C L Magazine Volume 9 - Spring | Summer Issue

Page 1

Dr. Victory Vernon

2023 • Volume 9 • Issue 2
Author, Mentor, & Leader
Cleveland’s Juneteenth Freedom Fest Recap
Why I Did it, and Why You Should Too Taking Back the Power of Agriculture
You Should Write a Book +
Photo by Alvin Smith


2023 WOCF Board Meeting & Special Event Calendar

(Virtual Event)

WOCF Board Meeting & Panning Retreat #1

Tuesday, April 11, 2023


Cleveland, Ohio (Live Event - PENDING)

11th Annual “Speaking of Women: A Dialogue Series for Women in Leadership”

Thursday, August 24, 2023

HOSTED BY: Dominion Energy Ohio

1201 East 55th Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44103

Cleveland, Ohio (Live Event)

WOCF 20th Annual Personal and Professional Development Retreat

“Connections, Community and Career 2023”

Friday, September 8, 2023

Bedrock Cleveland Terminal Tower

50 Public Square, Cleveland, Ohio 44113

(Virtual Event)

WOCF Board Meeting #2

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

10:30am – 12:00pm

Cleveland, Ohio (Live Event)

WOCF 2023 Leadership and Career Development Institute & Awards Luncheon

Thursday, October 26, 2023

HOSTED BY: Cleveland State University

Student Center Ballroom

2121 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115

Warren, Ohio (Live Event)

WOCF 2nd Annual National Executive Women’s Leadership Summit

Sunday, November 12 – Wednesday, November 15, 2023

The GRAND Resort

9519 East Market Street, Warren, Ohio 44484

(Virtual Event)

WOCF Board Meeting #3 and Annual Meeting

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

10:30am – 12:00pm

SPRING | SUMMER 2021 | 25
4200 Warrensville Center Road
Office Building A, Suite 353 Cleveland, Ohio 44128
womenofcolorfoundation.com • 216.391.4300, ext. 307 or 866-962.3411 (toll free)
contents 8 Juneteenth Recap 10 Creativity Heals by Mollie Borgione 19 Indulge Yourself in a Pamper Day Meet Dr. Victory Vernon Constance Hill-Johnson Re-Careering: Why I Did It, And Why You Should Too Taking Back the Power of Agriculture Why You Should Write a Book My Love Story Spare Outlive: The Science 43 Book Suggestions: The Light We Carry by Michelle Obama 44 WCWI to Host 2nd Annual Financial Literacy Conference by Meltrice D. Sharp SPRING/SUMMER 2023 | 3

Jennifer Coiley Dial

Creative Director

Barbara Somrack

Senior Copy Editor

Michelle E. Urquhart

Business Manager

Paula T. Newman

Assistant to the

Bernadette K. Mayfield

Senior Strategist, Subscriber & Community Development

Simone E. Swanson

Database and Information Coordinator

Cheretta Moore


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magazine Spring/Summer 2023 • Volume 9 • Issue 2 C L Magazine is published digitally on a quarterly basis by the Women of Color Foundation (WOCF), a 501 (c) (3), tax-exempt organization, for the benefit of women and girls of all colors. Our offices are located at 4200 Warrensville Center Road, Medical Building A, Suite 353, Cleveland, Ohio 44128. Toll Free Phone number: 866-962-3411 (866-WOCF-411). Copyright © 2014-2022. All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be distributed electronically, reproduced or duplicated in whole or in part, without written permission of the publisher. Readers and advertisers may subscribe for free at: www.CL-Magazine.com Magazine Production: GAP Communications Group 4 | CL MAGAZINE
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As I write this letter, the Supreme Court ended affirmative action, coming on the heels of the third anniversary of Juneteenth as a federal holiday in the United States. Former First Lady Michelle Obama said in response to the news that our highest court struck down affirmative action programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina: “So often, we just accept that money, power and privilege are perfectly justifiable forms of affirmative action, while kids growing up like I did are expected to compete when the ground is anything but level.” It’s puzzling when we take a few steps forward and then we’re taking steps backward, something that happens more frequently than we’d like. Obama’s newest book, The Light We Carry contains practical wisdom and powerful strategies and is delivered in a way that only she can. It is one of our book suggestions this issue (see page 43).

Juneteenth is a celebration of the end of chattel slavery in America (more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation officially ended slavery in 1863) and it brings the hope that African American history will be more accepted as American history. In Cleveland, Juneteenth was celebrated on Saturday, June 17 with FREEDOM FEST sponsored by MetroHealth in partnership with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It was a beautiful and fun-filled day for everyone down on Mall C with performances by Djapo Cultural Arts Institute to the Cavaliers Scream Team. It marks a day of celebration and reflection. The Women of Color Foundation was proud to sponsor this event and the organization shared many photos to commemorate the occasion (see pages 8-13).

In “Creativity Heals,” Hospice of the Western Reserve’s Mollie Borgione talks about the power of art to heal those who are grieving the death of a loved one. “Creative expression, whether through visual arts, music, theater, storytelling, or dance can help release emotion and process grief,” she says. Read the full article on page 14.

On the cover is Dr. Victory Vernon, mentor and co-founder of The Word Church in Cleveland. The author of I Am Victory: Kingdom Principles to a Victorious Life, Dr. Victory, as she prefers to be called, ministers to women who feel broken and unseen. With her husband, Dr. R.A. Vernon, The Word Church has services on Sundays at 9 am and 11 am and sermons can be viewed online at https:// wordcity.org. Learn more about this phenomenal woman on pages 20-22.

