Our Business Resource Groups (BRGs) support our business by helping to cultivate a best-in-class diverse and equitable workforce; foster a winning, inclusive workplace culture; and enhance social equity within our industry and communities. 

During Black History Month and beyond, our AASCEND BRG is focused on building community and developing our Black/African American talent through events, volunteer opportunities, and more. Read more below from our AASCEND co-leads about what else the BRG has in store, what this month means to them, and what advice they have for Black leaders aiming to inspire change. 

What is AASCEND’s focus in 2024? 

Lonette Merriman, Vice President, Associate General Counsel: AASCEND’s focus in 2024 is on employee recruitment, engagement, and retention. AASCEND is committed to helping expand Constellation’s efforts to recruit and retain Black/African American talent. We want to not only engage our AASCEND members to help our company in creating an even more engaged culture, but also support our Black/African American talent at various stages of their career — from orientation as a new employee through seeking a development opportunity within the company. 

What does Black History Month mean to you? 

Lonette: Black History Month means being seen, uplifted, and celebrated in a way that is often not recognized throughout the rest of the year. Black History Month is important to recognize not only because of the vast contributions Blacks/African Americans have made to American history, but all that we continue to do today. Black culture continues to influence our society just as it has always influenced American history, style, and culture by setting trends and breaking barriers. To me, Black History Month means sharing and celebrating the Black/African American experience in all its boldness, elegance, and power. 

Ashley Olds-Deans, Generalist, Human Resources: Black History Month for me is acknowledging that Black history is American history. It’s a time to acknowledge not only the struggles and sacrifices but also the contributions made by Blacks/African Americans from the past all the way to present day and is essential to moving forward as an equitable society. Black History Month is a time to celebrate the resilience of Black people and how we took what little we were given and what we fought for, to make it better than anyone — including ourselves — could ever imagine. We are beyond our wildest dreams! 

Kerri Joy, Director, Learning and Development, Gold Network Development: For me it’s a time to reflect on those that have come and gone and the sacrifices they made, which has afforded me and my family the freedoms we have today. It’s a time to celebrate all the beauty and power that goes with being Black. 

What advice would you give to the next generation of Black leaders? 

Lonette: The advice I would give to the next generation of Black leaders is to remain steadfast in driving change and accountability. Continue to unrelentingly push for progress that elevates Blacks/African Americans. Strive to encourage and uplift fellow Blacks/African Americans and our communities. And do not be discouraged, because as Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” 

Ashley: My advice to Black leaders is to be what you needed when you were younger and reach back as you climb. Every employee, whether a VP or an early career professional, remembers the first day, week, and month at the job and the nervous excitement of the unknown as they acclimate within the company. There is something so valuable about getting that welcome email from a leader in the organization. I can attest to this as I speak from experience when I joined Constellation. It feels so great to be seen, and I am grateful for the relationships I have been able to build with leaders who look like me. No matter how ambitious you are, there is power in building community and reaching back as you climb. 

Kerri: So much progress has been made, but there is still so much progress to be made. As a leader, always keep equity at the forefront of your decision making. Create the opportunity for talented Black faces in all decision-making spaces.