Page 1

Volume 2 Issue 1

Winter/Spring 2016

PowHERful™ Summit



Helping young women of all colors reach their dreams of


COLLEGE Inside this Issue:

BFFs How many of us really have one?

Emerging Women

Leaders: Deck!

Standing on

Soledad O’Brien Starfish Foundation

Alexandria Johnson Boone Women of Color Foundation

GROWING STRONGER COMMUNITIES. We’re putting down deep roots and giving back to the communities we serve.

We think it’s only natural to cultivate meaningful relationships

volunteering over 100,000 hours of their time. From refurbishing

in the communities where we live and work. And at Dominion,

homeless shelters to replenishing local food banks to cleaning

that means we do more than write checks. So while we’re

up parks to helping soldiers and their families, we’re donating

very proud to invest more than $19 million in our communities

the most precious resource of all: our energy. Learn more by

annually, we’re even prouder of Dominion’s employees for


Contents 6 “A Best Friends Forever: How Many of us Really Have One?” by Kristina Austin Are you your sister’s keeper?

10 “Bad Things Happen to Good People: Choosing the Exodus Transitional Community Saved my Life” by Diana Ortiz How one woman went from serving a life sentence to serving her community



“Deskercise: The Art of Exercising at Your Desk!” by Laura Cowan

Emerging Women Leaders: Standing On Deck! by Jazmin Long



Planning to Pursue a Graduate Degree? by Shaquira Johnson

Planning a Vacation on a Budget 101: Know, Before You Go! by Rosalyn Cooper

Just Jump! Why you should consider an advance degree to re-energize your career!

How to plan BIG vacations with a SMALL budget

26 What’s Your Kidney Score? by Monica Starks

28 A “Back In the Day” Photo Collage: Do You Remember When? by Simone Swanson Afros, hot pants, blue eyeshadow and more!

34 Alysse Dalessandro: Fashion and Jewlery Designer Spotlight! I may be a full-sized woman, but you can’t stop staring at the fashion!


Starfish Foundation Meets Women of Color Foundation: A PowHERful Collaboration by Simone Swanson Soledad O’Brien’s National PowHERful Summit makes a stop in Cleveland!

24 27 Tips for Staying Healthy by DeLores Pressley Take the Test!


Enduring Tough Times……by Tanya James 4 Points of Inspiration to help you make it safely to the Other Side!

CL Magazine Team

A Letter from the Publisher

Publisher & Chief Editorial Officer

Alexandria Johnson Boone Editor & Chief Researcher

Simone Swanson Director, Production & Distribution

Alexandria Johnson Boone Publisher and Chief Editorial Officer

Michelle E. Urquhart Creative Director

We Reached a Major Milestone in 2015!

Wayne H. Dailey Dear Readers and Friends, Business Manager

Paula T. Newman Assistant to the Publisher

Bernadette K. Mayfield

Thanks to you, C L Magazine has embarked upon its second year of publication! Our first year was filled with excitement, challenges, triumphs and accolades. Taking on a project of this nature was no easy task. But our staff, contributing writers and advertisers have been amazing.

Photographer & Photography Editor

Rodney L. Brown Database and Information Coordinator

Cheretta Moore For advertising information please contact us at: Subscribe on-line at:

In this issue, we have focused on the importance of education and surviving life’s many personal and professional setbacks. We have also offered you some concrete strategies and tips for making it through the fire. On a personal note, 2016 has already been like a rollercoaster. My dad, Alex B. Johnson, age 96, passed away. I made a historic trip to Cuba, one of the most beautiful and cultural countries on the planet! I received two major awards. What’s next in my life? Who knows, but I am ready. Hoping to employ some of the coping strategies outlined in this issue! Please feel free to share this issue with family, friends and colleagues. It could change their lives. Also encourage them to visit our newly-designed website, and to like us on Facebook. They will thank you for doing so! In the spirit of the greatness in us all,

Alexandria Johnson Boone Publisher and Chief Editorial Officer

Editor’s LETTER O’Brien. For those of you living under a rock, Soledad is a former CNN news anchor known for her documentary series “Black In America” and “Latino In America.” Most recently Soledad and her husband, Brad Raymond founded their very own foundation, the Starfish Foundation. In my interview with Soledad, she speaks about her foundation Simone Swanson Editor, CL Magazine

and its goal to provide resources, mentorship and funding to young women in the inner city. We also discussed a new and exciting collaboration with her

Dear C L Magazine Readers,

and the Women of Color Foundation. I was a bit nervous prior to our interview, but she immediately

I am SO excited to introduce myself as your new

put me at ease two minutes into the interview.

Editor for C L Magazine!

I also interviewed Alexandria Johnson Boone, Chairwoman and Founder of the Women of Color

I have been a part of the publication since its start

Foundation to get some details on her perspective

in 2015. I cannot tell you how great it feels to see

of the new collaboration with Soledad O’Brien.

the magazine being so well received by such a

Trust me, you are going to love what these two

diverse group of readers. When we started the

amazing and committed women are doing for

magazine we wanted to make sure we brought

young women across the country and in their local

in contributors who were at various levels in their

communities. Grab a cup of coffee, sit back and

career so that we could appeal to young girls in

explore this issue as our contributors weigh-in on

high school all the way through women transitioning

topics such as career development, spiritual guid-

from the career world into retirement. We had a

ance, traveling on a budget, fashion as it relates to

very successful first year and are confident that

self-confidence and much, much more!

our readers will be even more thrilled with the new direction we are taking this year.