Speaking of phenomenal women, check out the Executive Profile of Constance Hill-Johnson. This philanthropist and business coach is the owner and managing director of Visiting Angels in Cleveland, Ohio. Connie was elected the first African American woman to Chair the Board of Directors for the Cleveland Foundation. She shares her secrets to success as well as what she has come to learn about work/life balance. Connie will also serve as an Executive-in-Residence at the Women of Color Foundation’s 2nd Annual National Executive Women’s Leadership Summit (visit womenofcolorfoundation.com). See Connie’s profile on pages 24-25.

TV anchor and the founder of S.H.I.N.E. organization, the dynamic Danita Harris shares a story about an East Cleveland woman, Nicole Howell, who has become a beacon of light for homeless teens. Howell’s organization, Broken Connections, has provided a lifeline for those who are desperate to get their lives back on track. Don’t miss this moving story on pages 27.

We hope you enjoy the variety of content in this issue and stop working long enough to enjoy some summer sun. Until next time….

LETTER from the

LETTER from the


Collaboration, Collaboration, Collaboration!

Dear Readers,

As I reflect on the many achievements of the Women of Color Foundation and, the resources and the financial support that we have received over the last several months, the only word that comes to mind is AMAZING!

We have a dedicated staff, knowledgeable program managers, a cadre of committed and supportive community collaborators, a team of steadfast volunteers, expert faculty and advisors and a Board of Trustees, comprised of twenty-five Black “superwomen” that have made this 21-year journey possible.

But our important work could not continue or expand, without our sponsors, individual donors, and our foundation partners.

So, what’s next?

• More career and professional development training & networking events

• Major expansion of our social media presence

• An expanded and more aggressive fundraising campaign

• Establishing an endowment

• Producing a Global conference in 2024

• Adding a workforce development component focusing on Black women

• Identifying Coaches and/or mentors for Black women entrepreneur

Finally, a heartfelt thanks to all of you. Your kindness and generosity will not be soon forgotten.

In the spirit of the greatness in us all,



The Women of Color Foundation was honored to be a sponsor of the 2023 Juneteenth Freedom Fest in Cleveland! It was a beautiful day, not only because of the gorgeous sunshine, but also the spirit of diversity and celebration in the city.


The day was full of awe-inspiring talent from across Greater Cleveland, including performances by Djapo Cultural Arts Institute, 216 Stix, The Word Gospel Church Choir, Raven Rae, Karamu Arts Academy, DJ OnePlusTwo, the Cavaliers Scream Team and dozens more!


There was no shortage of entertainment for children and parents alike! Games, bubbles, rollerskating, bumper cars, a community mural, and more!


The Women of Color Foundation proudly sponsored the Festival Speakers Stage, where prominent locals provided insight into career and professional development, the benefits of mentorship and networking, and so much more.


Creativity Heals

I am privileged to facilitate The Healing Arts program for Western Reserve Grief Services. The program consists of a variety of virtual as well as in-person art therapy workshops for anyone in the community who is grieving the death of a beloved someone.

Creative expression, whether through visual arts, music, theater, storytelling, or dance, can help release emotion and process grief. Grief is not only deep sadness, but any and all feelings that grievers have as they try to grasp the reality of the death of their loved ones. These may include difficult emotions such as anger, frustration, fear, hopelessness, guilt, a lack of purpose, and shame. The bereaved may also experience perhaps “unexpected” emotions regarding their loss such as relief, joy, gratitude, or deep peace. It is important to remind yourself that whatever feelings you are having are acceptable, even though you may think otherwise! You must allow yourself the time, space, and non-judgmental mindset to address them. Creative expression can facilitate this process.

There is something about the creative process that connects us with ourselves more deeply, whether we are grieving or not. It enables us to calm our minds, tap an inner healer that helps us to sort through our emotions, and releases them through the creation of something new. This new creation has a voice which speaks to us and is a vehicle by which we can speak our truth to others. When the creative process is shared with others, whether virtually or in person, connection is made with others who are also grieving, letting us know we are not alone in our pain.

Mollie Borgione is an art therapist and grief counselor at Hospice of the Western Reserve.

It can be very comforting to be with others whom you do not necessarily know well, but you have a commonality with because you are all grieving someone. Sometimes, it is difficult to share your real feelings and thoughts with family members or friends because you may all be suffering the same loss. You might hold back your tears or anxiety because you do not want to upset them, and they do the same. This tentativeness can rob you of opportunities to heal. When you attend a Healing Arts workshop (or any of our other grief support groups), you can open doors to new possibilities for healing, such as:


Camaraderie with others who understand – You make connections with people who are also grieving and with whom you can be authentic.

2. Personal creative choices and reflection – You choose how much effort and meaning you want to put into your art.

3. Share at a level with which you are comfortable – No one is compelled to share.

4. Form new self-realizations – You may learn about yourself and your own reactions by hearing someone else’s experience.

5. Opportunities to receive and give support – Learn how to receive support and be a witness to others in their grief.

For more information on the current Healing Arts workshop offerings and our other grief support groups, visit hospicewr.org/Patients-and-Caregivers/ Grief-Services/Support-Groups.

