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Category Archives: Influenc-HER Profile Series

Influenc-HER Profile Series|Brandi Kellam

Today we have the honor to share our interview with this amazing woman who continues to excel in every goal that she sets for herself. Brandi Kellam is a MSNBC and NBC producer. She is also an instructor at the prestigious S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Check out our interview with her as she discusses work/life balance, her inspiration, and the FBI.

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A Seat on the Sofa

seat-on-the-sofa This is a new blog series we are introducing to our community. Our hopes are to expand it so that you can soon join us on the sofa. Our first piece: About a month ago I was preparing to experience the second year of my father’s birthday without him being here physically. I dreaded this day as much as I dread any major date without him being here, but for some reason this year I was really struggling to pull it together. So my friends offered to come over so that I wouldn’t be alone, I am blessed to say these same friends came the first year as well and we sat on the sofa unapologetically eating every carb we loved. Well this year we turned the night into a festivity and we called it: Tequila, Tacos, and Tears…on a Tuesday. The four of us gathered in the kitchen to collectively cook a meal. We laughed at one of our friends who went ballistic in the supermarket, in order to get shrimp (to suffice my pescatarian needs). Her experience is something she will never let me live down, but I love it, it’s what makes her- her.  We sat in my cozy kitchen designed for occasions such as these, and enjoyed this meal together. We made margaritas as if it was Friday night and we had no care in the world. tacos-and-tequilas I was able to suppress my feelings until we realized how quickly 7:00 pm turned to 12:00 am. Then it was time to face why we were really there. They each shared their stories of grief and the recent loss of loved ones who played huge parts in their lives. They realized how much their loved ones existence defined their own. Then my friend said, “Elle, this is about you, we have all shared our stories and our tears it’s your turn.” But I didn’t want it to be my turn because I hate being vulnerable I felt I cried last year, and on every other occasion that reminded me of him. Then I shared how I was taught to hold it in, be strong and not cry, but then I realized how much that suppression never really allowed me to deal with my pain. I then remembered hearing TD Jakes say he would hope that his wife and daughters experience an absence similar to the ones he had seen so many women state they have, when he passes away. Because that pain and absence serves as a tribute to the life of the ones we lose. I began to talk about the pain I feel and how it is hard to even breathe somedays because the pain is so severe. But I was ok because I had my friends, my sisters, who had experienced this depth of pain, with me. We left with the belief in our hearts that our loved ones: my father, her mother, her grandmother, and her grandfather, were all smiling down at us and happy that we had one another during a time like this. We needed that time together. All women need this time together. Whether your seat is in the kitchen, or your office, or your sofa. Know it’s important and needed. So please grab a few of your friends and host a Tequila, Tacos, and Tears night, and let us know how it goes. -Elle Harris  
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Influenc-Her Profile Series| Dorian Johnson

