‘Vision+Strategy Brunch’ series supports women’s personal goals

Every woman and every person she’s connected to deserves a life that is fulfilling, full of love, purposeful and full of abundance.

Cassandra N. Vincent, Creator of the Vision+Strategy Brunch series addresses March 2017 attendees.

Courtesy/Jerri Marie Clark Photography

Cassandra N. Vincent, Creator of the Vision+Strategy Brunch series addresses March 2017 attendees.

Why shouldn’t we live an excellent and exciting life filled with the people and experiences we absolutely love? What normally keeps us from these dreams are defined in our daily practice, lack of personal vision, and strong belief that we deserve to experience life bountifully — limiting mindsets.

Living a fully liberated and purpose filled life is not exclusive to one group of people, or only for certain people or personality types over the other. We truly determine the life, careers, love, adventures, and experiences we want in our lives.

Outside of circumstances, we are born into, the day we recognize that we want different or desire change is the day we decide the direction of our lives. Every day is an opportunity to decide and create a life worth living. Personal vision, a growth mindset, and great strategy are essentials for realizing the life and success we define as our personal goal.

-Cassandra N. Vincent, Creator of The Vision+Strategy Brunch

Last month women gathered in Baltimore to learn, connect, and grow together over brunch, networking, and many memorable moments. This was not just brunch, but an intentional gathering of women for the purpose of encouraging personal growth. The Vision+Strategy Brunch, curated by Baltimore native and businesswoman, Cassandra N. Vincent is a brunch series created where women are highly encouraged to connect with one another and share ways to live their most purposeful and fulfilled lives.

(L-R) Orlett Haskett-Torrance, Olesha Haskett, and Shivar Stewart attend March 2017 Vision+Strategy Brunch.

Courtesy/Jerri Marie Clark Photography

(L-R) Orlett Haskett-Torrance, Olesha Haskett, and Shivar Stewart attend March 2017 Vision+Strategy Brunch.

For many of the women, networking, entrepreneurship, ownership, and discovering their life’s purpose are at the top of their lists for attending the Vision+Strategy Brunch (VSB), which was established in 2016. Vincent created the brunch gathering with the mission to empower and inspire women to define their success based on the idea that each woman was divinely created for a great purpose. With changing economies, the increase in the number of women pursuing entrepreneurship, and the future of learning drastically changing — personal growth and development opportunities in various forums are sought after.

By definition, personal growth ‘covers the activities involved in improving awareness and identity, talent development, building human capital and facilitation of employability, and enhance the quality of life and contribute to the realization of dreams and aspirations.’ The Vision+Strategy Brunch held on Saturday, March 25, 2017, hosted women from as far as New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, as well as the Washington, D.C. and Maryland area.

Learning and growth opportunities among women are in demand, particularly African-American women [the fastest growing group of business owners and entrepreneurs growing more than 322% since 1997, according to a June 2015 Fortune article.] The Vision+Strategy Brunch (VSB) series is designed to answer the demand by providing a space where women are empowered with knowledge to support their individual goals. The VSB gathering featured a networking session, empowerment talks, and a panel of women who shared their passion and the tools used to live purpose driven life.

A purpose driven life for many women who attended the VSB are investing in themselves because this group is “significantly impacted by factors including fair pay, fair promotion, and family-friendly policies in the workplace.” Vincent’s mission with the Vision+Strategy Brunch is to bring the answers to this group by bringing expert knowledge and creating a safe sharing space for women. Women who attend a VSB gathering will walk away with not only meaningful connections, a bold personal vision, but also strategies for executing her goals and realizing her vision.

(L-R) Kendra Barnes, Chianti Lomax, Tameka J. Harris, and Neffi Walker during VSB March 2017. Photo: Jerri Marie Clark Photography

(L-R) Kendra Barnes, Chianti Lomax, Tameka J. Harris, and Neffi Walker during VSB March 2017. Photo: Jerri Marie Clark Photography

March’s VSB panelists included Interior Designer Neffi Walker, Business Development Consultant LaCheryl Jones, Real Estate Investment Coach & Entrepreneur, Kendra Barnes and featuring Chianti Lomax, Certified Coach + Chief Happiness Curator of The Happy Pop-U, and panel moderator Tameka J. Harris, Creative Curriculum Designer.

Sponsors of the March 2017 Vision+Strategy Brunch included: Cover Paige Creative, Cara Paige for (Event/Venue Styling), TEN Shopping, Ven and Rose, ColourPop Cosmetics, Behind The Pen Web Designs, The Good Body Stuff, Black Foodie, Ivy’s Tea Co., Dj Soul (VSBrunch music mix cd), The Art of Suga, Lovely Lavender Plus, Pretty Entrepreneur, and The Liberated Heart.

