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Black History Month
Honoring HNU's Black Alumni Leaders
Black History Month honoring HNU's Black alumni leaders

In celebration of Black History Month, take a moment to see how some of our Black alumni are working to lead, inspire, and make the world a better place.


Tiana Kara

Tiana Davis Kara ’06, executive director of #BUILTBYGIRLS empowers teens to pursue technology careers

“My vision is for #BUILTBYGIRLS to truly, truly take the industry by storm and amplify the voices of girls who are eager to step into the tech industry but are hesitant and concerned with its current state.”


Janine Jackson, MA ’17 is building bridges in Oakland with basketball 

“I want to be an example and show these kids what’s possible. I have come so far and I want them to see that, like me, they can do anything.”


Adamaka Ajaelo, MBA ’10, Founder of Self-eSTEM, is making sure young women of color have access to STEM careers

“I heard from too many women that they dreamed of being a programmer or a scientist but didn’t have the support to enter and remain in the STEM career pathway.”


Muryam Gourdet ‘14 is determined to change the face of science—and through her actions as a mentor and role model, researcher and academic, she is doing just that.

“Muryam’s grassroots mentoring efforts, aimed at broadening participation in science, are innovative, effective, and amazing.”


Keith Brown

Keith Brown ’98, President of the Oakland Education Association, is an educator and advocate

“One person can’t do this work alone … It takes collective power to push for meaningful change.”


Denise Aaron ’01, Founder of Ladies First 510, is getting Oakland women to talk openly—and take action—on health challenges that disproportionately trouble women of color.

“(The Sisters) set a standard: Once you leave Holy Names, you’re not just going to do a job. You’re going to establish a career and figure out how you’re going to give back.”


Rachel A. Coicou, DNP, MBA ’09, MSN ‘09, RN, NEA-BC, trains healthcare professionals

“I love what I do. I don’t feel like it’s work. I go to make a difference. We help, we heal, we change lives.”


Melody Hudson

Melody Hudson, MBA ‘12, founded The Equal Balance Movement to fight for equal pay for women

“HNU was, and is, a community committed to social justice. My education prepared me to become a strong voice in the global community and an advocate for women’s equal rights. I spent years working for Fortune 500 companies and Silicon Valley startups and my experience in these male-dominated industries highlighted the gender pay gap crisis. I founded The Equal Balance Movement to fight for equal pay for all women.”


Cynthia LeBlanc ‘70, EdD, is working hard to engage young Black people in the political process

“After spending decades working in public education, I saw how the system impacts–or doesn’t impact–students of color. I saw the importance of an educated community. I’m a lifelong educator and I’m doing what I can to educate people, especially young people, on the importance of involvement and advocacy in the political process.”