The Black Professional Magazine, Fall 2022 Issue

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Professional The Black A GUIDE TO BUILDING THE VILLAGE! FALL 2022 Celebrating Black Entrepreneurship! Introducing 12 of Cleveland’s Most Enterprising Entrepreneurs
2 | FALL 2022 North Chagrin ReservationCleveland Metroparks ZooSleepy Hollow Golf Course Over 300 Miles of Trails 8 Scenic Golf Courses Nationally Acclaimed Zoo More than 5,000 Free Programs Download the mobile app at Hinckley Reservation | 3 CONTENTS FALL 2022 • VOL. 2 • ISSUE 3 BPACF News: Board Spotlight: Harold G. Harrison11 Black History 365: History Makers & History Shapers Balancing Health & Entrepreneurship by Jennifer Wainwright 14 Did You Say a Career in Real Estate? by Tiffany L. Hollinger17 The Business of Mental Health & Black Entrepreneurs by Dr. Natalie M. Whitlow19 12 9 6 Effective Tips to Convert Your Website Visitors to Leads by Courtney Lynn Harris Celebrating Black Entrepreneurship by Montrie Rucker Adams, APR Jumping into Cleveland’s Tech Scene by Camille Heard38 COVER STORY24 BPACF News: Volunteers It’s About Relationships by Jennifer Coiley Dial35 FutureLAND: The Next Best Thing for Cleveland’s Tech Industry by Charron Leeper36 Dear Entrepreneurs by LaRese Purnell40 Top 5 Trends for Fall 2022: Straight from NYFW by Charron Leeper22 Welcome to Cleveland23 Mixing Business & Philanthropy: A Winning Strategy for Small Business Owners by Terri Bradford Eason 42 Teen Enterprise by Montrie Rucker Adams, APR43 BPACF News: Welcome BPACF Scholars45 BPACF News: BPACF Scholars Summer Night Out & Send Off by Joelle Robinson Can CDFIs Bridge the Access to Capital Gap for Black Entrepreneurs? by Kwame Botchway 16



Meltrice D. Sharp, CPA

Black Professionals Association

Foundation (BPACF)

Montrie Rucker Adams

Visibility Marketing Inc.

Alexandria Johnson Boone

Communications Group

Jennifer Coiley Dial

Lee Media, LLC


in Cleveland


Murphy, MBA,

Adrianne Sims

James W. Wade, III

Meltrice Sharp

CLE Consulting Firm Accounting, Bookkeeping, Payroll, Tax Services

Montrie Rucker Adams

Visibility Marketing

Communications, Public Relations, Strategic Marketing

Alexandria Johnson Boone

GAP Communications

Public Relations, Media Relations, Signature Special Events

Jennifer Coiley Dial Coy Lee Media

Graphic/Media Design, Book Editing & Publishing

Charron Leeper Perfect Pineapple

Crowns Heads with

Wraps, Bands, Scrunchies, Wigs and More

Adrianne Sims Certified Business Solutions Executive Level Professional Assistants

James W. Wade, III

JW Media Entertainment Group Graphic Design, Photography, Videography, PR/Marketing

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BPACF Subscribe for free at: A quarterly publication of the Black Profes sionals Association Charitable Foundation (BPACF), 11327 Shaker Blvd., Suite #400, Cleveland, OH 44104 Cleveland, OH 44128 Copyright © 2021-22. All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be distribut ed electronically, reproduced or duplicated in whole or in part, without written permis
Black Professional
Follow BPACF on social: @bpacf @bpacf @bpacf1985 Meet The Black Professional magazine’s production team of entrepreneurs!



Celebrating Black Entrepreneurship is the Perfect Title for This Issue!

Welcome to the entre preneurs issue of The Black Professional mag azine. It is with great pride that we present this edition, and we hope it provides insight into some of the major

Black businesses in our community along with valuable, inspirational, thought provoking and compelling content to support your continued growth and success.

Successful Black businesses are critical to the success of the Black community. Black businesses not only employ many Black employees, but some studies indicate that Black businesses hire Black employees at a rate higher than their small business counterparts. This suggests that supporting Black businesses is a key factor to reducing unemployment in the Black community. Said different ly, supporting Black businesses IS supporting the Black community.

As an entrepreneur, I know first-hand the challenges, in equities and roadblocks faced by Black business owners. It is sheer GRIT: Perseverance, resilience, passion, hard work, and practice, practice, practice that enables busi ness success. My simple advice to all entrepreneurs is:

Be about the business of your business. trepreneurs have great business models but don’t spend adequate time working on the business aspect of their company (i.e., accounting, contracts, capital, insurance, marketing, human resources, etc.).

2. Build your dream team. You will need an accountant, attorney, business banker, insurance representative and investment advisor. As your business grows, you may need a marketing and human resource expert.

Don’t try to wear every hat. None of us are good at everything. Hire your weaknesses and focus on your strengths. Spend your time on things that will grow your bottom-line.

4. Fail forward. Don’t wallow in failures. We all have them. The people we serve deal with failures. Have a quick pity party, learn from them, and move forward.

5. Create a Board of Directors/Advisors. You need a dy namic team of advisors, guiding you and challenging you along your journey. The buck cannot start and stop with you.

6. Continue your journey of learning. Hone your skills, improve your products, and come up with new, innova tive solutions.

Be a disruptor. Disrupt your competitor’s business and your business by constantly looking for more innovative, efficient, and creative ways to serve your customers, deliv er your solutions, and bridge major gaps in the market.

Opening a business is simple. However, scaling and build ing a sustainable business is extremely difficult. It takes a village to make sure that Black business owners are well-supported and meaningfully engaged in the entre preneurial ecosystems.

It takes collaboration and intentional solicitation and dollars spent with Black businesses. Whatever you need, there may be a Black business that can fulfill it. Be inten deliberate about how you spend your money. We have the purchasing power to create multiple Fortune 500 Black-owned companies.

Thanks to every entrepreneur for your commitment to your business, your community, and your legacy. Entre preneurship is an extremely difficult journey with major obstacles, but continue to pursue your passion, continue to endure, and continue this “good trouble” of creating wealth and ownership in our communities.

Meltrice D. Sharp, CPA President, Board of Trustees, BPACF | 5
6 | FALL 2022 Camille Heard Entrepreneur-in-Residence JumpStart Charron Leeper Fashion Entrepreneur Tiffany Hollinger Realtor, Investor & Financial Advisor #AskTiffanyH Jennifer Wainwright Writer, fitness enthusiast Dr. Natalie M. Whitlow Psychologist Lead Psychologist at Our Village: A Service Organization, LLC Joelle Robinson BPACF Scholar & Student CONTRIBUTORS Terri Bradford Eason Senior Director, Advancement Equity Initiatives The Cleveland Foundation LaRese Purnell, MBA Managing Partner, CLE Consulting Firm Interested in writing for The Black Professional? Contact Courtney Lynn Harris Visual Branding Strategist Web & Graphic Designer Owner of Courtney Creative Studio



Entrepreneurship: The View from Inside

I’m always amused when people tell me that they can’t wait to work for themselves, so they won’t have to answer to anyone. Breaking news! You will work for and answer to every client you have.

After my second downsizing, I decided that it was time to finally start the business I’d been thinking about since I was ten years old. My father and uncles were business owners. When I visited my father’s chemical plant in Puerto Rico I’d observe and ask lots of questions. I enjoyed visiting my uncle Duward’s cleaners and hearing stories about my un cle Selmer’s real estate business.

When I was downsized, I had toddlers running around the house, so looking for a job just wasn’t what I wanted to do. Circumstances forced me to finally start the business I had thought about for years.

Throughout the years I grappled with many business options. I liked to sew so I made clothes and ragdolls. I enjoyed being creative, so I thought long and hard about a graphic design business. Then there was a time when I considered being a fitness trainer having spent count less hours in the gym (I was addicted to lifting weights). I loved writing, and found the public relations industry was where I could use those skills, be entrenched in diverse communities, get my clients media exposure, and tell the stories that weren’t being told.

Our special Entrepreneurs Issue is dedicated to the peo ple who put in the work and others who may want to. Our team at the BPACF Magazine is comprised of entrepre neurs. Meltrice Sharp is our publisher and co-owner of CLE Consulting Firm. Jennifer Coiley Dial is our creative director and owns Coy Lee Media, LLC. Charron Leeper is our advertising/sales manager and owns Perfect Pineap ple. James Wade our media relations coordinator leading

always looking for

JWW Media Entertainment Group. Our office adminis trator Adrianne Sims heads Certified Business Solutions, LLC. I am the magazine’s editor and proud owner of Visi bility Marketing Inc. We use our talents to creatively pro duce stories in an aesthetically pleasing format we believe will interest our readers, inspire them to act and encour age community support.

The theme in Celebrating Black Entrepreneurship is sim ple, but not easy. Don’t give up. There will always be chal lenges in the entrepreneurial journey. Life is challenging. When faced with trials, know that there is a solution. You must have the patience to find it and the willingness to take the risks that may come. We’re excited to bring you their stories along with other views into the entrepreneur’s world.

For instance, there’s an article about entrepreneurship and mental health, philanthropic options, starting youth early on their business ownership journey, and organizations that provide support for businesses and would-be entre preneurs.

So, take the time to read about the trials and triumphs of our entrepreneurs. If you share in this journey, you will understand the ride and find kinship with your fellow comrades. If you’e not a business owner, you will find in formation you can use no matter where you earn a living.

The stories are universal and interchangeable. We hope you will be inspired to support the businesses helping to increase Black wealth. Please, share this publication with your tribe. There’s someone out there who needs inspira tion and encouragement.


Montrie Rucker Adams, APR, DTM, MBA Editor, The Black Professional magazine Chief Visibility Officer, Visibility Marketing Inc.

interested, please contact me at | 7
NOTE: We’re
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6 Effective Tips to Convert Your Website Visitors into Leads

Do you know what happens when a user visits your website or landing page? Is your website producing the leads you desire and think you de serve? Do you have a plan to convert your visitors to take the desired ac tion?

Studies show that average lead gen eration websites convert four to eight percent of visitors into leads. Not very impressive, right? Well, lucky for you, this article offers six tips on how to convert your website visitors into leads and customers.

Defined Website Goals and Strategy

Increasing your conversion rate doesn’t happen by chance. You have to plan and design for it, this is why you need to be clear about your web site goals and strategy. You need to first define what you want your web site visitors to do. At that point, you can build a framework of desired ac tions for them to take on your site. You can start by considering the

most important function or purpose of your site. Is it to promote your products and services? Is it to mere ly provide information about your business? Is it the lead generation that can ultimately lead to sales? Or is it to directly make sales through an online shop or courses on your site?

Keep the main goal in mind and re member your website is a resource just like any other that should pro vide a return on investment (ROI).

Understand Your Target Audience and Unique Value Proposition

Once you have established your website’s goals and strategy, the next question to ask is “who” are you try ing to convert? Here is a list of ques tions to ask yourself to help you un derstand your target audience:

• What products or services are your visitors looking for?

• What unique value do you offer?

• How knowledgeable are they about your products or services?

• What additional questions might they have?

Understanding your target audience is vital to formulating the right con tent, designing the right look and feel, and creating compelling calls to action. Moreover, your unique value proposition forms the core of your marketing message. It is the reason “why” people do business with you. Too often businesses create content based on how they see their own business. Your unique value propo sition should be formulated by look ing at your business through the lens of your target audience. It should be developed with the intent to per suade, not just inform, or educate. A visitor should arrive at your site and say, “Yes! I’m in the right place!”

User-Friendliness –Keeping an Easy And Clear Interface On Your Website

Remember – you’re building web sites for humans (your potential and existing customers). So, they must find navigating your website easy. This means – if they want to head over to the Services or About Us sec tion, they shouldn’t have a difficult time doing so. Their experience while on your website should be nothing short of amazing. User experience is everything when it comes to the conversion of leads. The easier your website is to use, the quicker a visi tor can find the information needed to make a sound decision to take the next step to become a customer.

Display Top-Notch Readable and Lucrative Content/Copy on Your Webpages

Your website should be structured like a sales presentation, not like a | 9

brochure. Content is the king. Words have the power to sell. Convincing a user to make the purchase is purely based on the content you have put out on your website. Convincing and bold sales copy and proven results can help in lead conversion. Here are some ways to make a mark with your content:

• Create personalized content ap pealing to any type and all levels of users

• Keep the content crisp and to the point

• Use compelling word content

• Highlight the benefits of your product in a greater manner over the features.

Use CTA to The Best of Your Advantage

Call to action or CTA buttons are the only thing that stand between the purchase and the end-user. Yes, they are that important. An attractive CTA button is as important as your

website design. The CTA must be in the vicinity for the user to make use of it. The design of the CTA must be attractive, simple, not too bold, and not on the face.

