Felicia Simpson is a mother, a friend, a full-time employee at a social service agency, and most recently, she is the Founder and Executive Director of A New Me Foundation (ANMF), an organization that provides comprehensive family services for victims and survivors of domestic violence. As a progressive organization, ANMF focuses on the entire family unit to end the cycle of domestic violence that may easily continue when initiatives solely focus on women as victims.
Over the past 6 months I have had the opportunity to work up close and personal with Felicia, one of the most tenacious and dedicated people I have ever met. On a mission to uproot domestic violence, Felicia has devoted the rest her life (time, resources, energy, conversations, actions, and goals) to “breaking the silence” that leads individuals, families, and communities, to suffer a variety of ills. Having initially formed a business relationship, I have grown to admire Felicia and her relentless pursuit of advocacy as it relates to her passions.
Felicia’s networking abilities impress me most. Not only does she make connections with people and organizations from various backgrounds, she finds a way to connect others interest with what she holds near and dear to her heart. This is a skill that many may take for granted, but that through observation, I have watched Felicia and her organization, A New Me Foundation, begin the marathon of a lifetime.
You will never hear Felicia boast, but instead she will factually explain to you that she has been fortunate enough “to have access to minorities in the community whose issues or causes go unnoticed. I refer people and organizations to places with large and small client intake….people gravitate to me as a resource.” Claiming the victory that has already been given to her, Felicia has mentally and emotionally prepared for the uphill battle that comes along with sacrifice and hard work.
When entering a project, partnership, or community, Felicia does the necessary background research that is sure to guarantee the longevity of her platform and life blueprint. I respect that Felicia knows enough about her strengths and weaknesses to decipher when she needs help and when she is the best person for the job. Admittedly she has exceptional multi-tasking skills, reputable work ethic, offers culturally appropriate/relevant options in all that she does, and completes tasks in and orderly and effective manner. As an advocate for domestic violence Felicia says that “it goes beyond day-to-day operations, I go in the trenches and cross all borders”.
Advocacy work and founding an organization with big goals requires strength strategies that keep you focused when the situation seems hopeless. Felicia uses a vision board to stay on track and professes that her plan is bigger than the American Dream. During the launch of ANMF Felicia had to assess all the challenges that would hinder her organization from living up to its purpose. During her first event at a church, when she did not reach her target number of attendees she realized that a church atmosphere may have been an obstacle for her target population.
Her advice for success during a start-up endeavor includes writing down your goals, target dates, and being as specific as possible (i.e. listing resources, locations, etc.). “I have folders for each event and follow-up with networking leads because you never know who knows the person you need to know.” Community assets that she encourages include churches, local businesses, bartering, block clubs, and getting to know your aldermen/ local representative.
With ease, Felicia fluidly transitions crowds and spaces. I have learned more from Felicia about commitment and sacrifice than I have from high-powered CEOs. I am certain that Felicia is a legacy in the making and I am happy to have played a role in the encouragement and action steps that will one day lead to the ANMF Vision:
A New Me Foundation will be the leading model of culturally appropriate, comprehensive services and supports for victims and survivors of domestic violence primarily in the Chicagoland area and abroad.
Felicia is the type of person that you need on your team; she is sure to keep you grounded, laughing, and inspired.
Felicia Simpson’s Success Formula= Tenacity + Advocacy + Organization + Self Awareness
More On Felicia Simpson
SMART goal= Provide direct services that eliminate the need for shelters for victims and survivors of domestic violence (decreased statistics within 3 years)
What is Community Development?- Bringing together stakeholders and residents to develop and create resources that help the community
Upcoming ANMF Events:
September 13, 2011 at 5:30pm ANMF will be participating in the Walk the Course event for domestic violence awareness at the Cog Hill Golf & Country Club (Lemont, IL)
September 24, 2011 at 7pm ANMF will be hosting a “Movie Night” Social http://new.evite.com/#view_invite:eid=0320AAQZXGL24EAU6EPAY5Z6QJ7AF4
October 3, 2011 at noon ANMF will be honoring the kick off of Domestic Violence Awareness Month at the annual rally at the Thompson Center (downtown)
October 6, 2011 ANMF will be attending a “Pour” for Connections for Abused Women and Their Children event held at the Grossinger City Autoplex
October 8, 2011 Felicia will be a panelist at Lucid Life Works & the Red Pump Project’s open forum, geared towards Chicago’s inner-city young adults, surrounding the topic of AIDS and HIV. Felicia will be answering questions regarding the intersections between HIV/AIDS and domestic violence.
