Wow, ladies... Can you believe it is JULY already!? How are the days simultaneously dragging on (can we be done with the 2020 craziness already?) AND going this fast! (like didn't I JUST plan my year goals, wasn't yesterday January?)
And with this new month, I get to bring you a new Tucson REfashond Icon!! And how amazing is she!? *insert whistle here* Desha seriously killed it during her fashion-style shoot, and do you see those amazing shoes!? (which by the way, her SON bought for her! Go him!).
When I say how amazing is she...I don't just mean how amazing does she look... but seriously, how amazing of a woman is she? If you have ever met Desha, you know the answer to that.
Desha Bymers-Davis is the founder of 100+ Women Who Care Tucson. And if you know anything about that organization, you already know what kind of heart it takes to take that on! 100 women who care Tucson is a local philanthropic organization that brings women together and allows one person's one hundred dollars to become tens of thousands of dollars for one local charity. It's right on their website: 100+ women x $100 = $10,000+ for a local charity in 1 hour – 4 times per year (quarterly) with a goal as a chapter is to donate $100,000 per year. And the amazing thing? They have more than 250 local women who are part of this group.
Desha is also a wife and a mother, and many people don't realize that on top of also running 100 women who care, she is also a full time 20+ year corporate employee. She has no shortage of plates she is juggling, as you can imagine, running something like this is no easy task!
I was so inspired by Desha's heart during her interview, (seriously, goosebumps happened more than a couple times here people!) she sees so much good and love in the world, and I believe if we were all just a little more like that, the world would truly shift.
Find out more about what I am talking about in her interview sneak peek below!
Introducing Desha Bymers-Davis!
Jessica: What does RED symbolize for you?
Desha: I think we chatted about it a little bit earlier when I first think of red I think of my childhood. I grew up in Vermillion, South Dakota. Which we all know Vermillion is red, right? Red Rock. The whole city revolved around this community of university, and my parents were really involved. And our mascot was the coyote, and our colors were red and white. My mom would get the big white mums with red USD, you know like, it was a whole thing! We always wore red striped shirts and everything was red and white. So when I first think of red I think of "Go 'Yotes". and I think of coyotes.
Then obviously as I have grown and become an adult, naturally when I think of red I think of power and confidence. Self-esteem, someone who's really in their own and confident in who they truly are.
I used to have this great power red suit that I loved wearing, I wore it to my dad's funeral and then put it to rest. Maybe it was sort of a closing of that chapter.
Jessica: When you first told me about that suit and how you didn't have it anymore I was like "noooo" *shakes fist at sky* I so want to photograph that!
Jessica: What does Success REfashiond mean to you in the world of women?
Desha: I think, when I think of refashiond success for myself or when I look at women in today's world, I feel like we are constantly pivoting. We go to school, and get married and become a wife and a mother and still doing the career and so when I think of refashioning I think of we are constantly changing to be the best version of ourselves.
Also in the last few years, our society has given women the ability to be their authentic selves and celebrate that instead of conforming to this certain look or certain way to raise your kids or certain way to love or everything! I just feel like our world is finally opening up and saying "Women, you can be who you are, and however that is for you, we are going to stand behind you and empower you."
Jessica: Tell us all about you and what you do.
Desha: Well, I am first a mom, that is probably my biggest pride point. I have worked for the same company for 26 years with Altria. I am really proud to work there, we do so much for our communities, so much for our employees and I have had amazing leadership development there. But I was feeling a little stiffened in my leadership role because I had always chosen to stay in Tucson.
But I knew I was supposed to do something, I had been searching and tried some MLMs, and I just wasn't sure what I was searching for. Then one day I saw a post from my friend in Omaha, Nebraska, which is so crazy because you're from Nebraska, and what I saw was "Best hour of my quarter, 100 women, 1 hour, $10,000 local impact, feels amazing!"
So I called her and we hadn't talked in 18 years, we were sorority sisters. And she said, "Oh my God, it's the best if they have it in Omaha Nebraska they will have one there, just join it, there is like no time commitment and it feels like you are really making a bigger difference than yourself."
