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Seattle Housing Authority Residents Bringing Digital Inclusion to South Seattle

On Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019 Senator Patty Murray convened a round table discussion at the Seattle Housing Authority in support of her Digital Equity Act of 2019. At the table was the SHA resident-led initiative Building Our Bridge, funded by the City of Seattle’s Technology Matching Fund, which brings multilingual technology instruction to SHA’s Rainier Vista community.

Developed by SHA residents for SHA residents, this digital inclusion program uniquely understands the challenges poverty, disability and disenfranchisement bring. Laughter rang out in SHA’s Rainier Vista classroom on July 5th, 2019 as six Vietnamese elders and one grandchild gathered to learn technology in their own language. An 84 year old student says she didn’t get an opportunity to go to school and now she goes everywhere she can. She overheard someone talking about the Building Our Bridge classes and she asked them, “Please, take me where you are going.” With JAWS and NVDA assistive technology installed on our machines we were proud to welcome Joseph and Hoa Dinh to our Vietnamese program.

Building Our Bridge Vietnamese Instructor Xuan-Nhi Cao

Joseph has a degree in computer science and both he and Hoa are blind and are active on the Resident Planning Committee which includes the hiring of staff. Bilingual Instructor Xuan-Nhi Cao is a Primary Teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary who went door to door to Vietnamese households in Rainier Vista to promote the classes, and bilingual Assistant Thu Van Tran is an SHA Temporary Assistant Property Manager Trainer for HOPE VI who knows the community’s needs well and is acquainted with several of the students.

The Oromo program was taught by bilingual Instructor Mohamed Mohamed and bilingual Assistant Fekadu Tuli. Mohamed Mohamed is the Assistant Systems Admin / IT Technician at Refugee Women’s Alliance and Fekadu Tuli is an educator with the Seattle Public Schools who is spending his summer volunteering with the Horn of Africa. During the Oromo program students were excited to create resumes and access The Source, a Seattle Public Schools portal through which parents can monitor their children’s academic progress on-line.

English program Instructor Anjana Ravi is a computer literacy instructor at the community college level who hosted the program in June using our curriculum donated by the Seattle Public Library, which includes moussing, keyboard, email, internet, MS Word & resume, social media, parent engagement and The Source.

On Friday, August 16th, 2019 Building Our Bridge hosted a tri-lingual Tech Clinic in which volunteers from Full Life Care came to the site to help residents troubleshoot issues with their devices. In two hours participants were able to change their computers to write in their native language; install LibreOffice as a free alternative to MS Word; increase the font size on a tablet; address a malfunctioning CD drive; and learn from their peers where to buy low-cost refurbished computers. We’re delighted to welcome program assistant Sakina Hussain, herself a Rainier Vista resident who has worked with SHA Community Builder, Jennifer Calleja on numerous projects in the neighborhood. She has a background in journalism and has worked for MSNBC, MSN and Microsoft. We’re excited to have been recommended for funding by the City of Seattle Technology Matching Fund in 2019-20 and to include a Somali program next summer. We’re reaching out to East African and Southeast Asian organizations to build a network of local technology resources for our students which we will translate into their languages and share with community partners.

Individuals and organizations interested in partnering with us to achieve our goal of hosting multilingual computer classes year round at a permanent computer lab, please contact Elizabeth Kennedy at ekbuildingourbridge@gmail.com, (206) 495-3974 for more information.

Building Our Bridge Vietnamese Basic Computer Skills class graduates, July, 2019

Rachel Chandler Biography

Rachel Chandler is a fashion photographer, model, and American DJ. Her work history is as eclectic as her personal style and the way she spins tunes: when you spend time with Chandler, you never know exactly what you are going to get.  She is currently a partner in Midland Management and Casting, having founded the agency in 2016 with Walter Pearce.

Career At Midland Casting

Based in New York, Midland Agency is renown as one of the freshest and most revolutionary voices in the modern fashion industry. Chandler and her business partner, Pearce, work to burst through the traditional industry standards of beauty by engaging with diverse clientele and breaking down the walls of common fashion mores. This unique approach allows Midland’s clientele to move organically beyond the confines of traditional fashion modeling and into unique fashion concepts and casting opportunities. The prime goal of Midland Management is to give people a new way of looking at fashion, and critics agree that Chandler and Pearce have been successful.

Launch in 2016

In a piece by W magazine in 2016, Pearce and Chandler earned their reputation as an unlikely pair who would bring the practice known as street casting into the national spotlight. On paper, the two seemed like an unlikely pair; Chandler at the time was 29 and earning a living as a photographer; Pearce was 21 and a street-cast model best known for his work in Hood By Air. In the interview, Chandler noted that their agency’s goal was to thrust street-casting – and the cast of real-life characters that go with it – into the national spotlight. At the brand’s launch, the pair represented 16 clients that represented a wide variety of nontraditional fashion interests – there were local artists and musicians, and even a lawyer by training.

In an interview, Chandler noted that there is a trend in the industry toward less conventional modeling. It meshes well with her photography career – over the course of it, she has been naturally drawn to the icons living out their lives in the streets of New York. Her keen eye for seeking out beauty outside of the traditional standards speaks to a paradigm shift in the industry itself. Chandler and Pearce seized on the opportunity to celebrate the unexpected icons living among us. Indeed, brands like Calvin Klein and J.Crew have been turning to street-cast modeling, and Midland Management provides the opportunity for clients to have day jobs or other obligations, unlike other casting firms. [See Rachel Chandler on Models.com]

Chandler recalled a time when she was eating lunch with a friend and saw a person walk by outside. Abandoning her meal and her company, she ran after the man and convinced him to sign with Midland Management. Shortly thereafter, he was cast in a Helmut Lang Show.

