Genma Speaks

Entrepreneur/ Writer/ Radio-Host

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Traci Otey Blunt on Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes

 Join Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes as we profile organizations, leaders, and individuals who lead by example. With acts of kindness and charitable giving that help countless lives daily, these organizations and leaders embody "Be the change you want to see in the world".

On Saturday, September 29, 2012, we will hear from Traci Otey Blunt, a veteran media, political and public affairs specialist. Traci, the Senior Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs at RLJ Companies,  is responsible for media strategy and communications, government relations and public affairs activities on behalf of the company. Traci, who recently served as a Deputy Communications Director for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, has more than 19 years of experience leading public relations and public affairs efforts for corporate, local, state and federal governments, as well as non-profit organizations.

Listen to Traci share about her undergraduate years at Tennessee State University and her early experiences that prepared her for epic political campaigns. She will share about maintaining relationships from California to Tennessee to Texas to DC. Hear stories from Traci about working with First Lady Laura Bush, Presidential debate prep with then Senator Hilary Clinton, advising President Clinton, and how she landed her position with Bob Johnson, founder of BET . She will give a rare look into her personal life and talk about  how family keeps her grounded and how she values her friendships from every chapter of her. Although Traci has been on the national scene for many years, she does not forget those who plowed the soil before her,locally and statewide. She also talk about the importance of giving back to "Big Blue" and her love of the Aristocrat of Bands.

Traci is a 1990 graduate of Tennessee State University where she received her degree, cum laude, in Criminal Justice. Traci also attended law school at Texas Southern University. She currently serves on several boards including the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (NBCLEO) Foundation, the College of Public Service and Urban Affairs Board of Advisors at Tennessee State University, Color Comm.

 Living Your Best Life, radio that empowers, inspires, and motivates you to live your BEST life, is heard on 760AM in the Middle Tennessee Region, the Inspirational Network, military bases and live streamed at Ustream.TV from 9-10AM CST.

More About Traci Otey Blunt 

 Getting to Know Traci O.
What is the key to balancing your professional, philanthropic and social commitments?
I have been fortunate to maintain a fairly balanced life when it comes to my professional, philanthropic and social commitments. In DC, you find that all three of these sectors are often intricately linked and it’s important that you define your own balance and determine what the trade-offs are. I think I do a pretty decent job with it.
What is the biggest mistake young professionals make? Young professionals (and seasoned ones too) often name drop, discuss internal office business, or have negative conversations about people or matters in very public settings (i.e. the Metro, events, restaurants & bars). This is a networking town and if you choose to discuss these things in open forums … be aware that people are listening in.

What advice would you give other young professionals who desire to excel in their profession, specifically for other young women of color?
My advice to other young women of color is to always remain true to yourself and never lose focus of what you are trying to achieve. As you grow professionally, you may have to take what seems like one or two steps back to get three steps ahead; however, if you keep sight of your goals, you will get there. All that you desire in your personal and professional life may not come today or all at once, but I am a true believer that perseverance and hard work will always pay off.

What’s been the best experience of your career thus far (or the most rewarding)?
This is a hard one. Each employment opportunity has advanced my career. I have worked on local, state, and national political campaigns; at every branch of government (local, state, federal); have worked at a women’s issues focused political action committee; at a national legal association; two of the world’s leading PR agencies and now in a corporate office. I believe every job has been a stepping stone for me and has allowed me to have and maintain a solid foundation for each new experience. I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for each opportunity. One of my most exciting career moves was being asked to serve as a deputy communications director/director of African American media for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign – that was an historic and unforgettable experience and I’d do it all over again.

What’s next for you in your career? What should we look out for?
I enjoy working at The RLJ Companies (the holding company formed by Bob Johnson after he sold BET) where I have been employed for almost three years. As the principal who oversees corporate communications and public affairs, my role encompasses every job I’ve ever had.  I don’t have any immediate career moves in the near future and see myself working to promote and execute the RLJ brand and the innovative and cutting edge work being conducted across the companies.
Lastly, give me three words to sum up Traci.
Loyal! Energetic! Real!

Above interview from Impact .
Photo Credits: AP, Genma Holmes, Lisa Otey-Spencer
Traci recently became proud new mom to a beautiful baby girl!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Faye Sasser and Open Hearts Ministry on Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes

Join Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes as we profile organizations and leaders who lead by example. With extraordinary acts of kindness and charitable giving that help countless lives daily, these organizations and leaders embody "Be the change you want to see in the world". Hear from Greek organizations and their national presidents who are global change agents. We will also hear from CEOs of social enterprise businesses who are changing communities and college and university presidents and educators who are taking their students out of the classroom and into surrounding neighborhoods for real world life lessons to serve others. We will also hear from spiritual leaders who help others live out their faith while addressing real world issues that challenge the body of Christ and the community.

