Having served as President of the WNBA, Vice President of Global Community Affairs at Coca-Cola, President of the Grady Health Foundation, City Council President, and Vice Mayor of Atlanta, I am now bringing that wealth of private, public, and non-profit experience into one multidisciplinary entity, Golden Glow Media.
Like many of us, as a little girl, I was repeatedly asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. My answers varied from time to time — and I attribute this to the dynamic sense of possibility my hometown had become known for.
After all, Atlanta in the 1960s was “the cradle for the Civil Rights movement.” In my backyard were activists, doctors, religious leaders, politicians, college professors, executives, philanthropists, and countless types of people for me to observe and aspire to.
In fact, well before I was born, in 1943, my grandfather, Williams Holmes Borders, the Civil Rights leader and pastor of the famed Wheat Street Baptist Church in Atlanta, wrote a poem titled I AM SOMEBODY.
In it, he gives a list of the contributions of Black Americans. And when I was coming of age during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, I learned every word of it:
I AM SOMEBODY — , he wrote.
I am a poet in Langston Hughes…I am a diplomat in Frederick Douglass...I am a college president in John Hope...I am an orator in P. James Bryant...I am the first successful operator on the human heart in Daniel Hale Williams...I am a grand specimen of womanhood in Mary McLeod Bethune.
He first read the poem publicly while addressing his congregation, knowing that it wasn’t just a list, but as a newspaper later called it, a “Resume of Negro History.”
I don’t know what inspired him to pen that poem in the midst of the second World War, but the similarities, the rich tapestry, the dynamic ends of the economic and social spectrum even our own family must have played a role.
After all, he and my grandmother — my father’s mother — were the first couple of Wheat Street, steeped in the political and religious landscape of Atlanta’s leadership.
And on my mother’s side, my grandmother was a maid and my grandfather a chauffeur, both at Coca-Cola — a company I would later take a senior leadership position at, bringing my family full circle from the chauffeur's seat to the executive suite in two generations.
My mother worked at the CIA. My father was a physician.
My grandparents — and eventually my own parents — they were the ‘somebodies’ he was immortalizing.
As a young kid, it was intimidating to learn the poem — to memorize it, as was expected of all the children in our family — and to recognize in retrospect what my grandfather was doing with his words.
He was giving us permission. Not just me, not just my siblings, but everyone in the community who was moved by the poem. Permission to be a ‘sprinter,’ a ‘soldier,’ an ‘industrial educator,’ a ‘congressman,’ and a ‘molder of character.’ Permission to find a sense of enlightenment and purpose.
So it’s no coincidence that nearly 80 years after he authored what I now affectionately refer to as a biography of Black America, that I am only satisfied using my voice and my experiences in a multitude of fields.
I have been the President of the WNBA, and also the Vice President of Global Community Affairs at The Coca-Cola Company.
I have been the President of the City Council of Atlanta and also the head of the philanthropic arm of a level 1 trauma center.
I was the Chair of the Borders Commission.
I am a mother, a businesswoman, a creator, and an entrepreneur.
And believe it or not, where I’ve served with the most purpose is when I am able to connect the dots between these fields — when I am able to make change in one because of something I learned in the other.
From ensuring the elimination of harassment in the workplace, whether it be the boardroom or the basketball court, is universally addressed, to leading a national league of empowered female athletes while also ensuring accountability and athlete protection within the USOPC, to working in corporate America for a more equitable future and giving voice to the voiceless — I have always taken my grandfather’s advice to heart.
Because I AM SOMEBODY — I am all of these people.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.