Black Women Planning for Retirement

Black women are retiring into poverty and finding themselves with many questions about how to plan for their financial future. We spoke with three financial advisors to help us navigate common retirement questions.

When should you start planning for retirement?

“The best time to start planning for retirement is as early as possible,” says Rahel Cook, assistant vice president at U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management. “By the time you’re in your 40s, you should have a clearer picture of your financial situation.”

Dr. Dana Palma, financial advisor at Edward Jones, believes there is no ideal age and that a first job as a teenager can be the start of retirement planning or, at any adult age, if planning was delayed.

Both suggest taking advantage of retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs, regularly assessing retirement goals and making any needed adjustments with the help of an experienced and trusted advisor.

Rahel Cook, assistant vice president at U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management

How much money do you need for retirement?

Shemira Fermon, regional leader at Primerica Financial Services, says you need at least $2 million to retire with basic financial security.

“You’ve got to factor in inflation, but $2 million is still going to be minimum wage in 20-30 years from now. If you plan to live in the United States, understand that is going to be the equivalent of middle income.”

Fermon believes Black women should be open to moving outside the U.S. to live their retirement dreams with greater financial security.

Shemira Fermon, regional leader at Primerica Financial Services @thelifeofshemira

How do you save for retirement with a low income?

For those on a tight budget, Palma suggests starting with two percent or the minimum contribution to a company 401(k) and increasing it by one percent every six months or whenever possible.

“Even if you are still living paycheck to paycheck, make sure your employer is matching because if they are matching and you’re not putting any money in, you’re leaving money on the table.”

She says creating new habits of regularly putting money aside for the future is important.

How can planning for retirement be different for Black women?

Planning for retirement for Black women can come with unique challenges and considerations compared to other demographics, explains Cook.

Studies show that Black women earn less than their white counterparts and Black men, which can make budgeting and saving a greater priority.  

“Black women may need to prepare for a longer retirement period. This requires careful budgeting and investment strategies to ensure that savings last throughout their lifetime.”

Cook says it’s crucial for Black women to approach retirement planning with a tailored and proactive strategy.

Dr. Dana Palma, financial advisor at Edward Jones

What are common retirement vehicles that Black women can consider?

“The most common and sought-after retirement income includes a mix of savings, 401(k), IRAs, a business or home,” says Cook. “For many Black women, several of these streams of income may not be an option in their retirement strategies.”

Palma understands that Black women may not be able to rely on generational wealth or inheritance but can use insurance to lessen the financial burdens of future generations. 

“If you at least have a life insurance policy, then that’s one way to make sure you are bringing money over and your child(ren) will have some money – that’s another way of creating generational wealth.”

Cook suggests that Black women maximize the streams of income they can access and work with an advisor to assess risk tolerance and find the right mix of stocks, bonds and cash. Other options to explore may be Money Market accounts and Certificates of Deposits (CDs).

Palma recommends a Health Savings Account (HSA), a type of personal savings account that can be used to pay various healthcare costs. Those with an employer should check to see if they are offered.

“The greatest thing about an HSA plan is if you keep putting money in there and wait until age 65, that is another retirement savings account.”

How can an advisor help?

All experts advise having a single point of contact to assess current financial status goals and devise a tailored plan based on needs and vision for retirement.

How to retire in your 40s

In 2021, Angelia McKinney, then age 43, “pulled the plug” on her job, retiring after being a human resource professional for 20 years. After eight years of planning, she could finally retire early and live life on her terms.

“I started speaking it out loud that I was going to retire early, way before I ever believed it. Then I started putting this plan together, and basically, I lived off half my income or less, quit making debt, paid off all my bad debt and started investing.”

Her investments were a mix of stocks, a 401(k), a few Roth IRAs and stock trading. She also brought in extra money by investing in real estate properties with her best friend and a few of her own.

Angelia McKenney, content creator @YoungSavvyRetiree

“My tenants are literally paying the majority of my mortgage, which allows me not to work full time.”

Being at home has given her the opportunity to spend more time with her son.

“I love being at home. I love being able to cook at Noon. I love being able to go to the grocery store in the morning. I love making all of his events.”

While she’s not a certified financial planner, she is now a content creator sharing her journey and helping others plan for early retirement. She says there are three things you must do to retire early.

Change your mindset

“If your mindset hasn’t changed to say, ‘money is a tool, and I am not scared of it’, then none of the rest will work.” She tells her followers to start being better managers of money and learn to budget.

