Hidden Figure: Crissy Dorsey


Hidden Figure: Crissy Dorsey

Crystal: Who is Crissy Dorsey?

Crissy: When asked this question, my mind automatically goes to thoughts like, “Tell them all of your accomplishments.”  Everyone always has this profound and boastful list of their most prestigious awards and education.

Well, the fact is, I don’t have all of that. Crissy Dorsey is just a 34-year- old woman with a desire to help anyone in need of anything I can provide.  It may sound crazy to most people. Honestly, sometimes It sounds crazy to me!  All I can say is, from a very young age, I’ve always been a person that felt an unusual amount of compassion for individuals that can’t provide for themselves or their families. I’ve always had this compelling desire to help, even when my situation wasn’t much different from theirs. Today, I’m still the same person, I just choose to act on my desires.

Crystal: Can you give the audience a glimpse of your past and the journey to where you are now?

Crissy: Growing up in Atlanta, Ga., I didn’t quite have the normal upbringing as most of my peers. My mother was introduced to “Crack” Cocaine by my father when I was around two years old. My grandparents raised my brother and me. My grandmother passed away from a heart attack when I was 5 or 6 and my grandfather later passed from a bowel obstruction when I was 11. Leaving my brother and me to live with aunts, cousins or any other family member who would take us in.

 At this point, it seemed like my mother had been on drugs my entire life. We didn’t have the best clothing. Hand-me-downs and thrift stores were how we managed. I can even remember times when we didn’t have food. We felt like a burden to our family, but we had each other and that’s all we needed!

One day, I remember vividly, it snowed in Atlanta. I was young, so snow was very exciting and rare to see. Schools were closed and my brother and I were anxious to go out to play. Well, we did. That day changed my life forever. We took off out the door, picking up snow by the fistful! Throwing snowball after snowball. Running carelessly up and down the street of our grandparents’ home. When something lying in the street catches our attention. We were pretty far away, yet close enough to know something wasn’t right with what we were seeing.

We took a couple steps closer and we realized it was our mother lying face down in the snow, throat slashed and blood gushing from her head. Terrified, I ran to get help while my brother stayed by her side. My family called for an ambulance and they rushed her off to the hospital. My mother was in a coma and remained that way for 6 weeks. I remember hearing the doctors say that if it hadn’t been for the snow, she would have died.

The doctors said something else that day that set the entire course of my life and career. They told my family that my mom was HIV positive. I was only 10 years old and I had no clue what that meant. But according to the doctors and my family, my mother was dying and she was dying soon. At that moment, I started to hate life.

You see, the year before, my mother had given birth to a baby boy. Ryan was his name. Ryan was the sweetest baby I’d ever seen. He smiled and all I could do is smile back. I had never been a big sister before. Holding him made me happier than I’d ever been. It also seemed that Ryan had given my mother a reason to finally get clean. She was so proud to have him. I saw her trying hard to be a good mother. Watching her, I realized that I’d never seen my mother be a mother. I was proud of her until one day the phone rang… I remember my aunt answered and suddenly gasped for air. It was the police on the phone looking for my mom. They told us that Ryan had been in a house fire and suffered third degree burns on 80% of his body. Apparently, my mom had relapsed and left him at a stranger’s home for a couple days without returning to get him. A couple weeks passed. After fighting for his life, Ryan lost the battle at 9 months old. That was the first time my family made the news. I can’t tell you to this day where he’s buried. However, I do remember him being buried in a wooden box, completely nailed shut and I cried because couldn’t see his face. Only four people attended his funeral, including my mother, brother and me.

Anyway, back to that day at the hospital. Not only did we learn that mom was HIV positive, we also learned she was pregnant. All the doctors were saying that she’s dying. I’d just lost my brother and now I may lose my mom and possibly the new brother or sister. Life just wasn’t fair. It hated me and I hated it just as much! My mother awakened from her coma and gave birth to a healthy, HIV negative baby girl named Toby. Shortly after I met my sister, my mother relapsed. Once again, she left her baby with strangers. The police notified my family. After they refused to take Toby in, she was placed in state custody. I didn’t see her again until she was 3 years old. That’s actually around the time my mom decided to leave drugs alone for good. She started working and got an apartment. She’d been taking her medications regularly and wanted to take a shot at raising her 3 surviving children. She attended mandatory parenting and addiction classes. Eventually, she gained full custody of my sister. Things were finally looking up!

