Interview by Derek Grosso
Profession: Co-Founder & VP of Equity & Inclusion of The U (Urban Business Development Center)
Neighborhood: King Lincoln
Education: Biological Sciences – Arizona State University | Currently pursuing Law at ASU
Community Involvement: Think Make Live Youth (Board Member), Mansion Day School (Board Member)
Quote: “Aum Mani Padme Hum – To always return to your heart where you eternally dwell.”
Connect: LinkedIn | Instagram
Give us a snapshot of your career path:I always say I have lived many different lives. After Arizona State, I attempted to relocate to Los Angeles where I met a woman by the name of Timmery who recruited me as an intern on her traveling fashion tour bus. During that time, I learned so much about running a creative, nontraditional business as we traveled all over the United States. I returned to Ohio after almost a year and worked back and forth between Ohio and New York (working in Ohio at Sinclair Community College as a donor stewardship coordinator and in New York with a fashion line called Married to the Mob). There I learned the in and outs of building relationships, marketing, fundraising and establishing creative business models. I then moved to Atlanta where I assisted my at the time boyfriend with starting a business. It was very successful, but later moved back to Ohio due to health reasons and us deciding to go our separate ways in business. After a year in Ohio, I relocated to Columbus from Dayton, Ohio. Within a year of coming to Columbus, I started my own business which lasted for 2.5 years. I then went on to co-found The U where I am presently at and loving every minute of it. It has been a wild ride to get to where I am today, but I am grateful I was able to experience life as I did.
What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek?
I really enjoy what I do for a living, so getting up and doing work has not been an issue over the last 3-4 years. Even getting through the workweek is enjoyable. I get so much energy from meeting with people and seeing how individuals are positively affected by The U. Its surreal to believe I built a business that I genuinely love and truly impacts people.
What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way?
There’s been so many people who have guided me along my journey. I think the biggest lesson I have learned is “This Too Shall Pass” and to not be afraid to ask questions. For a long time, I was fearful to ask things I wanted to know because I didn’t want to be perceived as someone who didn’t know what they were doing (especially in business). Along the way, many mentors made me feel comfortable with not being afraid to ask questions or admit when you do not know something. It has changed my life and my business. Being confident in myself even when I do not have all the answers has helped me grow tremendously.
What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
Usually unwinding for me means being away from a lot of people. I love sitting on my porch especially when the weather is nice or driving down to Dayton to relax with my family. I also love gardening and cooking when I have the time and can really relax. My ultimate favorite thing to do would be to travel to different places and stay at cool, boutique hotels. I try to travel once every 3 months to keep myself sane and my creative juices flowing.
What are a few of your favorite local spots in Columbus?
Oh man, I have so many! A few local spots: Blu Note, Willowbeez, Madison Church in King Lincoln, Fay’s Crepe, Dirty Franks, 4th and State, Cooperative Chess Cultural Center, and Upper Cup.
When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
Growing up, I wanted to be many different things, but the one constant thing I knew I wanted to be was a nomad haha. I just wanted to travel around, learn new things about new people and change the world.
What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now?
I am currently reading Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman and the revised Stamped From the Beginning by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi.
What does it mean to you to be chosen for the Next Up Columbus award?
It is humbling to be recognized for work that I am doing. I think about all the leaders before me that have been recognized as Next Up and to how influential they are currently to the city’s culture. I am proud to be among them. As the senior leadership who’ve paved the way for so many opportunities in our city begin to retire, I look to my colleagues beside me and get excited at the thought that we will be the ones creating new opportunities for the generations that follow us. It is our time to step up and continue writing a great legacy for Columbus.
If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
The pulse of Columbus is US. It’s us everyday people working in our own individual lanes making to make life more meaningful and fulfilling for our community and generations to come. Whether you are an artist, a foodie, a tech wiz, an entrepreneur or politician, we are all working to do our part to make this life the best it can be for every single person.
The Next Up Columbus Awards highlight emerging leaders who are connectors and ambassadors in central Ohio and who are making a positive impact on the future of Columbus. The Columbus Young Professionals Club would like to offer special thanks to our 2022 co-presenters, Discover Financial, Ohio Dominican University and Spectrum for their support of this year’s awards program. Meet the entire “Class of 2022” »