Meet Dr. Althea Simpson, one of our 2019 Role Models. Dr. Simpson is the Director of Discipleship at Franklin Community Church. She is dedicated to increasing awareness about human trafficking and does so by hosting symposiums and workshops in the community. Dr. Simpson earned a law degree at Syracuse University College of Law, and Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Ecumenical Theological Seminary. She is being recognized for her outstanding professional accomplishments and demonstrated leadership throughout her career at this year’s Role Model Dinner.
Here are some clips from her recent conversation with AFG.
Alternatives For Girls (AFG): For many of the women we serve, AFG provides a support system to help them make positive choices. Was there anyone in your life or career who has helped guide you in making important decisions?
Dr. Althea Simpson: There are so many people! My mom was a master in helping me make decisions. Not always the way you wanted to hear it, but she always had great information and guidance. Sometimes she was stern, sometimes she was playful, but she always was there to give me guidance. My aunts and uncles have also been amazing people. They are always there to freely share and give an opinion. Sometimes you have people in your life who don’t want to be involved someone making a bad decision, so they don’t give their input. I wasn’t raised by those people! Having people that were honest, definitely helped.
AFG: Can you tell us about some of the challenges you’ve faced throughout your career?
Simpson: My first career was law, I was a lawyer practicing full time for a number of years. I went back to seminary and went back to school in the midst of that. The challenge has always been balance. Balancing work with family, your community, and your commitments. Finding the time to be both passionate and present, has always been difficult. And I still have the challenge now. It’s one thing to be there, it’s another to be present, in all places, and give something that is appropriate and necessary, without burning yourself out and driving yourself crazy. We as women try to be Superwoman sometimes. We have to realize that quality of life demands balance. For me it’s a constant struggle.
AFG: Who are your role models?
Simpson: One of my elementary teachers, Maddie Mitchell. She was a great inspiration to me. She was a Christian women, a wife, a mom, but she always had time for us as her students. She was a great influence. I’ve seen her since I’ve grown and she’s still doing her thing. She’s definitely one of my role models. There are also so many women that I see out in the world who make an impact in the workplace and at home and in the community. I see role models everywhere. When I think about role models, I think about people who love you for what you can give. Some people are my role models for one thing, but not my role model for others. So I can say, I love her persistence. I want to be like that. I have so many role models!
AFG: Which of your accomplishments are you the proudest of?
Simpson: Finishing my dissertation. That was huge step in getting my doctorate and it was a big achievement for me. Doing the research, coming up with a theory, doing the project, getting to know my topic. I learned many new skills and new techniques. Putting it all together, presenting, getting my hood; it was a thrill. Getting my dissertation bound and put in a library that was a big thrill. I have lots of others. I have a lot of things to be grateful for. But I do remember the thrill of that.
AFG: What advice would you give to the young women that AFG serves?
Simpson: I would say that the importance of a good education cannot be underestimated. You can take care of yourself by getting the best education you can. Everything does not come easy. It is very arrogant to think you can look at something and understand it right away. There is no reason to be afraid to ask for help.
In the midst of striving for education, make sure that you learn about the world around you. Make sure that you make good choices and that those you let into your life are people who are positive for you, not negative.
AFG: Why do you believe that it is important to empower girls and young women?
Simpson: Women are the natural nurturers. Many times, we are so busy taking care of others that we don’t take care of ourselves. I think it is so important that we empower girls and women with the ability to see themselves and the value of themselves, so that in the midst of nurturing others around them they take the steps to nurture and advance themselves. And I think that’s something that you are taught and learn to do. Otherwise, the instinct is just to care, give, care, give, until there is nothing left. The older I get, the more I learn that you can’t take care of anyone if you don’t take care of yourself. And also, nurtured self-love, that is healthy and positive, helps you to see that you can do anything. I think we need more of that “We can do anything” attitude between girls and women. Often we are limited and don’t reach beyond what we think we can accomplish. We tend to not have a positive push to say you can do it.
The 2019 Role Model Dinner will be held on Wednesday, March 27th at MGM Grand Detroit. Click here to learn more or to purchase a ticket.