All Articles Tagged "philanthropy"

Hello Miss March! FDNY Has First-Ever Woman In Its 2015 Charity Calendar

July 17th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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Each year, the New York City Fire Department sells a calendar of hot fire fighters to raise money for the FDNY Foundation, which uses the funds for fire safety education. Each year, the calendar is filled with buff shirtless men. Next year will not be like other years.

The 2015 calendar features the first-ever female participant: Miss March is Danae Mines. She’s been with the fire department for 11 years and works out of a ladder company in the South Bronx. There are only 41 women on the FDNY, less than one percent of the total department.

Mines auditioned with 100 men. The cover model thinks she “could show a little more skin” (she’s wearing a tank top). But besides raising funds, Mines would like her presence among the guys to drive female recruitment.

The Calendar of Heroes is on sale for $15.99.

h/t ABC News and CBS News

Update: The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation Raises More Than $500K At Annual Gala Event

May 6th, 2014 - By Rachael Devaney
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Hosts Steve and Marjorie Harvey attend Screen Gems Presents The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation Gala at Cipriani Wall Street in New York. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation

Hosts Steve and Marjorie Harvey attend Screen Gems Presents The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation Gala at Cipriani Wall Street in New York. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation

Update: The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation Annual Gala raised more than $500,000, according to a press release sent to MN Business. The funds include $45,000 for a VIP package to a Los Angeles Lakers basketball game provided by Helping Hand Award honoree Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Programs including the Steve Harvey Mentoring Camp for Young Men and the Girls Who Rule the World Mentoring Weekend will benefit.

Update by Tonya Garcia

Original post published April 25, 2014.

Brandi Harvey said she learned to “work hard and lead with love” from her father, comedian, author and radio host Steve Harvey.

With that motto in mind, Brandi, executive director of the Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation, will present the foundation’s fourth annual gala on May 3 at the Hilton Chicago along with Steve and his wife Marjorie Harvey.

Throughout the evening, the gala will showcase the Chicago Children’s Choir, a youth presentation featuring Erica Vincent and Joseph Foster, a live performance from R&B/soul singer, songwriter, and producer Kem, and an after-party soiree with DJ Timbuk2.

The gala, themed “The Power of 3: Potential, Passion & Purpose,” will also highlight its Helping Hand Award honorees: Pastor Corey Brooks of Chicago’s New Beginnings Church; Clint Culpepper, president of Screen Gems; Steve Pemberton, chief diversity officer of Walgreens; and Cookie and Magic Johnson.

Brandi said the honorees were chosen because of their impact in the lives of young men and women, which in turn encompasses the “Power of 3.”

“This year’s honorees really have shown potential, passion and purpose and they embody these powers through their lives, careers, and philanthropic work,” Brandi said. “It takes a village to raise children and communities and these people are upholding that truth and helping to build that village.”

While Brandi praised all the foundation’s honorees, Brooks captured national attention in 2012 when he camped on the roof of an abandoned Chicago hotel for 94 days, raising an astounding $580,000, even prompting Tyler Perry to donate $100,000. Later that year, Brooks again made headlines when he walked from Times Square in New York City to the Staples Center in Los Angeles where he and his team raised another $450,000. While Brooks hopes to raise $20 million to build a state of the art community center in Chicago, he said the core of his efforts is to uplift Chicago’s youth through his campaigns: The Circle of Influence 2014 and Project Hood (Helping Others Obtain Destiny).

“People don’t realize how much power, gifts and ability they have. Everybody has a circle of influence and if you can work within that circle and take small incremental steps you can make big changes,” Brooks said. “I am both humbled and honored to be recognized by the foundation and I am hoping that I can go beyond my own goals and raise enough money to support Steve and Marjorie with the success of their foundation. We plan on being long term partners in uplifting urban youth.”

Brandi agreed and said the fundraising goal for this year’s gala is to raise $1 million. Funds will go towards its projects like Girls Who Rule the World and Mentoring Weekend for Young Men.

