Excited about the Dare to Dream conference this weekend!

Meet Gwendolyn Young
 Gwendolyn is a Business Administration graduate of DeVry University and a Certified Professional Coach.  She graduated at the top of her class as a Cum Laude graduate and is a member of Sigma Beta Delta Business Honor Society.  She serves as Executive Director for Seed of Hope Foundation, co-authored 20 Tips on How to Build A Strong Mother/Daughter Bond, was recently selected as one of 20 national 2012 Judith O’Connor Scholars for Emerging Non-Profit Leaders, and is currently pursuing a Masters in Organizational Leadership at Lewis University. Most importantly, Gwendolyn is a wife of 16 years and devoted mom of three.  She is committed to excellence and has a strong passion for professionally developing young women.

Meet Gwendolyn Young


Gwendolyn is a Business Administration graduate of DeVry University and a Certified Professional Coach.  She graduated at the top of her class as a Cum Laude graduate and is a member of Sigma Beta Delta Business Honor Society.  She serves as Executive Director for Seed of Hope Foundation, co-authored 20 Tips on How to Build A Strong
Mother/Daughter Bond, was recently selected as one of 20 national 2012 Judith O’Connor Scholars for Emerging Non-Profit Leaders, and is currently pursuing a Masters in Organizational Leadership at Lewis University.

Most importantly, Gwendolyn is a wife of 16 years and devoted mom of three.  She is committed to excellence and has a strong passion for professionally developing young women.

Gwendolyn’s “I Am Here” Story

Worthless! That’s exactly what I felt throughout my entire teenage life.  I AM the girl who grew up without her father present, a father who never realized the deadly impact of his addiction to alcohol on her life, or the absence his presence would have on every male relationship that would follow.  I AM the girl who went to sleep in fear every night because she didn’t know if this would be the night her stepfather preyed on her.  I AM the girl who began drinking at the age of 15 to drown all the sorrows away.  I AM the girl who began having children out of wedlock at the age of 19 and allowed a man to
control everything about her.  I AM the girl who everyone said was too skinny, too mean, and would turn out to be nothing!  I AM the girl who was homeless and no one would take in.  I AM the mother who felt helpless when her teenage son attempted suicide, hated everyone and everything about life.  I WAS THAT GIRL! The one who lost hope! BUT GOD!

NOW, I AM THAT GIRL who has been REDEEMED!  I AM “HERE” living, existing, breathing to serve as your cup of hope.  I AM “HERE” to be an advocate for youth who are experiencing those same nightmares. I realize my life is for them, not me, and I have a responsibility to them.  I AM HERE, I AM ALIVE, and I LIVE ON PURPOSE!

Meet Yao Williams
National Basketball Association: Sr. Account Executive, Global Marketing Partnerships
Yao specializes in global sponsorships for the National Basketball Association, and its properties.  These properties are the Development League, WNBA, and USA Basketball.  Yao is responsible for selling marketing partnerships for the NBA, and its properties along with the assets within these particular brands.  Yao started his sports sales career with the Cleveland Indians.  From there he has worked for the Cleveland Gladiators, Charlotte Bobcats, and New York Yankees.  Yao has his Masters from Cleveland State University, and a bachelors from Miami University, Yao co-founded Young Affluent Professionals, which was meant for young professionals to network and use each other as resource to provide upward mobility for the city of Cleveland.  Yao was also President of the National Association of Black Sports Professionals, Charlotte Chapter from 2008-2010.  He is also a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated.

Meet Yao Williams

National Basketball Association: Sr. Account Executive, Global Marketing Partnerships

Yao specializes in global sponsorships for the National Basketball Association, and its properties.  These properties are the Development League, WNBA, and USA Basketball.  Yao is responsible for selling marketing partnerships for the NBA, and its properties along with the assets within these particular brands.  Yao started his sports sales career with the Cleveland Indians.  From there he has worked for the Cleveland Gladiators, Charlotte Bobcats, and New York Yankees.  Yao has his Masters from Cleveland State University, and a bachelors from Miami University, Yao co-founded Young Affluent Professionals, which was meant for young professionals to network and use each other as resource to provide upward mobility for the city of Cleveland.  Yao was also President of the National Association of Black Sports Professionals, Charlotte Chapter from 2008-2010.  He is also a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated.

