Community Engagement Specialist, "Community Doula", Founder of The Doula Part
Everyone is worthy of the best our world has to offer. No more gatekeeping by a select few; there is enough of the good stuff for everyone. We breathe new life into systems that have failed our communities. We all know & do our unique part in building and sustaining a bountiful world.
To be a reminder of the power & necessity of community to transform the ways we live, do business, and help one another.
I’m Zuri, social entrepreneur, ancient wisdom holder, and founder of The Doula Part. The intention behind my work is to remind people, myself included, of the power and necessity of community. Early in human history we figured out that community was essential to our survival, so we formed groups to help with childcare, forage for food, construct shelter, tend to the land, and socialize. Today, western culture operates pretty far removed from this way of life, with a strong sense of separation ruling our interactions with each other, and many common business practices perpetuating this disillusion. Regardless of location or status, we all feel the dreadful effects and it is high time we steer things in a new, more promising direction. I know that business and community can coexist in a mutually beneficial way--I have helped facilitate this relationship for the past 18 years.
The seeds for my social entrepreneurship journey were planted in childhood when my mother regularly involved me in community service. As an adult in the nonprofit world, I often saw a need for improving how services were delivered so I would come up with new approaches and on several occasions new programs along with the necessary funding to implement them. I developed and managed nonprofit programs in Chicago for 14 years and dreamed of starting a business that specialized in community engagement.
Towards the end of my nonprofit career I became a mom and experienced how policies and practices of American society colossally fail families. Many are disconnected from support systems and the exorbitant costs of childcare (and virtually everything else) leave them (us) in very vulnerable positions. In response, I trained to be a Postpartum Doula to support families as they wrapped their minds, hearts, and lifestyles around caring for a new baby. In my doula role, I cultivated skills to serve others with compassion, efficiency and empowerment.
I did not know how to blend my nonprofit and doula experience until I led impactful community-building initiatives throughout 2020, the challenging and activating first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. I attribute the success of those initiatives to the magic of my unique skill sets coming together. After that, I shifted my doula focus from postpartum maternal care to consulting businesses on community-building initiatives, rebranding my work as Community Doula’ing.
Although the path of "Community Doula: Business Consultant" felt aligned for me, I had no idea who else it would resonate with. I announced my services in February 2021 with an initial goal of replacing my $117 per week Pandemic Unemployment Income with a paying client before my benefits were set to end two months later in April. As fate would have it, I was hired by my first client on April 20th, increasing my income several times over and kicking off my new (15 years in the making) career. The Doula Part, Inc. became an official business in September 2021 and since then has led meaningful, impactful community projects for businesses throughout Illinois and beyond.
In my early days of working in the community, I served from a place of trying to "save" troubled people because that is what was often modeled. This ego-based pattern in the world of service work is known as "the savior complex" and is typically subconscious albeit damaging. Many social systems function in this way and ultimately do not fix the problems they intend to solve. This approach is reminiscent of some negative experiences I’ve had as a recipient of social benefits that feel dehumanizing.
My style for leading projects is to first help identify and hold the big vision and then extend compassion for all parties involved in enacting change. Operating from a higher consciousness, I am able to recognize when personal egos are limiting a project and blocking what needs to be expressed from the heart. This allows me to build trust, form meaningful partnerships, advise on better strategies that will assist more people more completely. I help my clients level up how they serve!
If you engage communities through your ego, it always leads to implementing strategies that are out of touch and ineffective. My commitment is to help you share resources in ways that are truly fulfilling and effective--from your heart and with an intention of partnership. From this place, you empower those you serve. Rather than a fantasy about saving the world, you are a part of a real solution for change.
noun. someone who serves; a person that supports the process (in others) of bringing forth new ideas, new actions, new life.
verb. to serve; to support a person or people by using your unique talents to contribute to their empowerment.