Amazon’s 2023 Black History Month theme, “Black is …”, commemorates different aspects of Black culture from extraordinary achievements to impressive contributions by the Black community, both of which are remarkable and worthy of celebration.
This month, Amazon celebrates the depth and diversity of the Black community by amplifying employees and their voices, and highlighting their remarkable accomplishments. Meet some of these amazing employees below.
A native of Detroit, Michigan, Jasmine Fowler was looking for her next opportunity when she found herself at Amazon in 2020, after graduating from Florida A&M University, a Historically black university, with her master’s degree in business. As an area manager, Fowler now leads a team of 70 associates at a fulfillment center in her hometown that is responsible for making magic happen once customers click “place your order” on Amazon.com.
Fowler said the thing she enjoys most about working at Amazon is the people.
“Amazon provides me with the space to serve Amazonians in more ways than just one,” Fowler said. “I’m able to connect with people on a massive scale, and that fuels my passion of being able to develop and mentor others.”
When it comes to integrating her personal values and beliefs into her work, Fowler said she’s big on community. One of her personal values is “being empathetic and authentic to every person that I meet,” which she said ties in to one of the company’s leadership principles, Earning Trust.
“So I’d say the integration is spot on, and that’s something you don’t see often with companies as big as Amazon,” Fowler said.
Fowler said she is proud of a lot of her work at Amazon, but she is most proud of three things: growing membership in Amazon’s Black Employee Network (BEN), which is an employee affinity group; representing North American Fulfillment Centers at Amazon’s Beyond the Yard Professional Development Conference; and creating the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Florida and Duval County Public Schools partnership with her Jacksonville fulfillment center.
Dr. Cynthia Sutherland
After graduating from Limestone University and Capital Technology University with a doctorate in Cybersecurity, Dr. Cynthia Sutherland began her career in the government sector as a Cyber Operations Branch Chief. She designed and implemented policies, technologies, and procedures for core cybersecurity services in alignment with Department of Defense (DoD) priorities. As she advanced throughout her career, she transitioned into the private sector and joined Amazon Web Services (AWS), where she is now a principal industry specialist working on developing and executing a security assurance program for complex customer issues in the automotive industry.
Dr. Sutherland said what she enjoys most about working at Amazon is the challenge.
“Amazon’s customers provide complex and impactful challenges for us to solve,” she said. “I love the culture and ability to create cross-functional teams to invent and solve complex problems on behalf of the customer. Working across multiple teams to launch solutions at scale builds comradery and trust within the organization. It also keeps us motivated to take on the next challenge.”
Dr. Sutherland is also a victor over a generational curse of childhood sexual abuse and recently published a book, Letters to My Brown Girls. The book provides childhood sexual abuse survivors, along with the people who love them, with the resources to educate, empower, and inspire survivors to heal.
Dr. Sutherland also volunteers as a teacher and coach to help children and teenagers learn about coding, robotics, and cybersecurity through the Girl Scouts of America, Black Girls Code, VexIQ Robotics, and the National Society of Black Engineers Junior Chapters within the Washington, D.C., metro area. She uses these opportunities to expose young learners to a diverse view of engineering and technology to motivate them to enter fields in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
When asked what advice she would give to future generations looking to break into tech, Dr Sutherland said, “Take charge of your career through ownership and accountability. When you feel lost in your profession, reset your foundational knowledge through education or training. Work for a company whose mission you can support and who can support your mission. Establish a network of mentors or sponsors to help pivot you toward success that are willing to authentically show up for you, because you don’t know what you don’t know. Finally, grow your squad with people who are not afraid to be your mirror, keep you grounded while building you up, and checks on you when things are the quietest and the busiest. These will help you when you face Imposter Syndrome and when you are just being too hard on yourself, because we do that sometimes.”
Mark Hatcher is no stranger to hard work and competition. He came to Amazon in 2017 to consult high-volume sellers on the Strategic Account Services (SAS) team and later worked as a manager on the Global Sales Team.
Hatcher is especially passionate about diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, and he now manages the Howard Entertainment program, an initiative designed to diversify the entertainment industry by creating a pipeline for Black and other underrepresented students. In this role, Hatcher helps 50 students and recent graduates each year move into leadership roles in the entertainment industry.
He has been instrumental in the placement of talented leaders within the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences (Oscars) Gold Rising Program, Sony Entertainment, the American Black Film Festival (ABFF), Amazon’s Twitch’s Crown Channel, and Amazon Studios.
