Through our work we have had the good fortune of seeing firsthand how success comes in every shape, size, color, faith, and orientation. More importantly we’ve learned that success is often the result of people embracing their unique backgrounds and so we’ve asked the community to tell us about their background and how it has impacted where they are today.

NY Teez | Music Artist

I’m from the Bronx in a pretty rough area but it was home, and my mom made sure that I stayed out of trouble. If you know anything about New York you know that it gives you a certain sauce that you can’t get any where else because of the culture and that helped me build my creative roots. I eventually moved to North Carolina when I entered high school and moving to the south gave me a new perspective on music culture so I was able to further build on my creative foundation. This was especially true when I moved to Atlanta after graduating, being blessed to be surrounded by so much talent not only here in Atlanta but all throughout my life has helped me to progress and shape my sound. Read more>>

Cheryl Kortemeier | Executive Director, Corporate Volunteer Council of Atlanta

I am originally from Augusta, Georgia which is two hours east of Atlanta. My mom was a high-school science teacher, and my dad was an engineer and administrator in the business school of our local college. They taught my sister and me early on that we should always treat people, animals and nature with respect. Our lives were filled with volunteering, science and plenty of time in nature. They also taught me that I should always listen to my gut first and brain second when making decisions. The reasoning behind this was that sometimes your brain only makes logical decisions, but sometimes decision making is not only based on logic but also on feelings and desired goals. When I left for college, I wanted to do something different than what my parents had done. Read more>>

Holly Gotfredson | Owner/President of American Metalcraft

I was born on the outskirts of Birmingham, Alabama and moved to Atlanta around age 10. Growing up, my parents encouraged me towards music and the arts. My mom would take us on day trips to different museums and I would marvel at the skill and technique it took to create such spendid works. I took piano lessons, enjoyed art class and sang in my high school chorus and church choir. Throughout my childhood and still today, I write songs, play the piano, sing and paint in my spare time. When it came time to attend college, I decided to study Art History at the University of Georgia. While it seems a far cry from my current career in metal manufacturing, the critical thinking and analytics I learned from studying art and playing music have proven quite valuable in my work life. I feel like my background gives me a unique perspective in merging the creative vision of architects and designers with the nuts and bolts of production. Read more>>

Marian L. Thomas | Award-Winning Women’s Fiction Author

Born in Illinois, I grew up reading books and trying to win art contests to pay for my art supplies. I wouldn’t say that my first career choice was writing novels. I dreamed of working for a local newspaper, reporting news in a journalist fashion. I can’t tell you how many nights I practiced in front of my mirror with a shoe as my microphone. I even gave some serious thought to becoming an attorney. I wrote for the college paper as a sports editor but later became the news editor. I remember this one instructor in college who began grading my papers with a serious case of red ink fever after discovering that I wrote for that paper. That lesson stayed with me. It reminded me of the importance of giving writing my all, no matter what I’m writing for. My writing path took a detour the day I drafted my first completed book manuscript. I’ve penned six women’s fiction novels. Read more>>

SE7EN | Music Producer, Artist, and Podcaster

From Atlanta, GA (Dekalb County) I was raised on the core elements of Hip Hop. Back when choosing between playing “Hey Ya!” or “Lovers & Friends”, was the only difficult decision to make. With that said I’ve been deeply inspired by artist such as Eminem, KRS-One, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Wale, Snoop Dogg, OutKast, Ludacris, Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q, The Game, and many many more. Continuing the legacy of Hip Hop, I aspire to continue to push the culture forward by adding my own unique contributions. Not only in Hip Hop but all genres including RnB, Jazz, Alternative and more. Read more>>