2019 Elections Candidates

President Candidate

Genaro Stewart

I am running for president of Thursday Network because I have immensely enjoyed being an active part of this 26 year old organization’s community work, professional development and civic advocacy. When Maudine Cooper dreamt of a young professional auxiliary, centered in the Greater Washington D.C. area to serve as torchbearers for this civil rights organization she couldn’t have imagine that today this organization made up of ambitious, talented young leaders would have had the forethought to establish an empowerment academy for youth transitioning from middle to high school, awarded over $100,000 in scholarships, annually host one of the largest Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service events and has continuously provided food to over 100 families each month for over 10 years.

My decision to run manifest in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., "Everybody can be great because everybody can serve." That definition of greatness and service conveys that the important work we do is bigger than any individual, ego or title. I am ready to continue to lead this organization in its many accomplishments and “first.” But I want us to be first in love, first in moral excellence and first in generosity.

With your support, we will continue to grow our outreach, our impact and ultimately leave a legacy with an even better future than WE proudly inherited.

I currently serve as Vice President of Thursday Network and have previously served as chair of Personal and Professional Development. Both positions have afforded me the time to become intimately familiar with the organizations structure, mission areas and interrelationship with Greater Washington Urban League and the National Urban League and YP. Separately, I have served in a variety of positions on executive boards for 100 Black Men, Young Professionals in Foreign Affairs, the American Red Cross and military organizations. 

A couple of areas I’d like to focus on include:

HBCU Outreach: 
More African-Americans are going to college than ever before. But African-American college students are more likely to pursue majors that lead to low-paying jobs, setting up many for future debt and underemployment. And over time these occupational choices contribute to the wealth and opportunity gap between whites and blacks that spans generations. Preparing college students for the post-college transition is a professional space Thursday Network is poised to develop specialize outreach, mentorship and career development in. 

Establishing a Health and Mental Wellness Subcommittee: 
While we as an organization have done programming in the areas of self-care and mental health, there continues to be a negative stigma surrounding mental health in our community. Instead of seeking professional help for conditions such as depression and anxiety, many in the community resort to self-medication (drugs, opioids, alcohol, etc.) or isolation in an attempt to solve their problems on their own. This issue of masking pain is especially prevalent amongst black men. Working alongside other organizations and professionals in this area is something we must be more intentional in our efforts to seek out sustainable social change.

Member Support and Development:
An area many organizations struggle in, is in member retention. While Thursday Network has enjoyed positive success in this area, establishing a plan for keeping members engaged in the organization and incentivizing their contributions must be a priority. While members routinely develop relationships and networks among themselves, providing greater access to the Greater Washington Urban League executive leadership and their expanded networks is an area I hope to afford our members to develop and grow in. 

The president of Thursday Network not only leads the young professional auxiliary, but they also sit on the executive board of the Greater Washington Urban League and represent the organization as a voting member on the Council of Presidents at the National Urban League Young Professionals. Why is this important? Simply put, the role of the president in these different forums is not only a powerful optic, but also a seat at the table, representing an opportunity to be heard and to raise issues that directly or indirectly impact the organization. Thursday Network is one of the original young professional organizations established even before the National Urban League Young Professionals were founded. This role sits on the shoulders of a long legacy of leaders and embodies enormous responsibility to speak truth and do so with humility. At the end of the day, we are an auxiliary group of the Greater Washington Urban League and the relationship between past and present Presidents has remained transparent and firm. I intend to continue that legacy.

Having previously served in two executive positions in Thursday Network, I am prepared to allocate whatever time is required to ensure we execute impactful programming, successful community outreach and innovative personal and professional growth for our membership. 

