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PRIDE May-June 2010

Charlotte’s African-American Magazine

Business Issue

Meet a few of Charlotte’s corporate power players

African American-owned Mechanics and Farmers Bank in business for more than a century

Dollars & cents

Entrepreneurs launch businesses in a tough economy Program for nontraditional students helps them attend college

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wants to get back to simpler times.

Home can’t wait for crayon drawings to be hung on refrigerators again. Home is ready for the big worry of the day to be what to do with Dad. We’re here to make a commitment to home and to homeowners. A commitment to stand up for responsible lending. And to help create

successful homeowners who feel confident knowing they’ve chosen the home loan that is right for them. Starting now, home has a new address. Bank of America Home Loans.

Our commitment is never far from you. Call 704.602.7348 (Charlotte North), 980.275.5328 (Charlotte South), or 704.556.3000 (South Park) to speak to a mortgage professional in the Charlotte area, or go to Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender. Credit and collateral are subject to approval. Terms and conditions apply. This is not a commitment to lend. Programs, rates, terms and conditions are subject to change without notice. © 2009 Bank of America Corporation. AR94000

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Are you hiding the real you? Intensive In-Home Services Diagnostic Assessments Crisis Intervention Basic Living Skills/Individuals & Groups One-on-One Person Centered Support Life Coaching/Mentoring Family Counseling Medication Administration It’s okay to take off the shades. Call one of our regional offices for more information: Atlanta 404-988-1940

Charlotte 704-342-9595

New Orleans 504-355-4102

Herb Gray, CEO Life Enhancement Services

We know it’s difficult for people with mental health, d eve lo pm en ta l d is a bili ti es a n d beh a vio r a l disorders to cope with life. Life Enhancement Services offers unparalleled services to help these individuals live life with value and uncompromised dignity. We create hope and we’re here to help.

You could bank anywhere. What better motivation could we need? WE KNOW YOU HAVE A LOT OF CHOICES when it comes to your banking these days. Which is why we are continually working to find ways to serve you better. To offer options that might make your life just a little easier. And to continue to treat you as an individual, not just an account number. So to all of our clients, a simple thank you.




BBT. Member FDIC. Only deposit products are FDIC insured. Š2008 BB&T.

With you when Personal aspirations. Career plans. Financial goals. You have a vision of where you want to go. We focus on how to get you there. Whether you want to own a home, start a business or better manage your finances, we can help you build and maintain your wealth. We offer the financial education programs, a long history of fair and responsible lending, plus the products and services you need to grow. We’ve loaned $1 billion to African-American entrepreneurs since 1998, and last year set a new goal to lend an additional $1 billion by 2018. At Wachovia, we’re with you to help preserve your financial foundation today and help you build on it for tomorrow. For more information, please contact Reginald Gaither, Business Relationship Manager, at 704-442-6864 or e-mail him at You may also contact Jenise Tate, Business Relationship Manager, at 704-442-6859 or e-mail her at

© 2010 Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Wachovia Bank and Wachovia Bank of Delaware are divisions of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. Member FDIC. ECG-213614

May-June 2010

Departments 10 From the Publisher 12 Notable Names 13 Book Review ‘Blood Colony’ 16 B  y Faith Lay ministry can help 24 G  reen Movement Go green for Charlotte 30 Creative Arts Meet the man with the plan 63 Parenthood Corner Teach children about money 64 Styles and Profiles


65 Calendar


Business 54 Career Advice Find a mentor 56 Commercial Real Estate Reluctance to invest 58 Saving Money Avoid overdrawing accounts


59 Small Business Entrepreneurs turn to Internet 60 Business Start-Up How to succeed in business 61 Smart Thinking Take stock of resources

Health 42 Eye Care Optical issues affect work 44 Integrative Health Coping with allergies 46 Personal Training Work that body with DVDs 48 Dental Care The perils of periodontitis

26 Features 14 A  different breed Longtime dog lover becomes an expert on Labrador Retrievers 18 S  weet Success 9-year-old entrepreneur has a sweet business 20 D  ollars and cents Mechanics and Farmers CEO guides bank during pivotal period  ower players 26 P Local executives see advances, challenges in diversity among corporations 32 A  dventures in entrepreneurship Business owners launch, grow their businesses in a tough economy  ord play 36 W Memuna Williams creates success out of talent for learning languages 40 B  rain booster Center helps clients sharpen mental acuity, agility 52 P  erfect fit JCSU’s Metropolitan College targets nontraditional students May-June 2010 | Pride Magazine


Building on a strong foundation over 100 years of community development, corporate citizenship, and over 100 years of committed customer service .




WWW.MFBONLINE.COM | 1-800-433-8283









Charlotte’s African-American Magazine

CEO Dee Dixon

Publisher Torrey Feimster (704) 375-9553

Editor Constance Holloway

Editorial Assistant Angela Lindsay Hilst

Creative Director Fabi Preslar

Office Manager Ricci Pullum

Public Relations Nepherterra Estrada

Sales & Distribution (704) 375-9553

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Design & Production SPARK Publications

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Examination & treatment of the eye & visual system Designer frames at affordable prices

Subscribe to Pride $13.25. Please subscribe online at or mail to P.O. Box 30113, Charlotte, NC 28230

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Letters to the Editor

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Please e-mail to, fax to (704) 375-9550 or mail to Pride Magazine 312 W. Trade St., Suite 600, Charlotte, NC 28202

Lasik evaluations

On the Cover Mechanics and Farmers CEO Kim D. Saunders in front of penny sculpture outside the bank’s main branch. The statue represents Mechanics and Farmers’ historical commitment to entrepreneurialism and self-help. Photo by Tye Feimster

Dr. Paula R. Newsome Optometrist Pride Magazine prints with soy ink as part of its going green effort. Vol. 18 No. 3 May-June 2010 All rights reserved for PRIDE Communications Inc.

1016 S.Church St.

Charlotte, NC 28203


tel 704.375.3935

fax 704.333.7238

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May-June 2010 | Pride Magazine



Corporate citizenship by Torrey Feimster


espite this horrific downturn in the economy; despite a rising unemployment rate; despite the threat of closures of public schools, libraries and vital government programs, I strongly believe that Charlotte is still the place to be. I have been encouraged by the high rankings this city continues to receive in various categories, such as the third-most-popular move destination, the second-best place to start a business and one of America’s most livable communities. I have also been encouraged by recent announcements of companies expanding within or relocating to Charlotte. And of course, with expansion and relocation comes job growth, which is a huge measuring stick of a healthy and vibrant economy. But I believe we tend to overlook the fact that companies tremendously help improve the quality of life through corporate citizenship and social responsibility.

Moving in the right direction

Corporate giving tremendously helps improve the quality of life in Charlotte.

It seems as though every other week there is a major announcement of a company expanding within Charlotte, consolidating its headquarters here or relocating to the region. Just recently, Siemens Energy expanded its operations. Electrolux and Husqvarna consolidated their North American corporate headquarters. U.S. Bancorp opened a trading floor uptown and Fifth Third Bank moved its regional headquarters uptown as well. According to the Charlotte Chamber’s economic development research and information, the first quarter of 2010 has seen substantial growth. There were 206 new and expanded firms that produce 3,817 jobs, which is the largest first-quarter growth in employment in 10 years! There is no doubt job growth is great, but with corporate expansion and relocation comes growth in corporate citizenship, which is alive and well in this community. Established companies in the region help set great examples to follow. I attended a scholarship luncheon at Johnson C. Smith University a few weeks ago, where the Belk Foundation donated about a half-million dollars toward the university’s Retail Management Endowed Scholars Programs. At the conclusion of the luncheon, Food Lion made a surprise donation to the school’s scholarship fund. Needless to say, such generosity will improve the quality of life on JCSU’s campus for years to come. These are a couple examples of how many companies (and I wish I had time to name them all) are giving back and investing in the Charlotte community.

Responsibility a top priority Corporate citizenship is a term that describes a company’s willingness to be responsible for the effect its business has on the community, customers, employees and the environment. Corporate citizenship describes the proactive means a company takes to encourage community growth and development while discouraging harmful practices in society. From a corporate perspective, companies realize that corporate citizenship and social responsibility have a strong correlation with their bottom line, brand loyalty recruitment, retention and productivity. We have a feature on page 26 highlighting a few emerging executives of companies that have great reputations of giving back. These individuals help determine the level of involvement their companies have in our community. Take my friend Kevin Henry, for instance. Although he is new to Lance, Henry has a history of philanthropy and personal involvement with charitable organizations. Also, I had a chance to speak with Michael Jones, another gentleman featured in the same article. Jones is president of the Americas at Husqvarna. He is a recent transplant from Connecticut who already has his eyes set on ways his company will have an impact. So remember, when Mayor Anthony Foxx or Gov. Beverly Perdue announces the next company to relocate to Charlotte, we can celebrate job growth and improvement in the quality of life for the people in our community.

Egypt, anyone? Back by popular demand and for the third year in a row, Pride has a trip set for Egypt, Sept. 14, 2010. Call Dee for details at (704) 375-9553. 10

Pride Magazine | May-June 2010

The things we do for

lower payments.





Closing Costs

A Fifth Third Bank Easy Home Refi Loan can help you in many ways. Use it to lower the rate or payment on your existing mortgage, pay off high-interest bills, or finance home improvements. Along with low Closing Costs, you get a low fixed rate and payment for the life of the loan. Applying is quick and easy, and your closing will take place at your local Fifth Third Banking Center. Give us a call at 1-866-53-LOANS or visit to see what we can do for you.

Offer as of 11/01/09. Subject to credit review and approval. Offer available on first lien refinances only. Interest may be tax deductible (consult your tax advisor). Rate, terms, and conditions are subject to change without notice. In Georgia, intangible taxes apply and will generally range from $30 to $1,251. In Florida, doc stamp and intangible taxes apply and will generally range from $55 to $2,294. In Tennessee, recordation taxes apply and will generally range from $9.20 to $477. The total cost of these taxes is based upon the loan amount (the highest number is based on a $417,000 loan amount). The taxes for properties in Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee are not part of the $299 Closing Costs and are required to be paid in addition to the $299 Closing Costs. Fifth Third Bank, Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.



Ayofemi Hunter-Kirby always knew she would end up in the nonprofit sector. While working at Wachovia, she volunteered with Generation Engage and eventually accepted a full-time position as community director before its recent merger with Mobilize. org, where she is currently the program manger. “Millennials (adults ages 18-34) have a tendency to want to take things into their own hands,” she explains. “So what does is we work with government officials, we work with private foundations, we work with … nonprofit organizations and millennials to make sure that they are aware of the resources around them and to funnel those resources into projects that they are working on or have developed on the ground level . . .” It was her experience developing campaigns as a marketing and financial development intern with the YMCA while in college that ultimately drew her to nonprofit work as a profession, seeing “how the money was being reinvested into the community and really having an effect on people’s lives.” Hunter-Kirby majored in journalism and history at UNC Chapel Hill. She is a member of the Charlotte Area Association of Black Journalists. In 2008, The Charlotte Observer named her “One of Seven Shaping Our Region.”


“Even as a child, I understood the value of your appearance and your image towards your success,” says Arkansas native William Wilson, owner of William Wilson Clothing. The clothier was in the Navy for 8 ½ years, serving in the Special Operations Unit, Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm before moving to Charlotte 12 years ago. His career in men’s fashion “fell into his lap” when he worked at his residential framing company, where he got noticed for his appearance on job sites. After a homeowner asked Wilson for assistance with his wardrobe, the requests began pouring in for his talents. Wilson’s private, invitationonly company caters to NFL players and R&B singer Calvin Richardson, who won the award for Best Dressed on the Red Carpet at this year’s Grammy Awards in a Wilson ensemble. Wilson earned a business management degree and a master’s in economics from the University of Arkansas. He is president of the University of Arkansas Alumni Association and serves on the board of the National Hispanic Entrepreneurs Organization and the advisory board of the National Business Association. He served on the auction committee for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation gala and is a member of the American Legion.


For Jeff Hood, it’s all about the children. Last year, he became executive director of the Police Athletic League. The program includes an instructional and educational after-school enrichment program, a summer camp enrichment program, photojournalism classes, dance lessons for girls, a horticultural community garden program, tutorials, and a free annual threeday college tour for PAL members in the seventh to 12th grades. Hood says his passion for helping children stems from growing up Queens, N.Y., and the dedication of his 80-year-old mother, who still works in the education system there. “People invested a lot of time in me growing up in the communities that I was raised in in New York, and I just have that ability and that capacity to want to keep giving back as well, getting it honestly from my mom,” he shares. Hood is credited with initiating the annual Athletes for Youth Celebrity Golf Charity Classic and the Bojangles’ High School Basketball Shootout. He is an executive board member of The 100 Black Men of Greater Charlotte, chairperson for the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council and sits on the board for the McCrorey Family YMCA. He attended N.C. Wesleyan and is married and has a daughter.