As always please continue to support our efforts by subscribing online and sharing your love for

What’s new? Well, as I mentioned I’ve been

this publication with family and friends. Please let

promoted to Editor, we have a new Creative

us know what you think of this issue and be sure

Director, Wayne Dailey, and a fresh list of contrib-

to keep sending in your ideas for articles. You can

uting writers ranging in age from 18-70.

email me at

In this issue, I had an opportunity to interview re-


spected journalist and philanthropist Soledad

This article came about because of a recent conversation I was having with a lunch companion about my best friend Vanessa. We call each other Best Friends Forever (BFF) and have known each other for over 30 years. My lunch companion also has a BFF that she has known for many years. We were sharing how our friends had shown up for us without being asked. My lunch companions friend hopped on a plane after hearing how sick she was and came to sit by her side, even who finishes my sentences and takes my call day and though she could only stay overnight. My BFF night; someone with whom I can be 100% myself and surprised me by flying across country to celebrate not have to worry about a thing someone who loves me receiving an award. We didn’t have to ask. They unconditionally, with honesty and accountability. just showed up. For many of us, friendships have One responder, Kee Pitts-Bullard, noted that she has been an important part of our lives in one way or 3 friends who each serve a very distinct purpose in another since we were children. Some people I her life. These 3 friends have become friends with know are still friends with people from their childeach other because of their friendship with Kee. hood. When I was growing up, my mother taught me Research studies on friendship indicate that there that everyone that I hung out with wasn’t necessarily are many benefits to our mental and physical health my friend. I learned not to use the term lightly and I such as “Increase your sense of belonging and passed that philosophy on to my two daughters. I also purpose boost your happiness and reduce your learned to have a friend you need to know how to be stress “Improve your self-confidence and self-worth a friend. If you look in the Merriam Webster dictionary help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious friend is defined as a person who you like and enjoy illness, job loss or the death of a loved one being with; a person who helps or supports someone “Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy or something (such as a cause or a charity). The Sunlifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack day that I started working on this article, my pastor of exercise friends have special places in our lives. preached about love and friendship. He noted, “the When we are children and go off to school, Friends person who has one friend is truly rich.” When I think help us to feel connected and share in our similar about my friendships I agree with Reverend Thomasǯ interests. As we become older, friends become our statement and feel that the dictionary’s definition support system. When I moved to Cleveland, Ohio in didn't do justice to what a friend really is. I decided to 1993, with my husband and daughter I knew no other reach out to my connections on Facebook for their people. The friends that I made became my extenddefinitions of a friend. Some of the responses that I ed family and our children became friends. It has received included: A safe space someone who knows been over 20 years and our friendships have only me and loves me anyway; A true friend is someone grown stronger. you can both laugh and cry with someone

Kristina Austin - Chief Marketing Officer, The Gathering Place



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Bad Things Happen to Good People:

Choosing the Exodus


I am an Executive at Exodus Transitional Community, a non-profit, faith-based reentry organization, based in East Harlem with offices in Poughkeepsie and Newburgh, New York.


s the Associate Director, I have many responsibilities and I am often challenged to spearhead our new initiatives, which keeps me excited and engaged, and exemplifies the trust the organization has in my ability to lead. Four years ago, I was sent to an empty building about 100 miles away from my home, with the task of creating a satellite office in Poughkeepsie, NY. The site was both underfunded and understaffed. I commuted daily for about a year and a half. Our Poughkeepsie branch is now in its fourth year, has four professional staff members and has served over 600 people since opening it doors. I also oversee all Exodus contractual obligations, which consists of budgeting, tracking outcomes and reporting. Finally, and certainly one of the biggest initiatives is our new Wellness Center, which is a state licensed substance abuse program. The application process took nearly three years from start to finish, but it allows us to serve those with substance abuse disorders, who are on parole and/or probation. None of this is accomplished without our great support team. I’m fortunate to work with a dynamic team of twenty-eight people who are passionate and smart, and are credible messengers and supportive role models to those we serve. My work and my own journey started after my release from prison 10 years ago. I served 22 years of a 17 years to life sentence. I was arrested at the age of 18 and later convicted of felony murder. I was involved in a robbery that resulted in the death of the victim. I did not shoot anyone nor was I even present when it happened. I knew someone was armed but, I never imagined someone would get hurt, and later die. I was in a relationship with a 37-year old man, dropped out of school in the 11th grade, and started using drugs. I entered the correctional system a young girl and returned a 41-year old woman. The initial overwhelming feeling of joy from making parole was surreal; the feeling of fear set in, and became shockingly real. I was going home! I spent many tough years, good years with a lot of women who became my friends, teachers, coaches, sisters, mothers, and daughters; sharing laughter, tears and dreams. Now what?!


Transitional Community

my Life!

I sigh, what do you do with all of these emotions and experiences, when you return to a world that is semi-forgiving and yet, barely forgetting. You look for Exodus or places like ours who will welcome you and let you know that you can start over. Of course this may be a very difficult process. But starting the new, next chapter in your life, is definitely worth it. It’s never far from my next thought that someone lost their life and many lives are affected in the commission of a crime. But today I awake with a sense of purpose, joy and I ask God daily, to help me make a positive difference in someone’s life so that some other naïve 18-year old does not make the same mistake I did. I am working with women and men like me – guiding, coaching, managing and helping them grow. Exodus has a pivotal role in our communities, providing a place where people get help with employment search, education, support with family and clothing for an interview. This all starts with our two-week Wilderness Program, where we address cognitive behavior and employment barriers.

Exodus serves



people a year.

Each year.


people are released from New York State prisons per year.


On average, about


works to eliminate the underlying systemic and life stresses and events, that lead to re-incarceration.

of those released, return to prison within the first three years.

We are now celebrating our 17th year of providing these reentry services and transitional support. What started as a volunteer organization, is now an established non-profit organization. At Exodus Transitional Community, we believe everyone deserves a second chance; that their worst moments should not be their defining moments. We also believe that those who have made the journey must lead the way for others. Our commitment to these beliefs is demonstrated through the work we do.

That’s why Exodus may be the only way out for you, or someone you know.

Diana Ortiz - Associate Director, Exodus Transitional Community, Inc.


Emerging Women Leaders: Standing

OnTDeck! “The Cleveland Young Professional Minority Women’s Group (CYPMWG) is the brainchild of myself and Lauren R. Welch. While working to accelerate our own careers, we saw an unmet need in the Cleveland networking community and, the rest is history.”