“We want to expand globally so we can offer young people national exposure and business opportunities. We are also planning to build a holistic family center in Dallas, TX, where we can hold our camp and to have a place where people from all over the world can convene and mentor.”

With the foundation’s programs going global, the gala, sponsored by brands like Coca Cola, AT&T, and Morgan Stanley, will be the next step towards forming long lasting partnerships to give kids what Brandi calls a “global mentality.”

“We want to show our kids that service is a part of life and when you give you get so much more. We are going to push a service initiative that will teach our kids how to go out and lead, and to see that the world is so much bigger than their neighborhood,” Brandi said.

Brandi said her ability to lead comes from her father’s “genuine commitment to compassion.”

“My father is the clearest example of hard work. I have had to work hard for whatever it is that I have gotten in life and that is something he always instilled in us and into the boys and girls in our programs,” she said. “I have been blessed to have a father like him and I take everything I learned from him into my family, into my team and sometimes you have to be stern to lead but that’s what love is. It comes with toughness and that’s all right.”

With Sister-In-Law Whitney Houston In Mind, Pat Houston’s Marion P Candles Is A Labor Of Love

April 28th, 2014 - By Lauryn Stallings
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marion_01-portrait1_0118_copy[1] (1)A line of therapeutically scented candles might not seem like a product borne from the loving relationship between sisters. But that’s exactly what it is in the case of Marion P Candles, a collection of luxury soy candles inspired by the precious bond of sisters-in-law Pat and Whitney Houston.

Pat Houston managed the career of the most lauded singer in history, spending time with Whitney on the road and off.

“During the holidays, she always wanted to come to my home,” Pat Houston recalls. The women shared something that transcended their working relationship and embraced family and friendship. That alone was evident in the way Whitney addressed her manager and sister-in-law.

“It was always Marion P,” says Pat Houston. The nickname, a term of endearment from one sister to another, comes from Pat Houston’s given name, Marion Patricia.

Whitney Houston’s affection for her sister went beyond a sweet pet name. She championed branding Marion P onto something — anything — that shared Pat Houston’s kind and comforting nature. To sweeten the prospect the Grammy-winning singer, who shunned lucrative advertising offers, agreed to endorse whatever bore the name.

The concept finally came during a leg of the 2010 Nothing But Love World Tour. Ignited by Whitney’s persistent persuasion Pat, ventured to launch Marion P Candles. It’s the ideal business model for two candle enthusiasts, and Whitney immediately advocated the operation. While touring Pat Houston delved into the candle industry. A freshman in a $2 billion industry competing with everyone from Yankee Candle to personal favorite Jo Malone, she endeavoured to create a product that draws spotlight in a dense marketplace.

As Pat reviewed prospects she kept this in mind: “I knew it had to be something different and special. Not just candles, but an experience.”

While in L.A. Pat Houston arranged a meeting with a woman whose business focuses on organic aromatherapy candles. Inside the Hotel Wilshire they collaborated and eventually settled on handmade candles that melt into an oil that perfumes the home and soothes the skin. Marion P Candles are set in glass jars and packaged in biodegradable white boxes — both adorned with 24-karat gilded logos. Lighting a candle is an intimate pleasure, so each of the Marion P’s pots is scented and named to create a spiritual connection. Pat Houston, guided by her personal bond to Israel forged after a number of visits, chooses fragrances she calls “scents from the Holy Land,” such as Jordina (fig lychee) and Jericho (cedarwood amber).

However creating a loyal customer base from Hollywood to Budapest is not Pat Houston’s only goal. After noticing a disturbing trend while visiting family and friends in North Carolina, she had begun a career in community action years prior. Now she had another avenue for helping young people in need.

Faith, Football & Philanthropy: Halleemah Nash Has Crafted A Career Out Of The Things She Cares About Most

April 24th, 2014 - By Kimberly Wilson
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“I Want Her Job” is a new column written by Kimberly Wilson that will profile women of color who are doing cool jobs and running interesting businesses. Is there someone you think we should include? Email the business editor, Tonya Garcia, at

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Having grown up Compton, Halleemah Nash sought opportunity on the East Coast, enrolling Howard University in Washington D.C. and then later at the Duke University School of Divinity for graduate school. Her career has led her to positions at the Chicago Bulls, the Chicago Housing Authority and the Fannie Lou Hamer Project.

