As the first in her family to both attend and graduate from college, I. Javette Hines knew the path on which she had embarked would not be an easy one.
But as she completed a Bachelor of Science in middle grades education from Clark Atlanta University and then a Juris Doctor from the Wake Forest University School of Law, she would be encouraged by her mother’s faith who wanted nothing more than for her daughter’s life to be better than hers and with more opportunities than she’d been afforded.
“Get a good education, be intentional and stay out of trouble was the message I received from my mother, loud and clear,” said Hines, the director for Global Head of Supply Chain Development, Inclusion and Sustainability at Citi in New York City.
Hines has made the most of opportunities for career growth, amassing more than 20 years of experience in supply chain management, operations, leadership, diversity, and management, including 11 years at International Business Machines (IBM).
Still, Hines, who considers herself a poet and artist and once dreamed of winning an Obie on Broadway after beginning her college matriculation as a music major, believes her career chose her.
“I didn’t want to be a burden on my mother so I had to find a way to go to college without anything coming out of her pocket,” she said. “I started with a Pell Grant and in my second year, I joined the Philharmonic Choir when I learned that I could be engaged with music, receive scholarships and still be able to keep my grades up.”
Hines counts her years at Clark Atlanta as a blessing where she, like other students who have gone through the doors of the prestigious HBCU, would be guided by the university’s mantra: “I will find a way or make one.”
“I’m proud to be an HBCU grad – it was great to be in a place where you were loved and supported,” she said. “However, I learned early on to put my faith and trust in God, not people. Even when circumstances are not what I would like them or need them to be, I trust that they will get better. So, I engage in right relationships – I engage with the right people – people who are aligned with a similar sense of self.”
Facing the Challenges of Being a Black Woman in America
Still, this “phenomenal woman” who has achieved great things in an environment that, historically, has not always been friendly to or supportive of Black women, said as people of color, we have many miles to go.
“Black people have to be on the go and always ready to move forward – to be open to all of the possibilities and to use our resources wisely and in meaningful ways,” Hines said.
Hines counts her sorors in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. among the resources who have been instrumental in her life, both professionally and personally.
“While I was with IBM and working in Raleigh, North Carolina, at first I didn’t know anyone,” she said. “But my sorors, who had come from so many other places, invited me, welcomed me and loved me into their world.”
“As a southerner, I love to cook – I like potlucks. Breaking bread is a great way to get to know people. I’ve been an AKA for 37 years and a member of The Links for 14 years – organizations that give back to their communities. At the same time, they provide me with the fuel I need to stay engaged, to be a better woman, a better mother to my daughter and to be there for other youth who may need a little help staying encouraged and grounded.”
Hines still enjoys the arts – being around people who like music, exercise, and who write poetry. In fact, she finds great joy “when someone asks me to write and recite my poetry.”
“One of these days I plan to publish a book – most likely poetry or a children’s book,” she said. “Writing to inspire others feeds my spirit and I have hundreds of poems ready to be edited and packaged together. As a mother with a teenaged daughter, I want to create a gift that can be used for future generations.”
A Lifelong Commitment to Educating the Mind, Feeding the Soul
An avid reader, Hines said if she could sit down with someone alive or dead, she’d chose Howard Thurman – a philosopher, mystic and educator – whose writings and beliefs had a profound impact on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as he developed his philosophy of nonviolence.
“I found Thurman’s writings, especially his meditations, so deep and inspiring,” she said. “He was so many things: an author, a civil rights leader, a theologian. He was brilliant. But I’m also inspired by poets like Langston Hughes and Nikki Giovanni.”
“We have to share our Black heritage with our children – the youth of today – so they know that while our route to America was often challenging and not chosen by us, we have birthed great and amazing things that deserve to be shared with the world. Everyone may not be able to travel the world to understand the richness of Black history, but everyone can read a book in which all history, including Black history, is fully detailed and made available to everyone at every age.”
If you’re fortunate to find Hines away from the grind of corporate America, she said you’ll probably find her in the kitchen or traveling with her husband, Keith, and their daughter, Kennedy.
“I love good food, period, especially Ethiopian cuisine,” she said. “I love listening to Phyllis Hyman, Lalah Hathaway, Ella Fitzgerald, George Benson, and Bill Withers. And then my daughter is a budding golfer so I support her in every way I can.”
Somehow, Hines balances it all – corporate executive, wife and mother, active member of both Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and The Links, attorney, motivational speaker, published poet, community advocate and leader and ordained deacon at The Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City.
Perhaps it all goes back to the lessons she learned in college and how she has used them as a foundation for her career.
“I said earlier that my career chose me,” she said. “What I meant by that was I had no idea that during my days in academia, one of my greatest loves and something that would I grow so passionate about, would be the opportunity to engage, motivate and teach others what equity and inclusion are all about and why they matter. So, I guess I still have work to do.”
In part one of this three-part series about “Phenomenal Women,” we featured a multi-talented and highly-respected leader in Newark’s arts community: Fayemi Shakur. In part three of this series, we will chronicle the amazing adventures of Dorothy Butler Gilliam, the first Black woman reporter at The Washington Post.