Black Alliance Employee Resource Group (BERG)

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December 13, 2023

About Us

Founded in 2021 by Dr. Jayco McGowan and Vickie Jones

 

The Black Employee Resource Group, better known as BERG, exists to cultivate an environment that promotes equity and inclusiveness through professional mobility, cultural responsibility, networking, education, and programs highlighting cultural awareness, diversity, unconscious bias, and global thinking.

 

BERG’S Vision is to provide a safe space and professional resources for underrepresented individuals affected by systemic racism, discrimination, and inequalities and to encourage solidarity amongst all staff, faculty, and students.

 

BERG hosts events both off and on campus to encourage dialogue amongst Black individuals and allies while uplifting spirits and promoting awareness. 

Upcoming Meetings

BERG - All Members Meeting

LOCATION

Virtual via MS Teams

DATE AND TIME

12/14/23 12:00pm - 12/14/23 1:00pm US/Eastern
Please join us for the next BERG All Members meeting. MS Teams Link: https://utmb.us/ag4
Join us virtual via MS Teams

HOLIDAY MESSAGES

Holiday Message


As we come together to celebrate the holiday season, it's a time to reflect on the richness and diversity that makes our community so special. Each of you brings a unique perspective, and together, we create a tapestry of shared experiences that enrich our lives and the workplace.


We invite you to spread joy and warmth in the spirit of unity and celebration. Let's generate a heartfelt holiday greeting that captures the festive essence of the season and recognizes and celebrates the beautiful mosaic of traditions within the Black community.



May this holiday season be filled with laughter, love, and a deep connection. Your unique contributions are valued and appreciated, and together, we look forward to creating even more cherished moments in the coming year.


Wishing you and your loved ones a joyous holiday season!

Kwanza


Kwanza is an African-American and Pan-African holiday that was created in 1966 by Activist and Professor Maulana Ron Karenga. The annual Kwanza celebration lasts seven days from December 26th to January 1st. The appropriate greeting during Kwanza is “Habari Gani” however, “Happy Kwanza” works as well for those who don’t celebrate but want to bring greetings. Although Kwanza resembles religion and has a rich African history, there are no religious ties or cultural exclusivity. During Kwanza, the Kinara holds seven candles one black and three green as well as red. The candles represent the people, the struggle, and the future. Kwanza exists to celebrate community, culture, family, history, and values with the seven principles or Nguzo Saba.


The seven principles of Kwanza include:

Day 1 Umoja (Unity)

Day 2 Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)

Day 3 Ujima (Collective Responsibility)

Day 4 Ujamaa (Cooperation)

Day 5 Nia (Purpose)

Day 6 Kuumba (Creativity)

Day 7 Imani (Faith)


Throughout the week, Kwanza is celebrated with various rituals however, on the 6th day, there is a large feast called Karamu, and on the 7th day, there is a gift (handmade, culturally relevant, and a book preferred) exchange primarily benefiting children.


Kwanza is a beautiful holiday with a rich history and is worth taking a chance to celebrate. It’s okay if you can’t or don’t desire to commit to a whole week, but we’d love for you to try one day. Galveston’s Nia Cultural Center has held a community-wide Kwanza for over 20 years at the Old Central Cultural Center. We would love for you to be our guest and see the celebration in the most authentic way. Watch BERG for updates on Kwanza events. 

Cultural Expressions: Kwanzaa | Maine PBS

Learn about the seven principles of Kwanzaa through real-life stories of impact.

Kwanzaa is a one-hour documentary that explores the seven principles that are the foundation of Kwanzaa by sharing seven real-life stories of impact. These stories reveal how each principle plays a role in the Black community, enhanced by cultural elements of dance, storytelling, music, and spoken word.

Read More

Honoring our Heroes: A Veterans Day Tribute

As the seasons change and the crisp air falls upon us, we also recognized Veterans Day which was on November 11th and paused to honor the brave men and women who have selflessly served our nation, defending the values we hold dear and ensuring the freedoms we cherish.

