Chante has diverse experience in advocating for women and girls’ empowerment, civil rights, sustainability, and educational equity. She is now working at the intersection of policy, sustainability, social impact, and innovation. Read here Kota’s interview with her.
Kota: How would you describe your story? How did you reach your current career path?
Chante: I would describe my story as one of an individual who genuinely loves working through and solving some of the biggest problems. Since I was a young girl I have been an enthusiast for civic engagement, policy, and government. While those words have meant different things to me throughout my life and work they all remain such a huge part of my drive and why I do the work I do. I became fascinated with how our economy was impacted by policy and vice versa during college and while I didn’t realize it then, in a lot of ways I realize now that that interest has positioned me to do much of the work I am doing now at the intersection of policy, sustainability, social impact, and innovation. I spend much of my time in my current role as a growth strategist helping organizations with innovative solutions, ideas and products launch in an urban environment in relation to some of the most complex topics including the future of mobility, resiliency, public space, infrastructure, and the built environment. I have always been intrigued by how multiple stakeholders come together to improve millions of people’s quality of life.
I am the granddaughter of public servants who taught me at a young age that I have the power to change society for the better. I know that innovation and ideas are at the heart of a positive impact across all industries. Each day I strive to use my understanding of multiple sectors and industries to drive positive change. It is not really a surprise then why I decided to join and support Kota, is it? I am so thrilled to be part of a team where all of these themes are core to our mission.
Kota: Who is your favorite changemaker?
Chante: It is obviously difficult to choose one changemaker, though if I had to choose an individual who has been crucial to how I think about change, I would say Phyllis Wheatley. I believe many people are not quite familiar with her or her story despite how fascinating it is. She was played a pivotal part in my appreciation for the arts early on my life and is one of the reasons why I am a believer in the power that art has to share stories that wouldn’t otherwise be told and shift the narrative and how people think.
For those who don’t know, she was the first African-American to publish a book of poetry after being sold into slavery. She became one of the most known poets in America writing over 145 published poems and has inspired many diverse writers and artists after her. She remains an inspiration to me when thinking about how her legacy lives on through her art.
Kota: What is your motto in life?
Chante: It is quite hard to nail down just one but a motto I would say one of my favorite mottos is “Progress, Not Perfection.” I think it is so critical to know that you don’t have to be perfect to move forward and can make progress taking one step at a time.
Kota: What is the most inspiring moment of your life?
Chante: The most inspiring moment in my life is one that I share often. It stems from my grandmother who is one of the most courageous people I know. When I was young around the age of 7 or 8 she shared with me her work as a civil rights activist during the Civil Rights Movement. She spoke of the terrible treatment she and her loved ones were succumbed to. Hearing the challenging and awful experiences in her life at such a young age has inspired me to always fight for what I believe in and, more importantly, never accept the norm and push past boundaries and barriers. I oftentimes find strength from my grandmother having the opportunity still today to witness her tenacity and fervor firsthand.
Kota: What do you think is one of the biggest global challenges when considering the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) especially in relation to gender equality?
Chante: One of the biggest challenges related to the UN’s SDGs is climate change and the need for inclusive, equitable, long-term solutions. While women and people of color are disproportionately impacted by climate change, we oftentimes are not highlighted or provided the opportunities to spearhead the implementation of sustainability projects at the local and global levels. Despite the work and leadership of a number of diverse professionals, advocates, and organizations, inclusion still remains at the backburner of many conversations related to energy and the environment. Amazing ladies like Isra Hirsi, Dominique Drakeford, and Jessica Matthews are changing that.
Kota: Who is your favorite author? What is your favorite book?
Chante: One of my favorite authors is Alice Walker and one of my favorite books is Mama Day by Gloria Naylor.
Kota: It has been inspiring to hear your story. Thank you very much for your insights!
Chante: My pleasure.