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Business lectures raise money for Computers4Kids
The DisruptHR audience networking during a break
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Credit: Bryauna Kralik, Charlottesville Tomorrow
Audience members chat during an intermission at the DisruptHR event at Live Arts.
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Bryauna Kralik | Wednesday, May 30, 2018 at 8:20 p.m.

Regional business leaders on Tuesday evening shared their advice for building positive workplace relationships and achieving goals at the Charlottesville debut of the global business lecture series DisruptHR.

DisruptHR is a franchise that has hosted events in more than 120 cities with the goal of inspiring innovation in the human resources field. The event features 14 speakers who present for five minutes each alongside a slideshow that changes every 15 seconds.

At Live Arts, Chic Thompson, a Batten Fellow at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, challenged attendees to be open minded when approaching new situations. 

“Take everything you said that you would never do and ask yourself what are the good things about that action,” Thompson said.

Trenace Richardson is the founder of REAL Women, a support group that allows women to meet and hold open discussions about their lives without fear of judgment. In her presentation, Richardson spoke about dealing with the pressures of upholding a perfect image and her personal struggle with depression.

“I needed a safe space to be transparent so that I could finally become my best me, and I found that safe space in REAL Women,” she said.

Proceeds from Tuesday’s DisruptHR session went toward Computers4Kids for the improvement of the program’s robotics lab. Computers4Kids is a local nonprofit dedicated to providing low-income students between grades seven and 12 with opportunities to improve their computer and learning skills through mentorship and computer access. 

“What we’re doing is trying to create opportunities for our youth to learn more about how the application of their skills happens in businesses and organizations and universities within and outside of Charlottesville,” said Chris Florez, program director of Computers4Kids.

Two members of Computers4Kids, Johnny Jackson and Niedia Washington, spoke to the audience about their experience with the organization.

 “Since being at Computers4Kids, I have worked on getting out of my comfort zone and getting into new things. They’ve introduced me to a lot of new opportunities,” said Jackson, who has been in the program for about three years.

Mentors for Computers4Kids are paired with students to help with long-term projects relating to robotics, electrical engineering and more. 

Both members and mentors participate in a monthly orientation sessions where they continue to learn new skills and work on new projects. Mentors are trained to understand what the experience is like for their mentees by taking on projects that challenge themselves. 

“You realize there are many people that you may not think you need, but they open your mind. I love working with the mentors because I learn more about what they do as college students,” said Washington, who is president of Computers4Kids' Youth Council. 

Computers4Kids plans to further explore robotics throughout their summer programming and implement new ideas in their improved robotics lab. Members will visit the Amazon fulfillment center in Chester to see robots in action. 

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