On Saturday, September 22, 2012, we will hear from Faye Sasser, a trained leader in the Open Hearts Ministry. Faye has led small groups, often called Journey Groups, for over twenty years. After seeing her passion to help others spread from one church to the next, Faye begun training small group leaders to be better equipped to help Christians unload the burden of unpacked baggage from life experiences that prevents us from being the men and women that God called us to be.

On this show you hear Faye and Genma discuss Genma's participation in a small group and how it helped her learn to address challenges in her life that seem to overwhelm her spiritually, mentally, and even physically at that time. The Open Hearts Ministry's small journey group that Faye's led was at Woodmont Hills. Genma initially signed up for Grace for the Wounded (class title at Woodmont Hills) to address events that occurred in her life in 2005. But 2006 made previous spiritual struggles seem pale by comparison.

This show is very personal, honest, and transparent. With Faye Sasser's guidance, we will hear how transformation and redemption can start where wounded people fear to go...with others.

Living Your Best Life, a radio show that empowers, inspires and motivates one to live their BEST life, can be heard on 760 AM in the Middle-Tennessee Region, military bases, and streamed live on U-Stream.TV from 9-10AM CST.

 More About Open Hearts Ministry
 Open Hearts grew out of a response to the pain of sexual abuse that surfaced in 1988 after the presentation of Dr. Dan Allender's "Wounded Heart Seminar" in Kalamazoo, MI. Groups formed and stories of abuse, long hidden, were brought to light. The learning curve was high in those early years as a Biblically based curriculum was developed and group leaders gained experience. Soon others were asking for training so that they could take this ministry to their communities. The Journey was birthed in response to this need in 1993. Originally focusing on women, the men's program was added in 1997. By 1998 organizational needs had grown to a point that a charitable 501 (c) 3 was established and Open Hearts Ministry grew rapidly to include men and women with a focus on recovery and restoration from all kinds of soul harming experiences. Today a network of leaders scattered around the world offer Journey Groups to their communities. Training and curriculum resources are offered for starting groups, continuing groups and for couples who want to extend what they are learning as individuals to their marriages and families.  

More About Journey Groups
We recognize that wounds occur in relationships and trust is damaged. For healing to occur something must happen to reverse the damage. The aim of a Journey Group is to rebuild trust in the context of relationships. We believe in a group process that actively builds up one another in love. For this to occur, three things must be experienced: grace, truth and time together. A Journey Group provides an opportunity for participants (usually 4-7) to share experiences that have been damaging in an environment that is safely guided by two trained facilitators. Biblical core concepts are taught at the beginning of each session, illustrated by the presenters own life experiences. Personal homework and group exercises frame the small group sharing time. Participants learn how to respond to one another in ways that balance grace and truth and lead to emotional and spiritual growth. Groups may meet weekly for 12 sessions or in a more intensive format that covers more than one session a week. Groups are often under the supervision of local churches, counseling offices, or community organizations that have participated in Open Hearts The Journey training seminar.

Faye Sasser teaches and trains Journey Group leaders. Every leader participates in a small group first, before they lead a Journey Group. For more about leadership qualifications click here.

To contact Faye Sasser for more information about future classes, email her at

Faye is married to Pete Sasser. The mother of two daughters. And has two beautiful grandchildren. Pete and Faye attend the Family of God at Woodmont Hills.

This is a two part show.
Photo credits: Genma Holmes

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Christopher Scott to speak at TSU, Fisk, Meharry, and Vanderbilt Breakfast Book Club

The Breakfast Book Club of TSU, Fisk, Meharry, and Vanderbilt will kick off its 2012-2013 calendar year with author, Christopher Scott. On Sunday, September 18,2012. Christoper Scott, co-author of Honor Thy Mother, Find Thy Father, will share a powerful story about reconciliation and redemption. Honor Thy Mother, Find Thy Father is a true story of two brothers who set out on a journey to find their father. In the process, they found each other, other siblings, and a deeper sense of self. Christopher and his brother, Eric Higgs, who co-authored the book, learned answers to questions about who they are and where they came from. A story steeped in love and forgiveness, the book gives us a glimpse of how their lives changed, for the better, since meeting their father and the challenges they encountered on the road to forgiveness and wholeness.

The College Breakfast Club is being lead by Dr. Daphne Young this year. The club represents area colleges community leaders and meets on the campus of Tennessee State University from 8:30-10:00am on the second Sundays of the month.

