In line with the mission of our Center for Race, Equity, Justice and Inclusion, we are proud to highlight some of the region's most prominent leaders who are directly impacting change.
During Women's History Month, we focused on Black women leaders. Selected for their impact and countless contributions to people and communities in need, we asked these women to answer five questions:
- I am dedicated to being a change maker because …
- My super power (area of expertise) is …
- My leadership journey described briefly is …
- A quote that resonates with me is …
- With unlimited resources (within my organization or business) I would …
We'd like to thank the women who responded. We appreciate their candor and perspectives.
1. I learned the benefits of using my power for change early in my career while working in technology in the private sector, which helped me realize that I wanted to make a greater impact through the nonprofit sector. Now, I get to help create the change I want to see in the world by securing funding for vital nonprofit missions.
2. My super power is connecting nonprofit missions to philanthropy and telling a compelling story of how that partnership can help to strengthen a community.
3. My leadership journey has been as a prepared risk taker, intent on advancement of self, others and organizations to improve communities.
4. “Don’t set sail using someone else’s star.” – African proverb We are all blessed with specific talents, experiences, competencies and dreams that should rightfully become our “north star". My best results throughout life have occurred when my actions reflect my "north star," and I passionately chart my course accordingly, embracing new experiences and being willing to take risks. Your unique strengths and experiences will create your success.
5. With unlimited resources, I would increase my staff to expand the reach of my business, diversify product offerings and take on more public speaking engagements.
1. I'm dedicated to be a change maker because I do not know anything else; I can't be on this earth and "see" the injustices and not seek to change them.
2. My super power is being an empath, therefore being able to "sight" systemic racism and its impact on Black people. The "sighting" allows me to communicate "it".
3. My leadership journey has been informed and influenced by the challenges in my career and personal journey. They have required me to stretch sometimes beyond my own desire to do so. The most recent "stretch" helped me own the "whiteness" in some of my leadership style and the need to decolonize me if I am to continue as an effective leader. For me that means I don't lead, but I find ways to lift up and help talent around me shine and lead. This is "the" most important lesson of leadership for me.
4. "If you are not a part of the solution, you're a part of the problem." —an African proverb, unknown. This speaks volumes to me and the work of dismantling structural racism.
5. I would invest significant resources in the growth and advancement of the team at ABC and provide a greater platform for Black voices.
1. I am committed to the belief that every Washingtonian deserves the opportunity to thrive.
2. My super power is in connecting with all types of people.
3. My leadership journey is to always follow what's in my heart, with courage and compassion.
4. "It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." —Harry Truman This philosophy has served me well over the years.
5. With unlimited resources, I would support everyone having the skills and tools necessary to achieve their dream!
1. I believe that we all have a deep responsibility to be a part of the solutions to address the critical issues facing our communities (i.e., food insecurity, housing affordability, economic gaps, education and health disparities), that far too often center around race and equity.
2. My super power is the ability to always help people see possibilities
3. My journey has been deep and wide across sectors, focused on creating better opportunities, results, understanding, and experiences for others.
4. "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." —Maya Angelou Many leaders work hard to do what they believe is right; at the end of the day your interactions and small acts of kindness can often make the biggest difference.
5. With unlimited resources, I would fund expansive communications to keep people educated and informed, and work with other committed individuals and organizations to strategically tackle issues that have historically challenged our communities.
1. Today's status quo is not what I want to read about and see in the news 10 years from now.
2. My super power is translating financials into everyday language so both non-experts and experts understand and are empowered to make better decisions.
3. In my leadership journey, I want to use my gifts and talents to enrich the lives of others.
4. "A barn with no cattle might be clean, but strong bulls are needed for a good harvest." —Proverbs I need to be reminded that growth is sometimes messy and unpleasant, but it's a necessary part of the process.
5. With unlimited resources, I would build our tech stack to infinity and beyond! There are so many great cloud-based tools for automation, accounting and financial management that we could use to serve clients better, but sometimes cost is a barrier. I'd just love to own all of the tools and be able to offer the solutions, even if the client doesn't have the budget.
1. I am dedicated to being a change maker because Black people need restorative healing and racial and economic justice in order to thrive in our society.
2. My area of expertise is in building relationships, making connections and leading by example.
3. My leadership journey is understanding that working collaboratively is the only way to accomplish anything.
4. “You've got to learn to leave the table when love's no longer being served.”— Nina Simone
5. With unlimited resources, I would put cash in the hands of Black people, and capital in Black communities to compensate for years of free labor and repair years of systemic social and economic oppression.
1. I am dedicated to being a change maker because change is the seed of evolution that transitions us from the past.
2. My super power is valuing those who feel undervalued by society and making the invisible acknowledge their reflection.
