FWD Feature | Jamila Parham

Jamila Parham | IT Project Mgr :: Dept of Innovation & Tech | City of Chicago

What does diversity, equity, and professional inclusion mean to you?:

Diversity and inclusion means that everyone has a voice and feels larger than life at the table. All of this stems from the ground level of provided resources to communities that lack the means and mode to embark on a journey to a career that they love. Visibility is key as well, there is true power in seeing someone that looks like you in every industry. This also means equal opportunity free of bias when it comes to hiring, recruiting and starting businesses.

How have you experienced and/or dealt with adversity in your professional and personal life?:

In my experience, adversity is an everyday challenge on every level being a black woman. In society, the color of your skin can instantly put you in a box of limited expectations on potential, now make that box even small being a black woman. I don’t view adversity as a disadvantage but it’s a true advantage to have overcome it.

What would be one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?:

I would tell my younger self that it’s ok not to have it all figured out, the only tool that you need to carry on is courage. As Maya Angelou stated, “I am convinced that courage is the most important of all virtues because without courage you cannot practice any other virtue consistently”. You have to be constantly courageous in achieving your goals, overcoming defeat and grabbing on to your dreams for dear life.

Name three things that you do everyday to help lead you to success.:

I’ve learned to channel my fear, all energy is transformative. Change your fear to adrenaline, excitement and most importantly results.

I find a new self-improvement book to read every 3 months or so. I study and research new topics that have little to do with my day to day career like astrology. You can live many lives in this one by reading from the perspective of others.

I seek guidance from those that have come before me, those real and vulnerable conversations can change your path for the better.

Who inspires your professional ambition? Why?:

Angela Rye inspires me to speak my mind, Bozoma Saint John inspires me to accept new challenges and experiences that can be a little scary. Michelle Obama inspires me to be a beacon of hope for my Chicago community.

What is your favorite book? Or the one you’d recommend most?:

My new favorite book is by one of my favorite people, Shonda Rhimes! She bulldozed the way women and minorities are represented on television. Shonda is the queen of diversity on Primetime TV. She wrote the book “The Year of Yes”, like Shonda, I am much of an introvert which no one seems to believe :-). Her book describes the challenge of saying “Yes” to new opportunities that scare you for a full year. It is truly liberating to step outside of your comfort zone, you will be rewarded with growth.


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