Gregory C. Harris might have started his position as chief of police at Johnson C. Smith University on Feb. 15, but he is no stranger to law enforcement. The Columbus, Ga., native has more than 21 years of experience, including serving as chief of police at South Carolina State University, Clemson University and Columbus State University. Harris previously worked as a special agent and senior narcotics agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigations and a counterintelligence agent in the Army. He directed security for a parking venue during the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta and managed security operations at the 2007 Democratic presidential debate at South Carolina State University. “I was born to be of service to the community,” he says, crediting his schoolteacher mother with impressing upon him the importance of helping others. A talented vocalist and avid golfer, he graduated magna cum laude from Saint Leo University with a degree in criminology and earned a master’s degree in public administration from Kennesaw State University. Harris is a member of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He belongs to Omega Psi Phi fraternity and is married and has a son. P — Compiled by Angela Lindsay Hilst


Pride Magazine | May-June 2010


‘Blood Colony’ by Angela Haigler

“Blood Colony” is an exquisite mixture of rich and lovingly drawn details juxtaposed with rather lengthy dialogue.


merican Book Award winner Tananarive Due burst onto the literary scene in 1994 with her first book “The Between.” Since then she has penned a number of mystical fiction books. “Blood Colony” is the third novel in her series about a group of African immortals. A hefty read, “Blood Colony” is for those who relish a luxurious, slow-moving book. Due introduces us to Fana, the daughter of the immortal David, and her mother, Jessica. Fana is a troubled teenager who seems like a typical girl in the beginning. However Fana’s character later endures experiences that typical teenagers don’t usually encounter. We also meet Fana’s father, David, or “Dawit,” who is also a fascinating and intriguing character. Due’s black male characters are often strong, charismatic, sensitive and loving —yet uniquely tortured. Due’s David and his brothers who are also immortals fit this mode. Within the story of the supernatural also lies the love story of David and Jessica who are parents, lovers and husband and wife. “Blood Colony” is an exquisite mixture of rich and lovingly drawn details juxtaposed with rather lengthy dialogue: Standing so close to Dawit but still missing the man she

had married, immersed in his unchanged scent, Jessica felt sadness to no end. In her long silence, Dawit walked away from her to the foot of their bed and picked up the small black flight bag he still hadn’t had time to unpack. He held it against his chest, waiting. Jessica couldn’t ask him to stay, even though her anger had been replaced by a hole. “I don’t know you, Dawit. Still.” You can, Jess. You will,” he said. “But please remember this. When I first found you giving your blood away I warned you nothing but heartache was ahead. I told you there was a reason we had lived so long in secrecy and had shunned mortals so.” That was true. Jessica could never say he hadn’t warned her. There are several story lines going at the same time in the book, making it difficult to keep up with at times. Another aspect of the book that makes it a challenging read is the feeling that you’re missing something if you haven’t read the first two books in the series. For those with the time to indulge in a nice long “Sunday afternoon” type of novel, with good, strong writing, “Blood Colony” won’t be a disappointment. P

May-June 2010 | Pride Magazine


Longtime dog lover becomes an expert on Labrador Retrievers

A different breed Michael Meeks uses his business to teach his son, Alex, left, responsibility. by Lee Rhodes photos by Jon Strayhorn


Pride Magazine | May-June 2010

A “

dog doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his.” So says John Grogan in his best-selling book, “Marley and Me,” in which he pays tribute to his beloved Labrador Retriever. Michael Meeks, who has been raising champion Labradors (Labs) for the past decade, recognized years ago just how special this breed really is. “I always had dogs growing up, but not Labs,” he

recounts. “Then I bought one for my son and here we are 10 years later.” Known for being intelligent, mellow and family friendly, Labs are easy to train, according to Meeks. He cites the abundance of Labs that are used by police departments and as Seeing Eye dogs. And Meeks will train his own dogs for their would-be owners — house-training and beyond — if the new owners so desire. “I chose that breed due to its versatility,” he continues. “You can hunt with them;

you can walk and ride bikes with them; and they’re good with children. Yet you can also leave the kids out in the yard with the dog and nobody will mess with the kids because of the dog’s natural instinct to protect.”

Careful attention to dogs’ needs Meeks researched the breed for a year before he began his business, and today he makes a full-time living as a breeder, raising around 15 Labs on his Gastonia property at any given time. What began with newspaper ads and fliers is now buoyed by repeat buyers and glowing referrals. And many of his Labs have gone on to participate in the dog show circuit and to win awards. A typical day for Meeks involves the care of the dogs — food, water, de-worming, checking for ticks or anything else that requires treatment, sterilization of the kennels — and visits from prospective owners, as many as a dozen a day. “A few times a week, I have six or seven kids in my backyard playing with the dogs,” he explains. “The dogs are very well socialized.”

Meeks researched the breed for a year before he began his business, and today he makes a full-time living as a breeder, raising around 15 Labs on his Gastonia property at any given time. Meeks lets the dogs out for several hours at a time for exercise and play, and they can often be found swimming in nearby lakes or following his four-wheeler into the woods for romps. He considers all of the dogs “pets,” even though they’re used for breeding, and he treats them as such from birth. It might be this attitude that has led to Meeks’ reputation as the go-to animal guy in

his area. People bring him all manner of stray dogs on a regular basis, despite the fact that his business is known as “Michael’s Labs.” As the only breeder in the area, he also fields phone calls about everything from birds to snakes. “I try and do what I can for people,” he says.

Expert on breeding and bloodlines He also ensures that his own dogs will go to good homes, screening prospective owners when they visit, and offering this advice for people in the market for a new puppy: “People need to research the breed and make sure it will fit with their family before they buy it,” he says. “Don’t buy a dog because you think it’s cute.” His familiarity with Labs began with chocolate Labs. Today, he offers chocolates, whites, blacks, yellow and the unique silver lab, an elegant animal resembling a Weimaraner. Regarding the latter, Meeks researched thoroughly to ensure the silver’s validity, and today he’s one of only three silver Lab breeders in the state. He’s an expert on breeding and bloodlines, as you’d expect, but admits that it’s not an exact science. “I can look at the pedigrees and figure out what to put with what,” he says. “But just because you put two black dogs together doesn’t mean you’ll have black puppies. You may not get any black puppies out of that litter.” He is ever-vigilant in his approach to breeding: he will not cross bloodlines and when he wants a new dog for his kennel, he’ll travel to a different state. Also, he won’t breed a dog until it’s at least 2 years old, and he won’t breed a dog back-toback. All of Meeks’ Labs, which cost $500 to $2,500 depending on color and whether he trains the animal, come with a two-year health warranty. Meeks’ future plans include an expansion of his facilities in the hopes of housing more of his beloved Labs. For now, he’s content to interact with his dogs on a daily basis and to watch his 14-year old son, Alex, do the same. He uses his business as a way to teach his son responsibility. “There’s a bond between a man and a dog that can’t be broken,” Meeks concludes. Or, as John Grogan put it: “A person can learn a lot from a dog … Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart.” P

“I chose that breed due to its versatility. You can hunt with them; you can walk and ride bikes with them; and they’re good with children.” – Michael Meeks

“There’s a bond between a man and a dog that can’t be broken,” says Michael Meeks.

May-June 2010 | Pride Magazine



by the Rev. Dwayne Bond

Community of counselors

Lay ministry can help the church tend to its congregation


ur society is full of individuals with relational, social, emotional, physical and financial hurts, needs and challenges. The complexities of the human soul require church leaders to consider exploring the necessity of a lay counseling ministry. Instead of referring our “counseling” needs outside of the church, imagine a church community with every member ministering and offering mutual care. In the Book of Acts, the early believers reaped the benefits of being in community with one another (Acts 2:44-47). Within this community, believers were harmoniously sharing, serving, giving, sacrificing, fellowshipping, worshiping and multiplying. Elders shepherded, ruled and preached (Acts 6) while the people served one another. When a church starts a lay counseling ministry, it frees itself to create a biblical community where every member is ministering. There are practical ways to seamless integrate a lay counseling ministry into an existing church. There should be no planning without the Lord’s direction of your steps (Proverbs 19:6). Begin by gathering a few people committed to fervent prayer. Humbly approach leadership with the intent of sharing the vision and discern its interest in spiritual friendship training. As you sense God’s direction, labor alongside


Pride Magazine | May-June 2010

leadership to assist as needed. Remember, lay ministry is an opportunity to be a submissive partnership with the leadership and not a license to seek to lead the church (Ephesians 4:11).

Choose lay counselors carefully As you begin dreaming about the impact of lay counseling, think through the selection requirements

for a group of people to participate in a pilot group (2 Timothy 2:2). Paul says we should “commit” or place nearby for safekeeping those things that we deem precious enough to be passed on. In other words, a pilot should consist of people who can steward the vision well. It is wise to consider believers who are teachable, faithful, submissive, discreet, blameless and have a heart for people. Being a

spiritual superhero and the most popular person aren’t requirements according to God, as noted in Samuel (1 Samuel 16:7). Since the nature of this type of ministry involves personal interaction with confidential matters, it’s key to have processes to wean out those who might not be able to handle this pilot responsibility. What learning objectives should be covered within this pilot? A

When a church starts a lay counseling ministry, it frees itself to create a biblical community where every member is ministering.

When biblical foundation is critical to a fruitful lay counseling ministry. There are several areas that need to be considered before establishing a curriculum:

Emphasis on theology A vibrant lay counseling ministry must have theology at its foundation. Mankind has been created in the image and likeness of God, according to Genesis 1:26-28, which says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’ (Genesis 5:1; Colossians 3:9; James 3:9; 1 John 3:1).” Mankind was created to relate to God, experience God, journey with God, celebrate God and be like God. However, man rebelled (Genesis 3:6) against his creator (Genesis 3), wanting his own way. Consequently, man experiences social estrangement from God and in human relationships. In addition to the weightiness of sin, there exists an intense reality of suffering. Man is no longer living in paradise. Because man was tempted and deceived, he attempts to quench his own thirst instead of allowing God to satisfy him. Redemption is God’s gift to man in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:23; 5:8, 9; 6:23; 10:9, 10; Colossians 1:15-22). Jesus came to redeem depraved mankind and seeks to restore him to his image (Colossians 3:9). Lay counseling understands and appreciates sin and suffering as it is unfolding in creation. To minister effectively, “every member” must be equipped to understand how the human personality has been shaped.

Emphasis on biblical community


came to Charlotte

She talked to only one station

Another area embedded within a lay counseling curriculum should include a passion to restore biblical community within the context of the local church. Community has always existed (Genesis 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; 2 Samuel 23:2; Isaiah 48:16; Matthew 3:16, 17; 12:18; 28:19; Luke 1:35; John 3:34; John 17:11; Ephesians 4:4). A lay counseling pilot as well as a ministry should seek to create a community that will facilitate openness, harmony and communion.

Emphasis on relational competencies Exploring relational competencies is another key to a successful lay counseling ministry. Emotional awareness (Lamentations 3:20; Psalm 42; John 12:27), wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 10:19) and walking in the spirit (Galatians 5:16-26) should be engrained in each member in order to discover his or her strengths and weaknesses in relating. Other competencies to be explored should be listening, affirming, reflecting, silence and the ability to communicate without judging.

Emphasis on spiritual friendship Spiritual friendship involves walking with someone through the complexity of life. In order to journey with each participant, the group facilitator should enter into a mentoring and coaching relationship with each group member. Within this relationship a journey partner is provided so that the participant is mentored (2 Timothy 1:5, 6). Throughout Paul’s three missionary journeys recorded in Acts, he mentored and coached his leaders and elders to prepare them for their shepherding responsibilities in his absence. Likewise, lay counseling should have a built-in component of coaching. After a lay counseling pilot has met for several weeks, it’s important that an apprentice is identified who will lead the next group in order to multiply the ministry impact throughout the church. Competent lay counselors can address pathology, psychology and depravity within the church. Unleashing lay counselors will undoubtedly enhance and modify the DNA of your church. P The Rev. Dwayne Bond is lead pastor of Wellspring Church.

Dave Wagner

Sonja Gantt

Exclusive Stories... Important Newsmakers May-June 2010 | Pride Magazine


by Tiffany L. Jones photos by Greg Briley


Pride Magazine | May-June 2010

Taylor Starling plans to open a candy store later this year.


success I

t was at the age of 7 that Taylor Starling came up with the idea to start her own business. “When we moved here from Philadelphia two years ago I wanted to meet new friends, so I started a business that would allow me to cater to my peers,” says Taylor, who now has not only lots of friends but loyal customers. Taylor’s Candy Café caters to first- through sixth-graders and sells individually packaged snacks, as well as customized gift baskets ranging from $7 to $60. An idea all her own, Taylor’s Candy Café may be small in size, but it’s big in entrepreneurial spirit. Don’t let the school uniform and ponytails fool you; after just five minutes with Taylor, you’ll forget you’re talking to a 9-year-old. She’s smart, dedicated, ambitious and she has plans well beyond Taylor’s Candy Café. “We didn’t have any vending machines in school and I know kids like snacks, so I sell them what they want and they love it. Right now I only sell my snacks at the afterschool program, but soon I hope to provide them during the day also,” says Taylor, who dedicates about an hour a day to her business ventures. “Christmas was very busy; I had to get the whole family to help me fill the gift basket orders.” Taylor didn’t stop with the candy cart. She saw how easy it was to make money and wanted to make more, so she pursued her idea to sell and manage gumball machines. “I

Members of the Starling family: Etienne, left, Taylor, Makaela, Marquise and Ashley.

felt that a lot of the local businesses could use a gum ball machine,” says Taylor, who now manages numerous gumball machines throughout the city, including one at a Devry. “We call them gumball machines, but we offer other kinds of candy, Mike & Ike’s, Skittles, etc. Each month we add more candy and collect the money. It’s a great business.”

Taylor plans to open her first store, Taylor’s Candy Café, in late 2010 and eventually expand across the country. “I want to go to college, open an animal shelter and continue to focus on my business. I plan to retire at age 40 and give my business to my children.” Taylor enjoys making money, but she also believes in giving back. It was her choice to donate 20 percent of her proceeds to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. P May-June 2010 | Pride Magazine


by Angela Lindsay Hilst

Dollars & cents Photo by Tye Feimster

African American-owned Mechanics and Farmers Bank in business for more than a century


Pride Magazine | May-June 2010


hen a business mogul

“When Mechanics and Farmers Bank was founded a century ago, there wasn’t a place where there was easy access to capital for our community, and that still is an issue,” she explains. “One of the most rewarding things that we do is we provide access to capital. We continue to provide services in underserved communities. We continue to have doors that swing on welcome hinges where you can actually come in and have a conversation with a bank representative about your dreams and financial aspirations, and where you have a safe place to deposit your money . . . Again, something that many people continue to look for in their banks — those key principles — were what we were founded on, and those key principles continue today.

like David Rockefeller tells you that the key to success is self-

discipline, you take heed. That is what he told Kim D. Saunders. And she listened.