Honor God with your money

“Ever since I started honoring God with my money and being a giver in general, I have not had financial lack.”

Put a plan together

“Figure out where you are now and where you want to be in one year, five years, ten years or however you want to do it.”

Another piece of advice McKenney shares, and one she did not plan for is ensuring you calculate inflation into your financial needs.

“I’m like, ‘Dang Lord, things are expensive!’”

Are Your Clothes Keeping You From the Career You Want?

Seven seconds. That’s all the time needed for the average person to assess your personal brand, according to Dawn Thibodeaux, branding and mindset coach.

“Now, whether they are right or wrong, the package that you’re showing up with is what they are going to see.”

Her philosophy and book, “The Power of Clothing & Personal Packaging”, centers around a trifecta: once you change your mind and clothes, you change your life. Thibodeaux says she sees Black women being victims to clothing, which negatively impacts their work performance and keeps them from promotions.

“They’re getting dressed thinking one thing—that what they’re wearing is sending a particular message when, unfortunately, it’s not.” 

Thibodeaux finds that some women think their co-workers are envious of their style or clothing choices when, in reality, they are being mocked.

“There’s a balance. So, while you want to be who you are, you also want to be aware of the environment that you’re walking into.”

One aspect of Black women’s style she admires is the critical role color plays in wardrobe choices. However, she says it’s important to choose colors that make sense for the environment.

Dawn Thibodeaux, branding and mindset coach

She believes it is important for Black women to have honest advocates in their lives who tell them the truth about the personal brand they’re projecting. She explains that it’s imperative to know your body type and when certain articles of clothing are appropriate to wear.

“One would say if you went into a construction zone wearing a tutu, I don’t think you’ll be taken seriously.”

Thibodeaux says respect is fundamental for clothing choices in various spaces.

“Respecting yourself in a way that you can bring your personality to that particular event in a way that also respects the people you are going to be interacting with.”

She tells her clients that to achieve the life they want, they should choose the best clothing they can afford, use a tailor to get the right fit and ignore the numbers that correspond with size. She says that once the trifecta is achieved, Black women gain the power and confidence needed to have the life they desire.

“By doing that, then they are changing the dollar signs on their paychecks, and when that happens, that gives them the opportunity to put their children in different schools and ultimately change the legacy of their families.”

Q&A with Ansa Edim, Founder of Blacklist

Black women face many obstacles in the workplace – from racism and discrimination to stolen wages. These experiences lead to feeling invisible, anxiety, depression and PTSD. What if they had been warned before entering a toxic workplace? Maybe they would have chosen another path. Ansa Edim had a few terrible experiences in organizations where she felt unsafe, prompting her to leave the corporate world and eventually starting Blacklist, a website dedicated to warning others about toxic workplaces. While it is open to all marginalized and protected groups, as a Black woman, Ansa hopes her site will give a voice to the voiceless. We caught up with her to learn more about her career journey and her mission to make workplaces safe and inclusive for everyone.

NOTABLE: What made you decide enough is enough? And we need to have a blacklist about the mistreatment of marginalized people in the workplace?

ANSA: I’ve been in corporate America, in the tech space, for about ten years, going on maybe twelve years. As a Black woman, I started from the bottom and worked my way up. I consistently felt like even if I was hired for a job, my white bosses always made me feel like I was lucky to be there and that I was underqualified. I would keep saying to myself, “I don’t understand. You hired me to do this job, so clearly, I’m qualified enough to be here.”

I had a really bad experience at an organization,, where I was just surrounded by inept white people. And I just kept saying, “How did they get to this role? This is not fair. It’s just not fair that they, through their connections and resources, have been able to accomplish so much, and I’m begging them for scraps.” So, I left that company after three years. The lawsuit bought me this house.

I told people about and my experience there being kind of surrounded by people who didn’t really know what they were doing and weren’t handling HR situations professionally. They were letting people manage who were just known bad managers, but they were white people. They were friends. They were just letting people progress and progress, and I was begging for scraps. People were like, “Wait, change is like that? Isn’t that a progressive company?” And I was screaming, “No, it’s actually decidedly not a progressive company!” And, I wished I had a mechanism to warn people, to say, “All these companies you think are going to be these progressive organizations where you are safe are not safe.”

Ansa Edim, founder of Blacklist @ansa_ _ _ _ _

NOTABLE:  What do you hope to accomplish? I mean, is the mission that Black women are warned or is the mission that these companies will see themselves on here and change?

