Women's Journal

Courtney Kenner: A Legacy of Teaching, Dance, and Spiritual Enlightenment

In the rich tapestry of Courtney Kenner’s life, threads of education, dance, and spiritual growth intertwine, creating a vibrant and purposeful narrative that spans generations. As the great-great-granddaughter of William James Edwards, founder of Snow Hill Institute in 1893, Courtney inherited a legacy of education that has shaped her passion for teaching.

The story of Snow Hill Institute is a testament to resilience and dedication to education for black individuals. Founded as a boarding school, people from all walks of life flocked to Snow Hill, and William James Edwards, alongside his friend Booker T. Washington, traveled tirelessly to promote the school. This commitment to education is deeply ingrained in Courtney’s DNA, with her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother all being educators.

Beyond the classroom, Courtney found her rhythm on the dance floor, becoming an integral part of the legacy of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. For over 14 years, she danced for Aretha, a period that stands out in her dance career. Interestingly, Courtney wasn’t known as Aretha’s favorite, emphasizing the humility with which she approaches her achievements.

The familial connections of Courtney extend to renowned figures like Malcolm and Spike Lee. She even made a guest appearance in the movie “Night School,” sharing the screen with Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish. These connections, along with her dance career and teaching legacy, contribute to the colorful mosaic of Courtney’s life.

Rooted in her spiritual journey, Courtney approaches life with gratitude for every experience. This spiritual grounding informs her understanding of purpose, one of which is building self-esteem through the art form of dance. For Courtney, dance is not just a physical expression but a means to empower and uplift individuals, especially young black girls.

Courtney’s commitment to nurturing self-esteem through dance is reflected in her sponsorship of dance teams at every school where she teaches. Witnessing the growth and transformation of young black girls under her guidance, Courtney sees dance not just as a performance art but as a tool for building confidence and self-worth.

In addition to her work in the classroom and on the dance floor, Courtney extends her educational impact through “Learning with Queen CJ,” educational videos aimed at children. This initiative reflects her holistic approach to education, combining the arts and learning to create engaging content that resonates with young minds.

The story of Snow Hill Institute symbolizes resilience and a dedication to education for the black community. William James Edwards and Booker T. Washington tirelessly promoted the school, leaving an indelible mark on generations to come. This legacy is imprinted in Courtney’s DNA, with a lineage of educators preceding her, creating a rich tapestry of commitment to learning.

Courtney’s dance career, particularly her 14-year association with the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, adds a dynamic layer to her journey. Despite not being known as Aretha’s favorite dancer, Courtney’s humility shines through, emphasizing her approach to success with grace and modesty.

Beyond her personal achievements, Courtney’s familial connections with figures like Malcolm and Spike Lee, and her cameo in “Night School” alongside Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish, contribute to the diverse mosaic of her life. These experiences, coupled with her dedication to education and dance, exemplify a life that transcends conventional boundaries.

Courtney’s spiritual journey serves as a compass guiding her through life’s various facets. Gratitude for every experience underscores her purpose, particularly in using dance as a transformative tool for building self-esteem. Her sponsorship of dance teams in schools reflects this commitment, showcasing her belief in the power of dance to instill confidence and self-worth, particularly in young black girls.

As Courtney continues to navigate her multifaceted journey, she remains a beacon of inspiration. Her commitment to education, dance, and spiritual growth echoes the legacy of her great-great-grandfather, William James Edwards. Courtney Kenner, with humility and purpose, carries forward a torch that illuminates the path for those who follow, fostering a legacy that transcends generations.

Published by: Aly Cinco

Cierra Gross of Caged Bird HR – Innovative Company Helps Employees Across Industries Soar To Success

Cierra Gross is a name you might want to take note of – she’s a powerful emerging business leader, the founder and CEO of Caged Bird HR, the first HR services company providing employees access to independent HR support at scale. With a mission to bridge the gap between employees and HR expertise, Gross has created a game-changing platform that empowers workers and ensures they have a voice in their professional journey. Let’s delve into the story behind Caged Bird HR and how it is revolutionizing the way employees access HR support.

