United We Are a Force, and Individually We are W.O.N.
Image Courtesy of Darlene D.M. Walker
Women of Note celebrates the unique talents of women of Hampton Roads and seeks to raise awareness of issues women face in the 21st century. We are well aware of the many hats women wear throughout the day as well as throughout their lives and we would like to give women the opportunity to share their experiences juggling these with our community. By sharing our experiences, we hope to inspire others, learn from their perspectives, and foster a dialogue that creates solutions. Today we spot light Darlene D. M. Walker.
Affiliation(s) (past and present):
CEO & Founder of Catapult Parent Education, LLC of Hampton, Virginia.
President of the Black Child Development Institute (BCDI) – Hampton Roads Affiliate of the National Black Child Development Institute
Board Member for the Hampton Roads Community Action Program (HRCAP)
Board Member for VOICES for Virginia’s Children,
Member, Optima Health Community Advisory Board
Member, Virginia Statewide Parent Education Coalition
Board Member for The Bookshelf Project, Inc., Washington, DC
Life Member, Norfolk State University Alumni Association
Member, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
How long have you been (working in/participating in) your field? How did you get into it?
I have a degree in Social Work (BSW) from Norfolk State University and have worked in my field for 30+ years. My degree gave me the opportunity to explore the field and find my niche. I found my passion in working with, supporting young children and their families.
How long have you been working/ living in in Hampton Roads?
I have lived and worked in Hampton Roads all my life.
What advice would you give young women going into your field?
I say, follow your Dreams; do your homework on all levels; Read and find out who the experts are in your field. I would also say, pray often and stay true to yourself. Stay clear of those who ask you to compromise your integrity. Say no to requests that make you feel uncomfortable and try not to put yourself in compromising situations. Always speak up for yourself.
Does your gender influence your relationship to your work? In what way?
I have definitely encountered more women in the field of Social Work. Sometimes that can be an advantage (same gender, relatable) and sometimes not. I have found that personalities, professionalism and overall demeanors in the workplace are more of an influencer then gender. I have also found that my past experiences (personal/work) can also be a major influencer in the work that I do and how I do it.
Have you faced challenges in your field because of your gender or have you found your gender to be an asset? What kinds of challenges or advantages, and how have they affected your life?
I don’t feel that I have had many challenges based on my gender, nothing special that I was conscience of. I feel that the basic challenges I experienced in the workplace were common placed things like, fitting in, being heard as the new person, not wanting to make mistakes and time management, just to name a few.
As an African American woman, I have found that racism has been more of a challenge for me then my gender. I have seen blatant, overtly hostile behaviors and attitudes, that have taken on the form of disrespectful speech or mental intimidation. As I have matured and grown in my career, racism has taken on a more subtle approach: but it is still Racism. I can’t change other’s but I can change how I react to the nonsense. My Faith has helped to keep me grounded, yet lifted, focused and encouraged.
Has parenthood impacted your career or shaped your perspective as a professional? In what ways?
Parenthood did impact my career. I made a slight career change early on to be able to stay at home with my children during the summers. I didn’t want them to spend they lives in childcare settings all year round. I wanted them to have a break from those environments.
That move back then gave me the opportunity to create some wonderful memories with my sons over the years. I took a pay cut at that time but it was well worth it. I got to be at home with my sons for a good number of years during the summers.
What has been your greatest challenge and what have you learned from it?
My greatest challenge has been to transition, after many years, from working in the public school division to becoming an Entrepreneur. Learning new skills and changing my mindset was difficult but it also gave me the opportunity to build on my Faith. There was a new dream attached to my passion and I went for it. I am so happy that I stepped out on Faith!
Any closing thoughts?
We can do more than what we think we can! Face your fear, step out on Faith and let God show you the way. Follow your Dreams!
Know a Woman of Note that should be featured? Please email us at Spotlighthrnews@gmail.com