Yao’s “I Am Here” Story

I’m up to bat.  The game is tied at the bottom of the 9th with two on base and two outs.  Some would be nervous, but this is what I’ve been waiting for!  This is why I play the game!  This is why I practice…for moments like this!  The first pitch is thrown.  Swing and miss.  I say to myself, “Get it together.  Get the jitters out, and focus.”  Moments like this when everything is on the line, your team and “fans” are expecting the most out of you.  Are your shoulders broad enough to carry the weight?  Next pitch is thrown, and contact is made on the ball.  It’s hit, but foul! 

If pressure wasn’t on before, it’s definitely turned up.  Breathe!  Focus!  Everything that you’ve been through in your life has prepared you for this moment.  Next pitch is thrown.  Just as it comes across the plate…Crack!  Deep center…back, back, back…Gone!  Crowd goes wild!  You have just won the game for your team.  Now the million dollar question is how did you did it.

When I look back on my life, I would say I’m very blessed to have the mindset and mentality that I have.  There are two types of individuals in this world.  There is one that goes through things in his/her life and that’s why they will never accomplish anything because they will use their past experiences as a crutch/excuse.  Then there is the individual that goes through things, and that’s why they will overcome any obstacle.  The difference between the two is mentality.  I truly believe that everything that you have been through in life is to prepare you for something great in the future.

At a very young age, I was taught that I can accomplish literally anything if I put my mind to it.  I’m sure most of us were told that as a kid, right?  The real question is how you turn that into a habitual and consistent mentality.  For me it was my mother.

My mother, Cassandra Collier-Williams is an attorney and currently running for judge.  When my brother and I were kids she was in Law School at Cleveland Marshall.  Most times while she was in class we had a baby sitter.  There were times when she couldn’t find a babysitter, and we would be in the back of the class, trying not to disturb.  Something that minor always stuck with me.  It quickly displayed to me that there were no excuses.  That honestly is a justifiable reason not to attend class, but she made sure she was always there.  When I wanted to quit or stop something, I would think about my reason and find some way to persevere.  So to make a long story short, my overall mentality to be Great and faith in God, helps me overcome any obstacle. 

Meet Ebony! A member of the Alive On Purpose Team who is declaring her impact on the world!

Meet Ebony! A member of the Alive On Purpose Team who is declaring her impact on the world!

Ebony’s “I Am Here” Story

When you reflect on your childhood, you always have that one friend that stands out. That best friend that knew all your secrets and that you trusted enough to share your hopes and dreams with. My best friend was a woman I saw sacrifice to feed a neighborhood, beat cancer, raise grandchildren when their parents couldn’t fulfill their roles, and she stood on the Word of God when all odds were against her. My best friend was 61 years older than me. She was my Grandmother, and her guidance is why I AM HERE.

I’ve never met anyone in my life who had the ability to love like my Grandmother. Through every trial, every death and every horrible circumstance, she always managed to be the one that held it together for the whole family. Never allowing the roller coaster of life to take her off course, she always pushed towards the mark. Her tenacity to find the good inspite of all that appeared bad is a lesson that I will carry with me forever.

I would ask my Grandmother every Saturday night if she was going to church the next morning and her response was always, “If the Lord let’s me live”.  I never understood why she didn’t give me a “yes” or “no” answer until the day that I watched the lady that dried my tears, taught me how correctly do mathematical division (the long way) for my fourth grade math class and cheer me on throughout every major event in my life lose her battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

To have your one constant friends not remember your face is a devastating experience, but to know that God trusted me enough to have many years of her wisdom is comforting.

Now when I am face with my own obstacles and I’m at a crossroads asking myself if I can make it, my answer is, “If the Lord let’s me live”. Through the life of my Grandmother, Lona A. King, I can declare that I AM HERE!!

"When you know why you live, you refuse to die in your circumstances"

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