Name: Shawn Dove
Profession: CEO, Campaign for Black Male Achievement
One Word That Describes You: Catalytic
What does being one of the BEMM 100 Ambassador mean to you?
Growing up, my mom would tell me that she didn’t have to wonder what I was up to while hanging out in the streets, rather all she had to do was observe the company I was keeping to judge what I was up to. Being in the company of the other amazing 99 BEMM 100 Ambassadors will certainly make mom proud. Additionally, I believe that there is someone watching me that I don’t even know, who is inspired to rise up in their calling only because they are watching me rise up in mine. Lastly, it is a huge honor to support the Black Enterprise and BE Modern Man teams, as I’ve received much mission fuel from the content of Black Enterprise for most of my life.
What are you doing as an ambassador to help support black male achievement now or in the future?
Thankfully, my wonderful wife, Desere, regularly reminds me that black male achievement begins and ends at home. So while, I am a leader of a national organization that is catalyzing the black male achievement movement, the most important thing I am doing as an ambassador is trying to be the best husband to my wife and father of my four children in what we call “The Dove Nest.” Further, the Campaign for Black Male Achievement is a membership network consisting of close to 5,000 individual leaders representing almost 3,000 organizations across the country. CBMA exists to ensure that their work grows, is sustained, and has deeper impact. We invest in who I call the nation’s “hometown heroes” and “local leaders,” who work tirelessly to improve the life outcomes of black men and boys in America.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
My biggest example of turning struggle into success was the transformational decision I made almost 27 years ago was to get clean and address my drug and alcohol use. I went from a season of despair when I thought the best option for me was to simply end my life, to going into recovery and living a life of new levels of service, mentoring, community building, and leaving a legacy of love and leadership!
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
Wow! It’s hard to answer that question with just one quality, so I will take the liberty of sharing the following three qualities that I look for in my relationships with others: trust, generosity, and forgiveness.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
In addition to the field-building work of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, that I am leading with an incredible team of folks, I would first point to my book project, Stop Stalling On Your Calling and Just Jump In, which identifies seven principles and practices that will inspire readers to dive deeper into the lives they have been called to live.
What is the best advice you ever received?
Wow. Yet another tough question as I have been blessed with phenomenal mentors in my life, who have offered profound advice. Yet, I would have to turn to the words of Yusef “Adie” White, who shared with me about 25 years ago that “happiness is not having what you want, happiness is wanting what you have.
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
There is no cavalry coming to save the day in the black community. We are the iconic leaders that we have been waiting for, curators of the change we need to see. Brother, you are gifted with unique talents, skills, and stories that can be shared to make a positive difference in our community. Stop stalling on your calling and just jump in because we need your contributions.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
The first thing I do is determine who on my team needs to be a part of the preparation for the meeting or event. I ask myself the question, “What do I want people saying, feeling, and ready to do?” after the meeting and event, then get clear on what my strengths and roles are to achieve that outcome.
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation?
First, I don’t wait for vacations to unwind; I seize frequent moments to unwind, reflect, and renew. For example, bowling is an activity that is a consistent part of my weekends. I go bowling alone, with my journal and headphones and use my time on the lanes as a restorative experience. Frequent power walks through the park near my home are part of my repertoire of winding down and renewing.
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I am tempted to say that I could spend the rest of my days nestled on the beaches of Negril, Jamaica, but I have yet to visit the motherland—Africa—and must make this happen soon. There are some brothers in my network that have been visiting Ghana over the past few years to support literacy development. My pastor, DeForest Soaries of First Baptist Church in Somerset, New Jersey, has been leading missions to Ghana for the past few years as well, so I am increasingly feeling that travel to Africa is on the immediate agenda for my life.
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