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Pop Culture

Mel B dedicates her new royal MBE title to domestic violence victims

She's using her voice to uplift those without one

scary spice

Mel B in the backstage of Times Square New Year's Eve 2017, in New York.

You may not recognize the name Mel B, but you almost certainly remember her moniker Scary Spice. In the late '90s, the singer was one-fifth of the Spice Girls, one of the most successful female pop groups of all time. The Spice Girls were notable for their strong "girl power" message, which became a rallying cry for a group of young girls and women who didn't even know what feminism was.

Mel B has never shied away from using her public persona to champion the rights of others. In recent years, she has turned her attention to a different kind of advocacy: the plight of women affected by domestic violence. A victim herself, she now works tirelessly to give voice to the many who suffer in silence.



Mel B (short for Melanie Brown) was in a 10-year relationship with American producer Stephen Belafonte and, at the time of their divorce, she admitted that during the course of their relationship she had suffered abuse to the point that she contemplated suicide. In 2018, she wrote a book, "Brutally Honest," that detailed the abusive relationship.

"I wanted to be the Boudica for women who had been in abusive relationships. I wanted to use my platform because all these women, including myself, suffer in silence feeling shame for something that is really nothing for them to be ashamed of. I wanted to speak for other women, because I was big enough and loud enough for others who couldn’t do it," Brown told Metro in an exclusive interview.

The release of her book led to her partnering with the U.K. organization Women's Aid, a charity that specializes in working to end domestic abuse. What began as something that was supposed to be a one-off led to Brown becoming a patron for the organization.

"Mel has really gone above and beyond as a patron," Teresa Parker, head of communications for Women's Aid, told the news outlet. "I’ve worked at Women’s Aid for 20 years and I’ve never known somebody with her level of profile give so much of her time so freely and generously."

Parker revealed that during the Spice Girls' 2019 tour, Brown gave her approximately 90 VIP tickets so that domestic abuse survivors could attend the shows and get to see that if a successful star like herself could overcome her abuse and thrive, so could they. The tickets were given out quietly, with no press, simply out of the goodness of her heart. Being a survivor, she intimately knows what these women have gone through, and it's amazing that she is using her celebrity to truly get in there and help.

Mel B was recently awarded the official title of MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) by Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, for her work as a patron and ambassador for Women's Aid.

"When I got a letter that said Boris Johnson had gone to the Queen and that I would be receiving an MBE, I was shocked! I didn’t even realise people like that even knew what I was doing," she said.

"This award is for all those women out there, and men, who have been in an abusive relationship. It’s for survivors everywhere. I’m just going to keep talking. That’s all I can do. I will always use my platform for other women. This is about women supporting women, speaking out, stopping the shame, stopping this awful epidemic of domestic abuse in its tracks."

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From political science to joining the fight against cancer: How one woman found her passion

An unexpected pivot to project management expanded Krystal Brady's idea of what it means to make a positive impact.

Krystal Brady/PMI

Krystal Brady utilizes her project management skills to help advance cancer research and advocacy.

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Cancer impacts nearly everyone’s life in one way or another, and thankfully, we’re learning more about treatment and prevention every day. Individuals and organizations dedicated to fighting cancer and promising research from scientists are often front and center, but we don’t always see the people working behind the scenes to make the fight possible.

People like Krystal Brady.

While studying political science in college, Brady envisioned her future self in public office. She never dreamed she’d build a successful career in the world of oncology, helping cancer researchers, doctors and advocates continue battling cancer, but more efficiently.

Brady’s journey to oncology began with a seasonal job at a small publishing company, which helped pay for college and awakened her love for managing projects. Now, 15 years later, she’s serving as director of digital experience and strategy at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which she describes as “the perfect place to pair my love of project management and desire to make positive change in the world.”

As a project manager, Brady helps make big ideas for the improvement of diagnosing and treating cancer a reality. She is responsible for driving the critical projects that impact the lives of cancer researchers, doctors, and patients.

“I tell people that my job is part toolbox, part glue,” says Brady. “Being a project manager means being responsible for understanding the details of a project, knowing what tools or resources you need to execute the project, and facilitating the flow of that work to the best outcome possible. That means promoting communication, partnership, and ownership among the team for the project.”

At its heart, Brady’s project management work is about helping people. One of the big projects Brady is currently working on is ASCO’s digital transformation, which includes upgrading systems and applications to help streamline and personalize oncologists’ online experience so they can access the right resources more quickly. Whether you are managing humans or machines, there’s an extraordinary need for workers with the skillset to harness new technology and solve problems.

The digital transformation project also includes preparing for the use of emerging technologies such as generative AI to help them in their research and practices.

“Most importantly, it lays the groundwork for us to make a meaningful impact at the point of care, giving the oncologist and patient the absolute latest recommendations or guidelines for care for that specific patient or case, allowing the doctor to spend more time with their patients and less time on paperwork,” Brady says.

In today’s fast-changing, quickly advancing world, project management is perhaps more valuable than ever. After discovering her love for it, Brady earned her Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification through Project Management Institute (PMI)—the premier professional organization for project managers with chapters all over the world—which she says gave her an edge over other candidates when she applied for her job at ASCO.

“The knowledge I gained in preparing for the PMP exam serves me every day in my role,” Brady says. “What I did not expect and have truly come to value is the PMI network as well – finding like-minded individuals, opportunities for continuous learning, and the ability to volunteer and give back.”

PMI’s growing community – including more than 300 chapters globally – serves as a place for project managers and individuals who use project management skills to learn and grow through events, online resources, and certification programs.

While people often think of project management in the context of corporate careers, all industries and organizations need project managers, making it a great career for those who want to elevate our world through non-profits or other service-oriented fields.

“Project management makes a difference by focusing on efficiency and outcomes, making us all a little better at what we do,” says Brady. “In almost every industry, understanding how to do our work more effectively and efficiently means more value to our customers, and the world at large, at an increased pace.”

Project management is also a stable career path in high demand as shown by PMI research, which found that the global economy will need 25 million more project managers by 2030 and that the median salary for project managers in the US has grown to $120K.

If you’d like to learn more about careers in project management, PMI has resources to help you get started or prove your proficiency, including its entry-level Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification program. For those interested in pursuing a project management career to make a difference, it could be your first step.
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