Executive Director of a nonprofit called Empowered Connections. I am an adult college student at Chattanooga State majoring in Psychology.

College/University attended? 

Chattanooga State Community College

Tell us a little about you (short bio ~150 words). 

As a child, I was fascinated with Dr. Martin King, Jr. Even as young as seven years old, his compassion for humanity inspired me. I was very interested in finding solutions to problems and helping others, even as a kid. Like Dr. King, serving others has been a central force in my life. Who am I? I am a married woman who has been through my share and possibly someone else’s trauma and overcame it. I left my job in the insurance industry of 20 years to go back to school and pursue my passion for psychology during the pandemic; I am a student leader, President of both SGA and Social Justice Clubs. I am the mother of a 25-year-old brilliant young lady. I run a nonprofit that I have run since 2018 to help caregivers of loved ones with a disability connect with resources in the community.  

What motivates you?  

Speaking with young women with the same vibrant passion I had in my twenties.  

When you’re not working, where and how do you spend your time

I am laughing with my family and dogs. I am reading a book or having a conversation with a stranger. I even will go to Walmart and shop and find someone; my hobby is learning people, I love it.

What advice do you have for women aspiring to be leaders in their field?
You do not have to be perfect, but you have to be present.

Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Why and how did this person impact your life?

My grandmother Zennia Kelley, who is no longer with us. I was named after my grandmother.  She raised me and taught me kindness, and led me by the hand out of fear of speaking to others.  She was a silent hero of many and taught me leadership through her constant act of investing in me through conversation and modeling. It gives me great joy every time I get an award or recommendation, and they say her name. 

What has been your proudest moment in your career? 

This season of being a student, I am most proud. As a wife, mother, and daughter, women tend to lose themselves in the service of others. I love serving, it is the ultimate occupation, but we must serve ourselves. My attending school is the first thing I have done that doesn’t involve my family or dogs. It’s an act of self-love that I am learning every day.

What strides do you think members can take to make more of a difference in women’s leadership issues in the local community? 

First, eliminate the inclination that women need to compete against one another; we are the strongest together. 

How would you best describe the benefit found in joining this organization? 

I have been in so many discussions with other women that simply do not know how to develop themselves. CWLI has many ways for women to invest in their own personal/professional development. CWLI assists young leaders, seasoned leaders, and even leaders who know they are leaders but are unsure of what.  Nothing against sitting in a room having tea; I love tea! I would find more joy being in a room with world changers learning from one another, and CWLI has that.