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Visionary Women To Watch In 2023: Dr. Pamela Gurley

By Tammy Reese

It’s 2023! We're so thrilled to start this fresh new year off by spotlighting such a visionary entrepreneur, media professional, and author as Dr. Pamela Gurley. Fondly known as Dr. Pam, she’s dedicated her life to advocating for children’s literacy. According to the Department of Education, the more students read or are read to for fun on their own time and at home, the higher their reading scores, generally. However, in the United States, more than 60% of low-income families have no children’s books in their homes.

We need empowering, and inspirational women like Dr. Pam more than ever that truly care about making an impact in children’s lives from around the world.

Dr. Pamela Gurley is a Content Strategy Expert, International Speaker, and World-Renowned Best-Selling Author, and Media Journalist who understands the power of words (both verbal and written). As the Founder/CEO of Clark and Hill Enterprise and IAMDRPGURLEY and Founder/President of the Brown Girl and Brown Boy Literacy Foundation, she is on a mission to empower, grow, transform, and motivate others, as well as lead and challenge social norms and false narratives.

Dr. Gurley’s 25-year career includes working as a civil servant for 14 years for the United States Federal Government across the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Department of the Army, Department of Defense, Department of State, and the Merit Systems Protection Board. Dr. Gurley’s budget, management, and leadership experience extend domestically and internationally across several continents and countries. She resigned from her federal career as a GS-15 to become a full-time entrepreneur on November 7, 2020.

In November of 2019, Dr. Gurley released her first book, I Am Not A Stereotype: I Am H.E.R., and it lit a different path in her love of writing. In March 2021, she released her second book, Bl@ck Girl Activist, becoming an Amazon Best Seller; and on June 3, 2021, she released the first three sets of books in her Brown Girl and Brown Boy multilingual children’s books series. She has since published five additional titles totaling 18 books. She has also been a part of three anthologies — one with Dr. Gurley as a Visionary Author.

She is a retired United States Army Veteran and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, a Master’s in Health Service Administration, and a Doctorate in Management with a concentration in Organizational Development and Change.

Please tell us about yourself and the work that you do.

I am Dr. Pam. When I share about who I am, I love to lead with this: I am so many great things to so many people, and that is what makes me who I am. That is because I have learned to put “me” before my work and not allow my work to define my “who.” I am a foodie, wine lover, and radiant light who loves igniting and giving light to others. I am optimistic, “energy,” and a visionary.

Professionally, I wear many hats; however, I am primarily a Content Strategy Expert – a technical, content copywriter, media relations specialist, journalist, and content marketer; all rolled into one. I help businesses create and implement written content strategies that drive results. I do this by creating compelling content that tells a story through many lenses.

As an author and speaker, I have the unique responsibility of storytelling to bring a message of hope and growth to my readers and audience. Stories have the power to connect us on a deeper level, inspire us to take action, and create new ways of looking at our lives. I'm passionate about creating beautiful and meaningful content, with an eye toward helping people discover something new, understand complex concepts, or make their life more enjoyable. My ultimate goal is to move people with each sentence I write or deliver in my speeches, inspiring those around me to think differently and feel differently about their world.

How did you begin your career, what inspired you to follow this career path, and what keeps you motivated to stick with it?

This is a great question because not many people know I began my career in mental health. Before becoming a federal employee, I had my own government contract doing family advocacy. When I became a federal employee, I had an opportunity to cross-train to help out in govt budgeting, and I stayed doing that for 14 years. I then resigned to work for myself in 2020. While I was in my Doctoral program, I began working with small businesses and nonprofits as a part of my curriculum, and on the side, I would write business plans and other content for clients. I loved doing this, and after I finished my doctorate in 2014, I continued to write business plans and articles for small businesses. After years of doing this, I decided to launch my company, Clark and Hill Enterprise, in 2017.

What has kept me motivated is loving the opportunities to write about others. There is something magical about being able to storyteller to the world about the people or businesses in it.

What are you most passionate about these days?

I am most passionate about childhood literacy. I believe childhood literacy can be the foundation for success, knowledge, and opportunity later in life. It is a gift that, if nurtured and developed early, can provide transformative power throughout our lives. Unfortunately, all too often, we only realize the true gravity of childhood literacy once it is too late. That's why I am passionate about providing every child with the tools they need to unlock their potential through my Brown Girl and Brown Boy Book Tour and Literacy Festival.

What was the best moment of 2022 for you, and what are you excited about for 2023?

The end of 2022 marked a special time in my life. On Christmas day, I got engaged to the love of my life, and it was a beautiful experience that I will never forget; the happiness and joy I felt cannot be put into words. Having my family there and being a part of the proposal melted my heart. On a professional level, the best moment is much harder to pinpoint because all aspects of my work fulfill me and make me proud. Every day I approach my career confidently and believe in myself, knowing that every effort is worth it because each activity brings me immense fulfillment. Being able to recognize both personal and professional success has been an amazing journey for me so far.

In 2023, I am most excited about the third year of my BGBB Kid’s Red Carpet Book Tour in Jackson, MS, Memphis, TN, Savannah, GA, and Huntsville, AL. Each tour expands the presence of Black, and Brown children's book authors, thereby making representational children’s books available and accessible - an opportunity for parents to diversify the books they purchase for their children.