And of course, there wasn't one. Phoenix had a chapter and they were like "you should just start one!"... and I was like my kid just graduated college, we just built a new home, we had real estate rentals and my husband and I both worked full time and I was like... when am I gonna do this?? I loved the idea but I thought "well someone else will do it and Ill just join"
Fast forward 6 months I break my foot and I am off work for about 4 months, so during that time I thought, I am going to start 100+ Women, I'm just going to do it. And it's so crazy to see what it is today! Our goal was to get to 100 women and in January we had almost 300 women. I have just learned so much about the non-profit world and what they do and how they take our hundred dollars and can turn it into thousands of dollars because they have the infrastructure to make it go farther, it's also pushed me as a leader! I have grown so much as a person and am definitely not the same leader I was when we started 5 years ago.
What's so unique about 100 women is it allows the average woman to be a philanthropic person. It evens the playing field so that everyone can participate and feel like they are making a difference in the community, and gives them the voice about how it is impacting the community as well.
"What's so unique about
100 women is
it gives the average woman
to be a philanthropic person.
It evens the playing field
so that everyone can participate
and feel like they
are making a difference
in the community"
Jessica: Women really do have this opportunity to reinvent themselves as many times as they want now, and maybe even more with zoom, we are able to really marry that world of the home life and work life to achieve what we need to. We really can have it all!
Desha: In my professional world, I work for a huge company, and we have really done a lot. We are really trying to pivot, we started realizing that women would get to a certain level in the organization and would not go higher, and why is that?
Well because usually at that point they start having children and then women would typically have to make a decision. And Actually, the Vice President of my company is a woman and just had her third baby! She accepted the position and went out on maternity leave! We are really giving the ability to have it all.
They are also focusing on encompassing everyone. Like for the LGBTQ community, we didn't have anything for those who grow their family in a non-traditional way, and now we do surrogacy leave and all these amazing things. We were such a conservative company for so long and it's just amazing to see the transformation.
and It's all to make sure that everyone has a seat at the table. Without a seat at the table, you are not going to get the diversity of thought, and then you are not going to be the best company you can be. And not just the diversity of skin color, but also the diversity of thought, diversity of upbringing, where you live and how you live... all of that combined makes the conversation around the table so much more impactful. And then companies can pivot to make sure their product or service are touching all of those people.
I love working for a company that isn't just saying it, but also walking it.
I think America is finally experiencing that too, and people are finally figuring out that we haven't all been the same and we haven't all had the same opportunities.
Jessica: I love that you keep talking about having a seat at the table, it's becoming clearer and clearer that everyone has not always had a seat at the table.
Desha: And even if they came to the table they couldn't always show up as their authentic self. We do polls at work where a white employee will say "I come to the table 80% time as myself" while an LGBTQ person may say "I come to work 20% of the time as myself"... Why is that? Why don't they feel they can be themselves in our environment (those numbers were from 2017, now those numbers are almost 80) we are doing things on the backside because we know that when you can come to the table as your true authentic self THAT'S when the true magic happens.
And I think it's important to note that it's not just that everyone has a seat at the table, but also coming to the table as your authentic self and bringing your perspective, your version... and even though it's different than mine, I am not going to bully you for it, I am going to listen and learn and see where can we come together.
Jessica: What are you curious about right now?
Desha: Right now I am curious about how our world—how the united states—is going to hopefully change.
I’m curious about our youth in our world, I feel like the youth — like I’m talking 26/25 and under— I feel they are going to be a huge change agent in the way our country deals with race and deals with human issues.
I’m just so hopeful in their strength... I just feel this movement, like their voices, are being heard. That they want change and they demand change. I’m excited to be alive during this time, I think they are going to be the generation that says “Enough. Enough. Enough.”
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Did you love Desha's Interview??
You will get to see the rest of it in the year end publication!
In the meantime, I know you will also love some of our previous features!
Click the photos below to see another interview with another phenomenal woman in business, right here from our own Southern Arizona community.
January Feature: Rhonda Peoples
February Feature: Tammy Barlette
April Feature: Carol Johnson