When did you first start thinking of yourself as a leader?
I would have to say from birth. My mother said that all of her children would achieve greatness, so she named us accordingly. My first name, Kimberly, embodies independence, creativity, drive, and ambition. While my middle name, Danielle, means judge and chief. I was raised to march to the beat of my own destiny, think for myself, and analyze and take ownership of all of my decisions.
What was one of your biggest challenges in leadership and how did you overcome it?
One of the biggest challenges I faced is fighting to stay outside of the box. There are certain people who experience discomfort if they cannot label you. I do not want to be considered a significant asset to fulfill a quota. I want to be a significant asset because of the indelible mark I leave on the universe as a result of my purpose. I combat these attempts by defying the expected, and challenging people to take an open-minded journey.
What do you want young women of color to know about leadership?
As women of color we have a culturally embedded responsibility to empower each other. There is enough pie for everyone to enjoy a slice, so celebrate and promote each woman’s success as if it were your own. It is our responsibility to cultivate other leaders to carry on the work, and discrediting others only leaves sparsity in the number of those willing to do that work.
Anything else you’d like readers to know?
My relevance, the relevance of every human, does not revolve around a category; our relevance is established by the seeds we sow and the ground we cultivate. As leaders, we sow daily with the understanding that we may never get to see our harvest … we plant with vision for the generations that do not yet exist.
• Kim Fitten is executive director of Born2beU in Cedar Rapids