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.

Gerald Thomas | Owner of The GDT PR Agency™ & G.D.T. Foundation| Perpetual Seed Planter. Prolific Dream Chaser.

I’m the product of a Mom who dropped out of High School at 10th grade because she was pregnant. The son of a Westside gang bang leader who was killed & left to drown in his own blood. I’m the grandchild of Grandmother who had 14 children, 36 grandchildren, countless great-grandchildren yet the 1st male in my family to walk thru a college campus and actually graduate. You see those are my truths. I’m a 30 year old funny shaped head boy from the Westside of Chicago but I worked really hard and I had an undeniable work ethic. Your work ethic says to the world that you understand the laws of nature and the process of bringing something to life. In the words of Frank Ocean, “work hard in silence and let success be your noise”. Work is the only war to produce what it is you truly want to have in life. A strong work ethic can open doors for you. It allows other people to see the power of your character. Read more>>

Rob Roth | Husband, Father, Songwriter and Guitarist

I grew up in Valley Cottage, a New York suburb about forty minutes north of New York City. As I child, my sister and I had lots of exposure to music and going to Broadway musicals was something we did somewhat regularly. My Mom played piano, but only as a requirement for being a kindergarten teacher. My Dad listened to Jazz, Opera and loved Sinatra – so we heard a lot of that as well. My parents encouraged us to play instruments, my sister followed in my Mom’s footsteps with the piano and I stumbled my way thru playing the recorder, clarinet, drums and finally the guitar when I was 12. As a father of two, I can appreciate their patience and encouragement with the two of us banging away on the piano and drums/recorder/clarinet and then the guitar (with an amp) and continuing to be supportive. As a teenager I spent a lot of time playing with friends and woodshedding in my bedroom. It was loud and without context, I’m sure it was fairly unmusical. In fact, after my first High School Jazz band concert – my Mom said to me with no irony “Your father and I had no idea how good you were”. It was a funny moment. Read more>>

Kahn Douglas-Williams | Spoken Word Poet & Photographer

I was born and mostly raised in South Jamaica Queens, NY during the ’90s. I’m an ’80s baby in most of the ways that term entails. I was raised by my grandparents and lost my mother and father at a very young age. By the turn of the millennium, I lost my grandmother as well. Don’t worry I’m not getting into every detail of my life but I’m highlighting how these turning points in my childhood are basically the foundation for the man I am today. My grandfather and I moved to Augusta, GA when I was in my mid-teens, and after high school, I joined the U.S. Army. I’ve always been a writer, always been verbally creative but I never considered myself visually creative. I am first and foremost a spoken word poet but I fell in love with photography, social media content creation, and all things digital communication. I grew up in a tough environment and then joined the military 2 years after 9/11. Read more>>

Chelsea Arrington | Multipreneur & Community Leader

I’m a native of Phenix City, Alabama. I’m a 2015 graduate of Auburn University, Auburn, AL. While attending Auburn University, I received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship and Family Business. I’ve gained and developed in-depth knowledge and expertise in business, finance, marketing, and management. It is often said that one’s upbringing can make a true difference in one’s life. A person’s views are often shaped by those that someone is around the most. My parents played a huge role in my upbringing. My dad was huge on community and work ethics. He worked several jobs to provide for his family and to ensure all needs were met. My mom was huge on religion and my walk with God. She ensured I knew God for myself and I was on the right path. Their hard work and dedication have shaped me into the woman I am today. I am truly grateful for where I came and where I’m going. Read more>>

Rayna Butler | Master Cosmetologist

I was born in Antigua the West Indies but raised in the Bronx, New York since I was 6 months old. I come from a hard working family that never makes excuses. They work their way from the bottom to now become great business minded, creating generational wealth for their children and grandchildren. Seeing this allows me to be a go getter. I keep the faith and put the work into executing the thoughts that are in my head. God is definitely at the front of everything I decide to do. Read more>>

Maya Lanét | Recording Artist

I’m from Terre Haute, a small town in Indiana that many people do not really know about. It’s gotten better since I’ve last seen it, but there’s levels to that. I come from a family of people that were stuck in the cycle of that town. There’s not many opportunities out there and I’m thankful for my mom wanting more for herself and her children. Between the issues I dealt with, with my dad and not knowing much about the world, it influenced me to dream big and want more for myself. I hate feeling restricted and sheltered. Read more>>

India Hairston-Butts | Professional Face Painter

I am a native of Roanoke, Virginia. The star city ☆ . The state slogan says Virginia’s for lovers. I was raised to love every inspite of what society or classification says. I was raised in a diverse family and school system were African Americans are 30% of the community. Growing up in a predominantly white culture allowed me to learn subculture at a young age. I was also raised in a strict religion that taught me the structure of life. I later moved to Atlanta Georgia “The Black Mecca” I was able embrace my heritage. As an adult i was able to apply all the principles i learned from childhood to adulthood to be the most friendly open minded African American woman that can relate to everyone!! I love people and people love my personality 💓. Read more>>

Andre “Mo’Dre” Brown | Singer/Songwriter/Producer

Originally hailing from upstate NY, Andre “MoDre” Brown began his journey like many others before him inspired by the musicians and singers he heard in church every sunday! Growing up in a family/household where all genres of music were played from Gospel to classic rock & roll to funk & soul, it’s no surprise that he found his passion and love for music at such a young age. Read more>>