More About Christopher Scott

Christopher R. Scott currently serves as President\CEO of Point of Contact Concierge Services in Nashville, Tennessee. Point of Contact provides temporary personal assistants and service to company executives, celebrities, professional athletes and clergy, on both a national and international basis.

Over the past two decades he has honed his strong communications skills and acquired invaluable human resources (HR) and recruiting experience. In addition to Point of Contact, Christopher has held positions with Kelley Services, Randstad Staffing, Nursing Resource Solutions and Anthem Career College.

Christopher’s passion is helping men see and reach their full potential and has reached out to the community as a volunteer, donating countless hours working with the Nashville Rescue Mission and many other transitional homes for men.

Christopher resides in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife Tonia and has four children, Christopher (CJ) 25, Desmond 22, Jeffrey 21, Trenity 12.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Carolina Story and Victoria Schwab on Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes

Join Living Your Best Life at East Side Story Book Store and Hello Boys "official" launch on the front porch of 1108 Woodland Street. We are please to announce this as an ongoing series to spotlight local authors and entrepreneurs who think outside of the box with businesses that have revitalized communities by thriving economically and advancing social causes.

On Saturday, September 15, 2012 we will hear from Carolina Story, the husband and wife team of singer/song writers (Ben and Emily Roberts) and author of The Near Witch, Victor Swchab. These talented young musicians and writers will share about succeeding by going against the grain and following their passions to create and earn a living in genres that are already exploding with talent.

We will also hear updates from the owners of East Side Story and Hello Boys who are following their dreams by becoming business owners.

Living Your Best Life is a radio show that empowers, inspires, and motivates you to live your BEST life. Living Your Best Life can be heard on 760AM in the Middle TN Area, on military bases, and streamed live on Ustream.TV.

More About Carolina Story

After working hard in classes and spending even more time on their own musical homework, Emily and Ben, budding solo singer/songwriters in their own right at the time, went on a camping trip in North Carolina. It was 10-06-08 to the day, while on that very camping trip, after spending a lot of time talking together about what each wanted for their lives separately and collectively, when Ben and Emily officially started singing together as the name Carolina Story.

Returning from the Carolina camping trip, Carolina Story had a deeper purpose and a newfound focus. Close to finishing school, as if you didn’t already know where this story was heading, 06-13-09 was the day they got married and legally became Ben and Emily Roberts. A few months later, they traded in their cap and gown gig for a full-time show on the road. They co-founded The Traveling Troubadours and hit the road playing their music the way they envisioned. The Traveling Troubadours is a “More Than A Show” tour which consists of a revolving line-up of artists that have an “independent" spirit, strive for artistic excellence over commercial success and have a heart of service above all. The various artists that agree to be a part of this group step out of the normal touring box and often exchange spots in big ticket venues just to seek numbers for playing places such as homeless shelters, nursing homes, and less traditional places-on top of home concerts, small clubs, and more traditional venues. Point being, Ben and Emily set out to create their story, music, and journey to be a success how they define it instead of always worrying about success in numbers. It’s not that they didn’t or don’t care about commercial success (that is also a main goal in their hearts too), they just decided from the start that if they were going to dedicate all that they are to Carolina Story that it will always be something that makes them proud.

In between booking their own shows, touring every chance they could (over 350 shows independently booked since they began in January 2010), and looking for a home of their own, Ben and Emily recorded and released their first LP called “When The River Met The Sea.” They took their first record and their first dog with them everywhere they went. The reviews were stellar, people that made it to their shows all loved them, but the constant grind began to wear the dynamic duo down. I digress back to numbers.

06-10-10 is the last set of numbers in the frame at Ben and Emily’s home, and it is the defining moment for Carolina Story to this point. After a time period of constant touring, doing everything on their own, still living with family while trying to find a home of their own, the duo began to notice that a lack of commercial recognition and creative opportunities was starting to spark a natural set of arguments for anyone who has ever tried being married and a musical act at the same time (as if either separately are easy).

