Wow! On November 2, 2007 I finished packing up my car (a VW Jetta), had breakfast with my mom and got on the road to Washington, DC. After living with my mom in Denver, NC for a little over a year, I decided that it was time for me to go to DC and follow a dream and so I did. Hence my social media handles: NJDC07 – I am from NJ and landed in DC in 2007.
In the winter of 2006 I was a policy analyst for a nonprofit that worked on children’s issues. I was a child advocate and loved that job. It was my first entry into the policy world. After working about 17yrs in the healthcare industry as a receptionist, biller, materials manager, patient advocate, finance and entrepreneur. I went back to school and obtained a Masters Degree in Public Administration. I did a concentration in Social Equity and said I am going to change the world through policy and social change. I had been doing this work personally as a member of my sorority (Delta Sigma Theta) and my church (A.M.E.). Then I was guided to do this professionally.
So after graduation of May 2004, I was determined to get a position in my new chosen field. I had that job and started working August 2005. It was a few days after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. So I came into the field of social change when two implicit bias issues converged – racism and environmental justice. The fact that I identified this and created a plan of action based on this Intersectionality would bring me to the work I do today.
It was an amazing time to work on children’s issues especially in NJ. I also bought a house in December 2005. But unfortunately that position did not work out (stay tuned for writings on this) and so I was out of a job in May 2006. Here I was in Newark, NJ with a new home, a mortgage to pay, a new Master’s degree and no job or steady income. I was frustrated and angry.
But I have faith and got out there and by the grace of God was able to find work contracting myself out to nonprofits. I had all the skills needed to do this work and the best skills of all were the ability to organize, work well with others and write. So I set myself up as an independent contractor and did this work as well as went back into my healthcare field and did that work. Then my mom invited me to come to NC to be with her and family as I made some decisions about my life. I sold my house. That was the year prior to the housing bust. I put my house on sale September 1, 2006 and had a buyer October 1, 2006.
I moved to NC to be with my family and to work things out with my mind and spirit. I had a lot of trials and tribulations hit me at one time and I needed that time to get ready for my triumphs. It was an amazing time in my life to be in the Charlotte, NC area with my mom and family. I reconnected with so many of them and also in my relationship with my faith and God. This is the foundation of who I am and the springboard from which I am able to do the work I do every day.
In September 2007 I had to attend board meetings in Washington, DC. I drove up to DC from NC, which is a 6hr drive. As I drove into DC from Hgwy 66 and came in on Constitution Ave. NW, I looked to my right and saw the Lincoln Memorial. There was an emotional rush that came over me.
*NOTE: This was 9months after Senator Barak Obama had made a similar decision. He was currently in DC working as a social change maker but had decided he needed a new position in the policy city. (Yes we can)
Then I turned onto Connecticut Ave. NW and headed towards a friends house up near the Zoo. It was driving up Connecticut and driving on a crisp, sunny Fall morning seeing the White House, K Street corridor and all this wonder here in DC that it hit me – “you need to be here”. The work that you want to do on public policy and social change in the world that you want to see is here.
I talked with a few of my mentors and good friends here in DC. I made a plan and I was on the road again to DC on November 1, 2007. The time with my family in NC was much needed and as my mom passed away in 2013, it is even more precious to me. But I could not find a career that I loved in NC because that is not where I was supposed to be. When I told my mom I was moving to Washington, DC to become a public policy analyst, she was confused and a bit anxious about me moving to a city with no job, no job prospects and no real family connections. After a long conversation about me not asking her permission but rather me informing her of my decision, she acquiesced and gave me her blessing. Her blessing was not something I needed but something I respected and valued.
So, I got in my VW Jetta, headed up the road, stopped in Washington, DC and the rest as they say is history. I am blessed and honored to do the work I do every day as a disability rights advocate and senior public policy analyst in my day job; and then as a social equity activist working on multiple issue areas in my personal life. It was a long and winding path to get to my position and enter my career of public policy and social change. But I loved every moment and would not change a thing because it has created this social equity fighter who is before you today. And just so you know the winding road has not stopped and neither have the aspirations or career changes. Stay tuned!
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