I am a new CoSN Board Member.  I was the CIO of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (OH). Today, I am the Director of Business Development at ENA.  I am African-American.


We, African Americans are energetic, determined, intelligent, beautiful, and peace-loving. I write this as a personal reflection of who we are during this very pivotal time history. We, as a community, must set forth new values, new goals and organize around these covenants as a PEOPLE. The time is long overdue for the community to redefine itself.

Today is a day that WE will be BRAVE and COURAGEOUS to and WITH each other.  We RAISE our FISTS to band in solidarity, not in hate.  We TAKE a KNEE to HONOR those that have fallen.  We protest with civil disobedience to speak out against those that oppress based on color, gender, or nationality.

During the days of Jim Crow, African Americans were forced to sit in the back of the bus. What is ironic about sitting in the back you get a clearer vision of what is really happening.  As strategic and awakened leaders, when we move to the back of the bus, our vision becomes much clearer.  What I am graciously reminded of is my purpose as an awakened leader is to be strategic, work tirelessly to contribute to the success of EVERYONE, and to make a better tomorrow for us all.

I was raised to treat everyone regardless of color, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, or their religious beliefs with respect.  Unfortunately, we still live in a society that devalues a person because of the color of their skin.  We cannot change the world until we begin changing ourselves. Change begins with the person in the mirror, accountability starts from within. Holding others accountable is exactly what the protesters are demanding.  Will you hold yourself accountable?  Will you step out of your comfort zone of privilege? Will you use your privilege to be the change?

The beauty of building a diverse “TEAM” with shared beliefs about diversity and inclusion is each person brings their whole self.  As I reflect upon my time as a CIO and those experiences as well as the teams I built, I was fortunate that I had leaders that believed in my knowledge and capabilities to meet the goals of the organization while leading and building teams.  I was determined not only to build great teams but diverse teams.  Teams with leaders that had passionate, outside the box thinking, diverse backgrounds, and extraordinary leadership qualities. I was intentional to find diverse leaders and I was committed to providing the opportunities for them to be successful.

I will be BRAVE and COURAGEOUS to STAND and KNEEL with my brothers and sisters in this fight to eradicate bias based on our cultural differences. I STAND UNITED with my fist raised in UNITY.

Will YOU?

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of CoSN.

View Rod’s session, The Superpower of Techni-Color in IT from the CoSN2020 Virtual Conference in May.