Huami Magazine Florida Sept./Oct. 2022

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Sept./Oct. 2022 Volume 1 Issue 10

Emma Jewel Charter Academy Florida - Sept./Oct. 2022


God’s Plan Is Greater Than Me A Letter From The Editor

There Are No If, Ands, Or Buts About It!

With every ordeal or trying circumstance, there will always be more than one way to handle them. We can face them head-on, or we can turn away andthe avoid any form of an altercation. No matter what A Letter from Editor decision is made concerning the matter, the impact or effect of what we chose will most likely be waiting on the other side of our decision. That’s why I believe it’s vitaldidn’t to share our thoughts Godhopes What if tomorrow arrive? All of yourwith plans, beforehand and confirm Hishave viewpoint because plan isif greater and dreams wouldn’t a street to parkGod’s on. What than everything anything I can decide for myself. that you decided to put off until tomorrow never

happened? There would be no reason to save for a rainy Like most people, thrill of victory is generally the of reason why day, and you the could spare someone the trouble making I compete or fight. Also, if you are anything like me, I understand promises. What if your last opportunity seemingly expired that you mayWhat hate to lose,you regardless of what is at stake. Yet, I am today? would do? learning that I must do a better job choosing my battles because, for the mostI’ve part, every battle not mine tolike fight. been told that is I often seem I doGod toodesires much. to fight for me, and He expects me to let go and allow Him to do His thing. Honestly, I feel like I am not doing enough and I’m a firm I’ve learned that the car drives better when He controls the wheel. believer in knowing that God wouldn’t put anything on me that I couldn’t handle. I sometimes wonder how life would I recently celebrated my birthday, and to be honest; I celebrated for be if I chose to sit idle and accept what it presented to me. I the entire month. That was my choice because I love birthdays. I have found that to be very boring. In my opinion, opportunity also used that time to reflect on where I am in life and where I’ve is a blessing that isn’t afforded to everyone. A challenge come from. I wanted to know what I am currently doing to get to to me is an adventure. What is the worst that can happen? where I ultimately want to be. What was revealed is my interests and If I do nothing, I fail, and if I try I don’t, but instead learn efforts were possibly pointed in the wrong direction. I learned that something new about myself. Relinquish your pride and in while I am blessed, God is more concerned about those individuals return He can reachacquire beyondlife. me, and when I don’t allow God to use me, He isn’t able to reach them through me. Being vulnerable and a The best advice ever givenoftoreal megreatness; happenedthat’s whenwhat someone cooperative vessel are attributes God told me to make my tomorrow happen today. In doing so spoke to me. I have pressed my way through doors with a key that only provided. I haveand alsobeliever learnedinthe difference between Livinghope my life as a Christian God means that I must what God blesses me with and what life can burden me with trust God. Even during the most difficult moments, if I just show as well. I compare it to knowing when to be confident and up for the fight and trust God while I am fighting, I will then see when to be Him move on my behalf. The things that I may be quiet, dealingbecause with and someone may get it confused determined to be unbearable may with being arrogant. actually amount to nothing once it’s placed in God’s hand. How will I ever Makeallow you tomorrow know if I don’t God to lead me? happen today, but most importantly it count. God has a plan andmake purpose for all Life is but a whisper and of us, and His plan is far greater than put ourselves in aI get anythingwe wemust can imagine or think. to hear what it is excited position when I think about everything us. for me. His is God hastelling prepared greater, and all I have to do is trust His process and believe what He tells me.

Terry L. Watson Terry L. Watson Editor/Founder Terry L. Watson

Terry L. Watson Editor In Chief Writer Terry L. Watson Writer Dorjea’ McClammey Alana Allen - Deputy Editor Ellen Richardson Writer Monica Montgomery Writer Writers

Tonya Dixon Cazualtee Terry L. Watson Photographer Still Shots Photography Alana Allen Photographer Tamara Smith Jeuron Dove Photographers Perfect Lenz Photography Todd Youngblood Photography

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Mykel Media Company Linda Bennett Email 336-340-7844 (336) 340-7844 Mykel Media Company LLC

HUAMI MAGAZINEGreensboro, is published NCquarterly by the Mykel Media Company. AnyReserved reproduction of any 2022 All Rights portion of this publication is prohibited without written permission from the publisher prior to doing so. Mykel Media doesn’t accept responsibility for statements made by individuals featured or advertisers. Comments concerning this publication may be submitted to the editor by E-mail at or to Mykel Media Company, LLC P.O. Box 20102 Greensboro, NC 27420 HUAMI MAGAZINE 2014 All Rights Reserved

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November/December 2014


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SEPT.OCT. 2022


Real Estate is My Name

Lisa D. Smith

On The Cover

Emma Jewel Charter Academy Dr. Thomas Cole


Blessed To Be A Blessing

Shanel Crusoe



My Life in Poems

John C. Johnson

Huami Magazine Cutest Baby

Laney Williamson



Also Featured

VaShaun Mosby Never judge a book by its cover. Learn more about how she uses her experiences to help others. Louisville, KY


Kara White Learn more about this serial entrepreneur. She knows something about dance, finances, and giving back to her community. Phoenix, AZ


