Jovita Moore, news anchor at WSB-TV


     Jovita Moore, an Emmy award-winning news anchor at WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia, encourages people, “to not only talk about it but be about it.” She earned a B.A in Literature from Bennington College and an M.S in Journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

     In all of my interactions with Jovita, she has been jovial, welcoming, and warm. While visiting WSB-TV, it was apparent how well respected Jovita is from observing her interactions with others from newscasters to the make-up artist. Various people spoke to me about Jovita’s intelligence. Multiple people chimed in to answer the question, “What is your superpower?” The resounding answer was Jovita’s ability to balance the demands of career and motherhood effectively; you can call her the juggler. She said she strives to do her best and a colleague called her a “super mom.”

     You may be surprised to find out that Jovita did not grow up thinking of herself as a leader and she did not dream of becoming a news anchor. Jovita, an only child who grew up in a single parent household, followed her mother’s lead and “observed more than anything”. Her mother was pivotal in her life and taught Jovita many lessons including how to be a hard worker. Growing up in an apartment without a car started to form some of the goals Jovita had for herself such as getting a driver’s license, going to college, and owning a home.

     Jovita has always been social and enjoys being around others. However, she took on her first leadership role at sixteen outside of school while working at the supermarket. She volunteered to help train new employees to help them feel comfortable, and so she could teach them how to perform tasks the correct way. Jovita continued stepping up in college in work roles at her on-campus job and internships. For example, as the only intern from New York at the NY Times, Jovita assisted the other interns with how to navigate the city.

     Prior to college, Jovita did not know what career she wanted to pursue; she solely had aspirations to get into a good college. One of her college professors recommended journalism, and at the time Jovita didn’t know what that entailed. However, after finding out more, and meeting a couple with experience in the field, she decided to pursue an internship and “the bug bit.” Jovita grew up watching the news and listening to news talk radio with her mother who taught her it’s value. While exploring journalism, she realized she could share important stories with others as well.

     Throughout college and graduate school, Jovita enjoyed working at the NY Times. The most significant career takeaway for Jovita was that she wanted to relay the news in a more immediate fashion. This shifted her from the newspaper to broadcasting and prompted her to apply to graduate school.

     In her first roles in smaller markets in Arkansas and Memphis, Jovita took her leadership skills to a new level. Reminiscing she stated, “I had to do five different jobs to make sure that my main job went well.” Jovita is extremely cognizant of the fact she always has to be on, and her face is known. She ensures to represent herself and her station well in the community. She believes she is fortunate to have worked at three great television stations. Jovita remarked, “I have always had a person in each newsroom who has been a mentor, supporter, and advocate, male and female. They have always just pushed me enough, listened, and advised.” Additionally, Jovita has friends and other coworkers she relies upon.

     Taking on the role as a lead anchor is the most challenging job Jovita has ever had. She stepped into a position with a big seat to fill at an iconic station, not knowing the opportunity would present itself at the time it did. Someone once told Jovita, “Every day is an audition,” and that phrase has stayed with her. The role brings with it a lot of responsibility and pressure. However, Jovita has stepped up to the challenge and successfully made the role her own. She continues to be recognized for her ability to deliver valuable content in a way that makes people want to tune in.

Additional information & insight from Jovita…

  • What makes you smile? My son and daughter, the end of a newscast, and a good slice of pizza.
  • If you could have dinner with anyone, whom would you choose? Jay Z
  • How do you relax? Sleeping, watching television for pleasure, reading, spin, Pilates, time with her kids and friends, exploring new restaurants.
  • What are bucket list items you have? More travel including visiting Dubai and St. Thomas, meeting Barack and Michelle Obama (it doesn’t have to be at the same time), having a conversation with Oprah.
  • What advice would you give your younger self? Don’t fall for that guy, save money, realize the importance of mentors and nourish those relationships, don’t let people taint your view of others, have an open mind, maintain your individuality.
  • What does diversity in leadership mean to you? Any person should want diverse perspectives. To be able to have a difference of opinion and work towards a common goal is important. Anyone can lead, the ability to accept differences adds to leadership.
  • What is a subject you wish they taught in schools? Cyber awareness, race relations, gender relations
  • Favorite books: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison and Absalom Absalom! By William Faulkner
  • Currently reading: The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur
  • Favorite Quote: “To whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48).

Jovita encourages future leaders to:

Always… listen, be decisive, make sure you have all the facts, be clear on goals/ expectations.