Another important point to note is the placement of the CTAs. The right placement is the key to making sure the user finds them and uses them. Create a tempting CTA that blends with the website design. Placing them in the right location to maximize vis ibility and ensure the end-user uses them to their advantage is the best way to use this important tool as an asset.

Offer an Irresistible Lead Capture Opt-In

A lead capture opt-in works like a charm. A business owner would love nothing more than to download an eBook from a well-reputed brand that promises to offer him/her val ue-adding insights related to a busi ness’ growth. An in-house marketer

would love nothing more than to subscribe to a well-reputed market ing company’s email newsletter.

Business owners are always look ing for resources that can help them solve problems, and business needs or problems. And they would not mind opting-in in exchange for qual ity content. If you want to generate leads, we’d advise offering irresistible opt-ins like eBooks, webinars, cours es, checklists, or lead magnets in other formats. But while doing so, it’s important to make sure that you’re providing value. If they are submit ting their contact details, they would expect valuable information.

These were six effective tips to con vert website visitors into leads. No matter what digital marketing strate gy you’re relying on, know that your website is one of the most powerful online tools for attracting and con verting visitors even while you sleep. The way your website is built and the platform used to create it, plays a major role in your ability to con vert your website visitors. Therefore, we recommend choosing a suitable website developer first and then adopting these strategies for maxi mum results.

Courtney Creative Studio offers web design services that are equipped with the features and tools required to run your site effectively, as well as applies marketing strategies that help you convert website visitors into quality leads.

Courtney Lynn Harris is a Visual Branding Strategist | Web & Graphic Designer and owner of Courtney Cre ative Studio

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Cleveland Metroparks

Board Spotlight: Harold G. Harrison

Harold G. Harrison serves as the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) for Cleveland Metroparks. Cleveland Metroparks oversees 24,000+ acres of land/green space, eight golf courses, an award-winning zoo and lakefront prop erties.

As the CHRO, he oversees all functions of human resources. These include labor relations, employee relations, benefits, compensation, training/development, workers’ compensation, human re sources management systems, diversity outreach and inclusion and 6,500+ vol unteers.

Prior to Cleveland Metroparks, Har rison served as the head of HR for the Summit County Board of Development Disabilities and Summit County Board of Children Services. Additionally, he spent the first 10 years of his career in various HR roles with the Cuyahoga County government.

Harrison earned a bachelor of science degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Toledo and a master’s de gree in Labor Relations and Human Re sources from Cleveland State University. He also holds an SHRM Senior Profes sional certification.

A lifelong Clevelander, Harrison was born and raised on Cleveland’s east side. He is a proud graduate of South High School and serves as a part-time gradu ate school instructor at Cleveland State’s

Levin College of Urban Affairs.

What Are Your BPACF Board Respon sibilities?

I am serve as a Board member, joining the organization in August of 2021.

What does serving on the BPACF Board mean to you?

First and foremost, Meltrice Sharp is a very good salesperson. She was instru mental in me joining the Board. The scholarship and internship program struck a chord with me. It is a great op portunity to give back to the community that has been so giving to me. I had very good mentors early in my career that provided sage advice. I am at a point in my career where I may be able to quiet ly help others with career opportunities and choices that could help jumpstart/ advance, his/her career. Hopefully, they will find a way to give back in the future.

How does your BPACF Board service help the community?

The scholarships and internship op portunities spearheaded by the BPACF provide an invaluable opportunity for minority students to network and build the critical professional connections during college. As an HR professional, communications skills and work expe rience rank very high when evaluating potential candidates for employment. The BPACF provides the platform for minority students to gain the necessary skills to compete in today’s market.

Each issue we will introduce a member of the BPACF’s Board of Directors. Our directors volunteer their time to ensure the organization meets its goals and objectives to serve Black professionals and students of color. | 11


History Makers & History Shapers

At the BPACF, we recognize that our contributions are not relegated to just the 28 days in February. We do our society a disservice if we only take one month to educate, innovate, and celebrate the many contributions Black people have made. In each issue we will present a history maker, someone who has carved a space in history and history shaper, someone making history now. In this special entrepreneurial issue, we’ve tapped two professionals who are history makers and shapers in the entrepreneurial world.

munications and public relations in dustry as the architect of the LeBron James media persona. Additionally, Alex (as she is most affectionately called) has served as the advisor for this publication, tirelessly helping to

Alexandria Johnson Boone is Pres ident and CEO of GAP Communi cations Group, a full-service public relations, advertising, marketing, and special events firm based in Cleveland, Ohio. Under her leader ship, GAP has gained local, regional, and national recognition for its qual ity public relations, publicity and marketing services and its signature special events. She is also widely rec ognized and respected in the com

Alex is also the Chairwoman and Founder of the Women of Color Foundation, a 501c3 organization, dedicated to the education, empow erment, training and leadership de velopment of women and girls of all colors. Over the years, the Founda tion has produced several annual personal and professional develop ment retreats, conferences, awards luncheons, and other special events across the region

She is a graduate of the Cleveland Public Schools; holds a master’s de gree from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University; two Certificates from the Amos Tuck School of Busi ness at Dartmouth College; was a 1997 National Fellow at the Boston University School of Public Health Join Together Program; and was a member of the Leadership Cleveland

ceived the National ACME Award from the Women’s Council of the National Association of Real-Estate Brokers at its 74th Annual National Convention; was selected as the Key note Speaker for WELD’s Columbus Leadership Series; was selected as the Keynote Speaker for the Chris tian Business League’s Master Class; was named ”A Women You Should Know” by The Cleveland Women’s Journal (for the 2nd time); and was invited for the 3rd time to participate in the prestigious WELD Leadership Conference and Corporate Board Track Program.

Some of her community involve ments have included serving as a

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member of the Board at The Club at Key Center; The SHINE Founda tion; The Urban League of Greater Cleveland; the Community Advi sory Board of The Flora Stone Ma ther Center for Women; The Visit ing Committees at the Weatherhead School of Management & the Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity at Case Western Re serve University; and the Board of Directors of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, all located in Cleveland, Ohio; and the Urquhart Memorial Foundation located in Scottsdale, Arizona. Alex has also received sev eral awards for her business and pro fessional achievements and commu nity service.

In 2014, Alex founded C L Magazine, a career and lifestyle digital maga zine for women and girls. The mag azine has been continuously in pub lication since that time. She hosts the radio show “C L Magazine LIVE!” on Cleveland’s WOVU-FM Radio, 95.9.

Her many accolades, awards and recognitions throughout her illus trious career include the National ColorComm Circle Award for Out standing Achievement by a Woman of Color in the Communications In dustry; Trailblazer of the Year by the Women’s Enterprise Business Coun cil-Ohio River Valley at their 2016 Annual Regional Conference; Busi ness Trailblazer of the Year by the Christian Business League; Recipi ent of the Greater Cleveland Com munity Service Award by the Gloria Pointer Foundation; and the recipi ent of the Elite Women Around the World’s, Women Who Changed the World Award in 2016.

She was selected for inclusion in the Inaugural “Women WELDing the Way” in 2018 Business Success Calendar by the Women for Eco

nomic and Leadership Development (WELD), Cleveland Chapter; and was included in a local PBS televi sion mini documentary, highlighting Cleveland Black professional women and their success despite facing rac ism during their careers.

Alex was a featured presenter at the Northeast Ohio Women’s Leadership Conference; was featured in an arti cle in the March issue of Cleveland’s Smart Business Magazine, highlight ing her work with the Women of Color Foundation. Additionally, the Women of Color Foundation was recognized as the “2018 Organiza tion that Empowered Women” at the Smart Business Magazine Annual Women’s Awards Breakfast.

Throughout her career, Alex has demonstrated professionalism, com petence, expertise, and the ability to lift others up as she has climbed. She is a mentor to many, not only in the public relations and communica tions fields, but in any professional genre where her vision and expertise

Sam Sylk

Radio Personality

Owner, Sam Sylk’s Chicken & Fish

serve as a programmer at Cleveland’s 107.9 WENZ FM while maintaining his weekend host position at WGCI in Chicago. His tenure also includes reporting news for FM News 101.1. His voice has touched Power 99 and 100.3 listeners in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, as well the cities of New York City, Cincinnati, and Columbus.

In 2013, Sam became the mid-host on Cleveland’s 93.1 WZAK where he still can be heard every weekday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Sam Sylk Show provides a healthy mix of local and national current events and edgy | 13

History Makers & History

relationship topics during his “Sam Sylk Relationship Hour” segment. Sam provides easy daytime dialogue and his renowned games, “I Got Five on It” and “Rhyme on Time” are fa vorites among his loyal listeners with opportunities to win prizes. The Sam Sylk Show, which frequently hosts celebrity guests, has become a staple in the Cleveland community. Sam has become a staple for providing engaging on-air conversations that enlists his loyal fans to call in for intriguing on-air discussions, inter act on social media, and participate in philanthropic community initia tives and relationship events around Cleveland.

Sam has also observed success out side of his radio and media careers. He is a published author of a rela tionship book and the proud own er of three chicken and fish chain restaurants throughout the city of Cleveland. Additionally, each fall, his charity event, “Winter Wraps” col lects brand new coats for children in need around the Cleveland area.

Sam enjoys spending time with his wife, kids, and grandchildren. He also enjoys watching televised sports and has taken up golf in his spare time. Sam has found success to be a direct result of his tenacity, dedica tion, and faith in God, family, and the communities he’s called home.

Balancing Health Entrepreneurship &

The life of an entrepreneur can be full of excitement.

Fueled by creativity and curiosity, those who own their own business es believe that the best way for them to make an income and an impact is to anticipate or identify a need, and then assume the the risk for meet ing that need. This risk is most often quantified in terms of time and mon ey, both significant considerations. But there are other risks; occupa tional hazards that every entrepre neur must be mindful of if they want to enjoy the life they’re working so hard to create.

Let’s briefly explore what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

To run a successful business, entre preneurs must have—or be willing to learn—key skills, including agile thinking, project management, and sharp decision-making.

They must have the competence to weigh a number of complex factors simultaneously to determine wheth er ideas generated are worth execut ing, and possess a tolerance that can bear the burden of uncertainty, while maintaining a sense of optimism, vim, and vigor for the future.

This marriage of excitement and high-level executive functioning can make for a solid livelihood where passion and profit are mutually rein forcing, but it comes at a cost. This cost is often overlooked in service of the hustle and grind ethos that per vades our culture, but if we fail to take measures to offset it, we jeopar dize our greatest asset—our health.

The cost we’re talking about here is the emotional, physical, and psy chological toll of running your own business. It’s insidious and often goes undetected until things get too bad to ignore, because it is easily

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Shapers continued

concealed by noble aspirations.

For example, we work an inordinate number of hours, telling ourselves that we’re doing so in the name of creating a better future for our chil dren. But our ambition betrays both us and our children. Consumed by work, we sacrifice precious time with them—time we will not get back. We totally miss the ways in which we could provide them with a better now, in the present, with our pres ence.

Sometimes, however, professional achievement is the sneaky little cul prit. We constantly expose ourselves to pressure-inducing activities in the name of building a bigger, bet ter business, but then dismiss out of hand our doctor’s prognosis of how the stress is breaking our body down. Another way we fall victim to self-de ception? Spending time in profes sional circles to network and mingle as a means to build relationships that we can leverage to our advantage lat er. On the surface, this is sound rela tionship-building methodology. But with our business objectives driving social conversations, our exchange is purely transactional, bereft of au thenticity and open-heartedness, and we squander the substantial mental and emotional health bene fits of true human connection.

So how do we balance health and en trepreneurship? Here are five surefire ways that can help:

1. Make sure every day has a start time and end time. During your scheduled work hours, give it all you’ve got. But when it’s closing time, shut it down. This boundary will help keep your personal and professional life contained, boost your productiv ity, and allow you to experience dai

ly renewal cycles, which invite fresh energy and ideas.

2. Practice daily self-care. Speak life over yourself the moment you wake up. Express thanks. Meditate, jour nal, take a walk, exercise, drink tea, read, play a game, call a friend, take a nap. Eat a satisfying meal. You can do all of these things or just one, but honor yourself every single day.

3. Seek help when you need it. As an entrepreneur, you’re handling a lot. If you’re overwhelmed and overex tended, ask for support. Share your challenges. Normalize vulnerability and unlearn hyper-independence.

4. Just say no. Sometimes, you just need to decline the work. In the words of some of everybody, “All money ain’t good money.”