Hatcher, when discussing his work within Amazon and his community, said the thing he enjoys most is his ability to change lives.
“Building relationships is my superpower,” Hatcher said. “Developing relationships with entertainment-industry leaders while providing employment opportunities for Howard Entertainment Program participants and alumni allows me to create life-changing scenarios.”
Through these professional associations, Hatcher said he’s able to connect aspiring entertainment leaders with companies and roles. The connections help them start and advance their careers, and the work ultimately changes lives.
He has a similar passion and dedication to his community: “There’s always more work to be done, but I’m most proud of the work I do for the Amazon Black Employment Network (BEN), my mentor-mentee relationships, and using the platforms available to me to change my community’s perception of Amazon.”
Hatcher said he’s proud of his work leading, as the only Black instructor, a conscious fathering class for ParentTrust, a Seattle nonprofit that helps men build a framework for how they want to father. He also serves as the community engagement director for BEN, where he helped change the narrative about Amazon’s role in the community.
He also established partnerships with the United Way of King County, where he is a project lead, along with Food Lifeline and the Seattle Juvenile Arthritis Foundation. He works with the organizations to share resources and partnership opportunities benefiting Amazon employees and the broader community.
After graduating from California State University of Northridge, Zorena Harris began her career in the entertainment industry. After looking for a change of pace, Harris transitioned into operations at Amazon.
She started as a seasonal associate and quickly climbed the professional ladder to her current role as an area manager for the Amazon fulfillment center in Duluth, Georgia. She manages safety, quality, productivity, and customer delivery promises, and she serves as the facility’s diversity, equity, and inclusion point of contact.
“There are a lot of things that I enjoy about being an Amazonian, but the top ones are the opportunities I have to lead and engage associates,” Harris said. “Developing minority associates for promotion has always been something I’m passionate about. I didn’t have access to mentors throughout my career, so I’ve always been driven to create that experience for others. I enjoy leading by influence and being a vessel for engagement for Black associates while setting the bar for other sites within my region.”
When it comes to integrating her personal values and beliefs into her work at Amazon, Harris said she takes pride in being able to connect the dots with a purpose. She said she also wants “to be able to make my mark everywhere I go, and to give any organization that I am a part of the recognition that it needs to execute its mission.”
“Amazon provides me with a safe space to bring awareness and empowerment to associates at my site while fostering an inclusive environment for all,” Harris added.
Harris said she is most proud of the work she’s done to create an inclusive culture for other Amazon employees at her station; the partnership she built between the Tennessee Titans, Amazon, and the Boys & Girls Club of Long Beach, California; and spearheading speaking engagements within the film industry.
Rosendo “Ready” Molina
After graduating from Northeastern University, Rosendo “Ready” Molina began his early career in the technology industry as a consultant. Molina then transitioned into a role as a business development manager at AWS. After pulling off some big wins, he transitioned into his current role as an AWS customer advisor and provides recommendations that help customers follow AWS best practices.
Molina said what he enjoys most about working at Amazon is the startup mentality, how it always feels like Day 1. He said that mentality is fostered by a “group of leaders and a group of teammates who all have a bar-raiser, builder mindset.”
“As an engineer, I am passionate about learning new technologies and applying the skills I’ve acquired to helping customers solve complex business problems,” he added. “Given the breadth and depth of AWS services and partner technologies offerings, I am challenged daily to learn new technologies, become proficient in the use of tools and processes available, and support the many intricate sales, technology, and program support teams I have the pleasure of working with every day.”
He is also passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace and throughout his community.
“As an afro-Latino, I have faced many cultural challenges in the workplace,” Molina said. “Given my experiences, I greatly appreciate our leadership’s emphasis in inclusion, diversity, and equity. This motivates me to contribute to our great corporate culture both within Amazon and in my local community.”
Molina said he looks for opportunities every day to serve and help others, as a way to give back to his community. “Whether it be in my community or at work, I’m am always looking to advance my knowledge and share it with those who can also benefit. I not only look to share the knowledge but seek to teach others how to acquire the information needed to find their north star.”
Molina noted the impact of learning about the fields of STEM during his early education, and how this has influenced the way he gives back to his community.
“Being introduced to STEM in high school changed my life and the lives of my family for generations to follow,” he said. “To pay this forward, for example, I recently served high schools locally and virtually through the Amazon Future Engineer Classchats and Hour of AI programs.”
Molina will continue to use his personal and professional experiences to break generational curses while bridging the gap between diverse communities and STEM careers.
Learn more about how Amazon is celebrating Black History Month.