In 2010, seeing a need to merge her passion in sports with philanthropy Nash launched Legacy Venture Consulting, a philanthropy consulting firm for athletes and entertainers interested in enhancing their community presence. Her clients have included: Common (The CommonGround Foundation), Dwayne Wade (Miami Heat), Lance Gross (Tyler Perry Show) and Malaysia Pargo (Basketball Wives).

Most recently, she was appointed the new CEO to NFL player Israel Idonije’s Foundation. In this role, she oversees educational and recreational programming for underserved youth annually and enhance international humanitarian efforts during the NFL off-season.

I had the opportunity to meet Nash on an intimate trip to Dakar, Senegal last month for Give1 Project’s Women’s Empowerment Summit. Besides working with others on their philanthropic efforts, she’s making her own dreams come true. For instance, last year her birthday goal was to fully fund the building of a school in Kenya. In just a matter of days with 33 friends in her 33rd year she did just that.

Nash also just released the self-published work Endless Summer: Inspirations and Reflections for the Journey to Life Balance, sharing her a personal collection of reflections, devotionals, and best practices to inspire individuals across boundaries to live balanced lives.

In this interview with MadameNoire, Nash talks about her inspiration for writing Endless Summer, the challenges of practicing her faith as a woman in the sports industry and what’s next on her journey.

MadameNoire: Let’s talk about your book. What inspired Endless Summer: Inspirations and Reflections for the Journey to Life Balance?

Halleemah Nash: This past winter was brutal in Chicago where I currently reside. And during this winter, I spent some time reflecting on the idea of balance and not living in extremes. I am a California child, so I live for summer. During winter months, I experience lulls in productivity, I rarely go outdoors, I am extremely non-social, and I find myself sad in gloomy.

My gravitation toward summer became a perfect analogy for what I’d hoped to accomplish in my quest toward a greater equilibrium in my life. My search for balance was a search for consistent joy and gratefulness, along with an endless season of light. Light, joy, and gratefulness were all available to me in the winter just as they were in the summer but the discomfort of winters can make it difficult to see this clearly.

This book is a collection of reflections that I wrote on my journey toward an endless summer. In other words, this book is a journaling and recap of critical lessons I learned in my quest for balance. I wanted to share these lessons and ideas to others.

MN: What do you hope people take from the book?

HN: I hope to motivate people to build a loving relationship with uncomfortable periods of time. There is something great that can be produced in the midst of discomfort. It is in fire where gold is purified, and in pressure where coals become diamonds. And interestingly enough, it was in the winter, my most uncomfortable season, where I found my balance.

I definitely don’t wear the crown of a balanced life. We are all growing and balance is something I am constantly working toward. But, for the first time, the fierce winter was not as debilitating to me. These reflections were my intentional exercise in producing and embodying light along the backdrop of what has historically been an undesirable season.

I pray that readers find encouragement through this book and that they too, will discover more consistent seasons of balance by facing uncomfortable seasons with a different perspective.

Your Money Can Make An Impact: 10 Companies With A Social Mission

April 9th, 2014 - By Tanvier Peart
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When it comes to the issues where do you stand? Are you always looking for ways to alleviate hunger? Do most of your efforts go towards helping underprivileged children? Or are you burning your bra for women’s rights?

Many companies have also jumped on the philanthropic bandwagon, lending their considerable wealth and manpower to benefit causes that are tied to the brand or near and dear to business leaders.

Here are 10 companies with a social mission.

$1 Million Gift: GM Foundation Is Latest Donor To National Museum of African American History

January 26th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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via Facebook

via Facebook

When it comes to funding, African-American museums can use all the help they can get. So the recent $1 million grant the General Motors Foundation awarded to the upcoming Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture was most welcomed.