Pastor Cleophus Lee From Houston, TX, all the way to the windy city of Chicago. Learn more about his calling. Chicago, IL



Florida - Sept./Oct. 2022

Emma Jewel Charter Academy By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Dr. Thomas Cole Dr. Thomas Cole is a native of Cocoa, FL. Dr Cole decided to open the Emma Jewel Charter Academy to honor his grandmother. After graduating from Florida A&M University, Dr. Cole intended to come back home to Cocoa and help the children in his community that were at the greatest risk of failing. During this time, he met his eventual wife, Kimberly, and she poured into him, advising Dr. Cole on the best way to reach the kids he so dearly cared about. He says, “She told me that if I wanted to really reach that group of young individuals, I should consider pursuing a career in education,” he says. Dr. Cole agreed and later decided that a career in education would be the best fit for him. Dr. Cole became a Special Education teacher in 1997, which he says was the most rewarding time in his life. As he became more comfortable with teaching, his skills caught the attention of one of his administrators. Dr. Cole says they advised him to pursue a career in administration. He went back to school and obtained the necessary certifications to become a leader. He would later work at a charter school as an assistant principal and eventually as a principal. These roles gave Dr. Cole the leadership exposure that would shape his life for the future.

Florida - Sept./Oct. 2022


Dr. Cole’s vision was to open his very own school. While his vision was worthwhile and a much-needed resource for the Cocoa community, he soon learned that for nonprofit organizations, little to no support was available. Still, he persevered and pressed towards the mark. The doors of his academy opened with 200 kids enrolled. Today, Emma Jewel Charter Academy enjoys an enrollment of 350 kids with a waiting list, and truly represents the efforts of Dr. Cole. The Emma Jewel Charter Academy is part of the Community Eligible Program (CEP) and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. As a part of these programs, they focus on teaching students about healthy nutrition and introducing them to new tastes that they may not have experienced before.

Dr. Thomas Cole and his sons.

The namesake for Emma Jewel Charter Academy is Emma Jewel Cole. Emma was born in Camilla, GA. She is regarded as deeply rooted in her Christian values and dedicated to serving her family. Emma left school at an early age to work in the cotton fields to support her family. Despite not having a formal education, Emma was one of the world’s wisest and most intelligent women. Education was very important to her and was something she stressed to her children, grandchildren, and greatgrandchildren. She often said, “Once you receive a good education, no one can take that away from you.” In 1960 she moved to Cocoa, FL, and raised her eight children. She remained a pillar of the Cocoa community until her final time on earth in 1999. As the principal and co-founder of Emma Jewel Charter Academy, Dr. Cole says what he loves most about what he does is serving kids and serving his community. Moving forward, he also plans to increase enrollment at the academy and continue adding value to the lives of the young people he has been fortunate to serve.

Kimberly and Thomas Cole 8

Please visit their website to learn more about Dr. Cole and the Emma Jewel Charter Academy. h

The namesake for Emma Jewel Charter Academy is Emma Jewel Cole. Emma was born in Camilla, GA. She is regarded as deeply rooted in her Christian values and dedicated to serving her family. Emma left school at an early age to work in the cotton fields to support her family. Despite not having a formal education, Emma was one of the world’s wisest and most intelligent women. 9


Florida - Sept./Oct. 2022

Shanel Crusoe

Shining from the Shadows: Black Female Engineers Still Pushing Toward By Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Shanel Crusoe In 2016, the world met Katherine Johnson, the AfricanAmerican whose mathematical calculations directly contributed to the success of the first crewed U.S. space flight. She was underpaid, and her skill was underestimated because she was a black female. Katherine’s was an extraordinary story, but unfortunately, it’s all too common. Females in STEM careers are often overlooked and underestimated. Their numbers are few, but add to their list of descriptors black, and the percentage is in the low single digits. Shanel Crusoe makes up that percentage. At thirty-eight, Shanel is a wife and mother of two. She is also a Systems Engineer who has won three major awards in the past four years. In 2019 she won inventor of the year. In 2020, Shanel won Black Engineer of the year, and in 2022 she won SWE Outstanding Women Engineer Award. Early in her life, Shanel decided she would not be a statistic. As a child, both of her parents had issues with substance abuse. This ordeal made sense for Shanel, along with a sister-cousin, to be raised by her grandmother. Starting her first job at age thirteen, Shanel understood early in life the need to work hard and give her best. “Although raised by my grandmother, I still had to work to care for myself. I worked hard in school and received several scholarships, including a full ride to Berkley. But I felt like Berkley was too close to home. I needed to venture out and leave California. It was time to find myself and walk in purpose for my life.” Shanel’s search took her to Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee. She received her bachelor’s in business information systems, but computers were not her first choice. “Actually, I wanted to be a rapper,” Shanel says, laughing at her younger ambitions. “Me and my friends would get together and have rap sessions, and although we joked about it, I put some serious thought into it. I wanted to open my own record label. But as I started taking computer classes, I learned about business information systems. The two were unrelated, but I found I had a passion for numbers and data.” Because of Shanel’s aptitude for numbers, her professors suggested she do something in the area of accounting, but her new passion for computer science took her in a different direction.