D Johnson Check out this wonderful interview with our latest Influenc-Her Dorian Johnson, you may know her as the Femme Focus. What is your name and what do you do? My name is Dorian Johnson and I am the Program Manager for the S.E.E.K (Social & Economic Empowerment Through Knowledge) Program at Building Blocks Services, LLC. Currently, the S.E.E.K program is preparing 18-24 year olds to become Certified Pharmacy Technicians. In addition, our students are gaining leadership development, workforce development skills, financial literacy, and other important competencies that will support them in the world of work and/or assist them in furthering their education. I absolutely love what I do because I am giving back to the community and building futures one skill at a time. In my spare time, I create digital content for my various social media outlets that focuses on Women’s Empowerment through my brand, The Femme Focus. Are  there any childhood experiences that led you to where you are today? I can’t say that there is a particular childhood experience that led me to where I am today, but I will say that overall life experiences have led me here. The good, the bad and the indifferent have made me into the woman I am today and for that I am thankful. I like to think of myself as an open book, and in being transparent, I am empowering and helping another girl/woman along life’s journey. No one should ever feel alone in what they go through. Sometimes all it takes is sharing your story that makes us relate to one another. How did you get started in your current field today? And where did that passion come from? The name, The Femme Focus began back in 2009 as a segment on a Midday radio show titled, “D. Marie in the Midday,” that was hosted Monday through Friday, on WNSB 91.1, on the campus of Norfolk State University, in Norfolk, Virginia. The segment was used to give tips on life, finances, health, family, relationships, and overall positivity to the target audience of women that listened in. After studying mass communications in undergrad at Norfolk State University, I knew that I wanted to impact women on a more profound level, along with continuing my love for the media. I then decided to go back to school and on December 13, 2014, I conferred a Master of Arts degree in Urban Education with a focus on Urban Community Counseling. My passion comes from the journey my life has taken and is currently on. I love being a woman and want to empower other women to loves themselves just as they are. Who do you look to for inspiration? I find inspiration all around me. There isn’t a particular person or thing that inspires me. It can be something I read in a book or a conversation with a stranger that I have in the checkout line at the grocery store. What makes you stand apart from everyone else in your field? I stand apart in my field in that I’m not afraid to work with and empower women from every walk of life. I think we often forget about the women who aren’t where we are in life and that don’t have the same educational background or upbringing as ourselves. It’s not every day that we see those women as the target population in most of what people consider “women’s empowerment” these days. If we seek to empower one, then we must empower us all and not forget those who are often overlooked along the way. What tangible piece of advice would you give young girls who want to be where you are? A piece of advice that I would give to young girls would be to never let anyone or anything stand in your way...including yourself. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy when it comes to self-doubt and low self-esteem. Challenge those thoughts in your head and SPEAK LIFE to your situations and circumstances. What do you love most about being a woman? What's not to love about being a woman? It’s hard to pick a favorite attribute when it comes to being a woman, so I’ll just say the mere fact that I was given the gift of being a woman is what I absolutely love most. What is one thing many people do not know about you? thing people don’t know about me? People don’t know that in spite of me having been a radio personality and currently a YouTube content creator, I am an introvert. I like spending time with myself and being able to enjoy my own company. What is your most memorable moment as a Digital Content Creator? My most memorable moment as a digital content creator would be July 4, 2013 when I first launched my blog, Not only was it the official launch for my brand, but July 4th is also my birthday. What is your least memorable moment as a Digital Content Creator? My least memorable moment as a digital content creator would be the fact that you have to have tough skin in that you are making yourself vulnerable to the world in that they have the ability to critique your work and give their opinions about your content. This happens often, but I remember when I first started that this was something I had to definitely get used to. What does the word Feminist mean to you? The word feminist simply means being an advocate for women. Period. Our fun question: If you could be any animal what would it be and why? A lion for sure! A lion is KING of the jungle. I regard myself with the same esteem in everyday life. What does the future hold for you? That’s a great question. As far as what God has in store, well, that’s to be determined. I pray that my brand continues to grow and reaches the masses. I have quite a few things in store for the brand this year that I’m excited to launch. In the fall of this year I will begin classes at Old Dominion University for a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies. In 2018, I will begin my PhD in Women’s Studies at Texas Women’s University. Of course, I would love to have some sort of facility and/or program for young girls and women in the future. All of that is still being planned out though. 🙂 Where can people find you? YouTube | Website | Email | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Podcast | 'Empower Report' Newsletter Sign-Up |
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Influenc-HER Profile|RoxyGrey

Check out our interview with the wonderful RoxyGrey, she is a Marketing Specialist as well as a mentor and advisor. Read more about how her genuine love and passion for people ultimately turned into her becoming the creative genius she is today and today's Influenc-HER!!!
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What is your name and what do you do?
My name is Melicia, but many know me as RoxyGrey.  I am a marketing specialist and advisor/mentor.
Are there any childhood experiences that led you to where you are today?
I've just always been a people-person.  My Mom told me I was never one of those loud kids, but that I would run down the aisles in church and just silently wave and smile at people (lol).  I've always been so drawn to people and the way we interact with one another, and how we can help each other. Where did your passion for Marketing come from? I didn't actually realize I wanted to be in marketing until a few years ago.  All I knew was that I have a passion for people, I love being creative, and that I have a knack for networking and connecting people.  Many people started coming to me for branding advice and that's when it hit me, like this is what I want to do.  I believe in the people and the brands that I've worked with (and still work with), and I want them to succeed.  So I create marketing plans and help lead them in the right direction.  My joy and passion comes from catalyzing one's dream into reality.
Who are some of your favorite clients you've worked with or interviewed?
Hands down, Gene aka No Malice.  He's such a great person to be around and he's been a spiritual mentor to me over the years.  He's so creative and has all the ideas, yet he stays so grounded and keeps it 100, always.
Favorite person I've interviewed would have to be Greg Selkoe, Former CEO & Founder of Karmaloop.  I remember interviewing him about 3 years ago (, and then going to Richmond months after to watch his speech at VCU.  I was sitting in the third row, and he was in the middle of his speech, when he looked at me and said, "Hey!  There's Roxy!"  (Mind you, we've never met before that.)  Ever since then, we've remained in contact.  His whole mindset is amazing, and I'm so excited to see what he has in store for us with Curateurs and all his ventures.
And my favorite person I'm currently working with is Rob Hill, Sr.  I am soooooo blessed beyond words to be working with him on a project that will launch later this year.  A few months ago, he told me that he wanted to have an event to help raise money for teachers, but he didn't know if it would happen.  And then just a couple of weeks ago, I met with him and he was a little sad and said, "I don't think it'll happen with everything that's going on."  I looked at him, and said, "Oh no.  We're going to make this happen."  The look on his face and the joy in his smile were priceless; and he's been on this project since.  Just being around such an influential and peaceful person like Rob has been such a blessing in my Life.  Being able to vent and talk about creative issues with someone who understands where I'm coming from has helped me grow in so many ways.
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Who do you look to for inspiration?
I actually look to my friends for inspiration.  They've believed in me since Day One; and on the days that I'm feeling overwhelmed, they check me.  They push me.  They make sure that I'm always on the right track.  I love them sooooo much and we inspire each other.  <3
What tangible piece of advice would you give young girls who want to be where you are?
Work hard.  Be genuine & upfront; stay true to what you believe in.  Be nice.  And ALWAYS have Purpose in everything that you do. What do you love most about being a woman? Being underestimated.  For the most part, we women are still underestimated in everything that we do, but people forget that WE ARE BUILT FOR THIS.  Women are built to birth another human being, for Heaven's sake.  We are naturally-born superheroes, and both men and women tend to forget that.  I absolutely enjoy and love being a woman.  Our lives are so unexplainable, and I continue to surprise myself.  <3
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What is the key to finding balance in your personal and professional life?
PRIORITIZING.  I have a calendar (in addition to the one of my phone) that I carry everywhere with me.  I color code my days so I know what I'm doing for work, school, and my personal Life.  Trust me, I still have my days where I struggle with balancing, especially since I can get sidetracked and/or be so heavily engulfed in work projects.  These past few months have actually been a test of balance for me.  I also schedule some quality time about twice a month for myself, like massages and getting my nails done.  When I started grad school, one of my best friends got me a "school" journal, where I'm only allowed to write about school and whenever I'm frustrated or feeling like I'm overwhelmed.  Writing always balances my emotions.  🙂 We know you love to travel, what has been your favorite place to visit thus far? Hands down, Venice, Italy.  I loved everything about it - the food, the people, the beaches, the sites.  Venice is such a beautiful place... and the most interesting part about it: They live on water.  I love it.  I would totally go back.
What is one thing many people do not know about you?
I'm a good chess player.  (Or I like to think I'm one.) 😉
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Our fun question: If you could be any animal what would it be and why?
An elephant, my favorite animal.  An elephant doesn't have to announce its presence in a room by roaring or being obnoxious.  It just walks in, big and full of humility, kindness, and Love. What does the future hold for you?
In the near future, more collaborations with really great creatives, and more events!  🙂
Where can people find you?
Instagram: @roxygrey / Twitter: @roxygrey /
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Influenc-HER Profile Series: Chef Rosecleer-Marie