The Healing Arts program provides grieving people with a creative outlet for their grief and is open to the community. The program is made possible by a project support grant from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture.


Danita Harris

Emmy-Award Winning News Anchor NEWS5, Cleveland’s ABC Network Affiliate Founder The S.H.I.N.E. Foundation


Philanthopist & Entrepreneur


Alexandria Johnson Boone

Chairwoman & Founder Women of Color Foundation


of A Summer
Foundation Yellou Sunday, September 10, 2023 Admission: $100 Donation to the S.H.I.N.E. Foundaiton Please RSVP no later than Monday, August 31: 216.391.4300 ext. 307 No late RSVPs will be accepted 2:00-4:30pm 2816 Veron Lane Twinsburg, Oh 44087
Soiree for the
Tammy Moore Coney
shine-now.org SPRING/SUMMER 2023 | 17

Indulge Yourself in a Pamper Day

You have a thriving business/career. Why do you need to take a break from operating in excellence?

Consider these powerful reasons to have a pamper day:

1. It’s invaluable for your physical and mental health. Rest is as vital to your health as good nutrition and exercise. Occasional pamper days can save you from many health problems. You get to unwind and engage in the activities that bring you pleasure.

3. Gives you something to look forward to. What’s the point of working so hard if you don’t get to enjoy the fruits of your labor? You won’t feel bad about doing something nice for yourself if you plan for it. You are motivated to work harder when looking forward to a day of relaxation.

2. Take a step away from all the stress. The effects of stress on our bodies have been well-documented – from its impact on our skin to our hearts. If you don’t have fun once in a while, it becomes difficult to lead a nonstressful life. You’ll have to take days off to rest, not when you want to or because you want to, but because you’re forced to.

4. You make wiser decisions. Relaxed people make better decisions regarding their wellbeing, work, and even their relationships. With the stress taken away, you can examine matters more carefully. Decisions are well thought through and balanced.


Taking a day off when you’ve planned to and can enjoy it is much better than taking a day off because your body is broken and fatigued. Resting seriously makes a huge difference. You will come back massively refreshed and able to boost your productivity. Rest is critical to progress.

Cassandra Hill is a Christian Holistic Wellness Influencer who teaches Black professional women a framework for achieving physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness.

If you can’t remember the last time you had a pamper day, I invite you to schedule a weekend of pampering on a long or holiday weekend. Remember you are a queen so treat yourself accordingly.


Dr. Victory Vernon

Dr. Victory Vernon is an author, mentor, and leader.

She is co-founder of The Word Church and Director of Women’s Ministry, where she creates and oversees programs to recognize, solicit, and celebrate contributions women make for the cause of Christ, in addition to designing events focused on the amplification of women’s voices and ideas.

She is also The Word Church’s event coordinator, where she uses her creativity and administrative expertise to organize various experiences to serve both the proximal and broader communities of The Word Church.

She’s the author of I Am Victory: Kingdom Principles to a Victorious Life, a book she published via Victory Media & Publishing, the multimedia publishing company she co-owns with her husband Dr. R. A. Vernon.

Dr. Victory’s call is ministering to women who feel broken and unseen. She is a champion of women, a supporter, and an advocate, inspiring women everywhere to do the work to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually whole. Her maternal charm and loving nature endear her to women and men alike, but women especially. Following church services, scores of ladies stand in line to hug and have a moment with her, and she covers hundreds more in The Shepherds Connection—a fellowship for senior pastors and leading ladies she co-founded with her husband—with her wisdom, realness, and spiritual guidance.

Dr. Victory has a bachelor’s in social work from Capital University, and both her master’s and doctorate in practical theology from Ashland Theological Seminary. She and Dr. Vernon have been married for over twentyfive years and their close-knit family includes five children and two dogs, Prissy and Marley.


Co-Founder of The Word Church

HOMETOWN: Cleveland, Ohio


• Bachelor of Arts (BA) from Capital University

• Master of Arts (MA) from Ashland University

• Doctor of Theology (ThD) from Ashland Theological Seminar


• Spokesperson for Cleveland Clinic’s Victory in Pink initiative

• Member of The First Star Kent State Academy)


My personal mission, known as “The Vernon’s Big 4,” is to love God, help those in need, make some money, and love and take care of my family.


- Jennifer Wainwright
Photo by Alvin Smith

Getting to Know Dr. Victory

Early Years:

Reflecting on my early years, there were several individuals who significantly influenced my professional journey. However, I must emphasize the profound impact of my parents, Ocie and Dorothy Williams, as well as my sister, Deloris Carr. Their prayers, encouragement, and unwavering love guided me through my formative years, shaping me into the wife, mother, and servant leader I am today.


One professional accomplishment that humbles me is the divine calling and faith to serve and lead God’s people in their spiritual journeys. And among the multitude of hard decisions, my toughest one has been to refuse connections and opportunities that didn’t align with the mission and vision of our ministry and calling.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is vital to the longevity and success of any professional. On your most challenging day, where do you draw inspiration to continue feeding your passion for this work?

On my most challenging days, I draw inspiration from the belief that equity, diversity, and inclusion are fundamental pillars for the longevity and success of any professional endeavor. I am fueled by the understanding that embracing and championing these values leads to positive transformation, equal opportunities, and a stronger, more vibrant community. Ultimately, it is my desire to make a tangible difference and leave a lasting legacy that keeps me motivated and passionate, even during the most challenging times.