5. Prioritize your wellbeing over all else. Know your limits and respect them. If you’re exhausted, rest. If you have pain that persists, see a doctor. And if you can’t seem to follow any advice on preserving your mind and body over your business no matter how hard you try, it may mean that you’ve got some deeply ingrained

unhealthy beliefs, and it’s time to see a therapist.

Bonus. If you’re an entrepreneur who consistently struggles with work-life balance, read Rework. Colloquial and pragmatic, authors Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson reframe mainstream ideology about what it takes to succeed in business with a smarter, much more constructive approach. This is a book that’s not so much about how to run your busi ness, but about how to think about how you run your business, although there’s plenty of actionable advice on growing and sustaining a successful company. My favorite passage from the book:

“Not only is...workaholism unnec essary, it’s stupid. Working more doesn’t mean you care more or get more done. It just means you work more... Workaholics aren’t heroes. They don’t save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is already home because she figured out a faster way to get things done.”

Jennifer Wainwright is a writer who is passionate about storytelling. | 15

Can CDFIs Bridge the Access to CAPITAL GAP for Black Entrepreneurs?

Black and Brown businesses and entrepreneurs continue to struggle with access to capital. These extend to whole communities and their abil ity to attract investment for revital ization and growth. Often, the access to capital conversation tends to be more nuanced than meets the eye. Investment readiness, technical ca pacity, and the ability to strategically deploy capital are as important as the capital itself. Community Develop ment Financial Institutions (CDFI) across the nation have stepped in to fill the gap in many communities that mainstream financing has been unable to bridge. CDFIs can provide loans, equity capital, grants, business coaching, and other support.

What is a CDFI?

The CDFI designation is a special status granted by the U.S. Depart ment of the Treasury’s CDFI Fund. CDFIs can be banks, credit unions, loan funds, microloans, and venture capital providers. CDFIs play an im portant role in generating economic growth and opportunity in some of our nation’s most distressed commu nities. CDFIs offer tailored resources and innovative programs that invest federal dollars alongside private sec tor capital. The CDFI Fund serves as a mission-driven financial institu tion that takes a market-based ap proach to support economically dis advantaged communities.

There are more than 1,300 CDFIs across the nation, over 20 in the State of Ohio, and six with offices in the Metropolitan Cleveland area:

• Village Capital Corporation

• Enterprise Community Loan Fund

• Cleveland Development Advisors

• CHN Housing Capital

• Economic & Community Devel opment Institute

• Local Initiatives Support Corpora tion (LISC)

Why CDFIs are important

CDFIs provide access to capital that translates into business devel opment, workforce development, homeownership, wealth creation, and overall community health and sustainability.

More than capital providers, CDFIs are what can be described as “Capital Plus.” CDFI lending is people-cen tered, therefore to tailor loans to fit people, not a credit box, and of fers training, coaching, and support when people need help.

As borrowers repay their loans, CDFIs recycle money back into the community through new borrowers, multiplying the impact of each dol lar on local economies. CDFIs are a proven model to create fair econom ic opportunity for all.

Who can borrow from a CDFI?

CDFIs lend to a wide range of bor rowers for a wide range of purposes. CDFIs work with individuals, busi nesses, community development corporations, non-profits, and other stakeholders providing capital and technical support.

Different CDFIs have different un derwriting and eligibility criteria.

Typically, CDFIs will require up-todate business, financial, and tax re cords, credit scores (where applica ble), and a thorough description of how the business operates and how the financing will be used.

Given its mission to expand eco nomic opportunity for underserved people and communities, CDFIs are often good resources for businesses and individuals that have struggled with access to capital.

Village Capital Corporation and Its Impact

Village Capital Corporation (VCC) is the CDFI subsidiary of Cleveland Neighborhood Progress. For the past three decades, it has historical ly provided financing and technical assistance for catalytic real estate projects that revitalize and strength en communities in Northeast Ohio. VCC over the last couple of years has worked to target some of its pro grams and financing to minoritized and women entrepreneurs through a variety of programs including the Contractors on the Rise (COR) pro gram, the ‘Grow U’ program, and others.

The COR program provides a line of credit and technical assistance to Black and women real estate contractors to undertake projects in the Greater Cleveland region. VCC’s ‘Grow U’ program is tar geted at small businesses in the region. VCC maintains an open door for small businesses to come to talk to us. For more informa tion, contact Kwame Botchway at

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Did You Say a Career in Real Estate?

I’m sure lately you have heard about the perks and successes of being in the real estate industry. From HGTV, to new real estate reality shows, to news on the increasing value of real estate, the industry is getting a lot of publicity.

Whether it’s the allure of becoming your own boss, or the fact that many careers and opportunities in real estate don’t require a degree, many can have access to limitless earning potential. Some are not aware of the wide variety of real estate career paths you can choose and the jobs you can have with or without a real estate license. There are career op tions beyond the well-known resi dential agent. So, here’s several ca reer professions in the world of real estate!

Residential Real Estate Agent

This occupation is the most common role people take in the real estate industry. It’s also what most people

envision when they think about real estate. A real estate agent is the person who shows homes, markets their brand, connects people with the property they’re seeking, and sells/ buys homes. A license is required. According to Indeed, a real estate agents’ average salary is $96k a year.

Real Estate Broker

This term tends to confuse people. There is a significant difference be tween “agents” and “brokers,” al though the terms do vary by state. A real estate broker is an agent who con tinues their education and success fully receives a state real estate bro ker license. Unlike real estate agents brokers can work independently and start their own brokerage and hire other real estate agents. In a given brokerage firm, there are generally three types of brokers:

• Associate Broker

• Managing Broker

• Principal Broker

According to Glassdoor, a real estate broker’s average salary is $97k a year.,18.htm

Commercial Real Estate Agent

Typically, there are two types of real estate agents: Commercial and resi dential. As you likely know, residen tial real estate agents help people buy and sell residential properties. The day-to-day for a commercial real estate agent has a completely differ ent focus. Commercial real estate agents deal with commercial real estate, such as a business acquiring land to build new office buildings or purchasing an existing building. A license is required. According to ZipRecruiter, a commercial real es tate agent average salary is $110k a year. Commercial-Real-Estate-Agent-Salary

Real Estate Developer

A real estate developer is responsible for buying land, financing the deal, and then creating or coordinating the development of that land. Real estate developers don’t only work on the construction of new proper ties, they can also be involved in the renovation of existing properties/ buildings. Of all the real estate career paths you can take, becoming a real estate developer is the most all-en compassing. It’s the real estate career that lets you touch on just about ev ery aspect of the industry. No indus try license is required. According to ZipRecruiter, the average real estate developer salary is $79k a year.

Property Manager

Property managers oversee and manage the daily operation of prop erty such as apartments, malls, and

business offices. That means that there are both residential and com mercial property managers. They are employed by the property owner, who may not have the time or phys ical proximity to deal with tenants and the everyday responsibilities that come with maintaining their in vestment. In the course of their daily duties, the property manager gen erates income for the owner while also preserving the property’s value. A license is required. According to ZipRecruiter, the average property manager salary is $49k a year.

Leasing Consultant

When a property owner needs a new tenant, a leasing agent can market the property for them and oversee the signing of leases, essentially act ing as a landlord. These individuals may set up open houses and show the property to potential lessees. Leasing consultants typically receive base pay plus commission. The work for a leasing consultant begins with advertising the property and ends when the lease agreement is com pleted. While an industry license is not required, some employers may require obtaining a real estate li cense. According to ZipRecruiter, the average leasing agent salary is about $32k a year.

Home Inspector

Home inspectors play a crucial role in purchasing or selling property. In some instances, both the buyer and the seller will have their own inspec tors. The duty of this role is exactly as it sounds: To inspect the home. Are there any potential problems the buyer should know about? What is the status of the roof, etc? Wheth er you need a license to become an inspector differs from state to state, as do the overall requirements. This is one of real estate jobs for which

an apprenticeship or mentor is rec ommended. According to PayScale, the average home inspector salary is $49k. Job=Home_Inspector/Salary

Real Estate Loan Officer

Loan officers handle the financial side of obtaining a mortgage. They typically work for banks, mortgage lenders, and brokers. Loan officers may also partner with real estate agents and offices to provide financ ing to clients. They assist prospective buyers in sorting out loan options and completing mortgage applica tions. To become a loan officer, a license is required, and you must register with the Nationwide Mort gage Licensing System. According to ZipRecruiter, the average loan offer salary is $69k a year.

Real Estate Appraiser

An Appraiser, conducts formal ap praisals of real property (residen tial, commercial and or industrial) or land before it is sold, mortgaged, taxed, insured, or developed. They evaluate properties to establish mar ket values and property ratings using internal and external sources. To be come an Appraiser, it does require a license and an apprenticeship.

According to ZipRecruiter, the av erage salary for an Appraiser is $54k year

Real Estate Investor

As HGTV has shown us, the concept of real estate investing and house flipping is on the rise. Fair warning: Enter into investing at your own risk. There is a high reward for flipping properties but an even higher barri er to entry. You will need some cash, credit, and patience. Generally, there are two types of real estate investors:

Passive and active. A passive inves tor channels money into a project so it can get completed or buys rental property to collect rent i.e., cash flow. An active investor, however, is more common. They flip houses and sell properties quickly, i.e., ROI (return on investment). Real estate invest ing reigns near the top of the high est paying real estate careers in the country. It does not require an indus try license. According to ZipRecruit er, the average national salary for a real estate investor is close to $124k a year.

Real Estate Attorney

When a real estate purchase enters the closing phase, one of the people at the table is a real estate attorney. They are experts in the rules and reg ulations of real estate transactions, and some states require their pres ence at closing. With a real estate attorney present, the buyer or seller has someone looking out for their best interest while they sift through legal documents and sign contracts. They may also play a role in prevent ing mortgage fraud and ironing out legal issues related to zoning, title transfers, and restrictive covenants. According to ZipRecruiter, the av erage real estate attorney salary is $100k a year.

The best way to get an idea of which real estate career path would suit you is to shadow someone who has a career in real estate. You can expe rience the day-to-day and determine whether or not you’d like to pursue the same path.

Contact Tiffany L. Hollinger #AskTif fanyH if you or someone you know are looking to explore an opportunity in one of these careers.

The Business of Mental Health and Black Entrepreneurs

Black entrepreneurs are those seek ing the American dream, at the high est level. In many cases, the cost of this endeavor is also high, with their mental health being the price they pay because of the enormity of the stressors they face.

Black entrepreneurs face stressors that any business owner may face along with racial and cultural stress ors which place additional strain on them. This may compromise their mental health. As is the continued experience of the larger African American community, Black entre preneurs are still fighting against in equity and injustice, which restricts their ability to obtain equal access to resources, financial support, expo sure, and opportunity, amongst oth er things.

The struggles faced by the current day Black entrepreneur mirror those faced by their elders and ancestors, triggering historical and transgen erational trauma. In other words, the struggles they face tap into and awaken the trauma that dwells with in them through a spiritual knowing. This occurs because the trauma of their ancestors is passed down, ge netically, and lives within them.

Epigenetics research has found that familial, cultural, and generational traumas leave chemical markers on one’s genes and, when an akin trau ma occurs, it triggers the trauma ly ing dormant within the DNA. At this point, the proverbial “switch” on the gene is turned on and you now have access to all similar traumas experi enced by your ancestors, intensifying

your own emotional experience.

Have you ever felt abundantly over whelmed by seemingly small stress ors, and couldn’t figure out why? Well, epigenetics and transgener ational trauma serve to provide at least a portion of an explanation for this occurrence. Stress is defined as the emotional and physical tension we feel when we are met with a chal lenge or demand that we do not be lieve we are capable of meeting. For business owners, there are instruc tions, handbooks, and seminars on how to help them identify and over come typical barriers they will face. For the Black entrepreneur howev er, there are no manuals, guides, or how-to books to help them navigate the systemic, overt, and covert racial and cultural stressors and barriers | 19

that they will come up against.

The experiences of the African American living in America, in cluding the Black entrepreneur, are characterized by trauma, oppression, and aggression. Thus, anxiety and depression are among the leading mental health issues that result from these stressors. Although other men tal health issues result from stress, this article will focus on anxiety and depression and the effects they can have on the Black entrepreneur.


Anxiety, at its core, is a sense of fear that leads to excessive worry, which results in a persistent experience of nervousness. African Americans continue to live under the threat of racism, discrimination, and injus tice, and the Black entrepreneur is

not exempt. And, for the Black en trepreneur, who is often viewed as stepping into the prohibited area of realizing the American dream that is reserved for white people, fear, wor ry, and nervousness can certainly be activated.