The mission is that companies will see themselves on Blacklist and that they will be moved to change. I want it to be restorative justice so that people know that speaking up actually did make a difference. So, there are certain criteria that companies can meet to be on the safe jobs list because there are three pillars to Blacklist. There’s the list where there are warnings and experiences no company can ever get off the list because those experiences will always have happened. What they can do is meet certain criteria to become a safe job, and that can be proving that they are an equitable workplace. And then kind of the third pillar is the resources that I want to provide people. I did not know that I had suffered a constructive dismissal until an attorney told me, and I didn’t know how common it was. Companies bank on us being ignorant, and they bank on us being too afraid to act.

And if we can come together as all underrepresented communities, as Black women, as queer people, as people of different ethnicities and abilities, then I think we will be unstoppable, and companies are going to have to step up to the plate as younger generations are taking up more of the workforce and they’re not playing around.

NOTABLE: Do you really think these companies care?

ANSA:Well, the people who did that to me at made that man the head of HR after I left. It was a slap in the face. And to your point, I don’t think that the people who work at these companies genuinely care to make safe spaces. I think we need to hit them where it hurts. We need to hit their pockets, and we need to hit their recruitment abilities. So as younger studies show that younger generations millennials, Gen Z – I’m a millennial – and Gen Z especially, they’re not working for work’s sake. They will quit a job. They would rather be unemployed or underemployed than work at an organization that doesn’t match their values. So, companies are losing their workforce to gigs to underemployment. As boomers are dying off. Millennials are going to be 75% of the workforce in 2025.

Companies are going to hurt. They’re really going to hurt. And I’m trying to get a jump on that by saying, ‘Look how much revenue you’re going to lose. Look how much churn you’re going to have. Look at the turnover rate. Look at the attrition. Look at all of these numbers that are going to suffer if you don’t address this.’ So, I want to harm their brands enough that they say, ‘okay, even if we don’t mean it, we have to do something’.

NOTABLE:  Is it effective? The people at the companies carrying out the abuse aren’t called out, so they stay with the company or go elsewhere and continue to abuse others.

ANSA:That’s a really good point. And I tried to do that on a Glassdoor review, which is what kind of started to prompt me to build Blacklist. Glassdoor is for the company, and they are trying to legally protect these companies and themselves. And they got to the point where if you look like you’re what they would call bullying, naming specific names, if it looks like you might be identifying someone, they’ll take it down. Blacklist, based on the legalese that I’ve been able to parse, based on my legal recommendations, I don’t have to do that. You can name names and protect yourself. If you’re telling the truth, let that person come and try and fight you over it.

But I want people to feel free to write the truth on other review sites or sites that are somewhat similar. There isn’t anything like Blacklist right now, but on similar sites, on company review sites, I think that people are kind of prompted to be polite and broad strokes, and they can’t really get to the root of “this specific thing happened to me under these people’s watch, and they haven’t changed.” That’s what I want Blacklist to be. I want it to be a space for stories, not just reviews.

I AM: Telling Black Women’s Stories of Coping and Thriving with Anxiety

Founders of Not Your Ordinary Films (NYOF), Jessica Chaney and Amanda Willoughby are the creators behind “I AM”, a documentary that launched in October. “I AM” centers on Black women who live with anxiety, tells stories about coping and thriving with a disorder that is often overlooked and misdiagnosed in Black women. Films that center Black women are often void of Black women working behind the camera and on the scene to ensure the voices are protected and the stories are told with honesty and dignity. These two women are changing the industry by choosing a career in film that centers Black voices through a mirroring lens.

Chaney and Willoughby met as co-workers at a Memphis Public Library and found a kinship in their shared desire to make movies. Willoughby, a graduate of the Memphis College of Art and a filmmaker, is the producer and editor for the project. She says their goal is to normalize Black people in mass media and tell the stories that are typically on the margins.

“We don’t want to make stereotypical Black content. We just want to tell everyday stories, normal stories, and these characters happen to be Black. Whatever comes along with being Black is going to show up in this story somewhere, anyway, because it’s our reality.”

Amanda Willoughby, producer and editor, Not Your Ordinary Films

“I AM” shares the dangers that lurk behind the shadows of anxiety that can render Black women strangers to their own thoughts. The force of this mental health disorder unveils the stark reality of the pressures and unfulfilled desires that silence Black women and often leave them to face the world alone.