What is the toughest decision you’ve made professionally?

The toughest decision I’ve made professionally was having to say no to individuals, places, and positions that did not align with the mission, vision, and goals of our ministry and calling.

It is simultaneously both a difficult and simple choice. Because I’m committed to our convictions and what we’ve been called to do, the answer is always simple for me; however, it can be difficult to refuse connections and opportunities when I know others may not understand my why.


To build and sustain a harmonious work environment, I believe in the power of community and family connections. This involves collaboration on projects, overcoming obstacles, navigating crises, and celebrating victories together. Additionally, I firmly believe in the importance of the three C’s: competency, chemistry, and character, as they contribute to the success of our organizational culture and ensure long-term sustainability.

Through my experiences, I have come to learn that success comes with its own set of challenges. As the saying goes, “Heavy is the head that wears the crown.” The greater the success, the greater the problems and the potential for a harder fall. But I’ve learned to stay humble, hungry, and holy, understanding that God has the power to give and the power to take away.

Balancing my career and lifestyle has been an ongoing journey for me. Rather than striving for perfect balance, which can sometimes be more daunting and arduous, I channel my energy into being a great manager across all areas assigned to me.

My Confessions:

The greatest joy in my job derives from working alongside my husband to inspire and reshape a generation. One profound lesson I’ve learned and strive to apply is to exude love, honor, and respect to everyone I encounter.

Fun Fact: My ideal vacation?

Simply being with my husband and our children, relishing our togetherness.

LJ JENNINGS Senior Pastor Kingdom Builders Christian Fellowship Real Estate Developer Entrepreneur CONSTANCE HILL-JOHNSON Owner & Managing Director Visiting Angels, Cleveland, Ohio Chairperson, Board of Directors The Cleveland Foundation Philanthropist Business Coach ALEXANDRIA J. BOONE Founder & Chairwoman Women of Color Foundation President & CEO GAP Communications Group Publisher C L Magazine President Global Media Group, LLC DR.
Chairman & CEO FraserNet, Inc. ROBIN WILSON Founder, CEO & Chairman A Blue Egg Corporation Clean Design Home Brand BARBARA DANIEL Publisher & Editor The Cleveland Women’s Journal Register today and follow us to be the first to know about event updates: WomenofColorFoundation.com 2023 Executives in Residence Announcement 2nd Annual National Executive Women’s Leadership Summit November 12-15, 2023 The Grand Resort | Warren, Ohio


Constance Hill-Johnson

What professional accomplishment are you most humbled by and why?


Owner/Managing Director

Visiting Angels Senior Homecare Board Chairperson

The Cleveland Foundation

HOMETOWN: Cleveland, Ohio


• MPA, University of Southern California; BA, Speech Communications, Case Western Reserve University


• Board Chair

The Cleveland Foundation

• Board Member

Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging

• Board Member

Adults at Risk

Lutheran Metropolitan Ministries


Lead with love!

Rent your title, own your character

Being elected as the first African American woman to Chair the Board of Directors for the 109 year old Cleveland Foundation (the world’s oldest community foundation).

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion is vital to the longevity and success of any professional. On your most challenging day, where do you draw inspiration to continue feeding your passion for this work?

I always ask myself “what is my why?” when engaging in work that I believe in. My heart is bent towards serving others so when I’m working anywhere that allows me to serve, I’m at my best.

What’s the toughest decision you’ve made professionally?

Becoming an entrepreneur and stepping out on my own. I purchased a franchise in 2002 and I was so nervous writing the check.

The essentials of creating a harmonious work environment are...

Listening to others; always asking if I can help in some way; inquiring about a person’s life outside of the work environment (everyone likes to talk about themselves).

What have you come to learn about success?

I’ve learned that success and happiness, more particularly joy aren’t the same things. One can experience success in terms of their career or even lifestyle, but it doesn’t mean that they are happy or full of joy.


What have you come to learn about balancing career and lifestyle?

It isn’t always easy. I must be intentional about prioritizing that which is important to me personally, and not putting my career first all of the time. I wish the phrase was life/work balance, versus work/life balance. We seem to all think that we live to work... when I believe we work to live!

What part of your job brings you the most joy?

Being in community with others while serving others.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned professionally? How do you apply this lesson to the work you do?

Always esteem others higher than oneself. I try to practice speaking less and listening more. One of my favorite radio hosts says often that one is to “listen with a 3rd ear.” I try to practice that.

My ideal vacation is...

Laying on the beach looking at a teal-colored ocean with a good book in my hand.

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Broken Connections


An East Cleveland woman is serving as a beacon of light for area teens who find themselves homeless with nowhere to go. Her nonprofit, Broken Connections, provides a loving lifeline for teens with no options who are desperate to get back on track.

According to the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, last year 4,649 people went through the county’s homeless system. One in four of them was a child under the age of 18. The Cleveland Metropolitan School District recorded 1,717 homeless students in 2021.

They’re teens like Kay, who was abused since she was 6 years old and had nowhere to go.

“Me and my momma were going through some issues. Nobody wanted me for real for real,” she said.

It’s a problem that Nicole Howell, who started Broken Connections, addresses. She started the nonprofit in 1996 with $13,000 of her own money. The home that was once owned by the business titan and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller is now a shelter for homeless and runaway teens. It’s a place to help give teens the tools to reconnect with their families.