Midland is also unique in that it is a hybrid organization that both manages and casts models. Though this dynamic is more popular in Europe, it is less so in the United States, and Midland is working to successfully fulfill a niche for those who may not fulfill traditional archetypes.

Photography Career

Chandler’s career in fashion photography matches her philosophy behind model representation and casting. Prior to creating Midland Management, Chandler worked with Eckhaus Latta year round. Eckhaus Latta, a fashion brand founded by Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta, is renown in fashion circles for using unexpected materials and exploring texture in their design. They are also known for their use of unconventional models, having worked with non-model models like chefs, artists, skateboarders, and writers. Eckhaus Latta’s photography, video, and fashion work has been displayed at the Whitney Museum, the Hammer Museum, and the MoMA.

Working with Eckhaus Latta turned out to be a career boon for Chandler, who ultimately signed two of her own models for Midland who she met through Eckhaus Latta’s casting calls. Chandler is widely regarded as having a sought-after eye for capturing beauty and discovering talent in unlikely places. Her unconventional methods have always been coveted in fashion circles; in 2012, Vogue covered a New York store opening that she photographed using only Polaroids.

Personal Life

Rachel Chandler was born and raised in Los Angeles. In her teens, she moved to New York to study the History of Art at the Gallatin School. While studying there, she also participated in a number of internships and art organizations and photographers, including the renowned Patrick Demarchelier. She would soon be known for her uncanny ability to capture the vibrant scene in which she works, which would translate into finding fashion talent in the most unlikely of places.

Chandler has been a regular photographer and contributor for Purple Diary, Vogue, and Industrie Online in addition to her work at Eckhaus Latta.

To earn extra money, Chandler also DJed at the Standard Hotel, Avenue, and Beatrice Inn. But don’t think of her as another “slash.” In a 2011 interview with Paper, she noted that there are a lot of model-slash-actresses-slash-DJs. She didn’t want any part of that. She never wanted to DJ, but she did always want to be a photographer. DJing was a means to an end – it allowed her to buy equipment, cultivate her talents, and ultimately shaped the successful photographer and entrepreneur she is today.

Future For Midland Management and Casting

Today, Midland Management and Casting continues to break through barriers and reform what it means to be an icon in the fashion industry. Their unique vision is resonating with some of fashion’s most popular labels: to date, Midland has worked with Gucci, Miu Miu, Zara, Marni, Mulger, Jason Wu, and Rag and Bone. When asked how they choose the talent they work with, Chandler’s answer is simple. In an interview with Vogue, she noted that instead of finding a person who looks like a girl, Chandler will find you an “Actual” girl who is less gendered, less traditional, less overtly pretty, but more real.

This is the kind of future you can expect from Midland Management and Casting – less adherence to the traditional archetypes of fashion and more representation through a diverse cast of individuals who make up their own unique form of beauty. In Chandler’s view, Midland Management represents a cultural shift in what it means to be beautiful.

A Huge Win for 3M and Bair Hugger, Federal Judge Dismisses Lawsuits from over 5,000 Plaintiffs

Bair Hugger Lawsuit Victory

Over the last six years, lawsuits against 3M have been slowly making their way through the legal system and 3M has been rigorously defending their product, the Bair Hugger. The lawsuits claim that 3M’s patient warming system, the Bair Hugger, causes post-surgical infections. The judge tossed out the lawsuits because as 3M stated originally when the lawsuits were filed, the Bair Hugger is a perfectly safe for patients used them during a surgery.

The legal victory was announced on Thursday. In a statement released by 3M, the general manager of 3M Medical Solutions Business, Dr. Todd Fruchterman, says that this victory is a win for not only 3M but for patients, hospitals and doctors everywhere who use Bair Hugger. The benefits of using Bair Hugger on patients who have to undergo surgery are numerous and the lawsuits continue to prove Bair Hugger provides a critical component to an operating room.

The plaintiffs claimed in their lawsuits that the Bair Hugger could increase the risk of infection in a few different ways. One claim was that the blower could be colonized with bacteria and has the capabilities to blow bacteria in the air above a surgical wound. Another claim is that the blower can suck up bacteria particles from the floor and blow those particles over the surgical wound. The lawsuit also claimed that the Bair Hugger could disrupt the ceiling to floor airflow that is designed to remove skin particles from the operating room. U.S. District Judge Joan Erickson in Minneapolis ruled that none of the plaintiff’s experts could prove the above claims.

Dr. Fruchterman said in the statement, “There is no legitimate scientific support for the plaintiffs’ theory. We are pleased that the court has dismissed all of the cases in the multidistrict litigation. “ He concluded with, “Most importantly, we want physicians and patients to understand that the practice of patient warming is supported by leading health care institutions, professional societies and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Our industry-leading 3M Bair Hugger system has been proven to be a safe, effective and efficient method of delivering patient warming therapy.”

The Bair Hugger was invented by an anesthesiologist from Minnesota named Dr. Scott Augustine in 1987. He pioneered the idea of using a warming blanket to keep patients warm during a critical time during surgery. He invented the Bair Hugger as a means to warm a patient’s body before, during, and after surgery to help prevent perioperative hypothermia. During surgery, the body is not clothed and operating room temperatures are kept cold keep the staff comfortable during a stressful time. These two factors were known to cause hypothermia in patients.  Other benefits of warming a patient during surgery include less bleeding and a fast recovery post surgery.

