The odds were stacked against Chinaza Duson from birth. Born in Buffalo, New York, her mother was a prostitute and her father was a pimp. Duson soon found herself in a youth home. However, being taught discipline and the value of never allowing yesterday to define today fueled her desire to overcome her rough upbringing.
She received her MBA and BA in business administration from Stayer University and after surviving some bumps in her career path, she eventually became a top network marketing professional. But the job closest to Duson’s heart is serving as founder and chair of the SheSpeaks Worldwide Foundation, a platform which empowers women, children and anyone with a dream to live to their highest potential and be a pillar in their communities.
SheSpeaks does amazing work creating programs that educate budding female entrepreneurs and uplifting various communities. The foundation gathers some of the wisest, fiercest professionals to speak life into women yearning for mental, spiritual and financial enrichment.
In Her Own Words
I was an executive working at the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA). I walked into my office on April 14, 2010, and they dropped a bomb on me. Literally the day before, I received the Top 40 Under 40 [award] in Mass Transit Magazine. The next day, they said “We’re sorry, but in six months, your position will no longer exist, but you’ll be fine.” I said, “Excuse me?” I was a single mom with two children and at that time, I had a Facebook friend who inboxed me. I was known for posting things empowering people, but my energy had dropped. So he said “What’s going on?” and I told him life as I knew it had changed. I made a total of $20,000 over a total of four years. But in 2013, I got into my stride. I literally woke up one day and I went full speed ahead to get to where I am now, in the No. 1 position.
I began to tell it (my story) little by little and realized people were being liberated and wanted to understand that if you can do it, I can do it. When I saw my story was serving as an inspiration and point of healing, I said “Wait, there’s nothing to hide anymore.” It freed me. Whenever I tell my story, I stay free, and when others are empowered to tell theirs, they get free.