Because of the size of the gift, the GM Foundation has become a founding donor to the museum. The museum is still under construction and will be located on five acres adjacent to the Washington Monument. It is expected to open in late 2015.

“Through this grant we continue our commitment by helping to bring to life the story of African Americans who have changed our nation in so many ways,” said the foundation’s president, Vivian Pickard, in a statement.

GM’s donation will help pay for the design and installation of the museum’s permanent exhibition. It will also allow the construction remain on schedule.

Previously Oprah Winfrey also donated $13 million. Her name will go on a 350-seat theater as a thank you for her enormous gift. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and American Express have also donated to the highly-anticipated museum.

 The $500-million museum has been in the works for more than a year; it broke ground in 2012. But the museum is still shy about $100 million, having raised nearly $400 million, reports the Washington Post.

Lonnie G. Bunch, founding director, told the newspaper, every donation helps. “I jump up and down every time we get a donation, whether it’s $5 or $5 million. What I realize is, every donation is a step closer to making dreams of our ancestors real. That excites me every moment,” he said.

Social Entrepreneur Verneda White Built Her Business, Human Intonation, With Charity In Mind

November 30th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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White talking about HIV prevention during the fifth anniversary of Human Intonation.

White talking about HIV prevention during the fifth anniversary of Human Intonation.

After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Verneda White saw that thousands in a place she once called home struggled to rebuild a life torn apart by the devastating storm. Just five months later, her family was forced to deal with another devastating loss — her 22-year-old cousin James succumbed to AIDS.

From this tragedy comes Human Intonation, a for-profit business that White started with the underlying expressed purpose of benefiting charity partners, most notably, organizations that address the need for HIV prevention, education, and treatment. White donates 20 percent of each sale to philanthropic groups.

Mens Human IntonationTomorrow is World AIDS Day, a time to join in the fight against this killer of millions. The World AIDS Day organization estimates that there are 34 million people around the globe living with AIDS. Despite the fact that it has risen to the level of epidemic, AIDS remains mired in stigma, and teaching people about the disease is an ongoing goal around the world.

But there is some good news. A recent UN report shows that the number of new cases of HIV infection has dropped 30 percent in recent years. The group credits better treatment and education with the decline. The UN says the former is made possible by a dramatic drop in the cost of drugs, down to $140 per year from $10,000 at one point.

Even with this progress, diligence is necessary, particularly among the black community. According to Voice of America, though African Americans make up 12 percent of the US population, they make up 50 percent of new HIV cases. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, says homophobia in the black community puts young, gay black men at high risk. And HIV is the leading cause of death among African-American women between the ages of 25 and 34, with the rate of infection 20 times higher than that of white women.

“Despite the apparent urgency of this issue, especially in the black community, funding for AIDS prevention has stagnated in the last half decade,” The Atlantic writes.

That sense of urgency, in some ways, has diminished because of the advancements made since the 1980s. White says it “makes her cringe” when she hears statements like that.

“I remember when he told me he was HIV positive and thinking nothing of it,” White told MadameNoire Business, referring to the day she got the news from her cousin, a family member she loved immensely. “I expected him to live another 30 or 50 years. He died in five months.” Her message, and the message of others, is to get tested and, if you’re infected, to get treatment quickly.

To that end, White gives generously to organizations that benefit this cause. Continued recovery from Hurricane Katrina, education in Darfur, and help for the poor in Haiti are some of the other causes that she has become involved with. To give this much, White says she has to be aggressive about making money. “Fairly early on, I saw that I have to be a profitable business. It couldn’t only be the philanthropic part,” she said.

Look Inside Yourself In Order To Become An Influencer To Others

October 25th, 2013 - By Candace Smith
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When someone becomes a pillar of their industry, others want to learn how they got there. Whether they seek it out or not, these successful professionals —  athletes, business people, entertainers, or academics — are in demand for speaking engagements and appearances. Their advice and counsel is sought after. And the decisions they make influence the direction of the entire industry. When someone like Russell Simmons or Oprah Winfrey does something, everyone else watches to see what happens.

