Skip to main content

Author: Parker Web

2024 July Mag

July 2024 Mag

Encore Leadership: The Journey to “What’s NEXT?”

The Connector
Executive Coach Extraordinaire
Mom, Wife, Sister, Grandma, Soror and Friend

Jylla Moore Tearte, Ph.D. is a gifted leader who epitomizes the mantra to “lift others as you climb.”  Even for this article, her focus shifted our usual approach from introducing the bio of our cover model to exploring strategies and techniques using her Cerese D Jewelry story to connect people of partnership and collaboration.  This is conference season for many of our clients and Dr Jylla immediately came to mind for our feature story.  Be it attendance at the Zeta Boule or the Omega Conclave, she is ready to engage opportunities to connect with her Cerese D Jewelry as the conversation starter.

Angela Crane Jones

Jylla is wearing a Lapis Necklace from our One of A Kind Collection.

In the beginning

Dr. Jylla first met Deborah Dolman, VP of Business Development of Cerese D Jewelry, at an Odyssey Network Conference during the startup days of the business.  As she admired the luxurious, one-of-a-kind statement pieces, a conversation was orchestrated by mutual friend Cheryl Walker Robertson.  It was the moment that led to many crossroads on their future journeys.  The memory of the special feeling of connecting spirits that sisters immediately recognize was cemented by their mutual appreciation for quality and the beauty of a unique, statement piece. 

As a former Vice President at IBM responsible for assignments in sales, operations, reengineering and global business partners, Dr. Jylla’s mindset continues to immediately envision the opportunity to make mutually beneficial connections.  She finds that using a statement piece of jewelry as a conversation starter often breaks down the barrier of uncertainty of how to approach a new contact in a room where introverts struggle with the adrenaline necessary to socialize, while extroverts find themselves having a ball.  The mere touch of a Cerese D creation can signal, “Showtime!”   

The Journey Continues…

Upon becoming an entrepreneur, Dr. Jylla continued to stay in touch with the evolution of Cerese D Jewelry.  From having spent time visiting Deborah and Cerese, her daughter, at their initial business location in West Midtown Atlanta to a recent visit at their beautiful new location in Cobb County Atlanta, the years in-between strengthened their relationship.  Walking through their new headquarters’ office felt as though it was a museum of the history of Cerese D and the ongoing journey.  For Dr. Jylla, a Cerese D piece of jewelry elevates an individual’s sense of being and exudes confidence and elegance that often is called upon in challenging situations.  She states, “I am really looking forward to sharing the conference room space for a gathering of sisters.”

Opportunities to Reflect…

The Smithsonian National Museum for African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, DC was the perfect backdrop for an evening of elegance to wear and showcase Cerese D Jewelry in 2016 on opening night at the Museum.  Dr. Jylla who had been appointed as the 2020 Centennial Commission Chair for Zeta, thought of the partnership and collaboration skills learned from her mentor, Dr. Dorothy I. Height, NCNW President and CEO, as she walked through the Museum.  A seed was planted for Zeta’s Centennial Founders’ Day to be inclusive of Cerese D Jewelry. 

Four years later, as Zeta celebrated their Founders’ Day at a special evening at the NMAAHC, an innovative and unique partnership with Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.  and Cerese D Jewelry had been formed.  Zeta invited Cerese D Jewelry to partner with the sisterhood to create three (3) limited edition, numbered Centennial sets of jewelry.  Zeta Visionaries who were able to obtain the Zeta Centennial Collection pieces immediately bought out the “Centennial Collections” while experiencing the joy and personal confidence of owning Cerese D Jewelry statement pieces.  

From this vision of shared legacy that birthed the collaboration with Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and Cerese D Jewelry, she was proud to personally gift her Zeta legacy daughter, Anjylla Foster, with these three exclusive collectibles. Pause.  The moment of reflection… this story of Deborah’s daughter, Cerese, and Dr. Jylla’s daughter, Anjylla, highlight their shared mutual passion for engaging legacy, nurturing cherished relationships and creating special memories. 