“My first job was working for Lockheed Martin in Atlanta, Georgia as an analyst. I worked closely with the project engineers integrating the cost of building materials against schedules. Since I was already doing the work of an engineer, I wanted to move into a management position with that title. So, I went back to school to understand technical resource management better.” Shanel received her MBA in Technical Resource Management from Colorado Technical University. When she applied for the engineering management position, she was told that despite her already doing the work, her degree didn’t qualify as a STEM degree. “The MBA required many of the same classes I would take for engineering, but it didn’t fall in the STEM arena. I was told it had to be heavy in math and science to qualify. Yet I was qualified to do the same job as the engineers, just not qualified to receive the same pay.” As a result, Shanel returned to school and earned a BS in Software Systems Engineering and eventually another Masters in Computer Software Engineering.

“I went back to school so they wouldn’t have an excuse to continue to underpay me. As a matter of fact, I was part of a classaction suit against Lockheed Martin because I learned it had more to do with me being a black female than it had to do with how much math my degree required. For instance, they would give an accountant the title of financial engineer to justify their pay bracket being ten thousand dollars higher. At the same time, someone who actually was an engineer would get paid less because they graduated from an HBCU. Their reasoning was that the coursework wasn’t as rigorous. This may have changed since I was there, but at the time, they didn’t make an effort to recruit from HBCUs for that reason.” Working in a field that at times has not just underappreciated her but persecuted her for being a black female, Shanel has learned to be tough-skinned. Accomplishing all she has while being a wife and mother was a challenge. But Shanel’s biggest challenge is what she endures as a black female engineer. “I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how many degrees or skills I possess and display. At the end of the day, it’s all about what “they” perceive me to be. But with my white counterparts, it’s different.” Shanel admits that she has never been a traditional student. She met her husband William on the first day of orientation at Tennessee State. They started dating, and their first daughter was born before the fall of her sophomore year.


“I went back to school so they wouldn’t have an excuse to

continue to underpay me. As a matter of fact, I was part of a class-action suit against Lockheed Martin because I learned it

had more to do with me being a black female than it had to do with how much math my degree required.”

“I called my grandmother while in active labor to tell her I was having a baby. The day after giving birth, I went to class,” she said with a laugh. “My grandmother was very upset with me, but there was too much at stake.” Shanel was on scholarship and knew that without it, she wouldn’t have been able to continue her education. She was worried about disappointing all those who had invested in her and believed in her, but more than that, she couldn’t allow anything to lose momentum. “I received a scholarship from the Omega Street Soldiers. Its founder Dr. Marshall was crucial to my success and getting me to where I am today. He invested in me and many kids like me—minorities with challenging upbringings. Our situations can be extremely tough, and we are often labeled a statistic and told we won’t make it. In my case, my father was a drug addict, and my mother was an alcoholic. So, there I was, only a year of college, and I was a new mom. But I had worked too hard to let it end that way. I was on the honor roll, and I had a scholarship. So, I was like, nope, I will not let my choices derail my future.” This kind of determination displayed by African-Americans is often mistaken as being built to endure heavier work and life loads. Shanel’s frustration around this issue is something she says she works to manage daily. “I’ll hear regarding my white counterparts, ‘Oh, she can’t complete this assignment because she’s a mom,’ or ‘Let’s make her employee of the month because she’s juggling work and home, so she deserves it.’ But I’m sitting there like, ‘Hello! I have kids and a husband, and I am doing just as much, if not more than they are. This idea that black women are designed to carry more because they are used to it is crap.” According to The 5 Biases Pushing Women Out of STEM, written by Dr. Joan C. Williams. No. 1 is Prove it Again. “Two-thirds of the women interviewed, and two-thirds of the women surveyed, reported having to prove themselves over and over again – their successes discounted, their expertise questioned. “People just assume you’re not going to be able to cut it,” a statistician told us, in a typical comment. Black women were considerably more likely than other women to report having to deal with this type of bias; three-fourths of black women did,”. Despite all she has endured, Shanel remains a leader in her field. Her invention will help make flying safer by giving pilots the data they need to diagnose any mid-flight issues properly. But even with her management title, years of experience, and expertise, she is still made to defend her work. “There is a counterpart who does not have the credentials I have, and she is trying to grade my artifact’s level. They are trying to determine the grade I should receive on it. But it’s subjective. To say that I missed a period in this one-hundred-and-tenpage technical paper is not the same as if I omitted a full technical description of a component, which could lead to something catastrophic. So now I have to defend my artifact because of minor comments from people who don’t have the experience or training that I have. This is just one of the many frustrations black women in the engineering field endure.” With all of the blatant racism and gender biases she has faced in her career, Shanel says she continues to do what she does because she believes in the work. In a management position, she can help other people of color as they enter the engineering field. “I work to be an advocate for minorities in the engineering field. Having experienced firsthand the open prejudices and biases that people of color, especially black females, face in engineering, I make a point to bring in minorities and mentor them. They h need help navigating the jargon designed to weed out those deemed undesirable and justify underpaying people of color.”


Florida - Sept./Oct. 2022

Pastor Monumental Baptist Church “When I was a teenager, I started to question my purpose in life. This was mainly due to me learning that God saw it fit for me to be born despite my mother being told she was unable to carry a child. Knowing this made me realize that I purposed for greater and called to effect and bring change in the world.”

