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DARE TO DREAM

© 2018 and Published by Cornish & Associates, Inc.


First printing 2018

ISBN- 978-1-948404-45-7

All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this
publication may be reproduced, stored in a retreival system, or transmitted in
any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording,
or otherwise, without the written permission of the publisher.
DARE TO DREAM

Dedication

~ As I reflected on the dedication, I continued to come back to


the original Apple commercial by Steve Jobs, The Crazy Ones.

“While some may see them as the crazy ones,


we see them as genius.
They push the human race forward.
The people who are crazy enough to believe
they can change the world do.”
- Steve Jobs

This book is dedicated to you the dreamers!


Where would this world be without you?

To Aunt Minnie, you were and will always be my


Angel In Disguise!

Vera Elizabeth Clemons Cornish

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A SPECIAL THANK YOU
Alana Moira Cornish, I love you!

Amma Johnson, when you were a little girl, you dreamed of....
Today as a woman, you are AMMA JO, a brand to be reckoned with!

MaDonna Awotwi, your vision for Meet The Dreamers, and the Women Of Heritage
Breakfast created zeal in the hearts of so many. Always remember the first.

Candice Coleman-Henry, the love, and energy you bring to each project gives others
permission to be happy.

Amy Spangler, the photography for the book captured the essence of my heart!
Thank you!

Kathleen Furby, thank you for loving me!

Gwendolyn Milbourne, thank you for those summers in the city!

The Tribe, I am so thankful for each of you and the privacy to keep it real.

Kandy Ferree, you are my friend!

Carla Jones, I am especially thankful to have you in my life.

Nancy Feth how many road tips have we had together, and we weren’t even in the same car.
Congratulations on living your dream.

Lil Jackson, thank you for being so engaged in the total process. Words cannot express what
it means to have you in my life.

Beckey White Croutz, your love, and commitment is incredible. Tucked away behind the
scenes, you are part of every project everyone gets to experience. I am grateful.

Stony Rhodes, Thank you for being a catalyst to finding my voice as an author.

Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Kappa Omega Chapter, thank you for choosing me as your 2017
Citizen of The Year. You never know who’s watching.

MLK50: Dauphin County Remembers, thank you for commemorating the price that was
paid so Vera Cornish could dream.
To each of you that have intersected
my life to create this grand adventure,
I am in gratitude!

Thank you
WHO IS VERA CORNISH?
Vera Cornish is a renowned speaker, publisher, and empowerment
strategist! She is the first in her family to graduate high school, college
and work in higher education. Today, Vera owns her own company,
Cornish & Associates. Her audiences and clients include individuals,
colleges, universities, and corporations.

“When I was a little girl, I dreamed that life could be one grand
adventure! Today as a woman I am living the dream!” Vera Cornish

What people find amazing about Vera is the huge smile that exudes from
the warmth of her spirit and the wisdom that flows freely! It is this very
temperament that creates a judgment-free atmosphere for authentic
conversations. Her interactive style is inspirational, thought-provoking,
and transformational.

Vera is transparent that adversity and devastation are woven into the
technicolor fabric of her life. Name it! She has most likely faced it!
However, she firmly believes that devastation does not determine your
destiny! With a gentle tenacity, she shares that every life experience
formed the building blocks to create the woman she is today!

However, because of Vera’s work, people identify their limiting beliefs,


resolve inner conflicts, commit to taking action and become architects
of concepts. They create new businesses, embrace their ability to lead,
gain a keener understanding of grace under pressure and the power of
perseverance. They find their voice and act on their dreams.

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Also, Vera is very clear; everyone has a story. She invites you to ask the
hard questions: Are you sitting in the back row of life knowing there are
seats in front and center? Are you ready to let go of worry, doubt, and fear?
Are you ready to be honest with yourself ? Are you ready to live and work
with an expectation of success? Vera Cornish Dares You To Dream! One
question remains, ‘Are you ready to take the dare?’

Little Girls
with Dreams
Become
Women
With Vision - Anonymous Quote

Dare to Dream with Vera Cornish


Artwork by Anigye Johnson

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DARE TO DREAM

CHAPTER LIST:

Chapter 1: Fast Black And June Bug pg. 13


Chapter 2: From The Hill To The Hills pg. 19
Chapter 3: Angel In Disguise pg. 25
Chapter 4: The Pathway To Freedom pg. 27
Chapter 5: I Married A Tribe pg. 37
Chapter 6: It’s Time To Come Home pg. 43
Chapter 7: Can You Imagine A World With Out Art? pg. 49
Chapter 8: What Is Your Relationship With You? pg. 55
Chapter 9: It’s Time To Take Back My Life pg. 63
Chapter 10: Women Of Heritage pg. 69
Chapter 11: Do You Value The Person? pg. 77
Chapter 12: The Urban Connection pg. 85
Chapter 13: Access & Opportunity pg. 89
Chapter 14: Destination Mount Kilimanjaro pg. 93
Chapter 15: Lessons Learned pg. 97
Chapter 16: Today As A Woman pg. 103

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DARE TO DREAM 1
CHAPTER 1

FAST BLACK & JUNE BUG


The start of my life was a kaleidoscopic adventure. I am the daughter of
John David Clemons and Elizabeth June Booker (a.k.a Fast Black and
June Bug). In their mind, they were the self-proclaimed King and Queen
of The Hill District in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Life at full throttle was
the only way to live! They loved The Hill and The Hill loved them back!
It was vibrant! It was genuine! It was Black!

Known as the Harlem of Pennsylvania, The Hill was overflowing with


black-owned businesses and dynamic cultural experiences. Jazz was the
music of the day and not just any jazz. It was the music of the greats,
like Ray Charles, Stanley Turrentine, and Louie Armstrong. Immersed
in the nightlife, they specialized in entertaining after hours. The spirit
of entrepreneurship was alive and well! Adding a little spice to the mix,
my Godfather was Billy Dee, not the movie star, but just as handsome.
When Fast Black, June Bug and Billy Dee walked into a room there
was no denying their presence! Especially with a pink Cadillac parked
outside! The world they created for themselves was a fantasy come true.

In the midst of all of this, they wanted a baby. Enter Vera Elizabeth
Clemons. My first name came from my father’s mother, Vera, meaning
truth. The middle name, Elizabeth, came from my mother, meaning
either ‘oath of God’ or ‘God is satisfaction’. What a name to grow into on
this journey called life.

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DARE TO DREAM

There is a difference between fantasy and living in a false reality. The reality
was a baby didn’t match their lifestyle no matter how cute she was and no
matter how much they loved each other. The reality, a baby, and a pink
Cadillac don’t go together. The reality, who is going to care for the baby
twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty-five
days a year? Most of all, what happened to the dream of the house with the
white picket fence? There were hard decisions to make.

Enter Grandma Delia and Aunt Minnie. Grandma Delia was a self-
proclaimed Pentecostal Evangelist. Aunt Minnie, my father’s sister, was
urban chic, blending that Pittsburgh Hill
District and North Philly persona. Both
of these women were willing to open both
~There was a harsh
their hearts and their homes. So, at the realism to falling
age of nine months, I went to live with my
Grandmother. Trust me, there is nothing into a pit so deep
further away from a pink Cadillac than a and dark the only
Pentecostal Evangelist Black grandmother.
There was one primary book in the house, way out is a miracle.
the Bible, and it laid the foundation for
everything we did and believed. According
to Aunt Minnie, I was not only reading at the age of five but also teaching
Bible studies by age four. These two women became my guardian angels.

For nine years, there was the collision of two different worlds, two different
mindsets, Delia Booker vs. Fast Black. Delia was adamant, ‘You got
the daughter…you will NOT get the baby.’ Both Johnny and June were
ministry centered, however the influences of the world had shifted their
entire perspective. Within Johnny dwelled an intense power of influence,
strong enough to change the direction of June’s life. She walked away from
everything that had formed her foundation. She left both her family and
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Chapter 1: Fast Black & June Bug

high school in her senior year to stand firmly by his side.

This beautiful juxtaposition of Fast Black and June Bug cruising in a pink
Cadillac, listening to jazz, eating barbeque and living large had a dark
side. Woven into the fabric of their existence were drugs, alcohol, number
running and more. To their child, they gave the gift of endless possibilities
releasing her to the person that would be steadfast in her convictions and
lay a strong foundation.

James and Delia Booker lived tucked away on Watt Lane, in a small
comfortable home with a pantry attached to the kitchen. The sister could
cook! Memories of yeast-raised rolls and an aroma of home cooking filled
the air. Pair this with barbeque from the local pit and fried chicken that
sometimes came in a brown paper bag compliments of Johnny…life was
good. Let’s be clear - Dad was only allowed to come to the curb for drop-
offs and pick-ups. Entry to the house was not allowed. However, the
memories from those early years have lasted a lifetime. He would pull up to
the house with the Caddy glistening and I would slide into the front seat of
the car barely able to see over the dashboard. We were off to Isley’s for ice-
cream cruising through the park to the best ice-cream parlor in the world. I
was a Daddy’s girl.

With the death of my Grandfather, Delia’s life turned upside down.


Considering the crazy amount of money that flowed through the hands
of Johnny and June, there wasn’t enough to save the family home. Fast
money is exactly that, it comes and goes fast. For all the comfort I had
become accustomed to, the new reality was poverty. Undaunted, Grandma
still provided. There are memories of standing in line waiting for surplus
cheese, canned jellied pork, powdered milk and of course the five-pound
block of cheese. Did Delia complain? No!

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DARE TO DREAM
The house was gone and we moved more times than I can remember, always
in and around Pittsburgh. The multiple moves were also her attempt to
deny Johnny access to me. Every time we moved, he would find his girl.
There was a time I was covered head to toe with measles and a fever so high
all I could do was drift in and out of sleep. With the backdrop of the sun
streaming through the window, I remember opening my eyes and through
blurred vision there he stood. Johnny Clemons was relentless in his pursuit.
By now, he was allowed to cross the doorstep.

Where was June while all this was unfolding? Behind closed doors, there
is an untold part of the love story. It is the silence of the hurt and pain of
love, the decisions that negatively impacted each other’s lives; the story of
the devastation that heroin reeks on the mind, body, and spirit of a man.
There was the silence of loving so deeply and the toll paid for loving him.

There was a harsh realism to falling into a pit so deep and dark the only
way out is a miracle. Sometime between my birth and the age of nine
she gradually disappeared into another world. June would visit on rare
occasions. When she did show up, she showed out! June was glamorous
and bearing gifts, lots of gifts!

When I think about my life with my grandmother, she was actively engaged
in evangelism which meant so was I. If people were hungry, she made big
pots of soup and opened her home to feed others. During the summer,
there was always Vacation Bible School. As strict as she was, she became
the loving teacher putting picnic tables in the backyard. What a beautiful
memory, a yard filled with children doing old-fashioned taffy pulls. Even in
the darkest moments, she would place a folding table in the backyard, cover
it with a checkered tablecloth and serve pancakes in the morning sun.

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Chapter 1: Fast Black & June Bug

As time passed, the living conditions improved and the apartments


returned to comfortable spaces. Although we rarely saw mom, she was
sending money home as often as possible.

With bible in hand, Delia went wherever she was invited to preach the
Word of God. Off we’d go to some pretty amazing conferences, huge
churches, and yes, small storefronts. Size didn’t matter, I would look up
and there was little Delia Booker up there preaching her heart out.

Delia was a woman who knew that nothing was impossible for God!
Devout in her belief, despite the detours of her daughter, raising a
granddaughter, the loss of her husband, and the loss of her home, Delia
was resilient. She knew according to God’s plan she had been entrusted to
raise the child, an assignment she did diligently for nine years.

Today as a woman, I have told this story countless times. Why? It is the
cornerstone that formed the very foundation of my life. Two very colorful
people that had a very nontraditional love affair gave birth to the person
who is now Vera Cornish. Everyone has a story that begins this journey
called life.

What’s yours?

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Time for Reflection: DARE TO DREAM

What Captured Your Heart In This chapter?


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What is your commitment to your life based on what you read?


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What action will you take?


