Once again, The Network Journal is saluting 25 of the nation's black influential women in business. These ladies are at the top of their game as they call the shots, make moves, and put effective management strategies into play. And just as in prior years, we're spotlighting their professional accomplishments and accolades. At the same time, we tried to offer you more than just the run of the mill profiles.
No doubt, these ladies are power players that you need to have in your rolodex or at the very least get to know over a Cappucino or at a networking event. Their list of awards, organizational affiliates and other acclaims could probably fill a football field. And the fact that they are among our list of "most influential black women" makes each of them a "wonder" in her own right. Still, it is my belief that unless a profile is 360 degrees, it is incomplete.
As a result, I continually asked our team of freelance writers to "tell me more." In some instance, either the freelancer or the subject couldn't understand the need for the additional probing because after all, "that's not how it was done last year." And they were right, my approach was different from prior years because I think we owe it to each of the women we feature to tell their full story�as much as they allow us to learn.
Surely, it would have been an injustice to Jan Walden to simply write about her current position at New Jersey Transit. "I've been involved in civil rights for over 30 years," she says, and that was demonstrated from her very first job after she graduated college. And her fight continues not only in the professional arena but in her home as she interacts with her children, Cheron, age 24, and Janald, age 21. "I want them to know that they represent their people," Walden asserts " I always want them to be crusaders for issues concerning African Americans."
Una Clarke's many accomplishments as an educator and politician are on her resume, but would you have known that she'd accomplished those things while holding down a marriage that lasted more than 40 years? And that she credits her Jamaican-born mother, who recently died at 103 years old, with much of her success? Probably not.
A business card wouldn't have told you that Maria L. Johnson skis, spent several years working in Anchorage, Alaska and considers her greatest personal accomplishment her ability to fly a plane. But what does this have to do with business?
Everything. During my stint at Business Week magazine, we spent several hours talking about the likes and dislikes of people we wanted to do business with. The reason: we thought it was important to establish common ground with prospective clients and the only way to do that is to really find out what makes them tick and build relationships with them. The strategy worked.
Beyond that, you owe it to yourself to discover the hopes, dreams, challenges, and personal victories of the women we feature so you don't overlook how wonderful they really are.
By Monique Brown