Huami Magazine Kansas City Sept./Oct. 2022

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KANSAS CITY

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Sept./Oct. 2022 Vol. 1 Issue 5

Unlocking The Keys To Your Future Kansas City - Sept./Oct. 2022

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

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 and avoid any form of an altercation. No matter what 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 vital to share our thoughts with God beforehand and confirm His viewpoint because God’s plan is greater than anything I can decide for myself. Like most people, the thrill of victory is generally the reason why I compete or fight. Also, if you are anything like me, I understand that you may hate to lose, regardless of what is at stake. Yet, I am learning that I must do a better job choosing my battles because, for the most part, every battle is not mine to fight. God desires to fight for me, and He expects me to let go and allow Him to do His thing. I’ve learned that the car drives better when He controls the wheel. I recently celebrated my birthday, and to be honest; I celebrated for the entire month. That was my choice because I love birthdays. I also used that time to reflect on where I am in life and where I’ve come from. I wanted to know what I am currently doing to get to where I ultimately want to be. What was revealed is my interests and efforts were possibly pointed in the wrong direction. I learned that while I am blessed, God is more concerned about those individuals He can reach beyond me, and when I don’t allow God to use me, He isn’t able to reach them through me. Being vulnerable and a cooperative vessel are attributes of real greatness; that’s what God spoke to me. Living my life as a Christian and believer in God means that I must trust God. Even during the most difficult moments, if I just show up for the fight and trust God while I am fighting, I will then see Him move on my behalf. The things that I may be dealing with and determined to be unbearable may actually amount to nothing once it’s placed in God’s hand. How will I ever know if I don’t allow God to lead me? God has a plan and purpose for all of us, and His plan is far greater than anything we can imagine or think. I get excited when I think about everything God has prepared for me. His is greater, and all I have to do is trust His process and believe what He tells me.

Terry L. Watson

www.huamimagazine.com Terry L. Watson

Publisher

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CONTENTS

SEPT./OCT. 2022

KANSAS CITY

Blaque KC

Dr. Cokethea Hill

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Tolbert Consulting Group

Julius Tolbert

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On The Cover

Lisa D. Smith & Associates Lisa Smith

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Therapeutic Massage

Sarah Watson

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Huami Magazine Cutest Baby

Laney Williamson

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Also Featured

Michelle Coleman Learn how this young and ambitious businesswoman is putting her name on her community. Columbus, OH

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Denaro Cook He spent 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Learn how he uses his experience to help others. Little Rock, AR

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Karen Boulden The challenges that come with broken homes can be devastating. Learn how her company helps to ease the burdens. Greenville, SC

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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.

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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

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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


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Lisa D. Smith & Associates Keller Williams Kansas City North www.ldsmithandassoc.kw.com

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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 Director of Operations

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By Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Dr. Cokethea Hill

With BLAQUE KC, Dr. Cokethea Hill is giving African-American families a seat at the table within the Kansas City, Missouri, school system. Cokethea grew up in a low-income area of Kansas City. Like most black families in her community, her family didn’t have much money. In the third grade, Cokethea was part of the second wave of the desegregation order for Kansas City Schools. “I went from going to school in my all-black neighborhood and being walked to school by my brothers every day to being bussed outside my community. It was the first time I felt like an “other.” The otherness Cokethea felt was illuminated by the fact that there were very few adults at her new school with whom she could identify. “When I was headed to fourth or fifth grade, I remember wanting Ms. Wesley or Ms. Gibbs because they were the only two black teachers at that school. When I didn’t get them, I was devastated. There was a pronounced feeling of loneliness and isolation. I remember the bullying and constantly being reminded that I didn’t belong there,” she says. Cokethea attended Lincoln College Preparatory Academy for high school. “Originally, it was the only school black kids could attend.” Lincoln College Preparatory school was established in 1865, during the civil war. Lincoln has served Kansas City’s families for over a century. To this day, Lincoln remains a Blue-Ribbon school and continues its legacy of excellence in education. “Because it set very high standards, students who attend Lincoln College Prep go on to be very successful. When you walked into the school, you knew two things for sure. One that you were special. Two, you were going to college.” After her bussing experience, Cokethea finally felt at home. But in her junior year of high school, her father passed. “When I lost my father, everything changed. My parents were forty-two and forty-eight when they had me, so when my dad died, my mother was in her sixties. College was no longer an option because I had to work.” In survival mode, Cokethea focused on helping to care for herself and her mother, but her school counselor helped her refocus. “I had a wonderful counselor named Barbara Ponder. When I told her I couldn’t go to college, she said, ‘Cokethea, this is a college preparatory academy where every student has to take the ACT. Also, you must apply for college.’ I realize now that she understood the more active I was in the college prep process, the more likely I would go.” Ms. Ponder was correct. Cokethea attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She later transferred to Central Missouri State, earning her bachelor of psychology. After graduating college, Cokethea started working for the Missouri Division of Youth Services at the Northwest Regional Youth Center. “The facility I worked in was for boys ages thirteen to eighteen. They could have been there for anything from grand theft auto, robbery, rape, and assault,” she shared.