These days, by virtue of popularity and sway as well as some tangible measure of success, one can seek out and become a person of influence. There are three major elements that you should be aware of in order to become an influencer within your community and industry of career choice.

Number one, think about how you can improve the lives of others rather than only thinking of yourself. Life is rich when you find out what your passions are, but it can be richer when you use your passion to help others in need. For instance, when Oprah’s talk show first aired in the early 80s, the topics discussed were more tabloid in nature. It was not long before Oprah redefined her purpose to focus more on social issues that every person could relate to. Her fondness for bringing the human condition to light separated her from the pack and made her into the Oprah we all know today — an influential media mogul. People latch onto her “Oprah’s Book Club” picks, her latest on-screen interviews with pop culture figures, and anything that she touches as a film and TV producer. But more important, we are influenced by her many philanthropic efforts and her generosity, with an estimated $400 million given to others in need during her career thus far. Thinking “we” instead of “me” leads to a happier, more fulfilled life and paves the path to having a voice that others will respect and feel inspired by.

Second, cultivate your tastes. Before you can be a guiding light to others, you must be comfortable with who you are, which is achieved through exploration. A leader is consistent in their brand, their image, what they care about most, and in their curiosity about others. This type of self-realization does not happen in a day, however. Travel, try new things and meet new people. You do not have to have your life figured out by the age of 25; the process could take many years to become a reality. The current richest Black woman in the world, Folorunsho Alakija, was a bank secretary in the mid-1970s, studied fashion in London, and had her own fashion label in Nigeria before becoming an oil tycoon.

Finally, focus and engage.  We like to be listened to and feel as if we are the only person in the room. Put down your iPhone and headphones and strike up a conversation with your colleagues during your lunch hour or with the barista who knows exactly how you like your coffee every morning. Get involved with a local or national cause that is important to you and volunteer your knowledge, time, and voice. You don’t need to spend money to be a leader. If you focus on your strengths and what you are most passionate about you can help to set the bar for other generations. Just remember that an influencer achieves through action, not inaction. Harry Belafonte said it best when he declared how vital it is for African Americans to welcome “radical thoughts” in order to help solve the world’s biggest predicaments.

“What really concerns me is the ingredients of discourse. The African-American community… where is that community?  Where is that voice? I think that the black community, the black leadership need to stir it up.” If you would like to be a leader, an influence to others, use your voice and participate within society to affect positive, long-lasting change.

Billionaire Couple Donates $10 Million To Head Start Programs Defunded By Government Shutdown

October 10th, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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The government shutdown has defunded Head Start programs, which educate 7,000 poor toddlers in preparation for kindergarten. But a $10 million donation by billionaire couple John and Laura Arnold has got Head Start programs operating despite the standstill at Congress, The Root reports.

“We believe that it is especially unfair that young children from underprivileged communities and working families pay the price for the legislature’s collective failures,” the Arnolds said in a statement.

via The Laura and John Arnold Foundation website.

via The Laura and John Arnold Foundation website.

The billionaire couple’s generous donation will benefit thousands of children in poverty who use these programs to “learn the skills needed for their early school years and whose parents rely on the program to have a safe, affordable place to take their children while they work,” The Root added.  And what makes the Arnolds particularly extraordinary are their qualms about passing on their wealth to their three children: “Because of our backgrounds and because of our own experiences, we just don’t believe in dynastic wealth,” they said.

Instead, they hope to pass on their fortunes to government programs — something many wealthy Americans refuse to do because of their distrust of the government’s judgment. According to The Root, the Arnold’s find it more prudent to invest in today’s deprived children than tomorrow’s prisons or homeless shelters.

“[W]hat makes the Arnolds’ act particularly significant is that, unlike some wealthy people who bought into Mitt Romney’s 47 percent argument that some Americans earn money and deserve it and others simply take it, the Arnolds are wealthy people who earned their money but who understand that America’s future will be brighter if they share it with children who are not born into the same opportunities as their children.”