By Ellen Richardson Photos Provided by Pastor Cleophus Lee

What do you do when God calls you into your community and makes disciples of the masses? Obedience may be the obvious answer, and this is the story of Pastor Cleophus Lee. Born in Houston, TX, but currently living in Chicago, IL, he is Monumental Baptist Church’s Senior Pastor. Pastor Cleophus Lee first received his God calling when he was in college, but much like Jonah, he would run before Th e Great Shepherd would bring him back into the fold. “When I was a teenager, I started to question my purpose in life. This was mainly due to me learning that God saw it fit for me to be born despite my mother being told she was unable to carry a child. Knowing this made me realize that I purposed for greater and called to effect and bring change in the world,” he says. Pastor Lee shares that he even believed at one time that God had destined him to be the next Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or Malcolm X. “I believed that he wanted me to help people move from where they are in life and into better opportunities,” he says. Though empowering in its nature, Pastor Lee would be pushed into a new direction, and that was ministry.

Florida - Sept./Oct. 2022


He shares “I actually started my career by working with a non-profit organization. I also worked with social services, and because I am educated in political science, I envisioned myself going to law school to become an attorney. With a law degree in tow, I believed I would go back to my hometown community in Houston and run for city council and eventually become one of the first Black mayors in the city of Houston. This plan would conclude with me retiring as a sitting Judge.” He also notes that Malcolm X advised Black people to become involved in the political system to ensure a positive change. While attending college at Dillard University, Pastor Lee was very complacent. Things were happening the way he expected for them to happen, and for the most part, he was happy. Yet, he would find out that God had a different plan. “I started to wrestle with a call to become a preacher. During my freshman year, my cousin and I were rooming together, and after returning from a school break, he told me that he was called to preach. When he said this, I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit that said it wasn’t supposed to be him; it was supposed to be you,” he says. This prompting would send Pastor Lee on a life-enriching journey. He references Jonah, a Bible hero who a huge fish swallowed after running away from God’s plan for him. After living inside a whale’s belly for three days, Jonah prayed to the Lord. Soon the Whale relinquished the prophet onto dry land so he could start again. Like Jonah, Pastor Lee saw himself in a similar situation.


Florida - Sept./Oct. 2022

Florida - Sept./Oct. 2022


“My life’s mission has now become to impact the people that God sends me to help them discover their God-ordained purpose.”

“Before this prompting of the Holy Spirit, I was regarded as the Black militant. I was even involved in selling drugs at one point. However, I was blessed to be able to change. I realized that if I continued on that path, I wouldn’t be able to make the difference I wanted inside of the political world. I also felt God leading me to make a difference by doing things His way versus my way. These are the things that happened which initially led me to become a pastor,” he says. Fast forward to today, and Pastor Lee has clearly answered the call on his life. He serves as the Senior Pastor of Monumental Baptist Church in Chicago and does everything he can to lead the community God has given him. “My life’s mission has now become to impact the people that God sends me to help them discover their Godordained purpose,” he said. To learn more about Pastor Cleophus J. Lee or Monumental Baptist Church, please visit their website. h

Pastor Cleophus J. Lee 18

Monumental Baptist Church


Cutest Baby

Laney Williamson The daughter of Elise Blackmon and Dante Williamson

Florida - Sept./Oct. 2022

To submit photographs to be placed in the Huami Magazine Cutest Baby feature, please send a detailed email to



Taneka Johnson Cultivate with By Terry L. Watson

Taneka Johnson


Photos Provided by Taneka Johnson

After acquiring years of knowledge and experience at the benefit and disposal of others, Taneka Johnson has pivoted into the world of entrepreneurship. The Memphis, TN resident is a certified professional life and business coach with a background in I/O Psychology. With 19 years of entrepreneurship, business development, and coaching experience, Taneka aims to help others succeed in life and business. Her unique coaching method focuses on assisting solopreneurs in regaining their power by quieting the noise around their mindset. She also assists with building their confidence and bringing them support through leveraging consumer psychology and business strategy. During her time in corporate America, Taneka created training programs and documented processes for manufacturing companies. Today, she is the face and founder of Cultivate with Taneka Johnson, a consulting agency that specializes in helping other business owners establish proper business foundations by focusing on four key areas; Mindset, Operations, Business Diversity, and Business Credit. Taneka is the youngest of two children born to her mother. She is a native of Hawaii and later moved to Memphis, TN, nearly 26 years ago. She describes herself as a “military brat” and someone who is very ambitious. “I am the queen of evolution and transformation,” she says. Taneka attended Germantown High School, the University of Memphis, and obtained a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Spanish. She then attended Capella University and received her M.S. in I/O Psychology. Today, she is attending Capella University and is working to obtain her Doctorate in I/O Psychology with an emphasis in Coaching, Consulting, and Organizational Psychology. Taneka says her company offers coaching programs and services that focus on building a sustainable business foundation to support growth and scale phases. The described services are designed for small businesses, normalizing $10k+ months in their business. Tankea’s company primarily focuses on process improvement, consumer psychology, and customized business strategy. After helping to prepare her client’s business foundation, Taneka shows them how to develop SOP’s, a training library and educates them on the hiring process. For mid and large-size businesses, she provides corporate training focused on leadership, workplace culture, team building, and DEI. Additional topics discussed are SOP/process creation, evaluation, and creation of training and development programs. Florida - Sept./Oct. 2022