The film was born out of personal experience for Chaney, director of the project, who suffered for years with anxiety. After participating in a director’s program at the University of South California (USC), she realized that telling her own stories could be a way to help others.

“Even from the time I was little, I’ve just genuinely enjoyed listening to people. I think people don’t understand how much others just want to be heard.”

Being understood and validated was a personal struggle for Chaney who for a very long time felt invisible. Although she has come to terms with this reality as a Black woman, some incidents still trigger these feelings.

“The other day, I was in Fresh Market, and I was in the middle of the aisle. Now, I am a fuller-figured girl, and I am in the middle of the damn aisle, and this white man was like, ‘Oh, I didn’t even see you there!’ And I was like, ‘Sir, how did you not see ME and be bold enough to tell me?’”

Jessica Cheney, director, Not Your Ordinary Films

The women in the film are boldly telling their truths, unfiltered and uncensored. Like Chaney, they experienced exhaustion, frustration, depression, hurt and anger and realized they wanted more from life than these feelings that were holding them back.

Willoughby believes many aspects of Black women’s lives contribute to their anxiety, including racism, societal pressures and being expected to carry the burdens in all aspects of their lives. She says many Black women “Have the feeling that ‘if I do break, nobody is there to catch me, so I can’t be the one to break’.”

Chaney says that unlike other women, Black women are not allowed to have a full range of emotions. She wants this film to give Black women permission to feel joy.

Willoughby’s goal is for the film to resonate with Black women who want others to see their humanity.

“It comes back to people calling us intimidating, or I’ve heard aggressive, yet we’re always expected to be on top of things, and sometimes I am just winging it.”

Jackie, a participant in the documentary

They both acknowledge that Black women are often thrust into jobs and careers that can provide security for their families, sometimes forgoing their aspirations.

Chaney explains that becoming filmmakers has been a healing journey for them.

“Black women, we’re the doers and a lot of times, we don’t get the liberties to be the dreamers and the thinkers.”

She believes there is a huge pool of untapped talent among Black women who can be deterred by a lack of resources and guidance, which can lead to anxiety that shows up as irritability, anger and frustration.

Grae, a participant in the documentary

“As they grow as women and in their careers, they are unlearning behaviors embedded for generations, such as justifying wanting beautiful things, taking trips or changing careers.”

She believes that telling important stories from their perspective is a calling.

“It’s so important for us to be in this position where we are able to take ownership of these stories. This is where we feel most comfortable and where it feels like joy.”

Retirement: Reinventing Yourself for Financial Freedom

Black women are finding unique ways to plan for retirement, included changing careers and their mindsets.

Freddie Davis-English, a retired government administrator from Minneapolis, was sought after for her previous accomplishments and propelled into a new career in the non-profit sector. While her retirement investments, pension and Social Security were able to afford the retirement she’d envisioned for herself, she was open to professional growth and the opportunity to help others.

Davis-English was more financially prepared for her retirement than she thought. A forgotten supplemental retirement policy in the high 5-figures gave her financial assets a boost.

“It was a welcomed surprise when I retired because there was a time when they wanted to get rid of it as a cost-saving measure. An older co-worker talked me into keeping it instead of cashing it in.”

Freddie Davis-English

She was able to use the money from the supplemental insurance policy to pay for her daughter’s wedding and many other milestone occasions without tapping into her pension and additional retirement savings. Even without working post-retirement, she was able to thrive off the retirement assets she’d accumulated. When you add her husband’s retirement assets to the mix, their lifestyle is equal to their pre-retirement income.

However, Davis-English is the exception, not the rule.

Dr. Angelino Viceisza, Professor of Economics at Spelman College in Atlanta, and research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, says that Black women have many structural barriers to achieving financial stability in retirement.

In his brief, “Black Women’s Retirement Preparedness and Wealth”, Viceisza studies single Black women and notes that they have an average retirement wealth of $11,157, the second-lowest average retirement wealth after Hispanic women. This means, as a group, they are not considered retirement-ready, and in fact, they often retire into poverty.

Dr. Angelino Viceisza, professor of economics at Spelman College

According to the Social Security Administration, in 2021, $13,363 ($1,113 per month) was the annual average Social Security income received by Black women 65 years and older. The maximum Social Security benefit available in 2023 is $4,555 per month, depending on lifetime earnings and age of retirement. The earliest age to begin collecting Social Security retirement benefits is 62. With Black women’s life expectancy at 75 years, there isn’t much time or resources to enjoy the golden years.