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Cokethea was a youth specialist. Part of her responsibilities was to help the boys with schoolwork. Cokethea noticed a disturbing trend. “Most of them couldn’t read. I knew I’d had more opportunities, but I assumed everyone had the same level of education because they were from the same district. Yet, sixteen-year-olds were reading at a fourth-grade level. There was something terribly wrong there.” Cokethea knew something had to be done. “Most of the kids I worked with had just made a bad decision out of a handful of bad decisions. They didn’t have any good options available to them. That made me want to become a therapist.” At twentyone, she decided to return to school for her master’s degree in psychology.

“Most of the kids I worked with had just made a bad decision out of a handful of bad decisions. They didn’t have any good options available to them. That made me want to become a therapist.”

To figure out why students were being promoted without being able to read, Cokethea needed to be inside the school system. “I had so many questions I needed answers for, so I got a job in the district as a guidance counselor.” It only took three years in the K.C. school district for Cokethea to call it quits. “A new policy was passed reducing the number of credits needed to graduate high school, and I was confused. We already had students who were being passed on without the basics. Now they were lowering the standard even further. I knew the rigor wasn’t there, and they wouldn’t even have enough credits to attend community college. Additionally, many students were taking remedial classes, so they were set up to fail even if they did try to attend college. It was negligent, and I couldn’t be part of that, so I quit. I was young and impulsive, but I felt it was the right thing to do.” Cokethea went on to work for Kauffman Scholars. “Kauffman Scholars is a scholarship program that targets inner city kids in grades sixth- twelfth grade. The program gives selected students additional coaching and wraparound resources until they graduate high school. When they went to college, the program gave the students financial support for their education fees.” At twenty-four, Cokethea was living the life she wanted. She was helping the demographic she felt called to and being paid handsomely. Then she felt a higher calling. “I was in the best place I had ever been in. Then here comes a man named Barack Obama announcing his bid for presidency.” Excited by the change in the air, Cokethea applied to become an Barack Obama Organizing Fellow. This initiative was focused on teaching young people the power of relational organizing at the grassroots level to bring about change in their communities and nationally, by electing the first African American president! “I knew I had to be a part of this movement, this was an opportunity to make democracy real and tangible for myself and my community..” Cokethea was accepted as a fellow, and her life as a community activist was solidified. Passion pushed her to leave her job at Kauffman Scholars to reach a larger population. Cokethea spent the summer organizing her community in housing, voter registration, healthcare, and so much more. “I made so many amazing memories. I learned how to connect with the people of the community, I learned how to listen to them, and understand their needs and desires,” she says.

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After her time as a fellow ended, she was asked to apply for the K.C. school board. “People were like, hey Cokethea; you’re out here talking about change. Why don’t you run for the school board? I said you’re right! I should run for the open seat.” At twenty-eight, Cokethea was appointed to the school board. She sat from 2008 until 2010. She ran for a second term but didn’t win. “I was so disappointed. In the end, I didn’t have what the other candidates had. Money. There was no capital to support the running of my campaign. But I was grateful for the two years I was there. I was honored to be mentored by two amazing black women: Helen Ragsdale, a former teacher, and Marilyn Simmons, a parent advocate. I was young, passionate, and educated but also immature. These women taught me patience, strategy, tact, sophistication, and how to pick my battles. Working alongside them helped shape the person I am today.” Cokethea worked for a few more companies, making good use of her passion for helping her community. She worked for the United Way, the city of KC, and the School Smart KC program. This foundation gave money to help urban schools with much-needed resources. “I believe God orchestrated every step I’ve taken in my life. I worked at the United Way, where I learned to raise money, but School Smart allowed me to dream without limits because they had resources. I was blessed with the ability to travel the country to gain knowledge and learn new and innovative things meant to help the underserved,” she says. But as she looked deeper, Cokethea realized that although well intentioned initiatives seek to improve outcomes for marginalized children and families there are systemic and political forces that make moving the educational needle for Black children extremely difficult. “I would sit in the meetings and look at the presented data, which wasn’t making sense. These programs were supposed to be helping the urban community but looking at the data, the needle wasn’t moving specifically for black children. At that moment, everything came together. I always said if I ever got a seat at the table, I wouldn’t just sit back and let things happen. So I left my job and started a firm that would empower everyday people to challenge, deconstruct, and redesign systems that are harmful to black children in education.” The issue Cokethea struggled with was that the data needed to fix the issues in the black education system was not being shared with that community. “The people the information would help weren’t being made aware of their options. So, they continued to struggle. This was counterproductive.” BLAQUE KC was founded on May 25, 2020. BLAQUE stands for Black Leaders Advancing Quality Urban Education. “The date is burned into my head because the day we signed the paperwork for BLAQUE was the same day George Floyd was murdered,” she explained, tearing up. “God was up to something. It was a horrible time for us all, but now the light was cast on initiatives like ours. People were looking for opportunities to show support to the black community.”

Dr. Cokethea Hill Blaque KC

www.blaquekc.com

The purpose of the BLAQUE Playbook is to support community leaders in their efforts to control the narrative. They help fund the running of local campaigns. They support community advocacy and efficacy. They work to be a bridge between the families and community stakeholders and the educational system so that students receive the quality education they deserve.