How did Taneka get started along this journey? She says, “I began originally with my life coaching business in July 2017. I used to work for a small medical device company that maintained a very toxic workplace culture. There, I learned what executive coaching was and became interested in wanting to pursue it for myself. I approached the executive coach and asked him how he got started in the industry. I took the pointers that he gave me and started to shape the vision of what I wanted it to look like for myself. When I started my business, the name was DREAMWorks Life Coaching & Consulting, but we recently rebranded last year in August 2021 to its current name, Cultivate with Taneka Johnson. I had evolved as a person and business owner, and the previous name and brand were no longer a great fit for the direction I wanted to go,” she says. While helping others, Taneka says she loves to see the lightbulb go off. “I love hearing the statement, “I never thought about it that way”. It let’s me know that the teachings are working and the old mindsets are breaking to form new ones. This is the process of evolution that I embrace in my teachings,” she says.

While she loves what she does, Taneka admits some challenges come with being an entrepreneur. “I think some of the biggest challenges I have faced are when the business has gotten a little slow and when I had not yet started to believe in myself the way I should have. As a business owner, you will have slow times, but times won’t remain that way. You have to be entirely okay with pivoting if needed and trying something you have never tried before,” she says. Another challenge Taneka faced was not fully believing in herself. “You must lean into change and evolution and let it happen gracefully. Sometimes the success you desire is on the other side of the version of you fighting. You must leave those comfort zones. By doing so, you will achieve success much quicker than the average person.”


While the feedback and commitment from her clients are genuinely important, Taneka shares that the most significant impact on her business happened when she decided to improve her nutritional health nearly two years ago. She credits her nutritionist, Ryan Zuber, “Your Favorite Nutritionist”, for making the process easy. “I came into it thinking I would lose some weight, but it has ended up being way more than that on this journey. It has affected how I show up as an individual and a business owner. Because I feel better, I perform better, and having mental clarity has been a significant blessing,” she says. Her best friend, Nicole Dotson, owner of Care Love Repeat Wellness, she says has been a major blessing. “I value our friendship so much, and we really push each other to be the happiest and best versions of ourselves.” The advice she offers to others who may follow in her footsteps is “to be yourself from the start, and embrace change and evolution as it naturally happens”. She says, “If you are sleeping on yourself, the difference between the life you want and where you are now is you waking completely up. Get started now. Invest in yourself, your personal development, health, and well-being. Health truly is wealth, and you will need to be healthy for the journey. Trust yourself and work on your self-discovery and never stop learning. Be bold, be daring, and go with your gut. Most importantly, you must be in tune, be intentional, and show more love.” Futuristically, Taneka says the long term goals for her business are to develop the first black-owned Employee Assistance Program. She also plans to start a staffing agency, open an entrepreneurship and leadership training center, and open multiple co-working spaces. Her goal is to venture into doing more speaking engagements and writing books. To learn more about Taneka Johnson, please visit her website. h

I used to work for a small medical device company that maintained a very toxic workplace culture. There, I learned what executive coaching was and became interested in wanting to pursue it for myself.”

Taneka Johnson

Cultivate With Taneka Johnson



Florida - Sept./Oct. 2022

VaShaun Nicole Group By Ellen Richardson Photos Provided by Chanel Wells-Henderson

“I didn’t plan on becoming a serial entrepreneur... all of my businesses evolved from a need I saw in the community.” Successful businesswoman, VaShaun Mosby’s story is that of determination, hard work, and promise. Born and raised in Lexington, KY, she began her career in the corporate sector. VaShaun was a troubled youth who never went to college, yet she set her sights on working in the corporate sector. Without having a college degree and experience, she had to start at the bottom, and she did. She shares, “I worked from small beginnings, all the way to the vice president of Global Services and Operations before I was 30-years-old.” VaShaun had acquired 20 years of corporate experience before a last-minute ultimatum led her to a new beginning in the world of entrepreneurship. “While I enjoyed corporate life, a new path began forming for me when I received an email that said my entire department would be shipped to the Philippines. As a newly divorced single mother with two small children, I realized I had a significant decision to make.” After understanding that she had already received the skills and talents necessary to gamble on herself, this decision quickly turned into an entrepreneurial venture, VaShaun Nicole Enterprises. VaShaun Nicole Enterprises is a minority, woman-owned publishing house and marketing firm that was born from her personal story. “When I started my own business, I wanted to do so by telling my personal story of overcoming struggles,” she said. Her story would begin while growing up with a father who was a sniper and a mother who was a preacher. Together, VaShaun says they raised a troubled child who even faced jail time at one point. That was before VaShaun would find her life being dug from the ashes and climbing the ladder of success.

Florida - Sept./Oct. 2022


“I may have been a young kid whose past even included facing 25 years in prison at the age of 19. Still, I always tell anyone who will listen to not let your past dictate your future because you could be the person that others look to for advice and encouragement.”

