Category Archives: Community Assets

Success Formula: Leading Lady Larvetta Loftin

Larvetta Loftin has made a personal and professional commitment to assure that the leadership of women does not go unnoticed. Her definition of leadership is “being able to fill in the gap for a friend or someone who needs your help.” For Larvetta, leadership ranges from buying groceries and doing laundry for an ill friend to executing marketing campaigns for large companies. Leading Ladies International is undoubtedly about celebrating women who have devoted time to lead with and for people they love.

It seems clear that being a leading lady is not a calling that allows for a tight schedule or quick fixes.  I was curious about how do leading ladies SMARTLY endure. Larvetta stated, “you have to be pressed and squeezed and put into some uncomfortable situations to elevate your game… grapes that are turned into wine, the pressure allows it to be a timeless drink.” Speaking of drinks, life is about having a glass half full for Larvetta. She also acknowledges that the glass does sometimes get half empty and that’s when you must take action. When you find yourself in neglect- lots of mistakes, not getting the proper rest, and when you are not operating in a stabilized community (i.e. daily routines), that’s when you know you’re half empty. Larvetta says this is when you have to take accountability, keep your end goals in mind, and do what is NEEDED to fill the cup back up.

To understand someone’s success, I always like to know more about their personal fiber (character in plain English but its way more than that). Our interview hit home for me when I asked, “What moral challenges do you face in your career or daily life that make you think about the phrase:“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment”(Ralph Waldo Emerson)?” With no hesitation Larvetta replied, Kindness is the greatest gift you can offer to your life and to your business.” In the words of Larvetta, kindness is about listening and being present, not taking interactions with others for granted, and treating others how you want to be treated. Kindness is also a way to stand on your brand. I needed to hear that of course, and have since been working more intentionally on being kind. Another great strand of Larvetta’s core is her stance on honesty and integrity. She considers these the core competencies of her business and self.

Because so many of our interactions with people are online today we must be conscious of how we represent our brand, including our core competencies. Larvetta provided sound advice about how to manage your online reputation. Larvetta stated that, “it is important for your web presence to show that someone is present. It reminds me of a relationship, if your site is outdated, I feel like you are not investing in our interactions. I like to go to websites that help me see things different.”

My interview with Larvetta provided me with an example of a woman who is confident in the lessons of her experiences. Larvetta has found a way to validate the nature of women and our varied experiences as a valuable leadership quality. Boundaries are pushed each day because of Leading Ladies International through the vision of Larvetta as a personable, fun, and dynamic individual.

Larvetta Loftin’s Success Formula = Honesty + Kindness + Leadership that fills in the gap

More on Larvetta Loftin:

What is one of the biggest issues you see plaguing communities? What is your personal commitment to alleviating this?

Making sure that our children are exposed to the arts. The arts gave me the confidence and self-esteem to perform. In school I used my artistic acumen to really understand.

What is a good read that you would recommend to people working on personal and or community development?

“Boundaries”- as women we love to say yes. We say yes to everybody else but we sometimes do not pursue our own passion and success. Learn not to be everything to everybody.

“E-myth Revisited” – for people in business.

“Tipping Point”- helps you understand who you are. When you understand who you are it helps you be a better sound person.

What are some community assets and resources that you would recommend to others?

  • Community does not mean where you live, it is the community of people who you share interest with. It is important for you attend conferences that are about empowerment and professional development. These are the communities that you should get involved with.
  • People should also attend their local library. Look at and understand different trends and read a variety of magazines. Using the community to help to learn- the more you learn the more you earn.
  • Attend intentional networking events. If your community is small business owners you may want to attend program geared toward that. Program the dates in your phone and go every year.


  • Eliminate debt within 12-18 months in order to create wealth. List of all my bills and checking them off.
  • Come out of sole proprietorship and come into an S-Corp – by October
  • Be more smart with my time and make sure my time is being vested in my SMART goals.

Education and Politics and Urban Planning

I cried when I read the article posted by Dr. Reza Banai as posted in the Journal of Sustainable Education. His article was the first piece of literature that articulated HOW I want to do what I plan to do. Banai’s discussion of the urban sustainability-education nexus made me hopeful. Hopeful that I can continue to live my personal vision statement to:

Creatively impact urban change by designing sustainable communities.

