Women pioneers come in many shapes, sizes, and forms. This is demonstrated through the diverse set of women who have had influences on our staff. For example, Jobi, our Account Planner, wanted to pay tribute to a pioneer in history:
"In honor of Women’s History Month, one of my favorite female pioneers is Mary McLeod Bethune:
The daughter of former slaves, Mary McLeod Bethune was the only member of her family to attend school, yet each night she taught her siblings everything she had learned. She became one of the most important Black educators, civil and women’s rights leaders and government officials of the twentieth century. The college she founded in 1904, now Bethune-Cookman University, set educational standards for today’s Black colleges and her role as an advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt gave African Americans an advocate in government.
She was such a personal inspiration and an example of commitment to educating students, as she started her school with $1.50 in her pocket, five girls and faith in God – a culturally relevant history lesson etched in the minds of all students that attend. Because she stood firm on the principles and values of human rights, I am a PROUD third generation HBCU alumnus of Bethune-Cookman University.
'The true worth of a race must be measured by the character of its womanhood.' -Mary McLeod Bethune"
However, James, Account Supervisor, Reputation Group and Tamarah, Receptionist wanted to talk about more modern role models...:
"As a musician, and a lover of popular culture, I have to note Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Brandy (Brandy Norwood) as a woman who has positively influenced me. But as usual – despite her undeniable credibility as an entertainer and musical influencer - I can virtually hear the responses of confusion. “Brandy?? Why, Brandy?” Cool. Let me school you.
I’ve studied music and vocal performance since I was a small child, and continued to do throughout my academic career at Howard University where I minored in jazz vocal performance. When I think of vocalists who have depth, range, and color that I like to mirror, Brandy is always one to note. Let’s start with the fact that, in her early years, Brandy – a 15-year-old [singer] – successfully mirrored the impeccable vocal stylings of the late Whitney Houston. This is a feat that most adult singers cannot achieve. As Brandy matured, so did her voice. Her debut effort, “Brandy,” gave us a new school twist on our beloved Whitney Houston’s vocal techniques. Then, she moved into a creating a signature sound with super producer Rodney Jerkins where she showcased nasal, yet attractively smoky, deliveries. However, it wasn’t until her third album, “Full Moon,” that we saw Brandy and her then musical counterpart, Rodney Jerkins, move into creating edgy R&B music that showed off both Jerkins’ innovative sound paired with Brandy’s more mature vocals with signature rifts that a wide variety of today’s artists have merged into their own styles.
Flash forward to 2017, where we’ve seen Brandy deliver three more full-length LPs with quite a few notable singles (i.e. 2004’s “Talk About Our Love,” 2008’s “Right Here (Departed),” 2012’ “Without You, and 2016’s “Beggin’ and Pleadin’”) that highlight how her vocal delivery has stretched to become an undeniable, multi-dimensional powerhouse alto. Now, the commercial success of her latest efforts have admittedly been less than stellar – for reasons which we do not have time to discuss in this particular blog – but that has absolutely no bearing on the fact that Brandy has remained consistent as a vocalist who becomes stronger with every release.
So, why Brandy? She taught me how to insert subtleties into my recording and performances that leave lasting impressions on audiences. After having been through what was considered “her prime,” she showed me that it is never too late to become stronger with a strategic re-invention of the body, mind, and soul (i.e. her 2016 role as “Roxie Hart” in the Broadway play, “Chicago” which saw the singer undergo strenuous physical training). She showed me that even when people doubt your gift, you must continue to use it to magnify that magic that resides in you — something that an opinion or doubting whisper can take away. She taught me that when those doubting whispers become screams that you can’t ignore, to let your experiences and accomplishments speak for themselves. For me, it’s about the music — but more importantly – it’s about the consistency, determination, and self-assurance; character traits that can literally cause a “night-and-day” effect in the course one’s life."