Vice President Candidate

Brittany Cummings

I am keenly aware of the value and importance of getting involved and giving back. Starting in college and continuing beyond graduation from Georgia State University, I volunteered for several organizations in my industry, in my community, in my church and beyond. Then I had an amazing opportunity to relocate to New York City for a career-redefining promotion. I became totally dedicated to my new career in public relations and marketing, and my volunteer work, quite frankly, took a back seat. Once I left NYC and made my Washington D.C., I realized I needed to get back to my roots of volunteerism and giving my time and talents to worthy causes. That is why I was so excited to service as TN's 2018-2019 PR/Marketing Chair, and am just as excited to continue in leadership as 2019-2020 Vice President. With the current political climate, organizations like GWUL and TN are more important than ever to ensuring that the future of our community is secure. I can't wait to continue the work of The Movement in this extremely pivotal time.

The job of a Vice President is ensure that the organization is the best it can be; the VP is in many ways the Chief Operating Officer, serving alongside the President/CEO. I am uniquely qualified to serve as that COO because I have been doing it for my entire career, both professional and in the volunteer space. I am currently a Vice President at Edelman, the world's largest public relations and communications firm. In that role it is my job, among other things, to keep my teams on track, and ensure we are delivering what our clients expect. As VP of TN, I will keep the organization on track, to ensure we are delivering for our members and ultimately for our community. As PR/Marketing chair I often went beyond my role to offer ideas to all of the chairs about programming, and work alongside them to help that programming come to life. I will continue to work just as hard as TN's next Vice President.

If elected to this position I plan to continue to build on the great work of the previous Vice President while working to refine and elevate the organization as a leader among young professionals in civic engagement and economic empowerment in Washington D.C, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County. I will work to implement initiatives that focus on specific issues facing our community in the areas of housing, education, and climate. I will also work to implement more programs that help members, such as a jobs board and a mentorship program.

CEO George Lambert has shared his desire to lean into technology and bring more technological know-how to GWUL and Thursday Network. Given my background and current work, I am more than capable of helping to bring this vision to fruition. I can use my technology skills to implement practices to help Thursday Network run even more efficiently, while also helping to position Thursday Network as an expert in this area. I would also be happy to help coordinate workshops or other instruction for organization members and leaders who wish to know more about things like website coding or social media.

I understand this position requires a significant time commitment. I am willing and able to commit that time.

Secretary Candidate

Brittany Bell

I love what Thursday Network and what GWUL is doing in the community. I am anticipating the great feeling and honor to be actively involved as an office member. I want first hand involvement with continuing the legacy and implementing changes. I believe I would add value to our board and be an amazing secretary.

I hold a BA in Organizational (Business) Communication; I will say that within my professional career journey, all of my positions have been tied to one thing administrative work and supporting organizations. I've found, administration and support it is something I am good at I enjoy doing. It is most times the people that we do not always see who make the greatest impact; I challenge myself to continue to be one of those people.

If selected for the role of secretary I would look into having a calendar linked to all TN members email. This calendar could potentially update members when events are happening and prompt members when new events are added.

I am willing to provide what ever time that is needed for the organization to run seamlessly.

Treasurer Candidate

Joseph Kitchen

I believe that any organization like Thursday Network exists on these three Ms. Mission, Money, and Membership. The Treasurer has a unique responsibility to ensure TN has the resources to meet our mission. The treasurer also has a duty to safeguard and protect the members most precious assets, our resources.

I believe I bring a wealth of experience and vision to this role and I look forward to continuing to lead in this area.

Current Treasurer of the Thursday Network

Former Assistant Treasurer - NAACP of PGC
Vice President, Finance - Young Education Professionals - DC
Fmr. Finance Committee Member - CA Conference of NAACP Branches
Fmr. NAACP - National Board (Finance and Budget Committee)
Member - Fund Development Committee - Thursday Network
Member - Membership Committee - Thursday Network

If elected to another term as your Treasurer I am hoping to engage members of the ELC in an effective and vision driven budget process at the outset of our term. I will continue our evaluation of all TN financial arrangements, begin to lay the groundwork for an internal audit, and regular more exhaustive information relative to our financial condition to membership.

It is my belief that Thursday Network is a best in class model for how we do this work. However it is also my belief that we can still learn from our peers. To that end my job is to take what we know works well here in TN and use it to support our fellow chapters across our network.