Now 15 years old, I finally had a chance to live with my mom. She did everything I imagined a mom should do. She cooked, cleaned, gave us chores and even punished us when we were disobedient. I’d never seen anyone so hard. My mom could do anything and I couldn’t have been more proud! During that time, I watched the stigma of HIV. I remember family dinners. My aunts would make my mother drink from the water hose if she was thirsty. She’d have to eat out of one bowl that became “Cheryl’s bowl”.  Cheryl’s bowl also was the common dog food bowl. My mother wasn’t allowed to enter the kitchen or use their restroom. Anything she touched or any place she sat would immediately be drenched in bleach the moment she left.  No one would touch her. Her own family treated her like a monster. Not only her, but my siblings and I too.

My mom became depressed and eventually turned to drugs again. She stopped taking her meds and soon after, AIDS took over. My mother passed away from complications from AIDS when I was 17 years old. Leaving my brother and me to raise a soon to be 6-year-old little sister. I learned a lot from my mother during the two years we lived together. She taught us how to survive off the little things we had. She taught me courage, determination and strength.  In addition to these valuable lessons, she taught me the importance of protecting myself sexually. Night after night, she’d call the three of us to her room to watch her take her meds, a total of 31 pills a day.

After the death of my mom, I wasn’t the same. I’d experienced so many disappointments, one after another. Year after year… I was broken. There I was, a 17-year-old girl; barely making it in school; crying myself to sleep; worried about how I was going to eat; and somedays where I’d sleep. I had so much pain and anger bottled up inside. Not even my closest friends knew what was going on with me. I was ashamed.

I began to wonder how many other people were going through similar situations. There had to be others! Life couldn’t just hate me and me alone. I started to watch and notice the pain in others. I paid attention to people that walked with their heads down and barely smiled, because that’s what I did. I’d make an effort to speak and hug homeless people to let them know they were still human and not completely forgotten about. I began to take left over food to people who lived on the corner of our home or who hung out at the local store or bus stops. I fell in love with the feeling that overwhelmed me whenever I made someone smile or when they’d hug me and tell me “God Bless you”.  I was hooked! I took a special interest in women and children, I haven’t looked back since.

Crystal: What does philanthropy mean to you?

Crissy: Philanthropy, in my eyes, is simply identifying a need and having the courage to fill it no matter what it cost. If you care about people, you’d do what you can to make someone’s life better.

Crystal: What is your prayer for the people you serve?

Crissy: I pray that the people I serve know they are not forgotten. I pray they know that people like me focus their entire life to discover ways to help enhance or improve theirs.

I pray they find the strength to push through their current circumstances and not allow unfortunate situations to defeat them. Finally, I pray that once they do make it out, they reach back and grab someone else.

Crystal: What is Our Story Inc.?

Crissy: Our Story, Inc. is a nonprofit organization for minority families affected by HIV/AIDS. The unique thing about this organization is, I am specifically targeting African American/Latino men/women actively living with HIV/AIDS, their negative status family members and their children. Most nonprofits put emphasis on prevention. We put an emphasis on survival and purposeful living. 

Our Mission Statement:

Creating healthy and positive life outcomes for minority children and teens affected by HIV/AIDS, by focusing on life skills, educational support, social and psychological development.

My organization directs focus on educating mothers/fathers with HIV/AIDS about the disease, treatment and transmission. We discuss ways to effectively communicate about the disease to their children and other family members, prevention tips and what to expect after death. It is my belief, that providing resources to this particular demographic will help bring awareness to the community.

Our Story, Inc. offers support groups including:  social and psychological development, emotional support, clothing/food services, and prevention/ transmission education. In addition, we also offer workforce readiness workshops, tutoring, mentoring, life skills, educational scholarships, childcare services, and camp services.

Crystal: What is Dining with Dignity?

Crissy: DWD is a sister company to Our Story, Inc., which was also founded by me. With DWD, a group of friends and our kids create the ultimate dining experience for individuals and families in need. Everything from signing in their name with the greeter to being seated by the wait staff. There are even times when they experience wait times when the tables are full. We select a location, set up chairs, tables covered with linens and decorated with place settings, and a menu.  We offer free, three course meals to anyone who needs it. 

All food is home cooked and prepared by me. My best friend, Ebonie Cleaves and I usually partner a lot on each other’s community service projects. Her son Brian (age 10) is the director of wait staff for DWD. He does a great job with directing us and being accurate with how many people, plates and refills are needed in our dining area.

Crystal: How did you come up with the idea for Dining with Dignity?

Crissy: DWD stemmed from watching my mother being an outcast when she lived on the streets. It also came from myself and my siblings not having food to eat. God blessed me to overcome my circumstances and I understood what it felt like to be hungry. I wanted to give back, but not in a way that was common. So I got creative!

Crystal: Typically, how many people do you serve?

Crissy: Since we’ve started DWD last year, we have fed and estimated 300 homeless men, women and children. And 4 dogs. LOL

Crystal: What’s been your best giving experience?

