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Culture February 27, 2024

Celebrating Black History Month with the Black Leadership Associate Connection at Bread Financial™

Black History Month celebration graphic.

Throughout her decade-long career at Bread Financial, associate Sara Sebhatu has worked to empower customers, most recently as a specialist on the customer operations team. Passionate about growing in her career and serving as a role model for others, Sara is also an advocate for the advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion as a first-generation Eritrean-American. 

“My parents moved to the United States as refugees seeking the American dream in 1980, and as a child, Black history wasn’t taught in my home,” she said. “My parents were born and raised in Eritrea, so everyone there looked like them. The only knowledge they had of America beforehand was what they heard and saw in the media. As my sisters and I navigated our way through school, we learned about Black history ourselves and then also educated my parents.”

Armed with unique perspectives from her childhood and a belief that “educating is the key to understanding,” Sara joined the leadership team of the Black Leadership Associate Connection (BLAC) at Bread Financial, currently serving as its vice president. A Business Resource Group (BRG) for Black associates and allies, BLAC evolved from a grassroots organization to a place for like-minded associates to connect, develop, give back and tackle tough topics affecting the Black community. 

“When things happen in the Black community, historically, there has been a lack of space for Black individuals and allies to come together to be authentic and have difficult conversations,” Sara said. “My biggest brag about BLAC is that we are exactly that, a safe space. For example, we recently facilitated a conversation around Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and more than 150 associates joined from across the company. 

After the event, one associate gave feedback that, ‘we have cultivated a culture where real conversations and experiences are shared with each other.’ It was truly moving and brought many to tears, including myself. A statement like this is the reason why BRGs are so important in the workplace and why I am so passionate about this work.”

Learn more about the BLAC BRG and its celebration of Black History Month in the Q&A with Sara and BLAC President Shun Mays below.

What is the purpose of BLAC and what are its goals?
Sara: We currently have over 300 global members who are passionate about Black culture and its advancement at Bread Financial and beyond. We focus a lot of our efforts on unconscious bias, career development and community engagement for all associates, regardless of cultural background.   

What are some of the changes that have resulted because of BLAC?
Sara: Last year, BLAC hosted the company’s inaugural Juneteenth celebration, and associates and their families enjoyed an afternoon of food, friends and fun. During Minority Mental Health Month, we also collaborated with the Asian Alliance and Hispanic/Latine BRGs to facilitate a candid conversation about mental health and the stigmas within our respective communities. In addition to creating a stronger associate community that has almost doubled in size from last year, we’ve developed relationships with organizations like the African American Male Wellness Agency, Black Achievers and Winston-Salem State University (an HBCU), and it’s been wonderful to see those relationships flourish. 

What events took place during Black History Month 2024? 
Shun: At the beginning of the month, associates were invited to vote for one of five accomplished Black women in business, finance or banking. The name with the most votes – which will be revealed soon – will be the name of the Bread Financial-sponsored room at Zora’s House, a nonprofit coworking and community space built by and for women and gender-expansive women of color. 

We closed the month with a virtual conversation and Q&A with Janie L. Mines, the first Black female graduate of the United States Naval Academy. Each week BLAC members have shared lessons from Black historical figures who have impacted their lives, and we have offered a variety of educational resources. 

What has BLAC meant to you?
Sara: Being a member and part of the BLAC leadership team has allowed me to grow my passion for diversity, equity and inclusion, and given me the opportunity to be in a room with so many amazing people! I have met fantastic individuals, nurtured and grown existing relationships, and even shed some tears in our meetings because everyone is so authentic. This experience has truly opened my eyes and fed my hunger to make an impact and be a servant leader. 

Shun: Being a part of BLAC has meant a lot to me. BLAC has given me a forum to discuss issues important to myself and others. BLAC has also allowed me to expand on my leadership skills, and serving as President has been one of my proudest moments as a professional. Lastly, BLAC has given me a space to be myself without having to hold back.

What can associates interested in joining BLAC expect?
Sara: BLAC has something for everyone. Members of BLAC come from roles across the business, and although everyone has diverse backgrounds and experiences, we all have a common goal. The actual level of involvement is up to the individual associate. We have a virtual all-member meeting every quarter and host several events and volunteer opportunities throughout the year. 

Shun: Authenticity, respect, support, networking and growth. We want everyone to show up as their true self and contribute in the ways that works best for them. Associates can expect to be treated with respect and supported on their individual career journeys. Like anything else in life, you will get out of BLAC what you put into it.

About Bread Financial™

Bread Financial™ (NYSE: BFH) is a tech-forward financial services company providing simple, personalized payment, lending and saving solutions. The company creates opportunities for its customers and partners through digitally enabled choices that offer ease, empowerment, financial flexibility and exceptional customer experiences. Driven by a digital-first approach, data insights and white-label technology, Bread Financial delivers growth for its partners through a comprehensive suite of payment solutions that includes private label and co-brand credit cards and Bread Pay™ buy now, pay later products. Bread Financial also offers direct-to-consumer products that give customers more access, choice and freedom through its branded Bread Cashback American Express® Credit Card and Bread Savings™ products.

Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Bread Financial is powered by its approximately 7,000+ global associates and is committed to sustainable business practices. To learn more about Bread Financial, visit or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter/X and Instagram.