Black Leadership with Braven Board Member Roger G. Arrieux Jr.Posted on
Braven is proud to celebrate Black History Month by uplifting the voices of Black leaders in our community. Our mission is to address the education-to-employment gap that exists for underrepresented college students all across America, especially in a place like the Bronx in New York City that has been hardest hit by pandemic job losses.
We spoke to Roger G. Arrieux Jr., a Braven National Board Member and a founding Braven NYC Board Member, to gain insight into his professional journey and draw inspiration from his outlook on Black leadership.
What inspired you to join the Braven NYC board?
As a Haitian Black man in America, I am incredibly proud to sit on the board of Braven, both nationally and in New York City. The reality is that a Black person with a bachelor’s degree is almost twice as likely to be unemployed as compared to all college graduates in the same age range. What’s more, the median white family has almost eight times the wealth of the typical Black family in our country still today. The work Braven is doing is instrumental in closing the inequality gaps in our country for Black and Hispanic students and those from low-income backgrounds, and that is a cause that I am extremely passionate about.
What are some of your core values?
Personally and professionally, my core values include authenticity, stewardship, inclusivity, and resilience.
What/who inspires you?
If I listed everyone who inspires me, this list would be extremely long! In general, I’m most inspired by ordinary people who have had the courage and determination to achieve incredible things. For instance, I think of students who have overcome so much adversity just to make it to–and through–college, to become the first in their families to receive their degrees. These are individuals who might be working two or three jobs and helping to support their siblings all while taking a full course load. I am also inspired when I see positive change. While there is so much work to be done to ensure equity for all, I’m glad to see that many organizations are having conversations about social responsibility and are candidly desirous of changing practices that have put underserved communities at a disadvantage.
Tell me about your experiences breaking barriers in your field.
In my 30+ years of professional experience, I have often been the only Black man in the room. I am proud to have achieved a modicum of success and I constantly seek opportunities to pay it forward for other professionals, who also deserve a seat at the table.
How do you determine success as a Black leader? What qualities do you think are needed to achieve this?
Success can look different for each individual depending on their career aspirations. For me, success is being in a position to assist others with the achievement of success as they define it. My advice to young people is to develop relevant skills like problem-solving, teamwork, and excellent communication that will assist them with becoming a leader, and furthermore, never lose the zeal for continued learning and growth. Additionally, networks will also be crucial to their success. Young people need to make sure they have mentors who truly care about them and their professional growth and will offer them sound advice on their career journeys.
Are there any assumptions about Black professionalism/leadership that you’d like to change? Why?
Too often, it is assumed that talent sourced from schools other than Ivy Leagues is not exceptional, and this is often far from the truth. While talent is equally distributed, opportunity is not. Many Black students who cannot afford certain schools have the same skills and experiences but need help getting their foot in the door. I encourage us all to think intentionally about where we are sourcing talent and whether or not we are missing out on an incredible group of students because of our own biases.
What is your vision for the next generation of Black professionals/leaders?
My vision for the next generation of Black leaders is that they can feel seen, heard, and safe in the workplace and achieve their maximum potential. In order for this to happen, we need to dismantle racism, promote allyship, and empower equity for all in the workplace, regardless of industry. This generation of leaders needs to pave the way for our next generation.