Successfully operating a business involves, in part, assessment of the current needs of your custom er-base, development of a relevant business plan, and taking necessary risks. Anxiety can interfere with each of these tasks. Specifically, anxiety impacts the thought pattern, causing self-doubting, racing, and/or snow balling thoughts, resulting in an in ability to concentrate, think clearly, gather and organize thoughts, and/ or remember important informa tion. As you may imagine, these symptoms cause limitations with Black entrepreneurs’ ability to assess

and process data and create effective strategic plans.

Fear and Worry

Additionally, excessive fear and wor ry diminish the Black entrepreneur’s willingness to take healthy and nec essary business risks, increasing their sense of psychological safety but decreasing their opportunity to be wildly successful.

For the Black entrepreneurs who are reading this article, have you found yourself being [unintentionally] lim ited by any of these dynamics? If so, it is possible that the culture-specific stress that you have been experienc ing as a Black business owner has caused you to experience some anx iety and it is impacting your ability to operate your business most effec tively.

20 | FALL 2022


Depression causes a de-elevation in mood resulting in sadness or anger, low self-worth, diminished energy levels, motivation, and drive, a lack of vision for the future, and a gen eral absence of enjoyment in life. Successfully owning and operating a business involves continually build ing professional networks, actively marketing the company’s services, working cooperatively with others who are invested in the business, and dedicating long hours to business operations.

Depression can cause the Black en trepreneur to lack the self-worth and sense of belongingness to fulfill own er responsibilities. Lack of drive and motivation can squash the Black en trepreneur’s vigor to ferociously go after their dream and build a strong,

thriving, competitive business. The ability to meet deadlines and most appropriately “show up” for the busi ness can also be impacted by depres sion.

Have you found that you lack the confidence and assuredness that you need to fully go all out for your business? Do you notice that you are plagued by procrastination and struggle to keep up with your re sponsibilities? Or, are you throwing yourself into work and are experi encing great business success but have poor work-life balance that is negatively impacting your personal life? All of these are indicators that you may be experiencing depression.

It is important for Black entrepre neurs to have realistic and solu tion-focused discussions about the culturally specific stressors they face

in order to minimize the addition al mental health consequences that come as the result of these stressors.

I hope this article has inspired you to think about your mental health in a different way and sparks conver sations about how your profession al endeavors, however positive they may be, may have some very nega tive impacts on your mental health. Then, further your conversation with a mental health professional to deep en your understanding of how these dynamics may impact you and how you can best manage them to attain the mental health stability and busi ness success that you deserve!

Dr. Natalie M. Whitlow is a licensed psychologist and lead psychologist at Our Village: A Service Organization, LLC. | 21

Top 5 Trends for Fall 2022 Straight from NYFW

Now that it’s fall, check out what New York Fashion Week (NYFW) presented as what’s hot for fall 2022.

Brown Is the New Nude

This fall is all about chocolate browns and cocoa hues as your “go to” neu tral. This illustrious color was seen all over the runways at NYFW in every fabric and texture imaginable. You won’t ago wrong incorporating this milk chocolate color into your fall faves.

Shape Wear but Make It Fashion

Tired of wearing shape wear under your clothes? Well, there is good news, you don’t have to anymore. Just wear it atop of your favorite gar ment and keep it moving. Designers across runaways communicated this with their consistent showing of cor sets integrated into silhouettes from brands like Carolina Herrera, Bal main, Jason Woo, Kim Shui, Dion Lee and so many others!

Make it Pop with Pink Apparently, Malibu Barbie level hot pink is a trending color for fall. It’s best used within core pieces like a blazer or applied in a monochrome head-to-toe look. Designers like Mi chael Kors, Bronx and Banco graced the runways in shades from hot pinks to rich magentas.

Get High on Tweed

Your favorite, classy, traditionally work appropriate woolen fabric has reincarnated post pandemic and is here echo the new age of work style

and culture. Brands like Prabal Gu rung, St. John, Christian Cowan, and most excitingly Kim Shui laced the runway with bold color ways and silhouettes accompanied by fringe, faux fur, and ruffle details. That said, a standout tweed garment is a must have for your 2022 fall collection.

Sheer the Joy and Add Bling Sheer is a top trend for fall 2022 for men and women. Add a bit of crys tal embellishments to it and you’ve reached the mountain top.

Sheer sequin pieces from Bottega Ve neta, and 16 Arlington graced NY FW’s runways. Whether you wear the sequin and sheer pieces sepa rately or together, you won’t miss the wave this fall when adding these pieces your wardrobe.

Charron Leeper is a freelance Wardrobe Stylist and fashion entrepreneur. Find her at www.freelyc. com and www.perfectpineapplewraps. com

22 | FALL 2022

Welcome to Cleveland !

As Cleveland begins to forge new ground and position itself to become “the greatest city on the lake,” we welcome professionals from around the world to help move us forward. In each issue, we will introduce you to the professionals entering our town eager to settle in and become one with us.

Michael Baston

President, Cuyahoga Community College


Volunteers are invaluable to non-profit organizations, and BPACF is no exception. We would not be where we are without the conscientious, committed, and courageous volunteers that help us with our mission, vision and pur pose. We’re happy to honor Ceylon Allmond, one of the many volun teers on which we consistently rely. Thank you, Ceylon. We can only do what we do because of you.

Ceylon M. Allmond is employed by Key Bank in its Technology, Op erations and Service area. In addi tion to her volunteer work with the BPACF, she is a member of the Na tional Coalition of 100 Black Wom en, Greater Cleveland Chapter.

A graduate of Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor of Sci ence degree in business adminis tration, Allmond enjoys spending

time with family, traveling, swim ming, and visiting small coffee shops in Northeast Ohio.

Her favorite mantra, “All you can do is show up and try your best.”

What is your volunteer role at BPACF? Hostess.

Why do you volunteer?

I consider volunteering a civil duty of mine. Being a Black woman from a single-parent household, many people and organizations have poured resources, morals, and val ues into me that have contributed to my current success. Therefore, I must give back to my people and community.

Who inspires you? Who are your volunteer role models?

My late Great Aunt Tanya M. All mond is one of the founders of BPA.

Even through her passing, she has continued to inspire me. She stood on the saying, “Lift as we climb.” It is paramount that I embody that saying and continue her legacy.

What advice do you have for oth ers who want to volunteer?

My advice to anyone interested in volunteering is just to start. You’ll never know who you can impact and how you can be a difference maker in the world. | 23

Celebrating Black Entrepreneurship

Business ownership for Blacks is not new.

The history of Black business owner ship in America can be traced back to the 16th century when Africans were forcibly brought here. Tracing many culture’s methods of survival, one can see that the exchange and selling of goods and services has been around for centuries.

What is an entrepreneur? Is an en trepreneur different from a business owner? Well, yes and no.

According to Wikipedia:

An entrepreneur is an individual who creates and/or invests in one or more businesses, bearing most of the risks and enjoying most of the rewards. The process of setting up a business is known as entrepreneur ship. The entrepreneur is commonly seen as an innovator, a source of new ideas, goods, services, and business/ or procedures.

If you design, launch, and run a new business, past definitions termed you a “business owner.” Now, anyone who has the “capacity and willing ness to develop, organize and man age a business venture along with any of its risks to make a profit,” is an entrepreneur.

Though Black people have worked for themselves for years, many times hav ing “side hustles” in addition to full time careers, entrepreneurship in the Black community has exploded.

The most recent 2020 numbers on entrepreneurship post two million Black-owned businesses generated $150.2 billion in revenue. The most popular categories of businesses are health care, personal and laundry and auto repair and maintenance. Our 12 entrepreneurs have a variety of businesses including companies that specialize in drones, cannabis, professional development, energy, health, lawncare, music, and beauty products.

24 | FALL 2022

We are proud of our special issue and hope that you will join us in cel ebrating some of Cleveland’s entre preneurs. Better yet, support them by purchasing their products and services. We’ve included their emails, phone numbers and websites. Doing business with each other is the best way to generate wealth in our com munities.

medicinal use of the plant.

The major issues he had producing a cannabis conference was not being able to advertise like any other busi ness. When he first began, adver tising on radio, TV, and billboards were off limits. All the social media platforms banned and or blocked his accounts from sponsoring or boost ing ads. Berry had to rely on strictly word of mouth promotional cam paigns to get the word out. Finding a venue that would allow him to rent space was also an uphill battle.

and mentoring for educators focused on radical inclusion, universally de signed instructional and equity for all learners.

“Using instructional design elements and high leverage leadership prac tices we blast away at barriers until the gem of brilliance shines in every learner,” said Fritzgerald.

Lenny Berry

Ohio Cannabis Health and Business Summit


The Ohio Cannabis Health & Busi ness Summit (OCHBS) is designed to be a resource hub for the rapid ly expanding medical cannabis and hemp industries. The summit started out focusing on patients, advocates, and educators. Now the event is also aimed at businesses, entrepreneurs, and investors. For two days there are educational workshops, key note speeches from industry titans, special guest appearances, breakout sessions for those seeking intimate discussions with cannabis pioneers, and a packed showroom floor with businesses from all corners of the cannabis sector.

After owning two medical clinics in Ohio, Berry realized that the general public needed more guidance about cannabis, hemp and CBD. He attend ed a few Ohio conferences searching for information he could share and didn’t find much. So, he decided to produce a conference that focuses on the business of cannabis and the

What is your superpower?

My superpower is creating strategic relationships with great people and businesses. People say I make them feel like we have known each other forever after a few conversations.

What do you want aspiring business owners to know?

I always tell people don’t be afraid to go after what you believe. Stay fo cused on your vision, network with people in your desired industry, study something on craft daily, keep an open mind and stay positive.

“We create impactful high-quality ex periences that create building blocks towards transformative leading and learning, justice, and freedom for every member of the learning com munity. Until equity becomes reality – we will continue Building Blocks of Brilliance,” she said.

Fritzgerald has always been intrigued by how to craft experiences that helped the “light bulb” come on for students. When she found success ful methods in her teaching career, she started sharing with her teaching team, her district, and now other dis tricts and organizations all over.

She started her business when orga nizations began reaching out to her to speak and lead professional learn ing experiences. Things really be gan to grow in 2020 when her book, Antiracism and Universal Design for Learning: Building Expressways to Success was published by CAST. Her passion is seeing equity become a reality and now she is a part of that dream work on a larger scale.

Andratesha M. Fritzgerald

Building Blocks of Brilliance, LLC 216.407.0012 @FritzTesha (Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook)

Building Blocks of Brilliance, LLC provides creative and engaging pro fessional development, coaching,

“As a new entrepreneur, the chal lenges were exciting opportunities for problem solving,” shares Fritz gerald. “Some of the questions that I’ve learned the answers to are, ‘What tools do you use to manage inqui ries?’ and ‘How can you manage workflow from inquiry to delivery of services?’ Problem solving lights my | 25 216.214.6872

fire, so working through the chal lenges to create systems of solutions is a joy. I have been so grateful to have mentors that give me guidance along the way.”

One challenge has been knowing when to release innovation. Says Fritzgerald, “I taught English for many years, and editing is naturally in my wiring. In the entrepreneurial space, there comes a time when you must stop editing and just release it. Knowing when that moment of re lease is really has to do with trusting yourself, respecting the craft and op erating with excellence. is I am grate ful that this journey has taught me to increase my faith in God and allow that faith to show up in how I let go and share the innovation.”

What is your superpower?

My superpowers are synthesiz ing and strategizing. Working with many different organizations, I listen closely to hear the needs they share, survey the services I offer, and create an action plan.

Every opportunity is carefully craft ed with the organization in mind. Walking through a protocol of inqui ry allows me to hear the needs and dreams of the organization. Together we synthesize our common goals and strategize on what we would like to accomplish together and then build the “how.” It is a beautiful moment to share with an organization a dream we’ve built together, and then start the journey of putting the building blocks of brilliance in place.

What do you want aspiring business owners to know?

The advice I have for aspiring busi ness owners is to become intention al about learning the craft, but be fiercely willing to pursue the vision

that is within you.

Business is not a copy and paste en deavor. Use wisdom to learn from the successes and challenges of oth ers, but be willing to try what has never been done before. Be willing to be different, to look foolish and even to be misunderstood. Your idea is a treasure and should be steward ed, protected, and invested wisely by you. There are people who need what you have to offer.

There are those who are willing to support and invest, but you must take that first step of undaunted support for your dream. Pray and watch. Rest and build. Yield to the natural flow of life, and when the time is right – take an audacious leap of faith that make both history and legacy bend toward your dream. You are the right one for the dream that has been entrusted to you.

sales channel that is aligned with the ideals of authenticity and inclusion that are so important to Millennials and Gen Z consumers.”

