Tomoro Letrice Wilson
How did you get to where you are today? What decisions, obstacles or milestones have defined your success?
I’ve learned that life experiences help you to fully understand how strong you actually are. I’ve always been a goal-oriented individual, but as we know, life sometimes throws you a curve ball, and you have to have the willingness to adapt. While being a newly divorced, single mother, I returned back to school to obtain an additional degree. This journey was completed with its share of ups and down. I worked a full-time job, cared for a growing child, and had leadership positions both at the university and within the community. This was only possible through my village of strong individuals and a faith. My son is now a college graduate and I am working in a career that is fulfilling. I am able to not only serve the community while on the job, but also through service with several nonprofits in New Orleans.
How do you champion diversity, equity and inclusion in your daily life—personally and/or professionally? Why are these important values for our community?
I’ve always had a diverse circle of friends and I have never limited my interactions or relationships. At times, I have even been the “lone” person of color. My parents have worked doing missionary work abroad and community service within the communities we’ve lived. This exposure to different cultures and the willingness to serve has been engrained inside of me since I was a young child. So, it has been second nature to want everyone to feel as if they are a part and that their voice is valid and should be heard.
To be selfless, courageous and willing to serve others are important values for our community. Oftentimes, we don’t think of how there are individuals, who because of a lack of exposure or knowledge, honestly do not know what opportunities exist. I recall working as a coordinator for an internship program. Although the participants were excited about the chance to obtain a job, a high percentage lacked the resume writing and interview skills. This showed me that it is important for us as a community to help and not just simply dismiss those who just through guidance can be even better at the goals they are trying to accomplish. Selflessness compels others to dig and realize that there is indeed a place where everyone fits and can thrive in a community. Courageousness is being willing to stand up when you see injustices and to be a voice even when it goes against the grain. Service is important because it provides not only a sense of fulfillment, but also helps those who sometimes cannot fully help themselves.
In the big scheme of things, we all have a purpose that we are destined to fulfill. This purpose not only benefits us individually, but also collaboratively as a part of the human race.
How has the League influenced you personally and/or professionally? How has JLNO advanced DEI priorities and where do you hope to see this work evolve?
Throughout my experience in the League, I have been able to develop both personally and professionally. This past year, I was tasked with jumping in to moderate a very well-attended forum. I must admit I was nervous. After it was all said and done, I enjoyed it and received great feedback. Unknowingly, overcoming the anxiety of this prepared me for a presentation that I gave to the entire agency that I work for. I was able to gain even more confidence through that experience.
When I initially joined the League, I wondered how I would fit in. If I am being totally honest, I did not see many people that looked like me. I wondered if there would be a place for me. I’ve seen an evolution of the willingness to have members and those we serve to feel included. One of the first steps I witnessed the League taking was the Ad Hoc Committee of Diversity and Inclusion. Brandy Cunningham and I were asked to chair this new committee. The task was to find out how and where JLNO could consciously take steps to become more diverse and inclusive. It was amazing to see ideas we’d come up with actually take shape and be implemented. I believe that the journey to think out of the box and continue to dispel unconscious bias is a continual process. We can only accomplish this by selflessness and a willingness to educate and make an effort to evolve to the needs of our ever-changing world. We have to look at each person beyond their religion, race or socioeconomic status. Sometimes, that includes changing what we have considered the norm and adapting to what is actually needed at that time.
“In the big scheme of things, we all have a purpose that we are destined to fulfill. This purpose not only benefits us individually, but also collaboratively as a part of the human race.”