Being a High Powered Professional isn’t about working in an office or wearing a suit every day. It’s about bringing your “A” game in everything that you do professionally. It’s about excelling at whatever career you decide to pursue. It’s been a while since I featured a Mover & Shaker. So, I’m extremely excited to kick off the series with a woman who took off her business suit and found a way to build a career based on her passion and purpose.
Kavon Ward is a Poetic Activist and President of United Speech Nation, a speech writing and motivational speaking company. Prior to following her passion, she was accepted to serve as the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation/International Franchise Association Foundations fellow in 2007 and experienced a successful career on Capitol Hill. Kavon earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from SUNY College at Oneonta and a Master of Public Adminstration from CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She was the first in her family to attend and finish college.
What’s your typical day like?
There are no typical days for me. Every day is different depending on what performances, writing assignments, and youth program planning I have lined up. I think that’s what I like most about my days; they’re pretty unpredictable and lack routine. It keeps things fresh and exciting for me. The only routine that I’ve recently added is yoga in my pursuit to become more physically active.
How do you draw inspiration for your poetry?
Most of my inspiration comes from my life experiences and injustices that I’ve confronted and overcome. In fact, the first piece I actually wrote and performed live was “Harlem: Mission to Motivate.” This piece is literally the story of my life from birth until about age 29. It speaks about everything – from the mental, emotional, and physical abuse I endured as a child, to how that abuse motivated me to excel academically; and how excelling academically led to rewarding career opportunities. The poem also speaks to how losing a career I worked so hard for was actually a blessing and ultimately placed me on a path to fulfilling my purpose and my passion. My writing is also inspired by social injustices, specifically as they pertain to children and African Americans.
Describe the moment you knew you had discovered your passion and purpose?
I kind of knew that I had discovered my passion and purpose after people who purchased my CD, “From Policy to Poetry,” reached out to me after listening to it and told me how much my words inspired them and impacted their lives. It was confirmed that poetic activism was my passion and purpose the day I performed my piece, “I am Trayvon Martin,” during the Washington, D.C. Rally for Trayvon Martin. As I performed the piece, standing before a crowd of thousands, my words commanded their ears. It was at that point that I realized my purpose. The crowd was silent and just listening. But, when I reached the part of my poem where I chant “no justice, no peace; no justice, no peace” and heard the audience chanting with me, not only was it memorable, but it moved my spirit and my soul spoke to me. My soul said this is exactly what I am supposed to do and this is what I want to do forever.
What has been your proudest moments and accomplishments?
Wow, this is a difficult question because I’ve accomplished so much. First, I am proud that I had enough strength and faith to change careers and start all over. I am also proud of the first CD I created, “From Policy to Poetry,” and some more recent accomplishments, which include winning the Paul Robeson “Here I Stand” award and opening for Common at the Lincoln Theater. I’ve also performed for Congressman John Lewis, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Sweet Honey in the Rock at the 2012 Washington, D.C. Humanities Council Gala. Of course, standing in Freedom Plaza, and performing “I Am Trayvon Martin” at the Washington, D.C. Rally for Trayvon Martin alongside activists like Dick Gregory and Joe Madison was an honorable moment.
It has also been a privilege to partner with the Washington, D.C. Humanities Council for their Soul of the City program, where I taught my spoken word workshop, “Use Your Words.” And most recently, it was an honor to participate in the Presidential Inauguration activities, specifically a day Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray declared Poetry Extravaganza Day, to honor the life and work of President Barack Obama, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Whitney Young.
What do you hope to accomplish as a Poetic Activist moving forward?
Some things I hope to accomplish as a poetic activist include performing for President Barack Obama, Maya Angelou, and Oprah Winfrey. I would love to have the opportunity to perform my work in front of TV One’s “Verses and Flow,” BET’s Black Girls Rock, the Democratic National Convention, and the Essence Music Festival audiences. I would also like to implement my spoken word curriculum in schools and community-based organizations in underserved communities worldwide, as well as learn sign language so that I am able to communicate with and motivate the deaf community.
Any advice for those trying to find and follow their passion?
I would advise them to let go of their fears and to take risks. I would also tell them to become more comfortable with being uncomfortable because if you’re comfortable then you’re not growing. I would also urge them not to waste time crying and stressing over losses because the gains are right around the corner waiting for them; they just need to obtain enough strength to pick them up. Lastly, I would encourage them to keep their faith, know and believe that nothing is in vain, and to welcome and embrace change.
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