After the invention of the Bair Hugger, the device was used in hospitals all over the country. The Bair Hugger also made Dr. Augustine a lot of money. For decades, the device was used with no complaints or issues until Dr. Augustine had a very public falling out with the board of his company.

The company that sold the Bair Hugger warming device was Arizant Inc. and in 2002, he resigned as chairman and CEO.  There as a disagreement and he decided to resign but the reason was never made clear. Shortly after, Dr. Augustine and Arizant settled in court over Medicare fraud concerning a different device that he had invented. In 20014, he pled guilty to a single misdemeanor charge stemming from the Medicare fraud investigation. He then sued Arizant claiming that they owed him the $2 million fine from the fraud charge and under a settlement he received $5 million. Arizant during this time was purchased by 3M. The product then became the 3M Bair Hugger.

Once the lawsuits were settled, Dr. Augustine did not stop there. He then rallied against 3M and the Bair Hugger, his old invention, claiming that his old invention was faulty. He said that the Bair Hugger poses a danger to surgical patients receiving implant devices such as heart valves and joints by spreading bacteria via the forced air. The bacteria can then potentially cause infections that have life threatening consequences.

All these claims sound very alarming but the one thing that Dr. Augustine did not have was proof of his claim. Also, his defamatory statements came a very coincidental time for Dr. Augustine. He had just launched a competitive product to the Bair Hugger and it was believed by individuals who were familiar with the technology that these statements were designed to drive interest to his new product.

He went so far as to speak out about the Bair Hugger and professional medical meetings and had studies underwritten on his behalf to try and prove that the Bair Hugger was responsible for spreading bacteria throughout the operating room. He put videos on his new website that suggested that his device was superior and safer than the Bair Hugger.

Professionals and specialist in the medical field found his claims to be unsubstantiated however, the legal community saw an opportunity. A false rumor spread that the Bair Hugger was responsible for post surgical infections and the lawsuits soon followed. However, these Bair Hugger lawsuits are proving to be built on baseless accusations. This dismissal is a huge win for 3M but there are still two similar cases pending that were filed in Texas and Missouri. This legal victory for 3M sets the tone for the rest of the lawsuits moving forward. Experts believe that these other lawsuits are also just as baseless and believe that they too will be dismissed.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bair_Hugger

Monica Crowley Assumes the Position of Assistant Secretary of The Treasury for Public Affairs

When American citizens think of the Department of the Treasury, they might immediately think of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and paying their yearly income taxes. They would be correct because that is, indeed, a vital part of the duties of the Department of the Treasury. However, there is much more that the Department does within this branch of the United States government. As Monica Crowley steps into the role of Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Public Affairs, she understands the weight of history the position brings with it.

With the 1789 Act of Congress, the Department of the Treasury and has been an important cornerstone in how we live, work, and do business in the United States and abroad for centuries, but the institution did not start there.

Its history began years before 1789, during the American Revolution, a war which won the United States of America their independence from England. The problem patriots of the American cause faced was how they would pay their debts and finance a war. The Congress of the time did not have power to collect taxes or procure money from outside investors and governments. The representatives of the Congress devised a way to issue credit, or promissory notes, based on faith in the cause in the form of paper money and coinage. 

Without a strong economy, many in the United States would be left without employment and, therefore, means to support themselves and their families. It is the job of the Department of Treasury to promote economic prosperity at home as well as on the world stage as ambassadors of America. The Department of the Treasury also advises the President on economic matters to better inform about potential policies and investments.

More specifically, the Department of the Treasury is comprised of two branches within the executive agency at large: the departmental offices and the operating bureaus. The departmental offices handle policy and management primarily and are about 2% of the whole of the Department of the Treasury. The other 98% of the operation is handled by the operating bureaus. The operating bureaus are tasked with many jobs that range from collecting taxes from the citizenry and businesses, minting and circulating money/coinage for citizens to use, and investigating fraud/prosecuting those committing fraudulent acts (counterfeiting, tax evasion, and forgery).

On July 24, 2019, Monica Crowley was sworn in and assumed the role of Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Public Affairs, joining the staff of the Department of the Treasury. As such, she is an advisor to the Secretary and other upper-level Department of the Treasury officials for anything involving public relations strategy, community outreach, and communicating with the press about economic policies and priorities of the current Administration. In her new position, she also serves as the top spokesperson for the organization.

Monica Crowley was born on September 19th, 1968 on an army base, Fort Huachuca, outside of Vista, Arizona and lived much of her life in Warren Township, New Jersey.

After earning her bachelor’s degree (BA) in political science from Colgate University, Monica Crowley went on to achieve two Master’s Degrees and a Doctorate in International Relations from Columbia University. As a student of just 22 years of age and while earning her degrees, she started her career as a Foreign Policy Assistant to former President Richard Nixon in 1990.

Monica Crowley then joined Fox News after its launch in 1996 and worked as a both a foreign affairs and political analyst. She has an amazing biography and career. While working for Fox News, she has appeared on several networks as an expert contributor, such as PBS, MSNBC, Fox Business, NBC News, and NBC News. She also appeared as a regular guest panelist on the widely popular show, The McLaughlin Group and hosted her own syndicated radio program, eponymously named, “The Monica Crowley Show.” Monica Crowley is a powerhouse with a long political analyst background.

