I asked Shalonda what her best advice was for Black female professionals whose work is unseen, their heart is not heard, or intellect recognized.
Shalonda was ridiculed and mocked for her black speak/small town dialect as a young black female in Corporate America. She was told her pronunciation of words was incorrect, and she needed to improve her speaking skills to make it in the industry she was employed in at the time.
Shalonda came from a family with only two college graduates in her family as she entered the workforce. She did not apologize for learning and maturing in the family environment she was raised in. She worked hard, staying true to herself and not what people wanted to force her to be.
Today, Shalonda mentors and speaks to individuals of many ages, races, colors, genders, etc., and meet people where they are. She continues to be who she is in all settings and says, “I am unapologetically me all the time and want people to get to know the real me.”
Shalonda’s advice, “Speak Up and Speak Out…You Matter…Your Voice Matters…Your Opinion Matters…Never let anyone underestimate who you are. Be the person you want people to see and get to know. Never apologize for who you are and where you have come from. Your Black is Beautiful and Celebrate it.”