I hope that through your work, (professional, personal and volunteer), you continue to have the moments of joy that I experienced in preparing this post.


Our educational systems are only beginning to make use of the local community and the region as a locus of exploratory activities: but before the resources and activities of a region are treated as abstract subjects they should be understood and felt and lived through as concrete experiences.” The Culture of Cities (Mumford, 1938, p. 383)

In 1938, Lewis Mumford, a renown Urban Planner, was encouraging planners and people to explore the connection between schools and community planning. Here, it is obvious that Mumford was aware of how educational content would influence urban sustainability and vis versa.

The word sustainability is used within all fields. My personal interpretation of the word is: A concept that encourages the creation of systems, processes, and people who protect and improve what already exist.

As shown in Figure 1, three spheres of sustainability are explored.

Center for Teaching. (nd.) What is sustainability?

Most commonly sustainability is discussed in the context of the environment with an emphasis on preserving and allocating limited natural resources. Despite global discussions on the preservation of natural resources, assets and resources are defined in the eye of the beholder. Where do people learn what to value? How is value actually taught? What systems and experiences reinforce people’s values? Banai highlights the unique connection between classroom and community and the effects of these principles on urban sustainability values. Although the three spheres overlap at times, it is only natural that they also remain separate.

Through the larger aspects of schooling (formal teaching) and education (learning in all experiences) (Lawrence-Lightfoot 1988), people are taught what to value and decide what they will work to sustain. In her 1988 interview with Bill Moyers, Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot describes “good schools” as schools that mirror the community. At times, the community-classroom model becomes the community vs. classroom model due to teaching operations and leadership that are implanted within schools, instead of groomed alongside (Spring 2009).

Blair, Doug. (2005). Black Power and Education in the Afro American Journal 1968-1969.

An example of community vs. classroom is the integration of schools during the Civil Rights Movement. While Blacks were being taught to adjust, accept difference, and value educational resources, their academic envrionment was hostile, unethical, and systematically working against the academic success of Black students (Stone nd). Integration of the school system presents the realities of sustainability as being in a state of competition at all times due to varying (American) values and a lack of an articulated vision for all spheres of sustainability.

I sum up sustainability in this way to show how complex and challenging the urban sustainability- education nexus is, and why there is a need to create a global plan of action (or atleast a National one) to curtail the competitive nature of sustainability. Without such a plan we will continue to waste two very valuable resources: time and children.

Professor Lorna Walker from the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment discusses how human conditions should influence the built environment and planning in general. In the clip of her interview shared below, Walker insists that plans must start with people as opposed to systems.

Too often plans are made to satisfy people who conform to the neoliberal model (Harvey 2007). Although many Americans may unintentionally work to support a neoliberal agenda, a small percentage of people in most communities set the tone of the neoliberal agenda. If planning is done with people in mind, then systems and operations, including educational content, should be created to meet the sustainable needs of the masses instead of the few.

CSL Cartoonstock. (nd.)

On May 18, 2011 Huffington Post Business published a report that identified prisons as the number six fastest growing industry in the U.S. This number is projected to grow 7.5% by 2016 (Huffington Post 2012). The neoliberal direction in which America is headed has allowed the education system to  serve as a platform to systematically structure injustice and hierarchy. Standardized test scores at early ages is the beginning of people shuffling that ultimately dictate what type of work and lifestyle individuals will encounter. It becomes apparent that once in a “higher” power, once has to decide what they value and will work to sustain.

Brian Finoki, a writer for the Archinect website, wrote a blog post reflecting on his interview with Raphael Sperry, the newest president of Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR). Sperry described the Prison Design Boycott he has recently initiated as “….[a goal] to develop the leadership of the design and planning professions in addressing social problems through emphasizing both our social responsibility and our ethical vision.”  Sperry’s tactic is a far cry from the neoliberal model that has become inherent in the American socio-economic decision-making process (Harvey 2007). The potential of a prison design boycott includes the restructuring (and possibly dismantling) of models of personal sustainability for architects, prison employees, tax bases, local justice systems, education and families. While some systems are working to keep people out of jail there are other systems working to sustain prisons as an economically viable employment sector that ultimately pays into the world’s tax base. Here in lies the need to develop a transparent strategic plan using the best practices and case studies of Urban Planning that allows educators to prepare curricula, testing, and shadow education that focuses on the future planned. Through the urban sustainable-education nexus, we can level the socio-economic playing field as created in conjunction with community values and educational content.