Never… judge unfairly, lack tolerance, choose not to seek input.

Follow… the truth, your gut, your heart.

Connect with Jovita:


Twitter: @JovitaMoore

Instagram: @JovitaMoore

Top photo: Delivering Meals On Wheels for Christmas

Bottom photo: Organizing volunteers & gifts for Jovita’s “pampering day” for the Moms at Our House Atlanta in December


Erin McClendis, owner of E. Vincent Floral Designs

“A large portion of your success is your attitude.”

     Erin McClendis, owner of E. Vincent Floral Designs believes everyone should follow their own journey, and she has done just that. Erin is a self-taught floral designer who runs off practice, passion, and motivation. The name E. Vincent Floral Designs comes from Erin’s favorite magazine, Elle and her dad’s middle name, Vincent.

     Erin graduated with a B.S in Science, Technology, and Culture from Georgia Tech which she describes as the “make it happen major”. How do you develop a dream or hobby into a business? YouTube and Google were some of Erin’s first influences because of their accessibility. In true Georgia Tech fashion, she believes in the power of technology. Erin later went on to take classes which ranged from working in the garden with retirees in Georgia to going on a ritzy flower tour of New York’s premier floral design firms. She has since offered her own floral classes to help teach some of her friend’s tricks of the trade.

     Erin’s leadership training began at a young age which can largely be attributed to Girl Scouts. She was a girl scout from the age of six through high school. One of Erin’s first leadership influencers was a girl scout troop leader, an OBGYN doctor who managed her own practice. Now a lifetime member of Girl Scouts, Erin has also served as a troop leader.

     There have been a variety of women who have helped inspire Erin to be a leader and later an entrepreneur. Her mother has always encouraged her to pursue her creative ideas while consistently challenging her with the question, why not? After college, Erin’s peers and friends also morphed into leaders that help inspire her. She has a plethora of entrepreneur friends such as Candace Mitchell, Archel Bernard, and Fessie Epie who cheer each other on.

     Entrepreneurship, already a challenging venture, has often times proven even more difficult for Erin in recent years. She was diagnosed with a spinal condition called Chiari malformation. Erin doesn’t often share her condition with others, however, she offered sage advice on the subject of barriers and overcoming. Erin forewarned that the phrase is true and cliché simultaneously; “A large portion of your success is your attitude.” Erin ensures that she focuses on managing the pain on difficult or depressing days which often entails attending a yoga class or physical therapy. She recommends finding a dream that makes you push through every obstacle, for Erin that is floral design.

     If Erin could share wisdom with her younger self, she would recommend not being so hard on herself. She would also caution, “don’t underestimate the negative effects of procrastination.” Erin wishes that more business acumen was taught in school, especially a class centered on how to sell yourself. One of the reasons Erin markets herself and E. Vincent Floral Designs so well is because she had a job selling vacuums door to door. That role taught her the power of a powerful sales pitch and that “you never know what’s behind the next door”.

     Family, ensuring her clients are elated, and her reputation are some of the motivating factors in Erin’s life. When she is not creating beautiful floral designs, Erin enjoys traveling and cooking. She recently started a blog that will feature her three fiercest passions – flowers, food, and the pursuit of a beautiful life. Erin has a sense of wanderlust and recently crossed off two bucket list destinations, Monaco and Greece. She is looking forward to going to Morocco next year and also hopes to visit the tulip festival in Amsterdam for her birthday. Watching Netflix while drinking a Coke and eating popcorn is Erin’s idea of a relaxing night. All in all, she’s focused on living her best life.

Erin encourages future leaders to:

Always… listen to others and value your team.

Never… completely give up.

Follow… your own journey as well as your gut and intuition. No one call tell you how to be you, more than you.


Connect with Erin:

Business Website:

Blog Website:



Dabney Zanders, Investment Banking Associate in Leveraged Finance at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey

Follow the leaders that are respected, not just those who are liked.” -Dabney Zanders

     Dabney Zanders, Investment Banking Associate in Leveraged Finance at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey in Atlanta, GA, can be described as focused and multi-faceted. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.A in Finance and minor in Economics from Morehouse College.