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BCTMB, MMT Strengthening Your Health with Therapeutic Massage Information and Photos Provided by Sarah Watson When you think of a massage, most of us think of it as a luxury or just something to do for a special occasion, but massages are much more than that! Therapeutic Massages are great for managing your muscle aches and pains. Whether it’s due to the stresses of life weighing heavy on you, causing tension in your neck and shoulders, which can lead to headaches/migraines. It may be due to autoimmune diseases, such as fibromyalgia or Parkinson’s. Even if you have suffered a traumatic experience, such as a car accident, or are in remission. Getting a routine therapeutic massage will help alleviate your muscle aches and pains, increase your mobility, improve your quality of sleep and blood circulation, relieve stress, and much more. At Healing Medical & Therapeutic Massage, our goal and mission are to help you strengthen your health with therapeutic massages. Our services are designed to be therapeutic and offer pain management. We do this by customizing each session to fit each individual’s need(s). We strongly believe that communication is key and it’s imperative for our patients to be transparent with our therapist to ensure a beneficial session. Our therapists at Healing Medical & Therapeutic Massage are certified, licensed and are held to the highest standard of ethics. They are also very well versed in Anatomy and Physiology, pathologies, etc. Their knowledge of how the body works, combined with their skills, allows them to provide you with holistic, restorative care through the healing arts of massage. Each session is focused on healing your body; your muscles instead of just giving you a “fluff and buff” massage. Our team genuinely cares about your health. It’s important that you feel better leaving than you did before visiting us.

Therapeutic Massage is not just a part of our name, it’s also a service we provide. Our Therapeutic Massage, also known as our Deep Tissue Massage, is not only about the type of pressure being applied to the muscles, but it’s about applying the right amount of pressure and manipulating the right group of muscles to provide relief to your “area(s) of concern” while still giving you a relaxing, yet effective Massage. Our patients that receive this service at least once a month or more, depending on the severity of their muscles, notice an improvement to their overall well-being. Some health benefits are reduced muscle tension, decreased migraines, managed low-back pain, help with Fibromyalgia pain, eased chronic neck discomfort, lowered stress in cancer patients, increased range of motion, and more! We invite you to visit our website to hear live testimonials from our patients about how our Therapeutic Deep Tissue Massage has helped them and enhanced their overall well-being.

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Tolbert Consulting Group “Falling Forward”

By Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Julius Tolbert

His journey has had its significant highs and lows, but now he wants to help others fall forward.

Growing up, Julius says his grandparents were his biggest influence. “Being the oldest grandchild, although we all were exposed to that enterprising spirit to some degree, I would say I had a little more first-hand experience.” When Julius was fourteen, he moved in with his grandparents, whom he credits as the center of their family’s business prowess. “My grandparents ran a fully functioning business. My grandfather was also a driver, so he was away often. I spent most of the time with my grandmother, who ran the day-to-day operations that make or break a business,” he says. The expectation was that Julius would grow up and work in the family business, but he had plans of his own. “Watching my grandmother made me realize there was more to being a business owner than selling a product or providing a service. I think that’s why I focus on the behind the scenes work. The business behind the business.” Julius is putting the lessons he learned as a child to good use. He has two consulting companies: Tolbert Consulting Group and Cornbread Consulting Firm and co-founder of Black Economic Mobility Coalition. “Tolbert Consulting Group is a nationally recognized business credit and funding company. We help entrepreneurs that are serious about getting their business started the right way the first time. We help with everything from business coaching, business funding, payroll, and bookkeeping. Our goal is to give business owners the support they need to succeed. Cornbread Consulting Firm work specifically with small business owners that are in the hospitality industry. We assist restaurant, food truck, catering company owners get in business, turnaround existing business, and/ or franchise concepts. Then there is the Black Economic Mobility Coalition which is very similar to a chamber of commerce. Our mission is to identify, address and remove barriers to economic prosperity for black business owners. All three companies were birthed from the experiences and challenges he faced along the way.

Julius has always known who and what he wanted to be in life. He just had to carve his own path. Not one to take the traditional route, Julius decided the military was the best path forward. “After high school, I joined the Navy. During my time, I went through two six-month deployments. I gained knowledge and exposure I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else during my travels. I saw myself and Black America from a different perspective. I have to say it definitely affected me,” he shares. As someone who already had plans, he says his time abroad helped shape and define his vision for the future. “When you live in the same place around the same people all the time, it’s hard to imagine a different kind of life. My time away allowed me to open my mind to the possibilities of what could be.” The unfortunate side of life in black communities is that it may be hard to do anything but worry about surviving. Julius decided he couldn’t live with the status quo. When he returned home, he was full of dreams and plans for the kind of world he wanted to live in and contribute to, but his ideas weren’t met with the excitement and support he was hoping for. He says, “After having the opportunity to experience other cultures and communities, my creative juices were overflowing. I wanted to push the boundaries and show my community that we don’t have to travel the world to experience it. However, I was met with a lot of resistance and close-mindedness. I kept hearing, “Aye, bro, ain’t nobody gonna come to that around here…” Thankfully, Julius wasn’t easily dissuaded.

Watching my grandmother made me realize there was more to being a business owner than selling a product or providing a service. I think that’s why I focus on the behind the scenes work. The business behind the business.

