We had the good fortune of connecting with Chonnie Richey and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Chonnie, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
This is one of the hardest questions for anyone to answer – especially if they feel in their heart of hearts that whatever path they’re on is the right one. At my consulting firm, Crescendum Management Group, LLC, our Mission is to ensure our clients – whether it’s a company, brand, or individual, growth. We take them through an exercise that dives deep into their personality, motivation, and goals; all contribute to moments when they ask themselves the question of “whether to keep going or to give up.” When we engage them in those exercises, a plan is put in place to strategically achieve those goals. This plan is a guide that provides checks and balances for individuals to understand if the adjustments they need to make due to their current situation or circumstance. If growth is the mindset, always moving forward is the only option.

What should our readers know about your business?
As an Operations, Strategic, and Marketing leader with over 25 years of experience in various industries; including medical, non-profit, the food industry, and consulting firms; the experience and passion in seeing ideas not only sprout but grow contributes daily to the various roles I hold. I believe in the following: Success is driven by doing what you love and fostering the relationships established in one’s life journey. What sets me apart from others is the belief that we are meant to live extraordinary lives and seeing the possibilities in everything. Sometimes, it’s finding a way through (and around) a “NO” answer. The only time I actually use the “No” word often, is with my three children; who are my greatest accomplishments. My current mantra (and I say current because I believe that an effective leader has to be adaptable and fluid), Be BOLD, fits every hat I wear. Understanding where I am today – one has to understand the mantra. B stands for: Be the Spark For over twenty years, I grew into my role as CFO/COO of a healthcare company. From answering phones in a medical office – the day after graduating from Texas Tech University – to my journey in marketing and operations with various for profit and nonprofit companies (including the American Heart Association’s Food Certification Program), I successfully supported a team of rockstar individuals that will make a positive impact in their organization. Did you notice the use of the word “supported?” Why you ask? I believe that a leader’s role is to support and inspire every individual that will impact a company’s success. The spark and passion one brings to each organization can be seen in the commitment of its Team members. O stands for: Owning the Vision Whether it’s fostering partnerships with companies such as Aramark, Anthem Health, or Home Depot to support the overall goals of my current role as COO/CFO and Founder of Independence Gardens, as a leader, I’ve understood the importance of following through; doing what you say you’ll do. Others will tell you, when they hear me speak about the future I envision for a profitable, quality driven health care industry, to actionable nutrition education programs with Independence Gardens, they can hear the passion and vision on how every action is interconnected to ensuring the overall health and wellness of children; especially seeing how that passion translates into accomplishing goals. I actively engage partners, community members, volunteers, customers, and every stake holder in the process – even those that tell me daily of the impossible task ahead. Those that know me best will say, “we challenge you to tell her something can’t be done, and watch how she can accomplish it.” When you own the vision of something you love, nothing is impossible. L is for: Lead When people ask about my leadership style, whether I’m a passive leader or do I lead by example. I refer them to my actions. and what my Team replies when they’re asked that question. They state, “We answer with: please ask her that when she’s actively speaking to parents about their experience at PACGPA, when she’s reviewing the latest program to ensure it aligns with PACGPA’s core values, or when watching her Team Leads (and cheering them on) embrace their own leadership capabilities and guide their peers through transformational leadership events. Ask her the question as she is zipping across the city to talk to school administrators, community leaders, and parents about the importance of actionable, nutrition education programs; or when she’s on the phone with her 10th chef because she wants to make sure every school is covered for the chef-driven, student-led cooking program. And ask the question when she spends hours in the kitchen testing the newest recipe for Independence Gardens – because she wants to make sure not only is it nutrient dense, taste good, and can compete with traditional school pizza. Plus – she learned how to work a saw and took a crash course from engineers on how to stabilize a garden bed.” Last – and maybe the most important: Do what you Love Part of the growth mindset and understanding one’s purpose is knowing yourself. The best indicator of that is a personality test. I feel like I’ve taken every personality test in existence and all will trend towards natural Leadership and motivator. What I love about leading Epifania M. Caturay, MDPA is seeing the growth of the Team and the organization. In an industry where healthcare administrators are struggling