Be the first to know about the next VSB gathering, not just another event. Learn more here: http://eepurl.com/cBVh6j or email cassandra@visionstrategybrunch.com

Cassandra N. Vincent works as a business consultant supporting clients reach their digital marketing and outreach goals and is the owner-operator of Vincent Media & Consulting, LLC. Supporting women live their BEST God-designed lives is one of her greatest passions. Cassandra enjoys curating spaces to empower, inspire, and connect women to a community of other like-minded, and purpose-driven women.

Writer’s Rap puts spotlight on local talent

Baltimore native and 25-year record label executive veteran, Frank E. Johnson, formerly of Def Jam and Atlantic Records has returned home with a goal in mind— to reach Baltimore artists and provide a new generation with access to platforms to showcase their talent to the city, the world, and over 2.4 million annual listeners of WPB Networks Radio.

On Thursday, June 12, 2014, Johnson also owner of WPB Networks hosted, Writer’s Rap, a showcase held to provide local and national recording artists with the platform to be heard by media partners. Baltimore’s own Brave Williams was the featured artist for the most recent Writer’s Rap event.

Brave Williams, an independent national recording artist formerly of the R&B girl group, RichGirls, was on hand to connect with Baltimore and performed her new single, Oooh (Luv Ya), which is currently being played by many local radio stations including 92Q. Williams is a product of Baltimore and wants to connect with home as she continues to tour and promote her new single for her forthcoming EP titled, “Fearless.”

“I am overwhelmed by the support and how the city has backed me and are here celebrating my new EP as well as helping to bring national spotlight back to Baltimore artists.”

The Writer’s Rap session was hosted by Kelson the Urban Informer and included a Q&A session, as well as additional samplings from Brave’s upcoming album. Erica Kane, DJ J Claxton, and Civ Jones were some of the radio personalities on hand in support of Brave and the Writer’s Rap event.

“This is a space where we want artists to be heard and to be able to help uplift the artists, I want to bring that iconic feel we once had back to Baltimore’ [music community]” said Frank Johnson. The Writer’s Rap, Youth Bmore Summer Block Party, WPB Networks are all efforts of Johnson and his team to really give back to the Baltimore community and to meet the needs of the underserved.

Johnson says he is dedicated to giving back and bringing Baltimore much-needed hope through music. He attributes much of why he does what he does to advice he received from his friend and mentor, Kevin Liles, another Baltimore native who is a veteran music executive.

“He told me to put on and support our city,” Johnson said about Liles. Future efforts to showcase Baltimore’s talented pool of artists and the emerging music scene are at the forefront of Frank Johnson’s agenda for his beloved city.

For more information on future WPB Networks’ and happenings, log onto www.wpbradio.com or nikawatkins@gmail.com.

SheRose Gala Awards: Local organization honors survivors of sexual abuse

— April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month and on Saturday, April 19, 2014, Open Door Fellowship hosted The SheRose Awards Gala in honor of unsung survivors of sexual abuse and violence.

Local educator, advocate, survivor, and founder of The SheRose Awards Gala, LaQuisha Hall, said, “It is important to our community that survivors of abuse know that there is someone advocating for them, that they know they are not alone, and that someone is standing for them during their lifelong healing process.”

The 2014 SheRose Awards Gala honorees included Dr. Cecelia Martin; Callie Keen; Alexus Hobbs; Tiffany Jeffers; Candace Saunders; and Phoenix Rising Baltimore, which is comprised of Sister Tracy, Reah Idris, and Nikasha Uqdah. During the evening’s festivities, honorees shared their personal experiences of resilience through their journey of healing and overcoming abuse. Honorees and other survivors in attendance were recognized during the gala as efforts to empower those who face sexual violence. The keynote speaker of the evening was abuse survivor, author and founder of The Invisible Sorority, Ty Johnson-Anderson. Viki Mohamed served as the Mistress of Ceremonies.

Hall’s personal story of resilience and surviving sexual abuse is evident in the work that she does to advocating for victims of abuse. In 2008, she founded a dynamic mentoring program for middle and high school girls as well as created a community, iEmpower. Aspire. Transform. (iEAT) to inspire women to live whole lives.

“We support this effort because we recognize that in order to empower and heal families, that we must first reach [people] one by one and take time to allow survivors’ stories to be heard,” said Pastor Joel Anderson of Open Door Fellowship and partnering sponsor of The SheRose Awards Gala. The gala helped to raise funds to further the advocacy and prevention of sexual abuse in the Baltimore metropolitan area, the state of Maryland, and nationally.

