We had the good fortune of connecting with LD Wells and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi LD, what’s the most important thing you’ve done for your children?
As a parent, it has always been important to me to establish the kind of relationship that allows a child to be dually supported and encouraged to pursue autonomy. I believe parents have the unique job of training, helping and guiding their children while also providing the skills necessary for the child to make sound decisions and achieve excellence on their own.
My personal experience has been that of a single mother to an African American son. I have been aware of both the blessings and challenges of this familial situation. I understood, almost immediately, that I would need a strong village to help nurture and support my son’s development.
I called upon the family, friends, educators, clergy, athletes, counselors, artists, musicians, culturalists, and financial experts in my sphere for consultation, guidance and assistance with ensuring that my son had adequate exposure to nearly every aspect of life. I wanted him to have a personal journey with people that care about his outcomes as he navigated through early life. I wanted him to have the most accurate information regarding the things that he was curious about as well as those I knew he would need to learn in order to become a well-rounded individual. I was thankful to have these wrap around supports in my life as friends and confidants — and enjoyed sharing them with my son as he soaked up their expertise like a sponge.
It was also important to me –especially because there was not a man in the home for him to take ques from each day – that he cultivated a deep and abiding relationship with his father. I cannot stress enough to women how important this connection is for young men. Unless there are dire reasons or knowledge that the child’s life will be in danger, it is not wise to separate a child from their non-custodial parent. Much of who the child is or will become is directly tied to both parents and time should be spent fostering positive experiences together.
Additionally, I wanted to introduce my son to experiences that were much different than our home life. I immersed him in relationships with families that had both mom and dad in the home. I wanted him to see first-hand what that dynamic looked like and give him the opportunity to spend time with men and women who were able to be successful in both business and family. I wanted to instill in him the desire to want both worldly achievement and marriage and to recognize that it is possible to have both. I wanted him to see for himself the level of communication and compromise required to achieve this goal.
There were times that I struggled with wanting to provide opportunities for him to engage in educational or extracurricular programs. I was in that incredibly middle ground where I did not qualify for public assistance but could not always afford the enrollment fees required for participation. Then there were scenarios where I could handle the financial obligations, but the course was a half-day experience more suited for stay-at-home parents that could perform mid-day carpool duties.
We know that decent childcare and programming designed for young people is challengingly expensive for most families, but unmarried parents who are raising their children on one income are hit even harder. I am hoping to meet this challenge head-on, in the near future, by working with a team to design sliding scale training and development for youth in this same demographic as my child. I would absolutely love to contribute to the successful futures of young people while also creating legacy for my son. I want families everywhere to see an outward manifestation of their child’s dreams coming true through my purposeful business practices.
As my son got older and became more autonomous, I turned my focus more inward. I dove into obtaining post-graduate education – finishing my degree program with a 4.0 GPA. I also put pen to paper to become an author and opened my own business. I wanted him to see me put in the work toward achieving any goal I desired so that he would know, without any doubt, that he was also capable; and not to allow barriers of any kind to stop him.
I am happy to report that my son recently obtained a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management with a minor in Business. I believe the impact that our village made on his life contributed to him becoming the first man in my immediate family to obtain a four-year degree. I cannot wait to see his trajectory into adult life and how he will fuse together all of the experiences he has been provided to build a life he and his family will love.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
In 2013, I took the first steps to become a published author. My first book, “An Anthology of Sisterhood”, was award-winning literature that gave our team the opportunity to provide a total of 22 women author credentials. The late, legendary Ruby Dee – an iconic actor and activist – contributed the foreword and added one of her poetic pieces to our collection. This book has also been deemed as required reading for a popular Ethnic Studies course taught at Santa Barbara College. Also, the following institutions have adopted the book into their prestigious archives: Schomburg Center, Auburn Avenue Research Library, AUC Robert W. Woodruff Library, Georgia Southern Library, Savannah State Library and my alma mater the University of Georgia. Ruby Dee asked us to pay forward her contribution to our labor of love and with those instructions, we have established the Ruby Dee Legacy of Sisterhood Scholarship in partnership with the Dee Davis family and the Delta Research and Educational Foundation. This annual award provides funds to an eligible collegiate or graduate student majoring in one of the Humanities.
