An Interview with Zanade Mann, DEPLOY Fellow of the New York Tri-State Area

Published: December 22, 2022

Zanade Mann poses, sits at a desk in front of a laptop.

Blue Star Families’ Campaign for Inclusion is making significant headway in its second year, with a new cohort of DEPLOY Fellows taking on initiatives in various realms. The DEPLOY (Diversify and Expand the Pipeline Of Leaders Of Your Military Community) Fellowship Program is one of the five focus areas of the Campaign for Inclusion, and it aims to increase representation and diversity within Military Service Organizations (MSOs) and Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs). 

We sat down with Zanade Mann, Craig Newmark New York Tri-State Chapter DEPLOY Fellow, to talk more about her story and aspirations. 

  1. Why did you apply for the DEPLOY Fellowship?

“There continues to be a gap in the leadership pipeline for women who look like me. The DEPLOY Fellowship is a solution to filling the gap and being a part of the change that we want to see across the board. I am a change agent and advocate for underserved women and their communities. I learned of the fellowship when I was invited by first-year fellow Brittney Aladetohun to speak at her Black women in business event to share my expertise on entrepreneurship and community building. That’s when I began to dive into the resources that Blue Star Families had to offer. You see, it was the representation of Black women that piqued my interest. Months later, I happened to see a posting about the fellowship in New York, and the rest is history.”

  1. Why is it so important to have diverse representation within Military Support Organizations?

“The demographics of America are changing; thus, representation must change. It must be inclusive. It is the founding of our American ideals that suggest that. If we are to be part of the growth of this country, then we must be represented. Alternatively, if we suffer from the societal ills of the country. we should be represented in the systems that can help us alleviate those social ills. That includes bringing more women, women of color, all underserved communities, and their families to the table to convene collectively for our greater good.”

  1. Who inspires you most in this space? 

“Many have inspired me, like Shirley Chisholm, who was unbought and unbossed in every aspect of her leadership. Toni Morrison influenced and changed the lives of others through her creative works and opened the door for many to share their stories during her tenure at Random House. My grandmother, a military spouse, supported my grandfather and her family through three wars and countless deployments. She did so much and received little recognition. And Condoleezza Rice, who I’ve admired since undergrad. I had never seen a Black woman with so much confidence in the White House. She was bold and intelligent, and she inspired me to hold my head up a little higher as a Black woman.

But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention being inspired by my own personal journey. I am resilient – even at times of deep despair and low opportunity. I make a way out of no way that helps so many. I am the change I want to see.”

  1. What do you hope to accomplish while serving as a DEPLOY Fellow?

“To expand health and economic equity through movement, community, and opportunities for underserved people. I also want to learn from leaders within the space. I seek to make lasting connections to those who value my talent and are willing to help me grow.”

Learn more about the work Zanade is doing in the New York Tri-State area by following Blue Star Families’ New York Tri-State Area Chapter on Facebook.

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