Crissy: My best giving experience comes from the first time I fed people under DWD. We fed 62 people that day and one guy stood out. We kept in contact and I began to develop a friendship with him. He was my age with a mental disability. His mother took care of him until she passed away earlier that year. He lived on the street because he had no relatives in the area.  I started to drop food off to him daily and later found out what skills and hobbies he possessed. Through a course of events, including creating a resume and teaching him interview tips, he now has a job and an apartment. He currently lives on his own and provides for himself. He’s now one of my closest friends and helps volunteer at other DWD events.

Crystal: Why do these causes mean so much to you?

Crissy: These causes mean so much to me because I was once the person in need.

Crystal: How did the movie impact your life?

Crissy: The movie Hidden Figures was inspiring to me on so many different levels. I was always a person to do things in silent and never wanted recognition for them. I believe when you do things from the heart, God is the only person that needs to see. The movie made me reconsider. I now believe that telling my story and shedding light on my community service can somehow encourage others to channel their inner talents and follow their hearts. Who knows, maybe we’ll change the world.

Crystal: This blog is about hidden figures in our communities. How does it feel to know your peers consider you a hidden figure?

Crissy: I’m honored and humbled to know that my peers see me in a positive light.

Crystal: Who is your Hidden Figure/mentor?

Crissy: Ebonie Cleaves. She’s a friend, partner in service, advisor, and confidant.

Crystal: What is your favorite quote?

Crissy: “Don’t allow life to stop you from living.” – Crissy

Crystal: What is your favorite book?

Crissy: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Dr. Maya Angelou

Crystal: What words of inspiration can you leave the audience?

Crissy: We take so many things for granted: food, water, shelter, clothing, even our parents. No matter your circumstances, no matter your finances, there is always someone praying to be in your position.  Always be grateful.  -Crissy

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Hidden Figure: Latisha Heath



Hidden Figure: Latisha Heath

Crystal:  Who is Latisha Heath?

Latisha:  Latisha Heath is a woman of God! Speaking on who I am requires a spiritual and physical response.  In the physical, I am a mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, leader and entrepreneur. I love family and indulge in the details of how God wants us to relate and interact with those he joined us with through blood. In the spiritual sense, I am a strong woman of God who operates in the Five Fold Apostolic Ministry. I love to encourage and inspire people with the word of God.  My passion is to help others have the abundant life that is desired for us by the divine creator.

Crystal:  What is the name of your organization?

Latisha:  The ministries that I would like to share are: God Empowers Me (GEM), World In Need Outreach (WIN), and BeastMode Fitnezz. These ministries all works together to empower the mind, body, spirit and soul.  GEM caters to the spiritual side of a person, which includes the mind, spirit and soul. GEM also encourages people to live a life of freedom by biblical principles. WIN helps us go beyond the four walls and extend ourselves to help others. BeastMode Fitnezz caters to empowering us to become healthy through diet and exercise using biblical principles.

Crystal:  Talk about a pivotal moment in your life that motivated you to want to help other women?

Latisha:   God allowed me make if out of some pretty serious relationships.  The deliverance from those relationships motivated me to help women.  The Holy Spirit revealed to me that he would use my shame as my platform.  As he groomed and prepared me to share my testimony, I found out that many women were facing similar types of abuse in their relationships. They were able to draw strength from my testimony to seek God for answers and move on.

Crystal:  What are some of the activities you host to assist women?

Latisha:  God Empowers Me hosts many activities to empower women across the United States. We host monthly sessions called Coffee, Conversation and a Word. We also host vision board parties, weekly prayer and empowerment calls, outreach missions, and daily social media interactions and posts.

Crystal:  How important is faith and spirituality in your organization?

Latisha:  God Empowers Me Ministries (GEM) was founded on biblical principles used to empower people in all walks of life.

Crystal:  What lessons of empowerment do you utilize to assist the women you serve?


Latisha:  GEM motivates mentally, spiritually and physically. We promote the physical health by challenging members to complete thirty minutes of working out a day (GEMtyme). We promote healthy eating and provide fitness tips. GEM assists with those who are seeking to have a deeper understanding of their calling or vocation.  Additionally, we contribute with helping to cope with life issues using individual and group interactive sessions.

Crystal:  You recently made a huge jump, how has the experience enrich your life? Do you have any regrets?

Latisha:  My recent jump has allowed me to really see want I am made of. My faith has been tested to see if I was really ready to walk to my potential. My life has been enriched because I fully trust God to take care of me and my family.

Crystal:  There are three main characters in the movie Hidden Figures, which one resonates with you?

Latisha:  The character in the movie who I think resonates with me is Katherine. She is very witty, tenacious and analytical. I am a person who looks at what the numbers are saying and how they play a part in the building of a background. Numbers tell a story, whether good or bad. Data is what gives us information on so many important things in the world.

