Carissa arrived at Cafe Grumpy just off of Wall Street with a double shot of energy. She immediately hugged my daughter (whom she had just met) and talked about how she could one day move to New York City, as well. “Mary, you will love it here,” she said as if the wheels were already in motion for my fourteen year old girl to move to the Big Apple.

Carissa and I met when she was speaking at the CCDA Conference in Detroit a few years ago. Her passion was infectious and I was captivated by her passion for business and justice. I stuck around for a few minutes after the presentation to say hello. We’ve partnered together on a few initiatives since that day. The common thread for all of our collaborative efforts center around our shared interest in entrepreneurialism and equal opportunities for individuals in high poverty communities.


“I use this side of my journal to keep my mind busy while I’m in meetings,” she said with a huge smile on her face. She was pointing to the first half of her simple black notebook. There were squiggles, scribbles, and abstract shapes all over the first twenty pages of the notebook. “I know people think I’m crazy. I probably am a little bit, but aren’t we all?” She was laughing out loud at this point.

“Whenever I say that I’m going to do something, I turn to the back of the notebook.” She flipped to the last twenty pages of the same black notebook and it was filled with perfectly tidy checklists. “This notebook helps separate my creative energy from the productive side of my brain,” she said.

We met to discuss a book she’s writing. The next ninety minutes turned out to be a creative explosion.

She filled two pages of abstract shapes interspersed with notes from our conversation. At the conclusion of our time together, she turned to the back half of her notebook and we discussed some practical ideas to get her project going in the next few weeks.

I can’t give away the main themes of her book, but she’s exploring the characteristics of a holistic business person. This includes planning for growth while creating opportunities for others that may be overlooked or marginalized. Her conviction was palpable as she said, “Talent is equal, opportunity is not.”

I can’t wait to read her book.


The future will be created by entrepreneurs like Carissa. She has a vision for business leaders that are full of grace and benevolent hearts. I am grateful that my daughter was able to meet her today. I want to expose Mary to women that have big dreams. Mary will take on the world one day and it is my job to make sure she’s ready when that time comes.

Mary led the charge the entire weekend. I taught her how to read the subway maps and how to buy our Metro cards. She used Citymapper to navigate subway lines, Apple Maps to get walking directions, and Grabbd to find the most delicious vegan restaurants and unique coffee shops. This was her weekend to explore the city and I was right next to her every time she had a question. She didn’t have many questions.

Most impressively, Mary skillfully snagged a picture in Times Square of three Elmos surrounding another Elmo as Cookie Monster casually watched from a distance. These notoriously creepy mascots demand payment for pictures. Not from my girl, though. She kept her distance and discreetly executed the “snap and proceed with no charge” technique. She was born to adventure and this weekend was her time to shine. Her brilliance illuminated the city.


There are no glass ceilings for Mary to shatter in the Docusen home because we are building the house. There’s no limit to what she can do and what she can become. Dara and I are raising our sweet girl to be fiercely committed to carrying out all that God has placed in her heart.

Women are filling executive positions and seats on boards.
Women are crashing the boys’ club in the corporate world.
Women are courageously and prophetically leading us in ministry. 

I hope you’re ready. Mary is ready. Carissa is ready.

I see a wave of young leaders rising up. There are no limits to what a person can do when they have been called and anointed by God. Discriminatory lines cannot and will not hold back brilliance. When I look into Mary’s eyes, I don’t see a potential future leader. I see a present leader that is simply learning how to navigate the subway system and find the best restaurants along the way. 

I will forever raise my voice to advocate for women in positions of leadership in churches, nonprofit orgs, and businesses. Carissa and Mary only deepened my belief that women are equipped and ready to take the lead.

Fellas, I hope you’re ready. The future is here and she is courageous.