My second release was a devotional entitled “Prayers from a Grateful Heart,” and combines two of my loves – reading and writing into a single project. It was my goal to create a different type of book in this genre that has smaller “nuggets” of information to digest each day. Each message begins with a global understanding of a particular truth and ends with a personal declaration to be spoken aloud. I also actively chose not to place dates on the daily entries so that the reader can begin using the book the same day it is purchased. I continue to use my platform for community engagement in the arts realm by partnering with organizations to host literary events, movie screenings and educational forums for which I have received local and regional ‘Program of the Year’ designations.
Since 2013, I have been on a whirlwind of touring nationwide with my books and speaking at live engagements prior to COVID-19. I have also learned to keep smiling and pivot as I expand my established relationships with the online community and have been sought after as a thought leader and event moderator for topics like arts and entertainment, mentorship, financial literacy, self-care, lifestyle, sports and sisterhood. In my role as a thought leader, I love helping to evoke worthy conversations as I help individuals, companies and organizations design, present and implement change management strategies regarding relevant topics – especially those around diversity, inclusion, race relations, gender and generational equity.
I am most fond of opportunities that present themselves to empower women and young girls by showing them what it looks like to keep moving forward despite any obstacles that may confront you. The Ruby Dee Scholarship is an outward manifestation of this desire. Additionally, I recently served as President of an effort that donated over $240K in raised and matched commitment funding to the University of Georgia that will last into perpetuity. As scripture admonishes, “The Lord knows the plans He has for you . . . plans to prosper and not to harm you.” Move forward in faith using what you can when you can. Blessings will follow!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I highly recommend that someone with enough time to fully experience our city add the following to their itinerary trips. If they have small children, Legoland at Phipps Plaza, the Aquarium, the Children’s Museum, Six Flags and World of Coca-Cola, the Chattahoochee Nature Center, the Centennial Park Fountains and Ferris Wheel are a must. For young adults, the College Football Hall of Fame, the Battery, the Atlanta Trap Museum, Atlantic Station and the Beltline/Ponce City Market and Buckhead Village District would be great options. Families should consider visiting the High Museum of Art, Atlanta History Center, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center, the Fox Theater, Stone Mountain, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, Fernbank and Atlanta Botanical Garden. If there is time, it may be a great idea to drive about an hour or so outside of Atlanta to experience life at the University of Georgia – the state’s land grant flagship institution or to visit Chateau Elan Winery in Braselton.
For dining experiences, I would highly recommend Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse, Busy Bee soul food restaurant, brunch at the St. Regis hotel, Slutty Vegan, the Varsity, Mary Macs, Paschals, Shake Shack, lunch by waterfall at the Grand Hyatt Buckhead hotel, Marietta Diner, Rays on the River, Flip Burger and sweets or ice cream at My Fair Sweets and the Sugar Factory.
These experiences are designed to give a sense of options that are more unique to the city and will have the person leave with wonderful memories.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I dedicate this Shoutout to my grandmother, Jessie M. Wells. It is her insistence on providing the experiences needed to become the person I am today, that served as impetus for the life I was able to give to my son. She wholeheartedly believed that the education and exposure children received impacted how deeply they would dream and then work to make those dreams reality. She taught me, from her actions, what it means to dig deep and to love your family enough to grant them the opportunity to flourish. I am grateful to be in her lineage. Because she believed I could do just about anything, I know I am her wildest dream come true – and I am able to pass that same level of security and knowing to my child.
Other: Mentorship Matters Podcast https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFm1EhRdAPQ
Brandprenuer Devan Heyburn