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For Julius Tolbert, entrepreneurship is in his DNA. As the oldest of four, he grew up in a family of business-minded people. “I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My granddaddy was in the logistics industry. He owned his own trucking company. My mother was an interior designer, my uncle had his own trucking business, and my grandmother was the family bookkeeper. So, I understood from an early age what entrepreneurship meant. Everything wasn’t always peaches and cream. I was exposed to the good, the bad, and the ugly when it came to growing businesses as a minority in the south,” Julius explains. “The most important lesson I learned was that falling is part of succeeding. Just as long as you fall forward.”

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Along with his time in the military, another important factor that pushed him to think about the longevity of a business was the loss of his grandfather. “My grandfather stepped in during a crucial time in my life. He took on the role of father and mentor. He taught me about business etiquette and how to dress and be addressed. He taught me how to conduct myself in professional settings, and even how to talk and handle business in meetings,” Tolbert explains. “He taught me to make sure I do everything in excellence. People will remember you if you take pride in everything you do.” Using his grandfather’s wisdom, Julius went from an entry level position in restaurant all the way to the corporate offices. “It was never my intention to build a career. I wanted to build knowledge. I took advantage of every opportunity to learn a new skill. I worked at several restaurants as I continued to climb the ladder. That’s how I worked my way out of the kitchen to become a corporate manager overseeing a region of restaurants.” Julius was being paid to learn how to flip, manage, and maintain a restaurant successfully. He was learning restaurant hospitality from the inside out. “My first leap into the deep end of entrepreneurship was when a partner and I opened Cornbread to Caviar Catering, which later became a fully operational restaurant,” he says. Like most chain restaurants, the employees seldom met or had a relationship with the owners. Julius and the chef of the restaurant he was overseeing decided they were done training people to become their boss or compete for their jobs, so they struck out on their own and opened Cornbread to Caviar. He shares, “Our concept was a southern-inspired menu presented with a touch of elegance and creativity. So that’s what we did, or at least where we started. We kicked off our catering company with networking events like First Fridays.” These events weren’t just for the locals. Julius and his partner had a targeted audience. “We were intentional with our invitations. We invited corporate department heads, University chairs, and others we knew had influence with their companies. As a result, we were awarded their catering contracts.” From there, Cornbread to Caviar grew into a full-service restaurant, and Julius did well for a while. The restaurant earned Best New Restaurant 2009 and at a tender age of twenty-five, he was part owner and operator of a restaurant making over seven figures per year. Then the effects of the recession hit. We went from doing $1.5 million a year in sales to $750,000, but I was operating as if we were still making $1.5 million. At this point, I realized there were areas of running a business that I didn’t know. I was running way above cost and bleeding money.” In 2008, Julius lost his grandfather and mentor. So, it was a fatality of the economic recession without any guidance on how to make the adjustments needed to keep the restaurant above water. “I struggled with self-doubt and depression when the restaurant closed. That experience taught me a critical lesson. Success isn’t how great the business is doing right now. Real success is how well the business will be doing ten and twenty years down the road.” To say he landed on his feet is an understatement. One of the reasons Julius started his restaurant consulting business that caters to small companies is because, after twenty years in the hospitality industry, he learned what the mom and pops need to know. “I have essentially taken all my years of experience with corporate restaurant chains and made it available to the little man. I share all the processes and tools the big boys use to maintain continued growth with my clients. I never want anyone to find themselves in the position I did.”

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It doesn’t matter what your business is; knowledge is power. Julius and his associates are here to make sure you have the power to live your entrepreneurial dreams successfully. He can’t guarantee you won’t fall, but he will help you use the momentum to fall forward. h

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Michelle

Coleman The Coleman Estate JC

By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided byMichelle Coleman This young and vibrant entrepreneur has one thing on her mind: to succeed. She is no stranger to hard work; at a moment’s notice, she is ready to roll up her sleeves and make things happen. Micelle Coleman of Ohio, comes from a large family. Along with her twin sister, she has five other siblings. She describes her mother Theresa Magee, as being strong and wise. Her father, the late Frederick Coleman, was awarded a purple heart for his sacrifice in the U.S. Army. When her father died at a young age, Michelle says her mother, aunt, and uncle worked in unison to ensure that she and her sister never went without. “They were someone we looked up to. They never forgot a birthday or holiday, and they instilled in us the importance of education. I would not be who I am today if it were not for the three of them,” Michelle says. Originally born in Nashville, TN, Michelle attended Forest Hill High School in Jackson, Mississippi. There, she ran track, cross-country and created a dance team in high school named the 601 Chicks. “The dance team gave young girls like me a fun space to express ourselves throug dance,” she says. She later graduated high school in 2013, and along with her twin sister, they were the only two children on her mother’s side to receive a high school diploma. Michelle says it was a great day to see her mother so proud. After high school, she attended Hinds Community College and received a trade certificate in business. She would go on to work a couple of side jobs until she received her license in the insurance sales field. Today, she owns The Coleman Estate JC, and Wealth Consulting Group LLC. Both were established between 2019 and 2020. Kansas City - Sept./Oct. 2022

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The Coleman Estate J.C brand involves real estate investing, wholesaling, Airbnb, and rental properties. Michelle shares she helps her community by buying unwanted properties, rehabbing them, and turning them into beautiful masterpieces. She also enjoys helping families out of foreclosure, problem homes, and relocations. She successfully acquired rental property, turned it around, and later built her dream home within 12 months. Those accomplishments even happened during the Covid 19 pandemic, and now Michelle is teaching others to do the same, no matter what the housing market looks like.