Additional sites to explore on this topic:
Inclusive Cities addresses urban poverty by supporting and building the capacity of membership-based organizations (MBOs) of the working poor in the urban informal economy. Building the capacity of MBOs in the areas of organizing, advocacy, and policy analysis ensures that urban informal workers have the tools necessary to make themselves heard within urban planning processes.
The article is about the contemporary public health movement and how Urban Planning intentionally relates to health outcomes.
The website explores the challenges with the reentry population of ex-prisoners. It is important to understand how communities diverse demographics affect how development occurs and what is valued.
The company addresses sustainability at both a micro and macro level. SustainAbility appears to be a solution seeking company that is working to create a more unified and transparent national plan that can guide environmental, economic, and social sustainability.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s definition of sustainability focuses on the environment and preservation of natural resources as a global priority in order to accomplish all other work.
Cloud Institute is a pedagogical consulting company that bridges the concept of environmental planning and education.


Banai, Reza. (2012). A Note on urban sustainability-education nexus. The Journal of Sustainability Education.

Blair, Doug. (2005). Black Power and Education in the Afro American Journal 1968-1969. Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project.

Brian Finoki

Center for Teaching. (nd.) What is sustainability?

CSL Cartoonstock. (nd.)

Harvey, David. (2007). A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Youtube.

Huffington Post, Business. (2012). 10 fastest growing u.s. industries: IBIS world.

Bill Moyers. (1988)  Interview with Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot. Bill Moyers Journal.

Mumford, L. (1938). The culture of cities. New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.

Spring, J. (2011). The Politics of American education. New York: Routledge.

Walker, Lorna. (2009). Sustainable Cities Conference. Youtube.


Community Asset: M.A.D.D. Rhythms

A group of 3 performers took the gym stage at a local fundraiser for an aldermanic candidate. No one was prepared for the amazing performance that the tap dancers were going to display. Children and adults were out of their seats in excitement as the performers connected with us through laughter and sound. The history of tap is one of unity and blended traditions. African beats and feet movement combined with the European Jig and the ingenuity to add the aluminum heel to the toe in the early 1900s, has allowed the art form to flourish.M.A.D.D. Rhythms is a phenomenal TAPdance collective whose “SOLE” purpose is to spread the Love and Joy of TAP worldwide.

The sounds created by the dancers is only half of what allows them to captivate audiences wherever they perform. The energy and visible ensemble dynamics bring the crowd to their toes while listening to the rhythmic thumps and graceful slides of the heel and toe. When I saw M.A.D.D. Rhythms perform I was sure they were a group I wanted to follow and learn more about.

Celebrating their ten-year anniversary, I am as impressed with the organizations administrative capabilities as I am their ability to leave a mark on any audience. Founded by director Brill Barret, M.A.D.D. Rhythms’ mission is to preserve, promote and contribute to this art-form called tap. M.A.D.D. advocates for the future of tap and focuses on impacting the lives of youth by providing access to positive options, including performance. There are 3 locations in the Chicago area in which the tap classes are offered.  Registration ranges from $50-$150, and children as young as 3 years of age are welcome to join a tap class. The company is continuing to grow and make their mark in the world of performing arts, and that takes business savvy!

Annually M.A.D.D. host a Tap Summit in Chicago where many of the worlds most renowned young tapdancers teach, perform and celebrate the art of tap dance while spreading a strong message of empowerment to our youth. The Tap Summit is a testament to M.A.D.D. Rhythms commitment to creating and sustaining a new generation of performers that show strength, unity, and soul in their movements. The video clips of the troupe performing is the proof in the pudding. 
Footage, registration, location, and additional information on M.A.D.D. Rhythms can be found on their website at
What are some other community assets or resources for performers and children?  

365 Girls Rock Foundation: Community Asset and Success Formula

No one can argue against the need for meaningful programming geared toward positively impacting youth. The number of youth programs and initiatives that sprout up on an annual basis makes it difficult for each organization to stand out, but the women of 365 Girls Rock Foundation are quickly making headway with their persistent marketing efforts and quality programming.