While the Centennial Collection is truly a treasured collectible, it was also a major contributor to Zeta’s fund-raising initiatives to celebrate the 2020 Centennial.  As International President for the Sorority from 1992-1996, she now completes duties as assigned by the current International President and CEO, Dr. Stacie NC Grant.  President Grant was the Undergraduate Vice President during Dr. Jylla’s “World-Class Service” administration.  Another full circle LEGACY moment of JOY that continues to elevate the bond of relationships, because she too cherishes Cerese D Jewelry statement pieces as Zeta collectibles and partnership opportunities. 

Intentional JOY…

The threads of this article are stories of Intentional JOY.  The examples shared serve to frame who Dr. Jylla is as an “Encore Leader”, the storyline of her dissertation.  With a passion to help people find “What’s Next?”, the story continues.  Recently landing at the Atlanta airport, she immediately observed a display case that invited passengers to visit the Cerese D Jewelry location at gate B29.  It was a moment of “intentional joy” to witness the continued innovation and creativity in building a brand while giving travelers around the world the opportunity to experience the brand.

As an executive coach and consultant, exploring, discovering and living what brings joy is paramount to navigating the journey of life.  Whether in a corporate role, an entrepreneur, an influencer, a creator or a fund raiser/philanthropist, creating space to connect puzzle pieces that put a smile on a face and a special tinge of love in the heart continues to be very special.  Dr. Tearte, 20th International President and Senior President of Zeta, is the CEO of Crystal Stairs, Inc., the Encore Leadership Community, and Co-Founder/COO of the Tearte Family Foundation.   Finding joy in being parents, grandparents and avid travelers, she and her husband, Curtis, have spent time on all seven (7) continents, from safaris in Africa to walking among penguins in Antarctica.  So, the question arises…

What’s Next?

Continuing her passion for “helping Encore Leaders transform their time, talent and treasure into a legacy that matters so that they can impact the world”, stays on the radar.  Working with people who have been successful and they now want to explore, discover and live “What’s Next?” energizes her daily walk.  Awakening childhood passions in order to pivot to becoming storytellers, authors, artists, builders, mentors, coaches, healers, servant leaders, philanthropists and humanitarians is the assignment for her life.  Visit to connect with Dr. Jylla and the Crystal Stairs, Inc. Encore Leadership Community.

In the meantime… on the drawing board is designing her Cerese D Jewelry Statement Piece for Boule 2024 and the Omega Conclave. “I THINK I’ll call it, ‘INTENTIONAL JOY!’

Comments are not immediately visible. All comments are moderated, and will be published following review.

Continue reading

2024 May Mag

May 2024 Mag

“She believed she could, so she did.”  

Very few companies can rebrand and build back better. It takes gut, will power, and know how. And then there is exceptionalism.  

Building sustainable businesses has been the singular focus of the NBIC since it opened its doors 38 years ago. NBIC has been the launching pad of several successful minority and women-owned businesses such as Slim & Husky’s and The Grilled Cheeserie. The program’s foundation is built on three tenants: business sustainability, capacity building, and job creation. Essential to NBIC’s success has been its leadership. At the helm is Angela Crane Jones, CEO, and a small business advocate.

Angela Crane Jones

Angela is wearing Cerese D’s Green Billow Necklace.

Angela, a former Dairy Queen franchisee, joined the organization in 2003 after selling her two stores. “At that time, I did not know I could run a business and have a family. Most of my friends were employees at Fortune500 companies and could not relate to my dilemma. It was a challenge for my husband and I to conceive.

So, I thought selling the businesses and focusing on my family was my only option,” she shares. Angela has since realized she could have done both and has made it her mission to ensure other women understand they, too, can do both, especially with the help of a supportive community.

After selling her business, Angela sought employment at a local business development center. But it was NBIC, and its then Executive Director Mildred Walters, who made the offer. In the fall of 2003, Angela stepped into purpose. For ten years, she worked as Assistant to the Executive Director, developing competency in the small business development space and building a Rolodex of supporters. Angela’s hard work and commitment did not go unnoticed. In 2012, she was named Interim CEO, then CEO, of the Nashville Business Incubation Center.

