CODA hosts networking event with focus on community

Karen Foster and Blaire Hervey, founders of the Visionary Squad, joined CODA on April 2. Photo by Pei Robbins.

A virtual social-networking workshop, “Let’s Talk: Collective Healing, Building Community & Getting to the Coin,” was held on April 2 at 7 p.m. by CODA and The Visionary Squad, a community with a mission to create space for Black women to connect. The event aimed to address the importance of building connections with other individuals and how to succeed on career paths through different skill sets.  

Karen Foster and Blaire Hervey, co-founders of The Visionary Squad, spoke at the event. Foster started the workshop by addressing the difficulties of presenting oneself authentically at certain occasions in workplaces, especially for a woman of color within a white-predominant working environment. With such difficulties, Foster said, it is vital to recognize and acknowledge who you are and what you genuinely want in life.  

Foster then introduced the significance of time management, which involves setting boundaries to focus on priorities in academics and building a squad or community for collective healing, which allows one to be supported, vulnerable and authentic to themselves. People should be intentional and clear about what they need from their squad, so they can be authentic and not become overwhelmed by the quantity rather than the quality of their friends, Foster emphasized.  

After a break-out room discussion regarding how to refuse an invitation to an event without verbally saying “no,” Hervey transitioned to the speaker role. She talked about “getting to the coin”: how to get paid what people deserve in their employment through grit. Grit requires a trade-off in time, power and attention, Hervey explained; it takes time for you to put in the effort, power to perform at the optimum level and attention to stay focused on the task.  

Finally, Hervey stressed the benefit of a growth mindset as a continuously improving process and the potential gains from connecting with one’s future job via LinkedIn for support and informational reference. Hervey mentioned the importance of “knowing your number,” which is knowing one’s yearly salary and acquiring the skills for a higher position before being offered that position. The event ended with goodbyes among the two guest speakers and the participants. 

Senior Adona Laureano, the Event Coordinator Manager at CODA, was happy to see how all participants were actively engaged throughout the event, which made her think CODA had made the right choice to invite Visionary Squad to hold the event. She also hopes that students will connect with Hervey and Foster after she sent out their contact information or can utilize the message they took from the event as they proceed in setting boundaries, networking and building powerful connections, which could help them in career and daily life.  

Hervey and Foster are pleased with the opportunity to share the virtues that enlightened their career paths with students. 

“We are confident that the insight we share can heighten the experience of the younger generation and encourage them to truly tap into life in a remarkable way … and become differentiated changemakers along the way,” Hervey said.  

Hervey and Foster also encourage the student body to take good care of themselves and be their authentic self in life.  

“Enjoy your college experience, build fruitful friendships and move with intention,” Foster said.  “Stay focused, plan for the life you want and start building your body of work for your career. Everything you do now is serving as building blocks to your future.”