365 Girls Rock Foundation is an organization spun from the book 365 Girl: Daily Affirmation’s. 365’s mission is to empower young ladies 365 days a year. Ultimately 365 looks to redirect adolescent behavior so that the sacredness of femininity and the moral compass of womanhood can be recaptured for our children, and our children’s children. The founder, Tracey Sydnor has teamed up with some very talented and dedicated women to ensure the sustainability of 365. The leadership team of 365 as pictured below is Tia Hawkins, Tracey Hawkins-Sydnor, and Michele Taylor.

365 Girls Team

Tracey has been working with youth for years but decided to go to the next level with 365 after observing many negative trends regarding young girls disregard for social media etiquette, carless attitude toward respect, and lack of desire to be great. 365 Girl serves as a motivational read for young girls that include affirmations and other inspirational words created to provide guidance for youth. Each chapter has a different theme such as social motivation, physical fitness, educational attainment, and sexual awareness as well as a chapter on how to deal with pain. Tracey’s background in the military provides her with the unique experience and exposure to model resilience, adaptation, and strength in spite of challenges.

The leadership of 365 has been conducting workshops across the nation based on the tenets of the book. 365 has expanded to include 365 Girl World (weekly radio show), 365 Girl Prayer Conference (prayer call twice a month), a city-wide pajama conference (12 hour action packed night of fun, empowerment, and motivation), an upcoming dress drive, and more. The weekly radio show hosts are Tia Hawkins (College Girl) Michele Taylor (The advocate) Shayla Courtney (The Heiress) and Tracey Sydnor (Ultimate 365 Girl).

The organization is in need of volunteers in the areas of photography, computer expertise, sound engineering, cosmetology, and teaching. Volunteers can assist with upcoming workshops across the nation as well as helping with hands-on tasks including collecting and wrapping dresses for girls ages 10-18. Next year the pajama girl conference will be expanding to 4 cities including Grand Rapids, MI, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, CA and Chicago, IL- which will be a great opportunity for girls and volunteers everywhere to become involved.

Girls become involved in 365 on a first come first serve basis. Any girl who wants to take part in a 365 event can pre-register on Facebook, twitter, email, or any other outlet they can imagine.  At times people are hesitant and curious about 365’s free opportunities but Tracey states that once parents and guardians visit their social media sites or get to know the leadership, they are more inclined to sign-up their young girls. Present and greeting parents during check-in and check-out, Tracey and Michele help to increase parents trust and willingness to enroll their most prized possession in 365 events. Mt. Carmel M.B. Church family has also shown a lot of support to 365 by providing male volunteers as security for events that require such. Off duty police officers from the Chicago Police Department (CPD) also volunteer!

365 reaches out to community’s that lack resources and local opportunities. During the first year, Michele and Tracey completed door to door marketing in CHA’s Dearborn Holmes Housing as well as schools in the same neighborhood. Fliers are also shared with local churches, restaurants, and salons, where parents of adolescents would frequent. 365 networks effectively through social media, college alumni networks, and church affiliations. As a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Tracey has been able to garner support from Greek lettered organizations as well. Other organizations that 365 supports and receives support from include Joshua Mercer and Swish Dreams Educational & Sports Foundation for “Swish Girls”, Barbara Ellzey and R.E.A.C.H., Jennifer Reid and SHERO, Phoenix Owens and S.I.S.T.E.R.S. Inc., and Christine Hansberry/Pamela Linton with S.M.I.L.E (King College Preparatory HS) just to name a few.

Through strategic partnerships and alliances with public and charter schools, 365 will expand on their academic focus. Collaborations with the Chicago Defender Newspaper and other local businesses between Chicago, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles has increased the visibility of 365 tremendously.

I am excited about the progress and future of 365 Girls Rock Foundation. From the sidelines, I have been able to witness the commitment and enthusiasm of the 365 leadership team. I am impressed and support their organization 365 days a year. To learn more about 365, check out the links below.


