Skip to content

Atlanta’s leading ladies at Walker’s Legacy Women’s Leadership Brunch

Nicole Parker, city of Atlanta's first lady Sarah-Elizabeth Reed and Deborah Jackson

Businesswoman Necole Parker, city of Atlanta’s first lady Sarah-Elizabeth Reed and Lithonia mayor Deborah Jackson

As part of National Women’s History Month, Walker’s Legacy celebrated women of color who have been making a difference in their businesses and in the workplace. The bimonthly luncheon was held at Southern Art and Bourbon Bar located at the Intercontinental hotel in Buckhead. The amazing program featured the First Lady of Atlanta and attorney Sarah-Elizabeth Reed; the Mayor of Lithonia Deborah Jackson; and a successful multi-millionaire businesswoman, Necole Parker who founded The Elocen Group.

Walker’s Legacy was founded in 2009 and named in honor of Madame CJ Walker, “the first self-made millionaire in the U.S. Natalie Cofield founded Walker Legacy, an organization she equipped to empower enterprising and professional women. Since the founding, we have evolved into a global organization for women in business to establish networks of empowerment and access for women of color in business. Women who engage with Walker Legacy are known as Walkers,” explains Walker’s Legacy city co-chair Yvonne Byars, CEO and founder PMXprts LLC. “We are celebrating your achievement as well as the achievements of many women in business. You all have made a huge sacrifice to be here today. We extend our deepest appreciation.”

Seasoned in their professions and careers, the panelists offered some extremely insightful perspective on topics during a panel discussion moderated by Walker’s Legacy city co-chair Erica Thomas, Georgia House of Representatives member representing District 39. Read what they had to say in part.

Walkers at Walker's Legacy Atlanta Women's Leadership Brunch during National Women's History Month

Walkers at Walker’s Legacy Atlanta Women’s Leadership Brunch during National Women’s History Month

Biggest challenges they faced and how they overcame them…

Necole Parker:

“The biggest challenge I’ve had is that you’re a woman in construction. My father would always say you can be anything you want to and do not let anyone tell you differently. I used to be shy by nature. When I got older, I said, I am going to take these opportunities, these chances. I worked several construction job ands and took those NOs to mean my Next Opportunity. It is key for women. Women have always been multi-taskers. We are moms, wives, siblings, we work, we maintain the home. I decided I was not going to continue to allow them to pass me over for promotions. I wanted to take a stance for myself and the other women. I encourage you to be whomever you want to be.”

Sarah-Elizabeth Reed:

Taking advantage of different opportunities in life that may have been scary or totally foreign helped me to become successful personally and career wise. Like where to attend college. I was born and raised in Atlanta and people would say you want to go all the way to the freezing cold. University of Michigan. Get a coat big deal. I went to law school at Howard. I competed in Donald Trump’s Miss USA pageant that was simply because a classmate in law school said I’ve done pageants, you should do it. It was an awesome experience. From there I was on the show Fear Factor and won $50,000 worked in DC in a law office for about five years. Real Estate development company convinced me to open a real estate affordable housing in Atlanta. Running nonprofits and trying to serve the community is not easy. Being willing to take on those challenges and not letting setbacks and struggles stop us. We are so blessed to be in the U.S.”

Deborah Jackson:

“By having a supportive family and the courage to step out. When I was worked in Mississippi back in the 70s, it was as though the civil rights movement had not happened. Even though there were no signs posted banning Black used courage to become an advocate for the community has served me well. Along the way, I had a number of mentors. It’s important to surround yourself with people who believe what you believe and are willing to be supportive. You can’t get discouraged. You have to hold on to what you believe in. Stay true to your call.”

Nicole Parker, Deborah Jackson and Sarah-Elizabeth Reed. Standing: Walker's Legacy city co-chair Yvonne Byars, CEO and founder PMXprts LLC and Erica Thomas, Georgia House of Representatives member representing District 39

Necole Parker, Deborah Jackson and Sarah-Elizabeth Reed. Standing: Walker’s Legacy city co-chair Yvonne Byars, CEO and founder PMXprts LLC and Erica Thomas, Georgia House of Representatives member representing District 39

On personal path to achieve entrepreneurial or professional position…

Erica Thomas:

“As women we don’t always take those opportunities we think about it too much. What if this happens…what If that happens….there’s research out there that says it takes a man can only feel 50 percent qualified for a position and he will apply. We have to feel 250 percent qualified to apply for a position. We have to put ourselves out there and We have to believe we are qualified.”

Aside from family, greatest influencer in their careers…

Necole Parker:

“Mentors have been awesome. You can have as many mentors as you want. My number one has been George Fraser. I fly to him and spend an entire day with him quarterly. I have business mentors; I prepare an agenda. I have mentors whose shoulder’s I cry on. It’s good to let it our and recharge your batteries. We know that as entrepreneurs it is lonely at the top. Mentors are key. Think outside the box. I carry a black book and write notes. I have both male and female mentors.”

Sarah-Elizabeth Reed:

“Faith in God. Understanding my place, privilege and blessings that I have … my mom and father who sacrificed and worked so hard. I think for those of us women who are not married that we date positive people, so often we are too weak emotionally and date significant others who are financial drains, and don’t inspire us to be the best we can possibly be. I encourage Kasim [Reed] has been my friend since my early 20s. He was so accomplished and just influenced me so much to understand what leadership and service to your community is. Surround yourself with the positive people and realized how blessed you are. Choose people who lift you and you lift them.”

Deborah Jackson:

“Stay faithful to your mission. It’s OK to let some people go. People can be in your life for a season and particular reason. It is important to laugh and keep a sense of humor. Keep a positive attitude.”

If you are interested in attending future events, please sign up for the newsletter at