Lauren R. Welch Co-Founder

he Cleveland Young Professional Minority Women’s Group (CYPMWG) is the brainchild of myself and Lauren R. Welch. While working to accelerate our own careers, we saw an unmet need in the Cleveland networking community and, the rest is history. The non-profit’s mission is to position young professional women of color as assets in their community. Since it’s founding two years ago, the oganization has hosted events that have convened over 300 women and engaged more than 10,000 through social media. So often women of color find themselves in places of employment where they are the only, or one of a few, minority women in their workplace and CYPMWG is an outlet to help combat the challenges that come along with being in that kind of situation. Women of color often experience things that other women do not experience in the workplace; (from stereotyping to questioning of one’s credibility), they do not always have mentors within their companies that can lead and guide them, as a woman of color, so the core of CYPMWG’s work is to connect those women.

Women in the CYPMWG network

work in all industries, from law to the non-profit sector, to healthcare and real estate. New members are recruited via our website, through

social media marketing and through good old-fashioned networking. In addition to addressing special circumstances minority women may encounter as working professionals, the group focuses on providing information on networking, mentorship, and making lasting connections with other women. DzWomen of Excellencedz is our signature professional development event and provides an opportunity for mid-level professionals to connect with a younger demographic, and potentially help form those relationships. Another popular event is our DzLadies Love Brunch,dz an event where women are encouraged to talk about personal and workplace challenges they have encountered and how they have overcome them. General body meetings offer a similar level of connection. Past topics have included financial wellness, physical fitness, yoga and meditation, sexual wellness and vision planning.

Jazmin Long, Co-Founder, The Cleveland Young Professional Minority Women’s Group (CYPMWG)


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Deskercise? What is deskercise? “Deskercise” (desk exercises), are for the cubicle-bound, like me. I’ve noticed that over the years the American workweek has gotten longer and longer.


week that is between 32 and 40 hours is generally accepted as full time, but more and more often, people are putting in somewhere between 45 and 55 hours of work; maybe even more. We are made to move, not sit at a desk 12 hours a day. As ergonomic as your desk or chair may be, sitting produces back pains, headaches, and listlessness. You become less productive. Heaven forbid if it rains, my knees ache all day long. You know who you are: You are the woman who’s so stiff when she gets up from her desk that she walks like a robot for the first few steps. So what’s a worker chained to his or her desk to do? Luckily short bouts of aerobics, strength exercises, and stretching in between conference calls can help improve fitness levels and heart health. While these deskercises, or desk exercises for the cubicle-bound,

won’t promise Olympic mile times or six-pack abs, they might just improve strength and burn a few extra calories to boot. So whether it’s PowerPoint, Photoshop, or emails on that to-do list, I have some exercises for a healthier (and happier!) workday. If you’re a beginner, try the low-impact version, but at least try. Here we go: Do 15 glute squeezes – Sitting straight in your chair with your feet flat on the floor, contract your glutes and hold for 2-3 seconds so that you rise up a bit in your chair before relaxing muscles. Ahhh, didn’t that feel good? Do 15arm circles in each direction – Extend arms and make small clockwise circles with your fingertips. Switch directions to repeat circles counterclockwise. If you here a cracking noise, it’s just your body waking up. Do 15 abdominal contractions – Sit in your chair with a straight back and pull your belly button in towards your spine. Hold for 5 seconds for each

repetition. Do 15 Squats – This is an easy way to bump up your calorie burn and tone glutes and thighs in an office workout when you are limited on space. So don’t go and buy that but lifter thing. ǯǯDo 15 wall push ups – To tone your chest with an office exercise routine, do pushups against the wall (you can do regular pushups if you’re not in a dress and/or have enough space). While doing this, think of a happy place, like happy hour. Do 15 toe raises – A great move for cubicle routines, these allow you to tone the calves without breaking a sweat and with minimal room. So how was that for a start? Fit movement into your day whenever you can. Here’s another tip for getting in exercise on the job; you are legally supposed to have a number of 15 minute breaks per day (the number depends on how long your working day is). Take those 15-minute breaks and walk around the block or building.

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Planning to Pursue a Graduate Degree?

Then You Will Definitely Need a Plan!


es, you did it! The sound of your name being called was music to your ears. You successfully finished a major educational journey and have obtained your undergraduate college degree. The diploma was framed and placed on the mantel. You take a step back with a sigh of relief. But wait. Is this it? Are you really done? Are you ready for the real world, with the real job, making the big money? Is the journey really over, or has it just begun?

For many African-Americans graduating from high school, let alone college with a Bachelor’s degree, is a significant accomplishment. When contemplating whether to pursue an MBA or another graduate degree some thoughts of uncertainty may arise. How am I going to pay for it? Is it worth another investment? What’s the payback? Statistics show that between fall 1990-2013, AfricanAmerican enrollment in post baccalaureate degree programs increased. According to the National Center for Education Statistics - Condition of Education 2015, “…both Black and Hispanic enrollments nearly quadrupled, with Black enrollment increasing from 100,000 to 367,000 students and Hispanic enrollment increasing from 58,000 to 221,000 students. American Indian/ Alaska Native enrollment more than doubled over this period from 7,000 to 15,000 students, while White enrollment increased by 17 percent, from 1.4 million to 1.7 million students”. ( pubs2015/2015144.pdf page 99). Although-African American enrollment numbers have increased, there still is a noticeable discrepancy in the numbers across race and ethnicity. Let’s face it. A college degree costs money. Unless you are blessed with a full scholarship, most of us had to come out-of- pocket or obtain loans to cover the tuition and/or room and board expenses. When considering going back to school for a graduate degree, loans on top of loans don’t add up to be a pretty picture and you want a return on your investment.

