We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr, LaKeshia Payton and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Dr, LaKeshia, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, but I was raised in East St. Louis, Illinois. Growing up in both of these cities was both challenging and rewarding. My father was an entrepreneur during my childhood but was a victim of drug use and imprisonment. As a result, my childhood was unstable, which resulted in a lot of moving and no opportunity to be grounded. This affected me in life decisions as I would say I lived a childhood in survival mode. However, as I became older, I began to understand that the life I survived was not the one I wanted to live through as an adult or raise a family. Like many, I have the typical story of a child that grew up in impoverished communities. Losing classmates due to violence, poor inner-city education, and limited resources are just a few. These are a few factors that drive who I am today. Upon graduation, I chose to join the US Air Force. At the time, it was not a plan to be a hero, yet it was my guaranteed ticket out of the hood. At 18 years old, I did not have a plan of what I wanted to do with my life, but I was sure of what I did not want to be in my life. I did not want to be another negative contributor to the black community. I wanted to be positive, successful, and have a life of living and not just surviving.
I used the fuel of my childhood to invest in myself as an adult to be what I never thought I could be. Then, finally, I decided to obtain my education and attend college. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to help people that were like me and help them escape generational trends and patterns. So I began my educational journey by obtaining my Associate in Arts, then Bachelor in Social Work, then a Master in Public Administration, a Master in School Administration, and finished with a Doctorate in Educational Leadership.

I have had the privilege to apply my skills in the public school system and a local HBCU. I pride myself on using the light inside of me to help guide others out of the darkness in their life.

In 2020, I decided to take this further and expand my reach through business. I authored, Unstuck: The Power of Strategy’ and started PDL Consultant, LLC with the focus on helping individuals new to leadership or who wanted to make a significant transformation in their life. PDL targets new entrepreneurs and helps cultivate the leader by supporting them with the best business practices, including social-emotional awareness, best business practices, and coaching. In addition, I am working on a project called “Black Girls Don’t have Attitudes.” This project targets black educated women that grew up in poverty and have achieved educational goals but desire to acquire leadership qualities, emotional intelligence, leadership and followership, and business culture.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My professional journey is one that I would say chose me. As a kid, I always wanted to be a nurse, but it was not my chosen path. Instead, I began my journey in the US Air Force as a Range Scheduler. This role taught me organization, precision, how to lead a meeting with superior leaders, and planning skills. These skills later translated into my career as a school social worker, where I learned to serve others and remove barriers that interfered with a child’s educational journey. I continued to grow and became an assistant principal, where I could inject my leadership skills into the workplace and support teachers to serve inner-city youth in the classroom better. As an Assistant Principal, I learned that the most significant focus was that of the curriculum but often interfered with the opportunity to meet the life qualities that a student needs to succeed in life. I wanted to make a more significant impact and later transferred to the local HBCU and served as GEAR UP and TRIO Director. In this role, I worked with a targeted group of young people identified as first-generation college students and low-income. This population is special to me because I also identified with this group. Although I was not a successor of one of these programs, I understand the struggles and the challenges of being a pioneer in areas of education and professional growth.
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?
I am not from the DFW area. However, I would visit the Renuion Tower and take a sightseeing tour of the city,

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I acknowledge both my parents, family, friends and mentors. I have many that I have helped me in this journey and I do not want to overlook anyone.

Website: www.pdlcgconsulting.com

Instagram: pdl_consultant_group

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/drlakeshiapayton/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pdlconsultantgroup

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