     Graduating as the recession started was certainly a shock. Yet Dabney was able to find a job in New York at a top investment bank as a back office support analyst, which began his path towards investment banking. He recalls sitting on a trading floor for the first time as a junior analyst; the experience was awe inspiring. However, he also felt a sense of belonging, knowing that he had what it would take to survive. After two years of coffee, elevator and lobby chats, he finally received an analyst offer along with sponsorship for his securities licenses. After starting his career in investment banking in New York, Dabney moved back to Atlanta and has continued to advance.

     Influential leaders in Dabney’s life include his father, fifth grade teacher, and high school soccer coach. Believe it or not Dabney describes himself as a child who needed discipline, which all of his mentors provided. Dabney’s father, a self-made entrepreneur taught him many lessons about business and life. His fifth grade teacher and soccer coach both took a special interest in him, helping him learn different tools necessary for success. Being a captain on his high school soccer team was one of Dabney’s first time leading. The experience taught him leaders should be conscious and controlled, because their actions largely contribute to team morale.

     Whether on the soccer field or studying for class, Dabney was always taught to put maximum effort into every task. While Dabney’s leadership style has evolved, he still has the follow-by-example mentality he learned as a teenager. He wants those he leads to see him working hard, because that’s what he also expects of himself. Dabney also strives to know his team on a deeper level so that each individual feels connected as they work towards common goals.

     The “preputial pursuit of perfection,” as Dabney calls it, motivates every aspect of his life. However, he tries not to have unrealistic expectations, knowing one can never fully arrive at perfection and failure can also be extremely beneficial. On the flip side, the advice Dabney would give his younger self is, “don’t take everything so seriously and live your life”. When Dabney takes a break from “the grind”, he enjoys creative loafing both at home and local restaurants and spending time with friends and family.


Dabney encourages future leaders to:

Always… be prepared to do anything you ask of someone else.

Never… take others for granted.

Follow… those that are respected.

Connect with Dabney:


    Dabney enjoying life    

Reginald Mebane, EEO Officer, Director Equal Employment Opportunity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

“It doesn’t matter what sector, in life and in business there are things that leaders do. They model the way, create a shared vision, enable to people to act, inspire the heart, and challenge the process. ”
– Reginald Mebane

     Reginald Mebane, EEO Officer, Director Equal Employment Opportunity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta recommends for each person to utilize all of the tools in their toolbox. He is also a member of the Senior Executive Service(SES), the highest ranking executives in the federal government. Reginald applied what he learned from growing up in the north Memphis projects to receive a scholarship to Exeter Academy, one of the most prestigious prep schools in the country. He briefly attended the Air Force Academy and later received his undergraduate and Master’s degrees from the University of Memphis.

     Due to his inspirational life journey, Reginald’s bio is featured in chapter five of the book, “The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention” by Pamela Mitchell. This book is on the Harvard business book recommended reading list. You may not know that Reginald worked the night shift for twenty years while working at FedEx. While working the night shift, he became a psychiatric case manager, psychotherapist and also an adjunct professor. Reginald later became a COO at FedEx Trade Networks before being recruited to come to the CDC to help modernize their $4B vaccine supply chain operations. FedEx had significant positive leadership impact on Reginald not only his management career but in his life as well. He met his wife while working the night shift at FedEx and is grateful to have met such a great partner; As opposite as they are in personalities, he is quick to say, “I would marry her again in a heartbeat.” Choosing the right path and the right partners in your journey ultimately determine your destiny.

     “Everything you do in your life ends up being connected to everything else you do, you just can’t see it at the time”, remarks Reginald. His career transformed and transcended without a grand plan. Reginald initially came to the CDC to help to bring in outside best business practices as the Chief Management Officer/COO of the $7B Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases. This is one of his most proud and reflective career milestones. His fresh perspective helps to set him apart as a leader. Reginald believes in collaboration and is always willing to share his blueprints with others. It is a core belief he carries with him from childhood. He strives to be a good coach, servant leader, and mentor as a way of life.

     As a leader, Reginald believes it’s important to create a positive environment where people feel included. A lot of his leadership philosophy stems from psychology and concepts such as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and the innate need for people be able to contribute and be a productive part of ‘the pack’. The leader sets the tone and builds the environment that enables the team to succeed. Growing up, Reginald watched his mom freely give to others, even when they did not have a lot to give, in essence permanently imprinting his core beliefs and leadership style.