After publishing my first book, Behind Her Eyes, VaShaun was offered a deal from Barnes & Noble and Joseph-Bell Booksellers in Lexington, KY. There she participated in a series of tours and inspirational book signings. That experience was what she needed and opened her eyes to more opportunities. She hoped her writing would serve as encouragement for women, and soon she was on her way to publishing her second book alongside Angela Allen-Johnson. Entitled 365 Days of Attacks but God, this devotional is written from a mother and daughter’s perspective and allows readers to experience the highs and lows of becoming who God called them to be. VaShaun’s entrepreneurial journey would continue. She reveals she learned there was more to her life than just making people feel good. After giving birth to her second business, she officially launched VaShaun Nicole Consulting. “My second chance to become a successful entrepreneur stemmed from my love of helping people learn their God-given abilities. Today, our alternative staffing organization focuses on those who have criminal backgrounds or lack the professional skills necessary to scale the corporate ladder,” she shares. As VaShaun continued to climb the entrepreneurial ladder, she began to see other needs within her local community that would eventually spawn her newest business creation. Vauntech Solutions, a minority-owned tech startup, creates innovation and social services spaces that help provide the information necessary for people to meet their basic needs. Her fourth venture came about due to challenges she was already facing within her existing businesses. “As I began to grow in entrepreneurship, I noticed others within this field were not adapting within the professional setting and could not effectively present their small business,” she says. This revelation gave the “queen of entrepreneurship” the idea for VaShaun Nicole Advisors. This advisory company offers professional development for new business owners and those who may need to brush up on their skill sets. VaShaun uses 130 classes and other workshops, all based on what she learned during her time in the corporate and entrepreneurial sectors. As VaShaun continues to follow a path toward philanthropy, she remains committed to building up others who look just like her. “I may have been a young kid whose past even included facing 25 years in prison at the age of 19. Still, I always tell anyone who will listen to not let your past dictate your future because you could be the person that others look to for advice and encouragement,” she says. Please visit her website for more information about VaShaun Mosby and any of her four effective businesses. 26


Florida - Sept./Oct. 2022



Florida - Sept./Oct. 2022

Real Estate, Finance, and Dance....... I Do A Lot By Terry L. Watson - Photos Provided by Kara White

While Phoenix, AZ, is widely known for its often sweltering climate, someone else is blazing their own path in the black business community and helping others succeed along the way. Her name is Kara White. The young and ambitious entrepreneur wears many hats, including that of a real estate agent, financial planner, dance instructor, and director of a nonprofit organization. Kara was born and raised in Chicago, IL. In 2002, she decided to make the cross-country trek to the Desert Valley in search of a new start. That same year, she received her real estate license and followed that by becoming a licensed broker in 2009. She shares how her journey began, an experience wrapped in surprise and purpose. “While on a trip with my mother, I talked with an owner of a real estate agency. They offered me a job and even offered to cover the cost of my real estate license. However, as soon as I received the license, I left the resort gracefully and began building my clientele,” she says. Due to the ever-changing real estate market, Kara had to reinvent herself. That’s how one of her products, Kara’s Wealth Consultant, was developed, which spawned another product, Get the Money Friend. In this brand, “F.R.I.E.N.D.” is an acronym for “Financial Consultation, Real Estate, Investments, Planning, Notary Public Services, and Debt Elimination. She also offers credit consultation with services that include Credit Report Review, a Credit Repair DIY Kit Guide, and Income Protection and Budget Review. While she has demonstrated an astute business understanding, Kara’s talents expand beyond the entrepreneurial sector. She is the former Miss Arizona International. Her platform and influence were carried over into her nonprofit organization, Live Love Dance Inc. Its focus is to empower youth and lead them to live healthy, strong, and fulfilled lives via the performing arts. It also provides workshops, empowerment sessions, galas, fundraising, private lessons, and community service events. Kara shares she has always had a passion for dance. “When I was 11 years old, my first job was as a dance assistant. I quickly rose in rank from an assistant to teaching my own class. I’m disciplined in all seven dance forms, with contemporary dance being my favorite. I favor this style more because it incorporates the basics such as ballet and the freeing movement fundamentals of jazz and modern dance,” she says.

Kara’s genuine love to see others succeed is an attribute that comes into play in her personal and professional life. “I am committed to helping others, and my business endeavors must positively impact my community. The different experiences I’ve gained have allowed me to not only help others, but I’ve benefited from those that I serve, pouring back into me,” she says. The life of an entrepreneur can present unique challenges, and Kara has also experienced her share. She says that times can get complicated, but during those moments, she has to search deep within and find a way to stay positive and keep moving. “Despite my challenges, I am committed to living in the moment. I try to live and be present because time is whatever you think it is and whatever you create. I often tell others not to dwell on the past or focus too much on the future because they don’t know what will or might happen. We must live in the moment,” she says. On top of being able to help others, Kara also loves that she doesn’t have to conform to anything. Whether it’s her money world or dance world, she’s able to be personable while working at the same time. She also loves being able to work with a team of great people. As life moves forward for Kara, she expects to be involved in more endeavors and hopes to launch an event planning business. She also plans to expand her brand, Kara’s Wealth Consultant, and continue spreading financial advice in her community. Additionally, plans to continue to promote and grow Live Love Dance Incorporated. Their signature gala fundraiser is coming up in October, with proceeds going towards dance scholarships. For anyone looking to follow in Kara’s footsteps, her number one piece of advice is this; no one is going to be better at being you than you. She says, “Don’t try to be me, be better than me, be better at being you than me.” Please visit her website to learn more about Kara White and h her great endeavors. 29