Story originally published by Reprinted with permission.

“We try to make them feel like millionaires,” Howell said. “We run this as a group home model so we serve kind of like parents. So we say clean your room, don’t wear that to school...we teach them how to eat the right things, how to cook.”

Howell doesn’t provide them with just a bed. She provides them with love.

As a native of East Cleveland, Howell’s mission to help youth in her city is personal and providing hope for them is a priceless feeling.

“I think the most important thing is that I’m allowed to touch people’s lives. I mean, I started the program with absolutely no money, I just used my own money and moved in here with everybody and just ran it as my home,” she said.

The fruit of Howell’s genuine effort can be seen in Charlyn, who is out of the shelter with plans to attend college soon.

“She provided amazing advice, she provided helpful tips and life-changing resources we could use. I was able to go back home to my mom and it just like lifted a weight off of me,” said Charlyn.

Kay who is still at the home, is getting better.

For more information about the program, visit brokenconnections.org.

Danita Harris is an anchor for ABC-affiliate News 5 and the founder of S.H.I.N.E., an organization created to provide women with practical life skills and spiritual knowledge to improve their lives. shine-now.org

This story is part of A Better Land, an ongoing series that investigates Northeast Ohio’s deep-seated systemic problems. Additionally, it puts a spotlight on the community heroes fighting for positive change in Cleveland and throughout the region. If you have an idea for A Better Land story, tell us:


“I’m learning to be honest and respect myself and not to go down the wrong path.”
“You can’t even imagine that there are some kids that we have that never been hugged. We hug them and it’s like hugging a rock. They’re just tight.”
Photo Credit: News 5 Cleveland


Why I Did It, And Why You Should Too

Well, let me clarify my statement. If your career is totally satisfying personally, professionally, socially, mentally and economically… this may not be the article for you. But if this is NOT you, there may be some insights I can share that could help change your life for the better.

So how did I go from full-time musician in Atlanta with 20+ years in the industry, to working remotely from my hometown of Cleveland making more money with less stress than ever before? I “Re-Careered.” To be clear, I did this slowly, reluctantly and with a lot of “real talk” conversations with my family and with God. But if I knew then what I know now, I would’ve done it a lot sooner.



I’m a great musician. I had worked a 9-5 while playing professionally for years, but when the opportunity came to go on tour with a major R&B artist, I went for it and never looked back. I played all over the world, recorded, produced, wrote and even taught music. I loved what I did and was loved for it. It’s almost as though my identity was exclusively defined by my career as a professional guitar player. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. But all that glitters isn’t gold.

What you don’t see is that after that tour, or that spot date, or that TV appearance I was left with the financial insecurity of a feast or famine kind of economy. It’s important to note that this kind of income instability is not exclusive to musicians and artists.

Just ask any commissioned-based professional, gig or contract worker, or those of us who are selfemployed… and we’ll tell you. It’s one thing to go to a job with a

guaranteed steady paycheck. It’s another thing to not only do the work, but market the work, secure new work, net-work, and hope more work comes your way. It may be difficult to admit, but for many if not most, this type of economy is a recipe for “survival-mode” living. A career on continual life-support. You’re not dying, but you’re not really living either. You definitely may not be prospering.

I’m not saying these types of careers are impossible in the long term. But where I’ve seen it work best were in two-income households, where the self-employed or contract worker’s income is supplemental. The monthly bills were consistently covered by the “straight job” worker, while the gig worker’s income paid for the extras.

This was not the case for me. At best, I was just getting by and at the end of the day, my dollars weren’t making cents. #PunIntended

IT’S NOT ALWAYS ABOUT THE MONEY. Some jobs take a lot of energy and physicality that you just might not have in you during this season of life. Maybe you have health issues that make your work more draining. Maybe you have to be a caretaker for an aging parent (my case) or other loved one. Maybe the travel is too much or the hours are too long. Maybe the work environment is socially and emotionally toxic.

Maybe your industry is evolving or devolving to where it doesn’t suit you anymore. Maybe there’s a glass ceiling that you just can’t control or push through. Maybe you’re just settling for “what is,” but too tired, intimidated, or set in your ways to reach for “what could be.”



Here’s my very long story short: Covid hit, no more gigs, lockdown approaching, prospects uncertain, sold house, drove across states to live with family and figure out my life, started online business, ran out of money, hit rock bottom. My work wasn’t working. Finally ready to RE-CAREER.

After letting go of my pride and fear and putting on humility and determination, I revamped my resume and pounded the pavement for a J-O-B. Due to health and family reasons I needed something where I could work from home. After grinding for three months, I found an ideal entrylevel remote job that had great training, career growth opportunities and paid more than I ever (consistently) made in my previous self-employed career. Is it as sexy as performing on stage? No. But it does have Paid Time Off, a matching retirement plan and health benefits. What’s even better is now I can supplement my income with doing music on my OWN terms.

My new full-time job is fantastic and everything I needed for this season. I’m still astonished by how less stressed my life has become. I see an exciting and prosperous future ahead of me. But it all started with that pivotal decision to try something new… to RE-CAREER.

Your journey may be different, but where are our journeys the same?


• Am I too scared to admit that my work isn’t working?

• Have I normalized “survival mode” living?

• Is my career in conflict with my life’s priorities?

• Are my family/friends concerned about my career prospects? Have they tried to talk to me about it?

• Am I stressed, depressed, with dollars that don’t make cents?