Any other 2022 highlights you would like to share?

I released three new titles in my multilingual Brown Girl and Brown Boy children’s book series, spoke on a TEDx panel in South Africa, and celebrated being in business for five years (in which I resigned from my full-time federal position in 2020 during the pandemic and am still standing now was a HUGE reason to acknowledge and celebrate).

How do you balance being a creative and entrepreneur while navigating day-to-day obligations?

I take immense pride in who I am and all that I have achieved, not just professionally but in my personal life. When navigating life, I find balance by putting myself first. At my core, I'm a beacon of light that loves spreading warmth and light to others. It's not just a job; I believe energy is essential in inspiring everyone around me. To that end, I make sure to take care of myself first so I can bring forth the best version of myself for my friends, family, colleagues, and everyone else in my life.

My work is something that has been important to me. It is what makes me successful in everything I do - my enthusiasm to be productive yet mindful of my boundaries allows for obligations to be met in both spheres of my life.

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What top 3 qualities do you think one needs to be a successful business owner?

To be a successful business owner, one requires certain key qualities to make sure they are successful. These three qualities are critical in any business context: resilience, excellence in communication, and a passion for the industry. Resilience is important as it helps business owners stay focused during challenging times. Communication is key because it is the make or break of a client relationship or business partnership. Last, having a passion for the industry encourages innovation and lets entrepreneurs see opportunities beyond the existing market trends. These three qualities bring many invaluable skills and aid any entrepreneur in their journey toward achieving success (which, to me, is different for every business owner).

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I'm an explorer at heart, looking for new ways to experience life and make the most of my free time. I savor my leisure time for its ability to relax, recharge, and reconnect. I love traveling to new and interesting places - whether taking a day trip to a nearby city or going off to an exotic location across the world, watching movies, and going to wineries. Ultimately, my favorite thing is enjoying some quality family time - everything else can wait but family will still always be there when you need them.

What is a quote that you live by?

My favorite quote, "Live your life out loud and break your own rules," speaks to my personal philosophy of living a life full of color and joy. It suggests that we should be brave enough to express ourselves openly and honestly, even if it means going against the grain of societal norms. We should be driven by our passions and desires, not the expectations placed upon us by those around us. By refusing to be confined to someone else's idea of the "right way," we can find genuine fulfillment and achieve true success on our own terms.

What do you hope for the world in 2023?

Because availability does not equate to accessibility, in 2023, it is my hope that we as a society will continue on the path of creating an environment of equity and inclusion. We should strive towards an atmosphere in which everyone feels safe and accepted regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or any other differences. By doing so, we can begin to move closer to a more equitable society where everyone has the same opportunities for success in life. It would be incredible to see that kind of positive change take hold and help shape a better future for us all - one founded on respect, understanding, and acceptance. This truly is the key to unlocking a brighter tomorrow and ensuring that everybody is given the chance they deserve to build positive futures around them.

Any exclusive news you can share with us?

I have so much going on in 2023 (besides wedding planning) that I know this will be one of my biggest years as an entrepreneur. Exclusively, I can share I am taking 20 Black and Brown children’s book authors to Johannesburg, South Africa, TEDx panel on Diversifying the Landscape of Childhood Literacy. I have partnered with the University of South Africa and Black Authors Matter to give an opportunity to those who would not typically receive this type of opportunity.

I am also the co-founder of an up-and-coming apparel line called “Single life Single Flights. We are putting together our first runway show now, and it is so much work, but I am excited about this line and grateful for the partnership with my photography journalist colleague turned friend, Terrence Carter.

Any shoutouts you would like to give to those who have been supportive over the course of your career?

Oh my, I will try to keep this as short as I can. My tribe is not small, and that is how I have gotten to where I am now. I will start with my mom, Pamela Jones, my two sisters, Ro and Robin, my nieces and nephews, and my fiancé, Jay. In my tribe are Nikko Toogood, Laqueda Ricks, Denise Lewis, Tasani Butcher, Shelbi Popwell, Tammy Reese, Steven James, Cortina Louis, Diana Richardson-Phiilupus, Kim Nelson, Marie Dieumercie, and Chaye Walker. The list is honestly much longer, so if anyone reads this and does not see their name, I hope they charge it to my head and not my heart.

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Photo Credit: Deasia Photography


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Tammy Reese began her career as a theater actress performing in 60 live stage shows a year with The Media Unit TV and Stage Production Company. She also directed the weekly live TV show Rough Times Live.

Eventually, she went to Empire State College to obtain her degree in media studies. After graduation, she did more theater and wrote and produced her own videos to spread awareness on social issues through the arts.

Tammy is an award-winning journalist and is best known for her legendary interviews with Sigourney Weaver, Meagan Good, Laurence Fishburne, Mona Scott- Young, Essie Davis, Omar Epps, Joseph Sikora, Kathleen Robertson, Tonya Pinkins, Carmen Electra, Giancarlo Esposito, Dedee Pfeiffer, Leon, Patina Miller, Nelly, La La Anthony, Neyo, Geena Davis, Britt Lower, Michael James Shaw, Aleks Paunovic, Courtney Kemp, Janet Hubert, Tom Arnold, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Michole Briana White, Matt Cedeño, Raven Goodwin, Amber Riley, Ross Marquand, Merritt Wever and many more.

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