Topic: Women

Candace Doby

Author Candace Doby is THE courage expert. She talks about how to maximize leading with courage in work and life – whether you’re a teen or a CEO – she has wisdom to share.

Past Speaking Engagements

 
YMCA
University of Georgia
SUNY Oneonta
MARTA
 

Speaking Options

Courage At Work: Helping Emerging Leaders Take More Worthwhile Risks in an Evolving Workplace

Now, more than ever, organizations need leaders to act with courage. They need leaders who are willing and able to take worthwhile risks, navigate through uncertainty, and withstand challenges in order to position their businesses for growth in a constantly shifting corporate and non-profit world. According to research, courage is an essential leadership quality. But, when emerging leaders consider potential failure or rejection in the workplace as outcomes, they can find it difficult to choose courage — opting instead for safety and limited growth. That’s because they don’t know how to evaluate risks or leverage the internal resources they already have to face them. In this presentation, speaker and courage coach Candace helps audience members discover what’s stopping them from stepping outside of their comfort zone at work and how to begin dismantling those barriers so they can take more risks — risks like speaking up with an unpopular perspective in a meeting of like minds, showing up authentically for themselves and their teams, and challenging old systems that do not serve new workplace realities. This presentation is critical for organizations that want to develop courageous leaders who can help take their businesses into the future. This presentation is appropriate for companies that want to help their people, particularly millennials, courageously speak up and stand out so that the organization can capitalize on diverse and creative thinking, innovate faster, improve processes and collaborate better.

Translating Travel Skills into Leadership Skills

When we are met with opportunities to travel abroad, we too often don’t understand how travel skills can translate into leadership skills that employers desire.  In this talk, Candace illustrates how travel has helped her enhance important leadership skills in the workplace and how it can do the same for those who have traveled abroad. Through delightful storytelling, she recounts how driving on the other side of the road forced her to be adaptable, how a tuk tuk driver raised her consciousness around collaboration and much more. Through this talk, the audience will be able to identify important leadership skills employers value, recognize how to connect the dots between travel and leadership skills, and understand their role in telling the most impactful stories about their travel experiences. 

TBD: Travel, Being Black & Doubt

Until the age of 27, Candace had always labeled traveling abroad as TBD, or To Be Determined. The opportunities to do so beforehand were muddled in fear of physical harm, rejection from people at home and abroad, and fear of failure. It wasn’t until she read books, heard tales from friends, and did research that she began to recognize the value of travel.  In this presentation, Candace, who has now traveled solo and accompanied to 19 countries, shares how she navigated fear, race and power to relabel travel as TBD, or The Best Decision. In this talk, participants will be better able to identify their own fears related about traveling abroad, understand how they can manage their fears through the framework of courage, and recognize how travel can help them have a more global understanding of themselves.

Selected Media

Candace Interview

 

Travel,  Black, and Doubt

 

If Courage Could Talk TV interview

Candace’s Sizzle Reel

Testimonials

“Candace was an inspiring keynote and connected greatly with our audience of students and faculty alike.  Her message on courage gave our conference participants the right motivation to get the most out of their leadership journey at our event and beyond.” –  Shahla Akbari, Director of Chapter Support, The National Society of Leadership and Success

“Candace Doby is an inspiring and relatable speaker on the topic of travel, leadership skills, and courage. The ideas and concepts she speaks about are easy to understand, but are unique from what students usually hear, as they come from her own story. Our event evaluation confirmed that students concretely learned something new and learned to communicate their own travel and study abroad stories in a way they were unsure of before. Candace has the ability to inspire young people, get them excited about global experiences, and help them find their courage and confidence to use those experiences to reach their goals.” – Denise Leinonen, International Student Advisor, SUNY Oneonta

