KISH: Tell us about you..
I am the Executive Director/Founder of TBEY Arts Center, Inc. TBEY is a tax-exempt nonprofit 501(c) 3 organization that provides after-school & summer arts education, tutoring, and mentoring programs for Milwaukee, WI youth ages 6-19. TBEY was founded over 22 years ago, when I was 16 years old. After seeing the arts being cut from many schools, I recognized the need for arts programs to keep Milwaukee youth involved in something positive and TBEY was born.
KISH: What is your dream and how will accomplishing your dream benefit you and others?
Contessa: My dream was to start an arts organization. I am living my dream! I always wanted to be involved in the arts. Through the work that I do with TBEY, I help provide youth a positive outlet and the opportunity to be a part of something that will last a lifetime. I have a strong appreciation for the create works that help shape the world and how we see it.
KISH: Who or what inspired you to pursue this dream?
Contessa: My family inspired me to pursue a career in the arts. My mom and dad exposed me to the arts at a very young age. I have a very artistic family. I was surrounded by creatives in a variety of mediums. I was also inspired by Black Entertainment Television (BET). Watching the network, I saw artists who looked like me performing and creating. The company was owned by Black people which was inspiring as well.
KISH: What challenges have you encountered while pursuing your dream?
Contessa: Some of the challenges I faced while pursuing my dream was not having adequate resources. I was a college student; I didn’t have any funding resources. In the beginning I also didn’t have mentors to help guide me, I had to learn everything on my own.
KISH: Who or what inspired you to keep pushing regardless of the challenges you’ve encountered?
Contessa: My family and mentors encouraged me throughout this journey. Even when I had doubts and fears, they believed in my dream and me. They helped me overcome many obstacles and supported me through those ups and downs.
KISH: Please provide final thoughts/advice for others by finishing this sentence… dream.
Contessa: The best advice I would give to those that are chasing their dreams, is to take care of yourself no matter what. Self-care is extremely important. The work you were called to do requires you to pour into so many people, but to do that, you must pour into yourself. Also, remember that you can’t do it alone. Find your tribe, like minded individuals and mentors to be there when you need to vent, guidance, or just support with your dream.