When not lending her voice and vast knowledge to this collection of radio and television media outlets, Monica Crowley has penned three New York Times bestselling books: Nixon Off the Record: His Candid Commentary on People and Politics (Random House, 1996), Nixon in Winter (Random House, 1998), and What the (Bleep) Just Happened?: The Happy Warrior’s Guide to the Great American Comeback (Broadside Books, 2012). In addition to her bylines as a columnist for The Washington Times and The Hill, she was also published in distinguished national outlets such as The New Yorker, The New York Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun, and Newsweek.

In addition to this impressive resume, she has also appeared in the hit Netflix series “House of Cards.” She plays herself as a new contributor, discussing the main characters’ marriage and how it would affect the president’s future re-election.

In the role of Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, Monica Crowley does more than discuss political aspirations of fictional characters. She is grateful for the position, having replaced Tony Sayegh, who left the role in May of 2019.  

Billy Walters: Gambler, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist

Billy Walters is a perfect example of the American Dream made reality. Born William Thurman Walters on July 15, 1946 in the town of Munfordville, Kentucky, Billy grew up in the humblest beginnings to eventually become one of the most successful sports gamblers in American history and a storied philanthropist with a long track record of helping those in need and giving back to his community.

From Early Tragedy to Success

Billy’s home life began with tragedy. His father died when Billy Walters was only an infant, and his alcoholic mother abandoned him to the care of his grandmother to start a new life in Louisville. Without running water or indoor plumbing, Billy worked hard to help his grandmother who cared for him when no one else would. [WorldCasinoIndex.com]

Billy’s first job was mowing lawns at the age of seven, after his grandmother helped him secure his very first bank loan for $40 to purchase a lawnmower. He made enough to repay the loan within two years (quite a feat in the 1950s), and then moved on to delivering newspapers every day before school. His grandmother worked full-time cleaning local homes and taking shifts at a restaurant, and she instilled a strong sense of faith in him at an early age.

At 13, Billy’s grandmother passed away. This left him no other option but to find his estranged mother, who had since remarried in Louisville and started a new family. Despite years of abuse and mistreatment, Billy would eventually be the one to look after his mother as she approached the end of her life due to emphysema. He paid her medical bills and ensured her comfort until she passed.

Hard Work Pays Off

Billy learned the value of hard work at a very young age and never forget the lessons he learned during his tough Kentucky childhood. During high school he worked from 4:30 am to 7:30 am each morning before classes at the Davis Doughnut Bakery and then after school until almost midnight at a local gas station. He eventually moved into the world of auto sales, becoming so successful he eventually launched his own dealership.

After selling Taylor Boulevard Auto Sales, Billy decided to pursue his love of sports gambling as a profession, moving to Las Vegas and learning how to use computer analytics to improve his betting outcomes. He eventually earned a reputation as one of the most successful sports betters of all time. Separately, he also became one of the most famous poker players in Las Vegas, earning a reputation as “unbeatable” and eventually winning the No Limit Hold ‘Em Tournament of the 1986 World Series of Poker.

Billy Walters used his winnings to fund the Walters Group, an investment company he started with his wife that specialized in residential and commercial real estate development and the golf industry. A die-hard lover of the game of golf, Billy wanted to share his love of his favorite sport with the Las Vegas community.

Golf and Philanthropy in Las Vegas

Prior to Billy’s investments in the Las Vegas golf scene, most of the courses around Las Vegas were inaccessible and overpriced for many working-class people in the area. He built an affordable and accessible course in a rundown part of the city in an effort to revitalize the area and bring the game of golf to more people. He even started golf clinics for youth golfers, hosted charity events, and invested in golf course operations throughout the area.

The Walters Group regularly hosted charity events and provided funding to local non-profit youth organizations, including educational programs and youth success programs that fostered hard work, determination, leadership, and self-sufficiency among underprivileged youth in the Las Vegas area.

For years Billy avoided the media spotlight, preferring to focus his attention on improving others’ lives rather than becoming famous. However, he agreed to an interview on 60 Minutes in 2011, where he made his case for legalized sports betting and cemented his public image as not only an incredibly successful gambler, but also a dedicated philanthropist focused on improving the lives of others.

Business Work by Billy Walters

Many media accounts portray Billy Walters as one of the most successful gamblers of our time.

While he is widely regarded as one of the industry’s best sports bettors, he has also enjoyed decades long success in business. The Walters Group has been wildly successful in a variety of business ventures since its inception in 1988, when he started with just two employees. Today, the Walters Group employs more than 2,000 people in a number of commercial, residential, and mixed use properties, in addition to car dealerships, country clubs, and golf courses.

Business Beginnings

Walters has long had a dedicated work ethic, beginning his first two businesses at age 6 and 9 (a lawn cutting business and a paper route, respectively). When he lost his guardian and beloved grandmother at the age of 13, Walters moved to Louisville to rent a room in his estranged mother’s basement, which required working two jobs before and after school.

In his early 20s, Walters began his career in automotive sales at a used car lot called McMackin Auto Sales. Every time he sold a car, Walters would draft a self-promotional letter and distribute it to the 10 neighbors living around the new buyer. Working tirelessly for 80 hour workweeks, Walters would eventually net around $56,000 a year, which amounts to $400,000 in today’s dollars. During his auto career, Walters served as manager at Steven’s Brother’s Auto Sales and even started his own car business, Taylor Boulevard Auto Sales, which he would operate in Kentucky until the 1980s.

Las Vegas Business Holdings

Walters would eventually move to Las Vegas to pursue sports betting and revolutionize the game. After his retirement, Walters went back to his business roots. He and his wife, Susan, started The Walters Group in the late 1980s and have been growing the empire ever since. They started with commercial and residential real estate holdings, eventually moving into luxury property such as golf courses, resorts, and country clubs. In 2000, they would open their own golf course, the Bali Hai golf course, right on the Las Vegas Strip.