Cierra Gross, a highly recruited HR professional, embarked on her career journey after earning her Master’s in Human Resources from the University of South Carolina. She worked at prestigious companies like ExxonMobil and Google, gaining valuable experience in the tech startup space. However, Gross’s path took a personal turn when she faced workplace trauma, including racism and microaggressions, which hindered her advancement despite her accomplishments. This experience led her to create Caged Bird HR, driven by a desire to empower others who may face similar challenges without the necessary HR understanding to navigate them.

Caged Bird HR is a one-of-a-kind platform that offers employees working at any company in the country the freedom to connect with independent HR consultants. It eliminates organizational bias and conflict of interest, providing a secure and confidential environment for employees to discuss HR-related topics. Whether it’s workplace policies, career development, performance management, or conflict resolution, Caged Bird HR ensures that every individual has a dedicated HR professional with their best interest in mind. The service is available for just $99 a month, making it affordable and accessible to all.

What sets Caged Bird HR apart is its disruptive approach to HR services. Traditionally, employees had limited options for HR support, relying solely on their company’s HR department or an employment attorney. Gross recognized the need for an independent middle ground, where employees can receive unbiased advice that focuses solely on their needs and goals. By bridging this gap, Caged Bird HR empowers employees with their own personal on-call advocate, providing support throughout their entire career journey.

The impact of Caged Bird HR cannot be overstated. It not only levels the corporate playing field but also addresses the mental health and well-being of employees. By offering a confidential outlet to discuss workplace concerns, the platform becomes an investment that can potentially save jobs and protect mental health. Gross’s personal experience with workplace trauma fueled her drive to create a solution that would make a difference in the lives of workers.

Gross’s journey as an entrepreneur has been filled with valuable lessons. One such lesson was the importance of hiring a team at the right time. Initially, she waited too long to hire her first employee, resulting in excessive work hours and exhaustion. Recognizing the need to delegate and establish proper structures within the business, Gross learned that success relies on the collective efforts of a team. As a CEO, her role shifted from being embedded in day-to-day operations to focusing on growth and scalability.

Throughout her career, Gross has been fortunate to have mentors who have supported her in various ways. From Jimmy Jordan, who taught her about money management, to Jeffelee McClain, an exceptional manager who allowed her to be herself in a corporate environment, these mentors have played a significant role in her professional development. In her entrepreneurial journey, Marcus Benjamin and Vanessa Matthews, successful business owners themselves, have imparted valuable insights on business strategies and self-belief. Gross emphasizes the impact of personal thoughts and mental health on business success, highlighting the importance of self-awareness and overcoming imposter syndrome.

Disruption, as Gross explains, is not inherently positive or negative. It is the critical assessment of systems and structures that drives progress. While some systems may have withstood the test of time, it is crucial to evaluate whether they still serve their intended purpose and whether better alternatives exist. Disruption becomes positive when it brings about positive change, improves existing systems, or raises awareness. However, opinions on what constitutes progress can vary, making it essential to consider diverse perspectives.

Gross shares three pieces of advice that have guided her on her journey. The first is to focus on what is in front of you, helping to alleviate anxiety and stay grounded amidst the challenges of running a growing business. The second advice emphasizes the impact of personal thoughts on business success. Believing in oneself and prioritizing mental health are crucial for entrepreneurs. Lastly, Gross reminds herself that taking risks is necessary for growth. Embracing uncertainty and overcoming fear opens doors to new possibilities and opportunities.

Looking ahead, Gross has exciting plans for Caged Bird HR. She will release a book next year that provides readers with valuable insights that their workplace HR might not offer. Additionally, she aims to expand community outreach efforts, offering free services to underserved communities in need of HR information and support. By 2025, Caged Bird HR plans to expand its services internationally, further extending its impact on a global scale.

Women disruptors face unique challenges, including limited access to funding and increased scrutiny in leadership roles. Gross, being a Black woman, understands these obstacles firsthand but remains determined to make a difference and challenge existing norms.

One book that has deeply influenced Gross’s thinking is “The E-Myth” by Michael Gerber. It transformed her perspective from that of an employee to a CEO, teaching her the importance of standardization and operating procedures in scaling a business. The book continues to guide her, reminding her to focus on the right aspects of her business.