Viceisza finds that employment discrimination, low housing equity, health drains on savings and limited intergenerational wealth transfers are key factors contributing to low levels of retirement wealth for Black women. While they have a slight edge over other women in financial literacy, that isn’t enough to change their circumstances. 

“There is a financial literacy component to why perhaps they’re not as prepared for retirement. The real big component is that they just don’t have enough wealth that they are inheriting, generating and are able to pass along to their children.”

He believes that Black women reinventing themselves after retirement is a way to circumvent the economic disparity.

At age 49, Darling “Diva” Moore of Denver, Colorado, did the math on her retirement.

“I started saying, ‘Wow, I am about to turn 50, and the only thing I have to look forward to is Social Security’. And when I looked at it, I saw shoe money.”

Darling “Diva” Moore @gradschoolgramma

Moore’s plan is to retire at age 62, and she will receive $2,000 monthly from Social Security. If she had chosen to wait until age 67, her Social Security income would only increase by $100 per month.

When she looked at the numbers, that was not enough to afford the lifestyle she was currently living with her husband if he were to pass away first.

“When you tell a man, your man, your husband, ‘I’m worried about what would happen to me if something happened to you,’ the first thing out of their mouth is to remind you they have life insurance.”

Statistically, Black men live on average to age 69, leaving many wives to live out their retirement as widows. Moore and her husband crunched the numbers together to gain a mutual understanding.

“I literally had to sit down with my very educated husband, who’s an engineer and got math on lock, and show him that, ‘the money put away for me to live off if you’re gone, don’t even take care of our mortgage, Boo’.”

With this revelation and her husband’s support, she spent a year devising a plan to reinvent herself to supplement her income.

At age 50, she finished her bachelor’s degree and immediately started on her master’s. Her plan is to work in corporate until retirement and then use her newly acquired education to pivot into entrepreneurship as a private practice social worker.

In the meantime, she provides counsel to other women to get their Social Security Statements early to prepare for retirement. Her main focus is to help them figure out what they “want to be when they grow up” and devise a plan to make it a revenue stream.

Viceisza found that some who aren’t able to pivot into working after retirement often look to their children as a source of help to supplement their lifestyle.

Moore says that’s not an option.

“I have no intention of living with my daughter; I see the way she keeps her house.”

Dorothy Bridges of Minneapolis has over 45 years of working in the financial services industry, and she teaches her children and others about financial security. She has yet to retire, and although she feels prepared, that wasn’t the case early in her career.  

“I learned a few things going through the school of hard knocks because I don’t think we even think about asset building when we are fresh out.”

Bridges says Black women should begin thinking about retirement as an investment in themselves. She advises starting as early as possible and looking into hiring a professional to help navigate the process and find the right mix of assets, such as real estate, stocks, savings accounts and 401(k)s.

“Make sure you understand that when you’re very early in your career, you may not be able to afford to put away the maximum into your 401(k) or other assets, but at least try to put away enough for the company to match your contribution.”

Bridges comes from a family of sharecroppers in Mississippi and knows the obstacles of learning about finance on your own, growing up without an inheritance, and the difficulty of saving when you may want to spend. She understands the need to sacrifice, change course and start fresh.

“I tell my kids, ‘short-term sacrifice for long-term gains’.”

Is Your Job Keeping You Single?

Over 66 percent of Black women are single, and almost 40 percent have never been married, as highlighted by the most recent census data.

While some Black women embrace the single life with no immediate plans to resume dating, others look at all their accomplishments at work, realizing that the heavy burden jobs place on Black women doesn’t leave much time or energy for romance. Many have to scale back on their work commitments to make time for romantic relationships.

Black women are opening up about the role their career-choices play in their love story.

Take Marin Heiskell, a senior manager at Deloitte in Chicago, for example. Marin is accomplished with three degrees from Ivy-League schools and a bright career ahead of her. She has a demanding job that she enjoys. Her consulting role requires 40-45 hours a week of client work plus an additional 15 hours per week participating in panel discussions and supporting research and recruitment. There is also a lot of travel with her role, and although travel has died down since COVID, and she can make more time for the people she loves, it wasn’t always the case.

“I’d be on the first flight out Monday morning, come back late Thursday night or even Friday morning, and then spend the weekend resting, recovering, doing laundry and repacking.”

Marin Heiskell, senior manager at Deloitte

Marin found that some men didn’t understand the nature of her job or why she was required to travel so often, which became a barrier to sustaining relationships.