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DARE TO DREAM
CHAPTER 2
2
From The Hill To The Hills
I have no memory of how we said goodbye to Delia. What I do remember
is that she was gone and June was taking me home to live with her in
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. I remember sitting quietly in the back seat of
a car driven by a tall, slender white gentleman with Mom sitting next to
him in the front seat. It was night time and we were on a highway going
to a new destination that I would call home. Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
would be my first time living with my mother since I was nine months
old. The only emotion that I remember was being in awe of all the lights
along the highway and how long the drive was. There is a faint memory of
the excitement of finally living with my mom, a woman I was so excited
to see when she came to visit.

What I didn’t know was that June had begun a brand new life that
included a three-month-old baby. She had not shared that I was going
home to a little girl named Kathleen. Although so much time had passed,
she was still not ready for the responsibility of motherhood and now she
had two children. The home was an old, big comfortable house. Being
a child, I didn’t know of the concept rooming house. I simply knew we
lived with other people. Our family had the largest room. It was spacious
with a beautiful white crib in the far corner. Each person we lived with
was dear and kind in their own right. Everyone living in the house could
use the shared space in the living room and the kitchen. Each person
respected each other’s privacy, so we only saw each other coming and
going. As far as the shared space was concerned, the number of friends
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DARE TO DREAM

and their children that visited, the space belonged to us. The Kaleidoscope
of life continued.

Several things happened immediately. June made it clear that I would


have major responsibilities in assisting with the care of Kathleen. I’m now
the one asking, ‘What do you do with a baby?’ That assignment ended
quickly! I had never seen a baby let alone cared for one. I proved early on
I was not equipped to meet the needs of an infant. Surrounded by a group
of her girlfriends, she immediately introduced me to one of their sons,
Ricky, and gave him the responsibility to take care of me. He assumed this
responsibility with such care that for the next seven to eight years, I spent
almost every day with him. Life became one big adventure. Most of our
early years together were spent with Ricky simply coming to the house after
school. As we grew older, he would take me everywhere he went.

Remember, a Pentecostal Evangelistic grandmother raised me which meant


I had little or no exposure to the outside world. Something as simple as
playing Chinese checkers or going to the movies was a grand adventure.
Shortly after my arrival, I turned ten years old. What was meant to be a
birthday celebration that included going to the movies and coming home
for cake turned out to be the first severe encounter with the anger of June.
What triggered the rage was my disobedience by not going to a movie she
had chosen. Understand that the only movie I had ever seen in Pittsburgh
was Mary Poppins and the Brownie Leader and I had to lobby Delia for
that to happen. My second movie was Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte in
Wilkes-Barre. Why couldn’t I go to the theater chosen by Mom? The
pictures outside the theater where images of everything Delia had warned
were symbols of evil.

I begged a little girl that joined Ricky and me not to tell that we went back
to Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte. Lesson learned: not everyone has your
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Chapter 2: From The Hill To The Hills

back. She told as soon as we got in the car. When we got home, my first
beating took place with them present. Happy birthday and welcome to
living with June. Life in the rearview mirror over the years, Mom became
my greatest abuser. Actually, I didn’t know I was in an abusive relationship;
it was our normal interaction. Here is the crazy part; I never stopped
smiling and finding joy in everyday experiences.

Against the backdrop of walking on eggshells


with June, life was still a grand adventure.
My first day at Franklin Street School, two ~ I never stopped
dear girls came to the office to take me to
class. Those friendships continued through smiling and
graduation. During that time, I didn’t have
the language to explain the composition of
finding joy
my class. I simply knew I was the only person in everyday
that looked like me in the entire class and
almost the whole school. I came to know that experiences.
I was the only African American female in a
graduating class of over 300.

As school continued and friendships deepened, I learned the language of


a very ethnic region. As children, it was all about food, so I learned words
and experienced things like lasagna, spaghetti, haluski, pierogis, kibbe and
grapevine leaves. Amazingly from fourth grade to graduation was one of
the most exciting times of my life.

Delia had done an outstanding job of having me fall in love with the
written word. Going to school was easy, and I excelled. I loved books, so by
the time I entered junior high and on through high school, I was in all the
top classes with outstanding teachers and surrounded by wonderful friends
both in and out of school.
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DARE TO DREAM

Ricky was still very present and guiding me through most of the adventures.

Against the backdrop of school, the neighborhood I lived in was


predominantly black. The young people in the neighborhood were about
five years older than me and had known each other most of their lives.
Literally, I was the new kid on the block. Again there was Ricky, bringing
me into his circle of friends. Saturdays became watching him be the altar
boy at Saint Mary’s then off to the downtown where we would all meet on
the square for pizza and share one pot of clams. Yes, one pot with three or
four of us crammed in a booth eating some of the best thick crust pizza on
the planet.

I like to think of this season of my life as a track meet where multiple lanes
are moving simultaneously all headed to the same destination.

As I grew older, I learned to enjoy the outdoors and the beautiful Pocono
Mountains. So, while I lived in Wyoming Valley, my favorite journeys were
into the beautiful Pocono Mountains, especially on hot summer days. I
have great memories of sitting in a mountain creek losing myself in a great
book. Then there were the incredible biking trips where we would park the
car, take out our bikes and cruise for miles deeper into the mountains only
to return before nightfall and head back to the city. When winter came ice
skating at the Aquadome was the Saturday’s agenda. In hindsight, there
was no fear. We loved the freedom.

Education was my pathway to freedom. People who loved learning


surrounded me and we all had one destination…college. Even though home
was chaotic, June was clear about her expectations. All report cards were to
be A’s and B’s. The relationships broadened and deepened. Each one that
developed over time opened doors to a world I never knew existed. There is
power in exposure. It was true then and continues to be true today.
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Chapter 2: From The Hill To The Hills

One hot summer day shortly after his graduation, Ricky asked me to join
him and a group of friends for a swim in the reservoir. He knew I wouldn’t
go. However, he always faithfully offered the opportunity for me to be part
of the adventure no matter what it was. As night fell, I sat on the fire escape
waiting for his return. With my back to the open window, the news anchor
told the story of a group of swimmers and the tragedy of a young man that
took the challenge to swim across the reservoir. My mind could not process
the words that I heard.

Life without Ricky! I remember standing by the casket the entire night of
the viewing, crying tears that come from the depths of my soul and refusing
to leave until the funeral director made me. The next day, hundreds of
teenagers formed a double line honor guard from the doors of the funeral
home down the street into St. Mary’s Church and ending at the altar. The
outpouring of love was incredible! Today, I know the depth of grief and the
power of love to heal the pain no one ever wants to experience.

The journey continued, and I stayed on track for graduation two years
later. The toxicity in the house escalated and yet I continued to embrace
the moments of joy and the adventures that unfolded. Today as a woman,
I know I was learning to navigate a life riddled with adversity, and that
devastation did not define my destiny.

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Time for Reflection: DARE TO DREAM

What Captured Your Heart In This chapter?


_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________

What is your commitment to your life based on what you read?


________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________

What action will you take?


_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________

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DARE TO DREAM
CHAPTER 3
3
Angel in Disguise
It wasn’t until several years ago during a conversation with Aunt Minnie
that we both came to realize she never knew what was really taking place
at home with June.

I would call and her response was always the same: “Walk out the door.
Go to the bus station. A ticket will be waiting for you. You will either
spend the summer with me in Philadelphia or I will get you to Pittsburgh
to be with your dad.”

In reflection, what I find fascinating is that this dear woman never knew
the extent of what was taking place at home. She never knew what was
happening behind closed doors. She simply responded each time the call
was made.

Those phone calls turned into summer in the city. Spending time with
my cousin Gwen and going to the Uptown Theater to see groups like
Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. Then there was Pittsburgh with Dad.
When Johnny’s girls came to town there was only one word…spoiled!
There was one special request that we walk to the Carnegie Museum of
Natural History several times a week and spend some time. We never
grew tired of the walk from Ridgeway St. to Oakland and back and never
grew tired of the dinosaurs. Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, it was summer
in the city. Thank you Aunt Minnie for being my angel in disguise; this
story could be very different.
25
Time for Reflection: DARE TO DREAM

What Captured Your Heart In This chapter?


_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________

What is your commitment to your life based on what you read?


________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________

What action will you take?


_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________

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DARE TO DREAM
CHAPTER 4
4
Pathway To Freedom
When asked, ‘How did you achieve your work ethic?’, the answer was
simple: I can trace it back to my childhood. The earliest memory was
cleaning houses of the wealthy with my grandmother. As a teenager;
earning 50 cents an hour to clean hallways and laundromats; getting
a work permit as soon as I was old enough; working a summer job
during high school at what was then the Retreat State Hospital. My
responsibility was to escort patients from the overactive ward to school.
I studied into the wee hours of the night to excel in class. I sold shoes in
the local mall and spending the money just as quickly as I earned it for
new clothes. I figured out how to get back and forth to class to Penn
State Wilkes-Barre almost twenty miles from home even though I did not
own a car. I was a banquet waitress during high school and a maid in the
Poconos during Summer break to pay tuition to Penn State in the Fall.
Let’s not forget selling Christmas cards door to door and being an Avon
lady.

Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania had a long history of being a coal mining


town. Embedded in the culture were stories of the work ethic of the
men who were miners and their willingness to do the work that was
necessary to support their families. If you want something, work for
it! I knew what I wanted and I was willing to work for it! That spirit
of commitment has never left. It’s one thing to dream and believe that
dreams can come true. However, are you willing to put in the time, the
hours, the investment, and the work to achieve the goal?
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DARE TO DREAM

The more I was exposed to, the more I began to understand what was
possible. June, Johnny and Aunt Minnie were clear there was one
destination: graduation from high school and a college degree as the end
game. Anything below a B was an unacceptable grade, at least in June’s
house. Everyone was clear - education was the pathway to freedom. That’s
not to say a few C’s didn’t come home! Let it suffice to be known it wasn’t
a pretty site. For the most part, meeting their expectations was easy.
I loved school!

My decision to attend Penn State University


was solely based on seeing Larry Graham
and Graham Central Station in concert at
University Park. My guidance counselor had
~ If you want
chosen a small college for women in the same
geographic area of Harvard. In her mind, we
something,
were small town girls who at the end of four
years should leave with not only a degree, but
work for it!
a husband from Harvard! She completely
ignored the fact I may have wanted Harvard!
Oh well, off to visit my dear friend, Vina, at
Penn State.

The concert was more than I could have imagined! Once I got back to
Wilkes-Barre, I was Penn State bound. Vina connected me with John
Murphy, Dean of Student Affairs at Penn State Wilkes-Barre who guided
me through the admissions process. Next stop was the University Park
Educational Opportunity Program the summer after graduation, Penn
State Wilkes-Barre year one and the next three years at University Park. I
left with a Bachelor of Science in Education of Exceptional Children with
a focus on autistic and schizophrenic children. Connecting the dots, this
began with the summer job at Retreat State Hospital.
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Chapter 4: Pathway To Freedom

One of my fondest memories of Penn State Wilkes-Barre was going to


class in a mansion, especially economics! Little did I know that one day
my office would be in the very mansion where my education began. What
makes this really crazy I would be hired by the same Dean of Student
Affairs, John Murphy. While at University Park I could be found studying
in the stacks of Pattee Library located directly across the street from the
college of education. I loved the stacks.

With my Penn State degree in hand, Elwyn Institute, here I come! Elwyn
was my first choice for student teaching and immediately after graduation
they offered me the opportunity to work full time. Media, Pennsylvania
became home. I no longer had a job - I had a career in education! Media
was small and quaint with easy access to Philadelphia via train. I loved
suburban life!

Media, Pennsylvania transitioned to Chester Springs and an 86 acre horse


farm! I fed goats in the morning before I went to teach school and mucked
the horse stalls when I got home! How did this season unfold? Easy
answer: I married a man who loved horses and graduated from Penn State
with a degree in agriculture. Mornings and evenings I would walk across
the property with Shabazz, our Irish Setter and on Saturdays, watched the
Arabian Horses come to train. We were in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania
and it was and still is the epitome of horse country! Can you say Grand
Adventure?