Elite group starts bank with $10,000 Since 1908, Mechanics and Farmers, a state-chartered FDIC member commercial bank, has operated continuously and profitably. It was founded in Durham by

— Kim D. Saunders

Photo courtesy of Mechanics and Farmers Bank

In 2007, Saunders became only the second woman to be named president and CEO of Mechanics and Farmers Bank. She guided the bank through its first merger in 85 years with the acquisition of Mutual Community Savings Bank Inc. SSB in 2008. She also has led the management team’s efforts to maintain the bank’s 102-year track record of profitability. In Black Enterprise magazine’s February 2010 issue, she was named one of the 75 most powerful women in business among the likes of Catherine Hughes of Radio One Inc., Debra Lee of BET Holdings and media maven Oprah Winfrey. And all of this success began in the mind of a very focused young girl. As only the seventh African-American graduate from St. Catherine’s all-girls prep school in Richmond, which she attended on a full scholarship, Saunders saw the power of wealth and economics from an early age. “The school was founded in the 1800s, and it was predominantly white and predominantly wealthy young ladies,” she says. “So just the opportunity to really see firsthand the benefits of wealth in this country and to understand that, generally as a community, we don’t have access to those opportunities, we don’t have access to that magnitude of wealth and all the benefits that accrue with that, led me to consider, ‘OK, what could I do to really benefit our community and to create opportunities for us to have access to capital, and how could I gain a better understanding of finance and all of its benefits . . .’” That desire to learn more about wealth creation, money and economics led her to study finance at the Wharton School of Finance. While there, Saunders was selected to participate in the highly competitive Chase Manhattan Bank Minority Summer Internship Program where she “fell in love with banking” and, 25 years later, she is still enamored with the business, particularly as it relates to the African-American community.

“We continue to have doors that swing on welcome hinges where you can actually come in and have a conversation with a bank representative about your dreams and financial aspirations, and where you have a safe place to deposit your money.”

Back row, left: Lenny Springs, Mechanics and Farmers Bank board of director and Charlotte City Advisory Board member; Harvey Gantt, Charlotte City Advisory Board member; the Rev. Jerry Cannon. (center back row) Charlotte City Advisory Board member; Geraldine Sumter; Charlotte City Advisory Board member; Dr. Michael Stout, Charlotte City Advisory Board member. Front row, left: Tanya Dial-Bethune, vice president/city executive for Charlotte; Walter S. Tucker, Charlotte City Advisory Board: Chairman Kim D. Saunders, president and CEO, Mechanics and Farmers Bank; Lem Long Jr., Charlotte City Advisory Board member. May-June 2010 | Pride Magazine


“I always say it’s good business, whether you’re a large corporation or a smaller company, to do business with banks like Mechanics and Farmers Bank, because we’re in the heart of the community.”

continued that track record.” While Saunders points out that Mechanics and Farmers Bank does not just serve African-Americans and has “a diverse population of customers,” she emphasizes that such historical, black-owned financial institutions must be preserved. “They’re important for two reasons. We have a focus on what we would consider to be a ‘double bottom line,’ which means that not only are we trying to do well, but we’re also trying to do good,” she explains. “That means that we are reinvesting right back into the heart of the community. If you look at where all of our branches are located — Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro, Winston Salem, Charlotte — many of them sit right near HBCUs, right in the heart of the urban center, right in the heart of the urban community, and (in) many of our American cities, the urban communities are the ones that we are trying to revitalize, the ones that we are trying to sustain, and here is a community bank that sits right in the heart

— Kim D. Saunders

Photo by Tye Feimster

a diverse group of medical professionals, educators and business owners who were already active in the community and helped establish what became known as “Black Wall Street.” They funded the initial $10,000 capital out of their own resources to start the bank, which now includes seven branches across the region. It expanded to Charlotte in 1962. In 1935, Mechanics and Farmers became North Carolina’s first lending institution to be certified by the Federal Housing Administration, with assets exceeding $1 million that same year. As of December 31, 2010, the bank’s assets totaled approximately $274 million. “M&F is blessed to be able to say that it has been profitable every year since we opened our doors in 1908,” she says. “So, more than a century of consecutive profitability is something that very few companies in our country can claim, and certainly many banks are challenged during these economic times, and we have

‘They’ve been very good to work with’

Photo by Greg Briley

Greater Mount Sinai Baptist Church (Charlotte) additional facility financed by Mechanics and Farmers. The expansion was designed by Huberman Architects and constructed by Randolph and Son Builder.

Inside the classroom area of the new expansion. 22

Pride Magazine | May-June 2010

of those centers that is reinvesting the resources right back into the community to help to build businesses . . . So, I always say it’s good business, whether you’re a large corporation or a smaller company, to do business with banks like Mechanics and Farmers Bank, because we’re in the heart of the community. You know you’re money is traveling right where you live, right where you work, and you’re helping to revitalize your own neighborhoods, and that’s important.”

An example of the bank’s commitment to neighborhood reinvestment is its financing of the recent expansion of Greater Mount Sinai Baptist Church on West Boulevard in Charlotte. The additional facility, designed by Gantt Huberman Architects and constructed by Randolph and Son Builders, is a two-story, 30,000-square-foot, mixed-use building housing more than a dozen classrooms and lecture rooms, a canteen and kitchenette, a computer room and a gymnasium with a basketball court and a walking track. The grand opening is expected to be held this month.

Photo by Tye Feimster

CEO Kim Saunders, left, conducts a staff meeting at the company’s headquarters.

Working through tough times Prior to joining Mechanics and Farmers, Saunders accepted the challenging position of president and CEO of Consolidated Bank and Trust, then the oldest African American-owned bank in the country, which was struggling financially at the time. Ultimately, she and her team were able to revitalize the entire management team, board and infrastructure and successfully restore the bank to profitability for the first time in six years. Her team also managed to satisfy all of the regulatory requirements to have the bank’s cease-and-desist order with regulators lifted. Her colleagues believe she brings that same commitment and work ethic to Mechanics and Farmers. “I think generally speaking there is a tremendous air of respect for, certainly, her knowledge,” says James “Jim” Stewart, chairman of the board of directors for Mechanics and Farmers Bank/M&F Bancorp Inc. “She brings an ethic of very

Photo by Greg Briley

According to the church’s senior pastor, the Rev. George Cook Jr., the expansion will provide recreational and educational programs every day, including training in the computer room and the possibility of a school for at-risk male youth in the neighborhood. Theophilus Woodley, a trustee and chairman of the building committee at Greater Mount Sinai, says the church, which had previously used Wachovia, chose to do business with Mechanics and Farmers because of “the ease of being able to work with them.” “They simply had the best package,” he adds. “They have given us basically whatever we’ve asked for. They’ve been open. They’ve been very good to work with.”

Trustees of Greater Mount Sinai Church, with Mechanics and Farmers’ CEO Kim Saunders and Tanya Dial-Bethune, vice president/city executive for Charlotte (second and third from left), stand in the indoor basketball court of the new facility. From left: The Rev. George Cook Jr., Saunders, Dial-Bethune, Theophilus Woodley, Miller Jamerson, W.L. Lipscomb and Carlo McKoy.

hard work to the bank, and I think other people see that and have great respect for that, and I think they’ve adapted very well to her new leadership.” During her tenure with Mechanics and Farmers Bank, Saunders plans to accomplish at least two primary goals: to sustain the bank’s record of profitability and to continue to help build generational wealth. Being in such a competitive financial market, she also hopes to increase the bank’s presence. “You can’t stand still and think that you’re making progress,” she states. “So, absolutely we see opportunities in the future. Right now we’re staying focused on the foundation of the institution. These are economically challenging times. I think we’re going to continue to see challenges,

maybe for the next 18 to 24 months economically in our country. So while we’re hearing some good news, it’s going to take awhile for us to dig out of all the devastation the country just went through. But once we get through that, Mechanics and Farmers will be, I think, well poised for growth.” From the leadership Saunders has demonstrated thus far, Stewart agrees. “I think it’s important that any institution have a leader that can lead them in an environment of today and in the future,” he says. “I think that, in general, she has a tremendous knowledge of the complex world of banking and that knowledge coupled with her ethic of hard work means a lot for success for the bank, and we look forward to a bright future.” P May-June 2010 | Pride Magazine



by Brandi N. Williams

Go green for Charlotte

Join city’s expanded efforts to reduce waste and save the environment


n 2008, rapper Young Jeezy released “Put On,” a popular song with urban youth around the country. In the song, Young Jeezy explains how he represents for his city and suggests that everyone should do their part to represent their city. What exactly does it mean to represent for your city? There are numerous ways to make positive change in your city. You can volunteer at a local school or shelter. You can commit to working with your neighborhood association or make a financial donation to a deserving

Know the facts

local charity. But there is another way that you can positively impact the city, economy and environment at the same time on a consistent basis: You can recycle. On July 5, Solid Waste Sevices, the department responsible for collecting residential garbage, recyclables, yard waste and bulky items, will introduce several improvements to the current recycling program. The most noticeable will be the larger, green rollout cart that residents will use for their recyclables. The 96-gallon cart will replace the

Here’s why recycling is important and how it benefits the economy and the environment: n  Recycling creates 1.1 million U.S. jobs, $236 billion in gross annual sales and $37 billion in annual payrolls. n  Public-sector investment in local recycling programs pays great dividends by creating private-sector jobs. For every job collecting recyclables, there are 26 jobs in processing the materials and manufacturing them into new products. n  Recycling creates four jobs for every one job created in the waste management and disposal industries. n  Brutal wars over natural resources, including timber and minerals, have killed or displaced more than 20 million people and are raising at least $12 billion a year for rebels, warlords and repressive governments. Recycling eases the demand for the resources. n  Mining is the world’s most deadly occupation. On average, 40 mine workers are killed on the job each day, and many more are injured. Recycling reduces the need for mining. n  Every bit of recycling makes a difference. For example, one year of recycling on just one college campus, Stanford University, saved the equivalent of 33,913 trees and the need for 636 tons of iron ore, coal and limestone. 24

Pride Magazine | May-June 2010

current 16-gallon red bin that is used to collect recyclables. The new cart: n  Holds six times more recyclables than the red bin n  Has a lid, which helps prevent recyclables from littering the street n  Has wheels, making it easier to take the recyclables to the curb Additionally, starting in July, residents will also be able to recycle more and will receive collection every other week.

Changes allow more items to be recycled When the improved recycling program launches in July, waxcoated orange juice and milk cartons, square juice boxes, empty aerosol cans and all plastics with the exception of plastic No. 6 can be recycled. These materials are in addition to the current recyclables accepted in the program (Go to for a list of all materials accepted in the program). City officials say the larger cart provides space for more materials, allowing for the switch to every-other-week recycling collection. Recyclables will still be collected on the same weekday as garbage and yard waste; however, the day of collection for garbage, recyclables and yard waste will change for many residents. Residents will receive information regarding day changes by mail in the spring. “These improvements represent a major change to the current recycling operation,” says Victoria O. Garland, Solid Waste Services’ key business executive.

Victoria Garland

“Changing the operation will have several environmental benefits, including reducing the waste going to the landfill and reduced emissions as a result of a smaller vehicle fleet. We will also be able to reduce costs by approximately $12 million over the next five years.” But we need more than support from city staff and elected officials. We need you to do like Young Jeezy and “put on for your city” by going green for Charlotte and recycling. You can do this by: n  Storing your new, green recycling cart until the program officially begins the week of July 5. n  Learning more about the improved Recycle It! program on the city’s Web site, http://recycleit. n  Placing your cart at the curb per the collection schedule for your neighborhood. P Brandi N. Williams spent six years advocating for green causes through public relations while working for the City of Charlotte Solid Waste Services.


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May-June 2010 | Pride Magazine


by Angela Lindsay Hilst photos by Greg Briley

Power players

Local executives see advances, challenges in diversity among corporations


any African-Americans who have successfully climbed the corporate ladder in America have likely contended with various obstacles to penetrating the proverbial glass ceiling. While strides have certainly been made, a July 2009 study commissioned by The Executive Leadership Council found that the number of board of directors who are AfricanAmericans at Fortune 500 companies has fallen since its inaugural board report was released in 2004. The percentage of African-Americans on corporate boards decreased from 8.1 in 2004 to 7.4 percent in 2008. African-Americans held 449 corporate board seats in 2005, and that number had decreased to 413 by the time of the study last year. Even as many corporations have grown to realize the importance of having diverse boards and people in leadership positions, given these declining statistics, the questions remain: Is the glass ceiling being shattered? Has it been sufficiently cracked? Could the glass be thicker than ever? We spoke to several local AfricanAmerican corporate executives to get their impressions and to hear their personal experiences on this issue.

Making steady, deliberate gains Kevin Henry became senior vice president and chief human resources officer at Lance Inc. in January. Over the past 13 years, he has held this position at two previous companies. In his current position, he is responsible for talent acquisition, organizational training and 26

Pride Magazine | May-June 2010

Kevin A. Henry

development, labor and employee relations, compensation and benefits, community affairs and communications, diversity and inclusion, and employee-related legal matters. At only 42 years old, Henry has risen swiftly through the ranks of corporate America — an unusual feat for any person, let alone an African-American. He says he has been very “fortunate” and “blessed” in his success. “My experiences have been pretty positive in that I have been able to grow, to develop, to excel and to advance in the positions of increasing responsibility across the gambit of a number of different organizational and operational platforms …” he says. “I’ve not experienced limitations, personally, as a result of a glass ceiling.” In his role as executive vice president and chief institutional development and sales officer at TIAA-CREF, Bertram Scott is responsible for leading business development, sales and marketing to current and prospective clients, retirement plan sponsors, benefits consultants and other institutional audiences. He says ascension through corporate America has been “interesting,” but he has replied on a few simple tools to get him there.

