GVSU will host third annual Black Boys and Men National Symposium

Symposium will run June 12-14 at Amway Grand Plaza

The third annual Black Boys and Men National Symposium offers participants opportunities to learn about the systems that impact the lives of Black boys and men and discover how to create equitable transformation through education.

Hosted by Grand Valley, the symposium is June 12-14 at the Amway Grand Plaza, 187 Monroe Ave. NW in Grand Rapids. Registration details and information about the June 13 Sneaker Ball are online. Keynote speakers are listed below.

B. Donta Truss, vice president for Enrollment Development and Educational Outreach, said the symposium is geared toward community leaders and people who work in K-12 education, higher education and youth services. Keynote speakers and breakout sessions will help attendees create plans of action to take back to their communities, he said.

"Speakers and presenters will provide a holistic look at the lives of Black men and boys in a variety of contexts," Truss said. "Our goal is to share these best practices and give symposium attendees opportunities to sharpen their own toolkits when it comes to helping young people achieve their goals."

composite photo of, from left, Rashad Richey, Jalen Rose and Walter Kimbrough
Black Boys and Men National Symposium keynote speakers are pictured, from left, Rashad Richey, Jalen Rose and Walter Kimbrough.

Keynote speakers are highlighted below.

  • Jalen Rose was born and raised in Detroit and was a member of the University of Michigan’s men's basketball “Fab Five.” In 1994, he was drafted in the NBA's first round and had a successful 13-year professional career. Rose established the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, an open enrollment, tuition-free, public charter high school in northwest Detroit.
  • Walter Kimbrough has built a distinguished career in student affairs, focusing on research on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Black men in college. At 32, he became vice president for Student Affairs at Albany State University before being appointed as the 12th president of Philander Smith College at age 37. Kimbrough is the author of "Black Greek Life 101."
  • Rashad Richey is an Emmy-nominated broadcaster, philanthropist and author. Richey serves as president of Rolling Out, a prominent urban publication, and host of "Indisputable With Dr. Rashad Richey," a nationally syndicated TV show, radio show and podcast. Richey is a professor of physics at Paris Graduate School and business at Morris Brown College.

Featured presenters

  • Reggie Beaty was expelled from school at 14, ran with gang-oriented crowds, carried weapons and was ultimately incarcerated. After finding a mentor, Beaty earned a bachelor's degree from Stillman College and a master's degree in aerospace education from Middle Tennessee State University. Following a 20-year career in the U.S. Army, Beaty served as chief operating officer for Communities In Schools of Georgia.
  • Tony Owens is an educator and administrator, having successfully directed alternative schools and social programs that address students in at-risk situations. He is recognized for implementing programs for difficult-to-reach youth, emphasizing improving attitudes, setting goals, expanding comfort zones, and preparing for re-entry into mainstream settings.
  • Tarita Johnson is the senior vice president of talent and diversity at The Right Place in Grand Rapids. Johnson had served as the director of the Career Center at Calvin University, where she created a career and life skills program, and as a talent acquisition manager for corporate recruiting at Meijer.
  • Damon F. Arnold is the director of player development for Louisiana State University Football as well as an author, consultant and motivational speaker. With a doctorate in education administration from Washington State University, Arnold provides training in leadership and motivation to professional athletes, executives, students and others across the U.S.


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