Black History Month Advisor Spotlight: DeYonne Parker

February 4, 2021

DeYonne Parker, PhD, CPC, a secondary domestic violence survivor affectionately dubbed “The Courage Catalyst” by a re-energized leadership client, is the author and publisher of critically-acclaimed women’s lifestyle books, “If Her Purse Could Talk” and “Girl, Get Your S.W.A.G. Back!”; the co-owner and co-executive socialpreneur at Gem Makers, LLC—a worldwide, progressive, leadership development education, training, and coaching firm for women; and the founder and visionary coaching industry disrupter at The S.W.A.G. University. Dr. DeYonne is also notably the seasoned Global Senior Manager of Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Programs for corporate industry giant, The Coca-Cola Company.

We are so lucky to have DeYonne coming back for her second year of advising at the Village! Learn more about her in this interview.

If you can, please share what it means to you to be a founder of color in 2021 and how you hope to be a catalyst for change for future years to come.

"Last year we faced some very difficult situations—on matters of race, race and gender, health, and so much more! And when the dust settled, it was clear that the representation of our lives and our struggles—our stories as women, and particularly, women of color—had been sorely lacking, until those months of reckoning. The world finally heard what we already knew—that representation matters. 

I’m very proud to be a female founder of color in 2021 because young girls of color and budding entrepreneurs need to see that it is possible and others in our community need to see the importance and profound benefits of collaborating with us. We bring an incredibly important lens that when appropriately tapped into can be beneficial to the community at large. 

I’ve been affectionately deemed “The Courage Catalyst” by a few of my clients because I have the unique ability to push them out of their comfort zone and into their courage zone. It’s my desire to be a catalyst for courage and change to help the future generations of innovative leaders and entrepreneurs boldly embrace inclusion and diversity and to start courageous conversations that lead to action and change. I have committed my life to empowering ladies, leaders and little girls and I believe that in order for us to see positive shifts in our world we have to start with exposing our youth to experiences and opportunities that they may not be able to have on a regular basis. This promotes confidence and courage and helps build the pipeline of future founders of color. "

How did you become immersed within the startup community?

"In my corporate career I have spent many years traveling the globe teaching leaders the principles of lean startup methodology. I enjoy teaching these principles because I get to watch people become excited about innovation and tap into their inner genius. 

I’m also the co-owner and co-executive socialpreneur at Gem Makers, LLC—a progressive, leadership development, training, and coaching firm for women; and the founder and visionary coaching industry disrupter at The S.W.A.G. University. This has led me to connect collaborate with several of my fellow founders of startups. I love the energy that is felt when startup founders and innovators are in the same room pitching their ideas and sharing their lessons learned; it’s truly an incredible experience."

What tools/resources do you offer to under-represented, diverse founders of color?

  • Professional Coaching and consulting services
  • Brilliant brainstorms to help them go from idea to implementation 
  • #GoalGetter Strategy Sessions to help strategically outline SMART goals and action plans
  • Virtual Masterclasses that focus on building strong, presence, presentation and pitching skills 
  • Books, Success Planners and tips for success

Any golden nuggets of wisdom you would like to share to our readers?

"Courage is…starting with “yes”. When it comes to taking on big opportunities, sharing new ideas or stepping into that next level of your journey, many of us talk ourselves out of it because of fear. We allow our “dirty” self-talk to creep in and snatch our “Yes” and before we’ve opened our mouth we’ve already said “no”. When you find yourself standing between your comfort zone and an opportunity that is pushing you into your courage zone, start with “Yes”. Yes, you are the right person for the job. Yes, you have what it takes, and you will continue to learn more. Yes, this is the right time to take this on. Start with “Yes” and the rest will unfold."

Follow DeYonne Parker on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn


February 4, 2021
Hilton Thompson