Feature: Courtney Connley


Hi! I’m Courtney, the mentor in your head with a sweet spot for storytelling and helping millennials win in the workplace and at life.

After graduating from the University of Maryland, College Park with a degree in journalism, I, like most DMV natives, landed a comfortable job with the government to help me start on this crazy yet exciting journey of adulthood. After 365 days of freelancing on the side, applying to countless media jobs, feeling uninspired and itching for more in life, I left my “good government job” for my first editorial position in NY. While my journey thus far has been full of hard work, sweat, tears, prayer, and even rejection, I wouldn’t trade it in for the world. (Ok, well maybe the rejection part, but hey there is a lesson to be learned in every setback. )

I don’t promise to have all the answers for you, but I do promise to offer honest advice about what has and hasn’t worked for me. My hope is that the stories I share about my personal career/life, as well as tidbits from the awesome people I interview and meet will inspire someone to dream big, take risks and have faith.





Feature: Thembi Banks



 Thembi Banks, a writer, producer, director has been a storyteller all her life. Banks, won Best Screenplay for her film Only Light at the L.A. Indie Film Festival. She also produced and wrote Doors (2015) along with Mandala (2015). This talented, ambitious writer attended USC School of Cinematic Arts and has more screenplays to come.





Feature: Patricia Césaire


Living by the motto “Live life like everything is rigged in your favor,” Patricia Cesaire knows all about stepping out on faith and going after your passion.

Wearing the hat of a digital strategist, entrepreneur and corporate coach, Cesaire is known as the go-to person for digitally taking a brand to newer heights.

As the founder of the Cesaire Group L.L.C., she offers consultation to businesses looking to expand their involvement in the digital space. She’s worked with several top brands including Google, AMEX, and Pepsi, and even some local political campaigns. Admitting her fascination with the way people connect and communicate digitally, this young entrepreneur has shared her insights on numerous panels, workshops, and even on MSNBC.

With years of media experience that includes working as manager of audience development and digital PR for Warner Bros., Black Enterprise and Hill & Knowlton as a digital strategist, Black Enterprise is proud to welcome Cesaire back to the family as the host of a dynamic new season of Our World With Black Enterprise.

“I’m most excited about connecting our viewers to the learned experiences and insights of exceptional entrepreneurs and corporate leaders in the most entertaining format possible,” said Cesaire on her new hosting role.

Co-hosting alongside author, entrepreneur and professional matchmaker Paul Brunson, Cesaire says that Our World will fill a void in television that often provides inadequate coverage of black professionals.

“Our World highlights the successes of our brothers, sisters and friends,” said the Worcester, Massachusetts native. “There are so many remarkable black professionals making phenomenal career moves, and creating powerful legacies–we simply don’t see adequate representation of this reality across the majority of televised media. Our World mitigates this disparity by sharing positive, genuine narratives of amazing individuals across a myriad of industry and backgrounds.”

Catch Cesaire on the new season of Our World With Black Enterprise, which premiers for a new season this weekend and returns every Saturday, (check your local listings for times) and Sunday at 10a.m. on cable network TV One.





How Janet Bashen Became a Software Pioneer


If you Google “African American inventors and scientists,” among the results is the name Janet Emerson Bashen.

Bashen is cited across the Internet as the first African American woman to hold a software patent. The invention is LinkLine, software that assists with Web-based EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) investigations.

[RELATED: Black History Month: Then and Now in STEM]

“I came up with the idea in 2001. Not everyone had a cell phone in 2001. I saw that papers in process got lost. There had to be a way to take in complaints—something Web-based and accessible away from the office,” Bashen told Black Enterprise. At the time, she was working for an insurance carrier investigating EEO matters.

Employees file EEO complaints when there may be discrimination against them because of race, national origin, sex, or religion—all protected classes under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

She is the CEO of Bashen Corp., a national labor and employment consulting firm that investigates Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaints and also sells the LinkLine software to streamline the EEO filing process.

During her tenure at the insurance company, Bashen urged the CEO to handle EEO complaints as an independent party because there was no entity at the time doing so. The CEO dismissed her idea. It was at an Urban League convention that she serendipitously met someone from the company handling EEO complaints for the restaurant chain Denny’s, then fighting accusations of racism toward some black customers.

Bashen was offered the chance to handle the EEO filings for the restaurant chain which in turn, became her first contract as an independent business. Borrowing $5,000 from her mother, Bashen Corp. began.

She assembled a team to bring her vision for a software system to file EEO complaints to life.

“I started looking around, to say, ‘Who do I know?’” says Bashen. A cousin she had always looked up to, Donny Moore, had majored in computer science at Tufts University, She told him the idea and together, with a staff of EEO attorneys and an engineer, they mapped out the entire EEO process.

Bashen and her team decided to create the software using the ColdFusion platform, then, “the cheapest software on the market,” she says.

“We worked months and months on the design. At the same time, I contacted a very large law firm and told the team I wanted to see if I could get a patent because no one was doing this.”