As of this term I have regularly spent at least four hours a week in dedication to this role.

Civic Engagement Chair Candidate

Kawanza Billy

I am running for the role of Civic Engagement Chair because I believe my innovative way of thinking can guide Thursday Network forward as change agents. We are in a unique position that allow us to support both our general body and the communities we service in a real way. I want to take my experience supporting advocacy and outreach groups along with training from the Washington Bureau to prepare us for 2020 and beyond. 

I supported former Public Advocate of NYC (currently Attorney General of NYS) Letitia James in an outreach capacity for six months in 2015. My undergraduate degree is in Political Science with a community affairs concentration. In October 2018, I completed a certification in Social Impact Strategy. In April 2019, I complete the Washington Bureau’s Advocacy Certification Program. I currently designing curriculum and facilitate trainings for youth advocates and organizers. 

If selected for this role I would implement the following:

1. Advocacy Training for TN members
2. Partner with GWUL on Census Initiative 
3. Know Your Government Series TN members and the communities we serve
4. Partner with Washington Bureau to do youth focused workshops 

I would use my role as a bridge to resources and strategic partnerships that would increase the momentum of the movement.

I can commit myself to monthly committee meetings, leadership meetings, general body meeting and one committee hosted experience a month (workshop, media spot, resource sharing...etc). 

Community Service Events Chair Candidate

Briana Lynch

I would like the opportunity to lead and organize events to service my community. Since high school I have been apart of many community service organizations and activities where I was heavily active and passionate about. I think this is the perfect time in my life for me to become a leader and use my planning skills to create events that will fulfill my yearning in giving back to my community.

The qualities I hold that make be fit for community service events chair is that I am very organized , quick with problem solving, resilient, adaptable, great with multi-tasking and most importantly I have great communication skills. I believe my past skills in event planning will help out with prepping for events and staying organized with a plan and goals. On a weekly basis I use a planner to complete task in my personal life from working out to completing a work task or shopping. I know that planning and organizing is the key to a successful event especially events that are big and community oriented. 

The activities that I would love to implement as chair would be to focus on events catering to mental health and nutrition in black communities. I would also love to plan a field day of games and activities where people can get outside and have fun while networking. Lastly, I would like to host a tour with high school students at the National Institutes of Health to learn about different careers in STEM. 

I would use my role as community service events chair to impact Thursday Network, the Greater Washington Urban League, and the National Urban League Young Professionals by developing ways to communicate and have events between each organizational branch. I also would like to create outreach task to inform more people about the Urban League and its programs including areas in Maryland where we have fewer events. Finally, I would love to help improve the structure of each group by filling in gaps that are unsolved and creating efficiency on the board. I think using technology for example applications on phones and coming up with ways to make things accessible will benefit any organization.

I can dedicate 5 hours weekly including meetings and errands. As events are ramping up, I can most likely dedicate 10 hours or more.

Fund Development Chair Candidate

Derin Oduye

Over the past year, I have been a member of the Fund Development Committee. I have been apart of countless fundraising efforts. I don’t plan on a full transformation or realignment of the fundraising arm of the committee. I want to build on our collective successes. I will integrate my ability out-going and caring personality with proven success for fundraising. 

I am fiscally responsible, motivated and outgoing. I can bring a large network to the Thursday Network donor base and my experience has a volunteer and outreach coordinator for Americorps provided me with skills such as grant writing as well as soliciting funds.

Non-profit organizations such as Thursday Network will need to have a diversified donor base in order to engage with the communities they serve. One of the many initiatives I will implement in addition to existing grant writing and fundraising efforts will be to reach out to major corporations who have demonstrated a commitment to giving back.

I would use this role to implement changes where its needed and build on our success as an organization.

I can commit however much I am needed. 