ihps rose For the latest Influenc-HER Profile Series, we have Atlanta Personal Chef/ Food Stylist and Cutthroat Kitchen contestant, Rosecleer-Marie.  Check out the profile below to see how she got started, what it's like being a woman in the culinary industry and more. What is your name and what do you do? Rosecleer-Marie/ Personal Chef and Food Stylist Are there any childhood experiences that led you to where you are today? Pursuing a culinary career was a career switch, but I grew up watching my grandmother cook and helping her out in the kitchen, I was always a foodie! rose5 How did you get started in your current field today? And where did that passion come from? I was at a job that left me unfulfilled and extremely unhappy, with that weighing on me, it forces you to do some soul searching to find what it is that you truly enjoy, what really moves you and for me that was food. I would always watch Food Network and cook cool things once I was home from the job I hated! So I said to myself, why can't I make this a career?! I quit my job and enrolled in Culinary School full time....The rest is history. Who do you look at as inspiration to keep going? I look to my mom and family as inspiration to keep going, to continue to make them proud. I look to my past and all that I have done, the building blocks I have built to succeed and because of that I have to keep going! What makes you stand apart from everyone else in your field? I think what makes me stand apart from others in my field is that I am a Black Female Chef truly self made, but what is even more rare is being a Black Female Food Stylist..I only know of ONE other! rose4 What tangible piece of advice would you give young girls who want to be where you are? I would say to young girls, if you have a goal in mind, to set strategic steps to attack and accomplish it. A goal without a plan is just a dream! Doors will close, sometimes you will have to go create your own door or go through a window! What do you love most about being a woman? I love the versatility, chameleon like ability of being a woman. From being a kick-ass super woman, taking over the world to child birth, to being sensitive and soft. What is your most memorable moment as a Personal Chef and Food Stylist? My most memorable moment as a Personal Chef is not actually cooking for anyone but being a contestant on an episode of Food Networks Cutthroat Kitchen! Best experience! As a food stylist my best experience was styling on my independent project for a hot local restaurant in Atlanta called Suite Lounge, with my fiance as the photographer.

"I Love The Versatility, Chameleon Like Ability Of Being A Woman"

What is your least memorable moment as a Personal Chef and Food Stylist? I would have to compile some my lease memorable moments as a Personal Chef: clients/guests who do not appreciate your work or value what you are worth. Food styling is so awesome there are not really any downsides, for me it would be the early call times for photo shoots! 11373579_856329907846051_931031984_n Are there any struggles being a woman in your field? Yes, the biggest struggle is naturally people don't believe you or believe IN you. I get asked all of the time "YOUR a chef??" What is one thing many people do not know about you? One thing many people do not know about me is that I am a Sci-Fi nerd! rose2 Our fun question: If you could be any animal what would it be and why? A bird, so I can soar! What does the future hold for you? The future is unwritten but what I would like to see is more art, more financial freedom and more business expansions.   Where can people find you? People can find me in Atlanta, GA but available for domestic & international travel. IG: @chefrosecleermarie
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