Crystal:  Tell us about your book?

Latisha:  My book, Rivers of Living Water is a collection of God-inspired commentaries, essays and interpretations. Most use it as daily devotions to give them wisdom and insight of God’s word in a clear and simplistic way.

Crystal:  What inspired you to write your book?

Latisha:  The Holy Spirit inspired to publish Rivers of Living Water. I send out inspirational messages to my family and friends daily. God inspired me to compile those messages in a book. I was going through dark times in my life and the messages helped me to endure. I obtained strength from my own writings.

Crystal:  What is your favorite quote?

Latisha:  My favor quote comes from Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. Happiness to me is living life with freedom to be myself.

My favorite quote is: “In order to lead, you must first learn to follow”.

Crystal:  What can the audience expect from you in the future?

Latisha:  My audience can expect a wide variety of inspirational books that will empower the mind, body, spirit and soul. Also, I will be inspiring others to be physically, mentally and spiritually healthy.

Crystal:  What words of inspiration can you leave the audience?

Latisha:  “If you never start, you will never finish. Start living and fulfilling your dreams.”

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Hidden Figure: Ariel Shaw, MBA

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Hidden Figure: Ariel Shaw, MBA

Crystal: Who is Ariel Shaw?

Ariel: Ariel Shaw, is a fearless, ambitious, and resilient daughter of the Most High. She is a mother, daughter, author, activist and business woman. She listens more than she speaks but when it is time for her to speak, she does so with wisdom, knowledge and authority. Ariel Shaw, MBA is the co-founder of AS Consulting LLC, the 2ndVice Chair of the Henry County Democratic Party, the Vice Chair of Pates Creek School Council, and more. She is a native of Charleston, South Carolina but currently resides in South Atlanta with her young daughter.

Crystal: What is AS Consulting?

Ariel: AS Consulting LLC is a full-service, Woman-Owned, Service Connected Veteran-Owned, Minority-Owned Logistical Management Firm. We assist small businesses and entrepreneurs in starting and/or growing their business. We have recently ventured into the federal contracting arena where we offer additional services to the federal government. Please visit us at www.arielshawconsulting.com

Crystal: How do you serve your community?

Ariel: I serve my community in many ways. As mentioned I serve on the Executive Board of the Democratic Party. I serve on the local school Council. I was recently an Advisory Board Member to a non-profit that focused on building young women up and introducing them to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (S.T.E.A.M). I am member of the National Black MBA Association which recently moved their headquarters from Chicago to Atlanta. I was instrumental in assisting the first African American woman get elected as the Commissioner in Henry County, GA. Additionally, I helped phonebank for the Hillary for America Campaign and am an activist in the community.

Crystal: Why did you participate in the Women’s March in Atlanta?

Ariel: I participated in the Women’s March in Atlanta, because I am first a mother and a woman. I am an advocate of women’s rights and their ability to live their life on their own terms and not according to Conservative Legislation.

Crystal: What message would you like this march to send to the new administration and to women around the world?

Ariel: The message that I would like to send to the new administration is that “We will not be silent…we will not allow Conservative White Men to decide what a woman does with her body.”

A message that I would like send to women around the world is that “We, women, are the most powerful creatures on earth. We have the ability to give life and to SPEAK life. WE must continue to come together in strength and in unity.”

Crystal: Did you know the Hidden Figures story prior to the movie?

Ariel: I did not know the story of Hidden Figures prior to the movie. Which, is actually a travesty with all the formal education I have had.

Crystal: Hidden Figures takes place in the 1950s. Has the plight of African American women change since that time?

Ariel: I think that the new administration and their laws will take this country backwards and women’s rights as well. I do believe that we have made great strides. There are more women entrepreneurs today than ever. Black women are in the lead as the most educated group. So yes, the plight has changed but not as much, we are still fighting for equal pay and a seat at the table.

Crystal: In the movie, young Katherine was encouraged to do her best by her teacher. Who encouraged you to become the woman you are today?

Ariel: My mother and the strong women (grandmothers and aunts) around me all encouraged me to do my best.

Crystal: I recently watched an interview featuring Katherine Johnson. In the interview, she stated that she had a desire to learn. Do you think the younger generation of women coming behind you and I have the passion to learn?

Ariel: I believe that the younger generation of women have a passion to earn money. If their learning is tied to an increase of wealth, then yes.

Crystal: How do you empower women?

Ariel: I empower young women through education and encouragement. I also empower them by “showing them” through what I achieve. Reminding them that they can do whatever they set their minds to and while there are many that will try to tell them different, always remember that they can. I also empower women by encouraging them to not be so dependent on a man and allowing a man to define them. Confident women attract the right kind of men…so be that confident woman first.

