Who did you aspire to be growing up? Myself! Growing up, I was not raised to be like another person. Yes, there were traits of influential individuals that I wanted to have, but I had dreams I had never seen anyone in my community achieve before. I more so aspired to emulate all of the positive characteristics I saw in my elders and my village: to be kind, patient, loving, and understanding like my grandmother; to have an entrepreneurial spirit like my father; to be tough as my brother; carefree like my best friend; and confident like her mother. I aspired to have my voice heard like Ms. Wiley, my middle school teacher, and unapologetically me just like Ms. Stevenson, my volleyball coach. So, it's not so much who I aspired to be but what kind of person I wanted to be. And that is who my village helped me become.

What led you to enter into a career in the staffing industry? Growing up, the two things I knew I wanted were a job where I could make money by helping others in a meaningful way. This looked like it changed over the years, from physical therapy to sales and then the world of staffing. Staffing has had the most significant impact in helping me develop as a person because it is more than filling a role for the client. It is the art of matchmaking. I refer to myself as a matchmaker and not a recruiter. I focus on making sure that both my talent and client will be a good fit for one another. In our industry, it does not always matter if the client is happy, but the talent is not, and vice versa. Knowing that I am helping two different individuals achieve their goals makes my role fulfilling. It is one of the most rewarding feelings.

Which event in Black history holds the most meaning to you? Some may respond with historical milestones from the past, such as honoring and celebrating Juneteenth, ending segregation, or celebrating the first African American President. However, the more recent events in Black history hold the most meaning to me: the deaths of Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Amir Locke. These events are consistent reminders that there are those out there who are intimidated by me because of my skin color. As a mother to two young children – including a son – I am reminded that I have to raise them in a manner that will hopefully protect them from being a hashtag or the latest news story. However, these are the same events that give me hope that change is on the horizon and that our voices will be heard. These events have forced everyone to speak up for what's right and acknowledge the injustices that take place against African Americans, just like me. I am thankful to be in a position where I can use my voice to ensure we continue to take steps in the right direction. As a recruiter, it is my responsibility to ensure that I am helping place African Americans in leadership positions where they can help add value.

Do you feel your race has been utilized for positive contributions to the organizations you have worked with during your career? I can't say because if I look back at past or current positions, I find it hard to know whether or not my race has been utilized positively. I would like to believe that any positive contributions I make to a company are not based solely on my race.

What does diversity, equality, and inclusion mean to you? As a professional of color, growing up I was told that I had to act, look, dress, and perform a certain way to be considered equal. This meant not having certain conversations, hiding certain emotions, and only bringing part of me to work every day. As I grew and developed, I realized that so much more to me makes me the successful professional that I am. Over time I have learned that I am fulfilled when bringing my "whole" self to work. This means that it is ok for me not to be ok and that I have a different perspective on a situation and express my concerns respectfully. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are equivalent to being whole. When a person or company is physically and psychologically safe, it creates a space where anyone can come in and truly be themselves.