Careers Culture Profiles

Profiles in Extraordinary: Celebrating Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, we highlight several of our colleagues who discuss their career journeys, challenges, and thoughts on black culture. Read their perspectives below.

Derek Mayo, General Manager, Bozzuto Management Company
Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in Hampton, Virginia and was a student-athlete (2008 FCS National Champions, Football) at the University of Richmond, graduating with a BA in Psychology and minor in Business in 2012. I am the youngest of four boys. My fondest memories are recalling how competitive my brothers and I were in everything we did. Whether it was sports, education or life in general, we wanted to win. I believe this allowed us all to excel in our careers.

Derek Mayo
Describe people who have influenced you.

The most influential people in my life are my grandfather, my three brothers and my parents.

My grandfather instilled the importance of hard work and commitment to completing a task, which may come from his military background as a Chief Master Sergeant at Langley Air force Base—the highest level of enlisted leadership in the Air Force. He is currently a pastor and has always taught us to keep the faith and not be a victim of circumstances.

My three brothers are Shermont, Jerod and Deron. Shermont is a member of the Tiger Team, which does nuclear testing, at Newport News Shipyard. Jerod is a retired New England Patriots Super Bowl Champion, pro-bowler, captain for eight years and, for the past year, the Patriots’ linebacker coach. Deron is also a retired Patriots Super Bowl Champion, as well as a Canadian CFL Grey Cup Champion who was captain of the Calgary Stampede for five years. He’s been the Patriots’ assistant head strength coach for two years now. All are extremely successful and have set the bar high not only in their professional environments but also with their families, faith, and focus. They set a great example of staying hungry and humble despite successes.

Finally, I would like to give my parents, Wilson Hinds and Denise Mayo-Hinds, a special shout out, as they are a great example of what a couple can accomplish when they are evenly yoked and always put family first. I like to say that they are the closest thing to Michelle and Barack in my family. They have always been extremely supportive of all of their children and have always made us feel that anything is achievable with God, hard work and dedication.

What are some customs, traditions and/or celebrations that you enjoy?

One of my favorite traditions is getting together with the family on Thanksgiving Day. While it is much harder to get together now that we all have our own families, knowing that my grandmother was going to make a home-cooked meal and that there would be numerous debates always made it an enjoyable experience.

Share a moment or lesson learned in your career that was pivotal to your growth.

The most important lesson I learned came from a plaque that my mom presented to me when I was first promoted to property manager. It stated, “Do not be afraid of change, be afraid of not changing”. This quote meant a lot to me, as many times our fear of the unknown causes us to limit what we believe to be possible. This quote also allows me to intentionally embrace the journey and take an optimistic approach to whatever challenge is presented.

Linda Kiedi, Accounting Manager, Bozzuto Management Company
Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa but my parental origins are from Congo Brazzaville in central Africa. Even though I was born in a large family of eight children, we also had cousins, aunts and other distant relatives living with us. I did not always understand at the time, but the presence of all these people around was a recreation of the original extended family.

Linda Kiedi

I am fluent in French and English and speak some Spanish, Portuguese and Kikongo.

My parents sent me to college here 20 years ago and I graduated from Liberty University in Virginia. I now reside in Silver Spring with my husband and our four children.

Describe people who have influenced you.

My maternal grandmother is a reference for me. Even though I did not know her in my childhood, I have slowly started to build a relationship with her over the last ten years. She is the matriarch of the family and had 10 children. Though she came from humble beginnings, she has always engrained in her descendants the values of love, loyalty and unity.

Additionally, I have a lot of admiration for the late Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, a poised African American psychiatrist who helped me understand race relations.

What are some customs, traditions and/or celebrations that you enjoy?

