We had another amazing Connections Friday thanks to Delora, Jack, Bobby, David, and Rich! We learned about not underestimating ourselves, getting back up when we fall, setting goals, and taking advantage of organizations and mentorship. It was truly an inspiration to hear about your journeys!
Delora is a State Affairs lobbyist for Johns Hopkins. She was born and raised in Baltimore City. Growing up, she did not have much family or direction, but she was fortunate enough to have mentors and organizations that encouraged and supported her. She attended Towson University for her undergraduate degree, where she studied healthcare administration and policy. After her undergraduate studies, she went to University of Maryland Law School. Some days she felt discouraged saying, “Maybe school is not for me,” but she realized she could achieve anything. She says, “Do not underestimate yourself or your potential. Take advantage of every opportunity thrown your way.”
Jack had a couple of careers before he became the CEO of Focus Consulting Group. Focus Consulting Groups gives organizations a competitive advantage through executive coaching, and organizational assessment. Jack’s first career was as a pastor. He went to seminary school and opened up a church in Frederick, Maryland. The church was successful until an unfortunate split. “I was confused and distraught,” says Jack. After the split, Jack decided to go back to school and studied psychology. “I knew that’s what I was supposed to do for the rest of my life.” Though Jack was more than happy as a psychologist, he realized it was taking an emotional and social drain on his life. He wanted to do something different and innovative. For the past 20 years, Jack has been helping leaders improve their company. He says, “If you dream big, it’ll come true.”
Bobby used drugs and alcohol for over 30 years and has been a recovered addict for almost 18 years. He calls his addiction days his hell and his recovery days his heaven. Bobby decided to take charge of his life and be better; he did not want to live in hell anymore. After recovery school, he received a job with the state as an alcohol and substance counselor. He retired in 2012, but wanted to continue to help people so he opened up his own substance abuse recovery center: Focus on Recovery LLC. Here, he assists people with abuse problems and assists people in getting their substance abuse certifications and licenses. Bobby takes all types of patients and refers them to them best counselor. He says that in life “Obstacles only appear when you take your mind off of your goal.”
David also had many careers before he became a community activist. He is currently running for Senate in the 23rd district of Maryland. David grew up in the rough parts of Southeast D.C. He says, “When you grow up in a certain environment, that’s all you know.” He says that can block us from so many opportunities. David played basketball and football growing up, but when you got involved in weight lifting at 13, he stopped. He started to slack in school and lose interest in sports. However, he had a mentor who always said, “Anything you can do, I can do better.” David says this changed his mindset that he could achieve anything and it gave him his competitive drive. He went to military school, was a security advisor, and a retail associate at GNC, before he finally decided to go to college. He got accepted in Bowie State University, but realized he didn’t learn anything in high school. It wasn’t until after college that he taught himself how to read, write, and learn. David found himself retired and lost, so he asked himself what is it that I’m good at. He says, “I’ve always been passionate about being a public servant. I’ve always helped people and talked to kids because I knew what it was like to be in their position. I just wanted to formalize it.”
Rich describes his journey as an “unconventional career path.” He says, “money is on the right and I would go to the left.” From Pikesville, Maryland, he described himself as being privileged with lack of direction and passion. Rich was working in Boston as a publicist for a tech company. He received a well-paying income and lived in a great city, but he didn’t know what the purpose was. He says, “This just isn’t right.” Rich wanted to do something with purpose, but he had expenses. Rich started to think, “how can I continue financially to maintain my lifestyle?” So he deiced to do what he knew best, which was public relations, but he made it his own. He created Louder Than Words, which was PR agency where the main clients were nonprofits, social entrepreneurs, and people doing service work to give back to the community. Rich later founded Communicate Good which was another PR agency, but this time he wanted to giveback more than before. He created Talk Good also which he calls “my version of philanthropy” where he shines the spotlight on people making a difference in the world.
Thank you to all the panelists who came to this Connections Friday. It was truly a treat!