     Reginald first remembers leading with his family. He first realized the gravity of his responsibility as a leader when he was a manager at FedEx. Teaching at the prestigious FedEx Leadership Institute to people around the globe helped to solidify his leadership techniques and principles. If Reginald could add a class to school curriculums, he would create a class for African Americans about ‘the unwritten rules for survival’ in organizations and corporate America. Reginald believes that every leader should take unconscious bias training and focus on inclusive leadership. Bias is part of the human condition and good leaders must guard against making poor decisions that affect people at work and in life. We are all recovering from biases we grew up with.

     Life experiences and his upbringing have led Reginald to focus on changing people’s lives in many ways. Reginald inquires, ‘ if you are not paving the way for others and opening doors, what are you living for’? The Reginald we know today has been shaped and influenced by many mentors and he is very thankful for their guidance. He feels an honorable obligation to mentor others, and many depend on him for advice and guidance. One lesson Reginald teaches is, “it is an inescapable fact of life that you must overcome barriers” . It all starts with the power of your thinking. Reginald believes resilience and perseverance are the essential tools that carry you through the peaks and valleys of life’s journey.

     Reginald applied for his first real job as a dishwasher at age 16 at the Holiday Inn so he could buy his first car. That teenager probably could not have imagined that he would one day become a top level executive who also had a cameo in the movie Castaway, Chairman of the Health Education and Housing Finance Board, and board member for the nation’s 5th largest Catholic healthcare system. Reginald is a classic movie fan and also a voracious reader. To relax Reginald explores new hiking trails, global travel and writing. He currently has two finished books ready for release at a later date. His family including his twin daughters, wife, and mother make him smile. Reginald is grateful to have both good mental and physical health. He urges everyone to “Live your bucket list!” Tomorrow is not promised to any of us. Keep your eyes on the mountain top prize, but enjoy the view every day as you climb.

Reginald encourages future leaders to:
Always… remember you have a responsibility to open doors and make things better for others.
Never… pass judgment without having the full story, listen to all sides.
Follow… your heart and rational mind. Balance emotions with rational thinking.

Connect with Reginald Mebane:

Pictured: Reginald at the End of the World in Portugal

Frances Fox, Associate Architect at CannonDesign

“I love making beautiful things.” –Frances Fox

     Frances Fox, an Associate Architect at CannonDesign, received a B.S in Architecture from Georgia Tech and a Masters in Architecture from the Pratt Institute. Frances can be described as a modest leader. She is admired for her determination and creativity, yet you likely won’t hear her describe herself as a life-long leader. However, Frances not only set an example for children in the neighborhood and her younger brothers at home, she was also captain of her high school track team. You may be surprised to find out her first job was as an assistant karate birthday party instructor. Today she not only works for a firm described as, “one of the ten most innovative architecture firms in the world,” she also serves as a visiting assistant professor at Pratt Institute.

     Growing up with the presence of strong women helped shape Frances into the leader and woman she is today. Seeing her peers evolve and grow from girls to contributing women in society inspires Frances. Watching women use their unique talents and traits to bring out the best in others also motivates Frances. She is still discovering what type of leader she would like to be and what traits make her a strong leader. Frances enjoys practicing one on one mentorship as well as connecting individuals with resources which put them on the path to success. As a leader, she knows when to pause and listen which helps her define the problem and then delineate a path to solve it.

     Frances describes architecture as a balance between the rational and creative. Her admiration for architecture began with her love for Legos and continued in high school when she took two technical drawing classes. Frances remains grateful for the opportunity to take specialized classes and wishes that schools taught more technical computer classes such as coding. Frances recommends that people stay true to their selves especially when it comes to choosing a college major and doing what you love. She was asked to consider other majors and after doing research decided to go outside of the box and pursue architecture as a career.

     To keep herself motivated to make/create beautiful things and solve problems efficiently, Frances developed a daily routine. Each morning she sets the tone by deciding what three things she will solve that day – work, personal or otherwise. Frances describes herself as a hustler who enjoys working hard. She enjoys doing the research necessary to be overly prepared for each task at hand. Frances always puts forth work that is curated and from her point of view. She believes each piece of work from a presentation to an email to an architectural idea is a representation of her. So she refuses to put forth a messy representation of herself.

     In addition to her quest to become an architect, Frances has also spent the last ten years volunteering for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. She participates in a number of events annually. Each spring she assists with The Great Strides Walk where she has been a team leader since 2006 and has grown her team from just a few college friends to a group of 25-30, raising $30,000 annually. She was recently the Friends & Family Committee Chair for the Manhattan Great Strides Walk for a two year team in 2015 and 2016. Frances would like others to know, “The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has essentially self-funded research and development for the disease in the last 30 years, coining the term “venture philanthropy” and making incredible progress in improving quality and extending quantity of life for those living with Cystic Fibrosis. It’s an inspiring organization to be a part of and we look forward to finding a cure in the very near future!”