“When I read Candace’s biography and topic description for her “Travel, Being Black, and Doubt” talk, I knew immediately that her message would align with everything Wesleyan College values — diversity and inclusion, globalization, and preparedness for life after college. As study abroad professionals, we recognize trends in the types of students who choose to go abroad and which students show more trepidation, but it feels like there is little more we can do than market diverse program offerings and advise students with reassurance through their fears. Candace’s message resonated both with the student audience and with me. The students nodded along, offering their input about their fears and what holds them back from international travel. Candace’s topic drew a diverse crowd of students — many who vocalized their concerns about being black and feeling even more foreign abroad than they sometimes do at home, and others who wanted to explore their racial privilege and understand what holds their peers back from experiencing what seems so natural to other students. When Candace broke into her riff on Kendrick Lamar’s “Fear,” the students instantly and visibly engaged with her personality and message. I hosted the talk with the hopes of opening doors for my students that seemed previously closed — by giving voice to their fears and answers to their questions. But what I (also) gained from Candace was a better understanding of how my own practice can better address those fears and how my message implicitly plays into the cultural disparities that exist in study abroad participation.” – Emily Jarvis, Director of Int’l Programs, Wesleyan College

“Candace is an excellent speaker who delivers an insightful perspective on Study Abroad. As an African American female who did not study abroad while she was in college she sees the value of Study abroad from the lens of a Corporate Marketing professional, who has now traveled all over the world. She understands the importance of encouraging students of color to study abroad and the cross-cultural learning and understanding that takes place from enriching experiences abroad. She delivers this and much more through her presentation, “Travel, Being Black and Doubt”.  – Study Abroad Coordinator, Columbus State University (Georgia)

“What a fascinating and insightful session and conversation on TBD: Travel, Being Black and Doubt. Candace’s message needs to be heard by all of us (white IE professionals & student affairs staff, really everyone on a college campus & in the workplace! ) – Jennifer Ramos, Study Abroad Director, Methodist University

“Candace is a phenomenal and inspiring speaker! Her energy and bright spirit combined with her warmth and fearlessness have helped me find to courage to share my own voice and story. Since hearing her speak, I have learned how to ‘cross the bridge’ and use fear to launch me into a life of greater purpose and fulfillment,” – Shawn Patrick Rivera, Life Is A Verb Participant.

About Candace

Candace Doby has been examining the definition, elements and obstacles of courage on her own for a decade. Through that process, she developed her own courage to travel abroad, an action she had long considered … scary. From her first trip abroad to Indonesia to her 19th global trip to Malaysia, Candace has continuously sharpened the tools necessary to manage fear. As a speaker, Candace combines personal storytelling with life lessons and a dynamic presence to inspire the audience to act courageously.

Candace is the author of “If Courage Could Talk”, published in 2020. She has served as an editing fellow for Travel Noire, the popular digital platform and resource for black travelers. She currently volunteers with Girls Going Global, a non-profit organization that empowers girls of color through travel and cultural exchange. Her 2017 presentation at NAFSA (Association of International Educator’s Conference – Region VII) garnered rave reviews and was nominated for the national conference.

Candace received BA/MA degrees in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At the university, she ran track, worked at the school paper, and served as a resident advisor. She had a 15-year marketing career and has worked for some of the best advertising agencies in the country. Her most recent work in this arena was as a Field Marketing Manager for Chipotle Mexican Grill.  Her book, If Courage Could Talk, has been picked up by a national publisher and the 2nd edition of it will be available as a book and  journal in 2022.

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Deirdre Cooper Owens, PhD

Award-winning author and reproductive rights justice activist, Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens is THE expert on the intersection of race and medical history.

Past Speaking Engagements

 
Cherry Bekaert LLP
Illinois Association for Behavioral Health
Cornerstone League
Myovant Sciences
The Federal Reserve
United Nations
University of Limerick
March of Dimes
Princeton University
Brooklyn Historical Society
The Speed Art Museum
London School of Economics
The Schomburg Center
 

Speaking Options

 

 

Bias and Anti-Racism in the Medical Field

Medical racism is inarguable. Dr. Cooper Owens will provide a snapshot of the dismal state of medical racism for people of color using an engaging historical lens. In this talk, she also offers up necessary solutions and calls-to-action on how to provide necessary anti-racist medical care. 