Twitter: @365GirlWorld




Tags: , , ,

Success Formula: Dr. Chandra Gill

You can learn a lot about a person by becoming familiar with their reputation. Dr. Chandra Gill’s testimonials on her website and in her book “Champions Break Chains”, is the evidence that supports the impact she has made on the lives of people across the United States in her efforts to Motivate to Educate.” Dr. Gill holds a Ph.D from the University of Illinois in Educational Policy Studies where she focused on the absence of minority and youth voice in academia as it relates to the educational settings and needs of students of color. Dr. Gill is one of the most prevalent leaders currently rallying for educational change.

Although I never know what to expect from my interviewees, I am always eager for the knowledge each Success Formula has to share. My interview with Dr. Gill is important for a variety of reasons, but most importantly because I know that she overcame a struggle few with freedom can freely discuss. Every year a criminal amount of African-Americans become entangled in the justice system. Years ago while working toward her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Dr. Gill became a victim of the system as well.

During a field trip with students to an intense basketball game between two local high school rivalries, Gill’s co-chaperone was put in handcuffs by a plain clothes police officer after a game changing play. The events that followed included Dr. Gill having a seizure in which officers mistook for an attack. Although captured on film, Dr. Gill was still arrested and charged for assaulting an officer of the law. Despite the trauma of becoming a “Ph.D. felon”, Dr. Gill has never ceased or staggered in her commitment to bring equality to the educational system in which our youth and families rely on to improve their quality of life.

A recipient of the inaugural Bill Gates Millennium Scholarship Program, Dr. Gill has relentlessly engaged in dialogue and outreach that encourages access to education for minorities. Going a step further Dr. Gill founded Blackademically Speaking Enterprises, a company that focuses on understanding cultural barriers that prevent young people from being motivated to learn. A short list of what Dr. Gill and Blackademically Speaking are doing to affect community development include weekly talks in Woodlawn at St. John Temple on Monday nights as well as regular speaking engagements and workshops throughout the United States to educators, parents, and students that focus on overcoming obstacles to academic attainment. Most recently Blackademically Speaking coordinated a celebratory field trip for some of Chicago’s excelling high school scholars. Dr. Gill’s message always encourages “going back to give back”, which is one of the reasons Blackademically Speaking was born, and will be raised in her home community, Woodlawn (Chicago).

Chicago's top high school students

Dr. Gill is committed to educating young people in a way that is unmatched by many others that make the same claim. She has been taking on responsibility that shifts the blame of what is happening to children who are victims of a failed educational system. “We must deal with challenges in our community once they have been identified”, says Dr.Gill. Her courage to act as a community agent stems from growing up in a two parent household with parents that instilled in her the importance of understanding what one could be versus who they are. For example, driving through his old neighborhood on the west side, Dr. Gill’s father would point out people that fell victim to drugs and violence despite their leadership and notoriety as youth.

Dr. Gill’s parents did not shy away from voicing their opinion about community happenings. As an investor and stakeholder of their community, each of her parents knew they had a right to voice their opinions and solutions about their neighborhood, but always focusing on developing their first community- home. When Dr. Gill and her brother would receive new clothes or shoes, her parents would say “if we see you bragging to others about what you have, we will take it from you”. Today, Dr. Gill is happy about her achievements, but never compares her blessings to others.

It is always important to understand how Success Formula’s multi-achieve. Dr. Gill plans and seeks counsel through scriptures and the Holy Bible. “I am growing up in God and learning balance by listening to the Holy Spirit. For Blackademically Speaking this means I have to learn to say ‘No….. I can’t do everything’.” And on a more practical note Dr. Gill hired an administrative assistant in order to be 100% effective. Meditation and surrounding herself with individuals that understand the vision of Blackademically Speaking are also important factors that allow Dr. Gill to maintain her mental health during this journey.

When I asked her to share with me a community asset that she feels is a hidden gem, Dr. Gill quickly replied, “children are a community asset that have been written off; they are the gems God blessed us with.”

These moments are why I do this – to be reminded of things society and time would so easily have us forget.

I doubt that my interview has done justice to the road map that Dr. Chandra Gill is creating. What I can tell you is that her passion, dedication, and resourcefulness are aspects of success that I hope to emulate in all of my commitments.

Dr. Chandra Gill’s Success Formula= Motivate to Educate + Family first + Guided by the Holy Spirit+ Culturally relevant academia

More Dr. Chandra Gill

What allows you to wear your greatness?