It was on 06-10-10 when, after a small morning argument before coffee, Ben and Emily set out to the grocery store to run daily errands after deciding that that day was to be the last day they would perform as Carolina Story. Wouldn’t you know that fate would intervene again? There must have been a blue light special on isle 5 because while Ben and Emily passed by what seemed like another stranger, it was in fact an unsuspecting fan that recognized them. She could have passed them by as well, but she turned around and asked them, “Aren’t you two Carolina Story?” Ben and Emily picked up their heads and confirmed the question. Then the lady went on to say, “I have seen you guys play before and my husband and I just love your music.” The random positive comment out of the blue lit up Ben and Emily’s smiles for the moment, but it also made them feel guilty that they were about to end their run as Carolina Story in order to keep their marriage a happy one. A few seconds later, the fan seemingly sent from above popped around the corner yet again. She got their attention and said, “I hope I’m not bothering you, but I just had this feeling come over me that I should tell you two not to give up on your music for some reason. Y’all have a great day.” That was it. There was not going to be an end to Carolina Story. (For more reading click here.)

More About Victoria Scwhab


Birthday: 7.7.87
Literary Agent: Holly Root at Waxman Literary
Film Agent: Jon Cassir at CAA
Publishers: Disney*Hyperion, Tor
Books: THE NEAR WITCH (2011), THE ARCHIVED (2013), VICIOUS (2013), THE ARCHIVED #2 (2014)

The Story:

I am the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing. Because of this, I have been known to say “tom-ah-toes”, “like”, and “y’all”. I also suffer from a wicked case of wanderlust, made worse by the fact that wandering is a good way to stir up stories. When I’m not haunting Paris streets or trudging up English hillsides, I’m usually tucked in the corner of a coffee shop, dreaming up monsters.

My first YA novel, THE NEAR WITCH, a dark original fairy tale, debuted with Disney*Hyperion in August 2011, and is now out in paperback.

My next YA novel, THE ARCHIVED, is the first book in a new supernatural series about a world where the dead are shelved like books, and it hits stores January 2013, also with Disney*Hyperion.

My first adult novel, VICIOUS, about two brilliant and highly disturbed pre-med students who set out to generate their own superpowers and end up mortal enemies, is out in hardcover from Tor September 2013.

I have more books coming out in 2014, but I’ll get to those later.

These days, when someone asks me what I do when I’m NOT writing, I just kind of laugh nervously. But in truth, on the odd occasion I’m not typing away, I’m probably baking cookies, or watching BBC shows, or wandering. (See how we came full circle, there?)

East Side Story and Hello Boys Launch Party

East Side Story and Hello Boys are celebrating their official GRAND OPENING Launch Party with a public reception on Saturday, September 15, 5–11 p.m. The reception will feature a variety of books written by Nashville area authors, vintage clothing and accessories for men, live music, juggling, henna body art, food and desserts, photo booths, caricature art, and local author signings throughout the night.

Located in the 5 Points Collaborative in East Nashville, at 1108 Woodland Street, East Side Story and Hello Boys are creative additions to this thriving artistic community.

Musical Performance By Carolina Story will start at 7:00pm

Local Authors Book Signing Times
From 5-6:30pm

A.E. Howard,author of Flight of Blue and
Elizabeth Brandon,author of Sadie Bug

From 6:30-8pm

Victoria Schwab,author of The Near Witch and Cary Graham, author of The Remnant.

From 8:00-

Mandi M. Lynch, author of You Don't Say and A. Jay Lee, author of Grace Through Blood

Food will be provided by Las Paletas from 5-7:30pm and by Wrapper's Delight from 7-10 pm.

Other fun happenings throughout the evening will include a photos by Jeremy Ryan co-owner of Hello Boys, Mehedi Art-Henna Tatto, and juggling by the renown Jacob Weiss, of

This will be the mother of all launch parties! Bring your lawn chairs and blankets and enjoy the festivities. Yes, your Mother is welcome!

For more info:
Saturday, September 15, 2012 • 5:00-11:00 pm
Hosted by Chuck Beard
(615) 915-1808
5 Points Collaborative
1108 Woodland Street
East Nashville, TN 37206

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fly Girl Vernice Armour and Operation Stand Down Nashville on Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes

Join Living Your Best Life as we celebrate "HERstroy...Women In the Military". Hear from military women, active and veterans, who are daughters, wives, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, and friends. Women from the Marines, Army, Air Force, and Navy will share personal stories and highlights from their military careers. All have roles that made them the "first" in many endeavors throughout their lives and in the military. We will hear about their many acts of courage and sacrifice that embody servant leadership that will empower, inspire, and motivate listeners.

On Saturday, September 8, 2012, we hear from Vernice Armour, Fly Girl. Vernice Armour is a former Captain in the United States Marine Corps who was the first African-American female naval aviator in the Marine Corps and America's first African American female combat pilot in the United States military. She flew the AH-1W SuperCobra attack helicopter in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and eventually served two tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Listen as she shares about her life before and after combat duty. She will share about being the first of many firsts, from flying a helicopter in Iraq to riding a motorcycle on the police force in Nashville. Flygirl will share how important it is to not let anyone else's "no" determine your destiny in life.