“I think they are saying it from a place of both insecurity and just not being exposed to a lot of different types of careers. As a Black woman who works in consulting, I feel like people know the demands of a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer or a banker but question the demands of my job.”

Dating expert M3rry works with smart, successful, busy Black women, guiding them through dating. She says she often hears that men are intimidated by successful Black women.

“If you are a woman that likes to live well and likes the luxuries of life, and he can’t provide it for you, then he is intimidated by you because you can provide it for yourself.”

M3rry: @ilovem3rry

Marin’s had to vet prospective partners differently and change her mindset. “In the past, I’ve said to myself: ‘I’m not married, and I don’t have any kids, then there’s no excuse for me not to be at XYZ level. And so, I gun really hard, kind of forgetting I’m cutting off my nose to spite my face.”

Dating coach, Anwar sees this scenario play out often with his clients. He believes that many Black women are programmed by their parents to focus on security and to make sure they can take care of themselves, which translates to education, jobs and money. Romance often gets pushed to the side to ensure survival, which equates to putting most of their time and energy into having a successful career.

“No, your job isn’t in the way because you have a boyfriend already, your career. And you are giving this career emotional, mental and spiritual space.”

Anwar: @DatingCoachAnwar

M3rry agrees. She acknowledges Black women have the pressure of success that may not be placed on other races of women. According to her, what’s really keeping them single is their lack of priorities, non-congruency and failure to include other races in their dating search.

“Does it matter if he’s Black? Does it matter that he looks a certain way? Or do you want to be taken care of? Sometimes what my clients say they want doesn’t match up to the men they are describing.”

Anwar believes that, even if the right guy presents himself, if Black women don’t have career boundaries or a level of vulnerability, starting and maintaining a successful romantic relationship will be challenging.

“If you are not vulnerable, it’s going to be really difficult for you to deeply connect with the man because it’s your vulnerability that is going to inspire his.”

He also says that many Black women have to learn how to date because it’s not something taught by most Black parents.

Fila Antwine, a relationship coach, also teaches her clients how to date. “Black women are not taught how to be partners, and we are not prepared for partnership.” She says that at a very young age, Black women are taught to protect themselves from men and to disconnect to achieve their goals.

“We are taught how to survive without men the first half of our lives.”

Fila Antwine: @sheisfila

Fila says career success and accomplishments become a source of pride and self-worth, but that narrative has to change to have their desired partnerships. She says that Black women are taught to be self-reliant and independent when real partnership comes from collaboration and being open to connecting with others.

“Black women have to dismantle all of the things they’ve built for themselves and figure out who they are and what they want.” She says for many, there isn’t any time to waste.

“The time is now. There is no f*cking clock.”

The Co-Parenting Tightrope: Its Impact on Your Career

Navigating co-parenting as a single or newly separated/divorced parent may not initially seem like a workplace issue. Still, its ripple effects permeate every part of life—positive and negative—and can affect job performance. For some, a dysfunctional parental relationship can include constant arguing, refusing to communicate or unpredictable visitation, which can result in missed meetings, late arrivals, having to leave early, calling in at the last minute, court dates and being distracted with phone calls.

Alysha Price, founder of The Price Dynamic, a professional family coaching and engagement consulting firm, sees this behavior often with her clients, including single and co-parenting families, struggling to create a functional structure that allows each person to flourish. A product of a co-parenting single-parent household, Price found herself in a difficult co-parenting relationship and used what she learned to create a better environment for her son.

Alysha Price, found of The Price Dynamic in Minneapolis, MN

“In my process of parenting, I realized how much I was repeating things that I had grown up around, things that happened in my household. I realized how much I wanted to change some of those things and improve.”

When it comes to the effects of co-parenting on job performance, Price says many are unprepared for the toll it can take on their careers.

“You’re present, but you’re not mentally present. You’re spending a lot of work time contacting attorneys, navigating school and those types of transitions that happen.”

Price says that aligning what happens after school and who picks up or drops off the kids to their extracurricular activities can be stressful for parents trying to deal with their emotions from the relationship breakdown.

The stress can also fuel illnesses for the adults and their children, causing more missed days at work.

“You’re being somewhat of an executive assistant to your new family dynamic, and attendance is severely affected by illness. When your child is moving back and forth from one household to the next, things are affected, like their sleep and stability, which, of course, adds to their not being well.”

