John and Pamela Gregory are working in tandem, through the various organizations they created, to address critical issues in the Black community.
Through skills training, health and wellness, education, and other initiatives, the married couple is on a mission to create awareness through a holistic approach as the founders of The National Center for Urban Solutions, The National African American Male Wellness Agency, Academy for Urban Scholars High Schools, and NCUS TEC.
The Gregorys designed organizations that serve as a resource for people to improve their lives and take ownership of their own destinies. For one, John says he took aim at Black male unemployment which served as a catalyst that birthed The National Center for Urban Solutions.
With health services that help empower men lacking in the Ohio community (as well as surrounding areas), the Gregorys identified a need. Their solution offers Black families the tools to cure systemic and challenging problems regarding education and unemployment.
And they proclaim they are doing the grassroots work in a way that the government and city services may not.
BLACK ENTERPRISE spoke with the Gregorys to find out what they have going on, why they started helping others within the communities, and how they manage businesses and home life as a married couple.
You’ve created several entities that have helped individuals and families, spanning 30 years. What prompted you to start these organizations and how have they served the communities they are in?
For us, it’s really about service and doing everything that we can to serve our community better. We want to empower people to take ownership of their lives. We don’t need to wait on government systems, politicians, or religious institutions to step in and be the savior.
As a husband and wife team, how are you able to successfully manage the businesses along with “home life?”
For starters, when you’re working in your passion, you don’t look at it as work. Still, the way that we maintain a work-life balance is by doing everything that we can to leave work at work and home at home. We refer to each other at work by Mr. & Mrs. so it is clear to everyone that we do not operate as husband and wife while at work. We keep the two very separate.
In reality, we are a perfect team. We accept each other for who we are. His strengths are my weaknesses and my strengths are his weaknesses.
How were you able to raise funds initially when you started and how do you stay focused on the businesses when you face your own life challenges?
We built our businesses from the ground up. We were the first investors in our endeavors because we took our own personal assets and funded our projects. We stayed within our means and started small. One of our core philosophies revolves around delivering results. As we started applying for monies from grants and foundations, we understood that performance was essential. We proved to ourselves and others that we could do it and we could meet the outcomes. We both came from corporate America and understand it’s all about the bottom line and results.
But truly, our businesses are grounded by prayer and seeking God. We ask Him to lead and guide us. We know that it’s not us that sustained the company and it was only through our faith in Him that we have been able to grow it over the years.
What is it about the wellness of Black men in particular and the overall health of the Black community that drives you?
For us, it’s about leaving a legacy. This is a Black-owned company that is actively working towards giving back to Black people. On the receiving end of our service are people that look like us and we take a lot of pride in that. If nobody else is going to take care of us, we have to be the ones to do it. And it’s not just about giving out handouts. It’s about empowering people’s sustainability so that they can be independent and take care of themselves.
Independence is the true meaning of freedom.
With the initiatives of the organizations you’ve put together, collectively, what future plans are in the works? What should we anticipate seeing from the Gregorys?
We have plans to go on the speaking circuit and help small businesses grow. We want to pass down the lessons that we’ve learned. We want to share our successes and our failures. Each one should teach one.
But we also want to see the seeds that we’ve planted, sprout. The African American Male Wellness Agency is going to continue to thrive and gain notoriety. NCUS TEC is going to expand our community’s knowledge of tech and give training to Black people in technology. As the world becomes more technologically advanced, we are going to make sure that WE don’t get left behind.