Ask Jalyn Gordon what she does for a living, and she will rattle off a list. For example, a mother, a coach, a consultant and a friend.
“I’m a lot of things. But my favorite thing is to support what I like to call activistpreneurs,” said the 28-year old Fort Worthian.
Activistpreneurs, as Gordon describes them, are people who run a business or nonprofit through an alternative framework — Afrocentric, anti-capitalist, anti-patriarchal and anti-white supremacist. Her consulting firm Afrocentric Communiversity helps predominantly Black and Hispanic businesses and nonprofits connect with resources, tips and support to be successful.
“A lot of the work that we do is centered on the lifelong nurturing of our clients,” she said.
Gordon’s firm, which will be celebrating five years of business in October 2022, is working to push the barriers in the consulting industry – a field that has historically been white and rich, according to reports.
“It’s a luxury. But I don’t believe that the services they offer are just for those types of people. What does it look like to help people understand how to do their work in their culture?” Gordon said. “You don’t find people who can affirm whatever your culture is. And for us, it’s predominantly blackness.”
Gordon graduated from Fort Worth Country Day in 2012 and went on to earn a degree in political science and African-American Studies from the University of Houston. It was in college that she met her professors that became sources of inspiration for the work approach she has with her company.
“I would say all my black studies professors, so everyone that has taught me at the University of Houston” became sources of inspiration, she said. “Someone who’s really important that comes to mind is Dr. Crawford. He was a great mentor. And then at Clark Atlanta, every single class I attended, every single professor I had was also incredibly informative. So I’m thinking of Dr. Black.”
She started her consulting firm in October 2017 after dropping out of her master’s program in African-American Studies at Clark Atlanta University, in Atlanta, Georgia. But her love for organizing and activism pushed her to find a way to give back to her community.
Afrocentric Communiversity’s approach to consulting focuses on the following services:
- Organizational development
- Coalition and alliance management
- Community outreach strategy
- Conflict resolution and mediation
- Evaluation and learning
- Team transition and succession planning
- Board member guidance
- Planning and policy creation
- Team development and recruitment
- Project management
- Strategic planning
- Custom workshops and more
Partners also have access to resources:
- Free quarterly Zoom access
- Village Susu, a community bank
- Private ritual and healing opportunities
- Intimate study groups
- Grants and fellowship database
- Private, online community
- Access to vendor services like childcare and more
You can contact Afrocentric Communiversity via email at email@example.com or call 817-889-3964.
Today, a team of four, including Gordon, leads Afrocentric Communiversity.
“I had this realization of, what would happen if people had more access to the theory that all of these wonderful scholars are creating in the academy? Being at an HBCU, we’re building solutions for everyday problems,” Gordon said.
While the company has grown in the past five years, Gordon said the approach remains grassroots-focused, teaching people to use the resources they already have in a creative way to build up their work.
“How do you take something that maybe started just like the seed and just grow it? Nothing has changed. It’s only been enhanced,” she said.
Among the jobs Gordon did was work with the staff and leadership at Amphibian Stage, a nonprofit theater company Texas Christian University alumni founded. The theater company was looking for ways to make its work approach more equitable, especially following the racial reckoning stemming from George Floyd’s murder in June 2020.
That’s when they found Afrocentric Communiversity. Out of all the proposals submitted by firms they examined, Amphibian Stage staffers decided to work with Gordon. Ayesha Gangulu, development and community outreach manager at Amphibian Stage, said Gordon’s personal approach to her services meant that they could offer the theater assistance they couldn’t find elsewhere.
“We really needed that because we’re a smaller organization. We are a theater. We have very specific needs and also challenges, so it felt like the best fit for us really,” she said.
Working with Gordon allowed the theater company to pause and internally reflect on its mission while remaining attentive to what clients needed, Gangulu said.
“Coming out of issues of George Floyd and things like that, it was the same time that a lot of arts and theater organizations and performing arts institutions were doing soul-searching and reflecting about how we need to be accessible and welcoming, and how we are being perceived. So it was very necessary for us to find the right organization that didn’t just slap us with the training and disappear,” she said.
Kelli Washington, 28, is the co-founder and CEO of Houston-based Maternity Journey, a woman-owned, minority-owned grassroot organization that offers free and low cost maternity services and resources in the form of doula donations, support circles, educational classes and maternal assistance.
Washington used Gordon’s consulting services during her nonprofit’s infancy, helping with grant applications and support.
“Gordon is very creative, even with her language and the different ways that she refers to certain terminology. It really brings about a lot of perspective and it’s helped me tremendously on my journey. She offered me so much mentorship that I had no idea I could tap into,” Washington said.
Today, Washington considers Gordon a great friend.
“Now that we’re mothers together, we can also connect outside of that (work) space. So it feels very comfortable and very welcoming to work with her and I’m excited that we’ve crossed paths and being able to connect with each other through this life work,” she said.
While Gordon’s approach to consulting is alternative, she hopes her method and staying firm to her beliefs can become a constant option in the consulting field.
“I like the fact that we are part of that movement. I like the fact that we are disrupting what’s happening in the current consulting field,” she said. “We do everything differently.”
Jalyn Gordon’s Bio
Birthplace: Fort Worth
Moved to Fort Worth: Left for Houston to attend college where she stayed for seven years with a stop in Atlanta for nine months before returning in 2017. Left to Houston again for a year and half and then returned permanently to Fort Worth in 2019.
Family: Two-year old son Zion, her mom, grandparents and aunt also live here.
Education: Bachelor of arts in Political Science & African-American Studies from the University of Houston.
Work experience: Houston City Council during the spring of 2014. Robert Woodruff Library in Atlanta University Center from September 2017 to July 2017. Save the Children nonprofit from December 2017 to April 2019. Houston Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation from April 2019 to November 2019.
Volunteer experience: Volunteered with the Walk to Cure Arthritis in Houston in 2013. Volunteered as an afterschool program coordinator in fall 2017 at the Bethlehem Center. Continuously volunteering with her sorority Zeta Phi Beta.
First job: My first big girl job was Save the Children nonprofit, an international humanitarian aid organization for children in conflict zones.
Advice for someone learning to be a leader: Setting aside time or even creating metrics, like internal company metrics about community engagement and reaching different audiences, whether that’s going to work conference a year in your industry, to ‘I’m going to read five books a month about my industry or in a book club type setting.’ That is my biggest piece of advice. Always be learning, always be networking.
Best advice ever received: “Slow down” We are bombarded with a lot of options. There’s a lot of influences. Do things one at a time.
Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @ssadek19.
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