Membership Services Chair Candidate

Harper Matthews

Being a member of Thursday Network has been one of the most meaningful and rewarding things that I have been apart of since moving to the District in 2015. I am passionate about TN's mission and I want to use my background in member development, strategic recruitment, member retention, and member experience to give back to an organization that not only means alot to me, but is doing incredible work in this city. Building authentic community is at the heart of who I am and serving in the role of Membership Chair would allow me to connect my passion for community building with the strategies I have developed in strengthening member experience and recruiting and retaining strong members who will further support TN's overall goals and mission. 

I have a strong background in recruitment, retention, and member experience. I began my professional career in undergraduate admission where I was provided with an in depth understanding of effective recruitment. There I learned to understand recruitment data and build strategies around forward facing recruitment efforts. I was provided with a wealth of knowledge in regards to strategic marketing, lead collocating, yield efforts, and the power of effective story telling and relationship building. Currently, I serve as a recruitment consultant for the internationally recognized sorority in which I am a member of. I work with collegiate chapters around the country who are not reaching their recruitment goals by developing a strategic recruitment and retention plan and then work directly with the collegiate women in successfully reaching their membership goals. Lastly, my current professional role has allowed me to become an expert in community and team development which are critical when ensuring that members feel seen, heard, and apart of a greater picture. I am truly passionate about member development and retention and I strongly believe that satisfied members directly impact the success of any organization. If elected I plan to use my background, skills, and passion to help grow Thursday Network and recruit more members who are passionate about the work that this organization does. 

My membership development philosophy is one that is member-centric. If elected, my first step would be trying to hear from our members to understand what is working and what has room for growth. I am a collaborative leader and I would rely on member experiences to help inform how to best serve the organization. Additionally I would work along side of my colleagues on the board to ensure that all decisions are made with both our members and our mission in mind. When thinking about member experience, my goal will be to serve as a resource for all of the committees chairs as I encourage and challenge them to think about strategic ways to further engage members at both the events they host and the committee meetings they lead. Whether you are an active member, prospective member, or a friend of a friend, my hope is that every TN event will provide opportunities of guests to connect both to each other and to the mission of the organization. It is also my hope to expand the understanding of the membership committee so that more talented TN members, especially those who have backgrounds in recruitment, human resources, member experience, etc, or those who are interested in gaining skills in these areas, are aware of what the membership committee does. I envision that a more robust membership committee will provide for new and creative solutions to TNs recruitment and retention goals and challenges. When thinking about member development and education I hope to build upon the current open house and new member orientation curriculum so that both are informational and engaging. Additionally, I plan to focus in on how to make the new member experience increasingly dynamic, implementing more ways to connect new members to each other, active members who have similar interests and passions, and to events and committees that will further engage them in the organization. 

The Membership chair has an incredible opportunity to be apart of the legacy of Thursday Network. If elected I would commit to not only lead the efforts in growing the organization but also ensuring that members understand the mission of not only TN but also the GWUL and the NULYP. I would use my background in education to ensure that the curriculum used to share the history, goals, and mission of our organization, is designed in a way that is easy to understand, share with others, and resonate deeply with. While it is easy for TN members to understand the TN mission and participate in TN events, if elected, I hope to expand the general understanding of how TN fits into GWUL and the NULYP. Additionally, I want to find ways to further educate members on their memberships benefits and incentivize members to participate in programming organized by GWUL and NULYP.

If elected to this position I would be fully committed to both serving in this role and as a collaborative team player on the board. I believe deeply in both excellence and follow through, priding myself on only committing to things that I know that I have the capacity to give my all to. If elected, this organization and it's members would be a top priority for me during the 2019-2020 term and I will dedicate the time needed to ensure that the duties of the membership chair are effectively fulfilled. 

Personal & Professional Development Chair Candidate

Antwion Jefferson

I am interested in serving in this position because I wish to improve the development of my peers both personally and professionally. I value not only the organization’s agenda, but the specific goal of the committee, which is to better oneself through maturity, accountability and the advancement of knowledge. In doing so, this action will create a community of change agents that will go on to impact the world an all aspects. 