“I’ve focused on simple things as I’ve gone through my career. One is always being prepared, meaning from an educational standpoint, from a learning standpoint … staying focused on what it is I really want and what I want to do; and then being determined, including being probably overly persistent sometimes, but I think. ‘There may be a glass ceiling, but I’m trying to get to a particular role, opportunity or position in this space.’”

Likewise for Michael Jones, who assumed his new position as “president of the Americas” for Husqvarna on Oct. 1, 2009, his focus has been on remaining personally competitive in today’s market. “There have certainly been many more positive experiences than negative experiences, but there are always challenges,” he states. “Business, by it’s nature, is competitive and not for the faint of heart. And in difficult times like

Kevin A. Henry

Title: Senior vice president, chief human resources officer for Lance Inc. Education: Bachelor of science from Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations Career highlights: Prior to joining Lance Inc., served as senior vice president and chief human resources officer of Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated since 2001 nT  wenty-plus years in the consumer products, retail and financial services industries nS  erves on the board of Queens University McColl School of Business and is vice chairman of the board of trustees for Charlotte Latin Day School nP  ast chairman of the board of directors of the Urban League of Central Carolinas and the Charlotte Chamber’s Black Professional Network. He is a former board member of Junior Achievement and Teach for America and was an adviser for The Charlotte Chapter of the National Association of African-Americans in Human Resources and Pride Magazine n Member of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity-Beta Delta Boulé nR  ecipient of the 2009 Whitney M. Young Jr. Award by the Urban League of Central Carolinas for his philanthropic work in the community and leadership in the areas of diversity and Inclusion Favorite book: “The Generosity Factor” by S. Truett Cathy (founder of Chick Fil-A) and Kenneth H. Blanchard (one of Henry’s former professors at Cornell)

Bertram L. Scott

Bertram L. Scott

Title: Executive vice president and chief institutional development and sales officer, TIAA-CREF Education: Bachelor of arts degree, DePaul University Career highlights: nJ  oined TIAA-CREF in 2000 as president of TIAA-CREF Life Co. nS  erved as president and CEO of Horizon Mercy nB  egan career in 1972 with Prudential Insurance Co. in claims operations. He later became vice president in charge of marketing and, in 1994, vice president of managed care operations. nM  ember of the boards of Becton, Dickinson Corp., DePaul University and UNC Charlotte nN  amed one of the “75 Most Powerful Blacks in Corporate America” by Black Enterprise magazine in 1994 n I ncluded in Fortune magazine’s “The 50 Most Powerful Black Executives in America” in 2002 nR  eceived DePaul University’s School for New Learning David O. Justice Award in 2002 Favorite food: Growing up in Chicago, Scott says he is a “hot dog connoisseur.” May-June 2010 | Pride Magazine


recessionary periods, in an ever-changing global landscape with increased global competition, and as the speed of business continually accelerates, it’s tough for everyone to compete.” While Jones feels that there have, historically, been additional challenges for “people of difference” to compete, he believes, “Those challenges, while still present to some degree, have been made less pressing when compared to the general challenges of business, referenced previously. In these times, I focus on the general challenge of being the best in a highly competitive global market and when I win there, I invariably address, at the same time, the challenges inherent in being a person of difference in today’s world.”

‘Have seen more people of color’

Michael Jones

Michael Jones

With an expanding global marketplace and economy, many corporations have devoted entire departments to nurturing and implementing the concepts of diversity and inclusion. Whether they have done so to more effectively reflect the world around them, to better relate to their diverse customer base and business partners or to remain safely within the realm of legal guidelines, the face of corporate America has changed some.

Title: President of sales and service in North and Latin America for Husqvarna Education: Bachelor of science in business administration Career highlights: n Full  profit and loss responsibility for Husqvarna’s North American and Latin American operations, excluding their highly specialized construction business, and manages its brands such as Husqvarna, Craftsman, Poulan and Poulan Pro, Weed Eater, Redmax, McCulloch and Dixon   nS  erved as general manager, cooking products, within the appliances division of General Electric in the U.S. nJ  oined GE Appliances in 1994 where he held roles of increased responsibility in sales, operations and product management, and lived in Europe (Budapest, Hungary) while serving as the chief commercial officer for the Lighting and Industrial Control business  nM  ore than 20 years of management experience in business, specifically in sales, product management, operations and international business.  nA  ctive in various organizations such as the Muhammad Ali Center, and has a passion for education and the arts.     Favorite hobby: He is an iTunes junkie. He and his wife love the arts and fine dining They are regulars at Blue Restaurant.


Pride Magazine | May-June 2010

“I’ve seen a dramatic change from two main dimensions,” says Cedric Coco, senior vice president of Learning and Organizational Effectiveness for Lowe’s Companies Inc. “First, as corporate America widens the guardrails around diversity of thought, they become more inclusive from a leadership perspective. This is a byproduct of the “” era along with Gen Xers entering the workforce, and now we are seeing this become broader as the Millennials are entering the corporate environment.” Kevin Henry says he notices more people who look like him in upper levels of management and that there is more conversation about diversity and inclusion. In his experience, he says he has seen “more of a commitment to people of diverse backgrounds and seeing that those people are afforded the mentoring, exposure and opportunities that lend themselves to personal growth and development.” Similarly, Bertram Scott has seen encouraging changes in the corporate landscape. “I certainly have seen more people of color come into the business at many levels, many opportunities have increased … I think I’ve seen a lot more diversity from a gender and race perspective than I did in my early career,” he shares. “Going out in the business world, I see more people that look like me day to day. I would still say not enough but certainly a lot more than it was when I started my career.” Citing his company, Scott says TIAACREF has been a leader in promoting diversity for a long time, pointing out that the first African-American CEO of a Fortune 500 company in the financial services industry was at TIAA-CREF and that, today, the chairman of the company and Scott himself, a highly senior executive, are all African-American males. “There are more opportunities available for minorities and women today, than in prior times,” Jones adds. “But the face of corporate America, despite gains, is still largely unchanged. Indeed, one of the largest minorities, Latinos, in America today has very little representation in corporate America. Despite the gains, there is still room for improvement to have a corporate face that reflects America, but I am encouraged about the gains.” Coco also names McDonald’s, American Express and Xerox as organizations that currently have CEOs of color. 

“The makeup of corporate executives has significantly evolved in the last decade. People of color are not only a growing part of senior leadership roles in corporate America, but are also being embraced in the role of CEO and president,” he observes. “There are more opportunities available for minorities and women today, than in prior times,” Jones adds. “But the face of corporate America, despite gains, is still largely unchanged. Indeed, one of the largest minorities, Latinos, in America today has very little representation in Corporate America. Despite the gains, there is still room for improvement to have a corporate face that reflects America, but I am encouraged about the gains.” While diversity and inclusion efforts at companies certainly help balance out the look of their leadership, it is becoming more necessary in terms of intellectual capital as well. Says Coco, “I fundamentally believe organizations who struggle with leveraging the power of their collective workforce, for example, not embracing diversity of thought, will struggle over the next business economic cycle.” Jones concurs. “I would say, although there is still work to do, every year I have watched us move inexorably towards an individual’s success as a function of an individual’s skills, and less about connections, class groups, comfort zones of the hiring manager, or other non-skill based criterion.” Coco adds, “CEOs and corporate boards of directors are becoming more enlightened about the leadership profiles needed of their executive teams. They are focusing more on the talent they need in key positions to compete and grow in a global market. These astute leaders are using more tools to assess and model the current and future needs of their organizations and are assembling teams based not only on skills and competencies but diverse experiences. By having a growing number of corporate executives who are people of color, also affords more mentoring opportunities for people of color who desire to grow through the ranks.” As proof of these improvements, Coco cites The Executive Leadership Council, which is “dedicated to recognizing the strengths, successes, contributions, and impact of African-American corporate business leaders in Fortune 500 companies.” Comprised primarily of

individuals who are in executive level roles or just below, Coco says its membership over the last 24 years has grown from double digits to more than 500.

Prospects are plentiful, and so are challenges Scott is also optimistic about the future and feels that “as we become a little less focused on color … things have a chance to improve. “I would say that there are still going to be challenges ahead for everybody,” Scott says. “We have not broken all the glass ceiling by any stretch of the imagination, and we’re going to continue to have to be challenged to make sure that we continue to build on the momentum of the last 20 to 25 years in this space by, again, being prepared. You can’t take advantage of opportunities if you don’t have the skill set.” “I think it would be naive to think that it doesn’t exist,” Kevin Henry adds. “But I also believe that you have any number of people who are the beneficiaries of progress in corporate America over the last several decades, particularly since the advent of the Civil Rights Act. My belief is that that progress can, will and should continue.” P Cedric Coco

Cedric Coco

Title: Senior vice president, learning and organizational effectiveness, Lowe’s Companies Inc. Education: Bachelor’s degree, University of Louisiana; MBA, San Jose State University Career highlights: nP  romoted to current position in 2010 after serving as vice president in that role since joining Lowe’s in 2008 from Microsoft nR  esponsible for enterprise-wide leadership development, talent acquisition, talent management and learning strategies as well as Lowe’s Diversity efforts nM  ore than a decade of experience in learning and development and organizational performance nN  amed the 2009 Chief Learning Officer of the Year by Chief Learning Officer magazine nO  n the board of the Executive Leadership Council; member of the Information Technology Senior Management Forum; on the advisory boards of Chief Learning Officer Magazine and the International Society of Performance Improvement Favorite team: Born and raised in Louisiana, he is a supporter of all Louisiana sports teams and was an avid New Orleans Saints fan “long before they won the Super Bowl.”

May-June 2010 | Pride Magazine


CreativeArts by LaTonya Mason Summers photo by Jon Strayhorn

Man with a plan

ASC president is determined to sustain community’s support of the arts


sk anybody to describe the city of Charlotte in one word and the adjective you’ll hear most often is “beautiful.” From the landscape to skyscrapers, Charlotte is a jaw-dropping place to behold. But to whom does the credit belong: Mother Nature or the creative minds of architects, landscapers, sculptors — the artists who specialize in building a comely city? While we thank Mother Nature for the greenery, trees and tranquility of our city, one has to ponder how different the Queen City would be without artists. Considering that we are confronted by tough economic times, a city without art could become a reality, and a city without art would be a nightmare. Thus enters the Arts & Science Council, whose new president, Scott Provancher, has come to fulfill a dream. Provancher, a lifelong participant, admirer, and advocate of arts and culture institutions, joined the ASC last July after three years with the Fine Arts Fund in Cincinnati. Skilled at growing audiences and participation for the arts and culture sector, Provancher has an impressive track record that includes increased fundraising revenue by nearly 10 percent from 2006 to 2008 — right in the middle of the economic downturn. In spite of Charlotte’s unique challenges, 30

Pride Magazine | May-June 2010

“We are focused on building relationships,” says ASC President Scott Provancher.

Provancher is hopeful in duplicating his success here.

Economy’s impact can’t be ignored “One of our challenges this year is that with the economy as it is, people are evaluating their own financial positions, and it affects their decision about whether to give. So, we’re seeing the effects on corporate giving, and the impact of the economy especially in construction and real estate.” It is easy to assume that in the face of economic challenges that support of the arts is wasteful, and that the city and nation have bigger things to deal with. Meanwhile, the arts are losing out as art galleries are closing and arts programs are downsizing. Ironically, it’s the arts that capture and

preserve the history and culture of a city, a nation. Needless to say, Provancher has his work cut out for him. But with different economic times, Provancher asserts that the ASC’s approach is different. “We are focused on building relationships. We are more interested in engaging our donors and prospective donors, and getting people excited.” Provancher’s excitement is contagious in spite of economic challenges that pose a threat to the community’s enthusiasm. However, as a community we cannot afford to not support the arts. If the banking industry is the heartbeat of our city, then the arts, is its soul. Without a heartbeat, the city dies, but with a soul it lives on. To get involved or to become a donor, visit P

ASC Cultural Partners

Charlotte-Mecklenburg nonprofit organizations whose primary mission is arts, science, history or heritage are considered Cultural Partners. More than 150 organizations in the area fit this criterion. Following are a few organizations that receive unrestricted operating support from ASC for the current year: n   Actor’s Theater of Charlotte n   Carolina Voices n   Charlotte Children’s Choir n   Charlotte Symphony n   Community School of the Arts n   Discovery Place and the Charlotte Nature Museum n  Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture n   Latta Plantation n   Mint Museum

However, as a community we cannot afford to not support the arts. If the banking industry is the heartbeat of our city, then the arts, is its soul.


CPCC – your resource for workforce development As a leader in workforce development, CPCC develops programs that address Mecklenburg County’s workforce needs through its nearly 300 degree, corporate and business training, and certification programs. CPCC is a vital community partner, creating relationships with local business and industry leaders that can be felt at the core of its curriculum and professional training programs, and preparing individuals to enter today’s workforce.

May-June 2010 | Pride Magazine


by Tiffany L. Jones photos by Jon Strayhorn

Tonya Jameson runs a videographer business.

Business owners launch, grow their businesses in a tough economy


in entrepreneurship


Pride Magazine | May-June 2010

Scott Byrd owns Salon Thairapy.


uring a time when millions of Americans are suffering from economic hardships, many are turning to the world of entrepreneurship or finding side hustles in order to survive. So how do entrepreneurs survive when companies are cutting back and people are watching their spending habits closely? It’s simple; your success will depend on your ability to be flexible, fill a void and to offer a service or product that people not only want, but need. It also helps to be unique and stand out from your competitors.

