PROFILES IN REINVENTION: Clemmie Perry White House ‘Champion of Change’

I met Clemmie Perry in the late 90s when I was working as a contractor for Florida Power & Light’s training development team. We were charged (!) with developing training materials for the line specialist (“linemen”). Clemmie, a 20+ year employee had just been transferred  to a management position. We became friends when we donned our respective hard hats and electrical boots…an unlikely pair…and headed out to document the men climbing poles, operating the bucket truck and using  lot of very intense looking tools.  Clemmie gingerly peeled off her hard hat and said to me, “Girl, I spent several hours, not to mention lots of money to get my hair done yesterday and this hard hat just ruined it.”   Having just come down from being aloft in a bucket truck, I laughed, sweat pouring off of my head in the 95-degree heat that only July in Miami can produce. At that moment, I said to her, “Yeah, one day…and you mark my words…I’ll be seeing you in Washington, D.C.. You definitely don’t fit into this scene!”  No one ever knows how long their prognostications will take, but sure enough about 20 years later, Clemmie went to Washington!!!  Here’s her journey:

1. In December 2016 you were given an award by the Obama Administration.  Please describe the award and what it meant to you as an African American woman to receive this honor from the first African American president.

In September, 2016, The White House recognized 10 individuals from across the country as White House “Champions of Change” for extracurricular enrichment, after-school, and summer programming for marginalized girls, including girls of color.

The “Champions of Change” honorees were selected by the White House for their leadership in developing and supporting high-quality after-school and extracurricular programs that create opportunities for girls from marginalized communities so that all young people can reach their full potential.

One key issue that girls from marginalized communities often face is access to extracurricular programs and summer enrichment activities that allow them to become stronger students, leaders, and citizens. For girls to reach their full potential, they need safe and nurturing community and school environments where they can learn, grow and thrive within the school day hours and beyond WOCG is extremely honored and proud to receive such a prestigious award from The Honorable Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States of America.

Q2. How did you get into the game of golf?

In 2012, I had an opportunity to play with a friend, who was a golf enthusiast. Later that year, my youngest brother retrieved a set of discarded golf clubs for me to use. Another brother gifted a golf lesson and I was hooked and driven to share the experience with other women of color to learn the game of golf. I also gained interest in the vast business opportunities and a new network of people in the golf community to share common goals and interest

Q3. How did you connect the dots in terms of creating Women of Color Golf?

In the United States, there are approximately 26 million golfers and only 4% are minorities. This data was evidence that we needed to expose more minorities, women and girls to the game. WOCG was created as a pathway for women of color to gain exposure to and learn the game of golf. Our goal is to offer an affordable outlet to participate in the game. WOCG hopes to achieve and develop a platform for women of all colors to access and find like-minded individuals to enjoy the game of golf.

Q4. What is next for Clemmie?

Our goal is continued expansion of our programs Women of Color Golf (WOCG) and the Girls On the Green Tee (GOTGT) programs to other cities and communities. We are beginning to partner with more community-based organizations (The Center for Women, The Centre for Girls, Girls Empowered Mentally for Success), to grow the game of golf for women and girls.

Q5. What advice do you have for anyone who wants to change or reinvent?

Take the time to look within yourself, the world and your community to identity the gaps, determine what needs to be changed. Take the necessary steps to begin a plan to implement the change you want to see.

 

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