#LeadLikeAWoman with Dominique Devereaux

Academic Specialist at Michigan State University and Founder & Executive Director of DreamWorld Studios for the Arts

I always say the road to success is not a straight one and plans will always change, but if you can remain open and listen to your gut, you’ll know your next move. Women are dope and powerful! And we should never forget that!

What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership means providing guidance to a group of people or entities that have a common vision or goal and making sure that vision comes to fruition. As a leader, you are among the team not above the team, you play a vital role in delegating tasks, providing counsel, and finding ways to keep the team connected and motivated to the mission. Being in leadership provides me an opportunity to be a role model for those who look like me, share the same goals as I, and more importantly, it allows me to have a voice of influence. I remember always wanting to be a teacher because I saw the position as one that had great influence over how people thought and shaped their view of the world; also being a light in someone’s life to say “you can do this.”

Who has influenced your idea of leadership?

I have so many great women surrounding me! I would have to start with the woman who has molded me the most, my mother. Though she is no longer with me, my mother has shaped my mannerism, my passion for youth, the arts and for community involvement. Being able to watch her as a strong and passionate educator and member of the community definitely impacted how I find myself showing up in spaces as a leader. Because of her, I show up walking in confidence and humility, I show up ready to help others, I show up ready to listen before I speak. Another great influence in how I lead is my friend and colleague, Cameo King, the founder of Good Girl Radio and Grit, Glam, & Guts. Cameo has shown me that any dream is possible, that you can start an organization/conference and grow it from the ground up and actually get people to support you in it. It was not until I began to work with Cameo that I felt the push to begin to do the work to create DreamWorld Studios for the Arts. As a collective, the great women of my sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, have very much played an active role in my leadership development. Delta has provided me with many role models and leadership opportunities that continue to develop my leadership style and obligation to public service. Lastly, from afar, the great Michelle Obama, has sparked hope and inner beauty in me; her ability to lead and empower women has been one that I pay attention to and strive to grow into with every venture I seek.

Why do we need more women in leadership roles? What do they add to the table?

We need more women in leadership roles because we are underrepresented in many spaces that impact how we live our lives, politically, economically, and socially. For far too long, men have been the main authors of our story, and it is time to share the story equally. Plus, we’re a little more entertaining anyway. Women have been the “silent leader” for years, “behind every good man is a strong woman.” Well it’s time for women to be in the front and lead. Women naturally bring a balance between nurture and discipline and we learn early how-to multi-task. We are good at building relationships, seeing common themes across various viewpoints, and often can find solutions that benefit more than our own self-interest.

How are you leading in your career/community? 

Currently, I am the Founder and Executive Director of DreamWorld Studios for the Arts, an arts based nonprofit organization that serves the Lansing area. Our DANCE Project provides after school dance education to youth and adults who typically would not have the funds or access to participate regularly in the arts. For youth, we strategically hold classes in the school to remove the transportation barrier, have subsidized registration cost in consideration of economic standing and provide art related outings to expose them and their parents to professional art experiences. For adults, there aren’t too many studios that cater to teaching and performing with dancers over the age of 21 years old. It is for that purpose that our DreamWorld Dance Company was created. Many of our members teach classes in partnering schools. I also serve the community by sitting on the board and planning committees for many community events and conferences. In particular, I am the Logistics Coordinator for the Annual Grit, Glam & Guts conference. This conference is extremely close to my heart as I see so much value in empowering young ladies to love themselves and to unceasingly chase their goals.

I also, serve as the Chair for the Lansing Alumnae Chapter’s Program Planning and Development Committee which serves the community by providing Financial Literacy programs covering entrepreneurship, budgeting and retirement. We also host discussions through our annual Sister to Sister Tea that focuses on diseases that affect women at higher rates, especially women of color, and plan our annual Teen Summit for youth grades 6th to 12th. In the fall of 2018, I accepted an Academic Specialist position with Michigan State University for the new Detroit M.A.D.E Scholars program within the Neighborhood Student Success Collaborative. This position allows me to work with two communities that have helped shape me, the city of Detroit and Michigan State University. Being a Detroit native and an MSU alum I am thrilled to advise and provide academic support workshops for students to help them create and implement their academic, professional and social goals. Overall through all my community involvement, I find myself leading to provide guidance, influence and love to my community. I have been honored to receive grants from the MCACA and Lansing Arts Council to further my work with DWSA. I’ve been acknowledged as the Young Professional of the Year from the Links and was featured in the Women’s Lifestyle Magazine. Lastly, I had the honor of being named Soror of the Year by Lansing Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta.  

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I am honored to have been approached by Michigan ATHENA to be in this series. It reminds me that the work I do does not go unnoticed and that I am on the right track to make a change and leave a legacy in my community. I always say the road to success is not a straight one and plans will always change, but if you can remain open and listen to your gut, you’ll know your next move. Women are dope and powerful! And we should never forget that!

What is the best way for someone to contact you? I can be reached through email: devereaux.dd@gmail.com  or dreamworldstudios2015@gmail.com or on my LinkedIn

 

Michigan ATHENA is a program dedicated to developing, supporting, and honoring women leaders throughout Michigan. This program is part of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce Foundation initiatives. To find out more about this program please visit us at www.michamber.com/ATHENA

If you have any questions or would like to nominate someone to be featured in our #LeadLikeAWoman series please email me at akeimach@michamber.com