     When she is not creating, designing, and volunteering Frances finds ways to relax and unwind. Running and working out helps to put her mind at ease. A daily dose of ice cream keeps her in a good mood, and her bed is her favorite object – “Architects don’t get enough sleep!” Frances does not have an extensive bucket list because she likes appreciating the present. She does have plans to start her own business one day and is in the process of a DIY renovation of a 1920’s era cabin that she owns with her boyfriend in upstate New York.


Frances encourages future leaders to:

Always… look for the good in others.

Never… lose track of your goals.

Follow… those that bring out the best in you.

Connect with Frances:



Cystic Fibrosis Great Strides Walk:


Dr. Leo Moore, Associate Medical Director and Clinical Prevention Specialist at Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

“I want it to be very clear that Dr. Moore is passionate about the people he serves and advocates for them in spaces where they cannot advocate for themselves.” –Dr. Leo Moore

     Dr. Leo Moore, Associate Medical Director and Clinical Prevention Specialist at Los Angeles County Department of Public Health feels blessed to leave work feeling fulfilled daily. He strives to be remembered for serving others and is always willing to go to bat for every client and the community as a whole.

     Leo recalls getting his first job at McDonald’s on his fourteenth birthday; he has not looked back since. Leo received a B.S in Biology/ Pre-medicine from Columbus State University, MD from Morehouse School of Medicine, and a Masters in Health Policy and Management from the University of California, Los Angeles.

     Leaders that inspired Leo include his high school homeroom teacher Mr. Amica and Dr. Griffiths, his internship supervisor. Mr. Amica helped teach Leo the value and importance of educators. It was one of the first times Leo saw a black male in a leadership position. Leo shadowed Dr. Griffiths in the E.R at the age of fifteen which helped him learn perseverance and how to be service oriented. Another leader that inspired Leo is Dr. Ben Carson. Reading “Gifted Hands” in high school changed Leo’s life and views on adversity which motivated him to focus more on school performance. Dr. Satcher, the former United States Surgeon General, taught Leo to take advantage of every opportunity and do the best in each position. Last but not least, Leo admires Barack Obama for his integrity and unwavering conviction even under pressure.

     One of the first times Leo truly led was as an undergrad. He developed the first celebration of International World Aids Day for the school which still occurs annually. Leo recommends that people support the causes that inspire them. He gives advice about how to make an impact including having a focus and goal, finding champions, getting buy-in, and being a continuous advocate. Leo started advocating for more testing as a college student, and he is still a champion today.

     Increasing awareness and testing for HIV/AIDS is not only professional for Leo. He saw someone go through the experience of being diagnosed. Leo knew that he wanted to help and have a positive impact on the community before this happened. However, it further motivated him. Leo is now regarded as a champion on the subject, and his unique view has become helpful in his career. Leo is also motivated by passionate people and conversations. During residency, he learned a valuable lesson on inspiration when he decided to look for something inspiring each day. Leo’s “inspiration threshold” lowered and he believes, “Inspiration is all around you, you just have to see it and take it in.”

     After looking at Leo’s collegiate and professional accomplishments, you would not know he didn’t always love school. Leo faced many barriers getting to where he is today. However, he utilized the barriers as stepping stones. Leo encountered many naysayers who said “no” and tried to prohibit him from moving forward. He makes a point to talk to students and mentor so they know they can accomplish their goals regardless of the negativity they face.

     If Leo could give his younger self advice, he would say, “It’s ok to explore and be uncertain.” Leo knew he wanted to be a doctor at five years old and once he started, he never stopped training. Leo wishes that students could learn about money management, saving, and investing at a young age. He feels that would help to even the playing field. Leo would also like to see an entrepreneurship class offered in grade school to help support creativity and self-sustainable growth.

     As a leader, Leo is team oriented and believes in helping his team grow together through impactful engagement. Leo believes that people operate better knowing the end goal. Communication is at the center of his leadership style. Leo strives to find innovative ways to keep the lines of communication open. One idea he implemented was creating a weekly newsletter for the unit he is the chief over. The newsletter includes a letter from the chief, bios, accomplishments, and summaries from staff after attending training. It helps to create a culture of continuous learning.

