Street Level Influencers: Black Leaders Who’ve Influenced Me

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou

This post is about a great many folks who’ve inspired me to change myself for the better in many ways.

A few years ago, I began exploring the concept of a “street level influencer.” You can see the original post here. Essentially, a street level influencer is a person who enacts change at the “street level” or the source – choosing to remain at the epicenter with the people and for the people.

I’ve highlighted many HR professionals over the years whom I believe to be street level influencers. However, the term isn’t limited to HR only. Anyone can be a street level influencer. One doesn’t need a major social media following, a mass amount of media coverage, or anything else we associate with influencers.

I believe those at the frontlines have a much more direct and beautiful day-to-day impact than any Kim Kardashian ever could.

I’ve hesitated to post anything about Black History Month. Unfortunately, February, in my observation, has taken on a somewhat pandering tone than an actual tone of celebration and inspiration. Of course, this isn’t ubiquitous, but I do want to craft a post that is thoughtful and respectful to the spirit of the Black experience in this world.

This is the point. I constantly remind myself that I control my own message. I write not to pander, not to flatter, not for selfishness. I write to share stories and experiences. I write to education – myself as much as others! I write to give others a chance to show their spotlight.

I feel I can best honor the true spirit of Black History Month by shining a spotlight on the Black leaders that inspire me every day. I’ve had the incredible honor of learning from and/or working with many Black leaders, and I don’t take that experience for granted.

My life is better, richer, more complete for knowing these people. I cannot do justice to these folks’ greatness other than to give them a public shoutout. Their work speaks for itself. Please reach out, connect, and learn from these street level influencers! Your life will be better for having done so!

A note: I will undoubtedly leave a name or two off the list. This is a good problem to have because it means many have influenced me! I take my inspiration from many sources and people.

Tiffany Toussaint

Mofota Sefali

Danita Sims

James Woods

Shaunta McGee

Jasmine Turner

Shenise Cook

Tessa Brown

Monique Shelton

Kevin Hubbard

Tamara Rasberry

Brandon Pendleton

Rhonda Owens

Tyrone “Tye” Taylor

Branden Delk

Ricklyn Woods

J’ai Brown

Jyron Oliver

Phyllis Wallace

Daron Roberts

Marc Perry

Kim Bozeman

Gregory Tall

Harold Rice

Latoya Butler

Dion Dawson

Wendy Kelly

Laura Knights

Charles Spearman

Melanie Felt

Baxter Hall

Osasu Arigbe

To these folks, THANK YOU, for being you, for being unabashed in speaking your voice, and for being leaders for us to model. Each of you have inspired me to change something about myself in a positive way. I appreciate you all, and I will continue to look to you for inspiration. I hope by sharing this blog, it helps others to bask in your light and grace.

© 2023 HR Philosopher. All rights reserved.

Published by Paul LaLonde

Husband. Father. Passionate about HR, helping people, and doing the right thing. Also, heavy metal, craft beer, and general nerd things! #SHRM19Blogger. Find me on Twitter at @HRPaul49 and LinkedIn. Thoughts, views and opinions on this site are solely my own and do not represent those of my employer or any other entity ​with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated.

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