3. My leadership journey has allowed me to embrace the insecurity of the unknown and IMPACT.
4. "Be the change you wish to see in the world."—Gandhi
5. With unlimited resources, I would create an economic development enclave in various low-income pockets throughout the county that links housing, employment and education intentionally concentrating on sustaining equitable housing, assist in establishing businesses that employ locally, and continually reinvest with-in the enclaves to stabilize families generationally.
1. It is through change that we fight existing negative reality and build new models that open opportunities for everyone.
2. My power is in connecting people and organizations with the right resource that expands their capacity. People always comment on how I find the right tool or resource for them.
3. My leadership journey has focused on empowering others; it is the investment that provides guaranteed return.
4. “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if only we remember to turn on the light.—Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter movies) Every one of us is faced with extreme challenges that overwhelm us. We often forget that we have the power to create a different perspective or look at a difficult situation in a different way.
5. With unlimited resources in my organization, I would invest in making sure nonprofits have knowledge and materials they need for sustainability and growth.
1. I am confident that with intentional action we can dismantle systemic barriers to justice.
2. My super powers are integrity and collaboration.
3. My leadership journey has evolved from an emerging consciousness as a servant leader and knowing my humanity for others.
4. “Humanity should be our race. Love should be our religion.” —Unknown I have faith that through love and unconditional regard for our neighbors justice and peace will prevail.
5. With unlimited funds, I would ensure that safe and affordable housing is a right not a privilege and eliminate the racial inequity that currently exists within behavioral healthcare.
1. I am passionate about connecting people in need with people who care.
2. My super power is matchmaking. I might not be personally able to assist you, but I will connect you with someone else who can.
3. As a pastor’s kid, my most valuable lessons on leadership were bloomed in church.
4. “The ultimate expression of generosity is not in giving of what you have, but in giving of who you are.” —Dr. Johnetta B. Cole It reminds me that everyone has something to give and everyone’s contributions are valuable, regardless of personal circumstances.
5. With unlimited resources, I would adopt a class of Kindergarten students from an under-resourced neighborhood, providing them with financial resources and family wrap-around services including guaranteed full scholarships to the college or vocational training school of their choice. I would stick with them from early childhood to adulthood ensuring they have the skills, tools and support to succeed.
1. The world needs us. No matter who we are or what we've experienced, we have the power to create change.
2 My super power is the ability to build teams and movements—even when it comes to the hard things.
3. In my leadership journey, I've always focused less on my title and more on the work and mission.
4. "The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." —Alice Walker. This quote resonates with me because I was a teen mother who experienced so many challenges, and if someone told me back then that one day I'd be where I am today, I wouldn't have believed them. I didn't realize then how much power I had, and I want all people to know how capable they are—especially all women.
5. With unlimited resources, I would dismantle oppression and systemic barriers for teen parents, parenting college students, and their children to ensure that they are able to thrive.
1. I believe that there is a future for BIPOC that, although birthed from oppression, is ultimately one of freedom, self-determination, and empowerment.
2. My super power is supporting the true super heroes in our communities: nonprofit leaders and advocates.
3. My leadership journey is that of a community development practitioner focused on building wealth in communities of color.
4. "Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced." — by James Baldwin This gives me the assurance I need to face and push for change, whether or not it feels comfortable.
5. Resources always seem limited because money is a limited tool. The real game changer is the willingness of those who hold power and resources to dismantle systems that strip communities of color of wealth and opportunity.
1. I like to solve human problems that mostly take a human approach to solve.
2. My super power is ideation—taking something from an idea to execution.
3. My leadership journey is paved by Tubman, Walker and Douglass.
4. “You are everything you do and don't do.” —Unknown. It ignites my sense of purpose and being accountable to something bigger than myself.
5. With unlimited resources, I would launch the world’s largest human rights campaign/platform to begin eradicating all inhumane behavior, policies, practices that do not protect our most vulnerable and marginalized, while at the same time investing in those same communities so they are empowered and strengthened.
1. I'm on a mission for "change" for those who feel that change for them may never happen, and/or they aren't important enough for change to reach them.
2. My super power is in sharing hope through options and opportunities. My work has been in supporting those most in need, to bring change that will transcend into each one reaching one, working through a "movement" for empowerment, self sufficiency and the ability to become successful stewards of themselves, and contributors in our society.
3. My leadership journey has been prayerful, humbling, lessons learned, understanding, hopeful, "openness for change", with intentional empowering goals.