to stay ahead of the healthcare seesaw, we built a team that is fluid and adaptable to the ever changing dynamic of the industry. So much so, that I’m excited to say, that we continue to position the organization at the forefront of providing quality health care to ALL children regardless of their socio-economic status. This belief translates to the Mission and Vision of Independence Garadens. What began with a simple school lunch with my daughter years ago, and leaving that lunch thinking, we can do better, since IG’s founding in 2013, thousands of children have connected to food through their actionable, impactful nutrition education programs, hundreds of pounds of soil used, the volunteer hours all to deliver a fun, interactive nutrition activity to children, hammering of nails, the lumber – all the tireless work because I’m I love.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Since I absolutely believe that Food connects us, I would draft an itinerary that revolves around food. Starting in Dallas, we would start off with having breakfast at Mama’s Daughter’s Diner. This has been a go-to destination for my family since I can remember. If we can time it around 9:30-ish, then maybe their yummy beef stew will be available. While I’m a big fan of their traditional biscuit, egg, and bacon breakfast platters, if I can sneak in the beef stew with their hot rolls or corn bread – who wouldn’t want to eat that first thing? After breakfast, we would explore the Fair Park area. I think this is the most underrated parts of the Dallas. It has so much history, beginning with the Cotton Bowl, and housing some of the most interesting museums in Dallas. Plus, it’s dog friendly, so a great way to bring along Fido, get some exercise in after the big breakfast, and see one of the prettiest parks in Dallas. We would continue our exploration of Dallas by heading into the Deep Ellum area. This is an area near and dear to me as my foray into the culinary world sprouted here. The three year project was an integral part of how I came to be where I am today. The idea for Independence Gardens sprouted during my time as Owner of ZBC Foods and I met the chefs that will become partners in the overall Mission of Independence Gardens. Not only does Deep Ellum house one of the most unique neighborhoods in Dallas, from the local art galleries – to the eclectic stores, it also hosts a plethora of culinary delicacies in Dallas. Because we are in Texas after all, my top choice to take them in Deep Ellum for lunch will be Pecan Lodge. If for some reason, they run out of barbecue (as they are known to do), my other go-to restaurant is St. Pete’s Dancing Marlin. I’ve known the owner, Pete Zotos, for over 25 years. His food is consistently great – my favorites there – The Angel Wings, the burgers, or if you’re adventurous, The Diablo Temptestous Pasta. It’s so hot, they serve it with chocolate milk. The exploration of Dallas, will either continue with the Arts District or depending if they’re playing, a Dallas Stars or Mavericks Game. Either way, we would end the evening at one of my favorite sushi restaurants, Oishii. My home city is Lewisville Texas. I see as the best places to have a home, because it’s centrally located between Dallas and Fort Worth – and a hop, skip, and jump away from Grapevine, Plano and Frisco area. The rest of the week will be spent exploring the most interesting things to see in their respective cities. For Grapevine, a tour of Main Street (including the winery. In the Plano/Frisco area, take in a tour of The Star then head down the Tollway to the Shops at Legacy or Legacy West to dine and shop at anyone of the unique restaurants and stores in town. And – if we’re in the mood for a nightcap, we can head to Lava Cantina in The Colony, or Pie 3.14 Everyday Eatery or TBD Kitchen in the Castle Hills neighborhood of Lewisville. To cap off their visit, a drive to Fort Worth is a must. Like Dallas, Fort Worth’s unique neighborhoods makes it a must go place when visiting town. Seventh Street is a great area for food and the arts. The can’t miss Fort Worth, you can’t leave Texas without seeing this area, Fort Worth Stockyards. The food? Riscky’s Barbecue, Love Shack, and Joe. T. Garcia’s of course!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The journey thus far is made possible by a few people. First, my family. They are my daily cheerleaders and my guide post, especially in moments of doubt. Their support and encouragement has made it possible for me to pursue passion projects that speak directly to my purpose; including my new consulting firm, Crescendum Management Group, LLC. The Team I have at Epifania M. Caturay, MDPA, where I serve as COO/CFO, has been instrumental in my leadership journey for 25 years. My career began with them, and while the organization gave me opportunities to expand professionally in other industries, they welcomed me back to help position the organization for growth. Understanding part of my purpose is also due in part to the work at Independence Gardens. As it’s Founder, the Mission to create actionable, impactful, nutrition education programs by connecting children to food, is made reality by the creative and passionate vision of the parent-led Executive Board.

Website: www.independencegardens.org
Instagram: @chonnier
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chonnie-richey-726a0514
Twitter: @ChonnieRichey
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Independence-Gardens-156393337870855/
Other: crescendumgroup.com gochangelead.com Intagram: @igardensrev