In addition to their real estate holdings in the Walters Group, the family also went back into auto sales. BW Auto Ventures owns seven dealerships in Kentucky and four in Georgia. Together, those dealerships represent thirteen different brands of vehicles: Buick, Toyota, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Ford, GMC, Hyundai, Kia, Lincoln, Mitsubishi, Nissan, and Lincoln. Walters credits much of his business success to his young start in the automotive field. In an interview, he noted that selling and working on cars served as his college experience and real-life MBA. The Walters Groups and BW Auto Ventures has made Billy Walters one of the most influential men in the Vegas Area and beyond. He continues to work closely with his general managers to ensure that the automotive businesses stay on track.

Walters is also known for being a deeply philanthropic man – his business ventures continue to generate significant revenue each year, which he donates to worthy causes benefiting the education, employment, and training off less fortunate residents of Southern Nevada. He and his wife, Susan, will long be known as pillars of the community they serve.

Billy Walters Today

Now a man in his seventies, Billy Walters has no plans to stop working toward helping others. In 1997, the city of Las Vegas named Billy and his wife Susan as the city’s Philanthropists of the Year. Their favorite project is Opportunity Village, a Las Vegas-based nonprofit organization aimed at providing employment opportunities to people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. To date, the Walters have raised more than $50 million for Opportunity Village.

Billy Walters has faced many challenges in his life. Many argue his prison sentence was unjustified and that he wasn’t treated as an equal under the law. He discusses the DOJ & FBI Misconduct on his website. Newsmax did an article that clearly discusses the matter related to Billy Walters titled, “There Will Be No Equal Justice for All Until There’s a Change in System” It discuss the case against Walters and is a must read.

Other charities and non-profit causes Billy has contributed toward include the Nevada Cancer Institute, Nevada State College in Henderson, the Las Vegas Victims’ Fund, Boy Scout Good Turn, and the Las Vegas Sun Camp Fund. There is also a quiet history of many acts of generosity and kindness for the people of Las Vegas who have been struck by tragedy. Billy continues to live the virtues instilled in him at an early age and plans to continue helping improve the lives of others as long as he can. [Wikipedia]

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/william.walters.50951101

Berg and Harberts – These People are Making a Difference in the Media

Photo: Showrunners Gretchen Berg & Aaron Harberts

Representation matters in the media. Although, there has been a push for more diversity and inclusion in films and television, Hollywood still has a long way to go. Breakout movies like Crazy Rich Asians, Call Me By Your Name, and Get Out with their diverse casts have opened the door to more films being made with different types of casts, themes and characters. Doors are starting to open but it has been such a slow, uphill battle and there are still a lot of changes that need to be made. Hollywood has a diversity problem that isn’t being fixed fast enough but there are individuals working to make a difference.

Currently, there are a few individuals in the entertainment industry who are making noise and disrupting the norm in Hollywood. These people are working hard to bring diversity front and center.  Talented individuals like Aaron Harberts, one half of the dynamic writing duo of Berg and Harberts, and Jordan Peele, the extremely talented actor/director have brought diverse issues and recognition to minority groups around the world in their work.  

The Hollywood Diversity Report 2018 completed by the UCLA’s Division of Social Sciences is an annual study that reviewed the staffing both in front of and behind the camera in the top theatrical and television releases of 2016. The study, titled “Five Years of Progress and Missed Opportunities”, had three main goals. The first of which was to create comprehensive research that analyzes the inclusion of diverse groups of people in film and television. The second goal is to identify best practices for inclusion and the appropriate way to disseminate those best practices. Finally, the report looks to provide the broader implications of diverse industry access.

The report examined 174 theatrical releases and 1,251 television shows either airing or streaming during the 2015-2016 season.  2016 did include some award wining movies with diverse casts like “Moonlight” and “Hidden Figures”, but the report acknowledged that there is still a long way to go. The authors of the report say that diversity does sell but the industry is leaving money on the table by not providing more representation in film and television. One of the study’s authors, Ana-Christina Ramón, said, “Our reports have continually shown that diversity sells, but the TV and film product continues to fall short. So audiences are left wanting more representation on screen that reflects the world they see in their daily lives.”

Research has shown that people not only want a diverse cast but also that when the media depicts minority groups it can have a power educational impact on audiences. When a wider audience gets the opportunity to learn about a minority group through a movie or a television series, it broadens the knowledge that a person has about another group of people. Much of pop culture is what influences and sets the tone for what people are interested in and so by introducing diverse and different cultures into pop culture, people can learn more about others that are different from them. It is also very impactful for different cultures and ethnicities to see themselves represented in the media.

Jordan Peele is a prime example of an individual leading the charge for a change in Hollywood. He is an American actor, comedian, director, writer and producer known for his hit movie “Get Out”. His current horror film “Us” has hit the theaters and the reviews are amazing. The film celebrated the highest-grossing first weekend for an original horror film and his films are proving that an all black main cast can be a moneymaker for any studio.  His contributions to the film industry over the last few years have greatly helped to open the door to minority actors and actresses becoming the main in a movie. His movies have proven that the world wants to see a black main cast along with themes that are important to the black community. He is proving that the average moviegoer is interested in seeing diverse films and casts.

