12 on Tuesday: Kesha Bozeman

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    Kesha Bozeman has managed the development and branding of many household names: Lunchables, Special K, Frosted Flakes. She now puts her marketing and branding expertise to work for startups like Gigblender and nonprofits like A Fund For Women.

    Rank your Top 5 MCs.

      1. Lauryn Hill – One of the most versatile musicians in hip-hop and R&B.
      2. 2Pac – One of the best rappers and pushed the envelope when it came to serious matters/political issues.
      3. Salt-N-Peppa – Pioneers for women in hip-hop.  
      4. Missy Elliott – Champion of women supporting women and has a take-no-prisoners attitude to feminine autonomy.
      5. Left Eye (TLC) – Trendsetter and unapologetically authentic.

    Which motivates you more: doubters or supporters? My own internal compass keeps me focused on my goals and manages my drive to go after my goals.  However, between doubter or supporters, I would say both.  I’ve been blessed throughout my life to have strong supporters and champions.  As a result, I always believed that I could do anything I desired to do.  There is also a place for your haters too. I consider myself a continuous learner and I can learn just as much from the bad as I can the good.  

    What does it mean to be Black in Madison? One of my first memories of Madison is when my husband and I moved into our home.  We were carrying in boxes into the house and two of our neighbors came over to greet us.  They politely asked us if we met the new owners and I politely replied, “yes.”  For whatever reason the assumption was that this young black couple was not homeowners.  

    Being Black in Madison and in America is exhausting.  I’m focused on working or supporting anyone working on racial equality.  I’m fortunate to be surrounded with people what are making an impact.  My hope that my daughter and future generations experiences will be better than mine.

    What three leaders in Madison under 50 have impressed you the most?

    Toya Johnson – She is talented, committed to the community, and one of the realest people I know.

    Dr. Leslie Petty – She is smart, an energy giver, and well respected in her profession.

    Steven Bozeman – He opened up his car dealership right here in Madison.  He did without any capital/financing and his business is doing well.  I’m very proud of him. 

    What’s the biggest stumbling block in Madison to turning the corner on our racial disparities?  

    I have a high drive for results.  I believe we need to move from good intentions to impact.  Racial disparities in Madison have been well researched. It’s time to take action and try new innovative approaches to solving the problem.

    1. Intentional engagement is imperative to addressing racial disparities.  Engaging key stakeholders can lead to meaningful insights and provide critical input into the design of social change efforts.  
    2. Collective impact initiatives need to be a collaborative effort with community members and leaders to productively bridge local content and context expertise, and to design culturally nuanced and appropriate strategies.  The right people need to have a seat “at the table” and there is a lot of untapped talent in Madison.  I would like us to move beyond the selected few to ensure all voices are heard.  
    3. Creating targeted opportunities around the unique needs of those historically impacted by racial disparities is critical to ensure that social change efforts are sensitive to the different life experiences and historical contexts of those individuals.   

    So what does turning the corner or success looks like to me?  A transformed city in which all people describe Madison as open, accepting, progressive and prosperous.  Ultimately, I want to see Madison make diversity its strength.  The City of Madison should succeed culturally, politically, economically—because of our diversity, not in spite of it.  

    What are your top three priorities at this point in your life?

        1. Family
        2. Health
        3. Enjoying life

    Why did you feel it was important to get your MBA? I always understood that removing education barriers is imperative to unlocking doors for economic, social, and personal success.  I have passion for education because I’ve gained more confidence in my abilities as I moved along the education spectrum and that same feeling of accomplishment and pride is what I want to pass on to others.

    I knew that I wanted to work in corporate America and getting my MBA was the gateway.  As a result of my education and tenacity, I earned the opportunity to work for Fortune 100 companies and I am affiliated with iconic brands that delivered on what they promised in a memorable way.  Brands such as the Kellogg Company, Frosted Flakes, Special K, The Disney Company, Kraft, Oscar Mayer, and Lunchables, to just name a few.

    You are a branding expert. Give our readers three tips for helping to build a business brand.

    1. Know your consumer/customer – The best brands have a thorough understanding of the demographics of their target market, what their interests are, and how they communicate. Understanding your consumer provides direction for the identity of a brand, while helping to create an organic, human connection between a business and its audience.
    2. Distinctiveness – Determine the space a business wants to own in the hearts and minds in the consumer.  Know what your unique product, service, or selling point.
    3. Passion –  Passion is infectious.  It’s certainly possible to build a brand in the short-term without passion, it’s almost impossible to sustain it in the long run.

    Working with the startup Gigblender, what is the biggest challenge for you being a black entrepreneur? GigBlender believes that a diverse organization is a better organization – one that not only values input from its employees, but wants to build a culture that sees the benefit in a range of perspectives.  GigBlender’s web app connects talent with opportunity through a unique profile-building approach combined with a proprietary algorithm that gauges the level of “fit” between the individual, the hiring organization and the job.  The biggest challenge is access to capital or financing.

    Who would you rather spend the day with: Michelle Obama or Oprah? Michelle Obama.  She is an amazing mother and spouse. She has worked tirelessly in the interest of girls and women.   She is vocal about the realities of being Black in America.  She’s funny and can dance.  She gives the best side eye!

    What excites you about helping with A Fund For Women at the Madison Community Foundation? I have always been surrounded with strong women and I want to be involved with a platform that effects real change for women.  A Fund for Women wants to transform the lives of women and girls so they can move from surviving to thriving.

    Why did you decide to join the AKA sorority? When I was at Texas State University, the AKAs on campus had the highest GPAs and community service hours out of all the Greek letter organizations, including the non-black Greek organizations.  I like to run with champions so I joined Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.   As a member of the local Madison graduate chapter, we have many women that are pioneers, first-evers, and leaders in their respective industry and community.  While I have nothing but respect for the other Greek letter organizations, I truly believe I joined the best sorority.  

    Written by Henry Sanders

    Henry Sanders

    Henry Sanders is Publisher and CEO of Madison365.

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