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What are the biggest challenges that you face in achieving your personal and organizational mission, and how are you working to overcome them?

For Women of Color Network, the funding streams that we have often have limitations that don't allow us to do the full breadth of the work, in the way that we would like. So we try to have a diversified base of funds that allows us to work within very specific spaces, but then also allows us to have a more broad and global context. We continue to try to be more strategic in thinking about how we can broaden our message, our reach, and our impact. What I would say to young ladies is no matter what type of job you have or work you do, don't put 100% of your work in that basket. Always be thinking about and looking at what are things you can do for your own fulfillment and your own path. One thing I would have done differently is really taking the time to carve out time for me. I think I spent a lot of my time pouring myself into this organization. Having a personal mission is something that just started in the past year for me, after I allowed myself to participate in other activities and get involved in a leadership group. So what I would say to young women is always have a personal mission, no matter where you are—always feed into that personal mission. Make sure the work you're doing passes that personal mission. Make sure that you are not comprising your personal mission and that you always have some kind of work or recreational activities that are ongoing and that support that personal mission.

Advice for teen girls who are struggling with violence or abuse?

It's not your fault that this is happening. You don't deserve it. Nobody has a right to put their hands on you, no matter what they say. You can't make someone put their hands on you, no matter what they say. And you are not alone. I know sometimes it may feel like there's nobody, but there is someone who can help. It may be that one friend who you feel comfortable with; it could be that one teacher or administrator; it could be someone in your faith space; it could be your doctor; it could be anybody. There is somebody you can trust with this who can help you. Finally, I would say that it is wrong. Believe in yourself and know that it is wrong for anyone to make you feel any less than you are. Whatever the situation is, you have a right to be safe.

Who's your "Shero"? My mama and my daughter.

Learn more about Tonya and her work by visiting www.wocninc.org 161

Profile for Butterfly Dreamz

2020 Leadership Journal E-book  

A leadership journal written by girls from Newark, NJ to cultivate courageous conversations and action. Purchase your copy at theleadershipj...

2020 Leadership Journal E-book  

A leadership journal written by girls from Newark, NJ to cultivate courageous conversations and action. Purchase your copy at theleadershipj...