October 15, 2011 Felicia will be the guest speaker at Mt. Carmel Church, 740 East 42nd Street, domestic violence luncheon
October 23, 2011 Felicia will be the guest speaker at the Hey Gural Dinner & Play honoring domestic violence awareness month
October 27, 2011 Felicia will be facilitating a webinar on domestic violence at South Side Help Center
October 27, 2011 ANMF will be hosting a Relationship Forum to honor domestic violence awareness month at The Music Station http://anewmerelationshipforum.eventbrite.com/
October 29, 2011 ANMF and local volunteers will be volunteering at the Pacific Garden Homeless Shelter in Chicago, IL recognizing victims and survivors who have left their homes of violence and now dwell in homeless shelters
During the months of September and October, through ANMF Felicia coordinated and/or took part in 8 different events focused on DV.
– ANMF hosted a “Movie Night”- At the end of each movie, we discussed unhealthy choices, risky behaviors and ways that domestic violence could have been prevented.
– I met with Attorney Lynette Lewis to began the incorporation process for ANMF. During this time, we went over the goals of ANMF, timeline for incorporation, fees, etc.
– I was a panelist for a Teen HIV/AIDS Forum with Lucid Life Works organization and sponsors for this included the Red Pump Project and South Side Help Center. At the end of this forum, I was amazed that almost everyone that attended, GOT TESTED and waited for the results.
-I was the guest speaker at Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church, at their annual Domestic Violence Prayer Breakfast. During this time, I shared my personal testimony of being a victim of domestic violence. After the breakfast was over, a line of women, young and old, shared their powerful testimonies and reached out to me to seek services that ANMF provides.
– I was invited as a guest speaker for the morning service at Temple of Glory International Church, honoring Domestic Violence Awareness Month. During this time I again shared my testimony, provided the congregation with facts about domestic violence and provided them with resources to use if they are victims and/or know of someone that is and could use ANMF services.
-I spoke briefly with the congregation at Greater Walters A.M.E. Zion Church as they honored Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I recited a poem with facts about domestic violence to help raise awareness and set up a resource table to get information regarding domestic violence and ANMF services.
– I was the guest speaker at Hey G.U.R.A.L. dinner and play ” When He took Over”. I talked to the audience about domestic violence, my testimony and ways to take this information back to their homes and communities. I also set up a resource table to get information regarding domestic violence and ANMF services. During the intermission of the play, I was the receipent of the Hey G.U.R.A.L Leadership Award for the dedication and commitment I have to help break the silence and reconstruct families, victims and survivors of domestic violence.A former male victim of domestic violence who later became a batterer asked for ANMF services for ways to network on teaching workshops.
-ANMF annual event honoring Domestic Violence Awareness Month: The Relationship Forum. This forum purpose is to get the community out and discuss ways to improve unhealthy relationships and raise awareness and the importance of educating at a group level, on domestic violence. Proceeds raised from this event will be donated to the Greenhouse Shelter that house battered women and their children.
-ANMF will sponsor 10 volunteers to go to the Pacific Garden Mission homeless shelter as we recognize that domestic violence can cause victims and survivors to become homeless at some point while leaving an abusive relationship or homelessness is the result after a divorce or final breakup from the abusive partner.
– ANMF will set up an exhibit booth both days of the stage play, “RADIO” at The United Church of Hyde Park. The writer of the play Baus Antoine is an outstanding vessel in the community that wrote this play in honor of domestic violence and his commitment to raise awareness about domestic violence.