Leading Women Of Detroit – Danielle North
When I heard Danielle North was speaking in Detroit at Bamboo, a co-working space, I was excited to finally meet her. North, a “multi-preneur” was born and raised in the “D” and is co-founder of a group I am part of, the Detroit Women’s Leadership Network.
This is a professional networking group that combines personal meet-ups and an online forum for ideas and resource sharing to help mentor, lift and support women of all ages, races and career paths.
She is passionate about women’s issues, racial equity, children and education, and since 2014 more than 6,000 members have joined this network and have benefitted from shared expertise, workshops and events.
North studied Sociology at Central Michigan University, so it’s not surprising that she founded this women’s mentoring group and also owns Kidz Kingdom Child Care & Party Center.
It is the only indoor centre of its kind in Detroit and offers some unique events, like “BizKidz,” an entrepreneurship summer camp she founded where youth participate in weekly entrepreneur lessons, art installation projects, Spanish activities and open play.
This endeavour was a passion project to provide jobs and contribute to Detroit’s growth, as well as providing affordable day care, and a family centred place to create and play indoors.
North is also Vice-President of External Relations & Strategy at Promise Schools and a Charter School Consultant at Grand Valley State University.
The advice North has for women is to “network and connect with people” and they “value relationships, not just for immediate opportunities, but for future possibilities of support.”
She also believes there is “no wrong path, just different paths you can take, all that can lead to great adventures.”
North feels that, “It’s important to give real, tangible support to women, where they are.”
Even though she has accomplished so much she is humble and grounded. She talked to the group about women challenged by the “Imposter Syndrome” where they don’t feel adequate for their roles, and encourages them to have confidence.“I’m just an ordinary person, nothing special, but it’s important to believe you can do anything,” she states and expresses that you “can’t limit yourself or over think how you will be able to handle everything — school, work, home and family.”
North continues by adding: “don’t let life happen to you. Set a plan, but don’t box yourself in and be open to a greater version of the unknown or new opportunities that may happen.”
I enjoyed getting to know North after the presentation and learned she is currently expecting her third child and keeps up with her two boys by training and running marathons.
It was because of her children that she opened Kidz Kingdom after being frustrated driving so far to find an indoor place for them to play. She tries to involve them as much as she can and her eldest son even came up with the name “Kidz Kingdom.”
We talked about the many things we had in common, especially mentoring and trying to connect women and help them build strong networks of support.
Earlier in her career she worked with a female colleague who was unsupportive and more recently a female who tried to undermine her success and make her feel inadequate at her dream job. This resulted in her making it her mission to support other women, encourage entrepreneurs and empower women.
Listening intently to my interests and involvement, she introduced me to two women — one that could help me and one that I could help — making her a true “connector” and mentor.
Her one piece of advice for young entrepreneurs and leaders — “Don’t wait around because there is never a perfect time to fulfill your purpose. You can make the moment perfect when you share your gift with the world.”
Sherrilynn Colley-Vegh is the Director of Leadership Windsor/Essex at United Way. She is a former Principal, Chief Communications Officer and business owner with over 30 years of experience in education, administration, mentoring, consulting and community leadership. If you know a leader in the community to profile here in this column, please email: Sherrilynn@BizXmagazine.com.