Black Lives Matter Panel
We are appalled by the deaths of Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor,
George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and countless other Black lives who have been
victims of police brutality and racism in America. The list has gotten longer and
hashtags do not suffice. COLA wants to advocate for the Black community and the
Black Lives Matter movement by doing its part in community education and
outreach. We are hosting an online seminar (via Zoom) in an effort to bring Black
leaders to the forefront and in connection with youth in Central Ohio. This event is
planned to be held on Thursday, July 16th, at 7:00pm. We are excited to have six
great leaders from Central Ohio join us for a conversation about the Black Lives
Matter movement, what it means to be Black in America, and what action we can
take to amplify the voices of the Black community and advocate for social justice
reform. Click the following link to register for the Black Lives Matter Panel and to
receive a link to the virtual event: http://go.osu.edu/blmpanel. Although COLA
strives to educate and uplift young leaders in Central Ohio, we want this event to be
open to anyone and everyone who is willing to learn and act on our discussion. Our
hope is to reach as many people as possible, so not only do we want to see you there,
but we also want to welcome non-COLA members—your family, friends, coworkers,
other community leaders, etc.
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Going into our 9th year since COLA started, we would like to share with you how we have grown in the past 9
years. One way we want to show this is through our survey. If you haven’t already, please go fill out the ‘Where are
you now?’ survey. Use the following link to do so: https://forms.gle/qoxNFMAb1L8yqyvJ9
Tori Legg is a graduate of the COLA Class of 2018. She is also a recent graduate of Oakstone Academy—Congratulations Tori and the Class of 2020! Tori will be attending Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is planning to double major in Political Science and Social Justice, with a concentration in pre-law. When asked what she learned from COLA, Tori exclaimed, “COLA was life-changing!” COLA allowed her to be put into a space where she was surrounded by diverse student leaders, something she wasn’t used to seeing in her high school. COLA changed her perspective on what it means to stand together and emphasized the importance of diversity in any space.
Since COLA, Tori has organized service projects to support sex crime survivors and mentor middle school girls. By partnering with her church, Tori was able to organize a pancake breakfast for survivors around Columbus and raise $600. While doing so, she was hosting group sessions with Lena Halversen (COLA Class of 2019) to encourage and educate middle schools girls on various topics such as: navigating school, relationships, and home-life, and self-care/mental health practices.
During quarantine, Tori spent her time finishing her final year in high school, watching Grey’s Anatomy and 90’s sitcoms on Netflix, and falling back in love with dance. You could probably find Tori at a family-owned restaurant ordering a New York-style pizza—as that is her favorite type of food.
Sonam Rustagi is a graduate of the COLA Class of 2018. She is also a member of the COLA Alumni Committee. In an effort to help you all get to know us better, we wanted to feature our committee members alongside the Alumni Spotlight recipient.
As a rising second-year student at the The Ohio State University, Sonam is studying Economics and Environmental Science. During her first year at Ohio State and in quarantine, Sonam has been developing a service project to address food insecurity, mentoring new Americans and refugees, and working with the Ohio House of Representatives and US Together.
Sonam expresses that COLA taught her “the value of trying to make a difference even if there is no immediate success.” She enjoyed learning about the process of identifying the needs of a community and using insight from leaders in her cohort and guest speakers to develop a service project. She believes that is is important to “instill in our young leaders that they can make a positive impact in their communities even if the obstacles seem insurmountable.” Sonam hopes to see COLA become a bigger program that also expands to middle school students in the next few years.
Do You Know the Panelists for the BLM Virtual Discussion?
Yvette McGee Brown
became the first African-American female justice on the Ohio Supreme Court when she took office on January 1st, 2011. Brown also served nine years on the Court of Common Pleas for Franklin County between 1993 and 2002. She currently serves as Partner-in-Charge of Diversity, Inclusion, and Advancement at the global law firm Jones Day. Some of you may recognize her because she also was a COLA guest speaker in 2018. We are honored and excited that Yvette McGee Brown has agreed to be a part of our panel, we look forward to learning from her next week!
is a rising City and Regional Planning senior at The Ohio State University. She also holds a position as the Student Body President at the University. Prior to her role as President, Roaya served as a University Ambassador, the Vice Chair of Diversity and Inclusion for Ohio State’s Undergraduate Student Government, an Academic Success Partner, a First Year Experience Peer Leader, the Outreach Chair for the North and South Sudanese Association at Ohio State, and the Director of Campus Outreach for Buckeye First. Roaya is active in her commitment to social progress, and we are thrilled to have her as a member of out panel.
is the Senior Legal Analyst at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. His work focuses on local and national civil rights issues, criminal justice reform, fair housing policy, and equitable access to education. Additionally, Strickland leads the coordination of My Brother’s Keeper Ohio, a statewide network that helps provide educational and community opportunities for boys and young men of color. Prior to joining the Kirwan Institute, Kyle earned his law degree from Harvard Law School, where he served as Student Body President. As a Columbus native, he earned his B.A. in Political Science from The Ohio State University. We are proud to have Strickland be a part of our panel!
is a recent graduate of Bexley High School and will be attending The Ohio State University as a Morrill Scholarship with Distinction recipient. In addition to being a COLA Alumni (2018) and Alumni Spotlight recipient, Austin’s list of awards and accomplishments include Poetry Out Loud State Champion (2020), Eagle Scout, and Congressional Black Caucus Spouses Essay Contest First Place Winner (2017). Smith is an active participant in the BLM Movement, and prides himself on being a humble follower of Christianity. We are grateful to be able to welcome Austin to our panel!
serves as a council member for the City of Columbus. Prior to joining Council, Favor served as an Assistant City Attorney in Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein’s office. She worked alongside the leaders of our city and community to provide essential city services to improve Columbus’ neighborhoods and facilitate conversations to address criminal activity, vacancies, abandonment, and blight. In addition to serving on Council, Favor serves on the Executive Board of the John Mercer Langston Bar Association and Creative Control Fest. We are honored and excited that Councilmember Shayla Favor has agreed to be a part of our panel, we look forward to learning from her next week!
is a rising Neuroscience and Mathematics senior at Harvard University. During his junior year, Kevin served as President of the Nigerian Student Association. He is also an active member of Harvard’s Financial Analysts Club, the Institute of Politics and Economic Policy Group, the Pre-Med Society, and the Black Men’s Forum. Ogonuwe currently works as an Equity Research Analyst at Morgan Stanley and serves as an analyst with Harvard’s Undergraduate Capital Partners. As a native to Central Ohio, we are excited to have Kevin join us in our discussion about the BLM Movement and actions we can take to fight for equity and social justice reform.