This month Dr. Vanessa Enoch is featured. Vanessa is the Founder and CEO of Cultural Impact, LLC, a Business Management consulting firm, based in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is a 2017 UI&U graduate of the Ph.D. program in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Public Policy and Social Change, with a specialization in Martin Luther King, Jr. studies.
She has been heavily engaged in social justice and human rights advocacy in the Greater Cincinnati community for over 20 years, leading local efforts to drive change in the criminal justice system and on dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline and issues facing children within the juvenile justice system.
Below are Dr. Enoch’s insights on leadership.
Q. How do you define leadership?
A. I believe that a leader is someone who provides positive influence and helps others acquire the tools that they need to be successful.
Q. Share an example of how you’ve put leadership in action.
A. I am a leader to my two beautiful daughters. I am also a leader in my faith community, as the first female Deacon in my over 125-year old church. My passion for education and for disadvantaged children drives my leadership in my community, advocating for social justice causes such as ending mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline. As the board member for several non-profit organizations, I have been actively engaged in promoting positive race relations and in community organizing to encourage civic engagement.
Q. What leader do you admire most and why?
A. The three leaders I admire most are former U.S. President Barack Obama, former South African President Nelson Mandela, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I admire these three men because of the grace they exhibited in the midst of upheaval, resistance, and turmoil. I also admire the charismatic way each of them handled the difficulties that they faced. Although each of these men is heralded as world leaders and heroes today, they faced tremendous public scrutiny and were reviled by many as they struggled to change oppressive systems.
Q. What is your favorite inspiring leadership quote?
A. My favorite leadership quote is derived from words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
Q. When did you first feel that you were a leader? What was the experience?
A. I first believed that I was a leader when I became the first of my grandparents’ children and grandchildren to attend and graduate from college. The experience carried and still carries an immeasurable amount of pressure, because I understand that people are relying on me to make good decisions and live a model life. Sometimes leadership requires making unpopular decisions and standing even when there is no one standing with you.
A Case Study – “Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter and An Examination of Hamilton County’s Backlog of Cases”
by Cheri Scott and Vanessa Enoch
This case study explores issues of power relative to the intersectionality of race and gender in ... more This case study explores issues of power relative to the intersectionality of race and gender in the judiciary. It illuminates structural and systemic issues, that when viewed through a race and gendered lens presents an understanding of the level of resistance, obstacles, and challenges faced by African American women in particular who rise to leadership roles and seek to challenge the status quo. Judge Tracie Hunter is the first African American and the first Democrat to ever become a judge in the juvenile court in Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio. Judge Hunter won her seat after a heated court battle and a series of appeals, spearheaded by Hamilton County Prosecutor, Joe Deters, who represented the Hamilton County Board of Elections, after Hunter sued the Board of Elections for voter suppression. Inevitably, the county was required to count more than 800 votes from majority black precincts, when it was found that poll-workers were responsible for sending voters to the wrong booth, which caused their votes to be disqualified. This case surrounds Hamilton County’s problem of a backlog of cases and background on the witch hunt that Judge Hunter faced in her first 18 months on the bench, and the tremendous injustices that are directed towards the children in the Hamilton County judicial system, which prompted Hunter to run for judge in the first place. Over 80% of the children served in Hamilton County are African American children who have for years been subjected to a school-to-prison pipeline. The case exposes the numerous violations of their civil, constitutional, and human rights; and presents an analysis of the collusion, strategic privatization of the juvenile detention facility, administrative policy changes, and political maneuvers on the part of Republican Party government officials in Hamilton County, to take the power of the judiciary and oversight of the $30,000,000 budget, the second largest budget in Hamilton County, out of the hands of elected Judge Hunter and putting it in the hands of the judge that she defeated in the 2010 elections.