What makes them unique is that inclusion and authenticity is built into their company’s DNA. They are founded by Black women and their staff is majority women of color. “Nu merous beauty startups are owned by men,” Genese said. “Many of the mainstream beauty brands are large ly controlled by white men. FELOH is different because our social com munity and marketplace is sincerely ‘for us, by us.’ Every decision made comes from this mentality. We gen uinely celebrate diversity in beau ty and uplift BIPOC owned beauty brands – not because it’s trendy, but because it’s who we are.”

FELOH’s authenticity is their biggest selling point. Coming in a very close second is their Curl Coins! When us ers engage in their social community and make product reviews, they earn rewards called Curl Coins which they can use in the FELOH Market place.

FELOH is a social marketplace for beauty. Think Instagram meets Am azon, but make it conscious, reward ing, and just for indie beauty. Beauty lovers can download FELOH, post their beauty content and tutorials, and earn rewards called Curl Coins to shop the indie beauty marketplace. “Rising beauty brands can list and sell their products in the FELOH Marketplace,” said Genise. “Their goal is to create a new marketing and

FELOH was inspired by Camille Genise’s natural hair journey. “In undergrad, I cut off my chemical ly straightened hair to embrace my natural hair texture, but found my self lost when it came to finding “in fluencers” I could relate to and learn from, and products to use for my unique hair texture. I also wanted to support smaller hair care brands and easily locate brands that were Black, LatinX, or LGBTQ+ owned, but found it challenging to do so.”

After years of studying the hair and broader beauty market, Genise learned:

1) She was not alone

26 | FALL 2022
Camille Genise FELOH 216.526.6411 @camille_Genise

2) No matter if it’s hair, skin, make up, etc. others are looking for reliable information and a genuine connec tion to learn what works for them

3) There’s a rise in indie beauty brands that need to align with con tent creators to create a “buzz” about their products

4) Social media algorithms today are unconsciously biased and promote beauty aesthetics that aren’t com plexion, texture, body size, disability, and acne positivity inclusive.

“The combination of my own lived experience and education inspired FELOH. Being a women of color owned startup, we have infused di versity, equity, and inclusion into our company’s DNA. For decades, we have all witnessed the beauty indus try missing the mark when it came to representing women like us. Only recently with the push for ‘corporate responsibility’ have we seen women of color and beauty brands founded by women of color represented in mainstream beauty.”

Our lived experiences has informed our niche, and our niche is tied to our mission: FELOH exists to usher in a new era of authentic inclusion in beauty by empowering beauty lovers and independently owned beauty brands through community, connec tion, and inclusion.

The beauty industry is lacking au thenticity in diversity initiatives. When FELOH says diversity, they not only mean skin color and hair texture, but also body size, disabili ty, and gender identity. “The origins of the beauty industry is eurocentric and male dominated. For centuries, corporate beauty products, brand ing, and marketing has been led by white, male, heteronormative forces.

While we have seen more topical in clusion in beauty over this past de cade due to corporate dollars being earmarked for ‘diversity,’ we are still not feeling the mainstream authen ticity of many of these initiatives.”

“FELOH addresses this by their in tentionality, not only in representa tion through content shown in our social community, but also our ef forts to showcase and uplift women of color owned beauty brands in the beauty marketplace,” she said.

FELOH is intentional with every post they make, brands with which they align, partnerships they take, and even investors from whom they accept funding. In a world that prais es quick gains, being authentic often requires a slower path to growth, but FELOH firmly believes the path they are taking will provide a foundation for sustainable growth and market acceptance.

“Entrepreneurship is tough,” said Genese. “All entrepreneurs make mistakes, lose money, and daily con template life-changing decisions. Add that to being at the intersection of being a woman of color, and you have a whole different set of obsta cles, valleys, and seemingly deadend paths along the journey.”

“As a Black woman in America,” she continued “you have to prove your self 12 times over to receive the same recognition and funding as white startup founders. I’ve been in accel erator programs and literally wit nessed numerous white men owned startups with little traction receive $100K+ in funding, while we’re con stantly told that we’re just too early to see if FELOH has true potential to make real money. It’s tough out here, but our knowingness of our capabilities keeps us grounded and

motivated despite these lows. On the surface, our journey may seem long and tough. We’ve faced issues with funding, tech development, and connecting with the right people to support us. But on the deeper level, our journey has made us resilient, re sourceful, and tenacious in the foun dation we’ve built for our startup,” she explains.

What is your superpower?

My superpower is my power of per spective. We live in multiple planes of existence-- physical world, mental world, spiritual world, etc. My su perpower is embracing our multi-di mensional reality and not ascrib ing my destiny to the confinements of what I see. I’ve learned that our physical reality is almost a mirage and all the blessings that are meant for us come through the realities that we cannot see. My understanding of this, and my surrendering to it, is my superpower.

What do you want aspiring business owners to know?

1) Take your big ideas seriously. Any idea you’ve been blessed to fathom has unbound potential to unfold in every way you can imagine. But the unfolding can only take place if you believe it can happen, and work to make it happen.

2) Align over force. Our society praises forcing our way into suc cess. But creation requires give and take, yin and yang, focusing and sur rendering. You must find the sweet spot between both forces. When you align with your heart and what is be ing presented to you, you’ll continue to ebb and flow your way to success! | 27

André T. Goosby

AGM Energy Services

said Goosby.

What is your superpower?

My superpower is surrounding my self with very talented people who take a special interest in being the best at what they do. I recognized a long time ago that I can’t be every thing to everyone, and you must be ok with that. Once I found what my specialty was, I worked very hard to refine and continually make im provements to stay at the top of my peak performance.

social impact initiatives.

AGM Energy Services is a leading independent energy consulting firm specializing in smart building tech nologies, commissioning services, and engineering services. AGM En ergy Services is headquartered in Twinsburg, Ohio with Northwest Ohio offices in Toledo, Ohio and Central Ohio offices in Columbus, Ohio.

There were several factors that gave Goosby the courage to embark on his entrepreneurial journey. He is fortunate to have supportive and committed partners that share the same visions and goals. He is also a man of faith, and is blessed to have a loving and supportive wife who stands by his desire to achieve the goals they set. His family and faith in God is his strength and light to make such impactful decisions.

“As a business owner, there are nu merous challenges that we face. One of the most significant challenges is the proper work life balance. Also, as the world continues to grow and evolve, a business has to do the same thing. You have to stay cutting edge, relevant, and have something to offer that distinguishes you from the next. If this is accomplished, it does not re move the challenges, rather it makes overcoming them more achievable,”

What do you want aspiring business owners to know?

My advice to aspiring business own ers is to look adversity in the eye, and go full steam ahead. Do not take no for an answer and stay the course. When others can’t see what you describe within your vision, keep pressing forward so that you will be able to provide a vivid image. Success is not defined by a financial metric, rather the impact that your work has on those that you serve. The financial piece will always follow.

Relevant Connections collaborates with leadership teams to identify performance gaps, devise organiza tional goals, and select appropriate learning solutions that are specific to agency needs and relevant to best empowering those we serve. We are highly regarded for our ability to gain rapport and provide innovative strat egies for cultural adaptations that support inclusivity for persons of color. Through a strategic approach, Relevant Connections supports ed ucators, nonprofits, and businesses in evaluating DEI practices, increas ing cultural competence, expanding partnerships, and enhancing com munity presence.

Hollins needed to see Black people win. As a social worker and grants manager for over 10 years, she saw the disproportionate allocation of funds provided to Black agencies to serve their own communities. She said, “the reason is multilayered and systemically oppressive at its core, however, I knew the most immediate way I could counter the barriers was to use my skills to support Black-led organizations and serving nonprofits craft their stories through data, pro gram development and metrics.”

Chardé Hollins



mental health, and diversity, equity and in clusion (DEI) training, along with

“Black organizations begin because we see a need and we commit to fixing it,” said Hollins. “Our minds do not think about collecting data, building partners, or developing log ic models. We just know what we do works, and we keep on doing it! Un fortunately to obtain funding these details are required and many of us don’t have what’s needed to compete or if we have it, we are unaware of the stakeholders guarding the funds or how to speak the language needed to secure the funds. I decided to be come that person.”

28 | FALL 2022 216.904.2855
Relevant Connections 216.307.7749 Social Media Handles @RelevantConnections; LinkedIn and FBK Relevant Connections Relevant Connections provides a
riety of services to support
tions through culture audits,

In just two years Relevant Connec tions secured over $1.2 million for their clients! One hundred percent are Black-led and serving, 100 per cent awarded funding higher than their investment, 92 percent first time grant recipients, and a 72 per cent grant writing success rate. Their model has since expanded to offer more services that promote equi ty building within DEI practices and mental health training to better equip educators and businesses with applicable tools for agency growth and daily decision making.

Finding her ideal client and learning how to brand and market specifi cally to them has been challenging. Every client isn’t a client meant for Relevant Connections. “All business owners should know this and make decisions on how to best engage with this in mind. Just because the client is not for you, doesn’t mean something is wrong with them or you. It’s just a reflection of the commitment you have to your business model. Stick to the plan, even when the coins seem good, peace of mind is always worth more,” Hollins shares.

What is your superpower?

At Relevant Connections we spe cialize in community-based work that moves organizations beyond responding to a “checklist,” into a deeper level of implementation for “Making Connections that Deliver Results.” We are great storytellers and incorporate this skill in every thing we do; grant writing, profes sional development, and community impact. We thrive in creating safe spaces for meaningful conversations, allowing participants to feel com fortable in acknowledging areas of growth and trusting our recommen dations for increasing equity prac tices, mental health, or civic engage ment. We consult with organizations

committed to increasing their cultur al awareness and access to behavioral health services by naturally integrat ing emotional wellness supports and inclusive policies into their agencies culture, services, and mission.

What do you want aspiring business owners to know?

The best advice I’ve learned on my own is to count coins, not clients. Of ten business owners want the world to know about their product, but lack the capacity to serve the world. This results in time, money, and re sources spent on marketing rather than branding (which are different, please learn this), so when the mass es do come, the quality and integrity of our work leaves with it.

Little do we know, when done cor rectly, more money can be made with fewer clients. When you focus on attracting your ideal client, the revenue they bring is equal to that of 10 others with half the headache. Stop killing yourself with trying to fill a room with hundreds of people, or scheduling useless consultations. Work to build revenue by exerting the least amount of energy, because we all started this business to do what we love, and I refuse to let that change.

UAVistas is a drone company and provides a variety of services, such as: Aerial videography and photog raphy, inspection services, mapping, Orthophoto generation, DEM gen eration, consulting, erosion tracking, restoration tracking, drone flying lessons, FAA certification training, drone-based STEM programming for children and adults, especially in underserved communities.

They provide services that generate valuable data for their customers, whether its 2D models that show several acres and can be used for pre-survey or 3D models that can be used to analyze forests and erosion. “Even something as simple as pic tures of buildings and views from a few hundred feet can be beneficial for planning,” said Johnson. “Our heart and soul lie in environmental conservation and sustainability. We are working on using drones more effectively for ecological causes like invasive species and pollution de tection, and area health assessments. However, UAVistas operates in sever al industries, including construction, real estate, and advertisement. UA Vistas also does work to teach kids about drones, potential career op tions using drones, and how drones fit into numerous areas of work and life,” said Johnson.

“Black and Brown kids, girls, and kids in otherwise underserved and less wealthy communities tend to get less science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) exposure overall,” she continued. “They also don’t see people who look like them in STEM fields as often. So, UAVistas does work that tries to reach and teach these youth about droning and other cool STEM themes to get them excit ed about these topics.” | 29
Johnson UAVistas LLC 216.903.7771 IG uavistas company/uavistas/

“Because drone piloting has a rela tively low barrier to entry but a sig nificant opportunity for growth and specialization, it is a great field to get teens and young adults into look ing to learn a profession and make extra money,” said Johnson. “While UAVistas provides drone and edu cation services, we are also working on building new technology and re purposing old tech in a few different research and development projects related to conservation and artificial intelligence.”

Johnson knew she wanted to work at the intersection of nature and tech nology in college, where she studied biology and computer science in ad dition to environmental science and sociology (and a host of other sub jects). After graduation she realized there were not many positions that would fulfill that desire.

Johnson was always open to doing

her own thing instead of taking a more traditional route. She started working in tech as a Supervisory In structor for the Tech Corps in a pro gram that taught kids about building websites. Then, she began working with the Cleveland Metroparks as a GIS Developer and Drone Pilot. Af ter learning a lot about drones and their uses (and getting her drone li cense), she realized she had a unique and potentially lucrative set of skills to leverage outside 9-to-5 responsi bilities.

UAVistas started as a side hustle for Johnson – flying drones to make more money to pay off her student loans faster. She was in enough debt with student loans, so she bought everything she needed to begin her business savings. Early on, she thought, “Why not make this into something bigger?” “I figured there was no better place to start than here and no better time than now to pur

sue some of the ideas rattling around in my brain since college,” she said.