During that time, Angela’s vision for NBIC began to take shape, but it came with challenges. In 2016, NBIC’s longstanding relationship with a strategic partner ended. “Rebuilding NBIC as a separate entity was difficult but necessary. We were still seeing too many business owners fall through the cracks, be it losing the business due to a lack of succession planning or an inability to grow because of insufficient resources. The rebrand of NBIC shifted the focus to empowering small business owners, specifically minority and women owned business owners, who on average earn just $24,000 in revenue annually, compared to their white counterparts at $140,000+.”

Under Angela’s leadership, NBIC successfully reorganized and rebranded, going on to relocate to a new building featuring a modern design, executive offices, classrooms, and most importantly, a suite of programming targeted to the unique needs of emerging entrepreneurs and established but stuck companies. The pinnacle of that programming is NBIC’s Mighty Oak program that prepares business owners to build sustainable companies to achieve at least $1M in revenue ($500,000 for professional services businesses), create jobs, and scale. 

“It is our goal at NBIC to shift business owners’ mindsets from scarcity to abundance. They can only do that if they get out of the ‘worker bee’ mentality and put on their CEO hats, working on the business every day instead of working in it. That is hard to do, and we understand that. That is why we walk alongside them as they make the transition.”

Angela is proud of the track record NBIC has on meeting small business owners where they are, providing educational resources for them in somewhat of an academic style, supported by knowledgeable instructors, mentors, and coaches.

When NBIC pivoted in 2016, little did Angela know that less than five years later, she would need to tap into the same strength and agility she used to rebrand and relaunch NBIC to rebuild again.

In March 2020, a tornado devastated the North Nashville community NBIC called home, causing considerable damage to their new building. Displaced yet not discouraged, Angela and her team immediately contacted all clients to offer support. The ability to do that was predicated by a decision Angela made two years earlier.

“Early on, I realized that if NBIC did not embrace technology, we would be closed or on the blink of closure within a year.” Angela saw technology enablement as the future of sustainability and growth for NBIC and its clients. “We brought in an Entrepreneur-in-Residence exceptionally skilled in technology to help us build technology infrastructure. With everything cloud-based, we could work from anywhere. That framework was NBIC’s saving grace after the tornado as operations shifted from in-person to online.

Then the pandemic hit, and once again, a visionary leader’s thinking was relied on. NBIC’s early adoption of technology proved a benefit as classes went virtual. But for Angela, offering online instruction was only half the battle. She recognized that what small business owners in Davidson County needed most was access to technical assistance that helped them pivot. At the heart of that pivot was technology.

“It became clear to me that businesses needed a digital presence to survive the aftershocks of COVID-19.” Thanks to her efforts, NBIC was awarded a $600,000 grant from Metro Nashville under the CARES Act. “This grant enabled us to provide direct technical assistance for up to 200 small business owners struggling to keep their doors open.” That assistance included financial services, e-commerce/website capability, digital strategy development, and legal support.

With Angela’s ability to help so many small businesses go from surviving to thriving as they navigated the pandemic, banks and foundations took note of the work at NBIC. In 2022, Truist Foundation made a $1.25 million commitment to NBIC’s focus on cultivating the growth and development of local women-, racially and ethnically diverse-, and veteran-owned small businesses. Specifically, the grant provides tools, training, mentorships, and curriculum support to NBIC’s RISE UP Academy, which collaborates directly with women-owned businesses. Truist investment also supports NBIC’s expansion to Huntsville and Birmingham, Alabama; Louisville, Kentucky; and other rural communities in Tennessee.