Aaron Harberts is a very well known name in the entertainment industry. The openly gay screenwriter has been working in Hollywood for a long time as a writer and producer for some of the most popular and impressive television shows over the last few decades alongside his long time collaborator, Gretchen J Berg.  Berg and Harberts have made quite the name for themselves over the span of their careers. Out of the many contributions that Aaron Harberts has made in Hollywood, his inclusion of a realistic depiction of a small-sex romance is one that he is very proud of. This type of LBGTQ representation resonated with viewers because it exemplifies an authentic experience.  Harberts is an openly gay man and has been with his spouse for over two decades. He wanted to share his experience and to increase LGTBQ representation in the media by introducing characters that are in LGTBQ relationships.

Hollywood has an issue with representation. There has been some changes made in the industry but overall, the media at large does not do a very good job of representing diversity. Diversity in the media is so important because it gives minority groups visibility. When movies like “Black Panther” and “Captain Marvel” hit the movie theaters, moviegoers were overjoyed with having a female and black superhero as a main character.  People get the opportunity to see different background represented on the big screen and it gives a positive portrayal of different groups of individuals and minorities.

The media teaches a wider audience about minorities, gender representation, societal norms, and LGBTQ issues. When screenwriters and producers like Aaron Harberts, and directors like Jordan Peele are able to draw on their own experiences to educate a wider audience about issues facing minorities and marginalized groups. They are both making a difference in Hollywood by bringing diverse storylines, characters and themes to the big screen. Their future projects will continue to delight, educate and enlighten audiences everywhere.  Follow Berg and Harberts on Twitter.

The Success Story of Berg and Harberts

The success stories behind several powerful Hollywood actors, writers, directors, and producers all have one factor in common: adversity. Like most people in the creative field, these people go through hard times in a very competitive industry to work in entertainment and thrill audiences with their talents.

Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts fit this exact description. Both halves of the television creative team have gone through their struggles and lived in difficult conditions to stay on the path that could further their careers. However, through their hard work and determination, they have found success in the industry as the writers and producers of several hit TV shows.

Early Life of Gretchen Berg

Gretchen Berg was born on February 8, 1971 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Ever since she was young, Berg has been fascinated with creating new worlds and characters, further assisted by her daydreaming when playing with friends in the woods. She was a fan of the series Remington Steele, about a woman struggling to succeed in a man-dominated world, further inspiring her. During her years at North Allegheny High School, Berg was active in drama class and writing. She even used the school’s TV production studio to experiment with filmmaking. [Berg was interviewed on Pittsburgh Magazine]

Gretchen Berg would end up attending Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois to pursue not just a TV/Film education, but also a complete liberal arts experience.

Early Life of Aaron Harberts

Aaron Harberts was born on January 20, 1973 in Waterloo, Iowa. Despite the town’s lack of a creative arts force, Harberts was an imaginative child who loved to daydream. Because of his parents’ nomadic life, he had difficulty settling in a single location as the family moved throughout Iowa, Indiana, and South Florida. Harberts found inspiration in his preacher father’s sermons, which had vivid descriptions that Harberts would use as fuel for his own stories.

After finishing high school, Aaron Harberts wanted to pursue creative writing education. He traveled to Evanston, Illinois and attended Northwestern, where he would have a fateful, life-changing meeting.

How The Creative Duo Meet

Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts met at a class called Creative Writing for the Media, and would later collaborate on Berg’s student film, with Harberts as a production assistant (PA). Despite their constant time together and their mutual friendships, they did not develop a friendship at this point. Berg graduated in 1993 and moved to Los Angeles to build her career. Aaron Harberts would follow a couple of years later.

The Struggle of Starting a Hollywood Career

Harberts was supposed to live with other people when moving to LA. However, the plans fell through. Having difficulties finding a place to live, he remembered Gretchen Berg, and asked her if he could live with her. Berg allowed him to crash under her wet bar at her apartment.

Berg and Harberts went through the adversities that many Hollywood hopefuls have when pursuing a career. They spent months working on a comedic spec script that they ended up hating and disposed of it. The duo lived on cheap food and took on low-paying jobs until they became Hollywood assistants. They read and analyzed scripts and wrote a variety of specs and original screenplays, ranging over a variety of genres, such as dramas, sitcoms, and TV movies.

Despite their struggles, Berg and Harberts continued writing and submitting scripts to agencies. Their hard work would pay off when an agent liked one of their scripts and recommended it to a television agency. The rest is history.

Where are they now?

Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts thrive these days as an active writing and producing team. They have been involved on series such as Beverly Hills, 90210, Pushing Daisies, Revenge, and most recently, Star Trek: Discovery. They have also written for the movie Valentine and created the show Pepper Dennis. Berg and Harberts are proof that, despite adversity, hard work and initiative can take one from humble beginnings to well-earned recognition.

Pat Murakami Condemns Hate Speech Against City Council Candidate

Seattle, WA — Seattle small business owner, community leader, and Seattle City Council Candidate Pat Murakami has released the following statement in response to recent hate speech and threats of violence against Seattle Council candidate Ari Hoffman:

“Like many of you, I am disgusted and angered by the racial slurs and threats of violence against Seattle City Council Candidate Ari Hoffman and his family. Mr. Hoffman has repeatedly been accused of “weaponizing antisemitism” and we have frequently seen his concerns and those of the Jewish Community dismissed or treated with a sense of disbelief. While I am saddened to see how bad the threats have gotten, I hope this will finally open some eyes.

If a person from any other community had been treated the way Mr. Hoffman and his family have been treated, I have no doubt that there would be a line of elected officials and candidates ready to condemn this behavior. While I am very proud to see that both the Seattle Police and the FBI are taking these threats seriously, I am saddened at the silence from community leaders and elected officials.