 

Beyond Black History

How do many Americans learn about black history? Sadly, it is often broached through a trivia style approach instead of treated as necessary history in academic classrooms and corporate programs. What Dr. Cooper Owens knows is the real impact and value of Black History is about more than “firsts” and “the only.” In this talk, she contextualizes how Black history offers a more holistic interpretation of American history by dispelling countless myths. The audience will walk away with a deeper understanding of the contributions of people of color. (And for the record, George Washington Carver didn’t invent the peanut or peanut butter!)

Selected Media

Testimonials

Cynthia Daneil - Diversity & Culture Leader Diversity & Culture Leader Cherry Bekaert LLP

“We had the pleasure of having Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens as our guest for our Black History Speaker Event.  Dr. Cooper Owens’ talk, Beyond Black History, is very compelling and her discussion on Black history resonated well with our audience members. Her ability to break down history to a level that is engaging and easy to follow was a big win for our Firm. In just the last few days, many of our employees have shared how her approach provided them with valuable insights into Black History and intrigued their interest to want to learn more. We are grateful for her presence at our event and hope to have her again in the future.” Cynthia Daniel, Diversity & Culture Leader, Cherry Bekaert LLP 

“Dr. Cooper Owens is a terrific speaker who is able to break down historical content in a way that is accessible to myriad audiences. She delivers difficult subject matter about the intersections of race and medicine with care and ease, compelling listeners to pay close attention and enthusiastically enter the conversation (when appropriate) by posing questions and offering comments. Every time I hear Dr. Cooper Owens speak, I am in awe of her command of the stage, the breadth of her research, and her commitment to engaging the public without pretense.”  Michelle D Commander, PhD, Assoc. Director and Curator of the Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery, NY, NY.

“Dr. Cooper Owens revolutionizes the context in which we frame gynecology. She changes the way we approach patients and encourages the understanding of the burdens of generational traumas and societal burdens in gynecology. Virtually or in person, no one else is as exact as an educator as Dr. Cooper Owens. Her talks are a must add to anyone trying to change and challenge the current narrative of medical norms.” Sallie Sarrel, Co-Founder, The Endometriosis Summit 

“Dr. Cooper Owens has provided incredible insight around medical racism in the US. We are grateful for her expertise and contributions!” Danielle Keiser, Exec. Dir. and Founder, Menstrual Health Hub

Carrie Myers Photo in Circle with Orange Border​”Dr. Cooper Owens is phenomenal! I have heard her speak numerous times and never pass up the opportunity to do so again. I’m so glad we were able to host her at UNMC and for our students, faculty, and staff to discuss health humanities with her. The best-reviewed program we had this year.” – Carrie Meyer, Assistant Professor, Head of Special Collections and Archives, Leon S. McGoogan Health Sciences Library, University of Nebraska Medical Center

About Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens

Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens is an award winning author and a historian most known for her writings on slavery and the history of reproductive medicine. However, her superpower is that she speaks with courage and comfort about deeply unsettling topics. She has spoken at the United Nations, London School of Economics, Morehouse University, Princeton University, Harvard University, The March of Dimes, University of Limerick, Cedars Sinai Medical Center and hundreds of other organizations. 

Hailing from South Carolina’s Gullah/Geechee Low Country, she comes from a long line of storytellers and preachers. Her ancestors gifted her with skills that move audiences from hearing the unimaginable to open hearts through the power of her authentic voice and compelling tales. Along the way, Dr. Cooper Owens has lived all over the United States and South Africa, written an award-winning book (Medical Bondage: Race, Gender and the Origins of American Gynecology), and earned a Ph.D. When she’s not chronicling the country’s past or advocating for reproductive justice for birthing people, Deirdre enjoys being a global citizen and proud middle-aged fashionista.

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Jennifer Hamady

 Being of Lebanese, Cuban and Mexican descent, Jennifer Hamady deeply appreciates the need for diverse and authentic voices in this world. She has coached CEOs, written three books on voice and self-expression, and sung with Grammy Award-winners. With unsurpassed skill and heart, she empowers diverse teams to better understand each other as humans in the workplace.