     Unsurprisingly, Leo’s favorite word is equity. His passion for supporting the community and serving others is centered around treating each person with care and respect. Outside of work, Leo is fervent about his partner, dog Felix, music, and being creative. One day he would like to eat his way through Thailand.

Leo encourages future leaders to:
Always… listen first and talk second.
Never… limit someone else’s potential.
Follow… your heart and seek opportunities that help identify your passions.

Connect with Leo:

Joseph Handy, President and COO of The Georgia Aquarium

“Always remember the inverted triangle. As a leader, you should listen to and bear the weight of the entire organization.”

–Joseph Handy

     Joseph Handy, the President, and COO of The Georgia Aquarium has been with the organization for twelve years. Moving to Atlanta to join the Georgia Aquarium team at its implementation was a risk that has been very rewarding for Joseph. He knows he’s in the right place. Joseph grew up in New York and attended The College of New Rochelle; he also has his Executive MBA from Kennesaw State.

     Not only did he take risks and overcome barriers to get to where he is today, Joseph also worked his way up the leadership ladder. He shared stories about positions he previously held in the nonprofit sector including working within the visitor services department at the American Museum of Natural History. Before “drinking the Kool-Aid of the nonprofit sector” as he described it, Joseph wanted to work in politics. The desire to help others has remained consistent, his career path shifted.

     Joseph credits a lot of people in being instrumental to his success; he describes them as “the bookends” of his life. He thanks the women in his life especially his mother and grandmothers for helping him stay on track and for the reminder that his life isn’t solely about him. There are also risk taking successful men in Joseph’s life who mentor him including Bernie Marcus and Michael Leven., both major influencers at The Georgia Aquarium.

     Joseph first remembers leading in elementary school when everyone started to follow his direction at an event. One of his biggest challenges as a leader was when he first had to lay someone off. Joseph describes his job as a leader as humbling because tough decisions must be made. He attempts to remove any obstacles for his team because he knows everyone wants to do good work.

     As a leader, Joseph believes in fostering positive relationships. He believes relationships are nurturing or toxic. He recommends encouraging and building on the nurturing and reducing the toxic. This requires taking a 360 view and examining the relationships in your life. Joseph is also motivated by the experiences of others and diversity of thought. He enjoys learning from people through conversation and hearing their point of view.

     If Joseph could give his younger self advice, he would do so. Some of the words of wisdom he shared include pay attention the things around you, master the art of listening, and invest early. Subjects that Joseph wishes were taught in school include personal finances and conflict resolution.

     Even Joseph who helps lead one of the largest aquariums in the World has to find time to relax. He enjoys building and customizing bikes and cars. One day he hopes to drive a car around a race track, yes he can be described as an adrenaline junkie but only with cars. Being around others makes Joseph smile. He is a positive person who enjoys positive relationships which align with his favorite word, serendipitous.

Joseph encourages future leaders to:
Always… remember the inverted triangle.
Never… assume you know everything that’s going on or that everything is great.
Follow… the pulse of the organization.

Connect with Joseph:

Dr. Trinna Johnson, Director, AP Physics Curriculum and Content Development

     This blog requires a special introduction. I decided to post this blog a day early on Mother’s Day because the leader showcased is my mom! I learn something new about each person I interview, and my mother was no exception. I’m lucky to have always believed that a woman can follow her dreams and succeed thanks to watching my mom. I watched my mother pursue and receive multiple degrees while working a full-time job. Did I mention that she has four children!? I’m thankful for having a mother who helped teach students what many consider some of the toughest subjects to teach including Chemistry and Physics.

     While I do not share her love for rigorous science, she taught me to love the Earth and to recycle. I also refused to have her in high school, but remember being jealous during Black History Month. The students in her class would dress up as inventions created by African American inventors. She taught me that a woman could work 40 hours a week, go to classes at night AND cook delicious meals for her family. My mother taught me how to have faith and other life lessons that will stay with me forever. I’m glad that each year that goes by, our bond gets closer.

Happy Mother’s Day 2017 to my mom and all mothers! 

     Dr. Trinna Johnson received a B.S in Chemistry from Dillard University while participating in the dual degree program at Georgia Tech. She then went on to receive her Master’s in Science Education, Specialist in Teaching and Learning, and Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning with concentrations in Psychics and Astronomy from Georgia State University. After completing undergrad, there was a need for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) teachers in the Georgia education system. Trinna decided to pursue teaching and spent twenty-five years teaching at Dunwoody High School. She is currently the Director of AP Physics Curriculum and Content Development at The College Board.

