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ERG Spotlight: Leonetha Ward on Black History Month & Freedom Riders ERG

Written byAlyssa Cotrina
Posting date: February 19, 2024

Leonetha Ward, part of the Achieve Resolution team and the Freedom Riders Employee Resource Group (ERG), exemplifies Achieve’s commitment to their teammates’ growth, well-being, belonging, and impact. Leonetha's voice, intertwined with the spirit of the Freedom Riders ERG, resonates with the profound essence of Black History Month, underscoring the company’s pillars by highlighting the importance of diversity, inclusion, and empowerment.

A Personal Reflection on Growth with Black History Month

Leonetha shares thoughts on how Black History Month has shaped her from childhood–initially a time of pure celebration–into adolescence and adulthood, where she recognized the deeper historical struggles, leading to a profound appreciation of her heritage. Now as a mother, wife, and teammate, she combines these insights with her own experiences, stressing the importance of this month as a period for honoring past victories and embracing future responsibilities.

Leonetha also spotlights her admiration for Maya Angelou, a figure whose life and works have been a beacon of inspiration for her through the power of literature. She recalls, "Her humble yet outspoken character and intellectual vocabulary have always drawn me in, and unfortunately, I could relate to some of the trauma she suffered. I've always had a love of words. So, to see someone not in my home, who looked like me and enjoyed literature as much (if not more) than I did… I was, and have always been, in awe of her existence."

Belonging & Well-being through ERGs & Celebrating Black History Month at Work

Leonetha emphasizes the gravity of working in an environment that celebrates Black History Month, an imperative she was unaccustomed to until Achieve. She states, "I never realized the importance of this celebration until having it. It was unfamiliar at first, but now I cannot imagine working for an organization that doesn’t celebrate the diversity of ALL its teammates."

The Freedom Riders ERG stands as a testament to Achieve’s commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and empowerment. The resource has been a pivotal platform and fundamental part of Leonetha’s journey with the company for connection and growth, fostering a sense of belonging and community while providing teammates with the support they need to navigate growth-focused career paths.

Leonetha calls special attention to the Freedom Riders ERG Slack channel this month saying, "It will be used as a communication hub to share information for members and allies alike. Sub-committee members are taking turns posting valuable information that is instructive and insightful. Posts include resources and tools designed to educate peers and allies about the various aspects of the Black culture. Some of these topics include Black cuisine, experiences, and public events happening in cities where Achieve teammates reside."

Leonetha passionately encourages participation in ERGs, questioning, "What are you waiting for? Why wouldn't you want to belong to a group of like-minded individuals who are about community and empowerment?" 

Making an Impact through Empowerment & Knowledge

Leonetha also passionately champions financial literacy as a vital tool for empowerment within the Black community. She attributes the growing interest in financial education to an increasing awareness of its role in building wealth–a knowledge that was historically inaccessible to ancestors post-emancipation due to systemic barriers to education and vital financial resources. At Achieve, her advocacy is fueled by a commitment to overturning this legacy by fostering financial acumen and responsibility, recognizing it as a cornerstone for future prosperity.

Leonetha Ward's journey, enriched by her involvement with the Freedom Riders ERG and dedication to financial literacy, illustrates the profound impact of ERGs in fostering an environment of inclusivity, mentorship, and empowerment. Her story, punctuated by insightful reflections, offers inspiration to those seeking to make a difference within their organizations and communities, emphasizing the value of community, the importance of celebrating diversity, and the transformative power of information and dialogue at work.

Check out all of Achieve's ERGs to discover how you can become an ally and make a difference every single day: https://careers.achieve.com/culture
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