“While in college I started attending real estate (wholesaling) seminars and reading real estate investing books. I attended many seminars throughout the years. Then I finally invested in a mentor who gave me more hands-on training. After doing my first flip and receiving a check for over $10,000 for little to no work, I believe that was the start of my journey.”

Michelle Coleman

Wealth Consulting Group LLC www.startcreditjourneynow.com 614-972-3026

Her other company, Wealth Consulting Group LLC, assists clients with their credit, offering many services such as free consultations, free one-on-one credit coaching with a credit expert, free credit analysis, and much more. “We are changing the lives of our clients, their families, and our community,” she says. Michelle also named one of her businesses after her father’s last name and hopes to build a housing community for veterans one day. How did Michelle get started on her entrepreneurial journey? She says, “I have always had a vision of helping others. I guess that is what sparked an entrepreneurial spirit that initially launched my business interests. While in college I started attending real estate (wholesaling) seminars and reading real estate investing books. I attended many seminars throughout the years. Then I finally invested in a mentor who gave me more hands-on training. After doing my first flip and receiving a check for over $10,000 for little to no work, I believe that was the start of my journey. I purchased my first rental property at the age of 24, built my home at 25, and purchased another property at 26. There is something about owning multiple properties that always gave me such excitement. My second business came about as a response to something that happened to me. I was a victim of identity theft and had to work personally for many years to clear up my credit and regain my identity. I have seen what the damage can do, and after studying and getting my own score above 740, I’ve set out to help others do the same.” Like most business owners, Michelle has faced some challenges along her journey. The first and biggest challenge she shared was finding new clients without being one of those large household names. “I had to work hard every day to bring as much attention to my business as possible. Another challenge was finding help with running my business. That issue was easily resolved after hiring family and close friends, which allowed them to be a part of the journey of helping others,” she says. Moving forward, Michelle says her goal is to acquire five multi-family homes by 2023 and at least three more Airbnb properties by the end of this year. She has already set a goal to help one hundred credit families get the credit score they deserve. “My ultimate plan is to keep changing lives,” she says. Michelle has one son, Jeremiah, who she professes is her rock and greatest motivation. h

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Nurturing Connections LLC

Supervised Visitation Services 28

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By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Debra Attaway Photography Karen Bolden of Greenville, SC, has always been interested in helping others. Though her initial area of study in college was criminal justice, her focus changed to Social Work after determining that punishment, not rehabilitation, was the primary focus. Karen has over 20 years of experience working with children and families in need. She is a wife to James Bolden, and mother to Zion and Carter. She was born and raised in Clinton, SC, and graduated from Winthrop University with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. She is also a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. After graduating from Winthrop University, she began working with juvenile sex offenders and later with children in group home facilities. She has worked for the South Carolina Department of Social Services for 12 years as a foster care case manager, foster home licensing specialist, and as foster care supervisor. After leaving DSS, she worked as a liaison between DSS and the families who needed their services. Her goal was to help develop a plan to ensure that children and families were getting their needs met to have a safe and prosperous life without further DSS involvement. A large part of that role involved reaching out to family members to take temporary custody of the children. Finding relatives and assessing their homes was something Karen says she enjoyed. As a result, she became a Certified Investigator and began completing home assessments for relatives. Today, Karen is the owner of Nurturing Connections LLC. Nurturing Connections LLC is a supervised visitation service that provides a trained professional to monitor the contact between a non-custodial parent and their child and ensures the child’s safety during the visit. Supervision is often court ordered when there is a significant safety concern involving alleged child abuse/neglect, domestic violence, parental substance abuse, unsafe parenting practices, threat of abduction, or parental alienation. She says, “That name was chosen because I believe it is important for families to not only have supervised visits, but have an opportunity to make new memories together and nurture their connections, both new and old.” Karen shares that ongoing parental involvement can foster healthy emotional and social development for children and positive parent/child relationships. Nurturing Connections LLC provides supervised visits in public locations, and in the home of the non-custodial parent or relatives. Karen’s company also has flexible service hours designed to accommodate various school and work schedules. Kansas City - Sept./Oct. 2022

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“I have been blessed with two amazing sons, the most important people in my life. I love to spend time with them and watch them grow into young men. I could not imagine not having the ability to see them daily and play a crucial role in their upbringing.”

Karen Bolden Nurturing Connections LLC www.nurturingconnectionsllc.com 864-501-4017

