Veleke´ Brown is a “Disruptor in Chief” dedicated to addressing food insecurity by enlisting the help of her Palm Beach County community members. She is a native of Petersburg, Virginia and a proud graduate of Virginia State University also earning a certification in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University. On your average day, you can find Veleké in the classroom, at the local City Hall or on the front lines feeding the homeless.
She founded E-Roadmap Corporation, a 501c3 nonprofit that works with after-school programs, school systems and various organizations to empower and equip youth with life-altering unique skills to eradicate poverty of mind.
About Operation No Food Gap:
Operation No Food Gap has a 7 step process to address and transform food insecurity in Palm Beach County. Find out more about it here.
Women’s History Month Reflections:
When you hear the term Women’s History Month, what does it mean to you, and what message can you deliver to our readers that relates to your thoughts?
I believe Women’s History Month is a time of reflection and gratitude for the efforts and bravery of women in the past generation. It is a reminder that we, as women in modern society, must also persevere to inspire the courage to face challenges and play an active role in creating sustainable solutions to pressing issues in society.
Name something within your family’s women’s history that makes you proud, and tell us why it’s important to you!
I recall hearing the story of my great grandmother Mable’s determination to read. At the young age of 8 years old, she was pulled out of school and stepped into the mother of the house role while her mother and step father worked on the land. When she had her own child she was adamant that her daughter Johnsie learn how to read. This created an education opportunity for her as well. When Johnsie attended class, she would write down new words to share with her mother. They used the bible as a reference for identifying and understanding words.
To further Johnsie’s education her parents would sell a quart of butter beans for $0.25 to afford their child travel, room and board for highschool 30 miles away. Johnsie didn’t stop there, she worked 4 jobs and maintained an “A” average while attending Fayetteville State University. Unfortunately, she suffered her first stroke at age 18 brought on by the stress of excessive working and school demands. She persevered and started a teaching career to educate black youth in her community.
These women were relentless and inflexible when it came to overcoming obstacles and challenges preventing them from educating themselves. I am proud to share their DNA.
Tell us a story about a time you battled a challenge related to being a woman of color.
Unfortunately that is an ever present challenge. Women of color are constantly judged, dismissed and overlooked. For many years, I have worked in fields that were predominantly white male. One of the challenges I faced was overcoming gender-based assumptions and limitations that were automatically applied to me because I was black and female. The process of overcoming these challenges allowed me to do the work I wanted to do, and in hindsight, paved the way for future opportunities and growth.
One experience I can recall is an early contract with a city to develop recreational spaces for community residents. That position required project timelines, vetting and working with contractors, arranging deliveries and overseeing multiple site managers. Most viewed this as work best done by a male, not a female and certainly not a black female.
Every morning I showed up, coordinated deliveries and managed all phases of the project through completion. During the process I was over showered with unsolicited advice and suggestions by males assuming I didn’t know what to do. At the end of the project, what came as a result was something far beyond anyone’s imagination. Not only did the project show my willpower, but also skillset.
My advice to anyone who wants to continue to grow in their career is to look for opportunities and prove that you can contribute. Don’t be hesitant to go after a big assignment, and if you get it, let your work speak to your competence!