Consider the following as you think about taking the jump: Think Smart – Apply for scholarships, fellowships or grants. In today’s environment internet search engines and some apps can be your best friend. Begin your search now and also inquire within organizations, internal school departments, etc. to see what opportunities are available to help eliminate taking on extra debt. Plan Ahead – If you know where you want to go long-term, consider schools that allow you to complete an undergraduate degree and a Master’s degree simultaneously. These programs can be competitive but it could possibly save you money. Be Strategic – For some, it might be beneficial to get the job first, as opposed to going directly to pursing the next degree. This can be advantageous in more ways than one. Pursuing a master’s degree after gaining some work experience can allow you to apply real work experience to your in-class experience. The tuition reimbursement from your company can also help subsidize the overall cost of tuition. Be sure to understand the total benefit package and decide if tuition reimbursement is a critical item on your checklist while you are considering potential job offers. Do your research! Make Your Graduate Degree Worth It - An MBA or other graduate degree, looks good on a resume, but coupled with building a reciprocal network, having trusted mentors and advocates who can speak to your work ethic, and the ability to get the job done can be beneficial, and a door opener. Always look to expand yourself outside the classroom. Get involved and strategically take advantage of professional development opportunities. Gaining insight on the importance of branding yourself and how others have journeyed through their own careers can help you navigate through your own. Don’t wait ten years to figure this out. Volunteer to take on leadership roles in and outside the job. Stepping into these positions can help build and develop your individual skill sets and position you for success in the future. Organizations like the National Black MBA Association can be beneficial to your journey if you take time to truly engage and step up to the plate. Whether you decide to immediately move forward or pause for a moment before pursuing your MBA or any post baccalaureate degree, you can still take action now. Grab a pen and paper and begin to map out your ultimate plan and don’t be afraid to tweak or modify it, along the way.

Shaquira Johnson, MBA - President, National Black MBA Association - Cleveland Chapter


Planning a Vacation on a Budget 101

Know, Before You Go Planning a vacation can be very stressful at times, especially when you are dealing with multiple people that may be going on the trip with you. Whether its a family, couple, ladies, or just a “me time” trip, vacations can also be very therapeutic. Over the years, I have planned trips using travel agencies, Groupon and Living Social. Deciding how to plan your trip will depend on the type of trip you are taking. The advantages of using a travel agent are that they can do all the work for you, especially if you have multiple people joining you. They also offer payment plans and can recommend a wide variety of places to stay within your budget. Groupon and Living Social always have travel specials, but you must beware when booking because your dates can’t be changed once you book with them and, unfortunately most of their trips don’t offer or include airfare.


y first trip was a weekend trip to Florida in May. I called it my “me time” trip because I didn’t invite anyone to go with me and I just wanted to relax and enjoy being by myself. This trip was planned last minute, but I was still able to take advantage of some great deals on airfare and hotel. Southwest Airlines always has special offers on one-way flights, so I took full advantage of it around that time. I only paid $230 roundtrip for my flight into Ft. Lauderdale. I decided not to stay on South Beach but found a great deal at the Marriott Miami Biscayne Bay for $250+tax total stay (Thursday-Sunday) which offered a great view of the Port of Miami and offered a shuttle with a map, for $10 that had several different pick up and drop points, from Lincoln Road Mall, to the Arts District, to South Beach and many other tourist areas. The hotel had a shopping center connected with lots of restaurants to select from and a full service spa. I found a Groupon deal for the Spa to get an Aromatherapy Massage (reg. price $200, Groupon deal was $100) for 60 mins. My budget for food was about $150 for the whole weekend, shopping was $200.

Since we had a large group, we picked from three different excursions ($30 per person) and the one with the most votes won. Bookit also allowed us to break up our payments from MarchJune with a $300 deposit to hold the airfare. Additionally, when you’re planning to travel out of the country, always purchase travel insurance because you never know what may happen between the time you book the trip, and right up to the time you leave. Since it was one of the ladies’ birthday, we budgeted to eat off site at Ruth Chris Steakhouse which was about $80 per person. My last vacation for 2015 was to Las Vegas in October with four of the same ladies I travelled to Cabo with. We decided to rent a small condo for $300 per person. Once again, I took advantage of the different airline promotions and decided to fly Frontier ($109 round trip). A major benefit of staying in a condo, was that our food budget was significantly reduced because we were able to buy and cook our own food. Again, we found deals on Groupon for shows in Vegas that were $40 per person compared to $70 per person.

My favorite sites for planning:;; Southwest Airlines and Kayak.

Rosalyn Cooper, MBA l @sunshine_mz (twitter)


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Starfish Foundation Meets Women of Color Foundation



Collaboration! For some, going to college is simple: your parents raise you in a middle to upper class neighborhood, send you to schools that hire the most qualified teachers, infuse the latest technology, and teach from updated textbooks, all in an effort to prepare you for college.


or others, a college education is a lofty dream usually shattered by the devastating reality of poverty passed on from one generation to the next. According to America’s Promise. org, “low income students are graduating at a rate that’s 14.4 percent points below the rate for their non-low income peers (89 percent).” I recently had the opportunity to speak with two incredible women, who have dedicated their lives to addressing education disparities and leadership development opportunities amongst women of color. Soledad O’Brien, widely respected journalist, executive producer and co-founder, (along with her husband Brad Raymond), started the Starfish Foundation in 2010. Through their foundation, they provide financial support, life skills, network building


and more, through mentoring relationships for several disadvantaged young women who are hard working and ambitious, of all races, ethnicities, sexual orientations and religions. Alexandria Boone, nationally recognized businesswoman, community activist, chairwoman and founder of the Women of Color Foundation has helped shape the careers for thousands of women of color across the country. It was only a matter of time before these two remarkable women would cross paths. In 2013, Soledad expanded her reach to a broader audience of high school aged young women by creating the PowHERful™ Summit in New York City. The day of events features industry experts presenting curriculum in areas such as digital and financial literacy, science, technology,

engineering and math (STEM), workforce development, and health & wellness.