When we returned to Northeastern Pennsylvania, I decided to attend an


alumni meeting at Penn State Wilkes-Barre hosted by John Murphy, the
Dean of Student Affairs. That meeting turned into being offered a position
with Penn State as a coordinator of Financial Aid! Sometimes you don’t
know how simply showing up can take on a deeper meaning in life. I
remember jokingly saying, ‘The only thing I knew about financial aid was
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DARE TO DREAM

how to receive it’, to which he replied, “We Are…Penn State! We can teach
you anything!” Oh my goodness, my office was now in Hayfield House, the
mansion where it all began! The rest is history!

I could have never imagined that showing up at an alumni meeting would


lay the foundation for the recruitment and retention of minority students
for Penn State Wilkes-Barre as part of my responsibilities. Going to my first
Convocation and meeting Dr. W. Terrell Jones was a game changer. Not
only did I not know what the word convocation meant, I had never seen a
facilitator. It was incredible how he used a stack of index cards to convey
the Penn State plan for diversity to the entire campus! I was hooked! Did I
mention I followed him to the parking lot insistent on my commitment to
the Penn State plan and that I would follow him anywhere? This dear man
allowed me to enter his world for the remainder of his life.

From the time we met to when Dr. W. Terrell Jones became the Vice
Provost for Educational Equity at Penn State his true character remained
the same. He was open, giving, accessible and willing to embrace the
authentic Vera. Terrell Jones was a man of vision that strategically
navigated the Penn State System and co-created with others the foundation
for what is now the Penn State Plan for Diversity and Inclusion.

Because of Terrell Jones’ core values, I had the opportunity to serve on


various university committees. Imagine the journey from an apartment
covered in roaches to now sitting in Old Main, the center of decision
making for the Penn State System. Because of his guidance, I had the
opportunity to become deeply involved in the Pennsylvania Black
Conference On Higher Education (PBCOHE) with both the annual
conference and the Robert Lynch Student Leadership Conference. And
yes, he did allow me to follow him everywhere! I wanted to be a facilitator.
I credit him with learning how to create safe environments for authentic
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Chapter 4: Pathway To Freedom

and sometimes fragile conversations. All this laid the foundation for my
position as the first Director of Institutional Diversity at Harrisburg Area
Community College. Even in my transition to entrepreneurship, he was
the first advertiser in the Urban Connection.

Many years later, I looked up and he and his dear wife Carla were standing
in the lobby of the Hershey Theater. They had come to enjoy An Evening
With Buddy Guy. Amazingly we all loved the blues and had his support
for the launch of Women In The Blues with my friend and colleague
Michael Cloeren, founder and producer of the Pennsylvania Blues Festival.
Most of all, I learned to embrace the impact one person can have in my life!
It was a grand adventure having Dr. W. Terrell Jones as part of my Penn
State journey and it continues today with Carla as my friend.

In the midst of developing an educational partnership between Penn State


Wilkes-Barre and Proctor & Gamble, I came to an understanding of the
importance of a Master’s Degree in my profession. With little hesitation
I took an educational leave of absence and went to College Misericordia
as a full time student. The Dean of the college worked with me to develop
an independent course of study with two practical outcomes. The first
was professional development for school districts addressing prejudice
reduction in children based on the work of Gordon Allport and the second
was creating the framework for a diversity institute. Approximately one
year later, I graduated with a Master’s in Education with a specialization
in Multi-Cultural Curriculum Development. This degree paired with my
course work in Design, Development, and Training at Penn State Great
Valley I was ready to conquer the world! Back to Penn State to continue
the journey.

When I read the ad in Black Issues In Higher Education, I knew this


position was created for me. Preparation was about to meet opportunity!
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DARE TO DREAM

I will always be in gratitude to Charles Peguese, Chair of the search


committee for graciously guiding me through the interview process.
Being hired as the first Director of Institutional Diversity at Harrisburg
Area Community College meant life had come full circle. I now held a
position with direct report to the president and with the goal being to
impact diversity from an institutional perspective. My first college event
with then President Mary Fifield was featuring Maya Angelou! Dr. Henry
Louis Gates delivered the keynote of my first national conference and I
purchased the first edition of The Norton Anthology Of African American
Literature! I had grown up in high school reading cover to cover the
Norton Anthology of Literature and had no knowledge of this depth of
African American writers in prose and poetry even existed! I was like a kid
in a candy store!

Make no mistake, during my season as the head of diversity at Harrisburg


Area Community College, everyone was not overjoyed about the changes
that were taking place. It is amazing how many people can be engaged
when you focus on the positive and treat others with respect. We
strengthened existing structures, created mini-grants for faculty to diversify
curriculum, developed student leadership programs, and brought students
together with other campuses from across the state to create support
networks. A Multi-Cultural Advisory Committee was launched and a
series of breakfast meetings with the president took place. The intention
was requesting churches and community leaders to deliver the message of
total access to education. Why? Then President Mary Fifield made it a
priority to engage the communities closest to the college.

As with any form of change there are those who are not on board and will
test your resolve to be steadfast in what you believe. One such memory
was an evening that we returned to the campus and the bathrooms in
the president’s wing were painted with swastikas. We immediately went
32
Chapter 4: Pathway To Freedom

strategic and used this as an educational opportunity for the college. We


collaborated with all faculty involved with police training on campus, the
Pennsylvania State Police Heritage Affairs Office, and the Pennsylvania
Human Relations Commission. The Cooper Student Center became a
classroom with each of the collaborators bringing their full expertise of
what it means to address hate in The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
With approximatley three hundred students present we delivered a
powerful message.

Three presidents later, I resigned my postion. I remember laying on my


back looking at the ceiling knowing I had to call Dr. Edna Baehre and
tell her I could not sign my contract. She was leaving for a trip and I
didn’t want her to return without knowing my decision. When she asked
what had gone wrong, I told her absolutely nothing was wrong. I had
simply heard from God. She asked me to meet her for coffee immediately
upon her return. We met. I simply showed her my driver’s licenses. The
difference between the two could not be denied. One was dark with
shadows and the second was as if the sun itself was shining on me. The
glow was incredible. I will always remember her saying, “I don’t have the
same walk of faith as you, but let me support you on your journey.”

This dear woman only had one request and that was for me to announce
at the college wide administrative staff meeting my resignation and
explain why I was resigning. I was more than willing to do so, if she was
comfortable allowing me to tell the truth that I had heard from God,
recommitting my life to Christ and I was to take all the wisdom I had
garnered over the years to the marketplace. She agreed and we both
knew why. There are always those that want to create their own story and
undermine the president.

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DARE TO DREAM

That day was amazing! Standing with Dr. Baehre by my side I had the
opportunity to share my incredible journey that education was my path to
freedom and now it was time to take that messge wherever God sent me.
The meeting was held on the Harrisburg Campus and simulcast to other
locations. This required spotlights focused on the podium! These two
very different women are now both standing in the light and supporting
each other. God does have a sense of humor! I was given the incredible
opportunity to share my walk of faith and thank everyone who had
supported the work that had taken place during my tenure at Harrisburg
Area Community College (HACC) . Dr. Baehre’s support translated to
the first Women of Heritage Breakfast taking place at the then Wildwood
Conference Center. The new adventure had just begun!

Today I am grateful for the relationship that continues with HACC,


Central Pennsylvania’s Community College. I never take for granted
having access to the president and members of the executive team of any
organization. There are those that were members of the Multi-Cultural
Advisory Committee that now serve in leadership positions: Deep
C. Gupta, Board of Trustees and Timothy L. DeFoor, Chair, HACC
Foundation Board. To now see the impact of the work of Warren R.
Anderson, Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity and Linnie S. Carter,
Vice President of College Advancement. I stand in awe. A special thank
you to President John J. “Ski” Sygielski, for his relentless commitment to
providing access to education for all students in Central Pennsylvania.

I truly believe education is a pathway to freedom and the more access the
more opportunities one has in life.

34
Time for Reflection: DARE TO DREAM

What Captured Your Heart In This chapter?


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_________________________________________________________________

What is your commitment to your life based on what you read?


________________________________________________________
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_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________

What action will you take?


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35
DARE TO DREAM
CHAPTER 5
5
I Married A Tribe
The center of our life was Agnus Cornish, the mother of Leonard
Franklin Cornish Jr., affectionately known as Aggie. From the very
beginning of my journey with the family, the Collins sisters would gather
in Aggie’s kitchen. The food that came out defined soul food and all the
love, caring and laughter that went into the preparation. The kitchen was
a gathering place and Aggie was not alone.

This is a family of nine sisters, two brothers and the men they loved. This
also included twenty cousins. I was marrying into a tribe. There are
countless stories to be told so I have selected a few that were wonderful
memory moments.

The first big hint should have been Thanksgiving dinner at Aunt Doris’s
in Philadelphia. When Lenny and I walked in the door, the house was
warm, cozy and buzzing. We arrived right at the moment it was time to
set the tables. Yes, I said ‘the tables’! There were tables in the kitchen for
the children and a large beautifully set table in the dining room for the
adults. However, Aunt Doris proceeded to have the men roll out a ping
pong table into the living room. She then turned it into an absolutely
beautiful white linen setting for dinner.

At that point I thought, ‘How many people are coming to dinner?’. Keep
in mind, dinner for me and my family was three people: me, mom and
Kathleen with maybe an occasional guest. I remember Aunt Doris saying
37
DARE TO DREAM

she had to go to the store as she slipped into her mink coat and off we went.
A little bewildered I asked if she wore her full length mink to the grocery
store often. Her response was so practical: “I bought the coat because it
keeps me warm so as long it’s cold, I will wear it as often as possible.”

Many years later when encouraged to immerse ourselves in abundance


and experience an environment that showed the infinite possibilities of
life, I went to a furrier and spent the morning. I left owning a full length
mink coat. Here is the crazy part! I told the story of Aunt Doris and the
challenge given in our visioning program. The reality was I could not
afford to purchase a mink coat. This dear man listened intently and then
asked if I had fifty dollars. Oh my goodness - he offered layaway! To
be clear, the assignment was to challenge our mindset and face our fears
around living an abundant life. While it was a process, today the coat is in
my closet and I use it to impact the lives of others.

Then, there was Aunt Sis. Now, Aunt Sis had a distinguished reputation
with the federal government. When you went to her home there were
pictures of her and people such as President John F. Kennedy. Against the
backdrop of this impressive career, Aunt Sis had a vivacious sense of humor.
It’s time for the wedding and all the aunts have come to town.

The music was blasting; the doors were open and the families were going
between both houses, since we lived directly across the street from Aggie.
As only Aunt Sis could do, she puts on my wedding veil and begins to
dance in the street. Of course, I joined her! Let it be noted that not every
aunt was on board with our behavior. That was even funnier to watch. I
remember the Collins sisters standing on Aggie’s porch trying to get us
to go back in the house and quiet down! In my mind the back drop was
Martha and the Vandellas, Dancing In The Street. Lenny and Vera were
getting married and it’s time for a party.
38
Chapter 5: I Married A Tribe

Oh my goodness! What was a family gathering without Maryland hard


shell crabs? I credit Aunt Gloria with being the crab sister. We never
visited the D.C. area without having crabs. I learned how to choose them,
steam them and best of all eat them. There is a science to the process.
When there were larger gatherings we bought them by the bushel steamed
and ready to eat. I became a crab cracking sister and I was not alone.

Brief note, I credit the Collins sisters with inventing instant messaging
on any subject, any relative, any time! Not only was communication
quick, it was decisive and someone would
let you know the outcome. When I am in
the Wilkes-Barre area, I stop by Aunt Bev’s.
Some things never change. She is still the
~ In spite
voice in the neighborhood making sure any
child that comes near her home knows her
of it all, we
code of conduct. Then she treats them to
candy, a comfortable place to wait for the
knew love was
school bus and board games.
present.
Switching gears, not only did I marry into
a tribe, there was a tribe within the tribe.
These were all the friends especially the men that Lenny had known since
childhood. They were a brotherhood. Because of the way life continued to
change they were not together all the time, but more often than not. You
would look up and there was the crew. Penn State, here they come! Media
Pennsylvania, here they come! Chester Springs, we’re on our way! Wow,
what a grand adventure.