• Do I want something different, but have no idea where to start?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it may be time for you to RE-CAREER.

Seasons change, and so must we. What season are you in? If you’re going to work, it might as well be for something that work$ for you in THIS season. Don’t limit yourself to one career like I did. Try something new and give it your all. You may just find, as I did, that life’s better on the other side.

Contact her at  www.jblissguitarstudio.com.

Corporatepreneur to Entrepreneur with Charmaine Brown

Helping you successfully transition from Corporate life to Entrepreneurship with Courage, Clarity, and Community

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4 Finally, READY to turn that idea into a business.

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It’s Time to Give Yourself RADICAL Permission to Build Your Dream Business!

Society tells us that we have to choose between a successful career or a fulfilling life.

I say NO MORE! It’s time to start building the life you have always dreamed with entrepreneurship as the tool.

Hi, I’m Charmaine! I am a Corporatepreneur turned Entrepreneur with a career that spans over 29 years. My successful transition from corporate career to entrepreneurship gave me the motivation to inspire and support women everywhere to make their own transition with courage, clarity and community. My new venture, Corporatepreneur to Entrepreneur, is on a mission to help women just like you find their inner strength and achieve success on their own terms. I am so passionate about helping others reach their goals and dreams and firmly believe that every woman has the power to change the world. You’ve Got This! APPLY TO WORK WITH


Taking Back the Power of AGRICULTURE

When considering the history of American agriculture, it’s not a surprise but by design that the historical influence that the black community and especially black woman, have had on the creative ideas of agriculture have been left out. Historically and culturally the black woman has been recognized as the primary farmers, seedsowers and caregivers of their families.

Farming ability and access as a family-owned and independent practice, has been a highly important factor in the social and economic development of the United States since its founding. Driven by racist policies, inequitable social practices (theft), and systematic racism, the black community has gone from accounting for approximately 15 million acres of farming land in the U.S. in 1919, to holding merely one million acres collectively in farming land today, in 2023.

According to the USDA, it is estimated that there are nearly 19 million residents living in a food desert. These residents reportedly live in low-income, low access areas, and have trouble getting to a grocery store. In Cleveland, Ohio, about 50% of Cleveland residents find themselves in this predicament, with approximately 60% of them being described as “non-white.”I

Currently, urban/community gardening and local food production has become a global trend, with society increasing its awareness and consequently increasing the need and desire for healthier food options. Historically, such access has repeatedly been denied to black families and communities. Practices to combat food shortages in the black community, can be traced back to African women braiding seeds in their hair before being forced from their homelands, to keep hold of their native crops when coming to the new land. Today, many black farmers see nutritious food access as an important strategy to be liberated from social, political, and economic oppression.

Endnote: I Cuyahoga County Board of Health 2018 Supermarket Assessment

Aria Johnson is an avid gardener and a diversity, equity and inclusion professional.

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Throughout history the women in our black communities have ended up farming, not out of desire but out of necessity. We cannot fully understand the possibilities of modern agriculture and how to address these food insecurities in our own neighborhoods, without the documentation and knowledge our people have had on American agriculture. There are several accounts of black leaders and black women who have contributed to the social, scientific, industrial, and political progress in agriculture, and the history of American agriculture cannot be told without the recognition of some of these contributions:


Fannie Lou Hamer - A dedicated Civil Right activist and lifetime farmer, she founded the Freedom Farm Cooperative in 1969. The work of this group helped create opportunities for poor black sharecroppers, like the pig bank and other land, housing and voting opportunities.

2. Henry Blair in 1834, his first invention was patented as a “Seed-Planter” designed specifically to make the process of planting corn faster and simpler.

3. George Washington Carver is one of the most notable agricultural scientists and inventors of the modern American era. Realizing that soil in many southern states had been stripped of essential nutrients like nitrogen from repetitive cotton planting processes, he developed a new method for crop rotation.

4. Leah Penniman co-founded Soul Fire Farm and is the author of the novel, Farming While Black.

The list goes on and I encourage you to take the time and get to know these trailblazers throughout history and the dedication these leaders had and have in making nutritious food accessible to our people. An important and strategical part of true liberation.

5. Dr. Jewel Bronaugh, the first black woman to serve as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, leading agency efforts to diversify its workforce and provide relief to farmers of color. SPRING/SUMMER 2023 | 35

Why You Should Write a Book

There was a time when a writer had to go the traditional route (agent, publishing company) to get their work published. Those days are long gone. I’m certain that there are still aspiring writers out there pursuing a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) or similar degrees in hopes that they can make a lucrative career out of publishing books. With our increasingly distracted society, most of us will not make careers only publishing books. For many, we still need to hold down a day job, have accessible wealth already and/or work as an entrepreneur to keep income flowing. Publishing a book could be an extension of that as another source of revenue.

That said, a few reasons why you should consider writing and publishing a book.

Writing a book raises your public profile.