Telling clients’ stories ‘through my work’ For Tonya Jameson, a former Charlotte Observer reporter who, like many, was offered a buyout earlier this year, having a side hustle and a niche paid off. “I’ve been teaching people how to ride motorcycles at community colleges throughout the state for seven years, so that helps me make ends meet. In addition, when the Observer stepped up their layoffs last year, I developed a side hustle as a videographer. My first client was Crossroads Charlotte, a community building initiative.” It is that same side hustle that keeps Jameson’s calendar filled with appointments. As for her journalism-related endeavors, Jameson says: “I’ve always had a passion for telling people’s stories. Many of us are invisible to mainstream news media. My goal at the Observer was to give those people a voice, a chance to see themselves in the newspaper,” states Jameson, whose

niche is still telling people’s stories, only now she’s doing so via the Web. “Whether I’m working with an individual, company or nonprofit, I’m telling their story through my work.” “Most people, businesses and nonprofits have Web sites or social media pages, yet don’t maximize their Web presence. I want nonprofits and companies to learn to tell their own stories and not rely entirely on the media to share their vision. That’s one reason I love videography, it’s a visual way to tell stories,” says Jameson. “I was petrified when I left the Observer. That was my first and only job in journalism. I was there for 15 years, and many of the people there were like family,” notes Jameson, who has diverted her attention to her business, Darling Media Group. “My partner and I want to grow the company slowly and deliver quality results, whether it’s a video for a Web site or an eye-catching logo. So far we’ve worked with individuals, small businesses and nonprofits and we’re excited about the future of the company.”

‘I focus on my business’ Scott Byrd, owner of Salon Thairapy in Mount Holly, says the economy has had little if any effect on his business. “The hair business is recession proof! I’ve learned that regardless of how tight money is, women always want to look good. They’ll cut out other activities, but getting their hair done isn’t one of them,” says Byrd, who has been in business for nine years. “I have a committed group of wonderful clients who rely on me to keep them

May-June 2010 | Pride Magazine


Products available from Cocoa Babies.

looking their best. From high-powered executives to stay at home moms, they all depend on me and that’s my motivation.” Byrd’s toughest hurdle as a small business owner? “My biggest challenge as a business owner has been finding and retaining employees who want to work and who are loyal and dedicated. Once you find that, the rest is easy,” says Byrd. Scott Byrd’s niche is consistency. “If you remain available to your clients and offer flexible hours, they will continue to patronize your business. You need to be at work when they need you. I also understand the law of reciprocity, so I don’t mind giving away a service, whether it’s a trim or a treatment, for those who have been faithful throughout the years. People remember that and they remain loyal.” In addition to running his salon full time, Byrd also works as an educator for Salon Exclusive, a hair care line that he also uses in his salon. “Being an entrepreneur is a faith walk,” Byrd continues. “I had some apprehensions when I moved my salon from Gastonia to

Nia Tillett launched Cocoa Babies in 2005.

Mount Holly, but honestly my move has resulted in increased business from new and former clients. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that the recession is real, but I just refuse to participate. I focus on my business and that’s all I can do. But I will be the first to testify that big dreams do happen in a small city.”

‘It’s important to have a niche’ Like millions of Americans, Nia Tillett holds a full-time job at UNC Charlotte, but

“Being an entrepreneur is a faith walk,” says Scott Byrd, right. 34

Pride Magazine | May-June 2010

when she’s not at work, she’s focusing her energy on her side hustle: Cocoa Babies, a Charlotte-based clothing line that she launched in 2005. “With this economy it’s crucial to have more than one source of income, so I encourage everyone to have a side hustle because you never know when you might lose your job and that side hustle may need to become your nine to five.” Tillett hopes to transition to Cocoa Babies full time within the next two years, but for now she is enjoying her multiple revenue streams. Cocoa Babies caught the attention of many because of two eye-catching designs, “cornbread fed” and “pretty little brown girl.” “I was inspired to design a clothing line that represented a healthy alternative to the sexually explicit and otherwise inappropriate messages that are far too commonplace in the wardrobes of our young people,” states Tillett. “It’s important to have a niche so you stand out from the competition. It’s also great to have something different so you can make your mark. Cocoa Babies began with a focus on children’s clothing and quickly expanded to include a wide range of items for children and adults. Driven by the same spirit that inspired the black power movement of the 1970s, Cocoa Babies features baby T-shirts and other items with slogans such as “Future HBCU Grad,” “Future President,” etc. P


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May-June 2010 | Pride Magazine


by Louise Barden photos by Greg Briley

Memuna Williams creates success out of her natural talent for learning languages, gives advice to small businesses

Word play 36

Pride Magazine | May-June 2010


emuna Williams, partner-owner of AvantGarde Translations, holds an MBA, and a bachelor’s and master’s in translation. She is certified by the American Translators Association. Since 2004, her Charlotte firm has translated brochures, annual reports, advertising and business documents for major North American companies. Recently, she answered questions about how she has built a successful business, even in tough economic times. Pride: How did your life prepare you for this career? M.W.: I’ve always had an ear for languages. I’m a Canadian citizen, born in Alberta when my father came from Sierra Leone for graduate school. My father’s diplomatic career took us to England, Germany and Belgium, as well as to Sierra Leone, for five years. I returned to Canada when I was 16. I applied to study literature in the French and English departments at Concordia University (Canada). I thought I would work in academia, as my father once did. When the student counselors noticed my proficiency in French and English, they told me a specialization in the translation department would let me combine the literature with translation, and I discovered I liked it. Pride: How did you break into the business world? M.W.: I graduated in a recession; I kept my college retail job and started freelancing. Then Canadian Pacific Railway hired me as a full time French-English translator. For two years I learned from my boss while earning my master’s degree. My boss was a very good teacher. He showed me how small choices could make a difference in speed and quality. When he retired, I took his job for three years. The company treated us as professionals who should do the work we were hired for, without corporate distractions. As an internal department we tried to perform as if we were an independent company others would want to hire. Pride: Why did you start your own business? M.W.: From 1999 to 2003, when my husband had a job in New York, I worked for two translation agencies there. That gave me experience in multilingual translation and project management, including quality control.

“You need planning and, when it gets lonely or hard, you must have the ability to persevere in a variety of ways — with adequate or patient capital, strong support from people around you or simply a thick skin.” — Memuna Williams When my husband’s job brought us to Charlotte in late 2003, I was starting a family and wanted more control over my own time. I asked my sister in Canada to be my partner in our own business. She had also studied translation under my thesis professor. We use technology to bridge the distance. Pride: What did you do to get your business off the ground? M.W.: We started with French-English translation, and then branched out to other languages. When I needed more business knowledge, I earned an MBA at Queens University from 2006 to 2008. Just before 2009, our business started really growing. Even in this slowed economy, we have stuck with our plans and are well positioned to grow more. We’ve done the strategic planning and operations work to make our internal processes efficient and productive for clients. We have gotten the certifications large clients need. I completed more training on small-business issues. Last year was really hard. In September, I had to double my efforts to get business, but by November, things began to go really well. Now I’m getting ready to hire an administrative person so that I can focus on working with clients and on business development. Pride: Where do your clients come from? M.W.: Participating in NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) has brought referrals. Winning NAWBO’s Rising Star Award in 2007 gave me a higher profile. Last year we hired a marketing/PR agency to do more press releases and direct mailings. It was hard to spend money. It’s a big risk, but a big reward. I have also to get more face-to- face time with targeted larger companies and to be creative in making connections.

Pride: Can any bilingual speaker be a translator? What makes you different? M.W.: No. It’s an art and a skill. Education isn’t always the best way to recognize a good translator. You have to be very good at the language you translate from, and excellent at the language you translate to. … You must hear the language as you work, so you aren’t influenced by the source language. You must understand the connotations of words and know specialized idioms. In Canada, translation is recognized as profession with standards, but not in this country. Pride: What have been your biggest challenges? M.W.: Gaining the trust of prospects. Our customers love working with us, but getting them on board is hard work. Also, we have struggled with timing staffing changes to increase our capacity. We’re adding personnel now, but probably should have done that a while ago. Pride: What is the key to success in starting a small business? M.W.: You need planning and, when it gets lonely or hard, you must have the ability to persevere in a variety of ways — with adequate or patient capital, strong support from people around you or simply a thick skin. Pride: Where do you think entrepreneurs fail? M.W.: They may not have considered something critical about their type of business. Then without enough financing, support or personal desire to continue, they can’t recover when an issue arises. But failing is not necessarily a bad thing. There’s often a lesson in a failure. P May-June 2010 | Pride Magazine


It’s no secret who nurtures a family. It’s no surprise who nurtures the region’s women. Cabarrus OB/GYN 704-403-2740 Charlotte OB/GYN - Arboretum 704-446-1700 Charlotte OB/GYN - Morehead Medical Plaza 704-446-1700 Charlotte OB/GYN - NorthCross 704-446-1700 Charlotte OB/GYN - Morrocroft 704-446-1700 CMC Women’s Institute 704-355-3149 Concord Women’s Specialty Care 704-403-6900 Copperfield OB/GYN - Concord 704-786-7158 Copperfield OB/GYN - Harrisburg 704-786-7158 Eastover OB/GYN - Union West 704-446-7800 Eastover OB/GYN - Arboretum 704-446-7800

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PrideHealth Brain booster

Center helps clients sharpen mental acuity, agility

Work that body Challenging workouts on DVDs keep exercisers in shape

Coping with allergies Choices abound for dealing with seasonal malady

Watch your mouth Protect teeth and gums from perils of periodontitis

Open your eyes Optical issues can affect the workplace

The intent of Pride’s health section is to provide information only. The publisher and writers are in no way offering medical advice and the information herein should not be used for medical decision making. Any fitness or diet program should be started upon the advice of a physician. The reader bears sole responsibility for any action taken based on the contents of this magazine and the publisher/owner and writers disclaim any implied or expressed liability. May-June 2010 | Pride Magazine


PrideHealth by Lee Rhodes photos by Moye

Brain booster

Training center helps clients of all ages sharpen mental acuity, agility

While it might seem unorthodox, brain training is, in fact, an emerging field that was recently touted in the Wall Street Journal.


magine row after row of colored arrows on a sheet of paper. Your task is to call out the color of each arrow to the beat of a metronome as you make your way across each row. Simple enough. But in an effort to build your brain, a so-called “brain trainer” will ask you to do a series of exercises of increasing difficulty. You’ll need to call out the direction of each arrow as if you’re viewing it from 90 degrees clockwise, and you’ll need to call out the word red when it’s actually green and the word green when it’s red. All the while, the metronome is ticking — at a faster speed this time — and the brain trainer is attempting to distract you by drumming her fingers on the table and talking aloud. Get the picture? Students at Learning Rx, a local brain-training center, sure do. This particular exercise works on memory, visual attention and processing speed. While it might seem unorthodox, brain training is, in fact, an emerging field that was recently touted in the Wall Street Journal. As the Journal’s article explains, the benefits of brain training rely on a relatively new scientific discovery known as neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to rewire itself throughout life by creating neural connections in response to mental activity. Additionally, AMPSe Digest, a publication that focuses on the science of raising smart kids, writes that learning A brain-training exercise works on memory, visual attention and processing speed.


Pride Magazine | May-June 2010

For adult clients, dyslexia may be an issue, but often the center assists adults who want to improve their cognitive skills, particularly in the workplace. complex tasks helps build new brain cells, and Andrea Cooper, assistant director and director of training at Learning Rx, says “Braining training does for the mind what exercise does for the body.”

A solution for attention disorder, autism

At Learning Rx, brain trainers work with clients to improve cognitive functioning, including attention; auditory and visual processing; short and long-term memory; and logic and reasoning. There are 63 Learning Rx centers across the country, but the Charlotte franchise is the only braintraining center of its kind in this region. Clients range in age from 4 to the elderly, but the majority, about 80 percent, are elementary and middle school students. Almost half of those children are struggling with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, while others suffer from dyslexia or some form of autism. “We also have that struggling student,” explains Cooper, who has a background in psychology and a degree from Xavier University of Louisiana. “They’re spending hours on homework, and the parents know they’re not living up to their capabilities.” For adult clients, dyslexia may be an issue, but often the center assists adults who want to improve their cognitive skills, particularly in the workplace. Other programs help senior citizens keep their minds and memories sharp, sometimes in an effort to stave off dementia. At the outset, the center completes an assessment of the client to determine strengths and weaknesses, and to develop a customized plan based on the client’s specific profile. That plan will pull from one or more of the center’s different programs, which home in on reading readiness, base cognition, computations, high-level math and more. The student will work one-on-one with the personal brain trainer for a series of sessions lasting anywhere from 12 to 32 weeks. The center guarantees at least a two-year cognitive skill gain in one area at the end of a 12-week program, and longer programs guarantee at least a three-year gain. Other results are less tangible but no less meaningful.

“Parents will start to notice big changes, usually toward the end of the program. But small changes come sooner,” explains Cooper. “It’ll take an hour less time to do homework, or the child will take the initiative to start it without the parent’s prompting. It may seem small but could be huge for that family.”

‘Everybody can have a better brain’

Perhaps it’s small accomplishments like these that explain the surge in popularity that brain training is experiencing across the nation. Cooper also cites the difference in brain training and traditional tutoring. “Learning Rx is different from tutoring,” she says. “We look at cognitive skills training as the fix, whereas tutoring is just the Band-Aid. With brain training, we want to get to the root cause of the problem.”