Marissa Johnson understands the effects of parental relationships on a family’s ecosystem. As a licensed clinical social worker, she works with adults and children to help them work through issues that impact every facet of their lives, including co-parenting, which can tremendously impact the workplace. When she found herself in a dysfunctional relationship while pregnant, she had to take stock and change course.

“I tried to keep the relationship going, and then when I was about seven months pregnant, I was just like, ‘nah, I’m not going to do this.’”

Johnson had a difficult co-parenting relationship when her daughter was born, which spurred her to start grad school so she could eventually find employment that paid enough to support a single-parent household. In the second year of grad school, she quit her job to focus on school alone and survived solely off student loans.

Marissa Johnson, licensed clinical social worker @marissa.motivates

“When we were going through the courts, I was doing my internship in grad school. We had to do a practicum, and I remember I was so emotional because we had court the day before, and I had to explain to them why I couldn’t even get through a sentence.”

The stress took a toll on her mental health.

“It impacted how I was showing up in my classes and at work. I wasn’t able to give my full self.”

Johnson says her supervisor, a Black woman, also a single mom, helped her through the situation and didn’t make her feel embarrassed when she shared her situation.

Price explains that it is important for supervisors to be empathetic, but worrying about their employees with co-parenting issues can take a toll on the company. She developed “Family Meeting Cards” to help families make better decisions that can reduce the negative impact on their careers.

“We give our clients tools that put the onus back on the employee to deal with their family dynamics, but in the same sense, teach effective communication skills and skills to discern what is appropriate to share at work.”

TaShara Caldwell knows all too well how family dynamics can impact career paths. A paraprofessional completing her internship for her master’s, she has to give 600 hours of free labor on top of her current job, which has prolonged completing the requirements.

“It’s hard to do that when you’re trying to also work and work around someone’s schedule.”

TaShara Caldwell @ateacherthoushallnottry with daughter

She and her ex-husband, a firefighter with an unpredictable schedule, often barter and negotiate who will take off work when their child has a doctor’s appointment, is sick or has a school function. Caldwell says early in their separation, communication was rocky.

“We would get in these battles of who is going to take off work, kind of whose time is more valuable than the others.”

Caldwell looked to couples counseling, even though divorce was eminent, to figure out how to navigate their new dynamic.

“His schedule is going to be his schedule and I am going to be a mom forever, so even though we are not together, we share a Google Calendar.”

She says even with the shared calendar, when she has to take off work unplanned, it impacts her job even though it is common practice for moms to leave work to take care of their children.

“Schools automatically call mom, even though they have both numbers, they just call mom.”

Sometimes Caldwell’s supervisor will ask if her ex-husband can go instead, often followed by personal questions she does not want to answer.

“It’s frustrating because you don’t want to tell everybody your business.”

According to Price, when the co-parenting relationship begins affecting job performance, employees should keep their chats with managers “brief to minimum” while communicating their needs and leave out details that are not necessary to share. She recommends talking with human resources to ensure a documented paper trail. 

When the parents cannot work together constructively, parallel parenting may be an option. This method allows each person to parent separately in all aspects of their child’s life, including doctor’s appointments, sports games and birthday parties. Text-only communication or using apps, such as Talking Parent, may stop parents from disruptive, negative communication yet allow them to keep abreast of schedules that include work trips, conferences or shift changes.

Johnson says text-only communication worked the best for her and her co-parent. Their relationship and her career improved when she took her emotions out of the situation and focused on herself.

“It’s very possible for you to have everything you want career-wise and still be a good mother. When things like this happen that set us back, like having to co-parent with people who aren’t easy to co-parent with, you start to develop these beliefs that it’s not possible or it’s too hard.  You can’t do it.”

Shaping Corporate Leadership: Black Women on Boards

Investor, advisor and board member of The Harvard Business School Club of New York, Tamara Bowens, is an expert in sales, branding and partnership marketing. Her current board appointment was announced in August 2023, and while it’s not her first time serving on a board, she feels it expands her reach and allows her voice to be heard.  

Tamara Bowens, board member, Harvard Business Club of New York

“That’s something I’ve always tried to do is be true to who I am, no matter what room I am in, and if I know that I’ve been true to myself, then I know that I have a real seat at the table and I can make a real impact.”

Sulamain Rahman, CEO at DiverseForce in Philadelphia and board member of Lendistry, is a board matchmaker. His program, DiverseForce On Boards, prepares high-potential middle to senior-level leaders of color to expand their capabilities through a board training and matching program. He says just having Black women on boards isn’t the solution, but making sure those appointed are there to move the needle. 