Johnson started reviewing some of her notes from college and flesh ing them out. She decided what she wanted to pursue now, later, and someday. Then, she got to work fig uring out how to be an entrepreneur.

She listened to podcasts, read books, and asked questions. Eventually, Johnson found mentors and very helpful guides and programs. She had to figure out not only how to run a businesss, but also how to run a successful start-up. “I am still fig uring it out. I wanted to become an entrepreneur because I, ultimately, wanted the freedom to build and shape something and determine how I gave back to the world more direct ly. I also wanted to dictate my sched ule and choose what I did in my dayto-day life, and I think I am getting there. Slowly but surely,” she shares.


The African American Philanthropy Committee of the Cleveland Foundation formed in 1993 to promote awareness and education about the benefits of wealth and community preservation through philanthropy. Awareness led to stewardship in 2010, when the Committee established a fund to help support a variety of organizations within the African American community of Greater Cleveland.

Learn more and get involved via:

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“There have been many challenges over the years. I am dealing with a handful of challenges, and am sure there will be plenty more along the way. My current biggest challenges are successfully marketing my busi ness to ideal clients, finishing our first MVP, hiring contractors and employees, and generating more rev enue,” said Johnson

What is your superpower?

Well, I have several: flight, super strength, telekinesis, laser eyes, and the ability to work 24 hours straight. Honestly, I would be happy if I just had that last one.

If I had to pick a few, my superpow ers are resilience, perseverance, and the ability to synthesize ideas. I am also a pretty good public speaker and teacher, or so people have told me. The funny thing is that even those powers aren’t super in the comic book sense, things affect them like kryptonite, and a yellow sun does Superman. If I am not frequently reading and learning new things in new areas, my ability to synthesize information becomes weaker. I am an introvert, and if I over socialize, (if that’s a thing), I become worn out and less productive.

sugar coat it, it probably will be dif ficult, but if they would find it fulfill ing, it is worth pursuing.

Second, failure is a part of life and most definitely a part of the business. Whether it is a deal gone bad, get ting passed over for funding, an idea not working out, or a myriad of oth er things, there will be failures. But they are the best learning opportuni ty, and if you treat them as such, you are better off for it in the end.

Third, perseverance is vital. You must keep going on good days and bad. Those good days will start to push you through the bad ones.

Regarding specific things to do, I rec ommend aspiring business owners reach out to get help from available resources. Here in Northeast Ohio, we have the entrepreneurial network services provider program or ESP, which consists of a bunch of orga nizations such as the Urban League, Jumpstart, the Ohio Aerospace Insti tute, and many more.

ageable. I didn’t know about many of the resources available to me when I started, and getting help was rocky at first, but the experience tempered me and my business.

Build a network of mentors, advi sors, and friends and consider their advice and guidance. Most people with successful companies have had lots of help along the way.

Lastly, apply, apply, apply, and learn. Many people don’t apply for grants, aid, accelerators, government pro grams, or the like because they are sure they won’t win or be accepted.

But it is absolutely worth it. You miss all the shots you don’t take, and not being successful is a learning experi ence in and of itself. You will become a better writer, refine your ideas, make connections, strengthen your business, and learn a lot in both suc cess and failure.

What do you want aspiring business owners to know?

Giving advice is difficult because there are so many kinds of business es a person could build and so many different situations a person could build it. The best advice I can give is based on my experiences.

First, I will say, “Do it!” I talk to many people with great ideas and aspirations that never pursue them. This can be for various reasons, but mostly, it is because they are afraid of failure or of it being difficult. I won’t

These organizations can help aspir ing business owners get their paper work in order, analyze their finan cials, validate their ideas, and even get funding and build an MVP. There are similar collaboratives in eastern and southern Ohio, and I imagine other states have similar programs.

Resources directly from the state are also an option. Most states should have business development offices, and cities should as well, and they can be contacted for help getting started or growing. Universities are another option. They often have programs and funding available for alums, community members, and others. Finding and utilizing the re sources available is important and makes the journey much more man

House of B Jewels is a carefully curat ed collection of jewelry offering cus tom pieces, memorable jewelry and so much more.

The need for flexibility and to cre atively express herself prompted Brittany Matthews to start her busi ness. She also needed to provide af fordable luxury jewelry and educate her people on the ins and outs of jewelry. | 31
Brittany Leigh Matthews House of B Jewels 234.738.0075 @houseofbjewels

Every day is a challenge for an entre preneur. Learning to find a balance of new styles verses the classics, of a fashion brand can be difficult. An other challenge the shift of social media and keeping up with the new ways to advertise your business in this fast-paced climate.

What is your superpower?

Making all things beautiful is my superpower. Whether it is the sim ple stacking of rings or the layering of necklaces. Styling anything from jewelry to flowers is my passion, if the end result is beautiful.

What do you want aspiring business owners to know?

Don’t get stuck on perfect. One of my downfalls is trying to make ev erything perfect when perfect is a façade. In other words, unload them. Stop hoarding all those ideas and put them in action.

Its headquarters is based out of To ledo, Ohio with a total of 12 employ ees and contractors throughout the United States.

The pandemic lockdown prompted Prince to start his business, because everyone in the world was inside their homes. He wanted to establish something digital that didn’t involve face-to-face contact with customers.

Some of Prince’s biggest challenges have been trying to juggle school, work, and having a business. He is a full-time college student at Cleveland State University and is also an intern at GE Lighting. He’s been working at GE for a year and a half, starting as a marketing intern, rotating to HR, where he now works with many ex ecutives. Prince is also a musician playing the keyboard for The Cross Church in Toledo, Ohio where his father, Michael Prince, is the pastor.

What is your superpower?

My superpower is multi-tasking. My day-to-day duties show that every single day.

What do you want aspiring business owners to know?

Luxe Studio

Palmeros Luxe Studio has provided hair care services for over 20 years to women and young adults through out Northeastern Ohio and abroad. It helps to build the self-esteem of hundreds of women, one client at a time. Purnell offers a variety of dif ferent services and styles from short to long, haircuts, as well as weaving techniques and a plethora of other options. She loves seeing the smile that clients have when they leave the salon. Throughout her career, Pur nell has also been able to provide mentorship to other women entering the industry.

RealTalkTv is an entertainment ad vertising company that launched in 2020 during the pandemic lock down. It is a company that promotes and advertises music, services, and products through entertainment.

The company has a massive follow ing of over 143,000 subscribers with over 50 million total viewers across all social platforms. They are part nered with Google and Prodvigate.

I want them to know that you can do whatever you put your mind to. Don’t listen to people who say you can’t do something, because they are only putting their expectations and standards in their opinion towards you. If I can do it, so can you.

Support Black-Owned Businesses

Purnell followed in her father’s foot steps as he was a stylist and barber in the Cleveland community for decades. Also, her passion for the industry and enjoyment of making people look amazing also drives her.

Some challenges have been keeping up with inflation as in the beauty in dustry the pricing has only increased by a very low percentage in a few de cades. The ability to figure out how to wear multiple hats as a business owner has also been challenging. In cosmetology school, they didn’t learn about the business side of things: Keeping up with financials, market ing, human resources, and learning how to scale the business beyond the salon’s doors has also been challeng ing.

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Denzel Prince RealTalkTv 567.698.2410
Shaundapls@ 216.401.9324 IG @shaunda_pls LinkedIn RaShaunda Purnell

What is your superpower?

My ability to listen to others and pro vide insight and feedback to various areas of life. I don’t only help people to enhance their outer beauty, but their inner beauty as well.

What do you want aspiring business owners to know?

Know your numbers, build a good team, make sure that you are pas sionate about your purpose, find a mentor that is at the level you aspire to reach. Start out planning for the future and not wait until it comes.

When Thomas’ oldest son, Khalil was 13, he wanted to work but couldn’t get hired, so Thomas started the company with a 21-inch Grave ly push mower, push broom, and a rack.

Their biggest challenge has been not allowing some people to “confine my vision for my business to their lim ited thinking. This can be extremely frustrating but also physically de pleting,” offers Thomas. “My wife and daughter gave me a journal and on the outside it says, Once You Be come Fearless Life Becomes Limitless.”

What is your superpower?

My superpower is relying solely on my God, Jehovah! A portion of Isaiah 30:15 states, “Your strength will be in keeping calm and showing trust.” This can be challenging at times for a budding entrepreneur, but it is vital to not only my success but more im portantly my peace!

What do you want aspiring business owners to know?

plies and delivers aggregates, mulch, salt, and provides hourly trucking to haul excavated debris, and demol ished materials as well as spoils re moval and storage/return. They also have a Clean Fill Site to receive ma terials.

Rhoni Thompson is a second-gen eration business owner. She didn’t choose to start R.L. Cole, but decided to keep it going. She grew into loving what she does. “I am challenged ev ery day and that has been great for me. My initial ‘why’ was to take care of my daughter and be home when she got out of school,” she explains. “My ‘why’ later turned into the real ization that RLC has employees, and we are making a difference in a lot of lives – not to mention the young people in the community that see a Black female operating a trucking company. Additionally, my employ ees depend on RLC and in a sense, so does the community. As business owners we have a responsibility to let it be known, that it can be done!”

Back To Beautiful Landscaping is a locally owned company with over 20 years of experience. It began in 2012 as a small family-owned busi ness focused on bringing each prop erty’s landscaping “Back To Beau tiful.” They service residential and commercial properties in Northeast Ohio. Their mission is to make sure clients are completely satisfied with each and every experience they have. They provide lawn maintenance, landscaping additions and upgrades, aeration, over seeding, de-thatching, snow removal and more. Back To Beautiful Landscaping “Gives your lawn the love it deserves.”

One of my favorite quotes is, “We are what we repeatedly do.” Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. Con sistency is the fastest route to success. Become excellent at it and success is

Rhoni Thompson



Thompson says she is always being challenged. “I think if you aren’t challenged, you aren’t growing. RLC has seen its challenges in the past of obtaining equipment loans, lines of credit, being credit worthy with ven dors, securing cash flow to make a weekly payroll and paying brokers,” she adds. “All of those areas are need ed to grow, think creatively and com pete against like business and also be able to see areas of new business op portunities. Just as all employers, we are consistently struggling to obtain and retain appropriate staff so we can scale and increase revenue and prof it.”

Over the years she has struggled with the thought and act of networking and introducing herself and business | 33
Wallace L. Thomas Back To Beautiful Landscaping LLC 216.410.9990 back-to-beautiful-landscaping-llc. @back_to_beautiful_landscaping
Cole Enterprise, Inc. 216.316.0281 R.L. Cole Enterprise, Inc. (RLC) sup

in many spaces. Making the room aware of RLC was an uncomfortable necessity if her desire was to grow.

What is your superpower?

I would simply say I have a desire to understand, do better, and consis tently improve.

What do you want aspiring business owners to know?

Being a business owner is a 24-hour, 7 days per week job, project, and ac tion. It’s not a position that you make your own schedule. Your schedule is created by your customers, the product you offer and the intensity in your desire to grow and scale. Be come comfortable with learning and understand you do not have to know everything. Surround yourself with other business owners or likeminded people who encourage, motivate and hold you accountable.

I would lastly say to begin with the end in mind. Operate your business the same way a large corporation would; to the best of your ability - or should I say - make sure your ability begins to meet the best way to oper

loss and weight management goals. They have helped over 15,000 people lose over 200,000 pounds over the past 16 years. NuLife offers in-per son and virtual live classes.

Recently venturing into the vegan food market, they converted their smoothie bars into their plant-based food brand called “Juicy Vegan.”

Miesha Wilson started NuLife Fit ness Camp after gaining 70 pounds during pregnancy and having a hard time losing the weight. “I never ex pected my weight loss journey to propel me into helping others change their lives for the better,” she said. “I’ve now ventured into the vegan food industry since giving up meat five years ago in 2017. I became ill after eating chicken I purchased at a local grocery store and decided that would be my last time eating meat.”

Wilson would scour the city for vege tarian food and often come up short. She decided to create some flavorful plant-based alternatives that would remind people of the taste they once loved before giving up meat. Her smoothie bars were already licensed food operations that were stagnant so she turned that into an opportu nity to try something new.

also a challenge because it is so vital in staying relevant, especially in this new era of social media.”

What is your superpower?

My superpower is definitely tenacity. My spirit of “stick to it ness” is a force to be reckoned with. There have been so many times over the years that business was failing, and I’ve said to myself, “I have a master’s degree

I can just go back to the corporate world and let this business go.” Each time, my passion for helping people get healthy wouldn’t let me give up. Having a husband that makes me think I can conquer the world always helps a little bit too.

What do you want aspiring business owners to know?

