2018 40 Under 40 recipients on top row: Ebony Cochran and Brittni Brown. Bottom row: Pageant Atterberry and Chandra Moore-Banks.The Michigan Chronicle 40 Under 40 class of 2018 is dominated by women, with 24 honorees, ranging in the fields of legal aid, public relations, entrepreneurship, architecture, executive leadership, and more. With March being Women’s History Month and the emergence of women’s rights movements across the country, the event this year takes on a special meaning for the recipients.
“It is an honor for me to be in great company alongside other amazing professional women,” said 40 Under 40 recipient Brittni L. Brown and head publicist of the Bee Agency. “As a woman, for me to be respected and honored for my work is absolutely remarkable. In my field, it is not that common to see other women who look like me achieving high honors. So, for me to build and create a new foundation for women younger than me is absolutely amazing.”
Women’s History Month is dedicated to honoring and celebrating women for the great contributions they have made around the world, from the big names to the unsung heroes. Acknowledgement, equality, and equal pay among women has dominated the news, yet, has lacked in the everyday workplace and in the corporate setting. Pageant Atterberry is the owner of PBA Royal Performing Arts and Training School and a 40 Under 40 recipient. She felt her work and so many others, are not going unnoticed anymore thanks to campaigns such as Women’s History Month and 40 Under 40.
“For so long, we would see men getting all the recognition,” said Atterberry. “The CEOs, the Presidents, and even the Vice Presidents. A lot of the time, they have strong women in the background who made sure the daily was always going. The secretaries, who are usually females, are the ones who handle everything behind closed doors. So, for women to be able to step to the front of the line, and not have our work go unnoticed anymore, is very significant during this time.”
Throughout history, the story of women has been one of exclusion, stillness, absence, and prejudice. But not anymore. The precedent that women “can’t do” something is no longer valid. Women are starting their own businesses, executives at major companies, excelling in professions previously dominated by men, and breaking down other barriers society once said they could not do. Take Chandra Moore-Banks for instance. She is an architect, director of design, and founder of coG-Studio architectural design firm. Only 0.3 percent of licensed architects in the world are black women and she is a catalyst for empowering all women to pursue any profession they dream of.
“Being treated equally is always a concern in any field,” said Moore-Banks. “In the world of architecture, we normally don’t have a voice. Unless you push hard and eat and breathe design. We understand life isn’t fair and we want to be a part of the voice. Men continue to think they build the world, but it takes both genders to make the world go. That diversity is needed in all fields and inclusion is missing.”
The Michigan Chronicle’s 40 Under 40 Awards celebrates local African-American individuals who inspire others through vision and leadership, exceptional achievements, and participation in community service. Ebony Cochran is the senior consultant and owner of Blackwood Credit Services. She is a 40 Under 40 winner and has dedicated her life to helping others through her business, like so many of the other recipients. Over the years, she has helped her clients wipe away $14 million in debt.
“As a woman presented with the 40 Under 40 award, this is a win, not only for myself, but the community-as-a-whole,” said Cochran. “To know that others recognize my hard work in the community inspires me to keep going, to keep serving others, and being a vessel that God uses. And it also lets me know that I’m on the right path.”
“I started this company to help myself, and with the knowledge I learned, I was inspired to help others, and that’s what I do every single day. This award would be meaningless if I didn’t have the thousands of testimonial reports from clients who now have homes, cars and even jobs, that they would have never imagined having, prior to Blackwood. As a woman, in a male dominated industry, this award just confirms that when you do the work, the people and results will follow.”