Past Speaking Engagements

 
Cherry Bekaert LLP
National Society for Leadership and Success
Songwriters Guild of America Logo
Kripalu Logo
ALTO Logo
Womens Presidents Organization
American Bar Association Logo
Wells Fargo Ackler Logo
WICT LOGO
IBM
 

Speaking Options

Women Empowering Their Voices

As women, we know how challenging it can be to find and use our voices, within ourselves, and in the world. Join Jennifer for this popular and important conversation about the perspective, persistence, and bravery required to discover who we are and what we want to say, refine our message, and share both with clarity, power, peace, and pride. Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to harness your inner strength, self, and voice.

Overcoming The Fear of Public Speaking

Managing the fear of public speaking is the subject of a thousand books, workshops, and programs that attempt to help deal with and mitigate its effects. Yet only a fundamental shift in the way in how this anxiety is perceived will allow us to overcome and transcend it. In this presentation, Jennifer speaks to the true nature of performance anxiety, helping us to break down the barrier- finally- that exists between us and other people in all of our interactions.

Mastering Your Voice as Leaders

As leaders, we know the importance of communication, yet our habits and blind spots can hinder our ability to effectively lead, connect and advance our careers. In this talk, Jen leads a conversation about the technical and emotional issues that interfere with our communication and self-expression. In this interactive approach, you will learn practical tools for developing and extending your most powerful voice in the workplace and beyond.

Finding Your Voice


In this presentation, Jennifer teaches us how to discover, honor, and express our most authentic selves. She explores topics including our levels of physical, mental, and emotional awareness, and how to address and resolve any limiting associations and actions that prevent us from walking openly, joyfully, and powerfully into and through our lives.

The Heart and Art of Public Speaking in a Corporate Culture

Whether you’re in sales, customer service, or the CEO of a company – you’ll walk away from this talk feeling ready to communicate and lead with confidence and a new perspective on self and your stakeholders! While most communication training aims to teach you the tricks of the technical trade: how to craft a great speech, connect with your audience, and properly protect and project your voice (all important goals, for sure) –  these are not nearly important as first considering who is doing the speaking. In this engaging interactive presentation, Jennifer helps individuals and teams discover the dis-empowering ways of thinking and being that have been standing in the way of their best self-expression at work. Once revealed, Jennifer works with participants to bring the technical skills of speaking and communication to life in an interactive format that is the hallmark of her keynotes and workshops.

Exploring Voice In The Professional Kitchen

Communication is often challenging, but throw high stakes, pressure, and different personalities into the mix, and things can get out of hand. Join Jennifer for an enlightening look at how to bridge the divides that diminish our power and joy in working together, resulting in respect, partnership, and a shared sense of vision and responsibility. You and your team will walk away from this incredible conversation with the skills necessary for personal, interpersonal, and professional success.

Masterclass: Voice for Singers

Working with aspiring and professional singers is one of Jennifer’s greatest joys. Each event is tailored to meet your group’s specific needs, which Jennifer brings to life through a combination of conversation and working one on one with volunteers. Whether participants sing or observe, the experience of being ‘shown’ rather than ‘told’– combined with Jennifer’s unique ability to teach and lead with love, humility, and humor– will result in a magical and memorable session, as well as vocal and personal tools that last. Popular topics include:

  • Performance Presentation and Authenticity
  • Vocal Technique and Troubleshooting
  • Working With and Through Performance Anxiety
  • Bringing Balance and Bravery to a Career in Music
Exploring Voice Across Cultures

What are the keys to a culturally transcendent voice? What is it that makes some people– their confidence, their delivery, their message – universally pleasing? Not just today, but across time? Connecting with people in our own communities and cultures can be a challenge… one that multiplies when we move beyond our personal and geographical boundaries. How do we remain true to ourselves and our messages while accommodating different countries and their norms? What are the specific vocal and personal tools we need to connect powerfully with anyone, anywhere in the world? Join Jennifer, who is Lebanese, Mexican, and Cuban, for a fascinating and practical conversation about the intersection of psychology, culture, language, and voice.