Out of this twenty plus years of relationship and marriage with Leonard
Franklin Cornish Jr., came the gift of the dynamic Alana Moira Cornish,
my beautiful daughter. Her first name was chosen because of a student I
39
DARE TO DREAM

met while working at Penn State Hazelton. Alana: bright, brilliant and
beautiful! Moira: black to exemplify the strength of the Moors. Shout out
to this wonderful, imaginative, intuitive, talented, expressive person that is
still a part of my life! For this I am grateful!

One of my Alana memory moments was walking into daycare with her
standing on the top of the gym equipment with both hands stretched high
in the air. She was jubilant in her victory. This was only one indication of
how she would approach life. I will always remember the call from New
York Fashion Week. She was standing outside one of the white tents and
informing me that one day she would be inside! With Adam Pichirilo in
lock step these two have navigated some of New York’s best moments in
fashion. The rest is her story to tell!

The impact of the tribe and the celebration of her birth were over the top!
She was swimming before she could walk. Shout out to Earl and Joani
Carter! Three Godparents; thank you Clarence Ryan Jr. and Roy and Pat
Grimes. If anything happened to her parents before she was eighteen, she
would be tucked away in the Pocono Mountains.

Through this whole journey Kathleen, my sister, was navigating her own
distinct path. Amazingly, she too married a tribe! Today, she is Mrs.
Kathleen Furby, wife of Rodney Furby. If anyone needs to know what it
means to date your husband, you simply have to be in their presence. Their
commitment to each other is phenomenal, being fully engaged every day
and dating each other every weekend.

Life lesson: for all of the love and excitement that surrounded us, there were
also significant challenges. Everything in this multi layered tribe was not
easy or joyful.

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Chapter 5: I Married A Tribe

We have faced some of the most difficult and tragic situations family and
friends could ever face. In spite of it all, we knew love was present.

41
Time for Reflection: DARE TO DREAM

What Captured Your Heart In This chapter?


_________________________________________________________________
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_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________

What is your commitment to your life based on what you read?


________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
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_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________

What action will you take?


_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
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________________________________________________________________
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42
DARE TO DREAM

DARE TO DREAM
CHAPTER 6
6
It’s Time To Come Home
Walking into the East Shore Community Church was one of the most
dramatic shifts in my life. The Rev. Dr. Clifford Ashe III was and
continues to be an amazing facilitator! I had never seen someone teach
and preach the way he did. How many of us know the power of a praying
grandmother? Delia Booker’s prayers were being answered! It was time
to come home! I was back in God’s Word and back in the light! Literally,
then East Shore Community Church, now DaySpring Ministries had
more fluorescent lights in one room than I had ever seen in a church.
Mission Control we are calculating a course correction.

Multiple lanes were moving at the same time, all in alignment with
serving in ministry. Alana had found our new home and was insistent
that we go to the vacant house and pray every night. She had a prayer
team that was equally on fire and would join us! Me, I thought we were
going to jail! Remember, I am still working on releasing fear. However,
bible study was a game changer!

In his dynamic interactive style, during one bible study, Pastor Ashe gave
us each the opportunity to write a personal vision statement and share
it. Well, I had none. So, Pastor pushed the envelope challenging us to be
honest with ourselves! He said, “Some of you didn’t stand because you
have no vision! Some of you didn’t stand because fear gripped you!” All
I knew was that I wanted to be a woman of vision. He offered a second
chance and I immediately accepted the opportunity. However, this time
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DARE TO DREAM

the assignment was to write your tombstone! Everything began to swirl!

I quickly wrote the following, ‘Here Lies Vera Clemons Cornish, A Woman
That Believed In The Power Of Understanding.’ At least I would die a
woman of vision. This time I stood up and I shared. As only Cliff Ashe
could do, I became the Bible study and he poured into the depths of my
soul, teaching, at that very moment, the meaning of what I wrote.

Eighteen months later, that Bible study led to me resigning my position at


Harrisburg Area Community College and launching Cornish & Associates
Inc. The direction was simple and clear. I was to take everything I learned
into the marketplace. I immediately went
national, speaking and training on platforms
of leadership development.
~ Today,
I understand what
Crisscrossing the country was a dream come it means to have
true! In the midst of the divorce, my church
sisters circled me and Alana providing the heart of a child
an amazing support system. I will always and the wisdom of a
remember sitting in the concierge suite of
the Cornhusker Hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska woman.
and that quiet voice said go home and be a
mom. My response, ‘Done’! There were those that welcomed my work
with open arms and such began my season of diversity training in Central
Pennsylvania.

Also, during my journey in ministry under Pastor Ashe, I had the


opportunity to hear some of the most incredible ministry leaders in
the nation! There is power in serving! Keeping it real, my life looked
tremendous from all outward appearances. I was working in the president’s
office, I lived in a house one block from the river, I had a fireplace in the
44
Chapter 6: It’s Time To Come Home

living room and one in the bedroom. I was married and my daughter was
adorable. However, even though I had incredible friends that had loved me
and had given me so much, I was fractured. Here’s the crazy part, I didn’t
know!
I didn’t know that fear had taken residence in my life all the way back to
my childhood. I didn’t know I was angry. I didn’t know that I had lived
through almost every aspect of abuse. How could I not know? Easy - the
smile, the happiness, the joy, the love that poured from my spirit was still
very present. That is not to be confused with being a no-joke sister who
could step to you in a split second!

Cliff Ashe could see through it all and know beyond a shadow of a doubt
that there was an untold story of what had taken place behind closed
doors. I know this dynamic man was used to save my life and guide me
to a place of healing. I remember the uncontrollable tears as I walked the
neighborhood listening to a message during which he said, ‘You are living
in fear of someone who is no longer alive. It’s time to forgive them for what
they did to you!’ Oh my goodness, he was talking about mom!

On the practical side, we were encouraged to apply what we learned in


ministry to our everyday lives. The outcome became a deep understanding
that those in leadership needed someone to trust. This core value of
confidentiality and trust permeates through the work I do today. The event
management techniques I have attained are a direct correlation of serving
in ministry with conferences such as Women of Excellence and MVM
(Mighty Men Of Valor).

Imagine your ministry assignment is A Weekend To Remember featuring


Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. or An Evening With TaTa Vega who was
the voice of Shug Avery in The Color Purple and a former lead backing
vocalist for Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle, Michael Jackson
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DARE TO DREAM

and Ray Charles. Where did it all begin? It began with serving in the
nursery and reconnecting with the heart of a child. In reflection, I can
attribute my season at DaySpring Ministries to teaching me how to work
with media outlets from print to radio to television.

Further, during my early season as an entrepreneur, Pastor refused to speak


to me until I printed the first copy of The Urban Connection. To everyone
reading this Pastor Ashe challenged me not to ignore a dream that God
had given me. The Urban Connection started as an 8.5” by 11” sheet of
paper with clip art as the header. All layouts were done by yours truly. The
inspiration for print was the Philadelphia Sun. One thing I knew to be true
then and continues to be true today, The Urban Connection is the Good
News and information is powerful.

The entire ministry was bringing me to healing in so many aspects of


my life. In reflection, I remember calling DaySpring my sanctuary,
my emergency room, my trauma center, my personal and professional
development center. Remember Fast Black and June Bug? Well, I prayed
for God to keep me on a straight and narrow path. Clearly, there had
been some detours. Little did I know that I would have a Pastor that was
not only a former corporate executive but also a former Michigan State
Trooper and I would serve in ministry surrounded by the members of the
Pennsylvania State Police. Once again, I know God has a sense of humor.

Today, I understand what it means to have the heart of a child and the
wisdom of a woman.

46
Time for Reflection: DARE TO DREAM

What Captured Your Heart In This chapter?


_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________

What is your commitment to your life based on what you read?


________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________

What action will you take?


_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________

47
DARE TO DREAM
CHAPTER 7
7
Can You Imagine A World Without Art?
Can you imagine a world without art? That’s exactly how I felt when
I had the opportunity to visit a home tucked away in Mehoopany,
Pennsylvania filled with Black art. Mary Anne Gale was Procter &
Gamble’s first female plant manager and committed to recruiting a
diverse team from across the nation. The plant was and still is located
in Mehoopany. To support her retention efforts of African Americans,
she contacted a friend in Georgia and turned her home into a gallery of
exquisite African American art. I was invited to this event because of the
developing educational partnership with Penn State Wilkes-Barre and
Procter & Gamble.

Years later, I needed to find the artist that drew the picture He Ain’t
Heavy. The artist is Gilbert Young, one of the most respected African
American artists in the nation. How did I find Gilbert? I contacted the
woman that created the gallery in Mary Anne’s home. Not only did she
know him, they lived within miles of each other.

Then I met Mercer Redcross, the owner of October Gallery. We met


during an event with then State Representative, now Senator Vincent
Hughes. A short time later, I had the opportunity to attend the October
Gallery art show in Philadelphia. I couldn’t believe the number of
African American artists that were in one location.

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DARE TO DREAM

I shared my vision with Gilbert Young to


host an African American Art show in
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He heard my ~ Is there
heart and came on board. He instructed
me to call Dane Tilghman and tell him creativity within
he had to be there. If Gilbert Young was
coming up from Atlanta, Georgia, Dane you waiting to
Tilghman could come in from Exton,
Pennsylvania. He was also to recruit the be released?
other Philadelphia artists. What started as
a trip to Philadelphia and Mercer Red Cross
coming to Harrisburg Area Community College for Kwanzaa, turned
into the Whitaker Center and three floors of some of the most prominent
African American artists in the nation displaying and selling their exquisite
visual creations. Against the backdrop of the melodic sound of jazz and
J. Michelle Hill’s fabric draping from the third floor opening night was an
evening of wonder!

With the support of Gilbert Young, Dane Tilghman and Mercer Redcross,
my journey as an art dealer continued for a number of years. This grand
adventure allowed me to stay off the road as a speaker and be home to raise
Alana.

Having Gilbert Young and Dane Tilghman in my life for so many years has
had an impact not only on me but the community in which I live and work.
Central Pennsylvania is more abundant in its quality of life. These two
men brought arts and culture to the area in a way so vibrant, it shifted the
perspective of not only the visual arts but the performing arts and music.

I will always remember being entrusted by Glenn White to co-create a three


block multicultural children’s village at the City of Harrisburg’s American
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Chapter 7: Can You Imagine A World Without Art?

Music Festival. It all started with a small area where children could make
oversized happy hats. One year later, we added multicultural performances
by children from different nationalities across the region in a tented
amphitheater. The response was over whelming. It all started with a small
area where children could make happy hats.

When you didn’t think it could get better, Chris “Handles” Franklin,
Arnold “A Train” Bernard and Luis “TRIKZ” Da Silva brought the
Ultimate Spin to the Children’s Village. They were known for a 2001 Nike
commercial. It was incredible. Today in 2018, Chris Franklin is living
his dream as a Harlem Globetrotter. While Chris Franklin and Arnold
Bernard could be anywhere in the world each summer they come to Central
Pennsylvania to produce the Ultimate Spin Basketball Camp in Harrisburg,
Pa. He is living his dream!

For several years, I had the opportunity to volunteer with Larry Moore and
conduct auditions for the City of Harrisburg’s Student Preforming Arts
Showcase. I will always remember being at Camp Curtain Elementary and
a little boy came on stage with a cardboard guitar he had skillfully crafted.
He popped in his cassette tape and began his rendition of B. B. King. The
emotion was overwhelming. Weeks later he was suited up with a full band
in the background and took the 1,700 seat Forum Building by storm. Little
did he know we had arranged for him and his family to have VIP seating to
see B. B. King perform in the same auditorium. Not only would he see him
live, B. B. King had agreed to meet with him and his family in the green
room after the performance. When this little boy came face to face with
B. B. King, he was speechless.

Years have passed and we still have the opportunity to support each other.
May the adventure continue!

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DARE TO DREAM

Today, understanding the importance of arts and culture to a community,


I have embraced using artistic expression, such as festivals and performances
as a retention strategy when we recruit a diverse talent pool to Central
Pennsylvania. It is equally important for those that call Central
Pennsylvania home. I pose the question, ‘Where would we be as a society
without the arts?’ Even more importantly, ‘Is there creativity within you
waiting to be released?’