Build up the business first before leaving your day job. The business should be able to sustain your living needs full time. Also, educate your self on where you lack knowledge, i.e., marketing, taxes, etc. There are so many free classes and resourc es throughout the city to help you navigate through business. Take ad vantage of them. The Small Business Development Center at the Urban League of Greater Cleveland helped me develop my business plan almost 20 years ago and I still use it as a working document.

NuLife Fitness Camps (NuLife) are group fitness facilities that offer en ergetic classes to assist with weight

Over the years, NuLife has experi enced many challenges. Wilson says that fitness can be a very seasonal business. “In the summer months people often limit their time in the gym and gravitate more towards outdoor activities so that is always a challenge to maintain enrollment during that time,” she shares. “This of course, impacts cash flow and forces you to use forecasting tools to help you stay afloat during difficult times. Maintaining creative marketing is

Montrie Rucker Adams, APR, DTM, MBA is the Editor of The Black Pro fessional magazine and Chief Visibil ity Officer at Visibility Marketing Inc.

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Miesha Wilson, MBA NuLife Fitness Camp/Juicy Vegan 216.287.5370 @nulifefitnesscamp @juicyvegann

It’s About Relationships

Are you in the relationship business?

As many entrepreneurs already know, building a viable business is about relationships. You need a network of people that you build meaningful connections with to help grow your company until it is sustainable, and well beyond.

The construction industry is no exception. Thirteen years ago, serial entrepreneur Ariane Kirkpatrick started The AKA Team, a commer cial construction company serving Greater Cleveland and beyond. After just a few years in business, The AKA Team met Whiting-Turn er during a mentor/protégé diversity program created by The Cleveland Clinic. The majority owned com panies were asked to partner with smaller ones to help build their capabilities. They put an entire program together with key perfor mance indicators (KPIs) and dif ferent project metrics. From there, The AKA Team and Whiting-Turner built a good relationship and now have a great partnership and are building all over Cleveland.

Like any relationship, you some times have to ask yourself: “Is this partnership a good match?”

Not all of them are. “Some people will just use you for a quota, not really utilizing your services,” says Kirkpatrick.

Kyle Jones, owner of KBJ Incorpo rated, agrees. “[Partnerships are] one step, but not the answer. Our

goal should be getting the jobs our selves,” he says. “They are good to an extent but shouldn’t be your bread and butter.”

As a project engineer, Aria Johnson of The AKA Team was excited to learn everyday. “Not all partner ships are genuine. Whiting-Turner is intentional, and that changes the experience. The program can be positive or negative depending upon the intention. Whiting-Turner was highly instrumental in getting AKA to where it is today,” says Johnson, who has been with the company for five years, and is now its Chief Diversity Officer.

Meltrice Sharp is publisher of The Black Professional magazine, manag ing partner at CLE Consulting Firm, and treasurer of NAMC Northern Ohio Chapter. “If each partner isn’t

living up to the partnership’s expec tations,” said Sharp, “that could po tentially be a problem. You need to use it to leverage your business and help you grow to the level where you eventually don’t need a partner.”

Having worked with dozens of cli ents, Sharp believes some relation ships should come right at the be ginning. “Out of the gate, everybody should start relationships with a banker, an accountant, an insurance broker, an investment advisor and an attorney. Some will say they can’t afford it, but you just have to find the right person/company. When I was just starting out, and hungry for work, I often bartered with other new entrepreneurs and it worked out well – they did what they were best at and I did the same for them. It was a great arrangement. We fail as entrepreneurs when we try to wear every hat,” she said.

For your business to be successful, it is important to become a mem ber of an organization such as the NAMC Northern Ohio Chapter. As Black entrepreneurs, we need to fuel that engine so that NAMC can do the work they need to do to change policy and make a bigger impact in a systematic way. Networking is an important piece to that puzzle. We have to constantly grow and im prove. Other organizations that can offer help include the Urban League of Greater Cleveland, ECDI, Jump Start and SBA.

Ariane Kirkpatrick (front, center) and two members of The AKA Team Darryl Edwards (left) Jonathan Os wick (right) along with Eric Campbell of Whiting-Turner circa 2013.

For more information about NAMC NOC, visit or contact Executive Director Lisa Bottoms at | 35


The Next Best Thing for Cleveland’s Tech Industry

The tech economy continues to flourish, bringing marked growth in job creation, revenue generation, tax revenues and more. However, racial and gender equity in the tech-led economy lags. Many leaders at all levels of community believe Cleve land should strengthen its technol ogy-based economic growth and ensure prosperity for all Greater Cleveland residents.

To do so requires local business, en trepreneurial, institutional, and non profit leaders to work intentionally and collectively to develop strategies and plans with the vision of Cleve land becoming a leading Midwest Region for technology-led growth and inclusion.

To reach this vision public, private, and philanthropic resources must align to support startup tech entre preneurs, existing small businesses, innovators, and creatives throughout Northeast Ohio.

FutureLAND was created to do just

that. Organized by a committee of local entrepreneurs, tech founders and innovators of color, and cham pioned and supported by Mayor Bibb and The City of Cleveland, JumpStart, and the United Black Fund, FutureLAND seeks to engage entrepreneurs with emphasis on Black, Latino/Hispanic and other diverse founders; representing Gen Z through Gen X entrepreneurs and creatives in Greater Cleveland inter ested in innovation.

FutureLAND will provide education and services to established and tech startups, creative entrepreneurs as well as small business owners, lever aging their collective experiences, knowledge, and connections. The long-term impact of FutureLAND is believed to be able to attract and provide essential capital, inclusive of grants, loans, investment capital, prizes, and awards, into businesses throughout greater Cleveland, while also attracting companies with high growth potential to plant roots here in the “LAND.”

FutureLAND is a multi-day largescale destination event that high lights entrepreneurship, innovation, celebrates art and culture, builds community within our ecosystem, and serves as a catalyst to rebrand Cleveland as a favorable place for di verse startups and small businesses to succeed.

Existing innovation events, forums, workshops, etc. taking place in the city around October will be aligned under “FutureLAND.” Signature ed ucation and entertainment experi ences along with a demonstration hall will be produced by Future LAND, as well. For more informa tion or to register, go to www.future

Charron Leeper is a freelance Wardrobe Stylist and fashion entrepreneur. Find her at www.freelyc. com and www.perfectpineapplewraps. com

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Jumping into Cleveland’s Tech Scene

I’ll admit it. There was a point in time when I could not fathom mov ing back to Cleveland. Many “boo merangs” like myself grew up in a version of Cleveland that lacked in spiration and community for inno vative minds, particularly minds of color. After graduating high school, I spent over a decade in vibrant cities that embraced diverse thought and provided opportunities for aspir ing entrepreneurs looking to pursue their dreams.

My decision to move back home was out of financial necessity rather than desire. After four years of integrat ing myself into Cleveland’s growing startup scene, this has proven to be one of the best decisions I could make as a founder and Clevelander. There’s a growing interest in build ing a more inclusive and diverse tech ecosystem, and many entrepreneurs, leaders, and organizations are jump ing in to make it happen. Whether you’re a lifelong Clevelander, a boo merang or a newcomer looking to plug into Cleveland’s tech scene, here are a few places to start.

Pitch Cypher

Pitch Cypher is a pitch competition born out of the need to celebrate diversity in Cleveland’s tech ecosys tem while fostering community for founders of color. These quarterly competitions highlight five up-andcoming BIPOC tech founders com peting for a $500 cash prize and a chance to participate as a finalist at the Pitch Cypher finale, pitching for a $25K grand prize in October. The winners from the first two competi tions were India Johnson of UAVis tas, a drone imaging company iden tifying invasive plant species, and Jizal Seikali of DenTemp, a dental staffing marketplace making it easi er for dental offices to find qualified professionals.

UARF I-Corps

If you’re an early-stage founder look ing to get your idea off the ground, the University of Akron’s I-Corps program may be an excellent place to start. This six-week program helps founders understand their market

and target demographic through an in-depth customer discovery course. You’ll learn to identify and engage potential customers to inform your product development and direction.

Tastemakers United

Tastemakers United is a new orga nization that builds community for Afro-American and BIPOC entre preneurs, innovators, and creatives by hosting quarterly mixers to spark networking and connectivity. These events feature complimentary bites, cocktails, and great music, but most importantly, movers and shakers you’ll need in your network. Learn more about upcoming events here:

Ignite with Light

Ignite with Light is a diverse network of entrepreneurs aiming to crossshare resources, promote collabora tion, and directly invest in each other to rise above systemic barriers. The collective hosts community-driven networking events such as Power Up,

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a series of fireside chats hosted by the organization’s founders, Alysha Ellis and Sir Evans. Learn more about up coming events and opportunities at


This October, organizers from across the city will host the first inaugural FutureLAND Innovation Home coming. This two-day event will fea ture insightful panels and fireside chats with tech industry leaders, workshops designed to help your business thrive in today’s economy, top-tier networking opportunities, and an immersive art show and homecoming concert. This event will take place on October 27th and 28th.

While Cleveland’s tech scene is still getting started, there is a feeling of inspiration in the air and opportu nity in the soil that can support big visions. The city is ours for the creat ing, and I’m looking forward to what we collectively co-create over the next decade. | 39
India Johnson of UA Vistas, $500 winner along with LaRese Purnell (CLE Consulting Firm), Felicia Townsend Ivey (Urban League) and Dana Allender (SUN). Jizal Seikali of DenTemp displays her $500 Pitch Cypher pitch competition prize.

Dear Entrepreneurs,

You are defying all the odds.

Many statistics within national pub lications have suggested that close to 40 percent of Black-owned busi nesses wouldn’t exist post-pandemic, but you all continue to be resilient, keep standing strong and striving for greatness. The quickest way to less ening the wealth gap in our commu nity is through entrepreneurship and homeownership! Just know that I am so Godly proud of you all!

Congratulations for taking the first step, by stepping out on faith to ex ecute on your dreams. Starting and building a successful enterprise re quires focus, real work, dedication, prayers and sacrifices – lots of it. There will be many long and lonely nights, and days where you will even question yourself, “Am I crazy?” or “Did I make the right decision?”

Over time you will even realize that you and your business will become synonymous with each other. You will get all the credit when things are good but receive all the criticism when things fall apart. Just keep in mind that failure is only when you stay down, so when times get tough get back up brush off your shoulders and keep grinding and striving to be great. We need you entrepreneur!

Most people will only dream about their vision but will never have the courage to execute on it. The saddest part is so many people exist that are pregnant with a vision and will even

tually leave this earth without giving birth. Imagine if great Black entre preneurs like Garrett Morgan never created the traffic light, think about how many lives have been saved be cause he gave birth to his vision. If Madam CJ Walker wouldn’t have created hair care products, now a multi-billion-dollar industry, if Phil ip Downing didn’t create the street mailbox, or if Joseph H. Smith didn’t create the sprinkler, and so on.

Thank you for not remaining in your comfort zone and for not sitting back watching the caravan of time and op portunities drive past you. The say ing goes, “Either you will execute on your own vision or someone else will pay you to execute on theirs.” You made the choice to bet on yourself and to dictate your future level of success. You are your only ceiling, and no box exists to the level of suc cess you can rise to. So, rise high!

Entrepreneurs, I promise you that your life will never be the same again. In the beginning your time will get more limited as you continue to grow and expand, and you will learn to do a lot with very limited resources. Just be patient, create relationships, listen more than you speak, expand your wings and eventually your team of mentors, volunteers, clients, resourc es, access, and exposure will continue to grow beyond your wildest dreams.

I am also here to motivate and en courage you that with hard work, dedication to success, proper guid

ance, education about your craft and the building of a strong product and team, you won’t experience certain obstacles forever. The most exciting part of this all is during this process you will be responsible for changing and creating your family’s legacy for generations. You are history in the making within your family and in some cases, even in your community. Now to all those reading this article that are not entrepreneurs. I want to ask you a quick question: Can you name 10 Black businesses that you have supported in the past 30-60 days? If not, let’s stand together and make a commitment to the following steps to ensure that we circulate our dollar within our community and as sist them with being more successful:

1. Intentionally seek out and sup port black-owned businesses on a regular basis.

2. Provide mentorship, resourc es and leadership development to help impact their businesses (In most cases they are 1st generation).

3. Help to spread the word, share their information on your social media platforms and with friends and family.

4. Provide feedback about your ex perience on Yelp, Google and other platforms.

5. Set a budget to support local and national black-owned businesses.

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Entrepreneurs, what’s most powerful about it all is that when it gets hard and challenging, think about:

The number of lives your business will transform. The capacity you will develop. The jobs you will create. The mouths your business will feed.

The wealth you will help others to create.

The innovations it will birth.

The culture it will influence. The neighborhoods you will impact.

