Community Heroines: Motivational Expert Advice on Female Leadership with Dr. Avis Jones-Deweever [LISTEN]
I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Avis Jones-Deweever, an amazing woman who has authored many publication in regards to issues regarding African- American men and women and issues related to women’s empowerment. She is also a Writer, Public Speaker, and President of Insight Unlimited, a Boutique Consulting Firm.
Dr. Avis Jones Deweever deals with women’s right and civil rights, her work is about trying to produce change that will impact women, in a positive way.
In our discussion, she talks about being a leader in the community, especially among young women
I asked Dr. Jones-Deweever “What steps do you take to becoming a leader to young women within your community?”
Her answer was, “Leaders have a very strong sense of self, purpose, and they are unwavering in terms of making their goals happen. Begin to surround yourself around women who are doing what you aspire to do. Be a support to the leaders in your community. Learn as you observe, and begin to model your definition of leadership.”
She says people are most of the time very open to sharing their knowledge when asked. The time invested in networking, asking questions, having lunch and developing the personal relationships is extremely valuable. Don’t be a wallflower or too introverted, connect with others.
Unfortunately we have been done a huge disservice in terms of the sensationalized image of African American women in the media and reality television. There is a bad preexisting negative stereotype that women (especially black women) are angry and cannot get along. We have to learn how to manage those perceptions that people have about us. We cannot allow other people to have the power to define who we are.
Dr. Jones-Deweever has experience with the Black Women’s Roundtable in Washington D.C., which is intergenerational organization. It brings together black women who are exceptional at what they do and committed to making a difference in their communities. It provides an opportunity for women to work collaboratively in improving conditions around them and becoming change agents in their own community. They don’t just talk the talk, they actual provide opportunities for women to build professional relationships and work together for a better world.
Dr. Avis Jones-Deweever was never short on real life advice pertaining to becoming a leader within your community. In order to affectively lead and be successful, here are some tips she suggest for those interested in getting started:
Don’t be intimidated to put yourself out there, to create relationships. All women aren’t predisposed to turning their backs on you. We cannot allow the negativity and rumors to steer us from collaborating. We shouldn’t base our decisions and drive on what we think is the truth. It’s up to us to go out and make our truth.
Dr. Jones-Deweever suggests that each individual, in order to maximize their space on earth, understand and be clear on the concept that you are special. Whatever you bring to this world, your passion, that dream, is what sets you apart from everyone else. She says it’s that gift, and your ability to be true to it that will change your life.
She says that she believes that our inner light has been diminished by our need to figure out our obligations. We are always trying to figure out how to survive, instead figure out how to pay the bills with our passions. Make your passion your life. Develop your gifts through volunteer work, training, etc. But eventually she believes that it is something that is unique and you can monetize that. She says it would be a disservice to you and those you could potentially impact, if you didn’t cultivate those gifts. She suggest that every person take some time to figure out what they want their lives to look like. It’s worth the try. She guarantees that faith in yourself will eventually open doors in your life.
I had to ask her, “What about those women without a college education, accomplishments, and professional titles?”
Dr. Jones-Deweever says “YES, YES, YES!”
“Sometimes we limit what we perceive to be qualifications. Degrees are not qualification, although education is extremely important. A degree is an indicator that you started something and completed something, not that you have experience in it. The best qualification is Real life experience. Experience is more important. You don’t need a degree. It can sometimes be an inhibitor for some people, because they believe that because they have a degree, they don’t need to know how to do things. It’s about doing.”
The sister in the “hood” can be an extraordinary example of talent, skill, and experience without a degree. Testifying that her father has only a 3rd grade education, but is one of the wisest individuals she knew. As a sharecropper, he was the primary bread winner at a young age and became an entrepreneur. He owned a successful lumber company and provided his family with a middle-class lifestyle while her college educated mother made less than him. College education is not a prerequisite to success. It’s about making a decision that you want to provide, and by using her father as an example that because he did it… so can you. However, the first part of that is to start to act in that direction of your decision.
We limit ourselves with our “I don’t have” and our “I ain’t got…” mentality
Steps to being a community leader…
Get out there and connect with people and the community
Determine what the needs of your community are
Join organizations, your local house of worship, city council meetings, etc.
Join the PTA
Run for office at any level
Black women should seek more leadership opportunities in their community. Women should learn to manage the challenges in their lives and place it towards to representing other women like themselves, speaking up for them, and setting the example. Who knows better? When it comes to facing struggles, experiences, and adversity Black women have faced it all.
Back in May, Dr. Avis Jones- Deweever was invited to the White House with other members of the Black Women’s Round Table to stand with the President as he signed two executive actions meant to reduce pay inequality in America. The issue with the pay gap isn’t only for women, but also the extreme differences in pay when it comes to race as well. As black women, we suffer a pay gap twice as much because we are women and because we are black. Dr. Avis Jones-Deweever hopes that this is the first step of many to changing this. She strongly suggest that people educated themselves about discrimination.
Dr. Avis Jones-Deweever’s tips and advice to you:
- You have to be very strategic about what you allow in your environment
- You are worthy of being selective
- Surround yourself with people who think well enough of themselves that they don’t have to diminish you.
- Only allow what breathes life into you rather than what drains life out of you.
For more information on Dr. Avis Jones-Deweever… check out:
Incite Unlimited – www.inciteunlimited.com
National Coalition of Black Civic Participation www.ncbcp.org
Listen to our full conversation here:
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How Do You Want To Become A Community Leader?