52
Time for Reflection: DARE TO DREAM

What Captured Your Heart In This chapter?


_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________

What is your commitment to your life based on what you read?


________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________

What action will you take?


_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________

53
DARE TO DREAM
CHAPTER 8
8
What Is Your Relationship With You?
Life in the rearview mirror gives you an entirely different perspective
on the journey. I now know someone is always watching. The question
becomes, ‘What do they see?’ Every step of the way at crucial points in
time someone would intersect my path as a guide to the next steps to be
taken.

Truth, I have been surrounded by some incredible people that saw


more in me then I saw in myself ! It was simple - they were mature in
their journey and had already navigated territory that was a brand new
adventure for me. What continues to amaze me is the depth of their
willingness to give knowledge, wisdom, information, and guidance. They
opened doors, offered me a seat at the table and the support that was
needed to navigate the landscape with success. Life lesson: everything is
about relationships.

I cannot even think about the power of relationships without thinking


of Nancy Feth. This insightful woman posed the question, “What is
your relationship with you?” This single question took root and began to
permeate every aspect of my life.

We would explore our relationships with ourselves, our spirituality,


our finances, our homes, our families, our health, and yes, our dreams!
We committed to being women of action and doing the work that was
necessary to garner a deeper understanding of who we were at the core of
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DARE TO DREAM

our being. We recommitted to exploring what it meant to live a life of joy,


happiness, and freedom! What did it really mean to become everything we
were created to be in every aspect of our life? To be clear, in so many ways
life was good! We simply knew there was more and we were willing to do
the work to figure it out.

For many of you reading this, you know exactly what I mean! Something
is tugging at your heart, a thought that will not go away, a yearning to go
deeper and to create a plan of action. During this season together Nancy
and I had the incredible opportunity to coach countless numbers of women
across the country. We went from knowing each other only on conference
calls to now, years later, continuing the journey of friendship.

During my journey as a teacher and university administrator, I was aware


of professional development. However, personal development was a
completely foreign concept. The turning point was the gift of Value In The
Valley by Iyanla Vanzant from a dear sister friend Rafiyqa Muhammad.
She was watching and intuitively perceived that everything was not as
it appeared on the surface. This book was a game changer, and the door
to personal development opened. Simultaneously, I was beginning my
journey of once again walking in the Word. My heart was overwhelmed
with the new awareness.

Memories began to flood in of women who had been beacons of light


in my life, women that simply by the way they lived showed that infinite
possibilities existed. I was drawn to their stories. They did not allow
the negative influences and opinions of others to determine the life they
desired to live. They had overcome the darkness that had attempted to
engulf them and refused to live in the shadows of existence. They had
emerged to platforms of greatness. Old memories with a new perspective!
Who were these amazing women?
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Chapter 8: What Is Your Relationship With You?

Diana Ross! Oh my goodness, she grew up in the projects! That was


the catalyst for, ‘Anything in life is possible!’ As a young woman, when
I had the opportunity to see her live at the Valley Forge Music Theater,
she literally rose from the depths of a rotating stage glistening in a silver
rhinestone stone studded gown. I remember screaming uncontrollably! It
got worse, actually better! Diana Ross left the stage and was walking up the
aisle headed directly to me. I had an aisle seat! My reaction, uncontrollable
tears to the point of hyperventilating! Even today, I visit Wikipedia,
clicking the links, reading the different aspects of her journey. A journey
that included The Supremes, Smokey Robinson, Mahogany, Billy Dee,
going solo, her love of fashion design, the concert in Central Park where
the sky opened up, and she sang anyway only to return and give a two-
day concert. Where does your path lead when Smokey Robinson is your
neighbor, and you begin your journey as friends?

Today I see a multi-dimensional woman that is a creative force, a mother,


a wife, a global voice and an astute business woman that embraces her
femininity. My life lesson is simple: don’t allow people to create a one-
dimensional box for your life! Today she represents a strong brand based
on the power of her name! She is the brand. She is Diana Ross!

When I read, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, it was
gut-wrenching and simultaneously a message of freedom! The intensity of
Maya Angelou’s abuse silenced her voice for five years. I can only imagine
that life is so traumatic that as a child you purpose that your voice will
never be heard again. She was willing to share what many of us called the
dirty laundry which culturally, we have been taught never to do! Maya
had found her voice; she was speaking her truth and setting so many of us
free! Books once again had become the avenue to an incredible message of
freedom and the infinite possibilities of life. I began to consume all things
Maya.
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DARE TO DREAM

I could not even imagine that my first program at Harrisburg Area


Community College seated with then President Mary Fifield as the new
Director of Institutional Diversity would be An Evening With Maya
Angelou! Fast forward, years later Maya Angelou returns to Harrisburg
and is the front cover of the very first issue of
The Urban Connection. The voice that could
have been silenced by trauma has received ~The question
three Grammys for her spoken word! Years
later, Maya Angelou’s journey was the seed is, “Have you
that created Finding Your Voice as a theme
for the Women Of Heritage Breakfast. found your
The question is; “Have you found your voice?”
voice?”

My memory of the very first time Oprah


intersected my life is clouded, however, what she said has stayed with me
over time. This woman, with a microphone in her hand, shared she was
told she talked too much and now she gets paid to do that very thing!
Wow! What if she had allowed that condescending seed to grow in her
spirit? As I followed her over the years and read more about her journey,
there were points of connectedness. She had experienced severe poverty;
her clothes were made of potato sacks, the abuse she experienced, the
whelps from the beatings, knowing the Bible by the age of three and most
of all not allowing the overwhelming negative circumstances of life to
determine her destiny.

Magic happened when a microphone was in her hand! The manner in


which she engaged her audiences was open and authentic. For me, Oprah
was a facilitator that created an amazing public platform for her message
via television. As we all know the rest is history and Oprah is now one of
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Chapter 8: What Is Your Relationship With You?

the wealthiest African American women in the nation. The way in which
she has lived her life continues to be a beacon of light that reveals infinite
possibilities. This woman set the tone for both The Urban Connection
and The Women Of Heritage Breakfast. People are open to engaging
in authentic conversations that inspire, motivate and open the door to
transformation.

When I first heard of Madam C.J. Walker, I could not believe she was the
first woman in the United States to become a millionaire. In the early days
of reading her story, I became aware that she first addressed the issues that
caused her to go bald. When she found the solution, Madam C.J. Walker
met the needs of her community and then turned her products into a
lucrative business. I dedicated the first Women of Heritage Breakfast to
this dynamic woman.

I invite you to do your research because the story is much deeper. Sarah
Breedlove is her birth name and she was the first child in her family to be
born free. What caused the hair loss? Poverty and everything that went
with growing up in America during that time frame. What caused the
name change? Her third marriage and embracing Madam from the French
beauty industry. Even today I ask myself, ‘What are the life lessons from
Madam C.J. Walker?’ Her work ethic was incredible. She was willing to
study under someone who had a strong base of knowledge in the industry.
This woman embraced training programs in her business, understood the
power of education, used her voice as a social activist and leveraged her
wealth as a philanthropist. Born Sarah Breedlove, she created her brand
identity as Madam C.J. Walker which continues to live on today.

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DARE TO DREAM

Each of the women that were and continue to be beacons of light had
numerous reasons to give up. They didn’t! There is something undeniable
about the human spirit and the tenacity to succeed in spite of...

Are you willing to do the work for the realization of an authentic


relationship with yourself in all aspects of your life?

Be clear, this not a short-term commitment. It is a journey of a lifetime!

60
Time for Reflection: DARE TO DREAM

What Captured Your Heart In This chapter?


_________________________________________________________________
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_________________________________________________________________
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________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________

What is your commitment to your life based on what you read?


________________________________________________________
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________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________

What action will you take?


_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________

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DARE TO DREAM
CHAPTER 9
9
It’s Time To Take Back My Life
One night as I was working late in the home office, it struck me that
now was the time to take back my life! It was time to go home to the
mountains. It was time to return to the music. It was time to say thank
you to Dane Tilghman, one of the men that had guided me through
becoming a dealer of African American Art. While I had gone to some
of his showings, I had never gone to the Pennsylvania Blues Festival
where he was the featured artist. Dane had come to Harrisburg countless
times to support my efforts in showcasing nationally renowned African
American artists. His artistic creations were the visuals for the billboards
that promoted the Pennsylvania Blues Festival. It was time to say thank
you.

When Alana woke up, I enthusiastically said, “Get in the car, we’re going
home. Today, I am taking back my life”! I had taught this module so
many times during coaching sessions. Be the observer of your life; take
ownership of your personal truth and be a person of action based on
your truth in order to be the person you were created to be. My time had
arrived and the essence of the message now resonated deep within my
spirit. It was a huge breakthrough and time to take action.

In the quiet of the night, there was a convergence of thought. On the one
hand, I had walked away from everything that Northeastern Pennsylvania
meant to me. Make no mistake, there is devastation in divorce. On
the other side, I was living a fantastic life with a brand new start in
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Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the city I now called home. Even in deciding to


come off the road as a speaker, a ministry assignment had brought Gilbert
Young and Dane Tilghman into my life. The goal was simple - Rt. 81
North to the mountains and arrive unannounced to the Pennsylvania Blues
Festival to say thank you to Dane for being my friend.

The convergence of thought and emotion that night escalated into pure
joy! I remembered all the happiness and the exhilaration I felt in the
Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. That paired with the thought of an
outdoor concert at the base of a ski slope kept me awake most of the night!
I couldn’t wait for the next day to arrive! 81 North, here we come! The
drive up the mountain was absolutely phenomenal. This time, halfway to
our destination, the GPS took us on a route we had never traveled. It was
breathtaking! The sunroof was open, the windows were down and the
music was on blast! We were happy! We were going home. I knew this was
the start of a grand adventure!

The reaction from Dane when I tapped him on the back was a mixture of
disbelief and joy.

We were standing in an art gallery at the base of a ski slope and you could
hear incredible music in the distance. As we caught up with each other
and exchanged stories, Dane asked Alana, ‘What do you want? what do
you need?’ Being Alana, there was one answer…food! Anyone who really
knows my daughter knows she has a love of great food! So, what does
Dane do? He takes off his all-access pass and places it around her neck. In
that exact moment, Ginny Buckley walks by and gives him his second pass.
Guess who gets to wear it? Me!

Now, Dane really does know us and he was adamant that we follow his
exact instructions. He knew we were prone to improvising. However, if
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Chapter 9: It’s Time To Take Back My Life

we were willing to be obedient we would wind up in the green room with


great food and the performers. We did not deviate from any of the detailed
instructions. They really weren’t complicated. Walk straight ahead, go into
the building, keep walking, don’t speak to anyone and go behind the black
curtain.

We were clear - destination: great food! Alana and I walked quickly,


giggled like school girls and scared at the same time hoping we wouldn’t get
busted. The all-access passes said we were Dane Tilghman. Undeniably,
that was not the case. We made it! However, the buffet of food for the
performers wouldn’t be ready for about twenty minutes. Within seconds,
Alana disappeared heading through a set of glass doors straight to the
music. My girl was in the pit with all the national photographers rocking
to Bettye LaVette. As for me, I sat alone at a small table thinking what an
incredible experience this was…we are backstage. What a wonderful way to
come home!

That was the day I met Michael Cloeren, founder and producer of The
Pennsylvania Blues Festival. He joined me at the table. We connected
immediately in an open, honest and authentic way. We shared stories as
if we had known each other forever. In the midst of the conversation, in
bounces Baby Girl looking totally exhilarated!

Alana and I purposed that we were returning that same week to explore
the region. In an unexpected act of kindness, Michael offered to clear his
schedule, take us to lunch and be our tour guide. Oh my goodness, can it
get any better? The answer is yes! We ate great food.

We heard outstanding national and international performers, road a ski


lift to the top of the mountain and stood in front of a gigantic fan with a
cold mist covering us in the heat of the sun. As night fell, we returned to
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DARE TO DREAM

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. When we returned a few days later, Michael


kept his promise and criss-crossed through the Poconos to the places we
remembered.