 

Veterans Day holds a special place in our hearts, offering a moment to reflect on the sacrifices made by our service members. It's a day when we express our deepest gratitude to those who have stood on the front lines, whether in times of conflict or the pursuit of peace. These remarkable individuals have dedicated themselves to a cause larger than themselves, and we appreciate their unwavering commitment. Each has a unique story but shares a common thread of courage, resilience, and love for their country. Whether serving on land, at sea, or in the air, their contributions have shaped the course of history and paved the way for the liberties we enjoy today.

 

The Veterans Employee Resource Group came together to pay tribute to the true heroes among us—our veterans. BERG Member Steven Baines was the moderator for the event, and BERG Immediate Past Chairman Richard Walker, was a panelist. Mr. Walker is also a veteran, and we express our gratitude for his service and all veterans who have served. Thank you to all our veterans for your service and sacrifice. Your courage is inspirational.

 

We must also remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice as we express our gratitude. Their dedication and heroism will never be forgotten, and we honor their memory by upholding the values they fought to protect. Their service has left an indelible mark on our nation, and it is our responsibility to ensure that their sacrifices are never overlooked. May we always remember the debt of gratitude we owe to these brave men and women.


Video message from Dr. Jochen Reiser, UTMB President and CEO of the UTMB Health System, honors and recognizes UTMB’s more than 850 students and employees who have served in the U.S. military. Their commitment to service and country—both in uniform and at our university—inspires us all.

Spotlight Member of the Month

Meet Meisha A. Wilson-Leonard, PT, MPT Embracing Community and Service 


We are thrilled to shine a spotlight on Meisha A. Wilson-Leonard, PT, MPT, a dedicated member of our team who brings passion and purpose to her role within BERG.


Journey to Involvement: Meisha found her way to our organization through the encouragement of our esteemed colleague, Steven Baines 😊. Initially "TOLD" to be a part of the group, Meisha soon discovered a deep connection to the organization's vision and goals during a meeting. The desire to be a part of a community that provides support and resources for employees resonated strongly.

Years of Dedication: With an impressive tenure of 8 years at UTMB and nearly 13 years at our Angleton facility, Meisha has been an invaluable asset to our team.



Family Ties: Outside the workplace, Meisha is a proud parent of twin 8-year-olds, Tristan and Teagan, showcasing their commitment to both family and career.

Future Aspirations: Looking ahead, Meisha envisions the next 5 years spent right here in Angleton, passionately treating patients. In 10 years, the hope is to be healthy and witness their twins embark on exciting adventures post-HS.

What BERG Means: To Meisha, BERG is more than an organization; it's a community and fellowship with individuals they may not have met otherwise. It's a source of support and resources, reflecting their commitment to the well-being of our team.

Gratitude and Fulfillment: Meisha expresses profound gratitude for health, family, and the joy of doing what they love every day. They believe in the adage that doing what you love doesn't feel like work, except for paperwork/documentation, of course!

Guiding Quote: A guiding principle for Meisha comes from 1 John 4:20, emphasizing the importance of love and forgiveness. This philosophy shapes their approach to relationships, bringing peace and fostering connections with others.

Recommendation for BERG: For those considering joining BERG, Meisha highlights its uniqueness as an organization for us, by us, and allies as well. They appreciate the intentional goals, representation, and inclusivity that BERG embodies, making it a valuable resource group for individuals in diverse roles across the system.

Join us in celebrating Meisha for her outstanding contributions and commitment to our shared vision!

Social Events











Black Owned Restaurants on Galveston Island





Allen’s Kitchen and Grill

3701 Winnie Street

Galveston, Texas 77550

(409) 632-2176



Leon’s World Finest

Bar-B-Que

5427 Broadway Avenue J Galveston, TX 77551

(409) 744-0070



Ophelia’s

3104 Market Street

Galveston, TX 77550

(409) 258-8091



Soul 2 Soul Café

5316 Broadway Avenue J Galveston, TX 77550

(409) 539-4351


BERG Outing at Cleo Lounge

Pearland’s Cleo Lounge is a cozy Black owned restaurant with a vibe that any and everyone can appreciate.

