Making history is never easy… But to be a black woman making history, the odds are forever in your favor. Leah Daughtry is proof.
As a pastor and motivational speaker, Ms. Daughtry is the first to have surpassed her peers by becoming CEO of the National Democratic Convention twice – first in 2008 and most recently, in 2016. It is her hard work and superb upbringing that has created a phenomenal, superwoman, one that seamlessly balances regular salon appointments and lunch with Barack Obama here in Washington, D.C.
In the midst of it all, Ms. Daughtry assures that accomplishing her goals was not easy but certainly not impossible. She is always pleased to share her story and lend a few words of advice. And quite surprisingly, the answer to her success is fairly simple: stay in school.
Tell me a little bit about what you do…
I am the CEO of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. And I am also the pastor of House of the Lord church in Washington, D.C.
How would you explain your day-to-day activities as CEO?
I am responsible for all aspects of the planning and execution of our party’s’ nominating convention that will occur in July of this year in Philadelphia.
Was there ever a point in your career where you felt as if you were incapable of getting that CEO position before it started to fall into place? Did you ever feel doubtful?
No. I was raised in the church and raised by strong parents – my dad and my mother, who helped all of us to recognize what our gifts, talents, skills and abilities are and how to maximize those… and then go after things that allow your capabilities to shine. Once [it] was settled in my head that this was something I could do, then you just give it all you got.
This is the second time that I’ve been the CEO. I was the CEO for the 2008 convention that nominated Barack Obama. So, I’m the first person in our party’s history to have held this position twice.
What is it like being so close to the President?
(Laughs) He is a wonderfully smart, wonderfully gifted, and compassionate human being and it’s been a real pleasure to have watched his presidency unfold from the time he announced he was running for President until the time that he won. These last seven years in the White House has just been enormously gratifying and I’m thrilled to have had a front row seat to history.
How can young, black women aspiring to be great reach your level of success?
Well first, study hard, stay in school, maximize your education. Those are the practical tools – you’ve gotta hone your skill sets and that starts by completing your education or always being in a mindset of learning. There’s always more to learn – whether you are in school or whether you’re in the workplace. When you get to a point where you feel like you know it all, then it’s time for you to retire or you’re in the wrong business.
Second, find women who inspire you. Find people who are doing what you wanna’ do, who have skills that you wanna’ have, who have accomplished things that you wanna’ accomplish and model yourself after them. Attach yourself to them and learn as much as you can. Expose yourself to different people, different experiences. And that doesn’t require money, it doesn’t require a lot of resources. Go to the library, get on the metro, go to a museum – it’s important to always be in a state where your mind is growing and has more to learn. That sort of exposure helps in your career.