     When Trinna started teaching, she admits there was a lot she didn’t know. Her principal at the time, Dr. Springer became her mentor and is a leader she has looked up to since. Trinna admires how relatable Dr. Springer was and her power to connect with students and teachers. Trinna was also motivated by the desire to encourage students to pursue a career in STEM.

     Trinna first remembers leading when she was nineteen and pledging a sorority, AKA. She enjoyed helping those that she was pledging with through the process with minimal stress. Her line name was very fitting, Einstein. After undergrad, Trinna was accepted into a Ph.D. program at Georgia Tech. However, she decided to wait because she had one child, another on the way, and a husband who traveled. Trinna is content with her career decisions and the work/life balance she chose. She enjoys that she had children young and can enjoy them as adults already.

     If Trinna could give her younger self advice, she would say, “It will all work out in the end. Don’t stress as much about the day to day. You will make mistakes and its ok, just try to minimize them.” Trinna continued pursuing her dreams, regardless of setbacks such as needing to take the GRE over. Barriers did not stop Trinna either. She feels lucky to have chosen a field that was inclusive of women. Trinna does feel that teachers might get their just due if schools were more diversified. She would like to see personal finance added back into school curriculums. This would enable students to learn more about the steps it takes to move into an apartment and how to write a check.

     As a leader, Trinna’s focus is on relationships. She tries to get to know each individual and their motivators. She also believes in having buy-in from the team for decisions. Other qualities reflective of Trinna’s leadership style include flexibility, adaptability, and always giving 100%. Trinna loves that both of her roles have centered on helping adolescents, the future of the country. As a teacher, she was instructing future generations. Today, she plays a part in making sure resources provided to students are the best they can be.

     One job I was humored to find out Trinna had was writing labels for hazardous chemical materials. Another job that made me smile was her time spent at a Piccadilly restaurant. She started out carrying trays and then was promoted to serving food to customers behind the counter which made her extremely happy. Fast forward to the present, and some things that make Trinna blissful include sweet potato pie, her computer, reading books, and going to the movies. Her family including her husband, children, parents, etc. and the memories they share, make her smile. Thinking of future family memories is also on her mind. Trinna visited the Grand Canyon recently, and since that’s crossed off her bucket list, her next focus is on grandkids. Hopefully one of my three brothers will help her out with that sometime soon. 😉

Trinna encourages future leaders to:
Always… be true to yourself and your management style because people want an authentic leader.
Never… lie about something you know the truth about.
Follow… the road less traveled.

Connect with Trinna:

Gail Evans, Best Selling Author/Speaker/Professor

“I get up every day and show up for life. Try to lead an intentional life.” –Gail Evans

     Gail Evans wrote the bestselling book, “Play like a man, Win like a Woman: What men know about success that women need to learn”. She also wrote, “She wins you win: The most important rule every businesswoman needs to know”. Gail has a breadth of experience in government, news/media, teaching, public speaking and consulting. One of her most frequently discussed roles is when she was the Executive Vice President of CNN. She worked at the organization for twenty-one years. The knowledge she acquired throughout her career and frank advice she gives continues to help women around the globe.

     For those that have met Gail or read one of her books, it should not be surprising that Gail’s favorite word is strategic. She is a direct, problem solving, action-oriented leader who believes there is always a solution. Gail recommends stepping outside of your box because the correct answers are not always obvious and restrategizing may be necessary. She will give you her all and teach you how to play the game, just make the request.

     Gail first remembers leading at ten years old when she attended summer camp. In high school, she played field hockey and made the all-county team as a goalie. Gail has found that many women in leadership positions played team sports growing up. She noted that there’s been a shift in sports from focusing on the team as a whole to the strongest player. Gail cautions against this practice. She believes every team in sports or business has weak players; the best teams learn how to maximize every person on the team. Gail also puts this into practice in her life. She maximizes her strengths and weaknesses, owns what she doesn’t know, and surrounds herself with those that complement her.

     Leaders that have inspired Gail include Eleanor Roosevelt, Gandhi, and Claire Boothe Luce. Her mother was a very influential person in her life. Gail’s mother was a stay at home mom who made the time to volunteer multiple days a week assisting the Guild for the blind. Her first boss in college was a woman who advised an Indonesian president and had also fought in a war. All of these influences helped Gail believe she could do anything in a time where there were countless barriers for women in the workplace. If she could give her younger self advice, she would recommend, “Don’t be too timid. Trust in your own ability. Be less afraid of failure”.