Vernice Armour will be the keynote speaker for the 2nd Annual Heroes Breakfast on September 17, 2012 for Operation Stand Down, Inc at 8am at Loews Vanderbilt Hotel. For ticket information click here.

This show is part of an ongoing series, HERStory, that profile women in the military. Tune in 760AM in the Middle Tennessee Region, streaming live online at UStream.TV and on military bases on Saturdays from 9:00-10am CST.

More about Vernice Armour

Vernice was born in Chicago, IL in 1973, and moved to Memphis, TN after her parents divorced when she was 3 years of age. By the age of four, she knew she wanted to be a police officer that rode a horse downtown. Her first little pony was given to her on the Christmas following her fourth birthday, and her dream quickly started to have a foundation in reality. In 1991, she graduated from John Overton High School for Creative and Performing Arts, where she was very active in the music program, class Vice President, and a member of Mu Alpha Theta (the mathematics honor society) and The National Honor Society.

Vernice marched in the military boot steps of both her dads; Clarence Jackson, a former Marine, who married Vernice’s mother Authurine, and her father, Gaston C. Armour Jr. of Chicago, a retired major in the U.S. Army Reserves. In 1993, the future combat pilot enlisted in the Army Reserves and in the fall semester joined the Army ROTC program while enrolled at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). During an Army ROTC career day, the seed of becoming a pilot was planted when Vernice saw the image of a young black female in an Army flight suit. “Now why didn’t I think of that!” was her first thought! In June of 1996, after a brief stint as a Nashville Sheriff’s Department Correction Officer, Vernice took additional time off from college to accept an invitation to the Nashville Police Academy and graduated as a police officer in December 1996. She graduated from MTSU in December of 1997 with her B.S. in Physical Education: Emphasis in Exercise Science. In 1998, with the aviation seed in full bloom, Vernice was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps on December 12, 1998 and on her way to flight school.

When Vernice finally earned her wings in July 2001, the ambitious pilot ranked No. 1 out her class of 12 and of the last 200 to graduate. She made the Naval Air Station’s prestigious Commodore’s List, received the Academic Achievement Award and was her classes top graduate and went on to make history as the Marine Corps’ first African-American female pilot.

After flight school, Vernice was stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton near San Diego, CA, piloting the AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, she was recognized as America’s first African-American female combat pilot. Vernice flew above the deserts of Iraq in her missile-equipped attack helicopter, engaging the enemy and scouting the roads from her cockpit, making sure they were safe for her fellow Marines and soldiers on the ground. She has completed 2 combat tours of duty in the Gulf.

Vernice now travels extensively in order to create a global movement based on the Breakthrough Mentality mindset. In order for us to change the current conditions we are going to need to think and execute differently. We are going to need leaders to step up and lead.Our society and global community needs people to take personal responsibility and accountability. We win or lose together. One Mission, One Goal, One Team™.

More About Operation Stand Down Nashville

Operation Stand Down Nashville, Inc (OSDN)
is the primary nonprofit resource for veterans in Middle Tennessee providing life changing social services including transitional housing, or referrals, employment readiness training and placement assistance, and coordination of the activities of other agencies in the delivery of such services. They are the only VA approved and supported Veteran Service Center in Tennessee. Their clients are honorably discharged veterans with an emphasis on veterans who are homeless. OSDN's ultimate goal is to give veterans in need the tools to rejoin their community as productive, responsible citizens.

The homeless count, conducted by the city of Nashville in January 2009, found 2,157 homeless people in Davidson County. The count did not include homeless in the surrounding counties who also come to OSDN for services. With approximately 30% of the homeless being veterans, at least 647 veterans are homeless in Nashville/Davidson County, with more in the surrounding counties, on any particular night. Our unique partnership with the VA Medical Center and the VA Regional Office allows us to provide more direct, personal social services than any other agency in this area.

No veteran should be homeless. No veteran who wants to work should be jobless. No veteran should feel hopeless. Thanks to the caring support of our many government and community partners, OSDN has and will continue to successfully aid veterans in restoring their lives. While it is a source of pride that OSDN programs meet and exceed all the funding standards, true success comes when a veteran in need moves on to a renewed life within the community. That is why OSDN exists. You can help them with their efforts by donating here.