For more information about The SheRose Awards Gala and sexual abuse prevention, visit: www.sheroseawards.com.

Diggz Attendance Challenge rewards students

For ten Baltimore City public high school students, a December weekend became one they will never forget. On December 6, 2013, Baltimore Ravens Safety, James Ihedigbo hosted a VIP weekend for ten students from Excel Academy at Francis M. Wood. The VIP weekend was a reward to the students for meeting an attendance challenge that Ihedigbo made to ten Baltimore City Public high schools, including Excel Academy.

The Diggz Attendance Challenge, challenged students to improve their attendance and academic progress. James “Diggz” Ihedigbo visited ten high schools where he spoke to the students about the importance of education, attendance, and presented his challenge. “The students at Excel Academy by far showed the greatest improvement,” said Debbie Silcox, school engagement specialist for Baltimore City Public Schools.

Ihedigbo is an advocate for academic excellence and works with students locally, nationally and internationally. The Diggz Attendance Challenge started in October 2013 and the winners were announced in December 2013. “Ultimately, I want students to understand that their academic progress and determination to excel is their personal platform and the foundation for their success,” said Ihedigbo.

The students were rewarded with a VIP dinner with Ravens players James Ihedigbo, Chykie Brown and Brandon Williams which included a limousine ride to all of the weekend’s activities. The students were also invited to M&T Bank Stadium to watch the Ravens play the Minnesota Vikings followed by a meet and greet with the team.

“This weekend was incredible and it helps me want to keep excelling,” said student Laronshay Harris. Each student received a plaque and was recognized during the dinner to share their future aspirations.

“The game showed me that you have to keep pushing until the end,” said

Jerrica Robinson, said tenth grader at Excel Academy at Francis M. Wood, as she reflected on the Ravens win over the Vikings in an intense match up. In the last two minutes of the game, the Ravens pushed out a win against their competitor.

“Our students have been working very hard to improve their attendance. What a great way to reward them! I am so proud and excited for our kids!” said Tammatha Woodhouse, Excel Academy principal.

The students who won the challenge include: Laronshay Harris, Donald Grant, Devin Green, Antonio Brown, Zakiyyah Worrell, M’Rhaiyah Mitchell, Raekwon Drake, Montasia Bland, Jerrica Robinson, and Alexis Nickens.

Sponsors of the Diggz Attendance Challenge weekend were Zbest Limo and Townhouse Kitchen & Bar.

Ihedigbo hosts charity scholarship cruise

— On the field Super Bowl champion James Ihedigbo is fierce against his competitors and works diligently to help his team defeat NFL opponents. Off the field, he applies that same energy to helping African scholars in need of financial assistance to complete their college education.

Ihedigbo, safety for the Baltimore Ravens, is on a mission to educate future African leaders through his charitable nonprofit, HOPE Africa (Helping Our People Excel). Ihedigbo serves as president and is also founder of the organization. Inspired by the story of his parents, Nigerian immigrants who through determination and hard work completed advanced degrees while raising a young family, he is the driving force behind HOPE Africa which provides first generation African college students with academic scholarships.

“The scholars are very impressive, we simply assist them with necessary resources to reach their goals and ensure that they do not have worries such as financial strain”, Ihedigbo said of the HOPE Africa scholars. Since 2011, there have been 12 HOPE Africa scholars who have been given financial assistance through the scholarship fund.

Ihedigbo says that the HOPE Africa foundation is an extension of his parent’s legacy and its mission lends to the story of how his parents successfully came to the United States from Umuahia, Nigeria and completed advanced degrees. “I encourage all students to work hard toward their goals and not allow circumstances to define them,” Ihedigbo said. Ihedigbo and the HOPE Africa board of directors have plans to grow the organization to benefit more students and partner with additional universities.

On Monday, December 9, 2013, Ihedigbo will host the First Annual Celebrity Cruise and Casino Charity Night to benefit HOPE Africa. The festivities commence aboard the Spirit of Baltimore Cruise ship. All of the proceeds will go directly to the HOPE Africa scholarship fund. Ihedigbo invites the public to take part in this charitable event. Festivities include opportunities to meet Ravens team members and local celebrities, a buffet style dinner, prizes and a night full of fun for a great cause.

For more information and to purchase tickets, contact: linda@thepoweragencyla.com or visit www.hopeafricausa.org.

Cultural Arts Center provides creative space for city residents

— There’s a new energy in the air these days in downtown Baltimore. That’s because the Downtown Cultural Arts Center (DCAC), located at 401 N. Howard Street, opened its doors this summer bringing with it a variety of creative programs to enliven the city.