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So how did Karen get started? She says, “When I worked at DSS, a major part of working with families involved in foster care was ensuring that they have visitation with their families at least twice a month for one hour each visit. That limited amount of time is not enough to maintain family connections and relationships; however, that was all that DSS was able to offer. During that time, I also spent a lot of my time at family court. While waiting for a hearing, I met and befriended a private Guardian Ad Litem, Nela Laughridge. She mentioned needing someone to supervise visits on a private custody case, and I immediately offered my services. Based on my background and experience, she agreed to allow me to work with her on the case. That first case consisted of an 8-hour visit every weekend and was held in public and at the grandmother’s home. I worked with that family for several years until my services were no longer needed, and I continued to work with different families for about eight years, strictly as a side hustle. In February 2021, my contract job as a Certified Investigator ended, and would lead to me eventually stepping out on faith and creating my own opportunity.” Today, Nurturing Connections LLC currently serves families in counties within Greenville, Spartanburg, Laurens, and Anderson, SC. Karen says what she loves most about her business is watching the relationships between children and their absent parents improve. “When visits start, it can be awkward between the child and their parent, but with consistent visits and positive interactions, relationships almost always improve,” she says. She finds inspiration in the connection she has with being a parent herself. “I have been blessed with two amazing sons, the most important people in my life. I love to spend time with them and watch them grow into young men. I could not imagine not having the ability to see them daily and play a crucial role in their upbringing. I love watching them and seeing the positive relationship they have with their father, and having strong connections and bonds with family is important to the development of children,” she shared. Karen’s advice to anyone who may be considering a career in her profession is to have some experience or a background in working with children and families. She says having knowledge of family dynamics and the impact of divorce and custody issues will also be beneficial. “I would advise people not to get into this field strictly for the money. It would be best if you focused on the children and families that will benefit from your services,” she says. I-In the future, Karen says she plans to secure a brick and mortar location to offer supervised visits and co-parenting classes for participants. Please visit their website to learn more about Karen Bolden and Nurturing Connections LLC. h


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MAGAZINE

Cutest Baby

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Laney Williamson The daughter of Elise Blackmon and Dante Williamson

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To submit photographs to be placed in the Huami Magazine Cutest Baby feature, please send a detailed email to huami.cutestbaby@gmail.com


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Tashara Childs Brave Counseling & Consulting, LLC

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Usually, she is the one asking her clients the question. For this feature, we wanted to know who is Tashara Childs? Her answers were spot on. She describes herself as a Southern Belle and Millennial. She is also the only child raised by her two parents. She says her mom is her rock and someone she aspires to be. Her father, who passed away when Tashara was only 18 years old, was definitely his little girl. “He passed down his strong but quiet presence to me.” Tashara says writing is her first love which inspired her to obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. After working several jobs, and writing books and blogs, she transitioned careers and received a Masters of Science Degree in Counseling. “Though I am ever evolving, I believe that being a therapist and an entrepreneur is my life’s calling,” she says. Currently, Tashara is the “Boss Lady” of Brave Counseling & Consulting. Her practice offers counseling services for clients ages five and up, including individual counseling, play therapy, and family and marriage therapy. They’ve also added life coaching and business coaching/consulting. Tashara says BRAVE is a small business seeking to invest in other small businesses and entrepreneurs. “In our office, we sell adult coloring books that I create. There is also The Brave Box, which is filled with tangible coping mechanisms for anxiety and depression. I also wrote a Bible-based devotional for Millennials and a workbook focused on discovering your purpose,” she says. All of the products mentioned are available for purchase. Brave Counseling began in a tiny office with a small desk that Tashara’s 6’1” body could barely fit under. After working with agencies and private practice, Tashara says she did not feel capable of giving her clients quality care. “I used my last check and took the leap to put down a deposit on office space. The practice grew very quickly, and after a few months, I was able to expand into a larger space,” she said. With only being in business now for less than two years, Tashara and her team are currently working on opening offices throughout Alabama. Kansas City - Sept./Oct. 2022

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Tashara says she loves to see growth and change in people who feel as though they are stuck. “I enjoy being the light for those who feel as though life is dark. I can be the voice for those who feel silenced. I can offer hope to those who feel hopeless, and I am able to see families reunited and marriages reconciled. In a world where it seems as though we are constantly surrounded by pain and negativity, I am able to see glimpses of hope on a daily basis.” While therapy and counseling is becoming more acceptable, especially in the black community, Tashara says there are still some challenges for her to overcome. For the most part, her profession can be physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally exhausting. Some challenges are fighting against insurance companies and the negative stigma often attached to therapy. Surprisingly, she shares that renting office space has also proved to be difficult as well. “I handle these obstacles by implementing coping skills, deep breathing, maintaining a positive mindset, and self-care. I ensure that I always do things that make me smile, laugh, and feel good about myself and life.” Where does she find inspiration? Tashara’s mother, she says, has always been supportive and believes in whatever she does. “I have an incredible partner who constantly encourages me, pushes me to keep going, and supports all of my big or small ideas.”

“After my father’s death, I went to counseling, but there were no counselors available who looked like me. I felt ashamed and embarrassed for needing help. My personal experience drove me to want to change the perception of therapy.” 36

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Looking ahead, Tashara and Brave Counseling have plans to continue to make their work better and effective. “After my father’s death, I went to counseling, but there were no counselors available who looked like me. I felt ashamed and embarrassed for needing help. My personal experience drove me to want to change the perception of therapy. I aspire to be the person who helps to break down the stigma of mental health. I also want to create a legacy of acceptance and advocacy for those who are suffering in silence and have the confidence and strength to seek help,” she says.

Tashara Childs Brave Counseling www.iambrave.life


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My Best Is Yet To Come By Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Denaro Cook

We’ve all heard about the many innocent people who have been victims of inadequate representation. Denaro Cook served eighteen years of a twenty-year sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. I wish I were about to tell a story about how the truth won out in the end, but that was not the case for Denaro.

