Writing the #ShesDifferent blog series reminds me of how incredibly fortunate I am to have been surrounded by “difference-makers” my entire life. The earlier blogs were dedicated to strong women in my family–beginning with the opening blog about my forward-thinking grandmother, followed by remembering the faith of my great-grandmother, and then featuring my fearless mother “DeLo.” I’m also thankful for the influence of my closest friends and inner circle, who are extraordinarily different because of their dedication to being difference-makers! I dedicate this blog to my “very, very, very best friend in the whole wide world”: the late Lisa Dawn Greenfield-Griggs (June 3, 1971–May 7, 2008).
I met Lisa during freshman orientation at Western Kentucky University. We were perfect strangers, yet decided to pal around for the day. We learned that we had more in common than being only two of a few Black women attending that particular freshman orientation. We both were full academic scholarship recipients, very active in our communities, and jittery about being away from home, especially since we were without roommates. Lisa’s planned roommate had received a scholarship to Vanderbilt University, and my planned roommate received a scholarship to the University of Kentucky. During freshman orientation, Lisa and I became fast friends and decided to be roommates. My favorite dorm room memories include our one-of-a-kind Prince and Michael Jackson lip-synch battles, as well as our lengthy conversations about how we were destined for greatness. Lisa aspired to be a champion for children and create safe spaces for them to grow and reach their full potential. My goal was to someday be a CEO and have an impact on people’s lives across the globe. I still marvel at how everything we dreamed and spoke about came to fruition.
“Success isn’t about how much money you make. It’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” - Michelle Obama
Lisa was a difference-maker. She was a great citizen, role model, philanthropist, political analyst, writer, sorority sister, advocate, daughter, sister, wife, mother and friend.
Lisa’s friendship made a lasting impact on my life and continues to be a source of inspiration in all that I do. It was the lessons learned during Lisa’s heroic battle with breast cancer that heightened my awareness of health care inequities people of color face in receiving a timely diagnosis, proper care, pain management, and overall treatment. Lisa’s breast cancer journey inspires the work the #RootCauseRacism® team is leading to dismantle structural racism in health care. Additionally, the BOLD PINK in my logo, in my company branding and on my website is one way I celebrate Lisa’s memory and honor our bold and aspirational dorm room conversations.
“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” - Jane Goodall
Lisa and I decided early in life that we could be difference-makers. We encouraged one another, celebrated one another, uplifted one another and held each other accountable. Although Women’s History Month concluded on March 31, there is no end date for making an impact on the lives of others.
As a call to action, I challenge you to identify the #ShesDifferent friends in your life. Who are your difference-makers? Take some time to tell them how they motivate you to boldly live your life loud and on purpose!