PURPOSE DRIVEN WOMAN
This month’s Purpose Driven Woman is Portia Williams. She is the CEO and founder of Tumaini DC Inc., which provides mentoring programs to some of the most impoverished communities in Washington DC as well as academic enrichment and personal development workshops to students and family members. Her consulting firm, Portia Williams Consulting helps aspiring individuals explore the benefits of starting a nonprofit organization and provides assistance during the early stages of planning, formation, and 501c3 tax exemption. She is also the founder of Queens with Vision, an exclusive Global Women’s Empowerment Network that promotes holistic wellness through personal development seminars, health and nutrition support, one-on-one coaching sessions, webinars, weekly empowerment calls, and Spiritual Wellness workshops.
How did you realize your purpose?
Ok, I interned with the Department of Education – It was the ‘good government job’ that people dreamed of. You get your work done by noon and watch the time pass. But I realized that I wasn't about that life- looking up at 5pm like “what did I really just do with my day?” I thought about some of the volunteer work I had done prior and questioned when I was happiest and most fulfilled. It was clear that I was most fulfilled when I was doing something for kids. I'm really passionate about youth development. I grew up in southeast DC, in an impoverished area and I understand why it’s important for people to pour into kids in order to change their trajectory. That is my calling, my purpose. It feels good to be a part of someone’s journey and see children progress…when students call and say ‘I thought you were crazy at the moment but now I get it.’
What has surprised you the most?
What surprises me most in the non-profit space is the ethics or lack thereof. I’m not willing to sell my soul to get a grant and I feel like I’m the last of a dying breed when I think of ethics and integrity. I’m not willing to compromise the mission, vision, and values of Tumaini DC in order to get funding. Not all money is good money.
What have you learned?
I’ve learned that I have to balance...and I’m still learning this. I have to maintain balance and take time out for Portia. I am the CEO of Tumaini DC but I’m on the ground. I run the programs, I’m with the kids, I knock on doors when I don’t see students, and I’m at the funeral when the brother is murdered. I hear the trauma, all of the issues, the frustrations, and challenges the kids face. So I have to be sure that I’m being poured into because I have a son and I need to be available to him as well. I’ve learned that I can’t take on every problem. Yes, I love the children I serve and I want to help them but there are things that I have to refer to other agencies and organizations to better assist the kids.
What role does God play?
God is at the center of it all [She pauses.] He’s at the beginning, middle, and end of it all. This work was assigned. This is my assignment so when it gets rough and I don’t want to go to another community center to hear of another child being murdered I look to God for strength. In those moments when I feel overwhelmed, God provides peace. Spending quiet moments with God is how I keep going. He is so amazing because He has a way of showing us that He’s got it. Every time we think we’re three steps back, He pushes us ten steps forward. Every time I try to put Him in a box, He turns it around and does more than I could ever imagine. It is confirmed every day that God is at the center of all of this. There is no way I would be able to be a mother, teach full-time, run three businesses, and deal with everything else without God. I would not be able to do it alone. [She laughs.] I wouldn’t even try to do it alone.
What have you sacrificed?
A lot. I think the main thing I’ve sacrificed is wants. I have everything I need but there have been things I wanted that had to be sacrificed so that I can operate the business. Whether it was for Tumaini DC, if I didn’t have enough funding to do what I needed to do for the kids, I made sacrifices financially to take care of their needs. I’ve sacrificed vacations because I had clients ready to launch their non-profit organizations and I needed to handle their paperwork. But what I will always come back to is balance. And because I’m learning to balance I haven’t had to sacrifice those things as much. I’m learning to manage my time so I now know how to get five clients out of the way and push the trip back a week if need be - but I can still take the trip!
How important is it to be obedient to God’s will?
It’s extremely important. I know when I’m out of the will of God. I can feel it. I can’t sleep or move forward. I’ve had to make major, life altering decisions because I felt like I was out of the will of God. He will keep me up at night when I’m out of His will. He makes it so uncomfortable that I have no choice but to make a decision.
[Portia, who was slated to get married in just a couple of months pauses and looks at me intently as she continues]
"I’m going to be very transparent and you can include this part."
I was out of the will of God when I was about to get married. I was doing something that I wanted to do, that I thought I wanted to do. I knew I was outside of the will of God. I was frustrated with myself and began to resent the person I was going to marry. I didn’t sleep for months because God was telling me to make a move. God was telling me that He didn’t care how much I spent on the dress or how many guest had booked their rooms and paid to come. So I prayed and asked God to make it easy for me, I said, “If it’s your will God, make it easy because I don’t want to disappoint those that have invested funds.”
Knowing that God will give you favor when you operate in His will, I made the phone calls - the dress was refunded, guests were given refunds, and I don’t know how often that happens but nothing was lost. So much was gained!
How do you feel today?
I am in the will of God. No longer wearing a mask when I go into business meetings, living a different way inside my house then what I am presenting and it’s amazing. It’s so important to be in God’s will personally and professionally.