#LeadLikeAWoman with LaShaunta Waller

Founder of A Garden of Hope

We cannot dictate what life will throw our way but we can control how we respond to what we've been given. Choose gratitude and appreciation in everything and always seek the good.

What does leadership mean to you?

One of my favorite quotes defines leadership to me in the best form “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” -John Quincy Adams 

I want to lead by example. I understand that A true leader acknowledges the fact that success need not be a solo endeavor. And I believe in the power of mentorship.

Who has influenced your idea of leadership?

My grandmother Ora has played a huge role in shaping leadership in my mind. She has always been very consistent and very powerful in her tone and action. Being a single mother of 8, my grandmother made motherhood look like a breeze. Even though resources were limited, she was very much rich in heart and spirit. Education was paramount to her and she stressed the importance of each generation becoming better and better. My grandmother would remind us of her history and the importance of not repeating the past. She never bit her tongue and when she was silent, we knew a war was coming. My grandmother is now approaching 90 and she is still a pillar and matriarch and visionary for my family. If there is one thing I could share with the world from her is the lesson that we cannot dictate what life will throw our way but we can control how we respond to what we've been given. Choose gratitude and appreciation in everything and always seek the good.

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

It’s no secret that women have historically faced greater barriers than men when it comes to fully participating in the economy. Having more women in leadership roles promotes a welcoming culture and it creates a more inclusive environment. Providing the support and role models women desperately need to advance in their careers, and bringing about much-needed changes in the workplace benefits both genders. Statistics show a striking majority of Americans (81%) say that if a daughter of theirs were to pursue a leadership position in a business of her choice, they would feel confident in her abilities to succeed. Women are known to Boost Productivity Levels , Talented individuals can expand their network, Constructive communication, Attract younger workers , Multidimensional and Team building and so much more.

How are you leading in your career/community? 

I founded A Garden of Hope, a nonprofit that focuses on girls in grades 8-12. We offer a leadership development program utilizing key components for preparation, success , intervention , exploration and awareness for girls in grades 8-12 . We provide a safe place for teen girls to learn strategies to become confident leaders and contributing members of society. 

GOH has grown tremendously in the number of girls we service through our life enhancing community service projects , mentoring and leadership workshops sessions. We envision a world in which all girls and young women regardless of race , ethnicity, income levels or social status are nurtured and empowered to reach their fullest potential. Weprovide various workshops of financial literacy , auto mechanics, employment skills , etiquette, health and nutrition and so much more. We have given out $24,000 in scholarships and provided each girl with a mentor.

It is imperative for me to give back to my community and to be the voice or resource that I wish I had been exposed to as young girl. Many times, individuals refer to the mantra of grabbing yourself by the bootstraps; however, many fail to realize that not everyone will have the means to do so. I want to be the resource to not only provide  "the boots" to help people pull themselves up,  but to also show young girls how to manage what's given to them and how to invest properly within themselves. Ultimately, I want to be the change that's needed in this ever evolving world.

Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

I am a Wife and mother of two; Asia & James . I am an Author of various children's books, co-owner of Wall2Wall Designs, and also a Vet for the US Air Force. I created Garden of Hope with the goal of helping many people bloom and develop into something beneficial to society regardless of their economic status or race. Our Garden of Hope promotes furthering education and I encouraged this viewpoint and contended that children required special preparation for adulthood, as well as opportunities for recreation. Adolescence is the pivotal period between childhood and adulthood. It is the time when youth need to acquire the attitudes, competencies, values, and social skills that will carry them forward to successful adulthood. It is also the time when they need to avoid choices and behaviors that will limit their future potential. Here in our Garden we play a crucial role in helping young people navigate this phase. 

What is the best way for someone to contact you? www.gardenofhopescholarship.org or lwaller@gardenofhopescholarship.org


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