Mr. Hoffman and I may come from different political backgrounds, but this is a moment that is beyond politics. We Seattleites pride ourselves on our progressive ideals and our willingness to stand up for what is right; this is a time to prove it. We prove it by standing up to hate in all its forms; by defending every individual against intimidation and violence; by fighting just as hard for those we disagree with as those closest to us.

I will not be silent when a member of my community and their family are treated this way. I call on all my fellow candidates and all leaders across the Puget Sound Region to join me in condemning this language that is universally evil. I call on all of you to join me in solidarity with Mr. Hoffman, his family, and the entire Jewish Community to let the world know that this hate has no place in Seattle.”

A Rainy Day in New York to Be Released in Italy Late 2019

Woody Allen’s latest rom com, A Rainy Day in New York is slated by Lucky Red Distributors for a debut in Italy on October 3rd, 2019. This release date finally comes after a year-long delay the film encountered due to a dispute with its original distributor, Amazon Studios. Despite Allen signing a four-year contract with Amazon for four pictures, Amazon shelved A Rainy Day indefinitely based on ties between Allen and the #MeToo movement. Now, however, fans are gearing up to finally see Allen’s latest flick, which he finished in 2017. Hollywood is not ready for this!

About A Rainy Day in New York

A Rainy Day in New York tells the story of two young people (Elle Fanning and Timothée Chalamet) on an adventure in New York – where they unfortunately meet with bad weather and a series of unexpected events. Selena Gomez, Jude Law, Diego Luna, and Liev Schreiber also star in Allen’s latest flick. Although not much else is known about the plot of the film, it’s sure to be infused with Allen’s signature humor, wit, and complicated romances – along with strong female leads and plenty of sarcasm.

Woody Allen is famous for writing and directing ensemble romantic comedies that check off all the boxes for cinematic excellence, and A Rainy Day is sure to be no different. Some of his most famous films include Midnight in Paris, Annie Hall, and Manhattan. Principal photography for A Rainy Day began on September 11th, 2017, and ended on October 23rd. Two years later, the film is finally hitting screens with a delayed international debut. Unfortunately for American viewers, at this moment, A Rainy Day will not be distributed in the U.S.

Why the Wait?

The tumult regarding Woody Allen’s newest film release date happened during the height of the #MeToo movement in 2018. Amazon backed out of its agreement with Allen to distribute four of his films (one each year) in the United States. Amazon Studios had originally planned to debut A Rainy Day in New York in 2018. However, Amazon paused the release date indefinitely, citing sexual assault allegations against Woody Allen as the reason for the fallout. Woody Allen has repeatedly denied the allegations, which came from his then seven-year-old daughter in 1992, and investigations in two states never led to any charges. Many have reported the true story by Woody Allen.

The #MeToo sexual assault awareness movement amplified Allen’s daughter’s voice right when production wrapped on A Rainy Day. Despite no evidence supporting the allegations, this was enough to rehash the old case and sully Allen’s reputation all over again. The subsequent media frenzy apparently pushed Amazon into shelving the project, in spite of having a signed agreement with Allen to distribute the film. Fortunately for Allen and his fans, Lucky Red (a film distributor in Italy) eagerly jumped at the chance to distribute A Rainy Day to overseas audiences instead. Woody has always supported strong women in his films.

Where You Can See Allen’s Latest Film

A Rainy Day in New York will debut in theaters on October 3rd, 2019, in Italy. The next day, it will appear in Spain. It will then reach theaters in Germany, Austria, Europe, China, Japan, Russia, South America, and South Korea. The managing director for the distribution company said in a statement: “[Woody Allen] is one of the outstanding directors of our time.” He said he was excited to be part of the group of distributors bringing the film to numerous countries.

BMF Media – Learn More About The Company

One of most effective ways to ensure the success of a brand is to make it super relatable to the masses. Consumers love brands that they can relate to on an emotional and trustworthy level. This is the responsibility of several marketing companies who are constantly looking for ways to reach and captivate specific audiences to get them invested in that specific brand. This work requires research, innovation, and persistence, which only a few can pull off successfully.

Brand Music Fusion (BMF Media) is a marketing firm that focuses on several brands and has a variety of strategies, including content creation, sponsorships, target audience research, influencer engagement, and talent management. The company has earned the loyalty of major clients such as Uber, Dell, MasterCard, and Revlon. It also has multiple offices across the country, including New York, Los Angeles, Austin, and Miami. A recent expansion in later 2018 now includes London, the first international expansion. Other BMF client success stories.

What has BMF Media done to earn such strong loyalty from these recognized names? Read below to learn more about the beginnings of the company, its strategies, and how it has helped numerous clients.

The Beginnings of BMF

BMF Media was founded by two marketing visionaries: Brian Feit and Bruce Starr.

Brian Feit studied at the Stern School of Business at New York University from 1996 to 2000. During this time, he was interning with Clive Davis at Arista. Feit had sent him a letter and the music producer actually responded. This motivated Feit to make his next move. He became a member of Stern and Tisch Entertainment Business Association (STEBA) and worked hard to parlay his passion for both music and business into a solid career. Upon graduation, he worked at an independent music label for a few years. After considering attending law school, Feit instead worked with business partner Starr to found BMF.

Bruce Starr was born and grew up in the Chicago suburbs. After finishing high school, he moved to New York, where he became business partners, and later close friends, with Brian Feit.