Monday, September 3, 2012

The Patient Doctor Relationship in the Era of Healthcare Reform

I have been a healthy person most of my life. I try to eat healthy and exercise daily. Try should be stressed. In my late thirties, I was diagnosed with chronic allergies. My doctor informed me that I had become allergic to anything that grew from the ground, bloomed, or had chlorophyll. Being a native Mississippian where farm living was a way of life, I never heard of allergies with killer like symptoms. Who knew beautiful blooms could leave one feeling deathly ill? The more I dismissed the severity of my diagnosis, the sicker I got.

My suddenly hazy, foggy thinking, watery eyed, itchy buzzing ears, hacking coughs that jarred my lungs, nasally headaches, asthmatic breathing bed ridden new world was complicated by my disdain for pill prescribing fifteen minutes per patient doctors.

My odyssey into the world of allergen-free, pollen dodging living included learning the importance communicating with doctors for optimum health success and using the internet effectively to research all I could. I learned, immediately, the internet is a powerful tool for patient advocacy but should never be used to replace seeing a doctor. I also learned the role of the doctor patient relationship is not stressed enough in the medical marketplace. As consumers of services, patients must view their doctors as partners in their healthcare in the era of healthcare reform. As the healthcare industry is being pushed to changing its dinosaur ways of dealing with patients, patients must also be pushed to change how they see the role of their doctors.

Patients must work with their doctors for a healthier more productive lifestyle. Too often, a patient is looking for a “quick fix” and the doctor is limited on time to “fix” the problem. A doctor’s short-on-time-treating-of-symptoms mixed with a patient’s please-help-me-now-with-a-pill thinking can become an endless cycle of returned visits that can leave the root of the medical problem undiagnosed for years. Those return visits add to escalating medical costs. Medical bills are directly related to over 62% of bankruptcies in the United States.*

I became an informed patient not because I wanted to bypass medical school and get an internet doctor’s degree but out of necessity. My finances would not allow multiple visits to a medical doctor without sound solutions. Most importantly, I wanted to get well and not become dependent on endless medication. Being self-employed, 1099s do not have health benefits attached to them. My insurance coverage is for major medical bills. In Tennessee, seeing newcomers to our area slumped over in ERs for allergy ailments is becoming more and more common. My average allergy ER visit cost $4800**. Although $4800 for watery eyes and breathing complications is expensive; it is not considered major medical by most insurance companies.

Whether you are a recent transplant who suffers from allergies or been raised in Tennessee with a reoccurring ache, one must be proactive in getting the best care from your doctor and to maximum your doctor visits for better results. Having a patient centered doctor relationship is essential for that healthcare. An open and transparent relationship with your doctor can also reduce long term medical costs.

My path to becoming an empowered patient was realizing the trees and flowers that triggered my worst allergy symptoms were here to stay. I had to learn to navigate through the spring months when my health was impacted the most. I could not have done so without my doctor’s care. As in any relationship, communication is essential for best practices to be utilized. Learning to share my concerns with my doctor was crucial to my healthcare. Here are a few tips to help avoid pitfalls that may be detrimental to staying healthy and fit. ***

•Write it down. Written notes help the appointment to stay on track and keep one from forgetting vital information.
•Where does it hurt? Share any problems you are having. Do not leave out the ‘bad stuff.’
•Bring your family and personal medical history. Some conditions may be inherited.
•Share stress factors. Are you going through a divorce, new job, loss of income, a troubled teen, or a recent death of a loved one? Stress can affect your health adversely.
•List all medications you are currently taking and dosage.
•Do not forget to share if you are taking supplements. Some supplements should not be taken with certain medications.
•Speak up and ask questions. No question should be considered dumb or off limits. It is your health and your time with your doctor.
•If you do not understand something that has been shared, say so. It is part of relationship building with your doctor.
•Bring a family member or friend with you. Two sets of ears are better than one. They also can recall incidents you might have overlooked or dismissed as not important.
•Follow up with your doctor. The best healthcare plan is not of any good if it does not work for you. Be sure to share with the doctor what is working or not right away.
•Follow through. In order for anything to work, one must work it. Often times a visit to doctor is just that, a visit. Follow the instructions given and take the medications as prescribed. Most doctors remind patients and to eat sensibly whether a patient is ill or not. Often times that advice remains behind in the doctor’s office.

In a healthcare marketplace that is being driven by skyrocketing costs and never ending political debates, we must find ways to not allow the cost of our healthcare to determine how we survive and thrive economically. Doctors who value the patient doctor relationship and patients who seek healthcare professional that value partnerships must become more visible in the marketplace as we strive to become a healthier nation.