With each event he produced, Michael continued to invite me into his


world of music. Because of that one decision over the years, I have been
in the company of and built relationships with some incredible people and
musicians. They include Sharrie Williams Crawford, who tours Europe
and spoke at the Women Of Heritage Breakfast, Alexis P. Suter, who tours
North America and beyond, Eugene Hideaway Bridges who performs in
Slovenia, Bangkok, and London, Teeny Tucker, the first woman we co-
produced Women In The Blues with, and the internationally renowned
Slam Allen who on any given day can be from Switzerland to the Catskills,
who I now collaborate with on special projects. There are others that, even
though we may only see each other once or twice a year, it feels like a family
reunion. The icing on the cake, when I show up, Dane Tilghman is usually
there. The relationship with Michael, Ginny and I has only deepened so
much that when you look up often times it is the three of us welcoming
people to the festivals.

Today, I get an all-access media pass with my name on it! LOL! The
Urban Connection has had the opportunity to be media partners with
the Pennsylvania Blues Festival, The Briggs Farm Blues Festival, The
Dauphin County Music Festivals, The Reading Blues Festival, and The
Berks Jazz Festival. Shifting the focus of the May/June issue of The Urban
Connection to being a festival guide was Michael’s recommendation.

To be clear, music was still deeply embedded in my life. How


could it not be? For an amazing season Leonard Caston Jr. was
the Minister of Music at DaySpring Ministries.

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Chapter 9: It’s Time To Take Back My Life

For those not familiar with the name, google him. You will find a rich
history with the Chess & Motown labels. You will see the names of Eddie
Kendricks, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, and The Jackson Five! Don’t
bypass Caston & Majors and one of my favorite songs in that season, “I’ll
keep My Light In My Window”, recorded by Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye,
The Temptations, Ben Vereen, and The Mighty Clouds of Joy. Today,
Leonard and Carolyn Caston are still a phone call away.

Today, music has taken on an even greater meaning in my work. The


Access & Opportunity initiative links the recruitment and retention of
diverse talent by corporations to the quality of life. Thank you to the
Dauphin County Commissioners Jeff Haste, Chairman Mike Pries, Vice
Chairman and George P. Hartwick, III, Secretary for seeing the relevance
of the Dauphin County Music Festivals and their relationship to Access
& Opportunity, economic development, diversity, inclusion and quality
of life. I commend the Dauphin County Parks and Recreation team on
bringing nationally renowned musicians to Central Pennsylvania. Our
tagline: Destination Dauphin County, Come To Visit Decide To Stay.

I know this all happened because of one decision. It was time to take back
my life, the mountains, and the music! Today, the exhilaration of Rt. 81
North with the music on blast is still the same. You never know where the
road will lead!

I pose the question, ‘Is there a portion of your life that it’s time to take
back?’

67
Time for Reflection: DARE TO DREAM

What Captured Your Heart In This chapter?


_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________

What is your commitment to your life based on what you read?


________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________

What action will you take?


_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
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DARE TO DREAM
CHAPTER 10
10
Women Of Heritage
During my tenure at Harrisburg Area Community College, I had the
opportunity to meet and work with a number of women in leadership
positions. There were numerous times that we came together to support
the projects and visions of each other. Some of the women were long
term residents while others had relocated to Harrisburg because of
employment. Without a great deal of discussion, we would simply come
together, make a decision and take action on various community projects.
We saw gaps in the quality of life and created the solutions to improve
where we worked and lived.

I will always remember my first meeting with Sheila Dow-Ford when


she invited me to be on the board of directors of the YWCA of Greater
Harrisburg. I immediately said ‘Yes’. Yes turned into a journey of
restoration for what we referenced as the mansion on the hill. Imagine
a mansion with white columns completely restored becoming a home
and offering services to women and children during the most devastating
times of their lives. When asked to lead the project, Shelia never
hesitated.

My perspective, Sheila Dow-Ford had been prepared for this moment.


The foundation of her commitment to equality, justice and community
service had been laid by her mother and father who still resided in
Philadelphia. I remember stories that as a young woman, she and the
other family members had to read newspapers such as the Wall Street
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DARE TO DREAM

Journal and The New York Times. These articles then became the topics
of discussion over dinner. Now, years later Sheila Dow-Ford was Chief
Counsel for PHEAA (Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency )
and an astute woman in finance.

During planning meetings for the new building, we put on hard hats
and rolled out blueprints so that we could completely understand the
architectural design of the renovations. Not only were we to raise the
money, but we also needed to understand the project and how the revenue
would be spent.

I remember standing in awe at the ribbon cutting of the Sylvan Heights


Mansion overlooking the City of Harrisburg. It was and remains a
magnificent structure offering services to women, children and impacting
the region in which it stands.

One year, we agreed that everything we did together had to be a catalyst


for change. The goal was simply to push the envelope on defining diversity
in the Capital in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. When we were
offered the opportunity to host the ambassador of South Africa, we said
‘Yes’. Shelia offered the board room of PHEAA and we invited leaders for a
discussion on business development and tourism in South Africa. We knew
that by sending the invitation and convening this meeting there would be a
shift in perspective and a catalyst to change the mindset of what it meant to
be African American women in leadership.

As the delegation arrived, Sheila took her seat at the table and facilitated
the conversation. We merely smiled at each other.

This relationship laid the cornerstone for my first special event as I


transitioned out of Harrisburg Area Community College. While there
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Chapter 10: Women Of Heritage

were programs for women’s history month, there were none that gave a
platform for the empowerment of African American women in leadership.
The goal was to create the Women Of Heritage Breakfast. That year Sheila
taught me the importance of who makes the call.

I first met Ted Darcus when he was appointed the Executive Director of
the Governor’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs by
then Governor Tom Ridge. I shared with Ted the concept of Women Of
Heritage as a leadership and empowerment breakfast. I also shared the
impact of reading about his Chair, this dynamic cutting edge woman,
Renee Amoore. Her story emanated confidence, a commitment to
education and tenacity that refused to allow the perception of others to
define her place in the world. Wisdom spoke through Sheila Dow-Ford
who quietly said, “What matters is who makes the call. Ask Ted to make
the call.” He did and she said yes!

Fast forward to this beautiful memory moment! I am now a woman of


vision and Dr. Baehre is supporting the first Women of Heritage breakfast
by sponsoring one hundred seats at the Wildwood Conference Center on
the campus of Harrisburg Area Community College. Then, Kirsten Nicole
Harris and Renee Butler were there in full support making sure everything
went smoothly. Renee Amoore was en route from Philadelphia! The room
was beautiful and we were ready!

When Renee Amoore walked in the door, I was overjoyed but a little
concerned. She seemed a little frazzled. When I asked if everything was
all right, she simply replied,“Girl,I’m fine! I just battled Al Sharpton all
the way down the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Let me have a cup of tea and I’ll
be ready!” That first breakfast was dedicated to Madame C. J. Walker and
Renee Amoore delivered a powerful message on what it meant to take a
concept to reality and the work it takes to make a dream come true.
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Women of Heritage was launched! That first message was really to


encourage me. The room was set for one hundred people. Ten people
attended. Did I mention that our original sound system was a boom box
and we held a microphone to the speakers for amplification? The Women
Of Heritage Breakfast became the go-to event for the empowerment of
African American women in the Capital
Region. Everyone was welcomed to attend ~The number of
regardless of race or ethnicity. The only women committed
difference is, we were the conveners. We
identified women that deserved recognition to empowerment
and presented the prestigious Women of
Heritage Award. We convened women in
and leadership
government, business, community, and development that
entrepreneurs. We purposed to be the go-to
event for women and diversity in leadership have supported
and it happened. Corporations used this and attended the
opportunity to position their products
and services in front of diverse women of Heritage Breakfast
influence with buying power. Years later, over the years
Renee Amoore was invited back to deliver yet
another message. This time, it was to a room has been in the
of over three hundred people.
thousands.
Encouragement goes a long way. For those
who are not familiar with this dynamic woman, note that she is recognized
as one of the top women in business in the nation and on a global level she
delivers programs to South Africa. I remember slipping into the Hilton
to watch her in full command convening the statewide delegation of the
Republican party as the Deputy Secretary.

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Chapter 10: Women Of Heritage

The number of women committed to empowerment and leadership


development that have supported and attended the Heritage Breakfast over
the years has been in the thousands.

There were so many memorable moments. One such time was the support
received from the Governor’s Commission On Women’s Affairs and
Leslie Stiles the Executive Director. This led to being appointed to the
Pennsylvania Women’s Commission and being offered the opportunity to
be a presenter at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women. Over the years,
Women of Heritage topics have included: The Tenacity of Leadership,
Finding Your Voice, When A Woman Walks With Confidence, Developing
Your Personal & Professional Brand and Meet The Dreamers.

Today, we are embracing new and emerging leaders. From Finding Your
Voice to Meet the Dreamers, the shift has happened and the young women
are responding. I am grateful for the fresh perspective, the new energy
and the work of Madonna Awotwi, Candice Coleman Henry and Dimitri
Diggs! This dynamic group of young women embraced the year of the “Re”
being woven into the fabric of The 2017 Women of Heritage Breakfast.
We Re-Committed, Re-Assesed, Re-Framed, and Re-Claimed our rightful
positions as royalty. As only they could orchestrate, the speakers walked
in from the back of the room to Andra Day’s anthem “Rise Up” and
assumed their royal positions next to four silver and gold thrones. Allowing
the moment to marinate, the speakers then took their seats and held a
conversation on Finding Your Voice. Understanding that we are heart
driven, the program ended with Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love
You”.

My commitment is to plant the seeds of love, hope, and creativity


while simultaneously daring women to dream in business, technology,
government, education, ministry and life itself !
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DARE TO DREAM

I dare them to determine who they are at their core, know their non-
negotiables and understand there is power in perseverance! I dare them to
recognize their name will be the longest lasting and most reliable brand
that you have the opportunity to develop.

Today, Renee Amoore, Ted Darcus, and Sheila Dow-Ford are still a phone
call away!

Lesson Learned: Through all the years and all the transitions, a crucial
component to the journey is someone that captures the vision, someone
that brings their heart and their skills to the team. Lill Jackson, it’s been
over twenty years of having you in my life.

Today, the Women Of Heritage Breakfast is the cornerstone of all the


signature events that I have created.

74
Time for Reflection: DARE TO DREAM

What Captured Your Heart In This chapter?


_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________

What is your commitment to your life based on what you read?


________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________

What action will you take?


_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________

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DARE TO DREAM
CHAPTER 11
11
Do You Value The Person?
Since my relocation to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, there have been
individuals that have intersected my life throughout the years. What may
have begun with a brief encounter became relationships that have lasted
through time and multiple projects. Some of those relationships became
deeper and friendships with people that were always a phone call away.
When I think of some of the projects that we delivered and the impact on
the community in which we live, I am in awe.

One such relationship is Kandy Ferree. Kandy and I first connected


while I was still employed at Harrisburg Area Community College.
At that time she worked for what was then called the Greater
Harrisburg Foundation, now known as The Foundation For Enhancing
Communities. The connectedness was comfortable from the very
beginning. Because of Kandy’s work and my position with Harrisburg
Area Community College, we agreed there was a need to address HIV
and AIDS in the Black community. That led to a successful grant from
the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. As our lives continued, Kandy
accepted a position with the National Aids Fund located in Washington
D.C. of which she became the President and CEO.

This is a woman who knows who she is at the core of her being and
exemplifies commitment and loyalty. While she could have taken
the Elton John Smash Hits fundraiser anywhere in the country, she
influenced the decision to bring Elton John and Billy Jean King’s
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DARE TO DREAM

fundraiser home to Central Pennsylvania. Hershey, here we come!


Imagine you receive a phone call and the person is saying to you, “I’m
bringing Elton John and Billy Jean King to the GIANT Center and I want
you to be part of the team”! I watched Kandy quickly and methodically put
together a group of people from Central Pennsylvania while simultaneously
connecting the work to a national agenda. The rest is history. The GIANT
Center was filled to capacity. Plus, a white tent the size of a small house
went up on the parking lot adjacent to the building. We were hosting
a reception, silent auction, and live auction which included Elton John
auctioning a stay at one of his estates.