Crystal: What does it mean to be an empowered woman?

Ariel: Empowered woman, empower other women. Empowered women know who they are and are confident in their defining paths.

Crystal: How did the movie impact your life?

Ariel: The movie was extremely powerful and moving. It reinforced that we as Black Women are so phenomenal, we cannot be boxed in by stereotypes. It reinforced Black Girl Magic J

Crystal: Who is your Hidden Figure/mentor?

Ariel: I have many mentors and hidden figures through my aunts, professors, and professional relationships.

Crystal: What is your favorite quote?

Ariel: My current favorite quote is “IF you Educate a Man You Educate an Individual. But if you Educate a Woman, You Educate a Family (Nation).”

Crystal: What is your favorite book?

Ariel: My favorite book is my first self-published business manuscript “AS Consulting LLC Presents Business and Credit 101.” It is currently available for purchase and download on Amazon.com

Crystal: What words of inspiration can you leave the audience?

Ariel: Words of inspiration that I would like to leave the audience, is to believe in yourself and to stay focused. There are so many distractions today that one has to work extra hard to stay focused. Ensure that you are walking in your purpose which God will reveal to you. To all the women, you have so much individual strength, but when you unify…..watch out WORLD!

Hidden Figure: Sonja Green


Hidden Figure: Sonja Green

Crystal: Who is Sonja Green?

Sonja: Sonja is love and passion. I love everyone unconditionally. I have a passion for living life and helping people. My job is not done for the day if I did not make, at least, one person smile. I am not talking about the fake smile you get from someone that barely says hello to you. I am talking about that smile someone feels deep within and it exudes a moment of happiness on their face. I believe you can find something to smile about no matter what you are going through. The glass should always be half full instead of half empty.

Crystal: As a math teacher, how did Hidden Figures inspire you?

Sonja: They were problem solvers and made themselves indispensable. Katherine Johnson reminded me why I love math so much. There is something new to discover all the time. Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughn made me feel like, even at 40, I can still do anything I want. I can still break down barriers.

Crystal: When did you fall in love with Math?

Sonja: I fell in love with math during my 7th grade year. Before that year, I loved English/Language Arts. I was an awesome speller and a grammar/parts of speech guru, for my age. It was in 6th grade at Courtenay Middle School where I started to discover how good I was in Math, but my 7th grade year was that year. My teacher, Mr. Brockington, made Math enjoyable and easy to learn. From then on, I felt like I could conquer any math problem you put before me.

Crystal: How do make Math enjoyable for your students?

Sonja: I attempt to be like Mr. Brockington. I try to make math fun for my students. I grew up in a family where laughter cured almost all pain. To some kids, math is painful. They struggle so much with the logic behind it and the application of it. My philosophy is: “If I can get you to enjoy my class, you will eventually enjoy the math taking place in my class and want to learn more of it.”

Crystal: Did you know the Hidden Figures story prior to the movie?

Sonja: No. There are so many stories like theirs. History is full of amazing people we will never know about. The people who know of what took place in history will not tell. They would much rather want you to believe his story than to tell the “truth”.

Crystal: What do you think of the concept of human computers?

Sonja: I think it was awesome and inspiring to know there were so many black women that were so good with math, they were hired by NASA to check the engineers’ calculations.

Crystal: Who is your Hidden Figure/mentor?

Sonja: I have been fortunate to have a number of people guide and inspire me throughout my lifetime. There have been teachers, church members, pastors, and family members who have left a lasting impression on me and mentored me. My hidden figure was my grandmother, Lillie Mae Green. She believed in me from the beginning. She did not express it much through words, but I knew it from her actions. She, along with my grandfather, raised a family of 11 children. Nine of them she birthed and two she didn’t. I am one of those two. Grandma did not complete school, yet she had a wealth of knowledge. She was the epitome of strength. Above anything else, she was a problem solver.

Crystal: What is your favorite quote?

Sonja: “You always have a choice. It is the consequences of the choices you make that you have to live with” –Elizabeth B. Hunter

Crystal: How do you define success?

Sonja: Success is trying something and seeing it through to the end. Even if your end result is failure, you completed the task. The good thing about failing is you found a way not to do it. Now, you can try whatever it was again, but a different way. Hopefully, you get a better result.

Crystal: What is your favorite book?

Sonja: I do not have a favorite book. However, I love fiction. It takes me to a place in my imagination that has nothing to do with the stresses of my everyday life.

Crystal: What words of inspiration can you leave the audience?

Sonja: Never stop learning. Never stop wanting to learn. Learning makes you a better, more well-rounded person. Learning is not always something academic. Life lessons are the most valuable. Never stop paying attention. Always stay humble.