The Summit has enjoyed much success and has recently expanded to more cities, including Birmingham, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Cleveland. Take a moment to read more about these two phenomenal women and their exciting collaboration for the PowHERful™ Summit in


Q: Take me back to the moment you decided you wanted to start a foundation and what motivated you to move forward with the vision? A: “Hurricane Katrina, I never thought about it as a foundation at first, it really just started with us trying to help young people. When we got to the 5 th girl I realized this was bigger than I could manage so, I hired an executive director. In 2010, we became an official foundation.

Q. In your opinion, how is “success” measured and do you think reality shows or TV play a role in shaping success for these young women? A. Most young women who are scholars don’t think real housewives is reality (chuckles). We meet young women who are trying to figure out how to pay for their college degrees. They want to be successful and their definition of success is to get a good job. They are focused on figuring out how to navigate something so expensive that they know they cannot pay for. Our job is to help them figure out the costs and how to be successful in school. My own children don’t even look at reality TV as real!”

Q: Speaking of success, this year, the PowHERful Summit will make its way to Cleveland, Ohio and will partner with the Women of Color Foundation founded by CL Magazine Publisher, Alexandria Boone (Alex). How did this partnership get started? A: The partnership was due to Alex; she’s kind of like a force of nature. When we

brought the idea to her, she immediately thought that it would be a great fit for Cleveland. She wanted to immediately be a part of it and the first thing she wanted to do was set up a roundtable with about 20-25 high powered women in Cleveland who she thought could help us take this to the next level. By doing that we were immediately scarfed into the community at a high level with people who were able to make decisions, get things done and open a lot of doors for us. So it was an amazing opportunity to have someone who I connected to and really recognized the things that we both were interested in. She has the energy of 10 people!

Q: Why is the collaboration with Alex important to you and how does the Women of Color Foundation fit into your vision for the PowHERful Summit? A: One of the things that we do is look for great partners. You can’t have success if you don’t have great partners. What impressed me most about Alex was these were the issues that she personally cared about and when she decides something is going to happen…it’s going to happen. After meeting her we used her method for creating a host committee in every other city as a model. So that model was created for us by Alex!

Q: Describe the role you play in your scholars’ success? How hands on are you with them? A: We have a terrific executive director, but it’s still very

important to me that I have a hands on role. We have 25 scholars that I try to mentor as much as I can. For the PowHerful Summit I lead the summit because I know exactly how I want them to go, I know what was important to me at that age so it is really critical that I make sure they get the information they need to be successful. So far we’re up to 7 summits this year and I am the hostess along with a few other people. I also make sure my children are involved as well, because it’s important that they realize they are responsible to other people and not just ourselves. I tell them if they want to come, they gotta work! So they help with checking people in and various tasks throughout the day. My nieces who were in college at one time also sat in on a few sessions and loved it! So it’s very pragmatic. Q: What advice do you have for individuals who are eager to volunteer, but fear that because they cannot relate, may not be accepted by the youth? ence! We’ve had a wide variety of young people come out. A lot of people get a lot out of it. No one should ever say I’m not the primary focus in this so I don’t have a way in. We index women of color but we take all women. It is absolutely free and open to the public and anybody who wants to come can come as long as they are working through a community based organization. Anybody who wants to learn about how to be successful can come! We love volunteers and people that want to know what we’re doing!


Q. Describe a world where the Starfish Foundation has fulfilled its mission? A. Oh gosh, wouldn’t that be great! Yay! A place where young people are able to move forward in the world surrounded by good mentors and good health. Our goal is by the time scholars graduate they are able to do things for themselves, but we will always be there for them. We have a graduate program as well and they are always invited. But just like when my children grow up and go through college they will always have me as the nest. It is such a crazy day but we have such a great time!

Q: Trailblazer, businesswoman, community activist and now you’ve been nicknamed by one of the world’s most respected journalists a “force of nature”. How does that feel and how have you had such longevity in your career? A: Let me begin by saying I never expected to have such a broad-based impact on the careers and lives of so many women and girls of color locally, regionally and nationally. When I started the Women of Color Foundation, it was on the premise that we as women of color faced special challenges in our careers and family lives. The connection with Soledad has been a dream come true, because we complement each other’s’ work and vision. We met on a few occasions through mutual friends, however this collaboration has solidified our mutually inclusive visions.

Q. You created a new model for the PowHERful Summit by gathering a group of highly skilled professional women in the Cleveland area to assist with the local visioning of, and identifying financial resources for, the event. How did you go about creating this model and how did you choose individuals to serve on the committee? A. If for nothing else, I have a reputation for getting things done and keeping promises. So I just decided to bring other women who were known for the same reasons. But It has been even better that I had ever hoped for. These amazing, successful and committed women CEOs, entrepreneurs and non-profit executives have come together and have just gone wild with the planning and promotion of this event. We hope to have over 250300 young high school and college students attend this free event in September 2016, on the campus of my alma mater, Case Western Reserve University.

Q. What can you tell C L Magazine readers about the PowHERful Summit in Cleveland and what you have in store for the scholars? A. The young women and their parents who choose to attend, are in for an amazing day. They will receive critical information for helping them identify opportunities for their daughters to potentially attend college. The young women will learn about the skills, drive and attitude needed to succeed in college. They will also hear from successful women who

had done it and how important college is to their career advancement. Q. Are there any other collaborations with the Women of Color Foundation and the Starfish Foundation that readers can get excited about? A. Well, there certainly could be, but we are waiting to see and enjoy the success of our first collaboration together. Soledad has been so accessible and is so in tuned to her community and the importance of education, particularly at the college level. And she and her husband Brad Raymond, have dedicated their time, energy and money to make their vision of a college education for so many young women who might not have ever even considered going to college.

Q. Where do you see the Women of Color Foundation 10 years from now? A. I see the foundation as having new leadership going forward. I plan to “really” retire next year (when the Foundation celebrates its 15th Anniversary and I turn 70 years old), and hope to find the right person to continue to build upon the legacy that I have dedicated over 14 years of my life to building. I am looking for a person who has the same passion and fervor that I have. Another wildly committed woman, who is committed to other women and their brilliance, and has a thirst for success and change.