The patent was submitted October 2001 while Bashen was finalizing the software code. The patent was not granted until January 2006 after a rigorous vetting process by the patent office.

Bashen has since received many accolades for her accomplishments including an MIT award in Africa for her out-of-the-box thinking. She credits her upbringing and her parents; a mother, who was the first black emergency room nurse in Bashen’s hometown of Huntsville, Alabama; and her father, who was a garbage collector, for much of her success.

“Every day they said, ‘You have to set an example,’”  Bashen recalls.

A version of this article appears in the February 2016 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.





Lt. Gen. Nadja West Becomes First Black Female Three-Star General



Lt. Gen Nadja West will be honored February 10, 2016 in an official ceremony formalizing her promotion to three-star general, making her the first African American woman to achieve that rank in the United States Army. She is also the highest-ranking woman of any race to have graduated from West Point, according to reports.

[Related: Black History at Home and Abroad: 13 Leaders Whose Impact Went Global]

Late last year, the 54-year-old military leader was confirmed by the Senate as the new Army surgeon general and commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM).  In that post, West assists and advises the secretary of the army and army chief of staff on healthcare matters in the military branch, and oversees development, organization, policy direction, and other initiatives related to the army’s healthcare systems.

West was also the first army officer to hold a leadership role at the National Naval Medical Center, a top-tier center in Bethesda, Maryland, where she served as a deputy commander.

“I was once an orphan with an uncertain future,” West told theGrio. “And I am incredibly honored and humbled to lead such a distinguished team of dedicated professionals who are entrusted with the care of our nation’s sons and daughters, veterans, and family members.”

West’s military career includes deployments during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and she was part of a medical mission with the 5th Special Forces Group. She has held command at two army medical centers, as well as the Europe Regional Medical Command. She has also served as joint staff surgeon at the Pentagon. She has other previous assignments as commander of Womack Army Medical Center in Fort Bragg, N.C., and division surgeon, 1st Armored Division, Army Europe and Seventh Army, Germany.

An alumna of the United States Military Academy at West Point and George Washington University School of Medicine, she holds a bachelor’s of science degree in engineering and a doctorate degree of medicine.




5 Key Trends In Online Marketing and How to Build Your Strategy


Toni Coleman Brown (@ToniBrown) is the CEO of the Network for Women in Business, based in Queens, New York. The network provides training and coaching services for female small business owners. Since 2002, she’s been engaged in working with women mostly in the home-based business arena but in recent years has expanded her reach and now works with traditional brick-and-mortar businesses & product inventors to personal and professional services providers.

In January 2012, she launched the Network for Women in Business (@Network4), an affordable online resource for women to get training, connect with other professionals and advance their businesses. The motto is “We EDUCATE to ELEVATE Women in Business.” Training is Coleman Brown’s passion and she’s passionately excited about the network being currently over 2,800 members strong with a social media following that tops 26,000 and growing daily.

Coleman Brown has assisted thousands of women entrepreneurs in the U.S. and abroad via her coaching and training services. “We help our clients improve their bottom line by providing up-to-date and cutting edge sales and marketing strategies that they can implement right away to positively impact their pocketbooks. Our strategies work both online and offline and are easily to implement and cost effective.”

She will be digging deeper and sharing these and other business strategies and techniques to grow small businesses at her upcoming Small Business Boot Camp for Women, happening July 18 in New Jersey.

Below she shares the latest trends in online marketing and proven strategies for increased visibility and sales on social media.

Facebook Retargeting: “If you think someone is watching you and following you around on the Web, then you’re right. They are,” Coleman Brown says. “The Facebook retargeting pixel allows Website owners to track their potential customers and follow them by placing ads on Facebook based on the pages they visited on their site. For example, if you log in to your Chase account, don’t be surprised that when you log on to Facebook you find an ad about some type of Chase credit card. Sweet right? Well, what’s even sweeter is the fact that as a small business owner, you have access to the same tools.”

Social Customer Relations Management (CRM): “By using dynamic small business tools like Nimble.com, you can now not only follow up with your customers and prospects via email or telephone calls, but you can follow up with them using social media. Nimble is one tool that is beyond brilliant for today’s market place,” she adds.

Utilizing Sales Funnels with Upsells and Downsells: By using an upsell or a downsell, online marketers are increasing the average order and lifetime value of their Web customers. “This is one of the most underutilized yet highly effective methods out there for increasing order values,” she says.

List-Building Using Lead Bait and Tripwires: Online marketers will always tell you that the money is in the list and they will use lead bait like free offers to build and grow to their lists. Today online marketers are using tripwires like a $1 trial or other low-costs items as a means to add more serious potential buyers to their lists.

Value-based Webinar Marketing: Offering free or low-cost educational webinars is another way to attract your ideal clients and customers. “This is a great way to allow your potential clients and customers a means of getting to know, like and trust you,” Coleman Brown says. “We all know that people do business with brands that they know, like and trust.”

For more information on Toni Coleman Brown, visit www.tonicolemanbrown.com. Also, check out part two of this interview, where Coleman Brown details social media strategy for businesses next week.