Alyssa Pointer
Multimedia Journalist

“I’ve always been affirmed. I was told I was smart, pretty and capable my whole life,” CaShawn Thompson, the founder of #BlackGirlMagic, said. “I know a lot of black women did not hear that, so Black Girl Magic is an embrace.”

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In 2006, MARTA Police Chief Wanda Dunham became the first woman and first African-American police chief with the nation’s ninth largest transit system.

After earning a criminal justice degree at Jacksonville State University, Dunham sought employment as a probation officer but was told her gender stood in the way.

“Today people would probably be suing over that statement,” says Dunham.

She was told to “try back next year.” Instead of waiting around, Dunham was hired by the MARTA police department.

That was not the first time she was discouraged from her aspirations. In high school, Dunham says a guidance counselor advised her to pick a trade, not a four-year education.

People like YOU, they don’t go to college. They learn a trade and they get married, she was told. That just made her determined to prove her counselor wrong. With hard work and determination, she did.

Executive director of the Georgia Health Information Network and CEO of eHealth Services group, Denise Hines is a first-generation Jamaican-American who grew up in a family of health care providers.

She always knew she wanted to be involved in the profession some day. While helping take care of her terminally ill sister, she saw a need for technology to be more integrated in Georgia’s health care system, so she founded eHealth Services Group in 2011.

“We work with health care providers to help them adopt technology,” says Hines.

In 2017, she was recognized as Woman of the Year in Technology-Small Enterprise by Women in Technology. Named the 2017-2018 Chair of the North America board of Health Information and Management System Society, Hines is the first African-American woman to hold the position.

Sisters Kelley and Traci Wright started the pop-up bakery Two Dough Girls in 2015 from their home in Stockbridge. Their goal was to create cakes, cookies and other tasty foods that were also good for their clients.

“It doesn’t have that refined sugar in there, which causes so many health problems. No artificial dyes, no bleached flours,” says Kelley. “People don’t realize even though it might be in a little cookie, if you’re having that every day, it can have an effect on you.”

The treats also come wrapped in compostable packaging, making them environmentally friendly. In addition to building a brick and mortar shop with a food truck, the sisters dream of developing a community garden.

“We want to be infectious. We want to be a movement, not just another bakery,” says Traci.

After coming home to a ransacked house one day, Daphne Jordan decided to become a gun owner.

“Prior to getting the firearm, I wanted to be educated,” Jordan says.

She signed up for a firearm instructors class and was the only woman and person of color at the range.

She did not let her circumstances deter her from reaching her goal. “I realized if I didn’t know the proper way to use a firearm, there were other women out there that could benefit from the information.”

The CEO of Packing Pretty Firearms hopes to one day open a shooting range of her own in metro Atlanta.

During the 2008 presidential election, Janelle Jones voted Democrat. But a little research during her time at North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University made her realize she was not staying true to her ideals.

“I believe in small government. That is something that really stuck out to me, as well as personal responsibility. That’s how I was raised,” she says.

Today she is regional field director for the Republican Party of Georgia.

The idea of hosting red carpets came to Dai Arceneaux from an impromptu interview with her mother, using a water bottle as a microphone. Since then, Dai has interviewed Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Storm Reid, Keri Hilson, Jermaine Dupri and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, among others.

“I like to get different people’s opinions and different points of view,” says Dai. After writing her first book, “My Tutu,” when she was 5, Dai started “Reading is Lit,” a tour that promotes youth reading. “I go around to different schools in different states just trying to promote youth authors and (reading),” says Dai.

Aisha Johnson is career development coordinator for the Atlanta branch of the International Rescue Committee, where she helps refugees and immigrants rebuild their careers in Georgia.

She credits her parents for instilling in her a delight for helping others.

“They were believers in community service. They were believers in connecting with other people,” says Johnson.

Before settling in Georgia, she spent more than two years working in Burkina Faso, a country in West Africa, while a member of the Peace Corps. She’s also traveled to Ghana, Haiti, Morocco, Benin, Mali and Niger. Johnson’s goal is to live on every continent and build positive relationships with people around the world.

Joy Harden Bradford is a licensed psychologist whose mission is to promote mental wellness for African-American women and girls.

Talking about mental health in the African-American community has progressed, but there is still a long way to go, says Bradford.

“People still think they you have to be ‘crazy’ to see a therapist,” she says.

Her website,, gives visitors an opportunity to read about mental health and offers helpful starter advice. “I wanted to make sure that mental health felt relevant and accessible to people.” It also includes a list of mental health professionals from across the country.

An award-winning organist and pianist who has taught music at Spelman College and Morehouse College for more than 50 years, Joyce Johnson was a musical prodigy who grew up surrounded by music in her Kentucky home. Her mother taught music, her father played the trumpet, and Johnson played her first concert at age 11.

She holds a doctorate in music in piano from Northwestern University.

While Martin Luther King Jr. lay in state at Spelman College, Johnson was asked to provide background music as mourners viewed his body. She performed throughout the day and night. With her back to the visitors, Johnson didn’t see any of the dignitaries pay their respects.

“I had to think about what I would play next, what would be appropriate,” says Johnson. “Also I probably, at that time, was dealing with some amount of grief.”

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