Natalie Frazier Allen, 49, is founder and CEO of the Arts Empowerment Project, a non-profit organization that provides funding to connect children impacted by violence and at-risk children to existing arts programs in the Charlotte area.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced has been redefining what success means for me. I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since I was 13. I practiced law for several years in Washington and thought I’d be a D.C. lawyer forever.
I made a five-year plan every year until my son was born and my husband got transferred to North Carolina in 1999. I thought I’d come back to D.C. and resume my career. We’ve been here ever since and I’m no longer practicing law.
I learned that pursuing my other passions, being successful as a wife, a mother, and caregiver was actually success. I still have a passion for the law. I’ve always wanted to fight for justice. I’ve learned advocating for kids and families could be done in a way that was different than what I imagined. I’m also a painter. I decided to pursue those two passions when I started my foundation.
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Self-discovery and taking time out to tap into your voice is very important. Sharing my strengths and vision is worthwhile and has made a positive impact in a way I didn’t foresee.
There are no guarantees. Opportunity and education is not enough to succeed. You must have core values. For me this has been faith, prioritizing family, being hopeful, and having the strength to persevere.
If your plan doesn’t work out, there are always other paths. Use your imagination, innovation, and self confidence to pursue those. As told to Michael J. Solender
Know someone who’d like to share their life’s lessons? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.