Preparing Your Voice For Conferences

For many people, speaking in front of a group can be terrifying. But it doesn’t have to be, not when you have the proper vocal, technical, and emotional tools in place. In live and webinar formats, Jennifer Hamady empowers people to share their stories and messages with clarity, authenticity, and power… and to do so joyfully. In this interactive workshop, you’ll learn how to care for, warm up, and project your voice, read and engage with your audience, work with microphones and monitors properly, and eliminate performance anxiety once and for all.

Selected Media

NSLS Keynote Conversation 2019

Meet Jennifer Hamady

Testimonials

“Jennifer was the highlight of our event, and year. It is rare to see someone so talented and powerful also bring such warmth and tenderness to the table. And to so effectively connect and communicate with an audience. We all were left in awe and transformed.” – Janae Noble, Partner, Next Wave Investments, LLC

“A one in a million find… we are talking about a brilliant and truly special person.” – Dr. James Fallon,TED Speaker, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Neurobiology (UC Irvine)

“Having attended another of Jennifer’s workshops, I knew she would be great. But I remain blown away by the impact of her time here at BuzzBack on my staff and our ability to better express ourselves and communicate with one another. The great feedback, and results, keep coming.” – Carol Fitzgerald, CEO and Founder of BuzzBack

“Jennifer has a knack for figuring out how people tick and uses it to help people get the most out of their voices, personally and professionally.” – Paul Crick, IBM, Senior Managing Consultant and Strategy Manager, London; TEDx Speaker

“Jennifer Hamady is The Voice Whisperer” – Karen Salmansohn, NY Times best-selling author

“Jennifer Hamady was the keynote speaker at my school’s annual Global Awareness Day activities. Jennifer has a unique set of abilities—she is able to make a big room feel small and intimate, she makes students feel safe sharing their thoughts and aspirations, and she brings out a high level of engagement even at 8:00 in the morning on a Monday. Jennifer worked closely with our students to create a shared vision for the event and then brought that vision into reality. She is someone who is excellent at encouraging free-form conversation and bringing out the best and most interesting parts of that conversation. I enthusiastically recommend Jennifer!” – David Miller, Director of Global Programs, The Gunston School

“Amazing and transformational – our girls loved working with her and have begged me to bring her back. Thank you so much!”- Joel Sohn, Episcopal High School, Office of Equity & Inclusion Co-Director (PS – they did bring her back!)

“It’s The Artist’s Way, The Four Agreements, and Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain all rolled into one. An author, and force to be reckoned with.”- Don Davis, Variety (referencing Jennifer’s book The Art of Singing: Discovering and Developing Your True Voice)

“Jennifer’s book simply confirms her abilities in discerning the fundamentals of life. Powerfully insightful, her treatment of fear not only has immediate application but revolutionary impact, as she has identified the core problems that undermine the full performance of so many people. There is no doubt in my mind that the book will have an enormous positive impact on a wide cross-section of people.”- Dr. Amii-Omara Ottunu, Chair, UNESCO Institute of Human Rights

About Jennifer

Jennifer Hamady is a voice consultant and board-certified psychotherapist specializing in technical and emotional issues that interfere with self-expression. With offices in New York and Washington DC, Jennifer works in private practice with musicians and others to discover, develop and confidently release their personal, professional and performance potential. Her clients include Grammy and CMA award-winners, contestants on The Voice and American Idol, performers in Emmy and Tony award-winning productions, and corporate clients (including CEO’s) across an array of industries.

Jennifer is the author of The Art of Singing: Discovering and Developing Your True Voice, Learning to Sing: A Transformative Approach to Vocal Performance and Instruction, and The Art of Singing Onstage and in the Studio. Jennifer also writes regularly for The Huffington Post and Psychology Today on matters of creative expression, and conducts workshops and lectures frequently around the world.

In addition to recording four albums of her own material, Jennifer toured internationally with Cirque du Soleil’s DELIRIUM as a lead singer and sang back-up vocals for artists and television programs including Stevie Wonder, Christina Aguilera, Patti LaBelle, Def Leppard, Jessica Simpson, Lee Ann Womack, The Grammys, American Idol, David Letterman, Good Morning America, and The Tonight Show.

