Take inspiration from Women of Note member Damali Elliott.

Tell us about your professional background.

In 2009, I had what I like to call a “crisis of purpose,” a little after a year of doing entertainment PR, I decided to leave because I was really unhappy with the work. That moment kick-started a personal journey to uncover my passion and drive. I was flooded with requests from families in my community to provide coaching to girls in distress. I started a weekly dinner for a few girls and haven’t looked backed since. Now six years later, I’m the Founder and Chief Dream Builder of Petals-N-Belles, a not-for-profit, social development organization established to empower girls through creative workshops, real-world experiences and academic coaching. I am at the forefront of a movement to inspire the next generation of female leadership.

Describe yourself in 10 words or less.

An inquisitive, loving, compassionate soul, living her wildest dreams.

Who do you turn to for advice and inspiration?

I have myriad of dynamic mentors that inspire and challenge me, Tiffany Dufu, the Chief Leadership Officer at Levo League; Roxanne Ozoude, the Founder and Chief Consultant at Ijeoma Consulting LLC; Dr. Melvin Thompson, the Board Chair at Petals-N-Belles; and my parents, who are my daily champions and confidants, to name a few.

 

Name one thing that has made an impact on you through your work empowering young girls.

Through my work, I have witnessed girls living amongst poverty and scarcity yet, when asked, they offer everything they have to a peer in need. These wonderful girls are like magicians, relying on surrounding resources to give whatever they can. Their compassion is contagious. It moves me to continue pushing forth on their behalf. I want to encourage the busy adults I engage with to be just as resourceful and make a genuine commitment to invest in youth.

What is the best career advice you ever received and from whom?

The best career advice I have ever received was from my, now late, mentor, Dr. Marcia Bayne Smith, who had over 30 years of experience in education and philanthropy; having published extensively on the health issues of women, immigrants and racial/ethnic minorities. She advised, “Petals-N-Belles is going to be the most difficult thing you will ever do, and the moment you think it’s getting challenging, you’ve just begun. People will try to derail you when they recognize your potential to suit their agenda. Don’t let them. Everything you would like to accomplish is yours, just don’t stop.” This conversation has grounded me throughout the past six years of establishing Petals-N-Belles. I continue to withstand the storms that come with being a leader and social entrepreneur.

How do you relax, unwind and recharge?

Traveling is my escape, and my favorite way to recharge. I love to explore the world and enjoy the much-needed downtime. I make it a priority to book an extended vacation every two years for at least 30 days. In 2015, I spent 30 days in Thailand, making friends with the locals, enjoying their delectable cuisine and hailing tuk tuks. I take shorter vacations throughout the year and make it a point to travel solo and reconnect with myself. This is the greatest gift, alongside meditating and practicing yoga daily.

Answer this question from Christina Alfonso, December 2015's Up Close & Notable featured member: If you could see the future, what would you chose to be your greatest contribution?

My greatest contribution would be to armor youth with fearlessness. Girls are apprehensive to dream out of fear of being “unrealistic,” but I believe imagination is the key to impact change. I want girls to recognize their strength and tap into their authentic power.

 

Answer this question from Christina Alfonso, December 2015's Up Close & Notable featured member: If you could see the future, what would you chose to be your greatest contribution?

My greatest contribution would be to armor youth with fearlessness. Girls are apprehensive to dream out of fear of being “unrealistic,” but I believe imagination is the key to impact change. I want girls to recognize their strength and tap into their authentic power.

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