February 14, 2022

#PasstheMic: Meet Lapedra Tolson

As part of our efforts to #PasstheMic this Black History Month and beyond, we are excited to spotlight Lapedra Tolson, the founder and principal at Friends From the City.

Meet Lapedra Tolson

The Founder and Principal of Friends From The City. Friends From The City is a full-service digital firm delivering best-in-class user and client experiences to federal and state agencies. Technology, data, and organizational strategy are at the core of their creativity; this combination of capabilities allows for the creation of user-centric solutions suited to every client's needs. Their team of skilled technologists and creative problem-solvers exists to produce ethical design and technology solutions for the public sector.

Friends was cofounded with her spouse, Tamara Tolson, who has years of experience as a copywriter in the federal space and creative writing communities. Lapedra is also a veteran of the United States Air Force. Earlier in her career, she worked as a federal employee at several agencies and, most recently, as a federal contractor with Agile Six Applications, Inc.

Friends is a space (and opportunity) for multiple levels of impact; BIPOCs and other underrepresented groups have been excluded from the design thinking movement for far too long. By providing a space where everyone's voice is heard and amplified, the organization ensures that unique experiences and cultural nuances are reflected in design, and millions of diverse people can interact with government services. The organization practices pay equity and pay without borders in order to boost underserved communities and have economic impact for the communities they serve. Friends is well positioned to become a leader in the civic technology sector.

  1. What kind of connections are you looking for?

We are interested in working with other digital service agencies that are intentional about equity and inclusive design, not just in word but in action as well. Ideally, we would like to work with agencies that demonstrate integrity and a commitment to positively impacting society.

  1. What do you want people to pay attention to?

It is important that the public reads and heeds Biden's Executive Order on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce. At Friends, we understand the benefits of a diversified workforce, and we hire people who reflect the folks we serve. Our company differentiates itself by offering to clients equity as a service, because we believe that a great experience for our clients is as important as a great experience for our users. Our philosophy allows us to build great partnerships, and further cements our ability to enact change. 

  1. How do you think the social impact space can further amplify the Black community?

The social impact space aims to identify and address the root causes of social problems. In this space, impact may resemble forming strategic partnerships with companies like Friends. 

The inclusion of minority-owned small businesses is great as long as it's not performative, as capital is a root issue for any small business, and in particular for those founded by underrepresented groups. In other words, put real action behind every action to help fill the gaps and create a real impact. 

As Black women, we appreciate Black Girls Rock because they are doing the work to empower the next generation of Black girls which is essential to society. As founders, we understand how impactful representation is in inspiring the next generation of leaders. Representation gives others the belief that anything is possible. I like to remind folks that you can make an impact no matter what industry you choose. You just need to decide and then do.

Want to continue the conversation with Lapedra? Reach out at lapedra@cityfriends.tech .

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The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

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A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

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