I recall one of the funnier moments when the time was running out for
the opening of the reception. Kandy gave us all rolls of duct tape and
said it’s time to help seal the floor. I thought, ‘Now only Kandy could
instantly on-board some of the wealthiest people in Central Pennsylvania
to start duct taping’! Hey, Elton John was on his way and we would open
on time. After an incredible reception and auction, we then went to the
GIANT Center for the tennis match between team Elton John and team
Billy Jean King. According to EltonFan.net, “From both a fund-raising
and an entertainment standpoint, the event was…well, a smash hit, raising
$850,000 to be divided between the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the
National AIDS Fund and the Greater Harrisburg AIDS Fund.”

Kandy’s loyalty was absolutely incredible to watch. This event could have
taken place anywhere in the nation, but she brought it home. Her life
continued to evolve placing her in incredible positions where she convened
leaders on a national and international level.

When Jeannine Peterson, CEO of Hamilton Health Center shared her


story the center being a one stop medical mall at the Women of Heritage
Breakfast, she shared the truth of what it means to have the confidence to
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Chapter 11: Do You Value The Person?

act on such a significant vision and the challenges that come with it. That
conversation turned into Jeaninne inviting me to be on the team to raise
7 million dollars for the project. The only reason Jeannine got a ‘Yes’, was
because she said had heard from God. To which I replied, “I attempt to
speak with God every day and He had not shared that information with
me. However, being God, He doesn’t have to tell me everything.” We both
smiled and I said ‘Yes’ with one request: we both needed to pray for the
right person who really knew fundraising to be revealed and brought on the
team. Guess who got the call? You are absolutely correct - Kandy Ferree.

What started with, ‘Will you take the call with Jeannine and a tour of the
facility?’ ended with raising 7 million dollars in eighteen months. The
genius of her talents built the infrastructure that was necessary for the
campaign to take place. The strength of her character saw her through
one of the most challenging times of her life that were taking place
simultaneously. Our code phrase became, ‘Where are you?’ Her answer,
“Rt.78”. The investment of time and energy was incredible.

My role was to assist Jeannine in building strategic relationships. This


translated into a series of networking events with the business community
to briefly tell her story. The outcome was to have them tour the facility and
capture the vision. This quiet dynamic woman embraced...it’s time to work
the room.

This leads me to a man by the name of William H. Lehr known to many as


‘Bill’. He agreed to have coffee with Kandy, Jeannine and myself. One of
the essential positions in fundraising is who will chair the committee. We
asked and Bill said ‘Yes!’ Pretty amazing - Kandy and Bill were working
together again. The advisory committee that convened was some of the
most significant philanthropic people in the Greater Harrisburg Area. The
second most critical factor in a project of this scale is who writes the first
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check. Who believes and is willing to make the investment? The hope that
others will follow because the tone and the bar had been set.

It was Bill’s organization, Capital BlueCross that made a one million dollar
statement and others came on board. With a tremendous team the end
result was seven million raised in eighteen months.

My relationship with Bill did not start with asking for a million dollars.
One of the first times that he showed his support, I performed a one
woman show at The Rose Lehrman Arts Center on the campus of
Harrisburg Area Community College. I commemorated the life of my
father against the backdrop of a black-and-white silent film on Pittsburgh.
Until the lights went up I didn’t know he was there.

During the years that I was an art dealer, Bill would come to all the events
and ask what I needed? My answer was, ‘Nothing, because you are here’!
In those early years what I did not know was the depth and breadth of
this man’s knowledge of money and wealth. What I didn’t know was the
number of positions of influence he held and the extent of his love for the
arts. Here’s what I did know: He was always there.

He continued to have a presence during each of the breakfast series.


While his company supported the events, I would seat him with the
speakers. His invitation for me to join the corporate breakfast he hosted
with the American Diabetes Association opened conversations on the
impact of diabetes in African American and Latino Communities. Under
his leadership the ADA Walk To Fight Diabetes in Harrisburg raised
$337,000, 15th in the nation of 140 ADA Walks. What started with
volunteerism evolved into being offered the opportunity to develop a
community engagement program with a priority on African American and
Latino Communities.
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Chapter 11: Do You Value The Person?

Today I know that during his tenure at Capital BlueCross he has served
as Chairman of the Board, CEO and president and is currently Director
Emeritus after twenty years on the board. The year I came to Harrisburg
Bill Lehr retired from serving as Senior Vice President, Secretary, and
Treasurer of Hershey Foods Corporation. His board leadership is extensive
serving on more than 30 non-profit and public-private organizations, acting
as chairman of the Board of more than a dozen of them at the national,
state and regional levels. What I know to be true when this quiet man with
a depth of wisdom and character speaks, people listen and doors open.

What can I say about David Skerpon? I met ~Today I continue to


this wonderful man shortly after arriving
in Harrisburg. We were in attendance at a value people and my
leadership retreat. While the group was on
break, an incident happened; an act of racism
life continues to be a
and intimidation. When I shared what grand adventure.
took place, not only was David appalled,
he became a man of action. What we had
in common was a commitment to address
a quality of life in a community that we loved. There was a season that I
attended events as his guest and was seated with him at his table.

He was intentional and we loved supporting each other. I now know those
invitations placed me in circles of influence that without him I would not
have entered. Without hesitancy, David opened doors and invited me
into circles of influence. During that time, we would joke about how much
I loved bankers. The truth, David was known as a banker’s banker. His
career included Mellon Bank where he attained the position of Regional
President and Commerce Bank as the Executive Vice President and Chief
Retail Officer. Today, David is with Capital BlueCross as Senior Vice
President, Consumer Strategies and Community Impact.
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His commitment to community is even stronger and his character has


never wavered.

David trusted me to present programs on diversity, which led to the


opportunity to deliver training for Mellon corporate with over 800
employees in attendance. I loved the way he was always gently coaching
me into his world. Not only did we work together and support each
other’s business initiatives, David became my friend. That did not change
no matter the positions he attained or the company’s he worked for. Like
any real relationship, there are things that occurred in our lives that only
made us closer because we could trust each other. While we don’t spend as
much time together, the trust and joy of being in each other’s company is
still there. Simply because of the synergy of these relationships, there were
times, Kandy, Bill, Jeannine, David and I would all be on the same project.

There are those that I don’t see as often as I did in the past. Two such
people are Aaron A. Walton, then Senior Vice President of Highmark,
now Interim President of Cheyney University and Yvonne Cook, President
of the Highmark Foundation. When I think of Highmark’s Fun, Fit and
Fabulous event and the commitment to the health and wellness of African
American women, the work they did was groundbreaking. What started
with being in attendance evolved into serving on an advisory committee
and then being offered the opportunity to be a member of the team that
delivered Fun, Fit, and Fabulous. It was an incredible journey.

While serving on the advisory committee Shelia Dow-Ford stated we were


bringing Cicely Tyson to Hershey Pennsylvania to deliver the keynote.
There was only one problem, Cicely Tyson wasn’t accepting speaking
engagements. In Shelia’s mind, we had to know someone who knew Cicely
Tyson! Really? Actually we did. Renee Amoore was honoring her in two
weeks and I was invited to attend. Of course, I was to make the ask; ask
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Chapter 11: Do You Value The Person?

Renee Amoore to ask Cicely Tyson if she would come to Hershey for Fun,
Fit, and Fabulous. Let’s be honest, I was happy to just be invited! However,
this is what happens when you are in the company of visionaries. Renee
Amoore made the ask and Cicely Tyson agreed to accept the invitation.
Only Cicely Tyson could create the momentum that in the midst of severe
flooding and road closings, the women would not be deterred. Cicely
Tyson was in Hershey and nothing could keep them away. She was chosen
for her commitment to health and wellness. I remember everyone listening
intently as she spoke. However, when she began to recite Langston
Hughes, “Well, son, I’ll tell you: Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair”, the
room erupted.

I will be forever grateful to Aaron A. Walton and Yvonne Cook for trusting
me to be part of such an outstanding project.

To those who ask how I have such great relationships with corporations,
my answer is, “It always starts with the person”. Today I continue to value
people and my life continues to be a grand adventure. What is really
magnificent are the thousands of lives that have been impacted because of
the vision, commitment and work of these individuals. Their commitment
continues today.

I leave you with one one question, “Do you value the person?”

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Time for Reflection: DARE TO DREAM

What Captured Your Heart In This chapter?


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CHAPTER 12
12
The Urban Connection
This is Vera Cornish and I am the publisher of The Urban Connection.
More and more, while networking with members of the business
community, a very similar statement is being made. This is Vera
Cornish and she is the publisher of the Urban Connection. When I
first heard this statement in such an authentic, powerful way, it slightly
threw me off my game. Vera Cornish and The Urban Connection
were being recognized as the go-to publication for African American
and multicultural audiences. Thus, we had developed and grown two
recognized brands.

What began as an 8.5” by 11” sheet of paper with clip art and a list of
upcoming events has now garnered a reputation as a premier media
source. Recognized as a lifestyle publication, the Urban Connection
of the Capital Region is known as the platform for the delivery of great
cultural content, the production of signature events and creating brand
experiences that enhance the lifestyle of a diverse audience. So, because
this is me and you in a conversation, what you just read is true! We are
the Good News!

We are known for providing information often not covered in mass media
allowing for curation of unique topics. This approach has created a loyal
readership and following who consistently turn to the Urban Connection
as their top choice for information. Also, never forget, “Information is
power!”
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We, the Urban Connection team realize the world is changing, and so are
we. Thus, by utilizing our print, digital distribution, online, social media
and e-blast marketing channels of communication, readers can fully interact
with sources of information and special events taking place in the region
and surrounding markets.

Also, while each brand and signature event has its own identity, the Urban
Connection is the platform upon which they are housed or connected.
This includes the Access & Opportunity Breakfast Series & Career Fair,
The Women of Heritage Breakfast, Meet The Dreamers, Destination
Dauphin County, Make The Connection and Dare To Dream with Vera
Cornish.

Also, while each brand and signature event has its own identity, the Urban
Connection is the platform upon which they are housed or connected.
This includes the Access & Opportunity Breakfast Series & Career Fair,
The Women of Heritage Breakfast, Meet The Dreamers, Destination
Dauphin County, Make The Connection and Dare To Dream with Vera
Cornish.

The Urban Connection covers represent decision makers, influencers,


presidents, vice presidents, community leaders, emerging leaders,
entrepreneurs, artists, musicians and that’s just the cover.

So, today, the goal is to continue to be the Good News!

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Time for Reflection: DARE TO DREAM

What Captured Your Heart In This chapter?


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CHAPTER 13
13
Access & Opportunity
We live in a world where access and opportunity define almost every
aspect of our lives.

The question is, ‘Do you have access and do you have the opportunity to
be fully engaged?’

Today, I have the opportunity to co-create and interact with some of


the most established corporations, colleges and universities in Central
Pennsylvania.

Speaking from a brand perspective, the Urban Connection with Vera


Cornish as the facilitator had established the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. Breakfast for Business & Industry. It was also during that
time that I was engaged by the Milton Hershey School to assist with
developing relationships with diverse communities with the outcome
being employment. I was asked if I had ever considered establishing a
career fair focused on diversity in Central Pennsylvania. My answer was
‘No’. However, I knew the person posing the question and also knew a lot
of thought had gone into the answer before the question was asked.

Fast forward, over lunch that same day, several phone calls were made
and we were off and running! Within one hour, all the Hershey entities
were on board. Oh my goodness, we had an amazing career fair. This
was during a time when there was a downturn in the economy and people
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were seeking work. The response to the career fair was overwhelming with
lines down the steps and out the door.

As the MLK Breakfast evolved, it became the Access & Opportunity


Breakfast Commemorating the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Today, Access & Opportunity is a four-part series taking the message across
the Capital Region to Harrisburg, Lancaster, York, and Hershey.

