Where were you born and raised?
What is your occupation?
Non profit leadership.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
One of my favorite childhood memories included camping and fishing with family and friends. I also enjoyed 4-H, Girl Scouts especially camp outs and attending church camp. I really enjoyed being outside and playing with friends and family especially siblings and cousins.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month gives our communities a time for reflection to celebrate a big piece of our American history. Black History is something to embrace and celebrate throughout the year, however I do look forward to the additional focus that comes during the month of February. I learn so much and feel so proud for the opportunities to see the showcase of history from decades ago to even more recent history There is so much diversity in black history that if offers insights and opportunities for everyone. This history will help us to do better as individuals and as a society
What do you believe is the most important issue currently facing the Black community?
An important issue facing so many communities and especially the black community is the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. I worry about the longer termed disparate impact on our communities as it relates to health including mental health, education, substance abuse and joblessness.
When did you realize you were Black in America and what has that meant for your life?
I realized I was Black in America as a elementary age child growing up in the 1960s and 1970s. I have several "firsts" that I remember that impacted my life! I can recall the first time I was called out of my name based upon the color of my skin, the first time I felt scared for my safety of myself or my family because of the color of my skin and the first time feeling excluded because of the color of my skin. With these earlier experiences I've strived to support diversity inclusion and equity efforts through personal and professional experiences. This has shaped my conversations with my children, family, friends and colleagues and called me to action to volunteer in my community especially with mentoring youth and younger adults.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration to push for change?
My sister, Virginia who raised me, has been my biggest inspiration to push for change. I recall her stories of attending a segregated school and then the stories once she attended the integrated high school. The stories that she shared with me about how life was growing up and learning more about my family history and history in general. Also the stories she shared with me about my parents, grandparents and other family members went through. Based upon these stories, I wanted a better society for my family, friends and my community.
How have you supported or contributed to the local Black community?
Engaging in my community is so embedded in what I do whether personally or professionally. I am very committed to "leveling the play field" for those who are underrepresented and marginalized. In my role as Chief Development and Equity officer, I lead the YMCA of Greater KC strategic and tactic efforts to support our community including our diversity equity and inclusion efforts. Personally, I have and continue to serve on many boards and other volunteer capacities. I also make financial donations or maintain memberships in organizations such as Urban League of Greater Kansas City , Mizzou's Black Men's Initiative, membership in the NAACP and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.