Since his release in 2017, Denaro has hit the ground running, fueled by the hopes and dreams he never let go of during his eighteen years of incarceration. Music has always been a large part of Denaro’s life, and his time in prison was no different. “The inspiration didn’t stop just because I was locked up. In fact, it happened more often. I have so many songs and lyrics that I have yet to record it ain’t funny.”

The culture that most African-Americans grow up in says that you don’t turn on your family. Denaro heard this a lot as a kid. “My mother used to say all the time, ‘your family is all you got. You should never turn on your brother.’ So, I didn’t. And it cost me eighteen years.”

Growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas, Denaro has always loved country music. One of his songs is titled “I Love Country.” But it’s not the sad, jailhouse blues. What Denaro sings is Joyful Country.

At eighteen, four days after his high school prom and two weeks before graduating, Denaro was arrested and charged with a murder he didn’t commit. “The detective told me if I testified, I would have been cleared of all charges. But the person was my brother, and they already had him in custody. They knew he was the guilty party. They just wanted me to make their case for them. Because I refused to say anything, they charged me as well,” he says. Because Denaro wouldn’t testify against his brother, he was punished and spent eighteen years of his life in jail. “I completed 80% of the sentence I was given. If I’d had the financial means available to me at the time, I wouldn’t have served a day,” Denaro explained. Losing your freedom just as your life is about to begin is a hard pill to take. Especially when you and everyone involved, including the detective and prosecutor, know that your only crime was guilt by association. “I had a public defender, but they were no help. So instead of continuing to fight and get my hopes up, I decided to make peace with the hand I was dealt.” Although Denaro gave up the hope that he would be exonerated, he never gave up on hope. “That’s all you have, really. Life without hope is death.” So Denaro refocused his energy toward the future. When you are locked up, you are at the mercy of someone else. They tell you when to eat, sleep, and control every aspect of your life. The one thing they can’t control is your ability to dream,” Denaro shares.

“I could be bitter, but what would that accomplish? The time I spent in prison caused me to see life differently. I had to learn to forgive. Forgive the people who put me there, forgive myself, and forgive God. Once you do that, you can have peace no matter where you are.” Denaro credits his faith in God for seeing him through the rough times. “I learned to trust and believe God would see me through it all. And he did. Since my release, I’ve seen him work things out for me that I couldn’t do for myself. My dreams are becoming a reality,” he said.

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Denaro is a country music recording artist. He has a talk show called Prison Chronicles. He owns a book publishing company, Cook Book Publishing LLC, and he just started a nonprofit organization called Ones WHO (Ones Who Have Overcome). “These were the things I dreamt about, and I’m watching God put people in my path who can make things happen. That’s why you don’t give up on your dreams. Especially when you are in the darkest of places.” Prison Chronicles is a YouTube web show that gives voice to those affected by the penal system. This platform gives voice to former inmates, current inmates, family members of incarcerated people, and the people who put them there. Denaro has hosted correction workers and even judges. “Everyone on both sides has experienced some form of trauma. I believe it’s essential to understand that. The show allows people to speak their truth and dispel the lies and misconceptions people have about life in prison. It’s not what you see on television. These men and women are still human beings and deserve to be treated as such. These stories not only give them a release, but it also helps others who don’t yet dare to speak out. It’s therapeutic in many ways.” The seventeen episodes of Prison Chronicles have been over three thousand times since the first video podcast aired. “We are in the process of revamping, but there will be new episodes coming soon.” As a recording artist and a talk show host, it’s only natural to have a Cook Book Publishing company. “I never thought about becoming a publisher until my brother and his friend started writing books.” Denaro’s brother, who is currently serving time for the same crime Denaro was convicted of, has written several books. “An inmate who started a publishing company while in jail published one of my brother’s books. When I visited him, he asked why I didn’t do it too. At first, I didn’t think I could, but after some research, I realized it was simple. With just a few steps, I had a legitimate book publishing company.” Cook Book Publishing is a licensed publisher with nine books published under their label and four authors.

taking you to the Goodwill to get clothes. Giving you guidance on where to go to get help for different things.” Denaro admits that he has had a few struggles while making a name for himself as a free man. “Everyone has trauma, and I’m no different. It was painful to endure what I did, knowing I hadn’t done anything wrong. While you are away, life begins, and it ends. People you love pass away, but none tells you, thinking they save you heartache. They don’t understand that it’s more painful to find out years later.” During reentry, everyone has a decision to make about the way forward. For Denaro, that meant losing friends and family. “Inside, I had to make a change of mind and change of heart. When I got out, I had to change my environment to maintain that change. I lost friends and family who didn’t understand that I wasn’t the person I was when I went in. As a man, society has taught us not to show weakness. We have to suppress it and suffer through it. To do that, we have to become detached and inaccessible. It makes having successful relationships hard because you don’t know how to open up without being vulnerable. Thankfully God blessed me with a beautiful daughter who has taught me how to love again. Because of her, I feel myself coming alive again.” It’s been five years since his release, and Denaro has never let go of three things. His faith in God, his love for his family, and the belief that it’s never too late to dream.