“The reality is, it’s not really about just having Black and brown faces in high places, but how do we make sure our presence is felt in those spaces? Unfortunately, many people don’t sign up to be civil rights leaders, if you will, when they’re on boards.”

As a Black woman, Bowens is given the opportunity to share her vast business experience and unique perspectives on issues that may go unnoticed without representation.

“There have been times when there has been a discussion about things that are ‘culturally difficult’, is a way I would put it. But then I have to be the one in the room to raise my hand and go, ‘oh, but yeah, I understand your point of view, but let me just tell you how people who look like me feel’.”

Miquel Purvis McMoore, of Minneapolis, serves on various non-profits and a Life Advisory Board position for Wise Inc., a corporate board. She is also CEO of KP Companies, an executive search firm in Minneapolis that recruits to fill board seats. She sees more boards actively looking for Black women to serve as leaders and says Black women who want to be on boards should prepare themselves early.

Miquel Purvis McMoore, CEO of KP Companies in Minneapolis

“Depending on where you are in your career would determine how you should prepare yourself for board readiness. I think the skills you gain, obviously, on your job, your organizational skills, project management skills and specialty skills, such as accounting or legal.”

Rahman wants upcoming leaders to understand that their diversity is invaluable, but they also need expertise, confidence and broad experiences to be effective company leaders.

“The CEO is going to that board, reporting to that board, and is providing oversight as well as strategic advice on how to take that organization to the next level.”

Rahman encourages those interested in filling board seats to start with non-profit organizations to gain experience. Some of those positions are paid, but most board members start with volunteer boards.

According to McMoore, networking and letting folks know you are interested in bringing your skills to companies is another important way to be placed on the shortlist.

Winter Travel Destinations for Black Women Taking a Break from the Workplace for a Little Fun!

Los Angeles-based travel creator, Dr. N’Dea Irvin-Choy changed her career path from biochemical engineer to full-time content creator six months before receiving her graduate degree. She packed up her belongings, moved to L.A. and wrote her thesis there while figuring out how she was going to turn content creation into her career and lifestyle. Like many others, she is figuring out her travel plans for the winter and shared four top travel destinations for Black women for 2023-2024.

Dr. N'Dea Irvin Choi
Dr. N’Dea Irvin Choi, travel content creator @bmekween
  1. MLK Ski Weekend Jan. 12-15, 2024

The 27th Annual MLK Ski Weekend returns to Blue Mountain Resort in The Blue Mountains of Ontario, Canada, to celebrate the MLK holiday weekend. For those who enjoy or want to learn how to ski or snowboard, there are packages and lessons available. If you prefer to skip the slopes, there are spa options, a comedy show, happy hours, pool parties and themed activities. You can even sip hot chocolate or grab a beer while watching the NFL playoffs! 

2. Geneva, Switzerland

Another cold climate destination to put on your calendar this winter is Geneva, Switzerland. It is heaven for Chocolate lovers, as Swiss Chocolate is coveted all over the world. There are chocolate-tasting tours and opportunities to submerse yourself in chocolate culture. There are day trips to Mount Blanc, the highest peak in the Swiss Alps and the Swiss Riviera. If you prefer to travel with a group, The Travel Divas have a trip coming up Nov. 30-Dec. 8 with a package that includes an evening cruise with dinner on Lake Geneva, a gala, brunches and guided tours, such as a culinary day trip or an inside look at prestigious Swiss watchmaking.   

3. Accra, Ghana

Last but not least, is making the pilgrimage to Accra, Ghana for “Detty December”, a time of holiday celebration for the entire month of December and into the New Year, when Accra is filled with art, music, entertainment and thousands of brothers and sisters from across the diaspora. Ghana has first-class accommodations, beautiful beaches and cultural emersion like no other. For those interested in learning about history, a guided day tour up the coast to Elmina Castle offers a first-hand look at the slave dungeons and walks you through the journey to the Americas and the Caribbean. If you enjoy the party scene, there are day parties and night parties that last until the daylight. Ghana is one of the best, most fascinating places to be in December!

Accra, Ghana
Accra, Ghana

4. Curacao

While it may be winter, a few prefer warm destinations. If that’s more your style this winter, look no further than Curacao, a Dutch Caribbean Island known for its white sand beaches and distinguished marine life. There are underwater walking tours, opportunities to swim with sea turtles, ATV adventures and good old-fashioned lounging on the beach with a cold drink and vibes.