What drives your work, what is your why?

I am motivated by spreading the power of good health. You can’t live your best life if you’re sick. Health affects not only the body, but the mind and spirit. That’s why I spend my time working to ensure every individual living in disproportionately affected communities has access to healthy food options. I want them to fully understand why they need to work hard to safeguard their health and the health of their children. Health flows outward as well. A healthy person is a happy person, a healthy family is a happy family, a healthy community is a happy community. It’s all related.

What is the moment/event/situation that inspired you to enter the field you are in now?

While working at a local hospital in Chicago as a PR Professional, I met a young man who had almost destroyed the lining of his stomach by age 16 from eating things like hot/spicy flavored chips and other junk foods to a degree that it made him sick. Once he was informed and encouraged to change, he did. I thought about the fact that there are countless young people out there just like him who are living on junk food. Now, they all may not suffer the consequences of their actions by age 16, but at some point, in their adult life, if they don’t change, their poor diet will seriously impact their health. That realization affected me tremendously. It underscored the impact of education and exposure to something different, to new ways of living a healthier lifestyle. Today, I am privileged to have the opportunity to champion initiatives that educate and empower individuals to live longer and healthier lives. It’s a calling I take to heart.

What do you believe best prepared you to be successful in your career?

The indomitable human spirit. The belief that I can do anything that I imagine I can. We all can. Our ancestors and heritage is the best example of that. When I think of my lineage, which includes what slaves endured and overcame—circumstances I couldn’t possibly imagine, my current obstacles seem like child’s play.

Who is the mentor that has made the most impact in your life and why? What was the best advice they gave you, and how has it stuck with you throughout your career?

My sister Juanita. She was the person who spent the most time with me when I was younger, as my mom often worked two or three jobs to support us all. Juanita was a living example of love. It oozed out of every pore of her body. Her love light was infectious, and it made her strong and powerful in the most wonderous way. I wanted to be like her from as far back as I can remember. We lost her in 1996 to lung cancer even though she was a non-smoker, but her love still lives on in me, her children, my daughter and my entire family. That’s life everlasting.