Hidden Figure: Ebonie Cleaves


Hidden Figure: Ebonie Cleaves

Crystal: Who is Ebonie Cleaves?

Ebonie: Ebonie Cleaves is a mother, daughter, friend, philanthropist, and lover of knowledge.

Crystal: Why do you engage in philanthropic activities?

Ebonie: It’s a  part of who I am. My spiritual gift is giving. It’s like breathing to me. I just can’t help it.11218495_10204305185381468_4435602406690704337_o

Crystal: How do you define philanthropy?

Ebonie: Reaching outside of yourself to help others. It’s not always about financial gains.

Crystal: How do these activities impact the people you serve?

Ebonie: They’re provided with basic needs; hopefully they are being encouraged. They’re not in their situation alone. I hope they know people generally care about their well-being.

Crystal: How can others serve their communities?

Ebonie: Open the door and walk out. They just have to be willing. There is more than enough work to be done. gs3

Crystal: What challenges do you see in your community?

Ebonie: I see substance abuse. There is still a high dropout rate in Georgia. There are people living below the poverty line. There are people that are functionally illiterate.

Crystal: When you’re out on the front lines, what do people need? What are their stories?

Ebonie: Everything. People want somewhere warm to lay their heads, basic medical supplies, their next meal, diapers for their babies, or just a simple change of clothes. The stories are just as diverse as the people. There are Veterans, mentally ill, and people who were put out by family when they became too much of a burden; women with kids.

Crystal: For your birthday, you asked your guests to bring items for the homeless. Why? What inspires you to give your time, money, and talents to the less fortunate?

Ebonie: I can truthfully say that I have everything I need. It’s truly a blessing to help someone in need. Why not take that occasion, my birthday, to bless someone else?

Why not use my birthday as a time to chance to get together with friends and family and let them into my world? I do a lot of my philanthropy under the radar. I am not looking for recognition or awards. It’s just something that needs to be done. By using my birthday and the holidays as a time to get everyone together, to serve the community, I hope it plants a seed in them to gs4want to give back. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Hopefully, they’ll keep it going long after the birthday party.

Crystal: What other volunteer activities do you participate in?

Ebonie: Girls Scouts. This is my 8th year as a leader. I volunteer at my son’s school. I volunteer with Dining with Dignity. Dining with Dignity is an amazing effort to bring a hot meal to Atlanta’s homeless in a restaurant style.

Also, I volunteer at Kashi Atlanta Inc., street meals program and Hosea Williams Feed the Hungry and Homeless.

(Crissy Dorsey, the founder of Dining with Dignity will be featured on Feb. 5, 2017).

Crystal: How did Hidden Figures impact 13327546_10102090808919350_2002651164592076289_nyour life?

Ebonie: I left Hidden Figures feeling like I could do anything. Well, maybe not the math. (laughter) The movie left me wanting to know more.

It made me want to know who else is a Hidden Figure. Who has change the world and is not getting the recognition they deserve. The movie left me encouraged to plot my own course.

It also made me sad that it took fifty years for these women to be recognized. Thank God, President Obama knew the story and awarded Katherine Johnson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.

Crystal: Did you know the hidden figures story prior to the movie?

Ebonie: No, I did not know the story prior to seeing the movie. I attended U.S. Space Camp twice and I did not know this story. I can only imagine how my life would have changed if I knew this story.

Crystal: Who is your Hidden Figure/mentor?

Ebonie: Helen Wilson, my fifth-grade teacher. She would push me into everything. Everything from assembly programs to science academy on Saturday at Clark Atlanta 13718623_10102168566776980_4614795129670316122_nUniversity.

My girl scout leaders, Doris Secka and Candice Brown. They made me take advantage of everything that was available to me. They got me out of my community and made me see the world. My first plane ride came about because Doris Secka, spoke to others about a science project I completed. Girl Scouts flew me out to Montana where I went to a research institute and learned about medical testing.

I try to think about them when I work with my girls.

Crystal: In the movie, education was paramount to the success of Katherine Johnson? What are your thoughts on education?

Ebonie: Education is truly the last equalizer for us as a people. We cannot let anything keep us from knowing everything. There is no reason why there should not be a college degree hanging on the wall of every child in this upcoming generation.

Crystal: I watched a video in which Katherine Johnson stated, children in this generation do not seem to want to learn. What do you think about that statement?

Ebonie: She is right. I work at a school and it seems like we almost have to lock the doors to keep the students in. We are so fortunate to have a public-school system. A 12743981_10101936779046450_3266138839826397935_nsystem where no matter if you’re rich or poor, black or white, female or male, you can get an education. I think about my grandmother and my great grandmother. They just wanted something beyond a third-grade education.

We are fighting just to put books in these children hands. A free education is being discarded. I remember when I was in college at The University of Memphis. One of my professor stated, American college students are the only consumers who don’t want what they paid for.

