with shelters such as Degage Ministries, Hope Community, and Liz’s House where they volunteer time, provide food, clothing, and items of necessity, and mentor individuals in their programs. Latoya joined the BL²END Board in January 2011.