Another differentiator? Learning Rx is not a place to do homework. In fact, homework is not permitted because the brain trainers want to keep the focus squarely on attention and processing skills. Furthermore, in an effort to mimic the real world, the center is a place of distractions. Clients work with trainers in individual offices, but doors are kept open and voices are not lowered. Recently, this writer observed a student working on a logic and reasoning activity that involved the use of “brain cards.” She moved on to a visualization activity involving geometric shapes, then had to read a story aloud to the beat of the metronome and answer comprehension questions afterward. Each activity was increasingly fast-paced, and in between activities, the student had to count aloud by twos, then fives, then tens, so that there was never any downtime. This particular student used to spend upward of three hours per night on homework but now breezes through it and reads at a level two grades above her own. My impression at the end of my visit was that I could benefit from these activities. “I need to be a client,” I told Cooper. She smiled and responded, “Everybody can have a better brain.” P

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SouthPark, 4400 Sharon Road | 704.364.1391 Buying Hours: Mon-Sat 10:00-6:00 May-June 2010 | Pride Magazine


PrideHealth Eye Care

by Dr. Paula R. Newsome

Open your eyes Optical issues can affect workers’ comfort, productivity in the workplace


hat do eyes have to do with business? Everything! We are a visual society taking in most of the data that we process via our eyes and visual system. When our eyes are not functioning well, our productivity drops. It is estimated that decreased visual productivity in the workplace reduces a business’ bottom line by 4 percent to 19 percent. Minimal visual degradation for an employee who makes $30,000 per year can result in as much as $1,200 to $5,700 in work deficiency per year. Often, patients come to me complaining of visual discomfort, tired eyes and headache from prolonged use of their eyes in the workplace. As always, whenever you have specific concerns regarding your eyes, you should have an eye examination to find out what the issues are. There are a few reasons that people in the workplace might not be as productive.

Computer work poses problems

Not having computers in the workplace is unusual today. Computers are such an integral part of the workplace primarily because every company wants to be more efficient and productive while improving the bottom line. Computers can make this possible. Dr. Dennis Ruskin and Dr. Brian Feldman presented results at the Seventh International Conference on Human Computer Interaction in San Francisco and stated that visionrelated distress has become just as great a cause for concern among workers in the workplace as musculoskeletal problems. So if you have complaints while using the computer at work, you are not alone. There are some simple things you can do to alleviate this discomfort while in the workplace. The first is to make sure you have good lighting. If the overhead lighting is not sufficient, consider getting a desk lamp to improve your visual comfort at the screen. Additionally, consider using an anti42

Pride Magazine | May-June 2010

glare screen over your computer monitor. Finally, try to refrain from wearing lots of white clothing while at work. Colored clothing does not reflect as much light from the screen and thereby causes less visual distress. As with most visual tasks, it also helps to take five-minute breaks and looking out a window or down a hallway. By changing your focus, you give your eyes some muchneeded rest from a computer task.

Myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism

Small amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism can also cause decreased productivity in the workplace. Small amounts of myopia (nearsightedness) can cause some distress but more often than not, it is the hyperopia and or astigmatism that can really make “near tasks” unbearable. Hyperopia or farsightedness can wreak havoc because when it is uncorrected, the body is forced to use the lens and over time, this can tax

the visual system. Eyewear designed for computer work can alleviate symptoms related to this type of difficulty. Similarly, small amounts of uncorrected astigmatism normally would not result in a correction; however, if you find yourself squinting to see on a regular basis or people tell you that your brows are always furrowed, it is time to have your eyes examined. Again, a mild correction in either the form of glasses or contacts can save you lots of discomfort and wrinkles. Remember that your eyes are the receptors that take in information. Seemingly small issues with your eyes and visual system can result in mistakes and major decreased productivity in the workplace. Regular eye examinations and some of the tips in this article can ensure you have a lifetime of great vision and that your eyes are helping you mind your business. P Dr. Paula R. Newsome is president of Advantage Vision Center.

The 2010 presented by:

Thank you to the following companies for making our annual fundraising luncheon a success for over 200 local students: Fifth Third Bank, Walmart, Wachovia/Wells Fargo, Duke Energy, AT&T NC, Compass Group, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Primo Real Estate Dev., Lance and Pride Magazine.

We need your support too! Help us work to ensure brighter futures for African American youth. PEEP is seeking donations, mentors and volunteers for the next PEEP Luncheon scheduled February 10, 2011. For more information, please call


May-June 2010 | Pride Magazine


PrideHealth Integrative Medicine

by Dr. Shirley A. Houston

Coping with allergies Choices abound for dealing with seasonal malady

The body’s immune system can overreact to irritants in the environment, such as pollen, grasses, ragweed, dust, household mites, changes in temperature or humidity, spicy foods, smoking, exposure to tobacco smoke and pets.


omplaints about sneezing, itchy eyes, runny noses, post-nasal drainage, skin rashes and hives are on the rise, so it’s time again to provide information on managing seasonal allergies. Your immune system is responsible for identifying and destroying disease-causing microorganisms that invade your body. Since it’s not a perfect system, sometimes mistakes are made and harmless substances, thought to be germs, lead to a release of certain compounds that may cause hay fever symptoms. The body’s immune system can overreact to irritants in the environment, such as pollen, grasses, ragweed, dust, household mites, changes in temperature or humidity, spicy foods, smoking, exposure to tobacco smoke and pets. The integrative medicine-blended approach to seasonal allergies includes:

Home remedies/lifestyle changes n n



R  emove environmental triggers from home; avoid peak pollen exposure outdoors. D  ust-proof your bedroom by eliminating wallto-wall carpets, down-filled blankets, feather pillows and other dust catchers. S  ubstitute window shades for Venetian blinds, which can trap dust; be sure to wash curtains

Pride Magazine | May-June 2010



regularly in hot water to kill dust mites. E  ncase your mattress in an airtight, dust-proof plastic cover; dust your furniture with a damp cloth; and damp-mop floors regularly to pick up dust. C  onsider buying an air filter. I recommend a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, which removes particles in the air by forcing it through screens containing microscopic pores. These devices work well and aren’t too expensive. Get one for the main rooms in your home, or move one from room to room regularly.

Nutritional changes n n

n n

D  o not eat foods that trigger your allergies. E  at fewer foods with additives, food coloring and preservatives that are likely to cause inflammation and allergic reactions, such as saturated fats, refined foods, eggs, citrus fruits, chocolate and shellfish. H  ydrate the body by drinking at least eight glasses of water daily. A  void dairy products.

Add supplements n n n n

V  itamin C Z  inc A  multivitamin O  mega-3 fatty acids

Use herbal medicine n n n n n n

S  tinging nettles Q  uercetin E  chinacea (on seven days and off seven days) A  stragalus M  ullein B  utterbur

Incorporate Chinese medicine n

Acupuncture or Chinese herbs

Utilize conventional medicine n

A  nti-allergy medications, topical nasal steroids or systemic steroids

Other ways to cope n n

Consider allergy testing. C  onsider whether stress impacts your allergy and, if so, take steps to reduce it.


Dr. Shirley A. Houston is medical director of the Center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness, 7221 Pineville Matthews Road, Suite 200, Charlotte, NC 28226, (704) 543-2325 (phone), (704) 543-5440 (fax).

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PrideHealth Personal Training by Lee Rhodes photos by Jon Strayhorn

Work that body Challenging workouts on DVDs keep exercise addicts in shape at home

Jevonna Johnson first got into home DVD workouts when just getting to the gym became a challenge due to the demands of her career, small children and her husband’s busy travel schedule.

our P90X DVDs and the accompanying nutritional guidelines.

‘I’m stronger than I thought’


couple of years ago my husband Eric purchased a new fixture for our home, though it didn’t come in the form of new window treatments or the beginnings of a kitchen renovation, as I might have hoped. Instead, my husband installed the P90X chin-up bar in one of our door frames. Since one pull-up is about my limit, I was less than thrilled, but I’m told that this bar can take your upper body workout to the next level. After all, it has multiple grip positions for building multiple muscle groups! A few weeks later, a set of P90X power push-up stands assumed pride of place in our den. “You can really do some super-sweat moves with these babies,” claims the P90X Web site, and Eric concurs. These musthaves supplement his Bowflex Select Tech Dumbbells, and more important, his P90X DVD set, a series of 12 highly intense workouts led by fitness expert Tony Horton. P90X is produced by Beachbody, renowned for expertdesigned fitness DVDs, and is based upon the training technique known as Muscle Confusion, which constantly introduces new moves to ensure that your body never plateaus. This concept appealed to my husband when he first saw the P90X infomercial. “I was going to the gym every day but not getting the results I wanted,” Eric explains. “I watched the infomercial and thought it wasn’t 46

Pride Magazine | May-June 2010

Jevonna Johnson works out at home.

a gimmick and that I’d give it a shot.” P90X is not for the beginning athlete, nor the faint of heart; it’s a 90-day program that taps into everything from weight training to yoga to athletic jump training known as plyometrics. “It’s for people who are already in pretty good shape who want to get in really good shape,” says Eric. Eric saw few results in the initial 30 days, but by day 90 he was a complete convert. (I myself managed to stick with P90X for a mere 30 days; I prefer running above all other exercise, so my muscles are never confused, unfortunately.) Soon he was getting requests from neighbors and co-workers to borrow

One of his co-workers, Jevonna Johnson, first got into home DVD workouts when just getting to the gym became a challenge due to the demands of her career, small children and her husband’s busy travel schedule. She started using the Beachbody Pilates DVD, which incorporates yoga and ballet-balancing moves, but soon became intrigued by the ubiquitous P90X ads. “I thought it seemed really intense, and I wasn’t sure if I was in shape enough to do it,” she recalls. “But I learned that I’m stronger than I thought.” She completed the 90-day program, then began looking for something less timeconsuming (P90X workouts run from 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours.) Jevonna moved on to the “Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred” DVD, which alternates bursts of strength, cardio and abs to work all of the major and minor muscle groups. “I enjoy it because it’s a 25-minute workout and it’s challenging,” she says. “It works well for working mothers, and with each stage, you graduate to more difficult moves.” She admits that Tony Horton is more intense than Jillian, but says she likes the toned look that the “30-Day Shred” brings. “Jillian gives a firm body look, which I think is what most women want,” Johnson says. “Our priority is not to be completely ripped up.”

Plyometrics, core work and sculpting

Other popular Beachbody DVD choices include “Insanity,” in which fitness expert Shaun T turns traditional interval training upside-down with long periods of maximum intensity and short periods of rest. No equipment or weights are needed for these 10 workout discs, which rely on plyometric drills and alternate between aerobic and anaerobic

popular series of four energizing, fat-burning workouts on one DVD. Led by The Firm’s “master instructors,” the workouts are hybrids of cardio and weight work; many of the moves will be familiar to those who frequent step aerobic classes. As for my husband, he’s continued his own weight work with “P90X+,” a set of DVDs designed for graduates of P90X, and “Oneon-One With Tony Horton” DVDs: unfiltered footage of the trainer’s all-new, high-intensity workouts that help drive results to even greater peaks. And even though I didn’t get new window treatments, Eric keeps reaching body sculpting system known for its longevity. new peaks with his workouts. So I guess thePM What started in 1979 as a cardio and weight 09-CEENTA-1262_EYE-AA_3.625x6.25Page 1 7/30/09 3:00:58 chin-up bar can stay. P training studio in South Carolina is now a

intervals designed to burn up to 1000 calories an hour. Want six-pack abs but hate sit-ups? “Hip Hop Abs,” also led by Shaun T and set to the tune of energizing hip-hop music, combines dance and ab-sculpting routines that are designed wash away the pounds and provide washboard abs. “Beachbody’s Slim in 6” is a series of workouts that takes participants through increasingly intense slimming and toning routines in order to sculpt, without bulking up, within six weeks. Here, perky fitness expert Debbie Siebers combines light resistance weightlifting with energizing cardio moves for “body slimming results.” Outside of Beachbody, there is The Firm, a

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PrideHealth Dental Care

by Dr. Kiya Green Dixie

Watch your mouth Protect your teeth and gums from the perils of periodontitis


o your gums bleed? Have your teeth shifted over the years? Do you have bad breath? Chances are you suffer from periodontitis, a chronic inflammatory disease of the gums and bone that support the teeth. Periodontitis affects more than 50 million Americans. Most are unaware that they have the disease. Left untreated, periodontitis can cause you to lose some or all of your teeth. Research shows a direct, two- way relationship between gum disease and diabetes. Many other studies link periodontitis to cardiovascular disease, strokes, respiratory issues, pancreatic cancer and pre-term babies. Gum disease does not hurt and sometimes does not have any symptoms; therefore your hygienist or general dentist will be the first to detect it. At a routine exam or cleaning, the dentist will take X-rays and measure your gums. Numbers four or higher indicate bone loss. Patients with readings of six or more are typically referred to the periodontist for further evaluation and treatment. The periodontist also helps correct “gummy� smiles and recession, lengthen broken teeth before crowning and replace

Most are unaware that they have the disease. Left untreated, periodontitis can cause you to lose some or all of your teeth ‌ therefore your hygienist or general dentist will be the first to detect it. 48

Pride Magazine | May-June 2010

missing teeth with implants. One of my favorite procedures is to cover exposed (often sensitive) roots using alternative tissue. The final result is natural and the patient does not need to take tissue from the palate, which can be very painful while healing. Root coverage with tissue is healthier for the gums than placing white fillings on the roots. Remember, it is important to visit your

general dentist at least twice a year. If you need a periodontist, a referral will be given to restore your oral health and lay the foundation for a better smile. P Dr. Kiya Green Dixie became the first AfricanAmerican periodontist in 2008 south of Durham, and she is the only practicing female periodontist in the Charlotte area.