I co-wrote a memoir with Cleveland reggae pioneer David Smeltz, co-founder and lead singer for the group I-Tal. Already pretty well known in the reggae music scene, the musician and author derailed his own career in the 1990s when his abuse of drugs and alcohol interfered with his home life (his wife divorced him and moved out of state with their girls) and his band went on to enjoy much bigger fame without him. By 2001 though, David was well on his way to recovery. At my sister’s suggestion, I reached out to him after a performance in 2011 to discuss the possibility of writing a book together. With more than a decade of sobriety under his belt, he and I embarked on this writing journey that ended up being one of the best projects of his

life. It took us two years to complete it, with David diligently spending time each week to writing. CLEAN: From Reggae to Recovery was inspired by an article written about him in a local publication. The book premiered at Hessler Street Fair in 2014 and was positively reviewed by Michael Heaton in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. We did several reprints and sold out each time. As part of his recovery, the book allowed David to make amends to his family, bandmates and many others who didn’t understand what was going on with him at the time. (It pains me to say my dear friend David passed away due to complications from Covid-19 in 2021.)

Writing a well-researched book can help you be seen as an “expert,” and will allow you to multipurpose your content for use on social media. Journalists are often looking for sources for stories. If they need a source about a particular subject that you have written about, they may reach out to you as an author/expert. Being a published author lends a person a certain amount of credibility when it comes to being vetted for stories or to appear on programs and/or podcasts. What’s more, you can use the content of your book as a basis for your brand, blog and social media posts, eliminating the need to do double work. Social media is a bottomless pit hungry for content and your book can provide endless nuggets for you to share. And, if they really like your social content, there is a good chance they will purchase your book. And of course, listing your book on Amazon makes it available for anyone in the world to buy.


Writing a book can advance your career. According to Inc. magazine, a book can be a powerful tool to advance your career and establish you as a brand and industry leader. In order for it to work for you, there is planning and research involved to make your book – and your career – a success. We’ve probably all heard that you should “write what you know,” and while that’s good advice, oftentimes you can write about things you don’t know. A thirst for knowledge and thorough research go a long way to creating a successful book. Early on, you should decide what path you wish to take for publishing (traditional, self-publishing, ebook, etc.), and be prepared to spend a lot of time promoting your work after its complete.

If you consider yourself a writer or have always wanted to be an author, publishing a book can not only fulfill a lifetime goal but it can open up your life in unexpected ways.

Check out these fantastic books from Cleveland authors (and Women of Color Foundation Board Members)

Leadership Lessons: Notes from and for the Journey


Leadership Lessons: Notes From and For the Journey is a primer of often hidden or unconscious issues that confront those who are in or aspire to leadership roles. Understanding these could make the difference between successfully navigating the journey to leadership or delaying or derailing it.

Aubrie’s Adventure To Cashland: Aubrie’s Journey Begins!

D. sharP, illustrateD by kalunDa smith

Aubrie, like every little girl, is excited about her upcoming birthday party.

Thinking about her cake, the games, and most of all - the presents - has her over the moon! But Aubrie soon learns that it isn’t material things that provide lasting happiness, it’s opportunities to give back to others, make wise money choices, and save her money for the future.







Book Suggestions

My Love Story

In this New York Times bestseller, Tina Turner—the long-reigning queen of rock & roll and living legend—reveals personal stories she’s never told before in print or film, about her complicated relationship with her mother, the tragic death of her son, and finally finding true love with Erwin, setting the record straight about her illustrious career in this eye-opening and compelling memoir.

From her early years in Nutbush, Tennessee to her rise to fame alongside Ike Turner to her phenomenal success in the 1980s and beyond, Tina candidly examines her personal history, from her darkest hours to her happiest moments and everything in between.

MY LOVE STORY is an explosive and inspiring story of a woman who dared to break any barriers put in her way. Emphatically showcasing Tina’s signature blend of strength, energy, heart, and soul, this is a gorgeously wrought memoir as enthralling and moving as any of her greatest hits.


It was one of the most searing images of the twentieth century: two young boys, two princes, walking behind their mother’s coffin as the world watched in sorrow. As Princess Diana was laid to rest, billions wondered what Prince William and Prince Harry must be thinking and feeling.

For Harry, this is that story at last.

Before losing his mother, twelve-year-old Prince Harry was known as the carefree one, the happy-go-lucky “Spare” to the more serious Heir. Grief changed everything. He struggled at school, struggled with anger, with loneliness—and, because he blamed the press for his mother’s death, he struggled to accept life in the spotlight.

At twenty-one, he joined the British Army. The discipline gave him structure, and two combat tours made him a hero at home. But he soon felt more lost than ever, suffering from post-traumatic stress and prone to crippling panic attacks. Above all, he couldn’t find true love.

Then he met Meghan. The world was swept away by the couple’s cinematic romance and rejoiced in their fairy-tale wedding. But from the beginning, Harry and Meghan were preyed upon by the press, subjected to waves of abuse, racism, and lies. Harry saw no other way to prevent the tragedy of history repeating itself but to flee his mother country – an act few had dared.

For the first time, Prince Harry tells his own story, chronicling his journey with raw, unflinching honesty. A landmark publication, SPARE is full of insight, revelation, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief.


Book Suggestions

Outlive: The Science & Art of Longevity

A groundbreaking manifesto on living better and longer that challenges the conventional medical thinking on aging and reveals a new approach to preventing chronic disease and extending long-term health, from a visionary physician and leading longevity expert.

Wouldn’t you like to live longer? And better? In this operating manual for longevity, Dr. Peter Attia draws on the latest science to deliver innovative nutritional interventions, techniques for optimizing exercise and sleep, and tools for addressing emotional and mental health.