“I’m trying to not spend a lot of time wasting my time.” Dr. Gill’s spare time is spent with family, learning family history and embracing family as her first community. Recently Dr. Gill learned that she was not the first of her family to go to college. This was discovered after exploring more about her family tree, thus showing the importance of connecting and engaging with family.

What is your idea of community development?

“Community development must include the future! The future is the young people. Although the elders voice is important because it started with their gifts and ingenuity, we must transition leadership to youth 15-20 years old. Community development should be a fluid discussion and plan that includes educational values, economic empowerment, sustainability, and spiritual aspects.”

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

January kick off for Blackademically Speaking 2012 initiatives to include students at all grade levels being active participants in community efforts to “Motivate to Educate.


Tags: , , ,

Community Asset: Global Girls

There are a number of reasons as to why this organization should be on your radar as a Community Asset.

Below I share just a few.

#1- Everyone involved in the organization is a risk taker, especially Founder and Executive Director- Marvinetta Penn. There is no topic that is taboo to the girls and young adults that take part in the organization and this honesty, and sincerity among females has created life changing dynamics for communities in both the United States and abroad.

#2- The organization has proved it is sustainable by surpassing the business start-up phase (5 years) and is currently celebrating over 10 years of incorporation. What does this mean? Its worth your time and investment!  Global Girls has a model that works and is being expanded on.

#3- Global Girls is a mixture of performing arts, leadership development, media training, and womanhood claiming. HOW COOL IS THAT?????

#4- The participants have fun! Yes, there is pressure to excel above the rest, but what more can you expect from an organization that is preparing women to be global citizens in todays competitive society. Through it all Global Girls leadership ensures laughs, hugs, tears, and personal success for every developing female involved.

#5- Global Girls participated in atleast 3 trips to Africa, where the youth volunteered in various communities with local families. Hence the name GLOBAL GIRLS.

#6- Global Girls is an AMAZING organization headquartered in Chicago, IL. For Global Girls, the Month of October is “Lets Talk Month”. Global Girls will be sponsoring a FREE performance, workshops for daughters and adults, lunch and facilitated discussions on October 22nd. The title of the event is: “Talking with Your Parents/Kids about Sex”.

I can go on and on, BUT, I think you would benefit more from checking out the Global Girls website and by learning more about their upcoming events. There is not a female in the Chicagoland area that should be unaware of this Community Asset! If you havent already done so, tell a friend about this organization.

The press release for the upcoming event is below and it includes the Global Girls contact information.

October Is Let’s Talk Month
Global Girls Sponsors Local Workshops on Talking with Your Parents/Kids about Sex
Let’s Talk Month is an opportunity for children and parents to learn to communicate in an open and honest manner about health, sexuality and other sensitive issues. Such discussions can help young people delay sex and avoid unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Research shows that adolescents prefer their parents to be their sex educators. Moreover, teens often need more information, guidance and open discussions with their families.
Families can play a pivotal role in helping young people make healthy decisions about sex. Most parents want the opportunity to share their values and provide their children with accurate information about sexuality. But often parents and other adults feel uncomfortable discussing sexuality. Often, they need assistant and support in starting meaningful conversations.
Global Girls is sponsoring a performance, workshops for daughters and adults, lunch and facilitated discussions October 22, 2011.
What: How to Talk With Your Parent/Children about Sex
When: Saturday, October 22nd at 11:00 a.m.
Where: Grand Crossing Park, 7655 S. Ingleside Ave, Chicago, IL
Who’s Invited: Daughters, Parents, Grandparents, Foster Parents, and Other Care-givers
Reservations required for this free event: Contact Global Girls, 773.488.7557 and ask to speak to Shannon Woods or email
The workshops will offer youth, parents and other care-givers practical advice on communicating with one another about health, sexuality and sex. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to identify areas for individual assistance, practice skills, and craft a plan for starting conversations after they leave.
* For more information, press should contact Global Girls Executive Director, Marvinetta Penn, 773 488-7557 or
Like us on Facebook: Global Girls
Follow us on Twitter: @globalgirlsinc1



Tags: , , ,

Success Formula: Felicia Simpson

If you do not have a Felicia on your team, you need one.

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
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
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 

Contact Info:
Felicia T. Simpson
P.O. Box 377722
Chicago, IL 60637

Updates 10/27/2011

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.



Tags: , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: