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Financial Freedom - Be healthy, wealthy and wise in 2011

Published:Monday | January 3, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Una Clarke, former New York City councilwoman representing the 40th District in Brooklyn. - Contributed

Elaine Grant-Bryan, Contributor

As we navigate through the new year, let's continue to adopt invaluable tips from successful leaders and entrepreneurs in our daily lives. It has already been established that one of the best ways to learn is from the mistakes of others and from the examples of great people.

Here are some of my personal tips for the new year:

1. It is not necessary to walk through the minefields yourself to appreciate someone's journey; learn from their mistakes.

2. To be debt free, start by paying off the smallest bill.

3. Financial freedom takes discipline and delayed gratification.

It is so great when everyone can benefit from significant trailblazers. Below are some wise tips from Una Clarke, former New York City councilwoman representing the 40th District in Brooklyn. When asked what motivated her to become a leader, she shared, "I was drawn into community leadership when, in the early 1960s, I saw many instances of social and institutionalised injustice, and I, therefore, joined with other activists to fight for the empowerment of black Americans in the Civil Rights struggle of that decade. I participated as a new immigrant to bring greater rights and responsibilities and to join the wider struggle of the Civil Rights movement in the early 1960s."

Public service

Jamaica-born, Clarke also shared her views on community service.

She stated that having served in public office for over 10 years, she was able to use that experience to start her own business as a consultant. She added, "I continue to serve and help others, especially minorities and women-owned businesses, with emphasis in the areas of health and human services, and providing health care and housing for senior citizens. I am also an advocate for returning servicemen and women. We understand the needs of emerging communities, with recent immigrants from the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and work in areas of advocacy, training and development. It is important that new immigrants are quickly socialised to the American society, especially in business and commerce. "

She further stated that it is important to do what is necessary to ensure full participation in the local community. Her work also entails trying to make accessible the available resources from all levels of government to improve the lives of those who would otherwise be shut out of the fruits of a vibrant society."

According to Clarke, "American society is fuelled by the spirit of entrepreneurship and service and, therefore, it is important that efforts be made to educate and train persons desirous of going into business. It is also important to support small businesses and entrepreneurs, pointing them to accessible financial resources and support." Additionally, she shared, "It is also critical that we encourage local workforce and job creation, so that the local community can have some say in its destiny. Local entrepreneurs contribute to the creation of jobs, to improved amenities and to the social, cultural and political vitality of the community. If individuals lack financial freedom, they are not able to stake a claim on their local community, and are, therefore, less likely to be full participants in the institutions of society, making society so much the poorer."


Clarke, a rather energetic and formidable leader, when asked about her long and successful leadership, responded, "I believe in the truism that America is a nation of immigrants coming at different times, but in every generation bringing a different set of skills and talents that need to be supported and nurtured. As an immigrant, I am always mindful of my own journey and seek to make it easier for those who come after me. In many cases, all we need is encouragement. My success as a leader can largely be attributed to my ability to listen and be in tune with the immediate needs and sensibilities of immigrant peoples, whether they come from Kingston or Cairo, Mumbai or Miami, Islamabad or Port-au-Prince. These people are, in essence, all endowed with the same needs and aspirations. They are blessed with skills and talents that they wish to contribute to the rich brew that is the American dream."

As you can see, using the What What What Approach - What you do with what you have determines what you become - Una Clarke, using her wisdom as the first Jamaican-born woman elected to New York City legislature, contributes significantly to improving the quality of life for all groups.

Elaine Grant-Bryan is an empowerment speaker/2010-11 Georgia Counselor of the Year/ recipient of the Atlanta Mayor's Phoenix Award and Governor's Commendation for contributions to Educational & Civic Leadership. Send feedback and questions to