Simone Swanson Editor, CL Magazine


2016 of Events 2016Calendar Calendar of Events CLEVELAND, OHIO 5th Annual “Speaking of Women! A Dialogue Series for Women in Leadership” Wednesday, March 23, 2016 ■ 12:00 noon – 1:30pm Special Women’s History Month Program Cleveland Clinic – Main Campus – Bunts Auditorium 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44195

CLEVELAND, OHIO th 14 Annual Personal and Professional Development Retreat for Women of Color “Connections, Community and Career 2016” Wednesday, April 13, 2016 ■ 8:00am – 5:00pm Cuyahoga Community College - Corporate College East 4400 Richmond Road, Warrensville Heights, Ohio 44128 CLEVELAND, OHIO 5th Annual “Speaking of Women! A Dialogue Series for Women in Leadership” Thursday, June 9, 2016 ■ 11:30am – 1:30pm Women’s Leadership Symposium Dominion East Ohio 1201 East 55th Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44103 MARYSVILLE, OHIO (BY INVITATION ONLY) 2nd Annual Women of Color Foundation - Special Prison Outreach Program Thursday, September 8, 2016 ■ 11:30am – 1:30pm Ohio Reformatory for Women (ORW) 1479 Collins Avenue, Marysville, Ohio 43040 CLEVELAND, OHIO (FOR STUDENTS ONLY) StarFish Foundation 2016 PowHERful™ Summit with Soledad O’Brien Saturday, September 24, 2016 ■ 8:00am – 5:00pm Case Western Reserve University Tinkham Veale University Center ■ 11038 Bellflower Road ■ Cleveland, Ohio 44106



CLEVELAND, OHIO Annual Women of Color Leadership Development and Training Institute & Awards Luncheon Thursday, November 3, 2016 ■ 8:00am – 2:00pm Cleveland State University – Wolstein Center – Grand Ballroom 2000 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 4411

For More Information Please Visit: Or Call: 216.391.4300, ext. 307 ■ Toll Free: 866.962-3411, ext. 307

For More Information Please Visit: Or Call: 216.391.4300, ext. 307

Tips 27


Executives are some of the busiest people I know. They are often some of the most unhealthy people as well. The trend in today’s workplace is towards doing more and more with less and less. This adds strain to the already overworked executive. That strain affects the health of the executive and hinders his/her ability to do their job effectively. This trend cannot continue. It is destroying the lives of too many top-notch professionals. Here are 27 tips for staying healthy as a busy executive:

1 5


REMEMBER TO SMELL THE FLOWERS. Take time out to enjoy the little things in life. Being just as impressed by small events as large ones helps to cultivate wis-dom and clarity.

AVOID PROCRASTINATION. Remove temptations around you such as an instant messenger program or magazines that might tempt you from being efficient at work.

2 6

STOP LIVING A “HIT AND MISS LIFE.” Living aimlessly is like shooting multiple arrows that miss their targets. This is a waste of time and not a trait of an effective leader.

KEEP THINGS SIMPLE. Eliminate the things that cause clutter in your life, such as unnecessary magazine subscriptions, paper and too many unused gadgets.

3 7

ANXIETY IS ANTICIPATION RUN RIOT. Anticipating the worst keeps us from enjoying the present. Realize that anxiety does not facilitate self-control.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Executives who look haggard or tired tend to have more responsibilities heaped on them because your physical condition and dress sends the message that you permit that.

4 8

REMEMBER TO TAKE BREAKS. Taking breaks during work helps you accomplish more during the time that you are working.

COMMIT YOURSELF TO EXCERCISE AT LEAST THREE TIMES A WEEK. Keeping yourself in shape will help you perform efficiently in all areas of your life.


Healthy as an Executive 9 ALWAYS EAT BREAKFAST. Low blood sugar as a result of not eating properly can cause unproductive afternoons.

10 TAKE YOUR VITAMINS. If you eat constantly on the run to save time, take vitamins to avoid potential slumps in energy.

11 BAG YOUR LUNCH. Not only is this cheaper but it is more nutritious because you have control over what you eat. This can spare you from eating empty calories that exhaust you. SIT DOWN WITH YOUR FAMILY FOR DINNER. 12

This is the one thing that you can do each day to bond with family members. It also saves money and allows you to control your diet.


romantic outings keeps your relationship erotic and alive.

GET PROFESSIONAL HELP. If you can’t cope 14

due to bad time management skills or emotional problems get the help that you need.

ASK FOR HELP IF YOU NEED IT. Pride prevents 15


Needy or emotionally disturbed individuals can seriously throw your plans for the day astray. Avoid them the best you can.

20 DEAL WITH YOUR ANGER. Angry individuals are hasty, reckless and make careless errors that cause time consuming mistakes.

21 IF YOU ARE TIRED, REST. It is better to rest and do a task twice as fast afterwards rather than do it slowly because you are exhausted.

22 TAKE LIFE ONE DAY AT A TIME. Live in the present, not in the future and you will accomplish more.

23 GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY. Engage in one meaningful activity where money is “not the goal”. This empowers you spiritually and prevents you from getting too stuck in your own problems.

24 MAKE YOURSELF INACCESSIBLE AT CERTAIN TIMES. Let others know when you are working and cannot be disturbed.

most executives from asking for assistance from higher ups or colleagues. Being trained wastes less time than trying to figure out something yourself.




GET ENOUGH SLEEP. People who are sleep de17


time aside for yourself each week doing something that you enjoy doing alone. This gives you clarity `and is a form of meditation.

prived make more time consuming mistakes and are too irritable to lead a quality life style.

NEVER GET TOO HUNGRY. People who are 18

hungry are irritable and make mistakes so that things need to be done over again.

Whenever you complete a big task make sure to keep motivated by giving yourself a reward.

appointments and delays are a part of life. Learn how to make it up to your family if you are late and can’t be there for them.

