Black History Month: The Black Leaders that Have Inspired TLG

This Black History Month, TLG would like to recognize the Black Leaders who have inspired us and pushed us to be better leaders. Truly, these individuals are pinnacles of what it means to be leaders of character and we are honored to spotlight them.

Shan Cooper, Founder & CEO of Journey Forward Strategies:

 In any organization, culture is critical.” – Shan Cooper

“Shan Cooper is an ATL icon and highly respected and honored leader in business and the community – for profit and nonprofit.  A favorite WIL speaker.” – Susan Hitchcock, Founder and Host Emerita of Women in Leadership

Recently inducted into the JA Atlanta Georgia Business Hall of Fame, Shan Cooper has long been a leader that TLG is proud to call a friend. Shan Cooper is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Journey Forward Strategies, LLC, a solutions-focused consulting firm specializing in leadership development and organization effectiveness that works with Fortune 500 corporations, private companies, and the not-for-profit sector in the areas of executive coaching, talent development, organization cultural assessments, and DEI strategies, as well as business process design and technology transformation.

Shan was named the 2022 National Philanthropy Day Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year and was awarded the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2021 Women of Influence Lifetime Achievement Award; named Georgia Trend Magazine’s 2015 Most Respected Business Leader; the 2015 Woman of the Year by American Association of University Women; as one of Georgia Trend Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Georgians in 2012 – 2016, 2020 and 2021; and as one of Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Power 100 in 2019 – 2021. She was also named one of Black Enterprise Magazine’s Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America in 2017. Shan earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and religion from Emory University and a Master of Business Administration from the Roberto Goizueta Business School of Emory University. In addition, she holds an Executive Master’s Degree in Global Human Resources from Rutgers University. Shan has also served as a speaker for WIL several times. Most recently, she was an amazing speaker for WIL’s 20th anniversary event

Maxie Maultsby, MD:

“A life-changing mentor for Bob and me was Maxie Maultsby, MD, a black psychiatrist that Bob and I met when we lived in Kentucky and he was at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Maultsby introduced us to his ideas of rational self-counseling – a cognitive-behavioral model – at a time in our lives when they were extraordinarily meaningful. From him, we grasped the important and life-changing understanding that no one else can control our emotions. It’s ancient wisdom – Epictetus said, “It’s not the facts and events that upset people but the view they take of them.” Dr. Maultsby’s book, Help Yourself to Happiness, is still worth reading, and his ideas are foundational to our ideas of emotional mastery.” – Bob & Lyn Turknett, Co-founders & Co-chairs, TLG

Harriet Tubman:

“I was conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say — I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.” – Harriet Tubman

“I find Harriet Tubman to be incredibly inspirational. Born into slavery, she not only found the courage to liberate herself but also risked her life repeatedly to guide countless others to freedom through the Underground Railroad. After that, she served in the Civil War as a Union Army scout, nurse, and spy. Considering she did all of this while often suffering from severe headaches, seizures, and narcolepsy is all the more incredible. I am hard-pressed to think of someone else who was so brave, dedicated, and altruistic.” – Patricia Thompson, Ph.D., Sr. Consultant, TLG

Carol Crumby:

“Carol Crumbly is someone who has been a personal mentor and friend for over 25 years. When I had breakfast with her recently, I realized that she’s also a personal hero and the kind of person we should all be grateful for. I met Carol Crumby in about 1998 when she was Area Director in DeKalb County for the United Way of Greater Atlanta. I had been appointed to the United Way Advisory Board in DeKalb, and she was at the time writing a planning grant to the Kellogg Foundation hoping to get $50,000 so that she could bring community stakeholders together to write a bigger grant to impact early learning in DeKalb and Gwinnett. She was successful at both, and I saw both the dedication of Carol Crumby and the power of United Way.

I am still an emeritus member of that board, and Carol, after retiring from United Way, has served as a volunteer member of the board for years. She is also very active in other organizations devoted to supporting schools and improving education outcomes for at-risk students in South DeKalb County. I had breakfast with her recently, and I realized what the world owes to people like Carol. Carol had polio as a child and has always walked with a limp. She has had serious health issues and surgeries recently that cause more difficulty walking and even pain in sitting. She is still, though, working tirelessly to improve the lives of other people. When thinking of personal heroes, she is someone at the top of my list.” – Lyn Turknett, Co-chair & Co-founder, TLG

Sojourner Truth:

“If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, the women together ought to be able to turn back and get it right side up again! and now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.” – Sojourner Truth

“A historical figure who has long been a hero of mine – Sojourner Truth – a former slave born in 1797. She escaped to freedom and became a well-known abolitionist and a powerful voice for women’s suffrage. Her most famous speech, delivered at the 1851 Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, is known as the Ain’t I a Woman speech. She was a powerful orator and used those gifts to help work for change.” – Lyn Turknett, Co-chair & Co-founder, TLG

Shirley Chisholm:

“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” – Shirley Chisholm

An inspirational leader looked up to by TLG’s Susan Hitchcock. Shirley Chisholm was the first Black woman elected to Congress in 1968 and the first woman and African American to seek the nomination for president of the United States from one of the two major political parties in 1972. Chisholm remained in Congress until 1983 when she retired. She taught at Mount Holyoke College (also attended by TLG’s own Lyn Turknett) and co-founded the National Political Congress of Black Women.

Martin Luther King Jr.:

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands at moments of comfort & convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge & controversy.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“There is so much to say about MLK – he is definitely a hero. The Letter from the Birmingham jail is one of the most powerful examples of influence ever – he called people – especially the white clergy he was writing to – toward a more moral and just world. He knew how to reach our better angels. Personally, one of the highlights of my life was hearing him deliver the sermon in the Mount Holyoke Chapel in 1964. I was in the chapel choir and got to be part of a procession led by him singing “We Shall Overcome”.” – Lyn Turknett, Co-chair & Co-founder, TLG

Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum:

  “Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum is the former President of Spellman College, author of the book, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, racial identity expert, and often asked by the media to address how to have conversations about race in this country.” – Anne Quiello, M.S., PCC, Senior Consultant & Host of Women in Leadership , 

Recognizing the Black Leaders that Have Touched TLG’s Women in Leadership Community:

Like Shan Cooper, there are so many inspirational leaders that we have had the honor of having as past Women in Leadership speakers, we would like to take this space to recognize a few of them: