President/CEO of Communities in Schools of Miami
Q: Tell us about Communities In Schools (CIS).
A: CIS is part of one of the largest youth serving organizations in the nation, supporting students so they are empowered to graduate and achieve more in life. Serving more than 20,000 local students annually, we provide free tutoring, counseling, after school and life skills programs.
Q: What makes this program so successful?
A: We believe that relationships change lives; our staff works directly in the schools forging relationships with students. We bring in more than 500 volunteers each year and our services are customized to each student’s specific needs.
Q: How did you get involved with this program?
A: I have been working with Communities In Schools for 17 years. I became involved because its mission appealed to my desire to work for an organization that is meaningful and transforms lives.
Q: How can others get involved?
A: There are many ways to become involved, such as individual and corporate volunteer opportunities, guest speaking or mentoring. The community can also support us through donations. We provide students with school supplies, prom clothes, uniforms, even food. To donate, please call 305.252.5444 or visit our website at www.cismiami.org.
Q: Why is giving back important to you?
A: Giving back is essential to me. It is the way that I live out my faith by making sure that I am responsive to the needs of others around me. I believe that even the smallest action that we take for others truly makes a difference.
Q: Why is education in particular so important?
A: I am a first generation college graduate. I know what it is to live in poverty. It was education that changed my life. It truly is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty that plagues so many families in our community.
Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: I am most proud of my family. Having lost my parents young, a stable extended family was important to me. I am proud that I have been able to extend this sense of family within my workplace. We care deeply for each other.
Q: Who inspires you?
A: Mother Theresa and Jesus – I love that they both were so selfless and that their mission in life was to love with all their heart, without judgment. I could never presume to be like them, but I certainly am inspired to play my part.
Q: What is your ultimate life goal?
A: When all is said and done, all I will have are my memories. Therefore, my goal is to surround myself with many wonderful memories and to leave others with beautiful memories of our times together as well.
Q: Tell us about your book, Life From The Stoop?
A: The book is a memoir of my journey out of poverty, written as a gift to my family. It is ultimately a story of family, hope and faith. It has sold more than 2,000 copies and I’m gratified that so many people have found it motivational.
Q: What was it like serving as a Women of Color Representative at the World Conference for Women in Beijing?
A: It was both incredible and humbling for me to be surrounded by so many women from across the world, but also distressing to know of the dire conditions that women still face today. We have a long way to go to end the discrimination and violence.
Q: What might people be surprised to learn about you?
A: Most people are surprised that I don’t drink, especially when they see me laughing, dancing, joking and just having a great time.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: My granddaughter wants to write a book with me and she is only 6 years old, so I have to see if I could make that happen for her.
1. Miami museum or theater? Fairchild Botanical Gardens
2. Local charity? My church and charities that help the poor
3. Phrase/Quote? “Don’t drown in a cup of milk”
4. Vacation spot? I just live for vacations.
5. Guilty pleasure? Reading
6. Book? Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
7. Movie? Fiddler On The Roof
8. Dessert? Chocolate mousse with raspberries
9. Person? My husband
10. Item in your home? My Rockwell Collection