(Top row: Left- Presenting a workshop at the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists Conference in June 2013; Right- Being interviewed on Let Your Voice Be Heard Radio in March 2013. Bottom row: Left- Panelist on the Pro Choice & Millennials panel in February 2013; Right: Acceptance speech for the Excellence in Leadership award during the Choice USA Generation 2 Generation Awards in July 2013)

July 2013 marks 2 years since I began blogging my perspectives on sexual health reproductive justice and how various social justice issues (age, gender, race, safety, poverty, etc.) impact Black, Latina, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Native/Indigenous women & girls. In fact, 2013 marks 10 years since I became involved in the reproductive justice and feminist movements, and throughout this year I’ve thought a lot about the various roles I serve in and how I’ve combined them to create a consulting business that’s in alignment with my vision and values.

This year has been a year of various transitions for me, both personally and professionally. Part of the transition has been recognizing the fact that I’m more comfortable labeling myself as an activist. It wasn’t until a year ago that I became comfortable with calling myself a social worker, and even recently I began referring to myself a program evaluator and a consultant. For a long time, I viewed my various roles as separate entities. However, they progressively build upon each other. My activism guided my decision to become a social worker. My social work studies led me to consider a career as a consultant, speaker, and program evaluator. My consulting business allows me to rely on the skills I developed as an activist and social worker to be as effective and engaging as possible.

However, if it weren’t for being an activist, I wouldn’t have been successful as a social worker, speaker, program evaluator and consultant. 

I was reminded of this recently when I accepted the Excellence in Leadership Award during the 2013 Choice USA Generation 2 Generation Celebration. During my acceptance speech, I mentioned that I recently changed the mission of my business to “Raise Your Voice for Women and Girls of Color”. I said,

[“Raise Your Voice for Women and Girls of Color”] is a charge to myself, to stand up and out for women and girls, even when it feels scary to do so. Whether it’s uploading a new blog post, facilitating a workshop, or speaking on a panel, I always want to make sure that I’m speaking directly to the women and girls of color out there who may feel that they aren’t enough and that no one will listen to them. “Raise Your Voice for Women and Girls of Color” is also a charge for the organizations and community groups out there who no longer want to believe that lack of funding, lack of media exposure, and lack of staff are reasons to not go forth with the work they want to do for women and girls of color. My focus [moving forward] is to help as many women and girls of color under the age of 30 to raise their voices for reproductive justice in their communities and on their campuses, so that they can one day take my place and the places of many other influential women of color today.

Part of my transition this year has been on developing my niche and trying to strike a balance between being engaging and marketing my services. In some ways, I felt that developing my niche meant stepping away from the “activist” label in order to put myself on par with other consultants and program evaluators. I also focused so much on marketing myself that at times I’ve felt that I haven’t been as engaging as I used to be. But the more I realize how my roles work with each other, the more I grow content with embracing all parts of my professional identity, and the more I want to share it with others. And that leads me back to what I’ll always consider myself: an activist.

For the next phase Nicole Clark Consulting, I want to really delve deep into finding creative ways to help individuals, communities, and organizations create or improve their communities, programs and services in order to make a lasting impact. Whether it’s developing a workshop that focuses on parent-child communication about sexuality, or highlighting community groups who are doing awesome work to improve the health and lives of their community, I want to fully understand your values and your vision, and to help you pinpoint the results you’re looking to get. Social work and evaluation help to create my values, but activism sets my vision. Once you decide to become an activist, you never leave it. It’s what you do.

RAISE YOUR VOICE: How has activism shaped your role as a professional, a student, and as a person? Share in the comments below.

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