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Woman on the Rise: Dominique

Woman on the Rise: Dominique

Written by Linda Harvey

It’s been a whirlwind year for Dominique as she reflects on her time at TWB and now sees herself embarking on new promising endeavors. She wouldn’t have it any other way as she describes her entrepreneurial spirit that is bursting with ideas and goals for her future.

Dominique is considered a powerhouse to those at TWB headquarters, and it’s easy to see why this vibrant, ambitious alumna is such an inspiration. She’ll be honored for her meaningful impact on others at this year’s Empowerment Breakfast with the Together We Empower award. 

“I’m a very independent person with a ‘go-get-it-yourself’ attitude,” she says with enthusiasm. Whether it’s starting her own company to help women or having the ability to rent an apartment again, her motto is “Go bigger, or go home!”

Dominique’s list of accomplishments is impressive since she graduated from the Spring 2023 session. One month after her graduation, TWB hired her as a part-time Production and Business Associate, where she embraced the opportunity to learn how nonprofits function. This led her to teaching classes on “how to’s” for small businesses during TWB program sessions, allowing her creativity to shine as she helped develop curriculum on customer service and grassroots marketing.

Even though she had expanded her role at TWB, Dominique realized she was ready for more  —  she needed more income and more access to opportunities if she wanted to live the life she envisioned for herself. “I came to D.C. to do great things,” she says, explaining why she applied to certification programs that matched her ambitions.

In March, she was accepted into a Peer Support Specialist Certification program at Howard University, which will boost her skills for a career in nonprofits. It’s a seven-week program for people who have previously been homeless, something that Dominique understands all too well as a child growing up with unstable housing and more recently as an adult.

At the same time she heard back from Howard, she landed a remote, part-time job to write grants for a nonprofit. As her plans fell into place, she cried knowing the time had come to say good-bye to a job she loved and a community of women she treasured. “Everyone here at TWB gave me grace and encouragement,” she explains with appreciation. “They knew I wanted to try new things.”


Finding Empowerment and Hope

Looking back on her journey, Dominique remembers how tired she was before entering the TWB program. She had found herself homeless and living in transitional housing just after her 30th birthday last year. 

She describes this time as the “lowest of my lows.” She was looking for work when she saw the TWB flyer on a bulletin board at her case manager's office at the homeless shelter. The opportunity to earn a ServSafe certification required for food service jobs is what caught her attention.

Yet it was learning about TWB’s holistic approach to workforce training and its focus on female empowerment that excited her the most during her initial interview with TWB’s Stephanie Wright, Co-Founder/Executive Director.

“These [concepts] are in my realm,” Dominique remembers telling herself. She had previous experience with “wellness, health, spirituality, [and] mind and body” concepts and loved that they were being incorporated into a workforce development program.

“It was all she wrote — sign me up!” she laughs now, knowing she’d be a good fit for the TWB program. “This is my life!”

Having sessions with affirmations especially hit home for her, she points out. She shares that she’s been saying and writing affirmations to herself since she was a little girl. It's something that's always been a part of her life, giving her hope, and allowing her to dream. 

While in a homeless shelter, she covered her bunk bed with sticky notes to further affirm her confidence in her endeavors. In transitional housing, she used notebooks and flash cards. Now in her new home, sticky notes are all over the mirror and used as wall art. 

She had been drawn to other empowerment-type programs in the past, but had never seen it as impactful as TWB’s curriculum, she says. “This was the first place that truly provided a bridge for workforce development and empowerment. Being here made me strive to change and be better and allowed me to see what I can do,” she explains.

Dominique felt safe in the TWB sisterhood and appreciated that staff “didn’t come with any biases and saw all of us as women, as people,” she says, referring to the morning meetings when she heard other’s life journeys.

She especially found Hanna Teklu, TWB's Alumni Engagement/Workforce Development Specialist, to be a big influence on her. As a 2015 graduate of TWB, Hanna is now thriving in a career that Dominique found compelling —  a job helping other women move forward with their lives.


Moving Forward with Encouragement

When Dominique joined the TWB staff last summer, she was most excited to get experience on the business side of a nonprofit. She was eager to take on “different hats by choice” and broaden her responsibilities.

On top of her position working in shipping and fulfillment, she began to help with empowerment sessions. Not shy with public speaking, she shared her story at morning meetings and taught business-type classes. She enjoyed working with Team Members and facilitated activities such as “See the Big Picture,” where they mapped out business possibilities or another where they acted out customer service scenarios.

This experience gave her the confidence to apply to Howard University, where she could pursue her dream to support women. It also encouraged her to start her own business — What Now, What Next! — where she plans to help women expand their skill sets and look for “entrepreneurship within themselves.” 

She sees a future providing services that help with women’s emotional, physical, and financial well-being. She even envisions an opportunity to work with TWB alumni as they continue to move forward with their lives.

“My biggest dream is to bring funds back to the community,” she explains. “I want to work with women, teach them to love themselves, to dream and want more.”


A Full Circle Moment

When asked why she’s so driven and determined, Dominique says her three younger sisters are her “why” — she wants to be a role model and a safe place for them. She gives them “nuggets of helpful advice” and even affirmations so that they can better navigate their lives.

One of the proudest moments in Dominique’s life was when she recently got the keys to her own apartment on her 31st birthday. She remembers crying and being overjoyed that she had come this far in one year. Being self-sufficient and no longer living in transitional housing were two goals that she had set out to achieve, and she did both!

Living in a place that makes her feel good about herself gives her the confidence to succeed, she says with certainty. “I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished so far,” Dominique says, thankful for TWB and the path she’s on now.

She then emphasizes, “I’m not a ‘why bother’ person. If you can, you probably should!” Even though her easy laugh follows these words, she’s serious about this personal philosophy.

It’s the same advice she’d give to Team Members starting out with the TWB program. She would tell them, “Come with your whole self and be open minded. The only person holding you back is you.”

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