Reflections on Black History Month: Terrence Sykes

In this series, black association leaders reflect on Black History Month and what their contributions mean to the industry.

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Reflections on Black History Month

This video is the final installment in a series for Black History Month. Organized by Association Forum’s BIPOC Advisory Group, this series asks black association leaders to reflect on this month and their role in making history within our industry. In this video, Artesha Moore, President & CEO of Association Forum, sits down with Terrence Sykes, chief growth officer, Emergency Nurses Association. If you prefer to read the transcript, scroll down for the full text.

Video Transcript

Artesha Moore: Hello, I’m Artesha Moore, president and CEO of Association Forum. Today we have Terrence Sykes with us, and I would like Terence to introduce yourself. So Terence?

Terrence Sykes: Thank you so much. I’m Terrence Sykes. I am the chief growth officer for Emergency Nurses Association, and love what I do.

Artesha Moore:  Thank you for being with us today. You are our final interview in this month’s Black History Month series. So as I’ve started with everyone in the interviews that I’ve done, it’s really important for me to hear what does Black History Month mean to you?

Terrence Sykes: It brings back some fond memories as a kid. When we had the Black History program. My friends, and I would go do this singing because I was in the church choir and then do some acting and some of those things. So it’s really great memories for me. One of the best was remembering doing the Super Bowl shuffle. But when I think about it and reflect on it, it’s a way to honor the past and celebrate what’s in front of us to acknowledge who we are. Then I think, you know, carrying the dream of what is to come. So that’s how I always looked at it, is there’s so much more to me, there’s so much more coming for me, just can’t wait to see that, and so that’s how I always pictured it. That’s how I challenge my little girl to see it. Honor, what’s happened in the past, understand it, celebrate where you are today, and then dream about what’s going to come for the future.

Artesha Moore: I really like that, and I like that framing a lot. So as I think about what you said in that framing, you are in a very unique position. So as the first person of color in your role, chief growth officer at Emergency Nurses Association, as you think about that dream of the future and how you are setting that for others. Talk to me a little bit about what it’s like to be that first person of color in this role?

Terrence Sykes: I would say humbling. When I was going back, just thinking back to college, I was the first African American student body president that the institution had, and it’s just humbling. There’s a lot of probably pressure that you put on yourself to be a good example, to show the capability. I’ve been really blessed in the role that I am in now and I get to create, develop. So it’s really fun. It’s a blessing to be that first. If I let my mind go there too much, you wind up putting so much pressure on yourself, but you go in, you do the job, you show that you’re capable, and you let that speak well for you and your people.

Artesha Moore: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I think that’s powerful, what you said, especially as a reminder about the pressure. The pressure that we put on ourselves, and especially to make sure that we are not the only, so that when we become the first, we’re not the only that ever walked through that door. So that is a lot of pressure. As I think back on the Black History Month and the programs, I too grew up doing a program at elementary school. I think about the folks that I learned about and the heroes. So I’m always interested to find from you, who do you admire and look up to? Who are your hero?

Terrence Sykes: There’s so many, but I think if I had to look down a road, it would probably be more in the science, innovation that way. So I think about George Washington Carver, and not for… I think most people, when they think of him, they think peanut butter. But what I think about is in the south, what he looked to do is to give them an alternative to the crop of just cotton, and how do you build and make your land go longer for you? So he gave them an alternate, those lentils that people like to have. Switch-off alternating, what that did for their soil and bought more nutrients in it. Then that gave way to a whole new crop for them in peanuts. Then he found over 300 uses of peanuts, whether it was dye, soap, ink.

So that part of it, really, I appreciate and sort of grab onto him because I like to think I’m a visionary and creative that way. So I grab to that, or you can take a look at Dr. Charles Drew, right? He helped separate blood and plasma so that we could store it because you couldn’t, and then you think about what that meant for World War II, and then going on him being the first American Red Cross Blood Bank director. So those kind of minds and exploration really excite me, and so those are folks that I sort of look at when I’m at the table, and I’m thinking through trying to create, build opportunity, build new ways. Those are people that I look to.

Artesha Moore: I’m always impressed to hear about the ingenuity and the innovation that happened for hundreds of years, right. But the need to drive, change that happens at a small personal level. So I’m also inspired by folks that drive innovation. Then the final thing that I will say to you is as a creative, as well as, as a strategist, it’s really beautiful to see in this role that you have in [inaudible 00:06:54] growth. So I want to thank you for being here and inspiring us to even take the peanut to the next level. Right. So thank you so much, Terrance.

Terrence Sykes: Thanks for having me. God bless.





About the Author

The mission of Association Forum is to advance the professional practice of association management. Founded in 1916, Association Forum serves 3,000 association professionals whose efforts serve more than 27 million members and generate $10 billion in global annual expenditures. Visit for more information.

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