As the economy begins to stabilize, Angela is looking ahead to how NBIC can best serve MWBEs with events like Sips N’ Strategies that are sponsored by women led partnerships for women entrepreneurs. Angela realizes that business dynamics in Nashville and beyond are changing. Before the pandemic, businesses sought office space with all the bells and whistles. But after a few years of working from home, many are turning to virtual offices and remote teams. “Our goal is to be what firms need now, which looks different from years ago. In the past, our space was a draw, but NBIC’s secret sauce has always been its commitment to giving business owners not only the knowledge but also access to mentors, practitioners, and funders they need to scale.”

With technical assistance comes accountability. “We’re looking for business owners who are coachable and want that level of oversight.” NBIC serves the whole person, helping business owners consider all factors impacting their business trajectory. “We do not operate in silos. We help you define your goals – business and personal – then develop a road map to get you there.” It is that commitment to preparation and their history of success that enables NBIC to change the narrative of small business ownership.

“Build it they will come.” The community she longed for to encourage her in goals and aspirations as she embarked on the journey to begin a family, she built that for the women entrepreneurs that are part of NBIC. Having a strong team allows Angela to be the big sister, give a listening ear, chief cheerleader, a counselor, and prayer partner. No one can do this kind of sweat equity alone. “I am thankful for the team at NBIC that allows me to operate in purpose every day.”

Angela pours her wisdom and heart into others. Not one for the spotlight but many have given this Tennessee State University Alum her roses. Now! She was recognized by the Nashville Business Journal (NBJ) as a Power 100, an annual business list of movers and shakers that is considered THE list to be on in Nashville. She has served faithfully as a coach for NBJ annual Mentoring Monday events, and she was recognized by NBJ as a Women of Influence Honoree.

The one job that Angela longed to hold was “Mommy.” She and her husband Roger Jones, a former NFL athlete, are blessed to be parents to “King Donavan,” a NICU 2009 graduate. Because of him, Angela and Roger are strong supporters of the March of Dimes and often help families who are facing fertility challenges.  

Comments are not immediately visible. All comments are moderated, and will be published following review.

Continue reading

2024 Mar. Mag

March 2024 Mag

Carol McElheney is the regional vice president of operations at Hudson, the largest travel retailer in the world. Carol has been with Hudson for more than 10 years and continues to excel in her role. She continuously demonstrates her proven abilities to craft and facilitate creative business solutions, resulting in major improvements in operating plans and successful new revenue generation.

With over 20 years in the F&B industry, Carol clearly demonstrates her understanding of the value of customer service. She defends and supports that everyone wants and deserves to be treated with respect.  When this occurs, the outcome is often the beginning of a meaningful relationship.  Carol has nurtured so many incredible relationships over the years, several of which continue to inform many of her decisions and business opportunities. From universities to corporate dining rooms, Carol has had the pleasure of building and developing business models that work and add long-term value.

Smiling black woman standing in front of a night time cityscape wearing a black sleeveless dress and and a large beaded white and black necklace on a Cerese D magazine cover

Carol is wearing Cerese D’s Real Soft Focus Pearls.

While it is important for Carol to cultivate an inclusive workplace, this sentiment carries over into her decisions to intentionally bring diverse business partners into her locations.  Women and minority-owned businesses are sorely underrepresented but have dynamic offerings that can thrive and prosper if allowed to be recognized by the masses. Our business should reflect the many travelers who come through our airports. Travelers should experience a “sense of place.” Bringing some of the city’s unique aspects inside the airport allows Hudson to pay homage to what the city and state offer.

Carol loves her role as RVP in the airport space and all that it represents! She believes everyone on her team brings value to the organization. Her leadership style supports building a diverse team and business through intentional relationship building. Carol is very passionate about serving and helping people. She is committed to ensuring all her team members are trained, mentored, and championed for personal and professional growth opportunities.

Her interests include improving all people’s lives and mentoring young professionals.  She actively serves on several boards in Alabama, most recently joining the Sloss Furnace Board in Birmingham.

Carol is a true change agent, committed to leaving everything better than she found it. Her faith and servant leader mentality continue to motivate her success.

Comments are not immediately visible. All comments are moderated, and will be published following review.

Continue reading