Also, I will always remember the turning


point. I had the opportunity to facilitate a ~Do you have
conversation with three college presidents,
a member of the board of trustees with
access and do
Drexel University and a representative of The you have the
Hershey Company. The theme was framed
as a question. Is there a break in a career opportunity to be
pipeline? The answer was, ‘Absolutely yes!’
fully engaged?
That morning formed the foundation for
what became the Access & Opportunity
Series. Dr. Peter Garland, Executive Vice Chancellor, Pennsylvania
State System Higher Education agreed to be the observer and make
recommendations on next steps. Some of his recommendations included:
create a series to impact Central Pennsylvania, create a template that could
travel to various regions of the state and create a presentation to take
internal to universities and corporations.

It should be noted that our format also includes partnering with mass
media, regional chambers, and county government. That morning not
only did we have the breakfast, it was paired with a career fair with
approximately twenty-four participating companies.

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Chapter 13: Access & Opportunity

Today, we continue our work focusing on the recruitment and retention


of diverse populations. The intention is to continue convening decision
makers and be the solution to building strategic relationships between the
participating organizations.

Also, a significant aspect of the work being done focuses on quality of life.
Companies want to keep the talent that resides in the area and retain those
that have relocated. Thus, based on this factor, we have created Make The
Connection To The Capital Region. In doing this, we bring our resource
guide to life and make it an experience. Think about it, ‘You’re new to
an area and our goal is to connect you to the marketplaces, the music
festivals, the concerts, the plays and the products and services that enhance
your quality of life’. I extend a special thank you to all the stakeholders,
event partners, chambers, and government entities that support Access &
Opportunity.

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Time for Reflection: DARE TO DREAM

What Captured Your Heart In This chapter?


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What is your commitment to your life based on what you read?


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What action will you take?


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CHAPTER 14
14
Destination Mount Kilimanjaro
The imagery of mountain top experiences has permeated a significant
portion of my life. I first became fascinated with Mount Kilimanjaro in
high school when I read Ernest Hemmingway’s, The Snows of Mount
Kilimanjaro.

One Sunday after service, a man named Lee asked me if he could share a
story that he thought would describe a significant time of my life. As we
chatted with each other, Lee and I found we had the coal mining region
of Northeastern Pennsylvania in common.

This what he shared, paraphrasing, “Vera, I speak in visuals. I see you


standing on the tarmac of an airport waiting to get on board a beautiful
new 747. However, you are wondering why you’re delayed and just
standing there. The reason for the delay is that you are not aware of two
critical factors. The first being, you own the plane. The second, you’re not
a passenger, you’re the pilot. Until you understand and embrace these
two things, the flight cannot leave the tarmac.”

“It is also important to know that when you first enter the plane, there are
people on board, some of which are not supposed to go on this journey.
You will have to make some hard decisions and ask them to leave. Your
concern, ‘How can I make the trip without them?’ However, as they are
going and you look outside, there is a large group of people waiting for
the opportunity to get on board. Choose wisely.”
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“Once you understand this concept you will have mountain top after
mountain top experience. It will be so incredible that it will take your
breath away. My dear sister, are you ready? If the answer is ‘Yes’, it’s time to
board the plane. The seat is open and waiting for you!”

For the purposes of my own growth I mentally made my destination Mount


Kilimanjaro, the highest free standing mountain in the world. The goal, to
circle this glistening snow covered peak and then bring the flight home for
a smooth landing against the backdrop of a beautiful sunset.

Embracing the message, I remembered the beauty and exhilaration


of mountaintop experiences. His story
reminded me of the workshops, retreats,
and leadership programs I had presented. I
~It’s time to board
remembered standing in the window of my the plane.
hotel room at the then Penn State Scanticon
Center, thinking this is incredible. Tomorrow The seat is open
morning eight hundred employees of Mellon
Bank will converge on this location for a full
and waiting for
day training program. I had been given the you!”
opportunity to be one of the messengers. I
could barely sleep the night before. I wanted
to see what had been described as a precision arrival. Eight hundred
people all arriving at the same destination at the same exact time! What an
amazing sight! What an incredible way to come home to Penn State! Yes,
the concepts that Lee spoke of were deeply embedded in so many of the
programs I designed and delivered. This time, the message was for me.

I now ask, ‘Are you the person on the tarmac waiting for the pilot? Why is
the seat empty? Because it’s yours!

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Chapter 14: Destination Mount Kilimanjaro

Are you willing to make the difficult, yet necessary decisions concerning
the people that appear to be on board? Are you ready to create a plan of
action? Are you prepared to experience an elevation never before achieved?
When the destination has been reached can you bring the plane home for
a smooth landing? I know this to be true. Mindset is everything! The
thoughts you think become the words you speak and become the action
you take! Are you ready?’

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Time for Reflection: DARE TO DREAM

What Captured Your Heart In This chapter?


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What is your commitment to your life based on what you read?


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What action will you take?


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CHAPTER 15
15
Lessons Learned
Learn From The Past- Live In Today- Cast A Vision For The Future
Everything that took place in my past laid the foundation for who I am
today. What is incredible is that the story changes daily. Why? There
are new people, new experiences, new information, a new or refined plan
and new action required. The world is changing and I am open to being
engaged. I am also wise enough to surround myself with young, fresh
energy, perspective, and talented individuals. The life lesson: what are
you holding on to that no longer serves your today or your tomorrow?

Devastation Does Not Determine Your Destiny


I am inspired daily by stories of people who have faced incredible
adversity and did not allow it to define their destiny. I study daily to
deepen my walk of faith. Why do I seek inspiration and plug into my
source of power daily? Because life happens! One phone call can take
the wind out of your sails. I also know I am a giver and I want to give my
best. The question becomes, ‘What can you give to others if your well is
dry?’

It’s All About Relationships


I am frequently asked how I have such great relationships with the
corporations, colleges, universities, government offices, entrepreneurs and
ministries I have worked with. The person asking the question is usually
taken a little off guard when I answer that, “I don’t”. I allow the silence
to settle for a moment and then respond, “What I do have are great
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relationships with people”. I also season the answer with, “We have learned
to trust each other”. The life lesson: can you be trusted?

The Power Of Exposure


Exposure can come in many ways. It may be through the books, magazines
or online articles you read. Exposure may happen via great conversations
with other people who have the expertise or life experiences different than
yours. Real life experience can open areas of awareness that increase the
opportunity for your personal and professional growth and the choices you
make. Life lesson: information is a powerful tool.

Finding Your Voice


The ability to find your voice can be challenging during meetings, in
families and even amongst friends. Thus, silence may be more comfortable
than being frustrated attempting to be heard. The silence may be caused
by the environment in which you were raised, the ridicule you experienced
as a child, a teenager and even as an adult. The manner in which meetings
are conducted, the power with which others make their points known may
have caused you to stop trying to be heard. The life lesson is that at some
point you come to the realization that your voice matters, most of all to
you, and you can have a significant impact on those that need to hear your
perspective.

Poise, Power, and Presence: Grace Under Pressure


Grace under pressure is the core of poise, power, and presence!
Life lesson: there will be situations that will occur that challenge your
ability to maintain a posture of dignity while not relinquishing your
effectiveness. You have come to a keen understanding of who you are and
the value that you bring to the equation. This willingness to understand
who you are at the core of your being has equipped you to have grace under
pressure. Thus, confidence is a key factor.
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Chapter 15: Lessons Learned

The Power of ‘Yes’ and The Freedom of ‘No’


All too often the door of opportunity opens and there is hesitancy to say
yes. The life lesson becomes: “What is the impact of not saying yes to your
hopes and dreams?” There is power in saying yes to exploring the infinite
possibilities of life. Make it a ‘Yes’ that is in alignment with your true
identity and the goals you have set. Know the difference between a ‘yes’
that moves your aspirations forward and simply saying yes to please others.

There are times when ‘No’ is the best answer! I encourage you to take into
consideration saying ‘No’ to inaction, ‘No’ to procrastination, ‘No’ to fear
of success, ‘No’ to stagnation, ‘No’ to people that do not support your
higher self. Give yourself the freedom of ‘No’! I have found that an overly
simplistic way to be known as a person of integrity is: let your yes be your
yes and your no be no! In this, you will find incredible power and freedom.

The Power of Perseverance


Why is perseverance so crucial to the process of putting action into the
dream? The answer is easy. You have been bold enough to give yourself
permission to dream! You have committed to taking action! You have
committed to doing the work. As the journey continues to unfold, you
recognize that the process just isn’t easy. Your personal breakthroughs are
happening and in the process, you have even named your fears and faced
them head-on. However, in the midst of it all adversity, difficulties, and
obstacles are real and sometimes traumatic. The question becomes, ‘Do you
have the courage to continue in spite of. Will you be victorious?’

The Tenacity of Leadership


Since I can remember, I have been drawn to great leaders. I have come
to understand one factor they had in common was tenacity. Some
were bold and outspoken while others were quiet in their approach to
communication. What was apparent was their courage, conviction, resolve,
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persistence, strength of purpose, determination and fortitude. Today, I


embrace the tenacity of leadership. While in my own business I am usually
the lead, I still enjoy following men and women of purpose.

The Power To Choose


Always remember you have the power to choose! The life lesson: all choices
have an impact. Apply this concept to your health, wellness, finances,
career, education, spirituality, relationships and more. You can choose
to live a life of happiness and joy. The choice is yours. So, be willing to
show up in your own life, make the investment of time and resources to
accomplish your goals.

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Time for Reflection: DARE TO DREAM

What Captured Your Heart In This chapter?


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What is your commitment to your life based on what you read?


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What action will you take?


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CHAPTER 16
16
Today, As A Woman I AM
Today, as a woman, I am living my dream! Today, I can say that life has
and continues to be a grand adventure unfolding season by season, day by
day and sometime from phone call to phone call.

Today, I am a speaker, publisher, and life empowerment strategist.


Everything that I have experienced has laid the foundation for an
interlocking puzzle creating the woman known as Vera Cornish. The
journey has been eclectic, to say the least. Keep in mind, one day it’s
barbeque ribs, and the next day it’s pierogis! One day, it’s the city, and
the next day, it’s the valley and mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
There were days that the depth and breadth of love were incredible!
Then, there were days of intense pain and hardship. In the midst of it all,
the incredible adventure continued.

My life experiences offer me the opportunity to be a messenger of hope.


I am clear that devastation does not define your destiny and there is
power in exposure. I know at the core of my being I am anchored in love
which translates to a willingness to be steadfast and allow perseverance to
fully develop my character. I am a woman who is passionate, purposeful
and intentional and I have embraced the process of living this journey
called life, which is one grand adventure. I now know I have the power
to choose! My yes is my yes and my no is my no! Even when I make a
decision that is not in my best interest, I have the option to make a course
correction. Why? Because this is the performance of a lifetime!
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I didn’t come from a family that sat around the dining room table and
discussed what you are going to be when you grow up. As life unfolded and
days became weeks and weeks became years, one adventure after another
would take place, exposing me to a world that I didn’t know existed.

Today, I know the power of exposure. Once I experienced something, I was


crazy enough to believe anything was possible! Let the adventure begin!
The work I do today with corporations, colleges, universities, government
entities, and individuals is based on this very principle. For so many people
like me, it is all about access and opportunity.

How can you pursue a career that you don’t know exists? How can you
feel the exhilaration of a college campus if you have never walked on one?
How do you know the path to the presidency if you have never been in the
company of presidents? We live in an ever-changing world. Where would
we be without the dreamers? Think of the countless experiences that you
have had with science, technology, architecture, the arts, music, business,
fashion, and more!

Everything that we experience today was a concept that became a reality!


I am eternally grateful for the dreamers that were and continue to be crazy
enough to believe that their dreams can come true! Imagine the impact on
society if dreamers stopped dreaming and allowed fear, frustration and the
trauma of life to stop them from taking action!
Ask yourself, ‘Is it possible that the world needs your dream to come true?
What if the world is waiting for you to take action?”

I am Vera Elizabeth Clemons Cornish and I Dare You To Dream!

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What Captured Your Heart In This chapter?


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What is your commitment to your life based on what you read?


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What action will you take?


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To book Vera Cornish, contact us!

www.VeraCornish.com
717-343-1509
VeraCornish@gmail.com