Students would just not show up to class. Somebody paid for you to go to the class. The least you could do is show up.

Crystal: Lisa Nichols has a quote; your passion is not always for profit. What does that quote mean 1934918_10101866797809410_2075267906609307403_nto you?

Ebonie: Amen. The pay has to be the feeling you get on the inside. Your reward comes in the form of favor, grace, and mercy.

Crystal: Do you have a favorite quote?

Ebonie: “Not failure, but low aim is sin.” -Benjamin E Mays. You just have to try. If you’re not failing, you’re not trying.

(Ebonie attended Benjamin E Mays High School).

Crystal: What is your favorite book?

Ebonie: I don’t have a favorite book. I think as a librarian, having a favorite book is against the law. (laughter) The book I am reading now is called Fervent by Priscilla Shrier.

Crystal: What is your next philanthropic project? How can the audience assist in this endeavor?

Ebonie: My next project is to launch my non-profit organization.

Crystal: What words of inspiration can you leave the audience?gs 1

Ebonie: Go! We don’t have time to wait or waste. We don’t have time to be fearful. We just have to GO! Go towards your dreams. Go towards your visions. GO!

Crystal: I recently had the pleasure of attending an event where the guest speaker was Dr. Ruben West. He said something that really stirred my soul. He stated, wait, broke the scale.

Ebonie: Yes, say that again. We don’t have time to wait. The time is now. GO!

Hidden Figures



Genius has no age, no country, no race; it belongs to mankind.

-Kelly Miller


It’s January 15, 2017, MLK day, an unusually warm day in Atlanta, Georgia. I entered the Stonecrest Mall AMC movie theater with my daughter and her Girl Scout Troop. I’d waited weeks to see Hidden Figures. As an avid movie goer, it was painful to wait to see the movie with the girls and their mothers. I wanted to see the movie opening night! Yet, I waited to experience the movie with my daughter’s troop.

As the lights dimmed and the coming attractions played, I sat eagerly in anticipation waiting on Hidden Figures. Finally, the movie began! Little did I know, my life would forever be changed. On the edge of my seat, I watched as Taraji P Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae brilliantly portrayed the story of three beautiful, black, intelligent women.

I shed tears as I watched Taraji’s character run back and forth to the restroom. I cheered as Octavia Spencer’s and Janelle Monae’s characters triumphed. I wanted to stand and shout when the “colored computers” proved they were worthy and capable of doing the job. By the end of the movie, I sat bursting with pride and questions. Why wasn’t this story in my history books? How could these women exist and not make it into the history books? When we studied stories of the trip to space, NASA stories, and the John Glenn story, why did the story omit the women of color who helped him get there?

I felt cheated.

I left the movie theater and began to research the lives of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson. I wondered how many of our national treasures, our Hidden Figures, have gone unnoticed. What were their contributions to the advancement of the world and the advancement of people of African descent.

Who are the hidden figures in our communities? Who are the women working diligently to improve our communities each day without the accolades? I want to honor women who are the Hidden Figures of our community.

So, for the month of February, that is my task. I will honor 28 women who are considered a hidden figure by their peers and their community. I hope you will enjoy their stories.

Crme no backgroundystal


Don’t Allow Fear to Suffocate your Dreams

Don’t Allow Fear to Suffocate your Dreams


You Block your Dream when you allow your fears to Grow Bigger than your Faith.

-President Barack Obama

Yesterday, I interviewed with Janis Mavis on WMEL 104.1. The show was amazing! I am still on an inspirational high from sharing my story with others. I held in my gifts for so long and suffocated my dream with fear. It is refreshing to speak to others. To inspire, encourage, and lift up others. I am here to tell you, stop suffocating your dreams. I wrote stories for years in silence. My mother, my sister, my best friends, no one knew I was writing. My big mama, my second mother, the matriarch of my family, the investigator of all family secrets, Lillie Mae Green, did not know I was secretly locked away in my room writing stories. To be honest, I have enough stories written in spiral notebooks to consistently published books for the next couple of years.

37241_1267871228585_2814342_nMy inspiration for writing began with storytelling. My grandparents were great story tellers. My paternal grandmother, Elouise Fishburne Holmes, was born in 1902. She did not read or write, but she told the best stories. I began writing as a form of entertainment when sitting on the porch, looking at cars pass on a dirt road. A little girl with a pen and paper, who dreamed day in and day out that she could be somebody. I never participated in writing programs in school, never raised my hand to be a talent in school or church plays, but secretly I wrote stories and poems. I dreamed and I wrote. I held those dreams, locked them in spiral notebooks for years, until that small voice inside said, you are good enough. Don’t allow fear to suffocate your dreams.

