Column: UPS marks 48-year support of Urban League

By Maria Saporta
Friday, July 23, 2010

As a way to mark a 48-year relationship, United Parcel Service Inc. has pledged to give the National Urban League a three-year, $3.3 million gift for the organization’s Centennial Development Campaign.

UPS’ partnership with the Urban League stands out both in its longevity and its breadth.

With the exception of its United Way relationship, “the Urban League is our No. 1 partner,” according to Ken Sternad, president of the UPS Foundation, who says it has provided in excess of $15 million in support to the National Urban League since 1962.

The relationship actually dates back longer than the formal partnership. In 1956, the UPS human resources manager in northern California heard a speech from then-Urban League leader Whitney Young on how U.S. companies were not tapping into the African-American employment base.

At the time, the delivery firm was “hungry” for new employees, so the company engaged the Bay Area Urban League to help it hire black drivers.

That led to the hiring of UPS’ first black driver in 1957 — Ken Jarvis, who ended up spending 37 years with the company before retiring in 1994 (after the company had moved its headquarters to Atlanta) as a vice president of human resources.

Sternad said that diversity is a focus of both the company and the UPS Foundation, which gives about $9 million a year to diversity programs. (Last year, the foundation donated nearly $100 million, and $53 million went to United Way organizations across the country).

As evidence of its record, Black Enterprise magazine just listed UPS as one of the top 40 companies in the United States for diversity, especially in the areas of senior management and supplier diversity. The other two Georgia companies in that list were The Coca-Cola Co. and Aflac Inc.

UPS’ diversity programs reach down through its ranks with 28.4 percent of its drivers identified as minorities. Sternad said the company’s relationship with the National Urban League is one of the reasons for that successful record.

Myron Gray, UPS’ senior vice president for U.S. operations, serves on the National Urban League’s board. He also has chaired the organization’s Black Executive Exchange Program (BEEP), which helps prepare college students for the corporate world, since 2006.

Nearly 100 of the company’s executives volunteer each year to serve as teachers, mentors and role models to college students at historically black colleges and universities.

Two of UPS’ 11-member management committee (top officers) are African-American. In addition to Gray, the other member is Teri McClure, general counsel and senior vice president for legal and public affairs for UPS.

Young film premiere

Though not widely known, Andrew Young can add another career to his résumé. In addition to civil rights leader, U.S. Congressman, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Atlanta mayor and chairman of GoodWorks International, Young also has become a documentary filmmaker.

The latest evidence of his work was the premiere July 19 of “Change in the Wind” — a documentary depicting the little-known association between former Morehouse College President Benjamin E. Mays and Margaret Mitchell, author of the international best-seller “Gone With The Wind.”

The documentary reveals the letter-writing relationship between Mays and Mitchell that led to her becoming an anonymous donor of scholarships that provided medical education for 40 or more African-American doctors.

The documentary is brought to life with the voices of such notables as Ted Turner, Martin Luther King III, Kenny Rogers and Academy-award winning actress Joanne Woodward (who is the voice of Mitchell).

At the premiere, Young said that this is the 11th production of the Andrew Young Presents documentary series. “One of the things we are trying to understand is what’s really special about Atlanta,” Young said.

Several local and national companies have signed on as sponsors for the Andrew Young Presents series — Aaron’s Inc., AT&T Inc., The Coca-Cola Co., Delta Air Lines Inc. and ING. The “Change in the Wind” documentary will be aired on 100 stations nationwide and on the Armed Forces Network, and it will air on WSB-TV in the near future.

Huntley named Trinity chair

The Trinity University board of trustees has elected Walter Huntley chairman for a two-year term.

Huntley is an Atlanta-based consultant who specializes in community and economic development issues. Huntley also was president of the Atlanta Economic Development Corp. from 1986 to 1996.

Trinity University presented Huntley with its distinguished alumnus award in 1996. Huntley earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Trinity in 1971. Two years later, he received a master’s in urban studies from the San Antonio institution.

Jacobs joins AdvancED board

Former BellSouth executive Phil Jacobs has been elected to serve on the board of AdvancED, which calls itself the “world’s largest education community.”

According to its promotional materials, AdvancEd is “dedicated to advancing excellence in education. The North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement are accreditation divisions of AdvancED.”

Jacobs, who is now a founding partner for the Pendleton Consulting Group, will help AdvancED on its strategic direction as well as oversee the provision of accreditation services to educational providers, review and approve the organization’s annual budget as well as its policies and procedures.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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