Cierra Gross, the founder and CEO of Caged Bird HR, has revolutionized the HR industry by providing employees with independent and accessible HR support. Through her personal experiences and determination to help others, Gross has created a platform that bridges the gap between employees and HR expertise. Caged Bird HR empowers workers, safeguards their mental health, and ensures that every individual has a voice in their professional journey. With exciting plans for the future, Gross is set to further disrupt the industry and make a lasting impact.

Published by: Martin De Juan

Bring Your Insta Feed to Your Kitchen with MaryRuth’s Piña Colada Paradise Mocktail

If you’re anything like me, you might have an IG feed filled 24/7 with beautiful beach sunsets, crystal blue ocean waters, and toes in the sand. If you are so ready for summer even though it’s February, MaryRuth’s Piña Colada Paradise mocktail recipe is for you!

Innovative supplement company, MaryRuth’s, brings you an exquisite mocktail that seeks to fortify your body with MaryRuth’s Liquid Nighttime Multimineral, leaving you relaxed and in the headspace of a tropical sanctuary no matter how chilly it is outside.

We sat down with MaryRuth Ghiyam, founder of MaryRuth’s, to learn about how this recipe came to life.

A Tangy Tropical Treat

Crafted in 2022 by MaryRuth’s imaginative summer intern, June, this mocktail is an experience in a glass! 

“We love being able to share recipes crafted by our very own team!” Ghiyam shared. “At MaryRuth’s, we strive to foster a community work culture that allows team members of any level to contribute and share ideas and I love that we were able to have an intern, June, contribute something as fun as this mocktail recipe. I also would encourage your readers to try crafting their own recipes with our products and tag us on Instagram! People are so creative, and it is one of the vibrant pieces of life that we can share.”

June’s mocktail creation story is one of culinary curiosity; in a quest to blend a slice of summer into a healthful mocktail, she curated this perfect blend of tropical vibrancy and calming essence. Her success was not just in flavor, but in symbolizing MaryRuth’s dedication to healthful enjoyment.

The Dance of Pineapple and Coconut

This concoction’s charm lies in its key players: pineapple and coconut. Pineapple, the perfect addition for a tropical twist, infuses each sip with a tangy freshness, while the velvety coconut milk swathes your senses and balances the pineapple with its nutty creaminess.

When paired with MaryRuth’s Liquid Nighttime Multimineral in Pineapple Dream flavor, these ingredients craft a conga line of flavors, not only tantalizing the taste buds but also inviting a serene sleep.

Sweeten Your Evening Routine

As dusk falls and the day’s pace slows, the Piña Colada Paradise becomes your perfect evening partner. Envision it alongside a nourishing meal, such as a grilled salmon salad, where its tropical notes playfully mingle with the savory flavors of the dish. Later, as you nestle into a cozy evening of movies or books, this mocktail transforms your space, elevating a simple night into an event of quiet indulgence.

Ready to try it out? Here’s the recipe!

Ingredients for Your Tropical Retreat:

– MaryRuth’s Liquid Nighttime Multimineral (Pineapple Dream): 2 tbsp

– Coconut milk: 1/3 cup

– Pineapple juice: 1/3 cup

– Frozen pineapple: 3/4 cup

– Ice: 1/4 cup

– Optional: monk fruit sweetener

Preparation Steps:

  1. Blend coconut milk, pineapple juice, frozen pineapple, and ice to a smooth, creamy consistency.
  2. Mix in the Liquid Nighttime Multimineral, infusing wellness into every sip.
  3. Add monkfruit sweetener to taste, fine-tuning your tropical indulgence.
  4. Garnish with a slice of pineapple or a mint sprig for an enchanting visual and aromatic allure.

In the Piña Colada Paradise, each ingredient sings in harmony, offering a tropical haven, a comforting embrace for the soul, and a celebration of healthful living.

About MaryRuth’s

MaryRuth’s — founded by health educator, culinary chef, and nutritional consultant MaryRuth Ghiyam — only crafts products she and her family personally take, ensuring the utmost care and quality. MaryRuth’s product line of delicious vitamins and supplements for all life stages is available at Whole Foods Market, Amazon, Walmart, Target, Vitamin Shoppe, Kroger, H-E-B, and more. Take control of your health and move forward every day here: https://www.maryruthorganics.com/ 

Published by: Martin De Juan