On Friday, December 1st, BERG built new connections and strengthened the existing ones while immersed in an eclectic environment. Cleo’s inspiration is clearly derived from Egypt, with the name and décor being an open love letter to the motherland. Every member of BERG was able to feel like a Pharoah and a Queen as we opened ourselves up to listen to one another. We pleased our palettes with light bites and R&B beats. We look forward to our next outing, and we hope that you can join us next time! 

Visit the Cleo Lounge Website

BERG in the Community

Stepping Together Towards a World Without Alzheimer's


A Heartfelt Recap of the Walk to End Alzheimer's


In the spirit of unity, compassion, and a shared commitment to making a difference, BERG came together with the Administrative Professionals Association and the Women’s Resource Group in October for the Walk to End Alzheimer's. This event not only raised awareness but also fostered a sense of hope and solidarity.

In the spirit of unity, compassion, and a shared commitment to making a difference, BERG came together with the Administrative Professionals Association and the Women’s Resource Group in October for the Walk to End Alzheimer's. This event not only raised awareness but also fostered a sense of hope and solidarity.

 

BERG members laced up their sneakers and donned the symbolic purple attire, ready to traverse the path toward a world without Alzheimer's. The event started with an inspiring opening ceremony, where stories of resilience and triumph over Alzheimer's were shared. Families, caregivers, and advocates took the stage, underscoring this disease's impact on individuals and their loved ones. It was a poignant reminder of why our collective efforts matter so much.

 

As the sun began to rise, casting a warm glow on the sea of purple-clad participants, the walk commenced along Galveston’s shore. The route was more than just a physical journey—it was a symbolic representation of the path towards eradicating Alzheimer's. Each step taken by our community was a declaration of our dedication to raising awareness, funding research, and providing support to those affected by the disease.

Leadership Committee

 

Advisory Board Members

Steven J. Baines 

Valrie Brown

E. Earl Butler

Creshonda Collins

Tammie Collins

Tomiko I. Fisher (Chair)

Lorraine Hunter-Simpson

Soshe Mayes

Richard M. Walker

Cindy West

Meisha Wilson-Leonard

 

Executive Co-Sponsors

David Brown

Kendall Campbell

 

BERG Founders

Vickie Jones

Jayco McCowan

Committees


Communications & Social Media:

Website: Michelle Conley

Social Media: Kyle Beede

Newsletter Contributors: Tomiko Fisher, Makia Golliday,

and Soshe Mayes

Newsletter editors:

Michelle Conley & Kyle Beede


Other Committees:

Please read the meeting minutes for committee descriptions



Membership & Events

Education & Resources

Recognition & Nominating

Social Action & Outreach


If you are interested in chairing or becoming a member of a committee, email berg@utmb.edu


Complete a membership application today!

Membership Application

Your copy should address 3 key questions: Who am I writing for? (Audience) Why should they care? (Benefit) What do I want them to do here? (Call-to-Action)


Create a great offer by adding words like "free" "personalized" "complimentary" or "customized." A sense of urgency often helps readers take an action, so think about inserting phrases like "for a limited time only" or "only 7 remaining"!

Email BERG

Seeking Member Ambassador advocates!


Openings at the following locations: 


  • Angleton Danbury Campus (ADC)
  • League City Campus (LCC)
  • Clear Lake Campus (CLC)


What does an ambassador do?

  • Gather feedback
  • Promote BERG participation
  • Disseminate information about BERG activities and share feedback with the Advisory Board


Visit our Website

Connect with BERG on Social Media!

Facebook  Instagram

UTMB Leadership acknowledges the significance of promoting and offering a platform for faculty and staff with common interests or objectives to engage in activities and social interactions. Our workforce can enhance their knowledge and contribute to positive transformations within our institution and local communities by engaging in Employee Resource Groups, Celebratory and Recognition Events, Affinity Groups, Training, and other initiatives.

Resource & Affinity Groups at UTMB