Her undergraduate and graduate work are in Classical Vocal Performance and Psychology, she holds current, professional affiliations with The American Counseling Association (ACA), National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC), Actors’ Equity Association (AEA), The International Women’s Writing Guild (IWWG), Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), American Society of Composers and Performers (ASCAP), Women In Music (WIM), The Author’s Guild (AG), National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) and the New York Singing Teacher’s Association (NYSTA).

Jennifer is of Lebanese, Cuban and Mexican descent. She loves to travel abroad and speaks Spanish. Jennifer resides in the Washington DC area.

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Ashley English

Eleven food books, a Southern upbringing, and a sociology degree make Ashley English who she is; a food personality with a unique perspective.

Speaking Options

No Taste Like Home

In this talk, author Ashley explores telling your personal culinary experiences and journey through your cookbook or menu. Using examples (and tastings when possible!) from her book Southern From Scratch, which showcases how her culinary upbringing informed and shaped the cook she am today. She’ll discuss ways to imbue dishes with both literal and figurative, personal flavor. 

So You Want To Write A Book?

Ashley guides you on the journey of creating a book concept, pitching it, working with agents versus being unaffiliated, recipe development and testing (where relevant), and more. She’s learned many helpful steps to catching an editor’s attention along her 11 book journey and she generously shares what insider tips have stuck, and what hasn’t, along the way. 

Recipe Development (aka What’s Your Flavor?)

Ashley invites you to more deeply explore the process of recipe writing. Having authored 11 food-based books, she’s learned quite a few tips and tricks for crafting recipes that are original yet personal, innovative yet familiar. This talk is geared not just for those interested in writing cookbooks of their own, but also for getting out of “safe” culinary ruts. 

Breaking Bread

For centuries, people bonded over food—building long-term relationships based on a need to collaborate in order to grow, harvest, and preserve food. Today, the easy access to food has eliminated the need for those relationships, leaving us with one less reason to interact. In this talk, Ashley discusses how eating together has the power to create scientifically proven social bonds, engender community preservation, and serve as a form of diplomacy.

Using Food as a Catalyst for Memoir Style Writing
This talk is ideal for those food professionals that enjoy writing as much as they enjoy cooking. We’ll discuss ideas for creating and nurturing food-based first person essays, articles, blog posts, and more, and ways to get out of food-writing ruts.

Press

Selected Media

Ashley on Whole Foods – Dark Rye 

Ashley on Wassail – A Holiday Toast

Ashley’s Book Trailer: Handmade Gatherings

Testimonials

“In a time when origin and heritage are finally enjoying the culinary spotlight, Ashley English emerges from the sweet hollars of Southern Appalachia as an honest and refreshing voice. You’ll find no truer heart and account of what it means to reject, embrace, interpret and celebrate the kitchen we come from. As a mountain girl myself and working in the TV food industry, I see many iterations of this new brand of home cook, but y’all, take notice — Ms. English is the real deal.” – Selena Lauterer, President, Artemis Independent

“As one of the leading local voices on food, Ashley combines a unique message with a relaxed stage presence and an articulate delivery of her thoughts. She is both charming and informative. She attracted a big crowd as the keynote speaker for one of our events in 2018 and wowed the audience with ground-breaking thoughts on our relationship with food. Can’t wait to have her back for an encore!” – Tennille Tracy, Publisher, Edible Asheville

About Ashley

Ashley English is the author of 11 books, including all 5 books in her “Homemade Living series” (Canning & Preserving, Keeping Chickens, Keeping Bees, Home Dairy, and Home Apothecary), as well as A Year of Pies, Quench, Handmade Gatherings, A Year Of Picnics, The Essential Book of Homesteading, and Southern From Scratch

She has worked over the years with a number of nonprofit organizations committed to social and agricultural issues, hosted a bimonthly column for several years in the popular blog Design*Sponge entitled “Small Measures with Ashley,” is an ongoing contributor to the quarterly publication “Taproot,” and regularly contributes to a number of international, national, and regional print publications. She has been a frequent guest on Martha Stewart Radio on SiriusFM.

