These dynamic women represent what it means to truly SOAR – Surpass Obstacles and Rise! They have overcome varied obstacles and remained steadfast in pursuing their passions. Take a moment to connect with them and their powerful stories on leadership, mentoring and what fear really means to them.
Deborah L. Tillman, Lifetime Television’s America’s Supernanny!
Ramunda: Congratulations Dr. Tillman on being named America’s Supernanny! I’m sure many in our community may not know you live right here in Virginia. What made you move to Prince William County?
Dr. Tillman: Schools were the impetus for us moving to Virginia. We moved to Prince William County so that our son Zebulin could grow up in an area where it was very diverse and was known nationally for its great schools.
Ramunda: How long have you been a resident of Prince William County?
Dr. Tillman: Since 2001
Ramunda: My column is called Sisters Who SOAR, Surpass Obstacles and Rise. The entire premise is to introduce phenomenal women of color who live in or are from Prince William County and have achieved great levels of success by overcoming uncertainty, fear and other obstacles that could have easily kept them from pursuing their life’s work. Tell us a little about your personal story.
Dr. Tillman: I am the product of a single mom. My father left a few days before my 12th birthday and I was truly a daddy’s girl. I was devastated when he left and believe it or not, it impacts me still almost 50 years later.
What I learned from that experience was knowing that when I married I realized I wanted someone with principles, and integrity. My husband and I have endured various ups and downs, but the promise is that we made a decision and commitment to stay together. The top priority was to keep our family together. We both agreed that ensuring our son remained at the forefront of all we did and surround him with vivid examples of two loving parents, would be crucial to who he’d become in this world.
Ramunda: How did you identify your purpose? So many women struggle to find out what theirs is.
Dr. Tillman: To be honest, I wasn’t very sure of my purpose initially, but found it when I was searching for quality childcare. I’d experienced seven different childcare providers where the experience was much less than positive! Can you believe it? I began to feel a true sense of guilt because I kept shuttling my son to these negative experiences with unfit childcare centers. Add on top of that being a full-time working mom, the throbbing reminder of me not being able to take care of him myself weighed heavy on my spirit. After several attempts at trying to identify the ideal place for him to be nurtured and educated, a small voice said, “you can do it better!” Yes, you can do this yourself!
At that moment, a lightbulb went off in my head and my heart! I never wanted any other parent to feel like I felt when we went through seven harrowing experiences with providers. I knew right then I had to become my child’s best advocate and take things into my own hands. During that time, I opened up my own childcare centers in Northern Virginia.
Fast forward to now, for more than 24 years, I’ve been blessed to have numerous parents thank me for taking a stand, for being vocal and bold enough to step out for our children. This is indeed my life’s calling.
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