The nonprofit is a recent addition but not a new idea for Denaro. “The nonprofit was just approved, but it’s an idea I planned out while in prison. Originally it was supposed to be called MAID by Us, but the name was taken. Ones WHO is a rehab, recovery, reentry, and disability assistance program for ex-inmates trying to restart their lives.” After release, most former inmates have to adjust to the world they are being released into and come to terms with losing the world they left behind. “You must apply for your social security card, driver’s license, and all kinds of documents that make it legal to walk around. You have to figure out how to function in an alien world. When I went in, technology was nowhere near where it was when I came out. I wasn’t familiar with smartphones, tablets, and things like that. For successful reentry, there needs to be technology training. You have to know how to use computers and the internet to fill out a job application.” Along with the need for help with technological advances, Ones WHO will act as a resource for people who need support during reentry. They will help with everything from basic needs such as clothes and personal care items to mental and emotional support. “You learn to cherish the things most people take for granted. Something as simple as someone

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Trudi B. Parson

“I Have One Goal...... To Get The Job Done” By DorJae’ McClammey Photos Provided by Luguzy Adkins of L.A. Photography

She is Coach Trudi B. Parson. Marketplace Minister, educator, generational debt eraser, generational wealth builder, business launch coach extraordinaire, CEO and Founder of Fortify | The Business Launch Firm, and International Empowerment Speaker. Trudi B. Parson seamlessly does it all. Coach Trudi has been a business owner for over 24 years and a full-time entrepreneur for eight years. She currently resides in Greensboro, NC, but is a native of the small town of Ramseur, NC. Coach Trudi attended Liberty University and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Religion and Criminal Justice and a Masters in Human Services with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy. Now back in school, her goal is to receive her doctorate in Business with a concentration in Organizational Leadership at North Central University. One of Coach Trudi’s brands, Fortify | The Business Launch Firm, was birthed out of the need to help her clients secure a life of abundance via the avenues of business, relationships, spirituality, and politics. “Securing your life from the inside out where external factors don’t determine the kind of life you want to live, I help others understand that you control that,” she says. Each business that Coach Trudi has created has experienced sustainable success. While each company is unique, three of them partner under the umbrella of Fortify | The Business Launch Firm, a strategy she implemented to ensure clients had access to all the resources needed to make their business sustainable. Fortify | The Business Launch Firm is a comprehensive coaching firm offering everything a business owner needs. They provide business tax preparation and planning, and group business coaching, grant discovery and writing, alternative business funding, business conferences, retreats, masterclasses and mastercourses.

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Like many other new businesses, Fortify | The Business Launch Firm officially launched during the Covid pandemic. Coach Trudi shares she became aware of how business owners were panicking due to the pandemic’s effect and impact. In her response, she developed solutions that taught business owners how to remain successful and helped several launch new businesses. “I taught them how to pivot into a continuation of the revenue they normally would make, yet in a different way,” she says. Fortify | The Business Launch Firm also offers five different master classes. One of them, #Buildit, is a 30-day program that helps develop an idea and connect its purpose to serve while creating a high level of monetization simultaneously. #LaunchU is Coach Trudi’s original threeday masterclass filled with foundational information that she believes businesses need when facing the challenges of a “brick wall”. #Fundit is all about the money and focuses on getting businesses adequate funding. This includes helping to find loans, obtain grants, gain government contracts, and more. Finally, the #LaunchU52 component is a year-long coaching subscription for established or aspiring entrepreneurs ready to start or expand their businesses. “When you enroll in #LaunchU 52, I will take you under my wing and teach, advise, and coach you based on what I’ve learned as an entrepreneur,” she says. As previously stated, Coach Trudi believes everyone hits a brick wall, and she is no different. Before starting Fortify, Coach Trudi helped her mother run her tax business. When her mother passed, she took over the company full-time. This was a difficult moment in Coach Trudi’s life. She shares that while everything was going fine, she began to feel like she was settling. “The business had plenty of clients, but times were changing. Realizing that I had hit my wall by failing to pivot the company into a new age, I overcame that struggle by deciding to no longer be stuck and let the growth happen,” she says. More than anything, Coach Trudi loves seeing the success of other people and seeing them take control of their lives. “I love seeing other people create the life that they love,” she says. She also loves knowing that she is a part of helping them take accountability for creating their financial freedom and being ok with accepting the responsibility and courage to do so. Coach Trudi’s shares that she finds inspiration in understanding her purpose in life. “The good, bad, and ugly all work together for my good. Knowing my purpose has kept me from falling into the distraction of disappointment. If you’re not careful, you can let your distraction be your main attraction, and your disappointment will distract you if you settle in it,” she shares. “When you walk in your life’s purpose, sometimes it will cost you everything, but it will be so worth it when you understand that your life is not your own, and what you experience is not for your purpose, it’s for God’s purpose.”

To learn more about Trudi B. Parson, please visit her website.

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In the future, Coach Trudi says she expects to expand internationally as an empowerment speaker and business launch coach and corporate consultant. She shares that these expansions will take place in countries with a lack and need for such services. In addition, she plans to establish global business incubators. As for Fortify, Coach Trudi is looking to start more retreat-based master courses that will minimize time but maximize the monetization of services by engaging more with groups of people, small businesses, and corporate leaders. In 2023, she hopes to share her Fortify strategies for success with churches. Her last piece of advice is aimed at the savvy and determined business owner. “When opportunities fail to present themselves, you must be willing to create your own opportunities.” h


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