I possess several characteristics that uniquely qualify me for the position. First, I hold nearly a decade of experience in leadership occupations managing projects with a minimum of 20+ employees. In conjunction to the professional leadership experience, my current role as an Executive Assistant provides a direct relationship to the demands requested of the Personal and Professional Committee Chair. This administrative experience demonstrates a proven history to provide workforce development trainings to professionally educate my colleagues on how-to become better employees. These trainings are designed to bridge gaps in order to improve work performance and culture. 

My role also includes experience collaborating with forward thinking leaders to construct a five year strategic plan utilizing partnerships to improve care and address health equity across the district and its surrounding areas. I believe this level of planning and strategic thought, in addition to my budget experience, demonstrates qualities that are specifically complimentary to the position. I have consistently been able to exhibit my capabilities at both ends of the spectrum from designing a strategic plan with outlined objectives to scheduling meetings to establish partnerships and for that reason I am qualified for this position. 

The primary initiative I wish to implement is an organizational needs assessment (Young Professional Needs Assessment or YPNA) to identify the goals and objectives of our current members. Then utilizing this assessment to develop a plan of action to address the needs of our Young Professional family. Other initiatives I wish implement are improving workforce development, financial literacy, establishing an effective work life balance and improving mental health within the minority community. Currently, these issues are negatively impacting us and our community and should be addressed to prepare the next generation. 

If I was elected to this position, I would use my role to expand the organization’s growth in the professional arena. This can be achieved through establishing more personal community partnerships with wider resources to bridge gaps and address membership shortfalls. A larger network can create can a stronger community of resources we can pull from to support the pillars of the Urban League. 

In terms of passion, I do not believe one can quantify a time commitment through a set amount of hours. This organization is a passion driven volunteerism effort and I am committed to and focused on achieving the unified mission of community service, civic involvement, economic empowerment and personal and professional development of our Young Professional family. 

Public Relations Digital Media Chair Candidate

Brian Tolbert

I have over a decade of experience developing brands and developing visual experiences. I feel that I can draw on this experience to contribute to Thursday Network in a meaningful way.

I am a multi-disciplined designer with a unique experience of working with some of the world's largest brands all the way down to single entity start ups to reach a variety of audiences.

I would implement a 7-step social media marketing and optimization strategy to increase engagement with our current audience and grow beyond our existing base.

If selected for this position I'll work with our membership body and executive committee to curate dynamic & highly engaging content to expand awareness of the Thursday Network, Greater Washing Urban League and NULYP brands.

Social & Cultural Chair Candidate

Chyna Grant

Having the opportunity to currently serve in this role, I want to continue bringing our members together in ways that are distinctive, engaging and impactful to them. I have begun to learn what’s appealing to our members and want to create a different portfolio of outings for them based on their own ideas and feedback. I want to keep letting our members know we are here to serve them and their input ties heavily into the kinds of events we have. 

Simply put, I have a passion for people and planning. I have over 10 years of experience planning events that fall on each end of the spectrum… from your neighborhood bake sales to 1000 attendee conferences. I have had the unique experience of being able to dabble in all aspects of event planning. Not to mention, a genuine zeal for bringing people together.

I would like to continue being the connector of the committees and implement more dynamic members-only events. I would also like to work with membership on giving our members more perks. 

I will use my professional network to serve as a resource for our pillars. I will task myself with looking for new ways to create partnerships with venues, caterers, and community leaders in the events industry.

I am dedicated to Thursday Network and I can continue to contribute as much time as possible to support our mission, the organization as a whole and our members.

Thursday Network

Greater Washington Urban League Building

2901 14th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
General Body Meetings occur on the 4th Thursdays of the month at 6:30p.

About Us

Founded in 1992, Thursday Network is comprised of over 200 young professionals committed to serving the Washington Metropolitan area through community programs and partnership that address the Empowerment Goals of the National Urban League. The mission of TN is to provide a forum for young adults, ages 21 – 40, to focus their energies on community service, professional development, and political involvement.


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