Gatekeeper: “A person or thing that controls access to something.”

As members of the Calgary Black Chambers, I welcome you to adopt the mindset that we are all in positions of influence in our city. Knowledge and education have proven to be great equalizers, but it’s safe to say we still face challenges.

I have been fortunate to play football as an amateur and a professional. Beyond the accolades and wins, I will forever be thankful to the mentors who made my transition and experience memorable. Nothing prepares you for the transition from college to the professional ranks, but I was fortunate to have access to some players who had been there and done it.

I would always call and ask general and personal questions, and I was always given directions and advice on how to navigate whatever the challenge was. This really allowed me to have a laser-like focus on my craft as an athlete day after day. I know without a doubt, I can attribute my success as an athlete to the mentors I had direct access to.

I love helping people, and I believe strongly that the success of someone can be measured by the number of people he or she has helped succeed.  Now in the corporate world, I have access to successful individuals who have gone through the process of building a business and career from the ground up.

In the Calgary Black Chambers, we have individuals from all facets of the corporate and private sectors, and I look forward to partnering up with each of you to provide mentorship to the up and coming generations of aspiring professionals. I consider each member as a gatekeeper in their respective fields. Yes, I know the process for everyone wasn’t a walk in the park. There are stories of the complexities and obstacles experienced in achieving the current level of success.

“Each One Teach One”

Classic African Phrase

I encourage you all to help change the narrative, to re-write the stories of countless aspiring folks of color in our city. I know we can be the change we want to see in Calgary. Let us use our positions of influence, our professional achievements, and our networks to create opportunities. An African American phrase “each one teach one” comes to mind, we have to be and do better for the next generation of professional people of color in Calgary. I have made a commitment to use my position of influence to better serve our community, I hope I can count on every one of you to do the same.

Chucks Okafor