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PrideBusiness Perfect fit Model behavior Find a mentor who can guide you, inspire you Missed opportunity Reluctance to invest may be rooted in history Avoid overdrawing accounts Bank helps you get control of your finances A key to more customers The Internet can help grow your business How to succeed  in business Keys to keeping your doors open                                Key components Managing your resources

Johnson C. Smith University’s Anita BledsoeGardner, left, Zenobia Edwards and professor Pam Richardson. The intent of Pride’s business section is to provide information on real estate, small business and personal finance only. The opinions and analyses included in this section are based on factual information obtained from public information and other sources deemed to be reliable and provided in good faith; however, no representation or warranty, expressed or implied, is made as to the accuracy, completeness or correctness of such information. Please consult with real estate, business or personal finance professionals before making any decisions.

Photo by Jon Strayhorn

JCSU’s Metropolitan College offers nontraditional students a chance to fit college into their busy lives

PrideBusiness by LaToya Haggins photos by Jon Strayhorn

Perfect fit JCSU’s Metropolitan College offers nontraditional students a chance to fit college into their busy lives Ronald Carter, JCSU’s president, decided the university needed to offer a program to help students who were determined to finish school while juggling the demands of careers and family life.


Johnson C. Smith University’s Kenetra Jamison, Shereene Veal (back), Anita Bledsoe, Vickie DavisRichardson (back), Sharon Redfem, Leslie McMillan and professor Pam Richardson (back). 52

Pride Magazine | May-June 2010

ohnson C. Smith University recently created a learning environment for nontraditional students by launching its Metropolitan College. Since opening in January, JCSU’s Metropolitan College has enrolled 29 students and will increase that number every semester. Zenobia Edwards, dean of the Metropolitan College, says the college addresses the problem some students had with being unable to attend classes during the workday, or lacking the child care they needed in order to attend classes. Ronald Carter, JCSU’s president, decided the university needed to offer a program to help students who were determined to finish school while juggling the demands of careers and family life. “It took the vision of Dr. Carter,” Edwards says. “It’s a vision that he had for the university since his arrival.” The seven-week semester program offers classes on Monday and Wednesday evenings, from 5:30 until 8, with additional classes starting at 8:10 and ending at 10:40. Courses will also be taught in the summer throughout the summer. Degrees offered are in criminal justice; social work; business administration with a concentration in management; and business administration with a concentration

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Anita Bledsoe-Gardner talks to students at Johnson C. Smith.

in accounting. The university decided to launch the program with the majors of criminology and social work after identifying the jobs that are likely to be the most plentiful. Their research showed that government jobs are some of the few that have proven to be more stable during an economic downturn.

Flexibility in scheduling is the key

Some students, like Leslie McMillan, criminology major, attend the college four nights a week, instead of two, which will allow her to graduate in three years. Kenya Williams, a business administration major, attends the college two nights a week; however, she and McMillan enjoy having an accelerated schedule. “We advertise that you can get your degree in three-and-a-half years and the way we’ve built our classes, you can!” Edwards says. “It’s just up to you to decide if that schedule best fits you.” Williams says she enjoys having the accelerated seven-week semester because what she receives in seven weeks, traditional students get in 16. Both women also enjoy the fact that they receive one-on-one attention in smaller classes and that everyone attending the Metropolitan College is 25 or older. McMillan was out of school for 15 years before enrolling in Metropolitan College and Williams had been out for 18, which is not an uncommon situation in adult learning programs. Williams enrolled in the college to advance in her career and compete on a higher level, and McMillan plans to change careers and head to law school after she graduates from the program. Before launching the college, staff members at JCSU studied other adult learning programs in the Charlotte area, such as the ones at the University of Phoenix, Johnson and Wales University, Pfeiffer University, DeVry University and UNC Charlotte. They also looked at the coming trends for adult learning programs. Edwards says each college within JCSU can offer a degree program through the Metropolitan College, and the university plans to add more classes and majors to the program in the future. P YMCA Mission: To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all. May-June 2010 | Pride Magazine



Career Advice

by Bill H. Means

Model behavior Find a mentor who can guide you, inspire you and help you excel


Periodically spend time with the mentor. Find time to have coffee, attend professional events, exchange e-mail, send birthday cards, have telephone conversations, etc.

e are all products of our past experiences and our relationships with others can greatly influence us. I appreciate all of those who have given me good career advice over the years, solicited or not, and helped me develop as a professional. Therefore, while working with college students, I highly recommend to them to seek a mentor. The mentor can help the student identify a suitable career goal; create and implement a transition plan from college to work; set realistic, attainable career goals; network effectively and efficiently; overcome obstacles; and step outside of the box to grow and develop. Generally, the relationship can be an invaluable resource. Here are my suggestions for locating and developing a mentoring relationship.

cards, have telephone conversations, etc. Seek advice on your resume, and get feedback on your professional development, short-term and long-term goals, and strategies. Also, look for ways to assist your mentor and build a genuine relationship. It is not always about asking for help.

Consider your career interests

Seek someone who has obtained career success in an area of your choice. Think about where you would like to be in a career and locate a person either there or on the way.

Maintain contact throughout your career

Look for common ground

Of course mentors do not have to be of the same gender, age or race as you, but there is nothing wrong with it if they are. Often, people connect with others who have similar interests: religion, extracurricular activities, hometown, etc.

Contact your college alumni office

If you are a college student or college graduate, alumni are a great group of people to contact. First, you have an immediate connection with them because of your college. Alumni are always interested in showing off their success to younger 54

Pride Magazine | May-June 2010

students or other alumni, particularly if they are successful. But that is OK. It is a win-win for you and the alumni because you get access to information and resources by making the connection. If you are looking to relocate to another state, you might find alumni in that area willing to help you find work.

Nurture the relationship

Periodically spend time with the mentor. Find time to have coffee, attend professional events, exchange e-mail, send birthday

As you begin your career, seek mentors who can help you gain entry into an organization for that first job or internship. As you gain more experience or reach a plateau, the mentor might offer ways to advance in your career. Competition is greater as you seek to move up the ladder, but mentors can help you strategize, coach you or connect you with the right people. Good luck as you develop, grow and advance professionally. Please remember: To be successful you must incorporate a variety of tools to assist with your career development. P

Bill H. Means is director of internships and career programs at Queens University of Charlotte.

May-June 2010 | Pride Magazine



by Emmanuel Choice

Commercial Real Estate

Missed opportunity For African Americans, reluctance to invest may be rooted in history, but there is hope in commercial real estate

Commercial real estate investing is a viable means of building wealth and is a catalyst for the revitalization of inner-city communities. 56

Pride Magazine | May-June 2010


or more than a decade, John W. Rogers Jr. has encouraged African Americans to save for retirement. As the founder of Ariel Investments, a Chicago-based asset management company, and one of the most prominent black investors in America, Rogers has focused on the plight of black investors and why they don’t save more, using data from the annual survey of

black investors Ariel conducts in conjunction with Charles Schwab. The inaugural study revealed a number of interesting differences between the two groups, such as how, relative to whites, African Americans: n P  refer more conservative investment vehicles, including life insurance; also regard real estate as the best investment overall

H  ave less wealth than whites with similar incomes n A  re underinvested in the stock market, due to several social and cultural reasons The study does not, however, explore the social and cultural reasons that may contribute to this alarming disparity. Let us consider the historical context of the Freedmen’s Bureau and how the collapse of that institution might have contributed to the psychodynamics exhibited by our community with respects to saving and investing, in commercial real estate and other areas. n

Promising start, negative outcome

In 1865 just after the Civil War, Northern missionaries and Freedmen’s Bureau agents encouraged emancipated slaves to participate in a free-labor economy and embody middleclass values. To encourage freedmen to save money, white Northerners, many from New York, formed the Freedmen’s Savings and Trust Co., commonly known as the Freedmen’s Bank. To establish credibility and popularity among blacks, trustees elected former escaped slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass as chief officer, which resulted in more than 70,000 depositors throughout the South who circulated more than $57 million dollars to and from their accounts. It didn’t take long, however, for Douglass to figure out that he had inherited leadership of an institution that was near insolvency largely due to the mismanagement of former trustees and chief officers. This, coupled with the economic depression of 1873, further sealed the bank’s fate and on June 28, 1874, all branches of the Freedmen’s Bank closed their doors. Less than a decade after hard working African Americans were able to earn wages for their labor, they suffered the humiliation and disappointment of losing what little savings they could muster. Some historians argue that African Americans lost their faith in the American dream and middle-class values and abandoned frugality. Others cite the establishment of black-owned banks less than 15 years after the collapse of the Freedmen’s Bank as evidence that many African Americans continued to be enterprising. It is logical to surmise that there is a connection between our early experience with saving and the collapse of the Freedman’s Bank and our current attitude and behaviors regarding saving and investing today.

Spirit of investing once flourished African Americans owned restaurants,

hotels, social clubs, office buildings, theaters and bookstores, and many other enterprises began to spring up after Reconstruction. Charlotte participated in this development boon, as exemplified by the Brooklyn neighborhood (Second Ward) that featured the Afro-American Mutual Insurance Co., AME Zion Publishing House, The Palace Movie Theatre, grocers, barbers, hairdressers, shoemakers, undertakers, etc. Alas, the economic possibilities posed too great a threat to the power structure of these emerging markets and many of our finest entrepreneurs were threatened, bombed, burned out, and their visions and work reduced to rubble. Although there have been efforts to resurrect

the spirit of these entrepreneurs, there still exists a lag in saving and investing that does not accurately reflect the near trillion dollars of combined buying power that exists in AfricanAmerican communities throughout the U.S. Even in the midst of these challenging economic times commercial real estate investing remains not only a viable means by which to build wealth, but it also has the added benefits of being a catalyst for the revitalization of inner city communities and creating opportunities for the next wave of innovative entrepreneurs to make history. P Emmanuel Choice is a transactions and investments broker at Lincoln Harris.

African Americans owned restaurants, hotels, social clubs, office buildings, theaters and bookstores, and many other enterprises began to spring up after Reconstruction. Charlotte participated in this development boon, as exemplified by the Brooklyn neighborhood.

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May-June 2010 | Pride Magazine



by Glenda Gabriel

Saving Money

Avoid overdrawing your accounts

Bank to authorize debit/ATM purchases if there’s enough money in account to cover transaction


ustomers are looking for more control in managing their daily finances and Bank of America is responding with solutions to help meet their needs. There are newly issued federal requirements related to consumer debit cards and ATM transactions coming this summer and Bank of America is going above and beyond what the regulations require. These changes are designed to help you reduce the likelihood of inadvertently overdrawing your personal checking and savings accounts, and this can help reduce unexpected overdraft fees on certain transactions. Just what are the changes? Beginning in the summer, Bank of America will only authorize everyday debit card purchases or ATM withdrawals if, at the time of the transaction, we determine that you have enough money to cover the transaction in your checking account or a linked account via Overdraft Protection. An everyday debit card purchase is a single (non-recurring) debit card transaction where you swipe your debit card (for example, a grocery store purchase) or when the card is not physically presented (for example, an online or telephone purchase). What exactly does that mean? Once the changes automatically go into effect, if you try to make an everyday purchase at a retailer or a withdrawal at an ATM using your debit card and that transaction would bring your account balance below zero, your transaction will be declined. Certainly, you have the choice of using another payment method like cash or your credit card, but Bank of America won’t approve a transaction in excess of your account balance or charge you an overdraft 58

Pride Magazine | May-June 2010

These changes are designed to help you reduce the likelihood of inadvertently overdrawing your personal checking and savings accounts.

fee for that transaction. This will help reduce the likelihood that you inadvertently overdraw your account. Keep in mind: n Research shows that customers generally prefer to be declined when using their debit card at a retailer or withdrawing cash at the ATM rather than paying an overdraft fee. n You can always sign up and use overdraft protection by linking to a second account to help you avoid being declined at a retailer or at the ATM. Other ways you can avoid being declined at a retailer or at the ATM include: n B  e sure you know the available balance in your account. Use online banking and mobile banking to find out how much money you have in your account at that moment. Remember to subtract any of your recent transactions that aren’t listed in online banking as those might come to Bank of America later in the day and reduce your available balance. n S  ign up for alerts such as our Low Balance Alert. This electronic alert gives you a “heads up” when you reach a certain balance amount that you set. Getting notified automatically about account activity and balances can help you stay on top of your money. n T  ransfer funds between accounts. You can make a transfer via online banking so you have enough funds for a purchase or ATM withdrawal. Transfers occur immediately. P Glenda Gabriel is neighborhood lending executive, Bank of America.

Small Business

A key to more customers


by Monique McKenzie

Entrepreneurs turn to the Internet to grow their businesses


nter the search terms “Charlotte” and “piano lessons” on Google and the Piano Passion’s Web site appears. The 3-year-old, Charlotte-based company is run by Nyshia Cook, a transplant from Springfield, Mass. Though the 26-year-old is happy about her 60 students, that wasn’t always the case. “The first year I only had one student,” she admits. “God just blessed me with a few more students and then it just spiraled to more and more. Ninety percent of the students that started with me are still here.” Cook took specific steps to grow her business. Some of those activities involved the Internet. In 2007, Cook set up a simple Web site for free using Microsoft Office tools. Then she posted free listings on Craig’s List, and

“I knew nothing about HTML or setting up a Web site,” she recalls. “But I just looked at other Web sites for (design) ideas. I also searched for advice on how I could improve my online rankings. A big boost in business came when we took our programs to private schools. That came about when a principal saw my ad on Craig’s List. Things took off from there.”

‘Internet is the great equalizer’

It’s no surprise, says Danny Ross, CEO of SiteZerver LLC ( “The Web is the No. 1 tool for a small business as far as getting out there and being able to battle with your competitors,” he says. “The Internet is the great equalizer. Size doesn’t matter when it comes to the Web; every company with online access has the tools to grow their business.

