If it wasn’t for perseverance, I wouldn’t be in the position professionally I am today. It’s easy to surrender or question your path in times of adversity or stagnation, but it is during these times that you grow as a person and gain the confidence you need.

Before launching my giving circle, a colleague told me that raising money would require a great deal of patience—it would be difficult. He was correct. For years, I was met with resistance from donors and many challenges. I began to question my decision and pondered whether to continue. My passion for giving, along with a small circle of family and friends, kept me motivated with inspiring words. I began to see new opportunities available that included a national media feature. This was a sign that let me know I was on the right path. Shortly after, I listened to a keynote speech by U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin. She shared her story of challenge and perseverance and ended with, “Always do good, for you never know who is watching.”

There have been many women, specifically African American women, who have aided me, thereby helping me achieve my goals. They have introduced me to key individuals, were instrumental in forging new partnerships for my business, and offered kind mentoring words. They dispelled the notion that women do not support one another. These women, established in their fields, model for me what leadership is and what it means to pay it forward.

As a leader, I share my successes and failures so that others may learn from them. I share my contacts. I share my story. I share my knowledge. I share my time. All of these things have been given to me by others in my time of adversity and helped me to persevere.

Today, I make sure to help other women in turn. This is what creates a cycle of mentorship and giving. This has greatly influenced my leadership style. I particularly like to mentor young women and those new to the field of giving circles and community philanthropy to help create a pipeline of the next generation of philanthropic professionals.

What does it take to succeed and stay competitive in your position/field?

Become a subject matter expert in what you do. Know your industry and be a go-to person for the information people need. I started BlackGivesBack.com because there was limited news and data online about African American philanthropy. I have since become a leading resource for those seeking insight on giving within our community.

Is there a role model who has had a profound impact on your career and/or life? What did he/she motivate you to do?

My mother has been my most influential role model. She stressed the importance of education, receiving a MA and PhD while working full-time and raising two daughters. She instilled in me the value of giving back, inspiring me to become more involved and begin a career in philanthropy.