Florida - Sept./Oct. 2022

Unlocking The Keys To Your Future By Dr. Marrissa R. Dick Photos Provided by Annie Wagar Photography

When most people think of real estate agents, they simply think of someone who helps buy and sell homes. In reality, a “premier real estate agent” does much more. Lisa Smith joined the real estate profession to be a premier agent,” not just buy or sell homes for her clients. What is a “premier agent” you might ask? Lisa developed the “premier agent” mindset as she moved her family nine times around the country and around the world while her husband served as a U.S. Marine. With each of those nine moves, she grew to understand more and more the importance of proximity to peace-bringing and life-giving places—for example, family, grocery stores, church, favorite restaurants and parks, to name a few. Lisa didn’t learn this by listening to someone else; she lived it. So today, she adopts her clients, almost like family, and works on their behalf during negotiation to ensure they get the best price. Lisa also works to ensure her clients get the best home to bring them joy and enhance their life, far beyond the four-walls and roof you can see. In 2013, she gave birth to Lisa D. Smith & Associates--a real estate team that wholeheartedly believes that “investing in a home is one of the most important decisions a person can make.” This team believes that “purchasing a home is so much more than having a roof over your head.” They understand that your home is “where life unfolds and memories are made, all while building a financial foundation for your future.” According to the team’s founder, Lisa D. Smith, “Our philosophy is simple - clients come first. We pledge to constantly communicate with our clients, keeping them fully informed throughout the buying or selling process. We believe that if you’re not left with an amazing experience that brings you peace and joy, we have not done our job. We don’t measure success through achievements, awards, or commission, but through our client’s satisfaction.” Real-life experience matters when choosing a real estate agent. As mentioned, Mrs. Smith acquired firsthand experience through multiple moves as she sought homes for her family to support her husband’s military career. She shares, “My husband, Keith, was really the impetus for my becoming a real estate agent. He retired from the Marines Corps after we had moved nine times. The wife and mother in me created this urgency to find the right home for our family, which meant it had to be in the right neighborhood, close to the right schools for my family, and located in the right community. We were fortunate to have caring and professional agents along the way, but I realized the experience could have been better. My desire to make it better was what drove me to start my own real estate team. When we bought our first house in Dallas in our twenties, I knew real estate was what I wanted to do. I knew I could help people making the biggest purchasing decision of their lives in a ways that would really mean something to them and me. My background in business, coupled with the experience from all of my own moves, made me better suited for this work than most. However, I also knew that I needed to sit at the table and learn the inner workings of real estate. Fortunately, while my husband was stationed with the Marines in San Diego, I met a woman who was originally from the Midwest, who took me under her wing and taught me the ins and outs of the business. I helped with open-houses, sat in on important meetings, performed office duties, and helped in any way I could. She appreciated my help and I learned a ton. Through this experience, I learned the entire process of buying and selling from a client seeing their dream home all the way to them being handed the keys to it. I also learned the ins and outs of commercial real estate. At the time, I had no idea that I would end up selling commercial property, but when the opportunity presented itself, I was prepared. I am grateful for that experience and the mentoring that I received at the hands of one of my first real estate mentors.

Florida - Sept./Oct. 2022


After San Diego, my husband received another assignment, which meant we had to move again. I was even more excited about this move because we were moving back home to Kansas City. When I told her that we were moving back home, she told me to get licensed and start helping people. She loved her work and knew I would feel the same. So, I followed her advice and got licensed in both Kansas and Missouri and I’ve never looked back. Today, I’ve helped countless clients all over the KC metro area and even further. Many of them stay in touch and update me on children or grandchildren being born, retirements, and other major life events. They also call me when things have changed to the point when they want to sell or purchase again because they know the ladies, and I will take care of them.

Twanna Green Associate Sales Agent

The ladies to which Lisa referred are her team. Just like the Kansas City Chiefs, Lisa has a team of professionals who work together to make their clients dreams become a reality. Lisa has enjoyed being the owner of her own business for the past nine years. Within that time, her business grew to the point where she needed help in order to keep providing the high-quality service that was so important to her. Lisa hired a transaction coordinator whose role is to help her handle documents and closing contracts. She also eventually brought on social media experts and other agents. But, it doesn’t end there. Lisa has built a strong network of professionals who take providing a memorable experience as seriously as she does—this network includes mortgage brokers, contractors, inspectors, and others. Lisa says, “It’s been beautiful seeing my clients so happy because of our efforts. Also, my business has grown, and I’ve helped grow the businesses of like-minded professionals. Teamwork really does make the dream work. ” Lisa appreciates that her staff and network all have aspirations of fulfilling their personal goals to help others. “I encourage my teammates to go after their goals and go beyond what they’re doing here on the real estate team. I’m all about seeing people, especially black women, achieve their goals. It’s such a blessing knowing that I have played a part in their success, as so many people have contributed to mine.” Lisa attributes her giving heart, passion for helping others, and tremendous business acumen to her parents--Bishop Ervin Sims and Mary Sims. Lisa’s parents pastored and led community redevelopment efforts in Wyandotte County for almost 40 years. Mt. Carmel Church was their primary place of service. She shares, “I learned to serve the community from my parents. My father and other caring people worked hard to get grants that allowed them to build a 60-unit senior living facility and collaborate with the Boys and Girls Club to build a neighborhood community center, and fair-priced housing that has changed the face of the community. They also built several single-family homes that allowed many first-time homebuyers to acquire brand-new homes. Helping my community and others is in my DNA”.

