Women Who Create Interview with Founder and CEO of First Ladies of Poverty Foundation, Shatoyia Jones
Women Who Create: Tell us about what you do and what you love!
SJ: I am Shatoyia Jones, Ms. Massachusetts 2019 AWOS, Founder / CEO of the First Ladies of Poverty Foundation, Ordinary x Influence and (most recently) By Way of Melanin™ and By Way of Melanin TV™. I am a curly-haired Louisiana native now living in New England and currently serving as a transformational life coach, diversity and inclusion consultant, public access show Executive Producer and show host and up-and-coming YouTube content creator. Currently, I am focused on my educational leadership, entrepreneurial and public service interests.
I have served in the educational, management and program development, cultural transformation and DEI / EDI / D & I industries for 13+ years, recently being selected to serve as the sole project leader for Beyond El Campo literacy project in Costa Rica, Youth Engagement Specialist for Self/Dial AmeriCorps, Guest Workshop Host for Consortium for High Achieving Students of Color at Trinity College, Special Guest at MIT Innovation Conference & Harambe Seed Funding at Harvard Business.
My passion in life is to empower under-served communities and connect them to the necessary resources for success in spite of disparities caused by an unfair and unjust world. Ultimately, I hope to create a universal framework for poverty alleviation and be a positive force to all I encounter. With my lifestyle blog, I aim to expand my career by sharing my lifestyle with the world, as well as by inspiring others to dream bigger and go after a fulfilling lifestyle that prioritizes stability, peace, positive progress and community development (personally, professionally and socially).
Women Who Create: What’s the #1 piece of advice you’d give to a woman of color entering your field?
Life is unfair, and people won't believe in you. Often times, it is not because you are not capable, ambitious-enough, talented or don't have profitable ideas. Rather, it is because you are all of that and more, and that can be intimidating to those who expected less than what you are giving. Now, you have inspired a level of fear that is uncomfortable or have activated an emotion within someone that makes them pay attention--out of a lack of desire of competition, rather than in supporting what you offer. You have enough people betting on you to fail. Surround yourself with like-minded folks who want you to succeed, not just in words, not just on paper, but in action, and be sure to return the support whenever you can. Do your homework, study and hone your craft, don't be afraid to ask for assistance / seek a mentor (and offer something in return), and most importantly, believe in your VISION and get started executing it today.
Do you have a side hustle you'd like to share?
Yes! In addition to the First Ladies of Poverty Foundation, I am working on a public access show called By Way of Melanin™ and a production company By Way of Melanin TV™ ( @bywayofmelanintv ).
By Way of Melanin™ is a brand committed to uplifting, recognizing and empowering artists and creatives for positive social change, minority voices and under-served communities. By Way of Melanin TV™ is on a mission to 1) lift minority voices, 2) increase representation, 3) defend the practicality and down-right necessity of the arts, 4) create a medium of empathy, compassion and conversation in this current climate of hate, tension and chaos. The show is scheduled to launch in June with a launch party on June 6, 2020. >> Learn More
Women Who Create: Can we tag you? What's your IG?
Yes, please do. @ladelapaz @firstladiesofpovertyfoundation
Why do you think representation is important for your industry?
Lack of representation sets up communities and economies for doom and gloom: economically, socially and fundamentally as a cohesive well-operated nation. We live in too much of a diverse world to not take into account the benefits and significance of representation. Social systems that does not fully embrace representation and make active gains towards improving representation in positions of leadership and beyond are a waste of resources: talent, energy and most importantly, time.
My goal in my work is not to put a band-aid on the issues my organization (First Ladies of Poverty Foundation) are undertaking. Rather, we are looking to model a framework for poverty alleviation that not only meets basic needs but offers access to personal, professional and financial development resources for more,should they desire more and still keep the integrity of a "business". In order to truly carry this mission out, an active integrity-based and transparent leadership team representative of the population it serves and the struggles within that population is most important for scaling and maximizing the strategic holistic development, economic investment and resource allocation in an efficient and timely manner.
Representation drives perspective which in turn can be the catalyst for understanding, empathy and as a result, a new wave of adequate social systems that actually serve everyone involved, even at different levels of leadership.
a hello from the desk of our Founder and CEO, Shatoyia Jones
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