Chicago Defender of the Week: Delores Tomorrow of iGlow Mentoring

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“Girls of color need to understand that they have a lot of potential in them to become leaders in our world,”- Delores Tomorrow.

As most people were unwinding from the Christmas holiday and preparing for the New Year, twenty-one girls of color from the south side of Chicago headed on an all-expense-paid trip to London and Paris.  This prodigious experience and opportunity were lead by Delores Tomorrow and her nonprofit organization iGlow Mentoring, whose focus is on empowering teenage girls of color so they can become catalysts of change in their communities.  Delores Tomorrow is passionate about mentoring young women of color.

Christa Carter-Williams [CCW]: Tell me about where you grew up and describe your family life.

Delores Tomorrow [DT]: I was born and raised in the south side of Chicago to a middle-class family. My biological father is Nigerian, while my mother is an African American. Although my mother had me as a teenager, she had me when she was in high school, and she had to raise me on her own for some years.

CCW: How did your parents influence you?

DT: I have to say, my mom is one of a kind. She’s the one who mainly shaped me into the woman I am today. From the very beginning of my life, she was very adamant about me being successful, about me accomplishing my goals, and so she was a huge part of that. When she had me as a teen, she had to go through the challenge of becoming a single mom. It wasn’t easy, but she took that challenge gracefully. She still managed to graduate from high school, and she was ultimately able to graduate from college. Now she has two masters. Her strength and determination in facing life’s challenges head-on are what inspire me to continue to push for success, no matter the obstacles.

CCW: Where did you go to school?

DT: I went to John T. Pirie elementary school on the south side of Chicago, and then I went to Kenwood Academy in Hyde Park for high school. Illinois State University for undergraduate.

CCW: Who have been your most substantial influences in life?

DT: I have had many influences in my life. My mom is definitely on the top of my list. Just looking at her go through life and weather storms has shaped me into the person I am right now. But outside of my mom, I’ve also had amazing mentors and bosses I’ve worked for in corporate America who have inspired me to do better than my best. They have cultivated my gift, and who I am as a woman and made me into the strong and influential person I am now. And of course, let’s not forget the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. The years I spent working for her has been priceless. She didn’t personally mentor me one-on-one, but just being in her presence incredibly influenced me. She is the main reason why I created iGlow Mentoring. Seeing her heart and service for others first hand has been an unforgettable experience.

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CCW: Today, Black women are doing many incredible things. Tell me all that you do.

DT: There are two parts to what I’m doing. First, I’m a corporate event planner by profession. I’ve been in the industry for 14 years and have worked for numerous entities such as the White House, Grammy Awards, and National PTA. You name it; I’ve done it. I specialize in planning and organizing multimillion-dollar conferences and events attracting 5,000 – 50,000 attendees. Second, I am the founder of a nonprofit organization that serves teen girls of color in underserved communities, iGlow Mentoring. iGlow has three major core values: academic achievement, college readiness, and career progression. There are now over 3,000 teenage girls that have been impacted by the work we do at iGlow.

CCW: Tell me more about iGlow Mentoring?

DT: iGlow Mentoring is a nonprofit organization that focuses on empowering teenage girls of color so that they can become catalysts of change in their communities. Our curriculum includes academic achievement, college readiness, and career progression. At iGlow, we encourage high school girls of color to achieve true potential and become the leaders they are destined to be and make sure that they have an even playing field as people from a different racial background

CCW: How did you come up with the idea for iGlow Mentoring?

DT: I’ve always known that I wanted to contribute to society and give back to my community, but the blueprint only came along when I was working on an event with the First Lady Michelle Obama and Ellen Degeneres. I was responsible for arranging an event where they sent 250 girls to prom. This event changed my life. That moment and that event is where I got the blueprint for my purpose. God had given me access to a significant table with world influencers because I was required to take that access and provide access to underserved communities. I understood that God had given me access to all these prestigious individuals so that I could pave the way for the underserved and underrepresented communities to have the resources they need to succeed.

CCW: Why is iGlow Mentoring so crucial for the Black community?

DT: Because representation matters. Girls of color need to understand that they have a lot of potential in them to become leaders in our world. This is why I am always very intentional to make sure people of color are present when organizing activities and events for my girls. For example, I make sure that when they are going on a tour in another country, they’ll see people who look like them. They’ll see a representation of whom they want to become in life, and they’ll see themselves potentially living that dream. At iGlow, we consider it our responsibility to make sure that the next generation of people of color are prepared, and they have the resources that they need.

CCW: How would friends and acquaintances describe you?

DT: They’ll probably say that I’m a giver. I love giving. I love serving people. I’m also a little aggressive, so I guess they would say something like, ‘When Delores wants something, she gets it.’

CCW: What are you most proud of accomplishing?

DT: To date, I am most proud of accomplishing this all-expense-paid London/Paris trip for 21 girls of color. I’ve hit many roadblocks throughout this journey, but I’m grateful that I’ve pushed through them despite all the obstacles. I’ve been able to share parts of the world with 21 teen girls.

CCW: What would you do differently if you had the chance?

DT: If I had the chance, I would like to do two things differently. First, I would have taken many leadership classes early on. Many times, the world’s best leaders don’t know how to be leaders. For the first half of my journey, I was trying to figure it out. I had no leadership skills and no communication skills. If I had, I’m sure I would have led my team better, and I could have gotten better results out of them. The second thing I wish I could have done differently was the way I always chose iGlow before anything else, even denying myself much-needed breaks. If I had the chance to go back in time, I would have had a little more balance in my life. I’d choose to take care and serve myself first so I could better take care of and help others.

CCW: Share with me something about yourself that you want to improve.

DT: I want to improve my balance in choosing me. I’m accustomed to choosing everyone else. I’ve never been on vacation. And so I want to do a better job at choosing me, at investing in me, and at taking care of me so I can give more of myself to others.

CCW: Describe a scene of your vision for the future.

DT: I envision a future where iGlow Mentoring has a massive national headquarters with hundreds of staff so that we can serve girls of color on a global scale. And not just that, I can see iGlow chapters in different parts of the world, helping teenage girls develop into world leaders. In time, I also want to provide housing for homeless teens, where they can have access to essential resources.

CCW: Thank you, Delores.  The work you are doing and continue to do for our community is phenomenal!  I appreciate your taking the time out for this interview, especially while traveling.

Find out more about iGlow Mentoring at iglowmentorting.org.

Christa Carter-Williams, Contributing Writer

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