(L) Brian Feit – (R) Bruce Starr

Feit and Starr founded BMF Media in October 2003. At that point, the company started with humble beginnings, operated out of Feit’s West Village Apartment. They only had two employees, but also two powerful clients: Maverick Records, a label company founded by Madonna, and Kiehl’s, the cosmetics brand that focuses on skincare and hair care. Despite the uncertainty of the company, it eventually grew in clientele and influence. 

Change in Direction

In the beginning, BMF Media lived up to its name (Brand Media Fusion) as it focused on combining several brands with musical talent. The marketing company essentially arranged for the brands’ musical events so they could raise their profile, humanize themselves to their customers, and reach a wider audience in general. At the same time, the duo also wanted to promote new musicians with these influential brands, which could also lead to new fame and recognition.

Eventually, the company had to grow in conjunction with current marketing trends and needed to expand. While BMF Media still has a powerful talent division at hand, it now also focuses on full event productions beyond music and concerts. The company also has a strong focus on experiential marketing, in which the consumers are involved directly with the brand’s growth through participation of several events, contests, and more.

The company has also recognized the rise of internet influencers as a method to entice audiences into trying the latest brand products. In addition to a musical talent department, BMF now also has a social media influencer division that increases the consumers’ engagement with the brands.

The Strategies of BMF

BMF Media has a general outline for any collaboration project with a brand that always guarantees results. While certain services can change and adapt to the clients’ specific requests or the specific event at hand, BMF provides the following services:

  • Strategize. BMF performs exhaustive research on trend activity and forecasting, as well as gathers consumer insights, to create the marketing strategy. The company comes up with the right sponsorship and talent for the campaign.
  • Execute. BMF actively procures the necessary talent, in addition to the partnership between the client and the sponsors. Other aspects worked on include brand immersion, the art direction, and the overall design strategy.
  • Amplify. The company now fully analyzes the analytics of the execution, such as ROI, KPI, and overall social impact. It also extends projects to talents, influences, and sponsors, among other tasks.

The staff and crew at BMF Media relish in the challenge of humanizing brands with new, innovative methods that create memorable experiences.

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What is Gender Lens Investing and How Can it Change the World?

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Fulcrum Capital and Bloodworks Northwest to hold Gender Forward Investing Symposium to Leverage Power of Finance to Address Some of World’s Most Pressing Economic & Social Issues

SEATTLE (May 23, 2019) – Next Thursday, May 30th, Bloodworks Northwest and Fulcrum Capital are hosting a Gender Forward Investing Symposium drawing national leaders on the topic of gender lens investing to Seattle for an afternoon exploring the impact of this emerging national economic trend and its impact on nonprofits like Bloodworks. Bloodworks Northwest is hoping to be a catalyst for change here and across the nation. 

What is gender lens investment?
It’s the use of capital to effect real change in the lives of women and children. Harnessing the power of finance for both economic gain and to address systemic social challenges; gender-based violence, women’s underrepresentation in leadership positions. Right now, women and children make up almost 3/4 of those living in poverty in the United States.

Why does gender lens investment make sense?
According to a McKinsey Study in 2017, achieving full gender equality in the workforce could boost global GDP by $28 trillion by 2025. That’s greater than the six of the Eurozone economy today! Right now, only 29% of all enterprises in the U.S. are women owned. More importantly, senior management positions are held by women only 19% of the time. Leadership at the corporate level needs more female voices, especially in finance. Women hold senior roles in only 9% of Venture Capital Funds, only 6% in Private Equity firms and only 3% in Hedge Funds.

Why should gender be a factor in investment?
Experts say, better outcomes are consistently achieved if gender diversity exists. Companies with high gender diversity had lower stock price volatility and fewer drawdowns than similar companies with less gender diversity (Gender Diversity Continues to Work – Morgan Stanley 2016). Meanwhile, women are expected to control two-thirds of U.S. private wealth by 2020 (Market Watch 2019).

Featured Speakers:

·Joy Anderson – Founder Criterion Institute will provide background and lay out the case for finance to analyze gender as part of its work and depict how finance can be used to create meaningful change for women and girls.

·Chris Andersen, President & Executive Director – InFaith Community Foundation will provide real world example of integrating gender lens investing into an asset base of over $400 million, specifically pursuing investments that undermine the conditions that promote gender based violence.

·Tresa Thomas-Massiongale -BloodworksNW Chief Investment & Partnership Officer will offer a perspective of Bloodworks’ goals and motivations for investing in gender as a call to action for other investors, philanthropists and community leaders.

·Darcy Johnson – CEO Fulcrum Capital will provide a broad overview and speak to traditional asset class diversification and the importance of generating competitive returns.

About Bloodworks Northwest Bloodworks (formerly Puget Sound Blood Center) is backed by 75 years of Northwest history and 250,000 donors. It is local, nonprofit, independent, volunteer-supported and community-based. A recognized leader in transfusion medicine, Bloodworks serves patients in more than 100 hospitals in Washington, Oregon and Alaska — partnering closely with local hospitals to deliver the highest level of patient care. Comprehensive services include blood components, complex cross-matching, specialized lab services for organ transplants, care for patients with blood disorders, and collection of cord blood stem cells for cancer treatment. Bloodworks Research Institute performs leading-edge research in blood biology, transfusion medicine, blood storage and treatment of blood disorders. Patients with traumatic injuries, undergoing surgeries or organ transplantation, or receiving treatment for cancer and blood disorders all depend on our services, expertise, laboratories and research. Blood donation appointments can be scheduled on the Bloodworks App. For more information, visit bloodworksnw.org.

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