What is your profession? Please provide a description.
I currently serve as the CEO of WeBuild Concord, a nonprofit affordable housing developer in North Carolina’s fastest-growing city. I have served as a c-suite executive in the public and social sectors for over 25 years. I have led regional youth and adult education, civil rights, workforce, housing, and economic policy agencies. Agencies include the MLK Center on Long Island, Urban League of Central Carolinas, Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Workforce Development Board, Senior Policy Advisor of the City of Richmond, and others. My primary focus in all my roles is to bring a sense of justice and systemic change.
When you hear your name as Dad, Father, Pops, etc., what do you feel?
I instantly feel a sense of love and pride. I become vigilant whenever my children, the oldest to the youngest, calls out to me. A sense of honor and spiritual strength comes with the name, responsibility, and voices of my children. There is no greater title.
God allowed me to endure injustices to love my children and exemplify resilience. The sound of my name has also allowed me to serve and encourage others. My children know I am always there, so I feel regal whenever I am in their presents.
What has been the greatest joy of fatherhood?
The gift of fatherhood is witnessing my children’s growth, dreams, and aspirations. Their imaginations and talents are so different that I see the diversity within my family. My oldest daughter is a teacher and entrepreneur with her fitness business. My oldest son is a sophomore at East Carolina University who has designed a clothing line with a solid following and was featured in the LA Fashion Week. My middle daughter is a freshman on scholarship with the Bethune-Cookman University Choir. My youngest son is in elementary school and interested in karate, dinosaurs, and science. His younger sister, just behind him, also enjoys gymnastics, OMG Dolls, and science.
Because my children represent a wider range of generations, I have an intimate and broad connection to their victories and challenges. Ultimately, I find joy in the resilience I have passed on to them as they shape their destinies and that a piece of me will always travel with them.
What do you feel that you can do to be a better father?
I want to spend more time intentionally asking them about their inner feelings and continue to create safer spaces for them. Being open and vulnerable is a strength for me. I want to expand it. We often try to fix everything we need to do better. While that is admirable, I focus just as much attention on improving those things I do well.
What has been the most meaningful lesson you learned from your child/children?
The most meaningful lesson is vulnerable honesty. I have gained trust because I can share my victories and defeats without shame. I know I have learned to do this better with their love.
Vulnerable honesty helps set some expectations while balancing tenderness and concern. While I could improve it, I know they respect me for my efforts. I will keep learning.
What keeps you so motivated when things get challenging?
My faith is not based on things unseen or hoped for but by witnessing what I have overcome so that they never have to cross those bridges. My mother helped develop my resilient and forgiving spirit, which translated nicely into my industry and personal life. I stay motivated because I still believe in humanity’s best potential. My children are examples of that potential. Thus, it is easy to stay motivated.
How much alike are you to your father in fatherhood?
We are night and day when it comes to engagement. I barely remember my father. I made sure my children know who I am. There is no accurate comparison.
What is the most challenging aspect of being a father?
The most significant challenge is juggling schedules. You want to be there for every critical moment. No matter the age, you desire to demonstrate everyone’s importance with your presence. It is not always possible, and I have issues with accepting my limitations.
What do you feel your legacy will be?
I want my children to know I was a humble and loving warrior for their existence. To this day, I kiss each of my children on the forehead. It symbolizes my affection and appreciation for their minds. I want them to remember that gesture as a symbol of who I am as a father.