For all its successes, mainstream medicine has failed to make much progress against the diseases of aging that kill most people: heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and type 2 diabetes. Too often, it intervenes with treatments too late to help, prolonging lifespan at the expense of healthspan, or quality of life. Dr. Attia believes we must replace this outdated framework with a personalized, proactive strategy for longevity, one where we take action now, rather than waiting.

This is not “biohacking,” it’s science: a well-founded strategic and tactical approach to extending lifespan while also improving our physical, cognitive, and emotional health. Dr. Attia’s aim is less to tell you what to do and more to help you learn how to think about long-term health, in order to create the best plan for you as an individual. In Outlive, readers will discover:

• Why the cholesterol test at your annual physical doesn’t tell you enough about your actual risk of dying from a heart attack.

• That you may already suffer from an extremely common yet underdiagnosed liver condition that could be a precursor to the chronic diseases of aging.

• Why exercise is the most potent pro-longevity “drug”—and how to begin training for the “Centenarian Decathlon.”

• Why you should forget about diets, and focus instead on nutritional biochemistry, using technology and data to personalize your eating pattern.

• Why striving for physical health and longevity, but ignoring emotional health, could be the ultimate curse of all.

Aging and longevity are far more malleable than we think; our fate is not set in stone. With the right roadmap, you can plot a different path for your life, one that lets you outlive your genes to make each decade better than the one before.


Book Suggestions

The Light We Carry

In an inspiring follow-up to her critically acclaimed, #1 bestselling memoir Becoming, former First Lady Michelle Obama shares practical wisdom and powerful strategies for staying hopeful and balanced in today’s highly uncertain world.

There may be no tidy solutions or pithy answers to life’s big challenges, but Michelle Obama believes that we can all locate and lean on a set of tools to help us better navigate change and remain steady within flux. In The Light We Carry, she opens a frank and honest dialogue with readers, considering the questions many of us wrestle with: How do we build enduring and honest relationships? How can we discover strength and community inside our differences? What tools do we use to address feelings of self-doubt or helplessness?

What do we do when it all starts to feel like too much?

Michelle Obama offers readers a series of fresh stories and insightful reflections on change, challenge, and power, including her belief that when we light up for others, we can illuminate the richness and potential of the world around us, discovering deeper truths and new pathways for progress. Drawing from her experiences as a mother, daughter, spouse, friend, and First Lady, she shares the habits and principles she has developed to successfully adapt to change and overcome various obstacles—the earned wisdom that helps her continue to “become.” She details her most valuable practices, like “starting kind,” “going high,” and assembling a “kitchen table” of trusted friends and mentors. With trademark humor, candor, and compassion, she also explores issues connected to race, gender, and visibility, encouraging readers to work through fear, find strength in community, and live with boldness.

“When we are able to recognize our own light, we become empowered to use it,” writes Michelle Obama. A rewarding blend of powerful stories and profound advice that will ignite conversation, The Light We Carry inspires readers to examine their own lives, identify their sources of gladness, and connect meaningfully in a turbulent world.


$ WCWI to Host 2nd Annual Financial Literacy Conference

As you may know, I’m extremely passionate about financial literacy and empowering women to take control of their finances, break generational curses of poverty and begin creating generational wealth and legacy. I believe the relationship between generational and community wealth is essential to leaving an enduring legacy, and it is this belief that drives my work. As a matter of fact, I’ve spent many years of my career coaching, speaking, and teaching financial literacy and accounting.

Because of my passion and commitment to this work, I founded Women Creating Wealth & Impact (WCWI). WCWI’s mission is to provide a safe platform that will inspire, empower, educate, and transform the financial futures of women through the practical application of sustainable financial techniques. Our vision is to be a leading organization in the advancement and transformation of women’s financial competencies and practices, impacting their legacy and manifesting generational wealth.

WCWI will host its 2nd Annual Wealth Conference, August 18-20, 2023. The conference will be held at the Westin Cleveland downtown. During this conference, women will participate in a robust curriculum and leave with tangible tools and resources that will transform their financial futures. Women will assess their current understanding of what it means to be financially literate, learn the key components of financial wellness, identify their personal SMART goals, develop and customize a personal strategy to achieve their goals in the following areas:

• Financial Planning/Budgeting

• Estate Planning

• Credit Restoration/Debt Consolidation

• Retirement Planning, Investment, and Insurance

• Entrepreneurship

• Real Estate Investing

• Advanced Investing for Wealth & Legacy

• Investing in Franchises

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said, “When you teach a man, you teach an individual, but when you teach a woman, you teach a nation.” A nation rises on the wisdom that is imparted to women.

For more information about this conference, please visit www.womencreatingwealth.com

D. Sharp is a certified public accountant and a managing partner at Creating Leading Enterprises (CLE), an accounting and consulting firm.


Give Back to Your Community

Volunteer with SCORE and assist local businesses and nonpro ts

Make a real di erence in your community, share your unique skills and experiences and empower others to live their livelong dreams of starting a small business or a nonpro t by joining SCORE!

SCORE is a nationwide organization comprised of over 10,000 volunteers providing free mentoring, workshops and educational services to 1,500 plus communities across the country. In Northeast Ohio, we’re looking for volunteers who understand and appreciate the importance, value, and power of diversity – diversity of people and diversity of thought.

Begin your journey as a SCORE mentor

Learn more at www.score.org/cleveland



No matter where you are in your journey, JumpStart surrounds you with the people and resources you need to go further, faster.

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