DeAnna McLeary-Sherman says her leadership style is, “democratic, open, and flexible.” The chief and CEO of True Star Foundation, continues, “As a leader of a small organization — whose target demographic is primary urban teens and young adults, who also make up most of our staff … I have to be aware of market demands and be aware that our audience interest can change quarterly or even monthly. I have to draw on the unique interests of my audience and also have an element of teaching and coaching to my young staffers.”
True Star Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides a creative outlet in the form of literary and professional development programs for youth. True Star strives to be a leader in youth programming by providing enriching environments for teens and young adults that encourage creating opportunities for themselves and their communities. The True Star Media Program produces True Star Magazine, True Star Jr. Magazine, True Star Radio, the blog Truestaris.com and the music website TheLyricalLab.com.
“As a leader, I am always trying to be proactive rather than reactive. For instance, we are a finalist in a grant competition to receive $25,000 to purchase equipment to serve youth in communities with limited access to industry standard hardware and software. Please vote for us everyday 10 times a day so we can receive the $25K grant,” she adds.
Here, McLeary-Sherman shares more about her organization.
What is your organization’s mission statement?
Our mission is to demonstrate healthy transitions for youth, specifically, youth coming into early adulthood by (1) exposing them to real-world experiences in the workforce; (2) through the development of their own media; and (3) by allowing them to become an intricate part of the strategic direction and overall business operations of the True Star organization. Ultimately, True Star puts youth in leadership positions, implements their ideas, and fosters the feelings of hope and independence.
True Star needs your help to create a mobile youth media center to reach underserved communities in Chicago. Please vote for our cause everyday, 10 times per day.
What three skill sets are critical for the future executive that you hire for your organization?
My future executive would need to have the following skills: communication, collaboration and creativity.
How does having an advanced degree benefit you and your clients?
Though I have my MBA, an advanced degree is not a must-have in my organization, I am looking for creative, innovative thinkers, and those individuals may or may not have advanced degrees.
How do you utilize technology to benefit your organization?
True Star operates three websites and six different social media platforms. Many of our staff work remotely, so it is critical that we utilize communication and information technologies to grow and engage with our staff and audience.
What social media platforms do you engage in the most?
Instagram and Twitter, because of our young audience.
What professional organizations do you support?
I work collaboratively with many youth organizations including the, Chicago Youth Voices Network and The Peace Alliance.
Describe your networking style.
My networking style is that of reciprocity. I first ask, what can I offer to the person with whom I would like to network. Everyone has his or her hands out, but the person who has something to offer is unique.
If you were giving a graduation speech to college students, what would be the title of your speech and why?
Purpose, Passion and Persistence. Find your purpose; pursue it passionately and with persistence.
Name your two favorite vacation destinations to relax and recharge?
Vacation; what is that?
What are you reading and your two favorite books?
My two favorite books are The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra. I am currently reading OG Mandino’s The Greatest Secret In the World.
Name three business leaders and political leaders who inspire you.
President Obama, Michelle Alexander, John Lewis, Oprah Winfrey, Cathy Hughes, Jay Z.
What are your favorite sports teams?
All Chicago Teams!
Name two of your favorite quotes that motivate you.
“Pray for a good harvest, but keep plowing’.”
“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually fear you will make one.”
Finish the sentences …
Team work is important because … you cannot do anything alone.
The best way to recruit great talent is … to be a great leader.
Speaking a second language is important because … we live in a global economy.
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