Cassandra N. Vincent

With all of the progress the center has made, one might think the Downtown Cultural Arts Center has been around for years, but it has not. CEO and Founder, Renny Bass acquired the building in 2011 and worked to create a beautiful venue he envisioned would offer city residents a place to explore and fall in love with the arts. Bass believes that the center will be a beacon as well as a resource to the city.

In October the center hosted a dinner and the play, “The New Teachers’ Lounge” written by Ursula V. Battle. DCAC has an exceptional amount of space, which allows for multiple uses of the building including a rental hall and performing arts and community activities.

Dance is the newest offering and is led by Macee Whitehead. Currently, classes are available for children from preschool all the way to high school. Adult dance and fitness will soon be added to the schedule of events for the center.

In addition to dance, the center offers a weekly preschool art program as well as serving as a gallery for local artists. The multi-purpose center also offers a first floor theater space, senior programs, and instructional language classes. Bass is enthusiastic about closing out 2013 strong with holiday programming and is gearing up to publish the 2014 calendar of events.

“We are here as a resource to our community, offering a multicultural and multipurpose space,” says DCAC Director Adrian Bobb.

Bass has plans to expand the space to include a venue that offers live music. His long term goal is to turn the three-storey former financial institution into a hub of art and creative expression.

The center is seeking grant funding to continue to grow community programs for youth and seniors. “This is a major undertaking and requires funding, support, and community involvement,” Bass said. He welcomes the community to come take advantage of the spacious location and the art programs.

For more information about The Downtown Cultural Arts Center, call 410-837-2787 or visit: www.dculturalartcenter.org.

Miss Teen Baltimore Pageant encourages self-esteem, friendship

Dozens of local young women participated in the 2014 Miss Teen Baltimore/Washington Pageant on November 10 in Timonium, Maryland. One of the shining stars and contestants was Baltimore City’s very own Ashelle Henry. Sixteen-year-old Ashelle is the daughter of Melvin Henry and Loraine Mitchell. She’s an honor student at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and enjoys serving at her church, and in her school’s ROTC, where she is a squadron commander.

Ashelle was invited to participate in the pageant after applying and going through a rigorous interview and training process. She learned valuable lessons from participating in the pageant and had a great experience meeting other young ladies from the Baltimore-Washington area. “I learned to make friends with other girls and welcome a new experience that I have never had before,” Henry said of her experience.

Miss Teen Baltimore/Washington is designed to help enhance teenage girls’ self esteem and self-confidence by creating opportunities for them to cultivate new friendships and gain new experiences.

Ashelle encourages other young people to challenge themselves to do their very best in school and in activities such as the pageant. She will consider future pageant competitions, but for now Ashelle is more interested in picking the college she will attend after graduation. She has aspirations of becoming a forensic psychologist.

Visit, 2014missteenbaltimore.com, for more information on the Miss Teen Baltimore/Washington Pageant.

An evening with Jada Pinkett-Smith

— On Wednesday, October 23, 2013 Associated Black Charities held its 4th Annual Girls Night Out fundraising event. Hosted by the Board of Directors, the event brings together women from all walks of life to talk about issues most important to women, in particular women of color.

This year was very special and featured an evening with Baltimore’s own, Jada Pinkett-Smith.

Befittingly, Baltimore School for the Arts, where Pinkett-Smith studied dance and acting, was also the venue for the evening’s festivities. Guests were welcomed by Associated Black Charities CEO, Diane Bell McKoy and enjoyed a wine reception along with complimentary gifts from corporate sponsors, Pandora, Covergirl, and Charm City Cupcakes. The evening included a question and answer segment from women in the audience. Yolanda Vazquez of Maryland Public Television moderated the Q&A segment and was mistress of ceremony.

Pinkett-Smith, an accomplished actress, entrepreneur, producer, director, author, and singer/songwriter shared her thoughts about balancing her busy career while maintaining her role of wife and mother. Overall, she shared that life is about embracing the journey that each woman dictates for her life. Pinkett-Smith said living a full life is one’s personal art form, and that you can create whatever life you choose.

Pinkett-Smith shared laughs and stories of raising her daughter Willow as well as urged the audience to be patient with the youth of today. Very reminiscent of her experience as a student at Baltimore School for the Arts, she noted the encouragement she received from the school’s theater director, Donald Hicken. The evening ended on a high note as Pinkett-Smith met and greeted her hometown fans.

The Associated Black Charities is a leading change agency and public foundation that advocates for measureable changes in policy that directly impact the wealth and health of communities throughout Maryland.

Follow Cassandra on Twitter@thecassiebrown or www.facebook.com/thecassiebrownproject.