Adrienne White on women in politics and a runner’s life

Adrienne White

Adrienne White, Creative Agency Finance Manager, The Coca-Cola Company

What interested you in a career in finance?
From an early age, I had a gift with numbers and pursued a CPA license. I believe that accounting is the fundamental language of business and I wanted to be well-versed in any business endeavor that I’d pursue. I started my career at Ernst & Young. It was very challenging, but I gained a lot of institutional knowledge and learned to trust my business savvy. Now, at The Coca-Cola Company, I constantly find ways to make business processes more efficient and effective so that my finance team and marketers can deliver more value to the business.

You have always been active in local politics, but now your activism has expanded into having more women elected statewide. What big initiatives are you working on in 2014?
As a board member of Georgia WIN List — the only political action committee in Georgia that recruits, trains, elects and protects Democratic women — I’ve learned some startling statistics about women in elected positions in Georgia. Only 23 percentof those serving in the State House of Representatives and Senate are women. But, Georgia’s population is 51 percent women. Public and elected leadership should always mirror the population which it serves to ensure that decisions reflect the voice of the people. I would like to see increased political engagement from women of all backgrounds statewide. We simply must dive in and take ownership. Women must speak up about issues that matter to them and then go vote for those who share those values. The pinnacle, for me, would be for those same women to summon the courage to run for office!

You recently completed the 2014 Publix Half-Marathon and The Peachtree Road Race. Were these your first 10K and half-marathon races? What interested you in running?
Publix Georgia Half Marathon and I have a 4-year love-hate relationship. I absolutely love seeing my beloved Atlanta on foot, but hate the hills in the Publix! In 2010, after a 1-week hospital stay related to a fluke colon virus, I was jolted out of a depression. When faced with the possibility of death one gains a new license to truly live life. I created a bucket list of things to do within that next year. Running the AJC Peachtree Road Race was one of the items and, I’m proud to say, I did it and have each year since. Running allowed me to find peace and strength. It is my sincerest desire to pay the joy of running forward to others.

Black Girls Run /Atlanta chapter – why is it unique in comparison to other urban chapters?
Black Girls RUN! Atlanta truly served as a catalyst for many running groups to welcome the ‘unlikely’ runner to the pavement and find their personal success. When we started, we wanted this movement to be for every woman, not just the 5K-ready women. We have a mantra of “No Lady Left Behind.” Many of our ambassadors and group run leaders are truly invested in the success of other women. There is NO competition, only love and support. Our end-of-run ‘cheer tunnel’ is awesome and inspirational. Oftentimes, I wish I could wake up to a cheer tunnel to put a little pep in my step at the beginning of the day.

What is the single most important piece of advice you can share with young women of color entering college or the workforce this year?
Know that you are made stronger through challenges and that the challenges are a part of your story of greatness. God wrote the hope formula in Romans 5:3 which boils down to “you will suffer, but you must persevere which builds character that lands in hope out of a challenging situation.” As I said, I struggled with depression for a short time and asked God all sorts of questions like Why am I here? If God loved me, certainly xyz wouldn’t have happened to me? In reflection, I can fully appreciate that I wouldn’t be the woman I am if it weren’t for my struggle. Life’s path is one where you’ll see people shine, but must remember that they had to be polished first.

Adrienne White is a 2014 New Leaders Council Fellow; RRCA Certified Running Coach; Board Treasurer, Red Clay Democrats; Board, Georgia WIN List; LEAD Class of 2012; Black Girls Run! Southeast Ambassador (GA, FL, MS, AL); Board Treasurer, The Intown Academy.

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