Claudia Anderson Associate Sales Agent


Lisa D. Smith & Associates offers more services than just buying and selling homes. They support their community and clients in other ways, too. For instance, annually, the team selects a single mom during Christmas to help her buy gifts and provide a meal for her children. Next year, they will collaborate with Habitat Homes for Humanity in Wyandotte County, and they will award scholarships to two African American women who would like to attend real estate school. They also support their community and clients by bringing in professionals who offer seminars such as down payment assistance programs and

Florida - Sept./Oct. 2022


Lisa D. Smith & Associates Keller Williams Kansas City North


Florida - Sept./Oct. 2022

ways to improve your credit. Next year she plans to incorporate an investment seminar so the clients she serves can learn how to increase capital as well as focus on generational wealth. Lisa shares, “This is a big part of why I do what I do. I am blessed to be able to bring knowledge and awareness to people that can change their lives--one seminar at a time.” Lisa’s team echoes her sentiments; they are equally passionate and committed to the communities and clients they serve. According to Rachelle Graves, Director of Operations, “I enjoy being a part of Lisa D Smith & Associates! It is a new adventure every day and keeps me on my toes. Every day brings new and interesting challenges, from explaining paperwork to clients, overseeing office processes, and supporting our agents. However, I would not change it. I count it a blessing to work with such a great group of women, and I look forward to continued success for our team!” Twanna Green, Associate Agent shares, “I am passionate about serving others and providing for my family. Real estate allows me to do both. It’s my honor to help families with one of the biggest transactions they will make.” Likewise, Claudia Anderson, Associate Agent says, “I believe everyone deserves a place they can call their own. Moreover, with real estate I can do just that. There are people that don’t understand the market or where to start, but I can be that person to help answer those questions.”

Tamala Lyons Associate Sales Agent

Finally, Tamala Lyons, Associate Agent echoes, “I decided to become a real estate agent because I had so much fun when my husband and I were searching for our home. I have GREAT fun looking at houses. In addition, I wanted to help people get through this process and make it as smooth as possible for them. But when I see the joy and happiness on my clients faces and the appreciation they have for my knowledge, I know I made the right decision.” When you work with Lisa D. Smith & Associates, you work with trained agents that have the backing one of the world’s largest real estate companies--Keller Williams. That means working with Lisa and her team puts your real estate interests into the largest network and gives them the furthest reach. In case you’re wondering what’s ahead for Lisa and her team, she sees her team growing to include more and more agents. “I encourage people to go after their dreams because there’s nothing like waking up every morning and doing the thing you love the most. Since the first home Keith and I bought in our twenties, I’ve wanted to help as many people as I could in this way. We all have different dreams; I’m blessed to be living mine.” Lisa gives all credit to God, her supportive husband, and her children Kasey (24), Donavan (23), and Kristian (22). In addition to being a licensed real estate agent in both Kansas and Missouri, Lisa is a member of the National Association of Realtors, (NAR) and has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Kansas. She also holds an masters in business administration from the University of Phoenix that she earned while her husband was deployed to Iraq and she was the business manager for a preschool in Okinawa, Japan. The same way Lisa has worked hard to take care of her family and other clients, she’ll put her team to work for you.

Rachelle Graves


Charlie’s Horn

In memory of Pastor Charlie Adams, III By John Johnson

It Seemed That on Every Sunday Morn When Charlie Would Softly Play His Horn, That It Was More Than Just Playing with Love For We Were Hearing from Angels Above. The Drummer Would Start His Soft Roll And Sweet Music Would Fill Every Soul, Then We Would Open Our Mouths and Sing, Giving All Praise to Our Savior and King.


John Johnson of Greensboro, NC, is retired from the U.S. Army and the U.S.Postal Service. He was born and raised in Baltimore, MD. His father passed away when he was only four years old. His mother passed away 12 years later. Though he only had his mother for 16 years, she made a lasting impression on him. He remembers her singing songs and reciting poetry around the house and believes that is where his love for singing and writing began. John has been married to Vera for 60 years. Their union produced two daughters, Yvonne, who passed away in 2013, and Yulonda. John continues to write and sing and credits God for inspiring every word and melody.

Stay Strong in Your Faith By John Johnson

There is so much going on In the world, today, We are running and worrying, And forgetting to pray. But God has not changed From his original plan When he sent his son, Jesus To save sinful man.

Photos Provided by Still Shots Photography

We can’t be caught up In what we hear, When the truth of God Is always so near. Stay strong in your faith From it never depart. Let the truth, God’s word Live in your heart.

Florida - Sept./Oct. 2022