Honoring Our Past by Investing in Our Future

Back home…to The Mecca

Last week I had the honor of going back home to my alma mater, Howard University.  I was there with a few colleagues from DuPont, including our CEO Ed Breen and Chief Procurement Officer Miguel Gonzalez, to talk to students from the School of Business and College of Engineering. We talked about supply chain management and more broadly, steps they can take now to prepare for their next chapter after graduation, and answered thoughtful questions about strategy, technology, and leadership. 


I was joined by fellow DuPonters and Howard alum – Vere Archibald (L), Chemical Engineering graduate and DuPont’s Experimental Site Lead, Brandon Bailey (middle), MBA and Supply Chain Management graduate and DuPont U.S. Trade Compliance Leader, and Kelsie Jacobs (R), Supply Chain Management graduate and DuPont Global Procurement Specialist.


DuPont Executive Chairman and CEO Ed Breen, Howard University School of Business Dean Wilbon, and Howard University Trustee and industry leader Shelley Stewart following the 2024 Executive Lecture Series.


Coming “home” for those couple of days was an important and meaningful reminder of how impactful higher education is – and why it’s so important to invest in programs and people that are helping to shape the next generation.

Howard is an example of what top notch education can empower - from former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall to Vice President Kamala Harris, to aerospace engineer Dr. Aprille Ericsson - the first African American woman to receive a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Howard University – just to name a few. Inspiration for success is everywhere. That said, Howard receives about 32,000 applications each year and the competition for education like this is fierce. We know there will be many students who don't find themselves in this kind of educational environment down the road.

Creating examples and opportunity for the next generation

So, how are we creating opportunity for more students, especially students of color? We know this begins before students start thinking about college – way sooner. I believe it starts with creating – and sharing – examples of success when students are young, still imagining what's possible for them. Students need to ‘see what they can be.'

This needs to start early and happen often – especially if you consider the racial gaps in STEM are still raging - African American students make up 17% of the overall 8th grade enrollment, but only 11% are enrolled in algebra, for example. To counter this discouraging start, we need to increase access to role models and opportunities through teachers who are equipped to overcome the racial bias that exists in our schools, and role models who encourage students to strive to be the best version of themselves.

Beyond grade school, we need to continue supporting positive educational experiences, equipping and empowering all students to bring their full selves to the higher education environment– be it at an HBCU, Hispanic-serving institution, or otherwise. This includes continued investment in increasing access – through scholarships and internships.

And even beyond education, we need to make space for the next generation of Black leaders. Our responsibility doesn’t end once students become graduates. Development and learning is lifelong. How can we open doors for leaders throughout their careers?

Sometimes this happens in unexpected ways or through unexpected connections. When I was a plant manager in Mobile, Alabama some 15 years ago, I was in a meeting with local officials to discuss our contributions in the local community. It was there I met County Commissioner Merceria Ludgood. Through some discussion, we discovered I went to church as a young boy with one of her cousins – all the way in Rochester, NY. Small world, right? This connection was instrumental. Commissioner Ludgood took me under her wing and through her network, she sponsored me and got me into a program called Leadership Alabama, designed to develop local leaders. I grew by leaps and bounds because of that program, and because of Commissioner Ludgood’s support.

Returning the favor

The trip to Howard was short but the feeling I get when I see young black leaders carving their path is long-lasting. It’s inspiring to see how far generations of Black students have come – and it’s a reminder to make sure we’re carving out more space for future cohorts.



#BlackHistoryMonth #HowardU #BlackAndSTEM #STEMeducation


I’m grateful to organizations like the American Chemistry Council and the American Institute for Chemical Engineering – who through their FOSSI Program, provides millions of dollars in scholarships to students seeking STEM degrees at HBCUs, and the National Action Committee for Minorities in Engineering (NACME), which provides $5 million in scholarships each year to minority engineering students.

And I’m appreciative for the opportunity to lead and partner with so many terrific role models at DuPont and throughout the industry– showcasing what’s possible for the next generation. We need to make sure we continue the legacy of those who came before us.