Using My Value and Leadership for Good

One of the most valuable lessons that I have learned is to never let anyone determine my value. While I have met a host of supporters along my personal and professional leadership journeys, I have also met those who have attempted to put me in boxes or align a narrative to accommodate their respective thinking of me. And unfortunately, race and gender have sometimes been at the center of my most disconcerting experiences. I recognize that constructive criticism can be beneficial, but I also know that automatically adopting other’s thoughts of you as truth is a dangerous habit. My mother once said, “Listen to other’s opinions and feedback, use what you need to help you grow, and discard the rest.” These words, coupled with emotional intelligence education, intentional self-care, and supportive networks have been instrumental to my leadership sustainability.

My personal experiences have shaped my leadership style and motivated me to focus heavily on bringing out the best in others. I have learned that, in most cases, if you support individuals and teams with 1) a clear vision, 2) the right leadership, and 3) the right training they will rise to the occasion. I strive to have those three building blocks be the foundation of my professional leadership legacy.

While this has been my professional leadership approach, I also recognized the need to extend my leadership reach beyond my everyday job to support those in my community. I’ve always believed that. As a result, I launched the Next Steps Initiative, which is centered on advancing the next generation of leaders, particularly those from underrepresented groups. The inaugural class of 10 launched in late 2020 and culminated in a 2021 session that allowed five finalists to pitch a business or self-growth idea to a group of potential sponsors for either monetary or mentorship support. The participant’s leadership evolution was amazing and confirmed for me that developing the next generation of leaders within my community is part of my broader purpose.

I move forward on my professional and personal leadership journeys excited to make a difference and give back, while learning and growing along the way.