     As a leader, Gail firmly believes in speaking truth to power. She does not think people should feel fearful or stuck or work; leave if it’s not a good fit. Gail believes in never thinking too much of yourself, a job or career reset is sometimes necessary. Women and men should strive to have Gail’s drive and confidence. If she had to start over, she knows it would only be a matter of time before she worked her way up the ladder. She advises people to always look for the lesson whether you’re fired or make a mistake. Gail believes that success can come from bad experiences if a lesson is gained.

     Gail believes in doing everything intentionally and full out. When you’re in her presence whether it’s professional or personal, she is fully engaged. The advice Gail gives is practical and applicable to all because she enjoys working in many different Worlds. When first seeing Gail you might be surprised that she teaches courses on “Race, Gender, and Ethnicity, until she speaks. Her candor and ability to understand the voices of those often marginalized is truly extraordinary. Gail believes that this class should be offered early on in life because practical teachings are often missing in school. She also feels the topics should be discussed from a business perspective, not solely sociological. Then the topics should be continuously reinforced and discussed throughout life.

     When Gail is not busy spearheading change, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren. She counts herself lucky to have a sweet dog named Lucky. Gail also likes to read and watch television to unwind. Her favorite desserts are lemon meringue pie and cheesecake. A bucket list item of hers is to spend time in India.

Gail encourages future leaders to:
Always… be open to possibilities.
Never… do anything you don’t love or can’t figure out how to love.
Follow… your head and heart.

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Eva Gordon, Teacher at Teocali Academy in Liberia, Costa Rica

“Don’t try to fit into a mold. Bring the best parts of yourself to the job”. –Eva Gordon

     Eva Gordon, a positive and passionate teacher at Teocali Academy in Liberia, Costa Rica loves being around children. Her friends and family would never have imagined she would end up teaching in another country. Eva grew up in Georgia and went to Tulane University to pursue a degree in exercise physiology. She transferred to Berry College where she majored in Spanish and minored in education. A few years later she received her Master’s in Spanish Literature from N.C State University.

     Eva is motivated by children progressing and positive feedback from children and parents. She enjoys being able to watch a child get better whether it is in the classroom or on the soccer field. Eva coaches a soccer team called the Morphos (Butterflies). Eva finds inspiration in those she admires such as Mrs. Adams, her high school Spanish teacher. Eva enjoyed Mrs. Adam’s use of stations to learn Spanish, and she currently utilizes stations to help her students learn English.

     As a teacher and leader, Eva leads by being proactive. She enjoys getting things done while also focusing on quality. When working with Eva expect her to be direct and provide her opinion. Students can expect Eva to provide a vast array of interactive activities to help them learn. For example, students recently helped her write a play about the Earth. Eva is grateful for Pinterest which helps spur her creativity.

     There are classes that Eva wishes were added to the curriculum in the United States and Costa Rica. She feels that children in the U.S would benefit from learning language skills at a younger age. She wishes that children in C.R were able to take a sex education class. Eva feels that all children could benefit from lessons on values. She does not think it has to be an entire class. However, time should be spent each week discussing values in creative ways such as through interactive games.

     Working in a different country can be challenging, and there are a lot of possible barriers such as obtaining a work visa. Eva counts herself lucky because there are only two schools in her area. She started out in high school and is happy she was able to transition to elementary school. Another barrier she faces daily is being away from her family. They would love for her to live closer. Eva is grateful for her parent’s constant support. Eva has not ruled out returning to the United States one day; the position would have to be the right fit.

     Living in a tropical paradise provides a great backdrop for fun and relaxation. Eva enjoys the beach, running, knitting, coloring, puzzles and watching television. She also enjoys going on vacation. She would like to travel to Patagonia and Mt. Everest one day. Coming home to her four dogs makes her smile. Eva’s favorite word is bliss, which happens to be the name of one of her dogs. When Eva is back home in the United States, she loves being able to have her favorite dessert, apple crisp from The Cheesecake Factory.

Eva encourages future leaders to:
Always… be yourself, don’t try to change just for the system.
Never… compromise yourself for your job. Do what’s right.
Follow… your heart as well as the code of the job. However, remember it’s not always a numbers game.