My name is Tracy Garley, I was born in the West African country of Liberia, and moved to the US at the age of eleven. I attended Western International High School in Detroit and graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Food Industry Management. I'm the owner of West African lifestyle brand Zarkpa's, founder of West African catering company Culture in a Bowl, founder of City Girl Big Dreams, and CEO of its sister brand, GoFundHer.com. In each of these roles, I try to create opportunities for girls and women to transform their dreams into reality through collaboration and social networking.
As part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amber J., Amber is the founder and host of After it All, a podcast that shares weekly life lessons and interviews about individuals who land their dream jobs, achieve so-called "unrealistic" goals, and decide to live the life of their dreams. Most recently, Amber uprooted her life and moved to Phucket, Thailand.
For as long as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a makeup artist — and because of that, traditional school never interested me. All I wanted to do was go to cosmetic school, but for my parents, a makeup artist wasn't a "real job" so they wouldn't support me financially to pursue that dream.
Are you one of the lucky people who wakes up every morning eager to get out of bed? Or do you linger under the covers, dreading the day in front of you? Do you envy people who get up at 5:30 am, meditate for 20 minutes, go to the gym, then power through a productive day, accomplishing their goals? Are those people just lucky to be extremely passionate about their work and lives? Or do they have a special formula that enables them to be extremely efficient?
From my childhood through the early days of my career, one carrot always loomed clearly in the distance: money. Growing up, my family earned a modest income, so we always had to be extremely financially conscious with every decision. So after graduating college, I thrilled my grandmother when I snapped up a position as project manager for IBM Global Services and plunged myself into the "security" of a corporate job. I gave it all the dedication and passion I could, but every day I felt myself becoming more and more unfulfilled. Why? What did I have to complain about?
Melissa "MJ" Jacques is the Director of Human Resources at Mustache Agency, a Brooklyn-based full-service creative content agency. Since joining Mustache in 2019, MJ has spearheaded Mustache's first-ever intern program, "Content-oisseurs," and promoted various internal and external diversity, inclusion, and company culture events that have bonded Mustachers. More specifically, MJ created Lunch and Learns focused on embracing Black History Month and Pride, as well as supported black-owned businesses for event specific needs. Additionally, MJ has established relationships with various companies with aligned missions, partnered with Sparked for multiple agency networking events (with diversity at the forefront of recruiting), and worked with Cutter for women-driven screenwriting and networking events.
Dr. Mary Beth Wilkas Janke is a former United States Secret Service Agent and current consultant in the fields of forensic and clinical psychology and professor at George Washington University, where she teaches Abnormal Psychology and the Psychology of Crime and Violence. Mary Beth holds a Doctoral Degree in Clinical Psychology, a Master's Degree in Forensic Psychology, and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. She is also the author of " The Protector: A Woman's Journey from the Secret Service to Guarding VIPs and Working in Some of the World's Most Dangerous Places"
Aji Oliyide is a Senior Program Manager at Google who has worked on a number of projects related to product launches, and mergers and acquisitions. Aji sits on the board of directors for San Francisco CASA, a San Francisco non-profit devoted to supporting youth in the foster care system. In addition to board service, she enjoys volunteering and travelling. In 2011, she traveled to Nepal to participate in a charity trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp resulting in over $5,000 personally raised for a local Nepalese non-profit. In her spare time, Aji explores her creative side through her blog (Pivot Points) and her podcast Eat.Plank.Live. Her blog is focused on sharing insights from the decisions and events in people's lives that have influenced their path and how they interact with the world. Her podcast focuses on the role that food and fitness plays in our lives and is now live on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher. Aji holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and an MBA from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.