The kids that will look up to you. The revenues it will generate. The entrepreneurs you will help to birth.

And the great contributions it will make to local, regional, and nation al and, yes, global development. Our city and communities can’t do it without you. Yes, it is bigger than you!

I wish you the best of luck and many blessings on your entrepreneurial journey.

All the best,

Founder and President

The Real Black Friday | 41
LaRese Purnell

Mixing Business and Philanthropy:

A Winning Strategy for Small Business Owners

by Terri Bradford Eason

It’s no secret that corporations ded icate significant resources to chari ty —to the tune of $20.77 billion in 20211 — but small business owners can also realize tremendous benefits by adopting a strategic approach to their philanthropic endeavors. With 75 percent of small business owners donating an average of 6 percent of their profits to charitable organiza tions annually, many are already giv ing back.2

There are many ways for businesses to give back – and many benefits.

Small-business philanthropy ben efits everyone involved – business owners, their employees and the community – and you don’t need millions of dollars in the bank to get started. There are many ways to give back through time, talent or treasure:

• Making monetary or in-kind dona tions or launching a charitable fund can have tax and brand benefits. Ac cording to, 85 percent of consumers have a more positive im age of a company that gives to charity and 90 percent of consumers want to know how companies are supporting charitable causes.3

• Employee volunteer and giving match programs can strengthen your organizational culture and employee engagement. Ninety-three percent of employees who volunteer are happy

with their employer, according to data from SCORE.org4

• Mentoring students or jobseekers can help individuals on their profes sional journeys while growing the local talent pool and workforce.

All of these activities can be per sonally fulfilling for small business owners while strengthening their re lationships and networks in the com munity.

• Planning today can pay off tomor row.

Many small business owners under stand the benefits of charitable giving but don’t have the time or resources to launch a new volunteer program or giving strategy. But just because you don’t have the time or resourc es to make philanthropy a priority today doesn’t mean you won’t in the future – and it helps to be prepared when that time comes. There are many scenarios in which small busi ness owners could face a charitable giving decision:

• Excess profit after a successful year

• A donation or sponsorship re quest from the community

• An experience that sparks your passion for a particular cause or organization

• A major liquidity event such as the sale of a company or asset

• Succession planning

Here’s how you can start. Taking steps to consider your philanthrop ic goals and strategy before a chari table giving opportunity arises will help you make the best decision for yourself and your business. Here are some tips to get started today:

• Define what moves you. I en courage people to start by pausing and reflecting on their personal mission. What causes are you pas sionate about? What social issues impact your business or the com munity in which you operate? If you can find common ground between your business objectives, skills and philanthropic values, you can max imize your impact. For example, a local consultant with finance and accounting knowledge might volun teer their time or resources to sup port Black-owned small businesses, many of which were disproportion ately impacted by the pandemic. Or, the owner of a local manufacturing company might support job and skills training programs for formerly incarcerated individuals, giving peo ple a second chance while helping to close the workforce skills gap.

• Be strategic. Just as you would plan

42 | FALL 2022

for your business, envision where you want your philanthropy to be in one year, five years, ten years or more. What resources or support do you need to get there? How can you align your charitable giving with your business cycle? When you think about philanthropy and business ho listically – and not as separate paths – you can seamlessly advance your charitable and business objectives in a mutually beneficial way.

• Lean on trusted partners. Start a conversation with your professional advisors – lawyers, accountants, fi nancial managers and others – and share your philanthropic goals. Or ganizations like the Cleveland Foun dation can also help business owners be strategic in their philanthropy, offering creative and tax-wise char itable solutions. Community foun dations are an ideal partner for small business owners who want to give back locally, impactfully and conve niently. You can learn more about the advantages of working with a community foundation here

There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to business and philanthropy, but when small busi ness owners align their business and philanthropic objectives, everyone wins.

Terri Bradford Eason is Senior Direc tor, Advancement Equity Initiatives, Cleveland Foundation

Teen Enterprise:

Preparing Black Youth for Entrepreneurship and Financial Success

During the 2008 “Great Depres sion,” Tory Coats was at a crossroads. His family business, Coats Family Bail Bond and Insurance Agency in Cleveland’s St. Clair-Superior com munity closed. Coats later filed for bankruptcy.

“This left me to do some soul search ing and to explore the things I am most passionate about. I thought of the engaging conversation with the youth on St. Clair Avenue. Couldn’t we generate optimism and hope for a brighter future if we were able to teach children to empower them selves by becoming entrepreneurs?” asked Coats in a 2018 Op-Ed. He knew that in identifying his passions, they were entrepre neurship and giving back to youth.

Coats began mentoring a few teens, then he partnered with the Boys & Girls Club and any other youth organizations that allowed him to speak to youth. It was when he won the 2018 Accelerate: Citizens Make Change Pitch Competition present ed by Citizens Bank and Cleveland Leadership Center that his idea grew wings.

In 2019, Teen Enterprise partnered with City of Cleveland’s Recreation Department’s Glenville Recreation Center. That partnership continued to grow to now include the Lonnie Burton, Stella Walsh, Woodland, and Zelma George centers.

The $5000 grand prize money helped fund the Dare 2 Believe Young Entre | 43
Tory Coats (center back) with Teen Enterprise participants.

preneur Marketplace pop-up shops, where teens could sell their products and passions. They are showcased in vacant store fronts and at neighbor hood events. “We try to do at least one a year,” said Coats.

Some of the products include lip gloss, waist beads and other jewel ry, Apple watch wrist bands, baked goods, and t-shirts. “The goal is to have the first entrepreneurial experi ence,” he said.

About Teen Enterprise

Teen Enterprise was created with the mission of empowering youth through providing experiential learning opportunities and resources for teens in the development of en trepreneurial skills. The purpose is to provide opportunities for students to learn business by doing business. They are committed to bringing aca demic and business communities to gether in teaching entrepreneurship with application through hands-on learning. Programming is designed to enhance teen empowerment, build resiliency, positive identity, and self-esteem as well as entrepreneurial life skills needed to compete in the global economy and create pathways to a brighter future.

After School Entrepreneurship Programs

Teen Enterprise facilitates Exploring Entrepreneurship Academy, a pro gram for high school students, ages 14 to 19, interested in learning how to start a business. From ideation to implementation, students are en gaged in the process of creating a product (prototype) and promoting their concept during Dare 2 Believe Young Entrepreneur Marketplace events. This “Project Based Learn

ing” program is designed to engage students by teaching business prob lem-solving and leadership skills through a “hands-on” entrepreneur ship experience.

From September to May, the stu dents meet in the recreation centers after school from 4 - 6 pm.

“Many of our teens who participate in the program stay with us,” Coats shares. “We have partnerships with the Young Entrepreneur Institute, participate in Market Days at the Van Aken District, Great Lakes Mall, Crocker Park, and Shaker Square. More recently we partnered with The Real Black Friday (TRBF). Our teen entrepreneurs participated in TRBF event during the 2022 NBA All-Star weekend.”

There are about 10 to 15 students per class. Many students are inter

ested and want to learn more. For those, “they will be connected with a business coach in the network,” said Coats. In addition to the coaches, Teen Enterprise works with Cleve land Municipal School District ed ucators who serve as the classroom facilitators and business coaches af ter school and part-time during the summer.

“It’s a great experience,” offers Coats. “When we think of extracurricular activities, we initially think about basketball and sports. There are oth er things that teens want to learn in the after-school space, not just sports. Since it’s not a school-based program, the students don’t have to be there, they want to be there. It’s an awesome experience.”

For more information about Teen Enterprise, visit or email

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Malia Harris of M Marie Visuals at one of Teen Enterprise’s Market Days

Welcome to Our New BPACF Scholars

Our scholars are one of the primary reasons the Black Professional Association Charitable Foundation (BPACF) exists. With the mission to create opportunities for African American professionals by providing scholarship, leadership and career development, each year we welcome our new, incoming scholars. Our vision is to be a catalyst that prepares and develops emerging professionals, celebrates distinguished leaders, and elevates our community. There is no better way to accomplish this vision than with our young scholars.


Nathanael Ahiagbedey

Computer Science/Engineering

Cleveland State University

Kennedy Ashford Cyber Security/Criminal Justice Hampton University

Da’Veona Blair

Respiratory Care Youngstown State University

Adrian Bolling

Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement Notre Dame College

Victor Boyd Computer Science Case Western Reserve University

Benjamin Brooks Political Science

The Ohio State University

Douglas Burnett, III Political Science Morehouse College

Chayna Byrd-Simpson Human Resource Management Kent State University

James Carter

Political Science & Africana Studies

The College of Wooster

Zaccheus Gaines

Marketing Cleveland State University

Mikayla Gary Creative Business Leadership Savannah College of Art & Design

Keandre Graves Intervention Specialist Education Capital University

Allon Hardin

Analytics & Marketing

The Ohio University

Kye Harrell Journalism Hampton University

Jon Henderson, II Biology, Pre-Medicine Valparaiso University

Imari Hill Music Technology Kent State University

Justin Hollis

Exercise Sci., Pre-Physical Therapy Bowling Green State University

Reina Houston Nursing Chamberlain University

Torah Hudson History of Art

The Ohio State University

Gary Jones, III Jazz Composition

The New School, College of Perform ing Arts & Contemporary Music

Jada Keyes

Communications & Psychology Notre Dame College

Josiah Knight Business & Economics University of Rochester

Tana Ziona Lucious Pre-Physical Therapy Cleveland State University

Emmanuel Malone, IV Information Technology

Kent State Universty

Ayeisha McCoy

Management Information Systems

The Ohio State University

Nevaeh Miller

Community Leadership

The Ohio State University

Amarionna Pruitt Howard University

Joelle Robinson International Studies

Case Western Reserve University

Autumn Sawyer Chemical Engineering University of Akron

Zaynab Bint Shaheed

Nutritional Biochem. & Metabolism

Case Western Reserve University

Ty’Shawn Simon

Mechanical Engineering

Cleveland State University

Morgan Sims

Inclusive Early Childhood Education

Bowling Green State University

Kynnedy Smith

Computer Sci. & Cognitive Science Columbia University

Taylor Smith Health Sciences/ Pre-Medicine

The Ohio State University

Maya Stewart Bioengineering North Carolina A&T State University | 45
Year 2022/23

BPACF Scholars Summer Night Out and Send Off

On August 1st, BPACF kicked off the backto-college season with the 2022 Scholars Summer Night Out and Send-Off and a Cleveland Guardians’ game. The event took place at Saint Maron Church. After every one signed-in, got their meals, and settled in, we started off with opening remarks by Board President, Meltrice Sharp and Exec utive Director Laurie Murphy.

Next, we had a Scholars panel to discuss the topic, “What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew When You Started College.” The three BPACF Scholars were Chayna Byrd Simpson (Kent State Univer sity), Keandre Graves (Capital University), and Kye Harrell (Hampton University). They shared personal insights and experi ence focused on the importance of having a strong academic and social network.

Having a good support network of people was what got all the panelists through their first three years of college. Making close connections in your classes and in clubs is crucial as those are the people that can sup

Developing relationships with pro fessors and the Student Success Of ficer, Ms. Charlene Jones, will make it easier to get help, pass your classes, complete mock interviews, and find internships and other opportunities. Internships within your career field are the key stepping stones to obtain ing employment upon graduation. It is important to use all the resources and connections available to success fully graduate and enter a career.

After the student panel, Dr. Natalie Whitlow gave an engaging and in teractive talk about mental health. Many people understand that they need to do things to stay physical ly healthy but fail to remember to take care of their mental health. Dr. Whitlow explains the importance of mental health and ways to take care of it. To view the information dis cussed and provided by Dr. Whitlow, click here

to watch the Send Off Slideshow on YouTube:

The main takeaway for everyone is to never neglect yourself and con tinue practicing self-care. Self-care does not always look like expensive spa days or treats. Self-care is getting enough sleep, taking care of your ap pearance and hygiene, keeping up with friends, and staying on top of your responsibilities. While that will not fix everything, it will keep you in the best shape to deal with what life throws at you.

The event wrapped up with scholars taking pictures as they received their scholarships. After all the pictures, the group headed off to the Guard ians’ Game where Cleveland won against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

46 | FALL 2022
FRONT ROW (Left to right): Zaccheus Gaines, Victor Boyd, Morgan Sims, Torah Hudson, Kye Harrell, Jada Keyes, Chayna Byrd Simpson. MIDDLE ROW: Imari Hill, Ayeisha McCoy, Zaynab Shaheed, Reina Houston. BACK ROW: Allon Harding, Emmanuel Malone, James Carter, Keandre Graves, Taylor Smith, Maya Stewart, Ty’Shawn Simon, Tana Ziona Lucious.
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