Dream the impossible. Dream dreams that are bigger than you wildest thoughts. You can be anything you want to be. Get started on being the person you are destined to be and put in the work. Stop hiding behind insecurities and fear. Stop letting other people put their fears on you. Just stop and be you. Be the person you believe God 36393_1270384131406_4589406_ncreated you to be.

I, a little chocolate girl from Hollywood, South Carolina is a published author, poet, playwright, and future film maker. Encourage, uplift, and inspire yourself and others to be great! Also, greatness is a community effort. I have a strong support system and I had a great mentor. Learn everything you can about what you are doing. Although I have a college education, you can seek education in different forms. Don’t let a degree, or lack thereof, stop you from going after your dreams. Google University and your local library can provide you with enough education to become the next big thing.


 me natural

Crystal Myers                                              


Week 3: One Girl’s Journey to Fit: My Schedule Won’t Let Me Be Great

Week 3: One Girl’s Journey to Fit: My Schedule Won’t Let Me Be Great

keep goingIf you keep going you will see results…If you stop, you won’t.

Losing weight is a battle, especially when you have a busy schedule. I love food, but I hate exercising. Well, I shouldn’t say I hate exercising; but I just can’t seem to find the time to fit exercising into my schedule.

My schedule just won’t let me be great. My schedule for the last quarter of this year is hectic. I set my alarm every morning for 5:00 a.m. to work out, but this week instead of working out, I have been working on my next novel.

When do I find the time to add exercise to my day? I did not lose any weight this week partially because I haven’t exercise. The vegetarian diet has been easier than I thought. However, the exercising has been difficult. During the summer, I was walking five miles a day at a local park. Now that school is back in session, my daughter’s schedule prevents me from making it to the track. Finding the time and motivation to turn off my favorite shows, put my laptop and phone down, and work out has been a struggle. I have decided for the next 13 weeks that I would hold my self-accountable for exercising by keeping a daily journal of my workouts just as I keep a journal of what I eat and a schedule of my daily writing word count. I have a magic number in my mind I want to see at the end of this six-week challenge. I know that it is up to me to do what is necessary to reach it.

So, I am going to create a schedule that will help me be great. I learned this week that excepting perfection while on this journey is a set up for failure. There will be times when I won’t meet my goals, but those disappointments are not a reason to quit or give up. The only way the scale is going to move is if I move. Have a great week! LET’S MOVE! I WILL BE GREAT! #myjourneytofit #iwillbegreat #weekdayvegetarian

Weight Loss This Week: 0       Total Weight Loss 5 1bs  

Favorite Recipe of the Week: Black Bean Burger

burgerRecipe By: LAURENMU

  • 1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 onion, cut into wedges
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Thai chili sauce or hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs


  1. If grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. If baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), and lightly oil a baking sheet.
  2. In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork until thick and pasty.
  3. In a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Then stir into mashed beans.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin, and chili sauce.
  5. Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties.
  6. If grilling, place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side.

me naturalCrystal Myers

CEO of Crystal Myers Writes & Creative Expressions Press

Crucial Conversations

Crucial Conversations: How Your Conversation Skills Impact Your Relationships

crucial conversations

Respect is like air. You don’t really notice it until it’s not there-and then it’s all you notice.

Crucial Conversations

Recently, I attended a workshop entitled Crucial Conversations. The workshop was an eye-opener. Often times, we don’t realize how our conversations impact our business, relationships, and friendships. It is crucial that we take time and reflect on our conversations. We have all heard the sayings, “it is not what you say but how you say it” and “think before you speak.” These sayings are so true, as they are a crucial part of effective conversations.

Sometimes, we don’t realize that the way we say something can be received in a negative way by the person we are engaging in a conversation with. It is important that you take the time to make sure your tone, body language, and style of speaking are received in the way in which you intended.

Here are five ways to have meaningful conversations:

  1. Listen – Do not dominate the conversation or talk over others. Pause and listen. Remember, conversations include more than one person. If you take the time to listen, you will be able to hear the other person’s point of view.
  2. Be open-minded – Do not enter a conversation with your mind made up. Enter the conversation with an open mind and ear.
  3. Think before you speak – If you are “in your feelings”, do not respond in the heat of the moment. Take a moment to breathe. If the conversation allows, tell the person or people you need a moment to gather all the facts before you respond.
  4. Mutual Respect – Treat people the way you want to be treated.
  5. Eye Contact – Hold eye contact when you are having a conversation. It shows the person you are present in the conversation and that they can trust you.

Be intentional with your conversations. Do not let your conversations reach a crucial, point-of-no-return state, before you take the time to reflect and breathe.


me naturalCrystal Myers

CEO of Crystal Myers Writes & Creative Expressions Press