Black Men’s Symposium: Navigating Complex Challenges and Overcoming Adversity

Written By: Herline Mathieu

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Partner-The Group DC

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Senior Strategist,Federal Street Strategies

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Senior Manager, U.S. Public Policy (Amazon); Former Chief of Staff to Rep. G.K. Butterfield

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Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, (Dept. of Energy)

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Senior V, Policy & Advocacy and Executive Director (National Urban League)


Washington DC- On May 29,2019, Senate Black Legislative Staff Caucus, the Congressional Black Associates (CBA), and AAMH, hosted the Black Men’s Symposium: Navigating Complex Challenges and Overcoming Adversity. The panel discussion consisted of current and former black male senior Hill Staffers who thoughtfully shared stories of their professional experiences and how they were able to attain success within their careers while overcoming adversity. The Panelists touched on topics that ranged from effective networking on the hill to continuing higher education and offered insight on leadership and professional development.


When it comes to networking each panelist offered their take on what makes for effective networking. Troy Clair, former Chief of Staff to Rep. G.K. Butterfield emphasized the importance of leaving an impactful impression when speaking to professionals at networking events. Clair also spoke to the power of innovation and cultivating a reputation that will have hiring managers asking for you when the right opportunity presents itself.

Continuing Higher Education

During the question and answer segment of the discussion, one attendee inquired on how critical it is for one to pursue an advanced degree. Clint Odom, former Legislative Director to Senator and presidential candidate Kamala Harris (D-Ca), offered that while pursuing a higher degree is always helpful to one’s resume, it is imperative to also be mindful of how much student loan debt will be acquired in the process of doing so. With that in mind, Clint also encouraged those interested in going back to school to exhaust every opportunity available that will pay for their education.  

At the end of the discussion each panelist was asked what they hope attendees will walk away with:

Troy Clair : “Your purpose is to build a legacy that will make you the first to come to mind when people in your network are looking for people for new opportunities.”


Clint Odom: “Never be afraid to leave and start something new.”

Dwayne Bolton: “Trust in yourself!”

Derron Parks “ If you see an opportunity for growth take it!”

 Published by Herline Mathieu

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