"Karen Civil is a Haitian-American social media guru and public relations strategist in the hip hop industry. She became a young pioneer by developing fan sites for actor J.D. Williams and The Backstreet Boys, for which she placed 3rd in a national competition in middle school. She also interned as a staff assistant under Funkmaster Flex at Hot 97. In 2008, she founded karencivil.com and the marketing agency Always Civil. Civil caught my attention on Instagram when I noticed her being photographed frequently with rappers YG and Nipsey Hustle. After following her on Instagram for the past several years, I realized she is a true female pioneer paving the way for aspiring professionals like myself.
Civil is the ultimate entrepreneur! She is responsible for the placement of Beats by Dre and Lil' Wayne’s fan mail campaign while he was incarcerated at Rikers Island all the while building her own brand. She is the ultimate “body goals,” showcasing her slim physique and abs on Instagram. She motivates me to eat healthy and get in the gym. She has also taken a significant role in giving back to the country of her roots, Haiti. Civil is a true philanthropist and has built the Live Civil Playground and remodeled the school next door. She is committed to her brand, service in Haiti, living a healthy lifestyle and staying true to herself and for that she is a true female pioneer in my eyes!"
Lastly, Dacia, the Brand Group’s Assistant Account Executive, and Ashley, our Agency Services Coordinator felt as though women they see in their everyday lives have made just as big of an impact as the rest.
"When I thought of who I wanted to write about for this blog, it immediately hit me that I have been inspired by some ladies in my generation. The woman [or women, in this case] who currently inspire me were not ladies I had learned about in history books or heard about through #WomensHistoryMonth. Instead, they are regular, everyday women, who I had tried to sell advertising space to.
In my previous job, I sold ad space for a local newspaper. I met a lot of local people with a lot of local businesses but two women with one start-up in particular stuck with me after leaving the sales position. Vesta Movement owners, Missy, a bartender, and Alixx, a hair stylist, told my sales manager and me the story about how they grew passionate for kickboxing after living sedentary lives that were not seeing results after trying different workout methods. I listened intently as they talked passionately about their female-friendly gym and sense of community they wanted to bring to the overly male-saturated sport of kickboxing. It wasn’t until I actually started going to the classes myself (over a year later) that I saw a passion turn into a reality and a real business opportunity. These young ladies turned a pre-registration list of 25 into an approximate 400 membership. I had attended other kickboxing gyms, but none were quite like this one.
They work really hard to keep the classes fresh and fun, you definitely get a work out, and you get to blow off some life-induced steam all in one session. One of the owners even teaches some of the classes. Although the gym was targeted towards women, they are very inviting and welcoming to the male members. My fiancée even enjoyed the classes when he was going. My point is, before that moment I signed up to take my first class at their gym, I had never witnessed a vision first-hand such as this one turned into reality. I had never seen someone turn a passion into a profit. It has inspired me to find my hobbies, find my passion, find my talents, and like Nike, “Just do it!”
"When asked, “Who is a woman that inspires you or that you consider to be a female pioneer?” I thought about my mother, Darlene Leysath. This opinion could be a bit biased, but I think is well deserved. I have seen her work tirelessly throughout my 20 plus years of life to help me as her God-given duty, but to help others as well. She is a humanitarian and advocate for those who suffer from mental illness and those who may be forgotten. For example, a notable act of kindness is that Darlene teaches computer classes for seniors and helping veterans who need resources to healthcare. Not only in her professional career has she been a social worker and counselor, she is also an entrepreneur who hosts a radio show, motivational speaker, and co-founder and executive director of her own nonprofit organization, The Cornerstone CDC. She has helped raise funds and written grants for thousands of dollars in donations and resources to help those in need — not only in her community in North Carolina, but also working with Red Cross and the National Baptist Convention to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey. She has personally volunteered numerous hours to give people resources such as counseling services, food and items needed during crisis or disasters. I have watched her in awe because she does it with a smile.
I truly admire her being dedicated to the mission and doing her purpose to help others and help develop the community, so humbly and modestly. She inspires me to be a phenomenal woman like her."