Make choices about how you spend your time and do not be at the mercy of obligations that you cannot fulfill. As a busy executive, staying healthy has to be at the top of your priority list. It is essential to your job as a leader. Use these tips to guide you into the healthy lifestyle you deserve.

DeLores Pressley, International Keynote Speaker and Confidence Coach


What’s Your Kidney Score? Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) has become an epidemic in the United States. This disease has affected and continues to affect millions, particularly people of color. Currently, there are over 26 million Americans suffering from some form of this dreaded disease.

That number is greater than the number of Americans diagnosed with breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. Unfortunately, our communities are not educated enough on this disease thus, there are staggering numbers of people being diagnosed at stage 4 and stage 5 which is End Stage Renal (kidney) Disease.

Many of those diagnosed in stages 1-4

Some Startling Facts:

are able to work with a medical team and

Stage 1 usually has no symptoms and the

a nutritionist to slow down the progression

Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) may be

of the disease and even eliminate the

normal (90+). There is minimal damage

need for dialysis or a transplant. Sadly,

to the kidneys in this stage. The kidneys will most likely function normally. It is

those options are only available if the patient has undergone early detection

almost impossible to know you have stage 1 CKD unless you are tested.

testing. In most cases, people do not experience symptoms and are unaware

A diagnosis of stage 1 CKD can be

of the disease, so they don’t see the need

actively treated by a doctor and a

to submit to testing. As a result, they are

nutritionist. At this stage it is possible

diagnosed at a later stage and, must undergo severe treatment. Which explains why the disease has been

to stop the progression of kidney failure or at the very least, slow it down. If you have one of these risk factors, I encourage you to be tested. Undiagnosed

dubbed, “the silent killer.” CKD may progress in the stages and Kidney Disease Awareness Month is an

could result in kidney failure. There are

opportunity for advocates and patients

several things your medical team can do

like me, to encourage you to be tested. If you have one of the risk factors cited herein, I encourage you to get tested to

for a stage 1 patient. However, on your own, you can exercise regularly to stay healthy, commit to a healthy diet and stop smoking.

determine if your kidneys are already in distress and not telling you. Risk factors

In most situations a person doesn’t real-

include: diabetes, hypertension (high

ize they have stage 1 CKD and will usually

blood pressure), a family history of the

find out after being tested for other

disease, and being over the age of 60. There is an old adage that says “what you don’t know can’t hurt you” well in this case, the opposite is true.

medical conditions. The creatinine will be high, there may be protein present in the urine or kidney damage may appear on an ultrasound or X-ray. Make your appointment to be tested sooner rather than later. It could identify some problems with your kidneys that can be managed immediately.

Monica Starks, MA


in the BAC K

D o

Y o u

R e m e m b e r

When was the last time you took yourself back down memory lane? Whether you were rocking your Jheri curls, grooving to your 8 Tracks or sporting shiny suites for the Millennium party! Take a seat on the Soul Train as we take you back in time from all things 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s! Hot Pants, Afros and go, go boots (1960 and 70’s)

Pulling the sides off dotted matrix paper (80’s)

Blue Mascara (80’s)


Teddy Ruxpin (80’s)


e DAY W h e n . . .

Wicker Chairs (80’s)

AOL Instant Messenger (90’s)

Pagers/Beepers (90’s)

Simone Swanson, Editor, CL Magazine

Walkman (80’s)


The foundation of our company is the strength of our people

At Forest City, we do more than develop, own and manage real

Within our own Forest City community, we embrace and value

estate. We create exceptional places where people live, work and

diverse individuals, opinions, cultures and abilities and actively

enjoy life together. We believe that high-quality communities

seek them out. We believe that by working collaboratively, we can

have the power to enrich lives. And we believe that diversity and

leverage the unique talents, skills, experiences and perspectives

inclusion are critical to that experience. We understand that each

of our associates, business and civic partners, and end-use

community is unique and seek local partners who best

consumers to drive success, create a competitive edge and add

understand the needs of their community.

shareholder value.


National Speakers:



Personal and Professional Development Retreat for Women of Color

“Connections, Community and Career 2016”

Paula E. Boggs

Founder, Boggs Media LLC and Retired EVP, General Counsel & Secretary, Starbucks Corporation

Wednesday, April 13, 2016 8:00am–5:00pm

Cuyahoga Community College - Corporate College East 4400 Richmond Road, Warrensville Heights, OH 44128

Limited Event Scholarships are available! For more information and to register, please visit:

Dr. George C. Fraser Chairman, FraserNet Or Call: Toll Free:

216.391.4300, ext. 307 866.962-3411, ext. 307

Alexandria J. Boone


Chairwoman and Founder Women of Color Foundation and Consultant to Non-profit Organizations


Fashion Designer Spotlight


Meet Alysse Dalessandro, a size inclusive designer,

fashion and beauty writer, body positive advocate, plus size fashion blogger, professional speaker and all-around loudmouth. Her designs have appeared on plus size models Tess Holliday and Essie Golden and on Elle. com, Buzzfeed, Skorch Magazine and many more. Currently Dalessandro’s writing can be found on BUSTLE and The Curvy Fashionista. Dalessandro started her career in fashion by making her own jewelry and writing about fashion in high school before going onto to earn a dual degree in Journalism and Gender Studies at Loyola University Chicago in 2010.