John, whose wealth is valued at $2.8 billion, and his wife have previously made headlines for their support of the Obama administration. The Arnolds are heads of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, which strives to impact society in a way that “maximizes opportunity and minimizes injustice.”

The Arnolds are crossing their fingers that the government eventually open because the Head Start programs can only last so long on philanthropists’ cash: “We sincerely hope that our government gets back to work in short order, as private dollars cannot in the long term replace government commitments,” The Arnolds told the Daily Mail.

Curvy Girls Give Back: Plus-Sized Fashion Show Curvy Closets Donates Proceeds To Charity

October 2nd, 2013 - By Andrea Williams
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With curves for days and a true appreciation for the (full) female figure, Domonique Revere-Lincoln and Colleen Stovall have dedicated their life’s work to the celebration of plus-sized women and fashion. At first they were going it alone; Domonique is CEO of Empress Lingerie and Colleen blogs at and both are aspiring plus-sized models. But a chance meeting ultimately led to the 2012 launch of Curvy Closets, a Philadelphia-based fashion show for women sized 12-and-up.

But Curvy Closets isn’t just about showing that big girls can rock a runway, too. The show provides a platform for independent – and even student – designers while also giving local vendors an opportunity to connect with a like-minded customer base. Perhaps more importantly though, Curvy Closets highlights deserving charities in the tri-state area and donates a portion of proceeds to participating nonprofits. The 2013 show will be held October 12.

Here, we talk with Domonique about building the Curvy Closets brand, juggling multiple business ventures and what it really takes to make a partnership work.

MadameNoire: What made you decide to partner for the Curvy Closets show?

Domonique & Colleen: Colleen and I met through a modeling troop of sorts in Philadelphia. We were there looking to meet like-minded models while growing in our craft, and we hit it off from there. Approximately a year later we decided to take on this joint venture due to the lack of opportunities and quality fashion shows/events for plus size models in and throughout the Philadelphia area.

MN: Do you each have clearly defined roles, and what happens when you guys have a difference of opinion? How do you work through those challenges?

D&C: We do have clearly defined roles, but that certainly doesn’t mean that we don’t assist one another when the other may have questions and/or need assistance. Colleen, because of her social media background, tends to take the lead on all things media-related, while I am the visionary and handle the logistics.

MN: What advice do you have for other women who are considering going into business with a friend?

D&C: Our advice would be to go into the business with an open mind, similar visions of outcome and clear expectations. We’ve learned that everything is give and take, but most of all we’ve learned to not take things personally.

MN: How has building the Curvy Closets brand helped establish and build your personal brands?

D&C: Building the Curvy Closets brand has assisted greatly in the visibility of our personal brands, [for Colleen] and Empress Lingerie [for Dominique]. During this second year of planning, larger brands and curvy elitist have embraced and supported Curvy Closets, which is fantastic. But more that anything else, it does mean a lot to us that others believe in what we are doing and anticipating another great show this year.

MN: How do you and Colleen balance working on the show and working on your personal business ventures?

D&C: You said it: Prioritizing is key! We start the planning process for Curvy Closets well in advance – approximately nine months prior to show time – which enables us to balance both our personal endeavors, and Curvy Closets, without becoming overwhelmed by all that goes into producing a show of this magnitude.

MN: The plus-size market has been growing exponentially, but it’s still not completely mainstream. Has that (or anything else) presented a challenge as you work to build the brand?

D&C: It’s very exciting and refreshing to be a part of this ever-growing plus-size fashion industry and to make our little mark. In addition, it’s been and will continue to be our mission to utilize the Curvy Closets platform to give a voice and exposure to those smaller brands, while giving back to the community.

Our challenges (we like to call them opportunities) have centered around growing our sponsorship support, and much of that is because of the timing of the show and the fact that many brands have already allocated those funds to go elsewhere. So it’s an opportunity for us at the present time, and it’s one that we are slowly overcoming and will continue to do so.

Andrea Williams is a writer/journalist based in Nashville. Follow her @AndreaWillWrite