Talking GOOD with Kenita Pierce-Lewis

Hope, Inc.

Last month, I wrote a piece about John Leonard, the accomplished, 50-something nonprofit  professional who today is navigating an unforgiving job market. The post generated a lot of comments, mostly from John's former co-workers, who wanted to go on record with positive character references and words of support for him. I was blown away by the outpouring of support on this site and recently learned that John was able to land a few key meetings as a result of the post. Nice! In the wake of that post,  I was approached by another nonprofit professional -- this one employed -- who was intrigued by the John Leonard questions and wanted to know if she could take a stab at them. I too was interested in seeing how this would play out, as here was someone else in the nonprofit sector impacted by the sluggish economy. Unlike John, looking for permanent work, Kenita Pierce-Lewis strives to keep her under-capitalized organization running on a shoestring budget. I thought, if a little interview could be useful for John, perhaps it could be useful for Kenita.

To be candid, I was (and still am) unsure about featuring someone I don't really know on my blog, but I think the pros in this situation outweigh any negatives. Besides ... all nonprofit professional are fundamentally good and decent people right?? I'll spare you the introspective commentary and will get on with the interview. Maybe this could be the start of an ongoing thing...

Kenita Pierce-Lewis is President and Founder of Duluth, GA-based H.O.P.E., Inc, serving low-income single parents working to obtain a college degree by providing assistance in subsidized housing, child care assistance, social services, and life skills. At the bottom of this interview, you can watch a video about H.O.P.E., Inc., featuring Kenita. Impressive stuff.

1.  FULL NAME: Kenita Nicole Pierce-Lewis

2. IN JUST ONE SENTENCE, WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE? To please God in all that I do and all that I am!

3. WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH BEFORE YOU “EXPIRE?” Before I expire I want to have made an impact in the lives of others; whether it be sharing my life’s story, mentoring a single parent through college, or giving hope to someone who has lost it.

4. IF YOU COULD MEET WITH ANYONE (ALIVE), WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU ASK THEM? Without sounding too “religious” but you did ask … and I must be honest … so here it goes … drum roll please ... Gospel Artist Mr. Earnest Pugh! He is known as one of Gospel music’s premiere worshipers, and I am by far one of his biggest fans. He has several smash hit singles, such as “Rain On Us”, “The Great I Am”, “I Want Your Glory.” if I could ask him anything I would ask him to come do a benefit concert for my organization! lol.

5. WHAT WOULD THE TITLE OF YOUR BOOK BE? That’s easy… Pearls for Pigs (which is the name of my current devotional book title, coming to a store near you soon). Why? Because a lot of what I do is encouragement for those who need it, but feel they don’t deserve it. Thus, I share Christian inspired “Pearls” for “Pigs.”

6. WHO WOULD PLAY YOU, IN A MOVIE ABOUT YOUR LIFE? Wow, that’s a tough one. I have so many actresses that I absolutely love, but I would have to go with Jada Pinkett-Smith. She has such edginess to her and a drive that fits my personality. She also favors me some in the looks department.

7. WHAT IS A BELIEF THAT IS CORE TO YOUR BEING? A belief that is at the core of my being comes from a scripture I learned that says "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” (Mat. 7:6) Meaning that sometimes we share our dreams and visions with people that don’t always have our best interest at heart; therefore, they trample over what you feel is valuable and cause you to lose confidence in yourself. Life has taught me not share everything with everybody.

8. WHO ARE YOUR HEROES? A hero to me is someone that inspires you to be more than you ever thought you could be, and those people have surrounded me at home my entire life (my grandmother, grandfather, mother, and now husband and kids). But outside of my immediate family, I have been greatly inspired by Maya Angelou. Her book, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, showed me her depth and tenacity at a very young age, and I never forgot that.

9. TELL US SOMETHING SURPRISING ABOUT YOURSELF. One thing that surprises everyone when I say it is that often I feel like I have NO IDEA what I’m doing. I just “do” and most of the time it turns out great!

10. WHAT QUESTION DO YOU WISH I HAD ASKED? I wished you would have asked some easier question Rich! Just joking. I wish you would have asked me what inspires me. Because I would have told you: all of life’s pains, all of life’s hurts, and all of life’s love.

ORGANIZATION: H.O.P.E, Inc. (Helping Other People be Empowered), Twitter: @HOPEInc1, Facebook page

KENITA'S INFO: Facebook Page, Twitter: @Kenita47, Linked In