Author: Toni Lepeska

This Nashville Nonprofit Is Breaking the Cycle of Illiteracy, One Child at a Time

The success of a Nashville, Tennessee summer literacy program for at-risk children may be measured by figures, or by the delighted expressions and the number of high-fives offered community volunteers like Jennifer Weinberg. She knew her hour-a-visit efforts to read with children were making headway by the second week. While the East Nashville Hope Exchange (ENHE) that runs the intensive six-week program offers some heady statistics, it was the excitement as Weinberg arrived for another round of “Reading Buddies” that most tugged at her heart.         “I really get excited to see them excited,” says Weinberg, who is also...

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This Supermom CEO Empowers & Preserves Through Her Multi-Million Dollar Skincare Business

  “I didn’t start out being a hard worker,” she said. “In fact, I’m physically lazy. I assign people things to get work done.”         Can you imagine that?  An entrepreneur who built a multi-million dollar skin care company while homeschooling 14 children naming herself among the slothful?         She’s apparently set the bar high because she also doesn’t feel that she has, as they say, arrived. There’s still too much to do. With her family. With her company. With the world.         Tammie Umbel travels to Third World countries for natural products to create economic opportunities for their...

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Meet Veronica T. Mallett: The Modern Woman’s Health Innovator & Diversity Educator

An innovative researcher and educator in the field of women’s health, Dr. Veronica T. Mallett will never forget how her father rescued her pre-med studies from a college professor who told her she didn’t have what it took to be a doctor. She’d begun her studies at Barnard College in New York, full of enthusiasm and confidence, but in the years of Affirmative Action, people looked at her questionably – “As though I didn’t belong. I began to question whether I did,” Mallett said. Exposed to wealth at a level she’d never seen and paired with a roommate who’d...

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Nashville Charter School Reaches Milestone With $26.8 Million Funding From BB&T

Knowledge Academies Inc. (KA) in Antioch, Tenn. reached a milestone recently with the sale of $26.8 million in bonds to help fund the school’s vision of hands-on, collaborative learning for the whole family. BB&T Capital Markets closed on the bonds Nov. 16. Proceeds will provide funding for the public network of schools that commenced operations in 2012 and expects to enroll more than 1,100 students by 2019. All of the bonds were funded using private dollars, representing a true public-private partnership. They were purchased, in a limited public offering, by Nuveen, which currently manages $900 billion in assets, combining...

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Why Cultural Intelligence Is Essential for Your Business to Thrive

Gerry Fernandez’s “aha” moment happened many years ago. He was an apprentice cook at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City, and an unusual number of African-Americans came in for a dinner event. The chef was accustomed to cooking the filet mignon medium rare, but he was warned to prepare it medium well this time. It’s what his customers would expect, but the chef did not listen. He cooked some 400 steaks at medium rare. “Just like clockwork,” Fernandez said, “those steaks started to come back. That was my earliest lesson on being culturally intelligent. In early black...

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Mixtroz: This Mother-Daughter Duo Is Putting the Quality Back in Connections

Ashlee Ammons scanned the room for colored dots. A 27-year-old former college cheerleader, radio disc jockey and sorority sister who’d been groomed for New York on a diet of Sex and the City episodes, she loved the city’s fast pace and fashion sense. She had organized events with Oprah Winfrey and Leonard DiCaprio in attendance. She was known as “Ashlee at TAO,” a reference to a big-deal luxury hospitality company. In five years, she’d gone from being an executive assistant for one of its owners, Noah Tepperberg, to director of events. Ammons was well-connected, but she felt she needed...

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Nashville School Makes History With Innovative Approach to Student Development

Written by: Toni Lepeska | photography by: Barbara Potter School is in session at a former Best Buy in a nondescript strip mall in Antioch, Tenn., and not only is the whole community invited, but a history-making publication is in the works. Knowledge Academies relies on the premise that children learn better when family members, business leaders and community partners involve themselves hands-on in student education. KA is using all sorts of methods to encourage participation, such as health and career fairs and even enlisting a Jazz band to play at one of its monthly family meetings. “That opens the...

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The National Hispanic Corporate Council’s Annual Summit Was a Spring Hit of Opportunity

Written by: Toni Lepeska | photography by: Eddie Arrossi Photography Terry Deas walked away from the National Hispanic Corporate Council’s annual summit this spring with the wonderful feeling that he’s been getting it right. A diversity strategist for 16 years, Deas was surrounded by like-minded representatives of Fortune 1000 companies at the Atlanta event, which centered on the sharing of best corporate practices in the capturing of the U.S. Hispanic consumer market. At about 57 million people, Hispanics represent almost 18 percent of the population, and in 2015, possessed $1.3 trillion of the buying power, larger than the GDP...

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