4. "In the end 'anti-black', 'anti-female', and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing: anti-humanism." "Service is the rent that you pay for room on this earth." —Shirley Chisholm These quotes speak to a number of issues that we are facing in our communities today. The creation of movements for equality, fairness and equitable resources has been a road that is often traveled and never completely abated. It's time for those of us who can be change agents to educate and establish a movement of all-out effort using our expertise in services to bring change in our communities.
5. With unlimited resources, I would increase our services at Damien, provide as many options and opportunities to continue to make change. Additionally, I would provide capacity building opportunities to other groups to increase their capabilities for the provision services. Collectively, we would place our focus on increasing our services to be provided in several communities. A holistic approach to Health, Wellness, and Empowerment.
1. I respect the calling over my life.
2. My expertise is activating the super powers of HAND's cross-sector member collective to do their part in solving our region's affordable housing crisis.
3. My leadership journey is ever evolving, filled with challenges and even greater rewards.
4. "Baby, your crown has been paid for... All you have to do is put it on!" —James Baldwin It reminds me of the many trailblazers that came before me and paved the path for me to do this work.
5. With unlimited resources, I would ensure every one of HAND's members have the appropriate tools and resources to authentically center racial equity in their respective organizations.
1. Growing up as a girl in the segregated South, I have witnessed injustice since early childhood and have a passion for reimagining and remaking society.
2. My super power is capacity building—finding ways to guide and accompany individuals, as well as groups, on a journey of learning about and interrupting oppression.
3. My journey has been reflecting/innovating with insights from endeavors in journalism, academics, grantmaking, consulting, grassroots activism and faith-based leadership.
4. “You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.” —Angela Davis It keeps the fire burning brightly in me to do my part in social transformation, beginning within.
5. With unlimited funds, I would work with resources generated by or for people seeking liberation, without the constraints of providing fee-based services.
1. Being a change maker gives me purpose and it shows that I am honoring the change makers that came before me with gratitude.
2. My super power is the ability to bounce back.
3. My leadership journey hasn't been easy, but it’s worth every sacrifice because I get to lead with purpose everyday.
4. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go further, go together.” —African Proverb I believe a vision is best executed with a team's effort. In order to build a legacy worth remembering, you're going to need a strong team to get it done.
5. With unlimited resources, I would integrate advanced technology into the operational units of Walker’s Legacy in an effort to uplift the quality of services that we bring to women entrepreneurs in the community.
1. I believe in our potential to see our humanity in each other.
2. My super power is using humor to disarm individuals' fears so they can learn, listen, and change behaviors that are limiting them.
3. My leadership journey is ever-evolving, liberating and creating abundance.
4. "You have to decide who you are and force the world to deal with you, not with its idea of you." —James Baldwin
5. With unlimited resources, I would fully fund well-run Black-led nonprofit organizations with no restrictions.
1. I want all young people to have the tools to realize their dreams.
2. My super powers are leadership development and organizational strengthening
3. My leadership journey has been about contributing to making my community the best place to live, work, and conduct business.
4. “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” —James Baldwin I always asked why and have learned that you can change things if you try.
5. With unlimited resources, I would be sure that we have the human and fiscal resources to realize our goals to serve more young people better throughout the region faster.
1. This is my divine purpose. My actions are not my own. I am responsible to those that came before and those that will come after me.
2. My super power is being a truth-teller and developing human connections.
3. My leadership journey is not what I imagined or planned, but divinely inspired and led. Challenging, yet entirely purposeful.
4. "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." This is my own saying that I developed more than 20 years ago, and it leads me throughout my life's journey.
5. With unlimited resources, I would work to heal hearts and minds, people and the planet. The healing process is needed for our world to thrive.
1 Complacency is not an option.
2 My super power is seeing the possible.
3 My leadership journey is believing in the power of place, resistance to the status quo, creating opportunities for people to thrive.
4 “For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn't understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” —Cynthia Occelli I love this quote because change can feel terrifying and catastrophic, but the outcome of that messy metamorphosis—the seed to a flower, the caterpillar to a butterfly—is destiny, and it's beautiful.
5 With unlimited resources, I would help business owners focus on wealth. Too many entrepreneurs are running in a hamster wheel. We need to make sure that they are building inter-generational wealth for themselves and the ones they love.
1. The world can and should be a better place, and each of us must do all we can whenever we can.
2. My super power is making sure I know what problem is that we are trying to solve before we decide on a solution.
3. My leadership journey started in college. One thing led to another, unplanned, not always leading out in front.
4 -"Life is a process of change." —My mother (among others) It reminds me that I am not in control of anything except how I react to what happens to and around me.
5. With unlimited resources, I would adopt an elementary school and provide all the technology, pedagogy, mentoring, and social supports needed for those students to learn and succeed.