Born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, I was educated in the Boston Public Schools, including the nationally recognized Boston Latin Academy. I got my first taste of public speaking as a member of the debate club. Thank you to Mr. Sullivan and my fellow club members for helping me find my voice.
I left Boston for college, attending Hampton University in Virginia. I graduated with honors and departmental honors with a degree in Sociology with an emphasis in Criminology. Although I was awarded departmental honors by the professors in my department I was most honored by the vote of "Most Likely to Succeed" by my cohort of graduating seniors.
While at Hampton, my close friends would often call me Cliff Claven after a character on the sitcom Cheers; because I was always a wealth of information and trivia. But I had to remind them that unlike Cliff, I was usually correct with my information.
Upon graduation from Hampton, I traveled from Virginia to Delaware to attend graduate school at the University of Delaware, where I took classes in Sociology, Education and Communication. I began my career as an educator and advisor as an Admissions Counselor at the University. I took my title of "counselor" very seriously, often going the extra mile to counsel high school students and their parents on the processes of college admissions in general, as well as advising them of admission to the University.
It is in the Admissions Office that I got my first taste of speaking before large crowds. I had my "Oprah Moment" at a multi-day summer recruitment event. For several days, I spent about about an hour -- seemed like only minutes -- before a rotating group of about 2000 attendees, answering questions and doing my presentation. It was exhilirating! and I was hooked!
I left college admissions for student affairs in the College of Engineering at the University, where I worked to recruit academically prepared minority students to the College and to provide those enrolled with student counseling and advisement. As Assistant Director of the FAME/UNITE/MERIT/UD Summer Program for high school students (a secondary responsibility to the position of Coordinator of the RISE Program), I assisted in providing high school juniors and seniors with a pre-college experience on a major university campus.
I left the University of Delaware in search of new challenges and after a brief period as a high school teacher of History and Statistics, I became Head Start Director for a medium sized program spanning three counties in Maryland and with an average yearly operating budget of more than $3.5 million.
For five years I provided leadership to a diverse staff of 120+ individuals spread across twelve locations. The position of Director for a multi-faceted program like Head Start involves Strategic Planning, On-going Monitoring, Facilities Management, Budgeting, Grant Writing, Human Resources, Community Outreach, Marketing, and Staff & Parent Development of a program that covers Education, Health and Safety, Mental Health and Disabilities, Nutrition, Family Services and Transportation. In short, it was like running a medium sized business.
I successfully led my team through a year long Quality Improvement Plan and was involved in sustaining those improvements and developing new goals for the continuous quality improvement of the services provided to low-income children and families when I left to pursue a new challenge...entrepreneur.
What many may not know about Head Start programs is that staff development and training is at the highest priority. In fact, in addition to continuous training throughout the year, each program must have All-Staff Pre-Service events before classes begin in the fall. It was at these pre-service events that I relished the opportunity to train and motivate my staff. Thus, The Power of C.A.R.E. (tm) and What Color Is Your Imagination (tm) were born from my trainings and speeches I developed for my staff.
I found that I was having the most fun when I was doing trainings and delivering motivational speeches. So, using the skills I have gained through experience, formal education, training in Six Sigma and other methodologies of quality improvement I started Owens Burton Consulting.
I hope to bring my special brand of enthusiasm and inspiration to the areas of Motivational Speaking and Quality Improvement Services.
I also take time to give back to my community through participation on the Unit Board of my local Boys and Girls Club, as co-chair of the annual silent auction to benefit the Club, and most recently as board president.
I am currently working on a book based on one of my motivational speeches..."The Power of C.A.R.E."
I live in Delaware with my husband Johnie, my son Andrew, and my bonus daughter Danielle.