*The American Journal of Medicine Vol. XX, No. X Month 2009
**author’s average after three visits in two years

Published in Mocha Market Magazine

First Lady Crissy Haslam's "First Ladies For Healthy Babies"

Tennessee's First Lady Crissy Haslam hosted members of the faith-based community at the Tennessee Residence for the Nashville meeting of the “First Ladies for Healthy Babies” initiative.

More than 140 women, including nearly 70 pastor wives, community leaders, and representatives from non-profits attended the luncheon to learn more about the importance of healthy brain development for children and promoting early education in their local neighborhoods in Nashville.

“First ladies of the church and leaders in the faith-based community are a trusted resource for their congregation and have incredible influence within their neighborhoods,” Haslam said. “They are in a great position to raise awareness for the importance of those first years of life and to help encourage parents to be their child’s first and most important teacher.”

There was a heavily emphasis on the tried and true principle of older women mentoring younger women in the church and in the community. Haslam shared how thankful she was for the advice given by the older women in her church when her children were babies. Many women in attendance were able to network while discussing challenges and best practices. Haslam introduced Nashvillians to Ephie Ballard-Johnson of the Memphis based Neighbor Christian Center who inspired her to launch “First Ladies for Healthy Babies.”

In June 2011, the “First Ladies for Healthy Babies” initiative was launched at the Neighborhood Christian Center in Memphis, where more than 175 pastors’ wives and church leaders gathered. The initial meeting helped to create a network of First Ladies and faith-based community leaders who promote early education and strengthening Tennessee families. There was an incredible turnout at the launch in Memphis last year,” Haslam said. “I am grateful that this message is continuing here in Nashville.”

Haslam hopes to continue convening networks of faith-based communities across the state that can support one another as they emphasize the important role parents play in their child’s healthy development toward school readiness.

Full coverage and additional photos in Mocha Market Magazine
Locations on where to pick up a free copy of Mocha Market Magazine can be found here.

Photo Credits: Dawn Majors, State Photographer

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Heritage, History, Education: Dr. Cassandra Mauelito-Kerkvliet on Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes

Join Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes as we profile organizations and leaders who lead by example. With extraordinary acts of kindness and charitable giving that help countless lives daily, these organizations and leaders embody "Be the change you want to see in the world".

Hear from Greek organizations and their national presidents who are global change agents. We will also hear from CEOs of social enterprise businesses who are changing communities and college and university presidents and educators who are taking their students out of the classroom and into surrounding neighborhoods for real world life lessons to serve others.

I met Dr. Cassandra Mauelito-Kerkvliet at Lipscomb University's Women, Leadership and Faith Conference in October, 2010. Dr. Mauelito-Kerkvliet's keynote message was so powerful and compelling that many attendees are still discussing her wisdom she shared with us. Her words from that faithful day ignited a fire in me that lead to several collaborative projects that launched Living Your Best Life! Her impact on me has been repeated often to the listeners of Living Your Best Life and readers of Genmaspeaks

On Saturday, September 1 2012, as part of our back to school series, you will hear from Dr. Cassandra Mauelito-Kerkvliet, President of Antioch University and the great, great granddaughter of Navaho Chief Mauelito. She will share about her life and her Navajo heritage, American history that has been left out of history books, and how she is impacting the world of education with her leadership. Tune in to hear from an educator who will empower, inspire, and motivate you to live your BEST life.

Living Your Best Life, a radio show that empowers, inspires and motivates one to live their BEST life, can be heard on 760 AM in the Middle-Tennessee Region, military bases, and streamed live on U-Stream.TV from 9-10AM CST.

Up close with Dr. Cassandra Mauelito-Kerkvliet

On July 15, 2007, Dr. Cassandra Manuelito-Kerkvliet became president of Antioch University Seattle and the first Native American woman to ascend to the presidency of an accredited university outside the tribal college system. How she found her way to Antioch is a rich story enhanced by her leadership in higher education, her Navajo ancestry and her deep understanding of inclusiveness.

What drew you to Antioch Seattle?
I was invited to apply for the position. Soon after investigating the University's website, I saw myself as having a place here. The Antioch philosophy of giving back to the community is so much a part of my life. My beliefs in higher education access and inclusiveness also drew me to Antioch and I intend to spread that message.

What key strengths do you bring to your role as Antioch’s president?
I stand firm in my values and integrity, it's important to me to walk my talk. It's how I work. I'm energized by the positive results of my approach. I bring a synergy and new direction to community building. I feel I can increase Antioch's enrollment, increase its diversity and access for all students, faculty, staff and administrators who come from all walks of life. I want to create access for students who may never have believed they could be part of Antioch. I'm good at opening doors.

