Five coffee professionals recently were selected to receive the Specialty Coffee Association’s (SCA) new Leadership Equity and Diversity (LEAD) Scholarship—made possible with the support of S&D Coffee & Tea. The scholarship is aimed at increasing leadership diversity within the global coffee community by allowing access to professional development resources to people from underrepresented or marginalized communities.
The scholarship program was first announced at the Re:co Symposium in April 2018. SCA received more than 60 applications from individuals all over the world, representing a wide range of coffee professions, including baristas, café managers, graduate and PhD students and more.
In the end, SCA narrowed the field down to five recipients. The 2018-2020 LEAD Scholars are Karla Ly Quinones, Lisette Barbera, Smayah Uwajeneza, Stephanie Alcala and Taya Brown.
“We are proud to work with SCA to develop a program that provides members of the coffee community that typically don’t have access, with the tools they need to further their career,” said Helen Griffith, VP, marketing, S&D Coffee & Tea. “These scholars have the opportunity to create real change in the industry, and we want to make sure they get off to an excellent start.”
To kick off the program, scholars were invited to S&D Coffee & Tea headquarters in Concord, North Carolina, for a two-day immersion that included an in-depth overview of S&D and tour of its roasting and manufacturing facilities. The scholars had the opportunity to discuss their professional development goals, take part in coffee and tea cupping, a Charlotte coffee crawl, as well as one-on-one time with select members of S&D’s management team.
Throughout the two-year program, scholars will focus on their education and career goals, personal and professional development opportunities, and team building. The group will attend an SCA origin trip, a community/professional event and complete their choice of a Coffee Skills Program (CSP) course or AST Certification. Each scholar is paired with an instructor to complete their CSP, a mentor to support their goals and an SCA senior staff member.
“We are delighted to be working with S&D on this program,” said SCA Executive Director Ric Rhinehart. “LEAD was born out of the recognition that we as an industry have a lot of work to do to diversify our leadership at every point in the value chain. As a nonprofit organization, our interest is to increase access for marginalized communities to the resources required to do that. We’re honored to have the support of partners like S&D Coffee & Tea, who help make this program a reality.”