On July 2, we commemorate the death of Kimpa Vita, a young revolutionary woman in the 18th century who fought again the Portuguese invasion of the Kongo kingdom—yes, it is Kongo with a “K,” which represents the original kingdom, versus Congo with a “C” which represents the country post-colonization—and the trade of her people into slavery. She was eventually burned at the stake for her resistance. We pour libations in remembrance of her sacrifice and the children draw pictures of her. On this occasion, we eat traditional food such as saka-saka (cassava leaves), boiled plantains and cassava bread.

How does Bozzuto encourage you to celebrate your diverse characteristics?

I am thankful to Bozzuto for having created the various employee resource groups (ERGs). One that I’m particularly aligned with is S.O.U.L. (Shades of Unified Leadership), which is our Black and African American ERG. I humbly serve as the lead for the finance committee within S.O.U.L. Through this ERG, I’m able to show what makes my culture so special and I’m able to use my skills in finance to help the group achieve our goals.

Troy Griffin, Employer Branding & Social Media Specialist, Bozzuto Corporate
Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve recently joined the Bozzuto family, and the core of my role is sharing what makes this such a special place to work. Since I’m originally from Baltimore, Maryland, I’m a fan of the hometown teams, the Orioles and Ravens. Growing up in Baltimore provided me with many great lessons which I try to pass on to my two younger brothers. Following the example of my mother, who was the first in the family to attend college, I attended Morgan State University, a H.B.C.U. (Historically Black College & University) in the city. After school, I found a passion for travel, learning new cultures and meeting new people.

Troy Griffin
Describe people who have influenced you.

I draw influence from many different places and spaces. My first may be cliché, but my parents have always influenced me to aspire to be better. I was born while my mom was still attending college, but even with the extra responsibility at an early age, they persevered. Throughout the years, they’ve shown that a plan combined with hard work and focus unlocks endless possibilities. Even when challenges arise, big or small, seen or unseen, we all have the ability to push through them or to work around them.

Another influence isn’t one specific person but many in the brotherhood I’ve gained as a whole through my fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi. Our organization’s fundamental purpose is “Achievement in Every Field of Human Endeavor.” I am motivated by this purpose and by guys from varying backgrounds that grind every day to excel in their unique spaces.

What are some customs, traditions and/or celebrations that you enjoy?

Every summer since I was a kid, I’ve loved heading to Forestville, Maryland for a huge family cookout. It’s held at a small two-bedroom house that sits on a ton of land. My great-grandparents raised their family there and have since passed down the house and the tradition. This is a time when all of my aunts, uncles, cousins, extended family and friends take pause in our often-busy lives to come together. There’s always fried fish that my uncles just caught, my cousins playing horseshoes, dominos or spades and music loud enough for the neighbors to enjoy. You’ll catch everyone sharing smiles and laughs over the good times and, sometimes, a good cry over the ones that we’ve lost. It’s a time to update everyone on the occasional drama, introduce new babies and partners—taking bets on how long some of those partners will stick around—and just catch up on all of the great things people have going on. In sum, while this isn’t an official holiday, it’s an annual moment that’s been passed down for generations and we’ve all come to value.

As a new member of the Bozzuto team, what attracted you to the company most?

Being a Maryland guy, I’ve known a little bit about Bozzuto but wasn’t familiar with the amazing story that I’ve since come to learn. It started when my recruiter, Betsy, reached out on LinkedIn for a “quick chat.” That chat turned into a long conversation about my career goals, passion areas and what drives me. As we talked over a few more conversations, two things stick out. First, we are a “family serving families” and value the differences in people. Betsey shared with me “Send Them to Us,” an amazing letter from President and CEO Toby Bozzuto to his employees about embracing our differences. This was a style of leadership and culture I knew would help enable me to advance the diversity and inclusion initiatives that I’d be working on. Second, my role would be a virtually new mix of responsibilities. Employer Branding is a unique space that merges the world of marketing and storytelling with recruitment efforts and culture, both of which I love. This allows me to take the great work that was already being done here to another level. Finding a niche doesn’t happen easily, but when it does, it’s pretty sweet.

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