e r a t S to



hroughout college and in the years that followed, Dalessandro would go onto write for outlets such as Venus Zine, AOL and Chicago Tribune’s The RedEye. With a strong focus on female artists, entrepreneurship and fashion, Dalessandro’s writing struck a chord both with her own passions and those of her readers. In 2012, Alysse launched Ready to Stare, a body positive apparel and accessory brand designed for those who believe in following their passion, loving themselves and inspiring others to do the same. After its launch, Ready to Stare quickly established itself as a player in the growing Chicago fashion scene selling at more than six different boutiques throughout the city by the end of their first year. Ready to Stare debuted their now signature body chains in a fashion show in May 2012. As one of the first brands to design plus size body chains, Ready to Stare has remained an innovator in this field. In September 2013, Ready to Stare relocated to Atlanta where the brand would begin to experience major growth as an on-line retailer. One major impetus for this growth was the addition of t-shirts and the "#ReadyToStareWokeUpLikeDis" movement. Ready to Stare’s first tshirt was shipped to nearly every state and to more than 15 countries including Kuwait, Malaysia and Qatar. People really identified with the message that being flawless isn’t the absence of flaws; it’s the absence of fear. Ready to Stare’s jewelry had always been a subtle statement on owning your individual style despite what anyone else had to say about it and the t-shirts put that statement in writing. Ms. Delessandro believes in fashion as an act of empowerment. Which is why she strategically named her brand Ready to Stare after her own experience being fat shamed, harassed, cat-called and bullied for the way she dressed.


he wanted to create a brand that treated clothing and accessories as armor that makes you ready to face the stares and policing that come when you dress for yourself instead of following so-called rules of fashion. In addition to writing and designing, Alysse has spoken at local universities about entrepreneurship, fashion design and how her own self-love journey played a role in growing her brand. She served as a judge for the Kent State University School of Business. Ms. Entrepreneur Competition. Her growing brand regularly takes her around the country for trade shows, fashion shows, events, trunk shows, and speaking engagements.

The Five Layer Chain Necklace: This piece is originally from the Fall 2014 collection and it’s the necklace from Ready To Stare that I continue to wear most often. I make this necklace by hand from a sturdy brass curb chain which means I’ve been wearing mine for a year and a half and it never tarnished at all.

Geometric 70s Vibes Shades: Sunglasses are another product that I added when I expanded to include a boutique alongside my original designs. I think these shades are unique in shape but the contemporary colors make them fitting for a casual business lunch. Outdoor patio anyone?

The Laverne Back Body Chain: All of the body chains and belts that I make hold a special place in my heart because I have really brought a lot of creativity to this product type that I am really proud of. I did a collection of body chains inspired by strong women in history and this one is named after Laverne Cox.

The Sophia Pleated Skater Skirt: The first stand alone collection of clothing that I designed and produced was inspired by the Golden Girls and called “Let Them Eat Cheesecake.” This skirt was the most popular item from that collection because people were really drawn to the pattern in the same way that I was when I saw the fabric and knew I had to transform it into wearable art.


Charmaine D. Brown President

Connexions Consulting, Inc., is a diversity and inclusion firm with a unique passion for creating more inclusive workplaces and a rich expertise in all related aspects of strategic human capital management, organizational development and strategic human resources compliance.

We deliver a full suite of consulting services in the human

capital and diversity & inclusion arena that includes: • •

Email :


• • •

Customized Strategic Consulting Development and Implementation of Diversity Councils and Employee Resource Groups Strategies for aligning diversity with talent management Customized Inclusion Training Strategic Human Resource Compliance

Discover how Connexions Consulting, Inc., can assist your organization. Call us today at


Or visit our website:

Alex engaged our audience. We laughed, cried and celebrated! -National PowerNetworking Conference!



(216) 391-4300, ext. 311

“ Tough Times” Enduring


t was the worst of times. The heartache was so deep that it felt physical. Headaches, heightened blood pressure, anxiety and despair, that if left unchecked surely would have slipped into depression.

The only word that comes to mind is devastation! There is not enough space in this article to flesh out the crisis that occurred other than to say that after founding and establishing an organization some of its newer leaders disrupted and attempted to gut the organization. Many lives were impacted.

Life is challenging and hard times are inevitable. Sooner or later, we will all go through tough times, whether we deal with sickness, catastrophe, organizational crisis, losing loved ones or relational breakdowns. The truth is that we can survive and even thrive, by understanding our need for healthy relationships during tough times. Do you have a community of well-established friends to call during a crisis? How would you

respond to a friend or colleague going through one of life’s storms?

Here are a few things I have learned about the importance of relationships during tough times: Show you care by being there. The practice of being present is huge – even if you don’t know what to say. Taking time out of your schedule to visit a friend or colleague during tough times is like placing thousands of dollars in your relational bank account. Don’t rush them through their pain. Saying things like I know exactly how you feel or telling them a story about your cousins struggle might be well intended, it can also serve to minimize their issue and urge them to squelch their pain. During tough times, people need to know that the pain they feel is real and they need to move through it at their own pace. Our natural desire is to want to ix things. Instead, sit with them. Listen. Let them be honest. Let them be angry. Let them be wherever they are. Don’t make judgments. Realize you may be unaware of all the facts. Even if they seem at fault or seem to be getting what they deserve, you pointing it out will create walls, not bridges. Continue believing in your friend. No one is perfect, but having a friend who loves you through the good times and the bad is priceless. Love believes despite the circumstances and hopes in all situations. Love never fails.

One of the things people regret most at the end of their lives is not staying in touch with their friends. It is no exaggeration to say, what saved us during our crisis were the relationships we had built over the years. Family, friends, mentors and colleagues came to our aid, encouraging us to not give up. They helped guide us, reminding us of our vision.

Tanya James - New Community Bible Fellowship


CORPORATE COLLEGE — YOUR TRAINING PARTNER PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT Corporate College provides training and development for professionals through open enrollment courses. Our talented team brings a wealth of experience that will help take your skills to the next level.

CUSTOMIZED TRAINING Corporate College understands your organization’s unique challenges and provides customized solutions that meet strategic business goals. We strive to improve individual, team and organizational performance.

CONFERENCE CENTERS Corporate College provides world-class accommodations for business events of all sizes. With locations in Warrensville Heights and Westlake, we offer leading-edge technology, award-winning catering services and business amenities that will help to take your next meeting or event from good — to great. | 216-987-2800

C L Magazine Winter/Spring 2016 - Volume 2 issue 1  
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