Through collaboration, networking and mentoring, I've become connected in higher education. Although I served as the first woman president of Diné College on the Navajo reservation in Arizona and New Mexico, the majority of my career has been spent in mainstream higher education working in minority student services programs at Oregon State University, University of Oregon, University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University and University of Wyoming.

I'm excited about new ideas and program initiatives for Antioch. I want to inspire people with new hope and energy and instill a broader vision of what we can achieve.

What challenges do you see in the months ahead?
One of my goals is to increase our presence in Seattle. Antioch has a special niche in this city and we need to do further outreach. I want to promote our story – our successes – to a broader audience and cultivate donors so they understand the importance of scholarship giving and the merits of what it provides for our students.

Students here have amazing stories about their Antioch experiences. Alumni describe their education as transformational and the best investment they could have made. More people need to hear what students have to say.

I also hope to encourage changes in the admissions process to reduce the application processing time. The more we review our current practices, the more we improve our responsiveness to students who apply to our programs.

I approach my leadership and decision making like weaving a tapestry, where we work across disciplines and from the bottom up as well as from the administration down. I want to focus on people who never before have been acknowledged or appreciated. I would encourage people who have been on the sidelines, because I believe everyone is invaluable to our University community.

The challenge for me, personally, entails a balancing of my emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual lives so I can be at my best as Antioch Seattle's president.

You have said your leadership style is distinctly different. How so?
When I was a graduate student, my internship supervisor shook a finger at me and sternly asserted I would never be successful as a leader because my leadership style was so different. My leadership style is distinctly different. I want people to be able to approach me and be comfortable in my presence. My experience and training in counseling and social work have helped me be a compassionate leader.

A way for me to strengthen our community is to show both professional and personal sides of myself. Sharing my personal life brings me much closer to the people I work with and shows my vulnerability. For example, I brought some of my Native traditions to Antioch's Convocation.

Most importantly, I've been able to gauge my ability to succeed. In one of my first classes in my doctoral program, I recall being asked why I wanted to be an administrator. "One day, I want to be a college president," I enthusiastically responded. I was confident in what I said I'd do, not once at Diné College, but twice, now that I'm at Antioch.

Can you describe your upbringing?
I was born and raised in Laramie, Wyoming, where there were no other Indians other than my family, and we grew up experiencing discrimination. My parents were blue-collar workers—but individuals who just needed to be respected. I recall how my parents wanted to keep our Navajo culture intact, and every weekend and weather permitting, we drove more than 650 miles to our reservation in New Mexico so we could stay connected to our Navajo ways and our extended family.

My mother had an 11th grade education and my father an 8th grade education. They shared stories about how they were sent to Indian boarding schools where they were subjected to physical and emotional abuse. Yet they encouraged us to never give up on education and that they would support us with their prayers.

They also reminded us of our great, great grandfather Chief Manuelito, who had the foresight to see the importance of education. When he signed the Navajo Treaty of 1868, he said, "Education is the ladder to success. Tell my grandchildren to climb that ladder." His words have guided me throughout my life. I honestly believe I am where I am because of my deep family love, support and connection to my ancestors.

I frequently turn to my traditions and ceremonies with an eagle feather I carry. It reminds me to call upon my ancestors for guidance and spiritual support. I use it to remind myself to have respect for honor those who work with me.

You have been described as especially intuitive.
Before I arrived at Antioch, I started telling myself it was a matter of when – not if – I got to Antioch. I could empathize with the issues expressed by individuals and groups I met during my interviews and I wanted to fit that experience into my leadership. It's a big part of me and how I nurture my personal and professional relationships – what Navajos refer to as k'é, a relationship not just with people, but with our environment as well. Relationships are important to me.

Two stories speak to this relationship building. The first one deals with an individual I nurtured in my work at Oregon State. An elderly woman sent the equivalent of a dollar a day or $365 to support an Indian student with an annual scholarship contribution. Each year, I'd send her a photo of the student who benefited and made sure we both wrote thank-you letters. One day, the president of the university called me to his office and asked about my contact with this individual. She had generously left OSU nearly one million dollars in her will to be used for Indian scholarships.

Then, when I was president at Diné College, I dreamed about meeting the internationally renowned Navajo artist R.C. Gorman. And later I did develop a special relationship with him. As our friendship grew, he made a donation to the College of his personal library collection and many original pieces of art. It became the largest private gift ever received by the college. We remodeled our college library to house his gifts. Before his death in 2006, he presented me with a beautiful and personal gift of one of his works, which he named "Cassandra."

Photo credits: Lipscomb University
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