Wise Women Wednesday: Dr. Bahby Banks

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Q. Who are you? What is your background? 
A. I love this question.

Who am I? I’m Dorothy’s child.  A fearless little girl who learned at a young age to chase her dreams while serving others.  I’ve spent the overwhelming majority of my career cultivating leaders and addressing social and health issues through an equity lens. If I had to describe myself in words, I’d say I am a:

Karaoke Lover.

My formal training is as a public health researcher—I help organizations understand how well they are meeting their programmatic goals.  In other words, I love logic models. Surveys. Focus groups. Interviews. Communities.  

Q. What is your work?
A. I wear a few hats! I am the founder and CEO of Pillar Consulting, an international program evaluation research firm. Pillar Consulting works with organizations to assess the impact of their initiatives. We partner with non-profit, academic, corporate, and philanthropic organizations to provide consultation on the development, implementation, evaluation and dissemination of their efforts.  I also serve as an executive career coach and facilitator of ENVISION Empowerment Experience™, a half-day workshop intensive that helps participants discover and pursue their personal and professional goals.    

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Q. What is one project you are excited to be working on right now?
A. We’re continuing to expand the ENVISION brand to different audiences. What began as a "one-time" workshop-intensive has become a rapid-growing brand with partners including the American Heart Association, PNC Bank, Duke University, Shaw University Southeastern Association for Community Action Associations and Partners for Youth Opportunities. This Durham-based event has brought attendees from Miami, Washington D.C., Charlotte, Columbia, Knoxville, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Baltimore, Louisville, Winston-Salem, Richmond, Greensboro, Newport News and Silver Springs (to name a few!). My sponsors have included PNC Bank, Jamba Juice and the American Heart Association, among others. Demand for ENVISION has lead to rapid, strategic expansion of the brand to include: “Corporate Edition”, “Mommy & Me”, "H.E.A.R.T.S" and “Campus Crawl”.  

Q. What is one thing you've done recently that's scared you and took courage, but you're glad you did?
A. We hosted ENVISION in New Orleans last year as part of Essence Festival Weekend.  My team and I took HUGE leaps of faith to make this happen, and through partnerships with American Heart Association Southeastern Affiliate, Zoë Pictures, Tiara’s Taste, MBJ Financials we had an amazingly successful event! My event manager, Brandi (aka “The Queen of Calm”) helped us scale and transform a small intimate event to a rooftop celebration focused on encouraging women to take care of themselves before they hit the town.  We are excited host the event again in 2019 and we are gearing up to solicit sponsors to support this wellness effort.  

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Q. What is the work you most want to be doing and are you doing it?  If not, why not? What's stopping you? 
A. OMG! I want to be speaking on a larger scale.  I’m doing the work, but not on the scale I know I can.  My passion is helping others leverage their talents and gifts to help them achieve their personal goals.  ENVISION is by far my most popular event, but I have a host of other workshops focused on confidence building (“The Confidence Conundrum™), professional development (“Preparation and Opportunity”) and networking (Networking Boss).  Through online promotion and my amazing network I have been afforded opportunities to present these workshops at national and regional conferences. I pride myself on never offering the same workshop twice.  I want to learn about my clients’ needs in order to tailor the workshop activities for them. This creativity excites me and reminds me of why I do this work: to serve and empower others.  These workshops allow me to meet people who seek out my career coaching services, which I am committed to doing locally and internationally.

What’s stopping me from being on the big stage? For the moment, anyway?
In additional to speaking and coaching, I serve as the CEO of
Pillar Consulting, Inc., a program evaluation research consulting firm I founded in 2014.  This work keeps me very busy as I serve clients from coast-to-coast in helping them set their evaluation priorities.    

Q. What would you tell your high school or college self?
A. Be free. 
Define yourself for yourself. 
Be fearless.

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Q. What's one piece of advice or motto you love and use in your daily life that you would like to share with my sweet readers?
A. Be intentional. 

As an evaluator, I am trained to think somewhat linearly—meaning my goal is to help clients align their program activities with their desired outcome(s). 

Life happens.
Things change. 
Resources shift.
But, it is always important to remember why you are doing the work you are doing.
The same is true in life: It is KEY to identify what you want before you begin taking steps to get there.  Sounds pretty intuitive, but you’d be surprised by the number of clients I have who don’t have a clearly defined goal.  Not by any fault of their own, but because the people I work with get pulled in so many different directions that it can become difficult to stay focused.  

Q. What keeps you creating when you don't feel like it?
A. The world.
I find wisdom and creativity everywhere.  The key is to be still and receptive to what the world is saying.

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Q. Anything else you'd like to share?
A. I love my mommy.  She is awesome.  The world will know her. 

Q. What's your favorite yoga pose? 
A. I don't practice yoga as much as I should, but the Child’s pose is great for my lower back! 

Q. How do you live a life of abundance?
A. Learning to be grateful.  A few years ago, I had a healer recommend that I write down three things daily that I was grateful for.  I’ll be honest, this was not my favorite daily routine. I sometimes felt forced to be “happy” I  would scribble a handful of people I liked that day.  In hindsight, it was this tension that kept me from being free.  I don’t like being bound.

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