It starts with a Web site. “An effective Web site does one thing particularly well,” Ross explains. “When someone lands on your page you have to deliver whatever it is that you promised. In the past, we used a lot of unnecessary graphics to make the site lively. These days, most companies have large text and maybe one photo. Sites are as simple as possible so prospective customers can find what they want.” And how do you know if the content you’re providing hits the mark? Ross says you should conduct your own focus group by asking five to 20 people to check out your site. If they can’t figure out its objective, something is wrong. He also says you should search for Google Web master tools so you can submit your URL and access reports to determine if Google is seeing your site the way you planned. As Cook found out, content is only half the story. You also have to increase your visibility on the search engine pages so prospective customers can find you. Ross believes becoming a master of Google Adsense is the best way to acquire strategies to move your site up on the search page. But if you can’t do it yourself, hire someone else to accomplish this for you. Just get active on the Internet — fast! Cook will use the Internet even more as she continues to expand her business. The school doesn’t just teach piano, it offers voice, guitar and violin lessons, too. It’s also preparing to offer a summer camp. But you won’t see these offerings on home-printed fliers or postcards. Instead, check out the new Piano Passion’s Facebook fan page or YouTube videos. P Monique McKenzie is host of “The McKenzie Business Forum” talk radio show on Thursdays at 3 p.m. May-June 2010 | Pride Magazine



by Benny L. Smith

Business Start-Up

How to succeed in business Preparation, delivery among the keys to keeping your doors open


urn on the television or radio, or even search news Web sites and most of the headlines you read are not positive. This is also the case for various small businesses that have had to either lay off workers or close due to the economic downturn. But there is a glimmer of hope for those of you who want to start your own business. Not only are experts predicting the economy to get better later this year, but this might be the best time to start your own business. Before you develop your business, there are some key things that must be performed in order to be successful.

Do your research

Find out what other companies exist in the surrounding market for your target audience. Also, make sure you research what type of companies have closed due to a tight recession and if your new company falls within that category. For example, if you want to start your own barbershop, but local research is telling you that several are closing, make sure you investigate possible reasons they failed so you will not make the same mistakes.

One of the most neglected aspects of starting a business is forming a communications plan … You need to find out what type of communication tools — such as social media, print advertising or television advertising — your audience will respond to. Promote yourself

One of the most neglected aspects of starting a business is forming a communications plan for your business. Most people only rely on verbal commitments from friends and basic fliers to promote their businesses. That might work on the first day of opening your business, but as those days transform into weeks, months and years it will be increasingly difficult for your business to survive on just word of mouth. Again, performing research is key. You need to find out what type of communication tools — such as social media, print advertising or television advertising — your audience will respond to. You will then be able to know what messages and images you should use to attract customers to your business. Also make sure that you test your messages with potential people who would become future customers to your business. Finally, make sure to include some type of evaluation tool after you have finished your advertising campaign. The evaluation information will help you to know what you will need to keep or change in your next advertising/public relations campaign.

Good customer service

This tip is probably the most important one. You can have the best type of space for your building, a good clean environment and a superior product or service, but if you or your workers have a bad attitude that will


Pride Magazine | May-June 2010

immediately turn off your customers. The old saying is true that “bad news travels faster and further than good news.” If one customer has a bad experience, usually that person will tell at least 10 other people and so on and so on. So it behooves you to do what you can to make sure that the customer has the best experience that you can give them. The customer may not always be right, but the customer should have the best experience possible . Again, take these tips as you make that move into becoming your own boss and making your dreams come true. Hopefully, implementing these tips will make sure that you nor your business ends up in a negative situation. P Benny L. Smith is the public relations director at Johnson C. Smith University.

Smart Thinking

Key components


by Jenise Tate

Take stock of the resources that can help or hinder your business


eople. Time. Money. Here are a few observations about these important resources garnered from my interactions with successful managers and business owners in our community.

People n Get

in touch. Know your people’s ideas and concerns by asking. Spend time around the “water cooler.” Have an individual meeting with each person. n Create connections. If you think you’re not getting enough from your team, consider whether they feel responsible for the company’s success. Do they take ownership of the choices they make and the resulting impact on other teammates, vendors, clients, community, you? What motivates each one and how do you know?  n Develop a succession plan. What talent do you have in your organization? Is there someone within your business who wants to earn a greater opportunity for ownership in your business? n Create an informal team. Have you surrounded yourself with other businesspeople (whether in your industry or not) who share ideas in a non-competitive environment?


Successful owners are investing time re-training to innovate their businesses. In this pivotal time in our economy, one could say that lessons learned and actions taken today could be worth several years of experience. n What steps have you taken to ensure that the time you spend on activities is linked to the mission and values of your organization? n What improvements could be made on how your team members are spending their time? Do you embrace technology as a time saver and moneymaker? Or do you shy away from technology out of fear, or view it as an expense? Investing in technology appropriately

Successful owners are investing time re-training to innovate their businesses. can improve cash management, freeing up time for your most valuable asset — people — to focus on the core business activities that drive profit.


More than knowing your cash flow, managing cash effectively creates greater profit by improving collections, accurately forecasting cash and reducing interest expense. Many business owners comment that managing these aspects of the business daily is the last thing they want to handle. However, becoming profitable, borrowing money for “working capital,” growing the business and ultimately using the business as a retirement vehicle are some of the first challenges and goals owners cite when asked. What are some steps to bridging the gap?

n Assess

your infrastructure and how it impacts your finances. Every owner needs at least one trusted person (internal or external) overseeing cash management. Done well, it can help you collect every dollar you earn, maximize vendor relationships, find money within the company and minimize interest expense. n Make a time investment to discuss with your banker and accurately assess your current state versus short- and long-term goals. Share your self-assessment of current infrastructure. Be open to guidance.  n Develop a strategic cash management plan with your banker.  n Use your banker’s resources for succession planning to create the value you expect from your business. How you effectively deploy your people resources can create time and money in your business. P Jenise Tate is business relationship manager at Wachovia, a Wells Fargo company.  

May-June 2010 | Pride Magazine


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4/21/10 3:55 PM


Enhance your child’s success

by Marlon Smith and Syreeta Smith

Teach young people about money management and entrepreneurship


ith all that is happening in our economy, it is extremely important for us parents to teach financial principles and business concepts to our children. Regardless of whether you have mastered wealth management principles or have made some serious financial mistakes in the past, you have something important to share with your children. Sit down with your children and share your answers to the following four questions: Over the years, what have I learned about money? n  If I could go back in time, what would I do differently with my money? n  What is the best advice I have to share for successfully managing money? n  What adjustments will our family make about how we save, invest and spend money in the future? Syreeta and I do not remember a time when our parents intentionally sat us down and shared key financial principles when we were children. Unfortunately, we both had to learn the hard way, by making personal-finance mistakes. To better understand financial principles, we participated in a small-group Bible study where we completed the Financial Peace University course. This course inspired us to be better stewards of our finances. And to help our children learn

important financial principles, we even purchased the children FPU books to read with them. For more information, visit

Sage advice from across the country Recently, we invited couples throughout the United States to share insights for experiencing a healthy marriage and family on our blog at www.inspireyourfamily. com. The wisdom shared has been incredible. With today’s current economic challenges, various couples shared the value of helping their children understand their specific gifts and talents so they may consider becoming an entrepreneur or business owner. Darryl and Donna Johnson, parents of children ages 6 and 8, have co-owned Indie Business Media for more than 10 years. They said, “Because our children will not have the traditional job options that our generation

has, exposing them to the benefits of entrepreneurship is one of our most important parenting tasks.” As parents, we know each child has a unique personality, gifts and strengths. Parents have a very important responsibility to teach their children the importance of discovering their individual purpose so they may maximize their true potential. Dennis Kimbro, author of the best-selling “Think and Grow Rich — A Black Choice,” said, “Focus on your play… What would you do for free?... What comes easy to you?... What do you love to do?... Answer these questions because if you can turn your work into your play, theoretically, you will never work a day in your life because your work is your play.” To help your children expand their minds

to the possibility of being an entrepreneur, here are three steps: n  Have each child answer Kimbro’s questions. n  Have each child research individuals who are currently involved in their dream profession. n  Have each child write his/her plan to achieve his/her goals. Life will take on new meaning as your children learn key money management principles and considers the possibility of being a successful entrepreneur. P Marlon and Syreeta Smith are with Covenant Keepers Inc.

May-June 2010 | Pride Magazine



So much to do by Tiffany L. Jones



often hear people complain that there isn’t enough going on in Charlotte, but I beg to differ. It seems like every other weekend someone is having a fundraiser, dinner or gala. The highlight since my last column would have to be CIAA 2010. One hundred thousand people came into the city. There were day parties, night parties and an annual brunch. Everyone from U.S. Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) to Mayor Anthony Foxx and The 100 Black Men had something going on that weekend. Well, the politicians are out and making their way around town. In April Herb and Felicia Gray hosted an invitation-only meet and greet at their home in honor of Ken Lewis, who is running for Senate. Recently I also attended The Johnson C. Smith Arch of Triumph Gala at the Convention Center. This event brought out 300-plus people who celebrated JCSU’s 143rd Founders’ Day. Until next time, enjoy your spring/summer. Please send hi-res event photos for consideration to P

2010 CIAA Socials

Ken Lewis Fundraiser


Pride Magazine | May-June 2010

EventsCalendar Please log on to our new online community calendar, at, where you can view and list your event or meeting.

Meetings Third Sundays Charlotte-Mecklenburg Black Political Caucus

Nonpartisan organization that seeks to promote political education and increase voter participation among African-Americans. Little Rock AME Zion Church, 401 N. McDowell St., 6 p.m. Details: Caucus Chair Gloria Rembert (704) 333-4241.

Fourth Sundays West Charlotte High School National Alumni Association This nonprofit group provides financial and volunteer support to West Charlotte High School. All alumni and friends are welcome. New location TBA Details: Veronica Davis, president, (704) 399-2171.

Mondays Community Link

Learn how you can become a homeowner and build wealth through a Homeownership Education and Counseling Program. Free introductory sessions are every Monday, 6 p.m.-8 p.m. 601 E. Fifth St., Children and Family Services Building Details: Harold Rice, (704) 943-9517.

Second Mondays CHADD of Mecklenburg

Children/Adults with ADD meets and hears speakers from September to November and January to May, 7 p.m.-9 p.m. at the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated, 4100 Coca-Cola Plaza (formerly 1900 Rexford Road), Charlotte.

Tuesdays Tuesday Morning Breakfast Forum

8 a.m. West Charlotte Recreation Center, 2222 Kendall Drive

Fourth Tuesdays Friends of Beverly

Nonprofit support group for professional women that practices intentional diversity. Pewter Rose

Restaurant, 1820 South Blvd. 6 p.m. For other monthly meetings and details:

Third Tuesdays Kwabena Book Club

Beatties Ford Branch Library, 2412 Beatties Ford Road. 7 p.m. Details: (704) 336-2882.

Second Tuesdays American Business Women’s Association (Charlotte Charter Chapter)

This is a professional organization for working and retired women of diverse backgrounds. Crowne Plaza, 201 S. McDowell St. Reservations: (803) 548-1820. Dinner is $23.

First Thursdays Concord Area Metrolina Real Estate Investors Subgroup

Education and networking in relation to real estate investing. 2431 Wonder Drive, Kannapolis Details: Charity Hagar, (704) 523-1570

Third Thursdays American Business Women’s Association, University Chapter

Location varies 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m. Contact Pam for more information: (704) 549-4863.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Black Chamber of Commerce Charlotte Chamber Belk Action Center Contact: Judith Bentley,

Fourth Thursdays Mecklenburg Black Republican Council

Mecklenburg County Republican Headquarters, 1313 Mockingbird Lane, Suite 213. 7 p.m. Details: Vincent James, (704) 846-9091, or

New Friends of Carolina 10:30 a.m. Location varies.

First Saturdays Metrolina Minority Contractors Association

Sorority Inc. continues to seek ways to “Answer the call and accept the Challenge.” Meeting location varies. Proof of membership required. Details: Tonia Linder at (704) 4921994.

United House of Prayer 2321 Beatties Ford Road; 9 a.m.; Contact: John Wall (704) 905-4451.

Fourth Sundays Black Women’s Caucus of Charlotte Mecklenburg

Zeta Phi Beta, Tau Theta Zeta Chapter, Pineville Matthews

Oaklawn Center 1920 Stroud Park Court; (704) 376-1541.

President Ella Scarborough Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, 381 Crestdale Road, Matthews (704) 625-3953.

Special events

Las Amigas Inc.

1 p.m. 3700 The Plaza.

May 27-29

Second Saturdays Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc.

Noon-11 p.m. Details: (704) 458-8888 or

Food Lion Speed Street

Noon-2 p.m. Martin Luther King Middle School, 500 Bilmark Ave. Details: Alvina Johnson, (704) 607-3853

June 3

Jim O. Hacker Memorial Golf Tournament

Benefiting the Charlotte Volunteers in Medicine Clinic Birkdale Golf Club 8:30 a.m. Details: (704) 350-1300 or (704)-604-0273,

Second and Fourth Saturdays Charlotte Writers Group Morrison Regional Library 11 a.m.-1 p.m. 7015 Morrison Blvd;

June 13-18

Tailoring Teens for Success

National Baptist Church Congress

Girls 11 to 16 years old meet with professional facilitators for interactive discussions: Meetings are held August-November every Saturday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. University of Phoenix, 10925 David Taylor Drive Details: Jeanine Davis,

St. Paul Baptist Church (host) Details: Sept. 18

2010 Sunset Jazz Festival Symphony Park at SouthPark Details: (704) 375-9553 Please check for updates.

Third Saturdays Gamma Phi Delta Sorority Inc. Beta Eta Chapter

Founded in 1943, Gamma Phi Delta









May-June 2010 | Pride Magazine



Pride Magazine | May-June 2010


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Pride Magazine 2010 May/June Issue  
Pride Magazine 2010 May/June Issue  

May/June Issue