New African-American Professional Network in Marin

From left to right – First row: Lewis Jordan, Otis Bruce, Dr. Curtis Robinson; Nathalio Gray, Lakeeja Walker, LaSandra White, Anthony Thomas. Second row: Janell Hampton, Otis Bruce, Supervisor Rice, Attorney Villanueva, Chantel Walker, Lewis Jordan; Marin Professionals: Auna Harris, Supervisor Adams, Merl Saunders, Jr., Roy Stone, Trevor Bridgewaterand. Third row: Janell Hampton, Noah Griffin, Supervisor Kinsey; Wayne Capers, Laura Wallace; Roger Crawford, Chad Nicholson; Keith Jackson. Fourth row: Judy Thomas, Phillip Thomas: Yolanda Johnson, Alanna Hodgson, Tamara Small, Fara King, John Young, Nancy Johnson, Paul Cummins. Fifth row: Sitting: Kenol Felix, Lucrecia Askeland, Carman Vance, Standing: Nancy Johnson, Fara King, Quashina Roary, Keith Lewis, Alicia Arce, Otis Bruce, Yolanda Johnson, Rafael Durr; D’Angelo Paillet and Fiancee’ Shanna; Robert L. Harris, Jr., Ida Times. Sixth row: Paulette DaCosta-Cortes, Ayanna Jenkins-Toney, Sydney Fairbairn; Bridgette Choate, Arielle Brown; Monique Broussard, Raphael Durr, Cheryl Fisher, Quashina Roary, Ayanna Jenkins-Toney, Jackie Langford, Alanna Hodgson, Carla Halyard, Meloni Page, Wayne Capers, Janell Hampton, Laura Wallace, Otis Bruce. (Photos by Otis Bruce, Gerry “GOS” Simpson, and Godfrey Lee)

By Godfrey Lee The newly formed Marin African-American Professional Network is designed to provide networking opportunities for African-American professionals and community leaders in the private, public, educational sectors of Marin County. The group was was founded by Otis Bruce, supervising deputy district attorney of Marin County.  Bruce is also the past president of the Marin County Bar Association and chairperson of the bar association’s Diversity Section and Legal Education Scholarship Committee. Bruce hopes the new organization will help African-American professionals expand their contacts and encourage them to work together for the betterment of families, employment, health, and the education of children. The network held an inaugural mixer on Wednesday, May 22, at the Embassy Suites Hotel in San Rafael. Over 100 people attended the event, listening to speakers who included Bruce, Lewis Jordan, chief of the Marin Housing Authority and Dr. Curtis Robinson, M.D., chief executive director of the Marin City Health and Wellness Center. “It is about what you represent and about us representing ourselves,” said Bruce. “We are at a moment when we have to have a professional African American network so we can get behind ourselves and our careers, build an economic and political base on different issues and concerns.” Lewis Jordan urged participants to “look at the opportunities for us to come together, develop this network among ourselves, and work with others that share a vision. “It is not where you start, it is where you end,” he said. Dr. Robinson talked about challenge to move the health clinic back into Marin City after it was removed in the 1950s. The clinic recently received a $1 million federal grant and serves not only Marin City but all the residents of public housing and the homeless who live in the county. He also stressed the importance of improving Black students’ literacy and graduation rates. “Students from the Sausalito Marin City School District have an on-time graduation rate that is about 50 percent. We can do better,” said Robinson. “We have to help each other: White, Black, and Latino,” he said. “We really have to come together, because if we don’t, things will not change in Marin County.”
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