When I first started this blog, I wrote a piece where I shared my musings regarding celebrity philanthropy. Although in theory the idea of famous people giving back and doing good seems to make sense, there are times when I question the intent of celebrities attaching their name to a cause or them creating a non-profit. I’m really concerned about the latter – especially if said non profit is being led by individuals who have not one clue about how to run an organization successfully.
Recently, some of my faith was restored.
I met Susan Taylor (former editor in chief at Essence Magazine, style icon and true philanthropist) at a fundraiser for one of Russell Simmons’ charities. Susan emitted a genuine warmth and energy from the time she said, ‘hello‘. There was an authenticity about her that couldn’t be denied. I later found out that the cause she created, National Cares Mentoring Network, is one which she is truly passionate about and deeply committed to.
I was invited to the National Cares Mentoring Leadership Conference this past weekend to discuss simple yet strategic communications strategies that the chapters across the country could implement. During the welcome luncheon, Susan expressed why the work of mentoring in the African American community was a responsibility that for too long had gone ignored. The futures of the next generation depended on the actions we took now. As she spoke about the painful history from which African Americans have come in this country, I was flooded with emotion. She was right: we owed it to those who came before us and those who would come after. She asked questions throughout the conference just like we all did; she shied away from applause and stayed at the same hotel that the other conference attendees did.