She regularly teaches classes on topics such as chicken-keeping, bee-keeping, canning & preserving, pie-making, creating dairy products, making homemade health & body care items, and crafting homemade beverages.

She holds degrees in holistic nutrition and sociology, and is an alumnus of both The University of North Carolina at Asheville and Clayton College of Natural Health. She lives in Candler, NC with her husband Glenn, their young sons Huxley and Alistair, and a menagerie of animals. You can follow along with Ashley’s writings at Small Measure.  

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Vimala Rajendran

Vimala is an award winning (accidental) chef, community activist, domestic abuse survivor, immigrant, mother and grandmother. She’s got a lot to say about triple bottom line in business.

Speaking Option

People, Planet and Profit: Living Your Values in Business

Vimala Rajendran is a chef and restaurateur who deeply believes that we grow our community by engaging intentionally in the farm to fork process and living our vision of creative resiliency. She proudly states that food is a human right and her business motto is “Vimala cooks, everyone eats.” No one is ever turned away at her restaurant – yet she still makes a profit. Her business, Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe, prioritizes worker, environmental, and social justice; accessibility through affordability; and sustainability at every level. Her award winning restaurant, founded rather unexpectedly in 2010, pays a living wage. Their producers and investors are local, and their long-term goals are about transforming the local economy. They source produce and meat from nearby family farms; organize their workplace around joy and liberation; honor the land and our relationship to it; and practice interdependence with other organizations and small businesses with whom common values are shared. The idea to be a triple bottom line business came naturally to Vimala, given her mission to be sustainable on every level possible.  The three areas they focus on are people, planet and profit.  The people they are committed to caring for include the farmers who grow the food, the hands at the back of the house that prep the food, and all the others who contribute making the food come to the table and the guests who come to their business to eat. They pay the farmers a fair price for the food, pay the workers fair wages, and have some benefits like flexible hours, allowing staff with kids to be home with their families at dinner time, offer paid sick days and vacation. Care of the Planet Earth is honored by intentionally reducing waste. Vimala composts all food waste, utilizing all edible parts of vegetables and fruits by trimming off as little as possible, which keeps food costs down. The restaurant is mindful to keep an eye on making a profit.  This is surprising to some of their supporters and that is understandable because they are so thoughtful in everything done for the community’s farmers, workers, and guests. Vimala’s presentation takes us on a journey from India to Canada to the US – telling the story of a woman’s path from memories of her mother cooking, immigration, domestic violence, liberation and how she ultimately became a triple bottom line business owner. Her story teaches us  the power of ethical business and intention in our work – and that profit CAN be attainable through this model.

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Testimonials

“Vimala is a warrior, builder, and weaver all rolled up into one.  She fights for women, immigrants, workers, and anyone who wants to participate in the culinary world.  She builds community one meal at a time, sharing and teaching people not only how to make beautiful food but how to run a business that centers on equity and inclusion. She weaves together people, ideas, and practices, connecting us to her story, her community, and her food. ” – Alice Julier,  Founding Director of Food Studies, Chatham University

“We sure enjoyed having you with us for our chef training during spring break!  You were terrific to work with… both during the planning process and during the training itself.  I am so glad that I’ve come to know you!” – Administrator, Oberlin College

“You are such a great role model to women everywhere.  I really enjoyed hearing about how you saw your challenges as opportunities’ to grow and try new things. Also it is so inspiring that you call the US home after not being recognized as a citizen.  You are AMAZING!” – Student, St. Mary’s School (Private High School)

About Vimala

Vimala Rajendran is one of several Swarm speakers this year.

Vimala Rajendran grew up in Mumbai, India where she learned to cook from family, street vendors & friends. In 1994, a single mother of three, Vimala started cooking donation-based community dinners in Chapel Hill, North Carolina home. Sixteen years later, in 2010, thanks to the support of our beloved community, Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe was born. Despite being an “unexpected chef,” her restaurant has won the Best Indian Restaurant in the Triangle (beating out all Indian restaurants in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Cary) for 9 years and best chef in 2018 and 2019.  She is an immigrant, survivor of domestic abuse, community activist, social entrepreneur, mother of three and mentor to countless people.  

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