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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, Sept. 22, 2014

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UWM professor Portia Cobb-Heyward -- also, the author's mother -- is working to establish a sustainable living learning center in South Carolina.
UWM professor Portia Cobb-Heyward -- also, the author's mother -- is working to establish a sustainable living learning center in South Carolina.
Shanel Cooper-Sykes has always possessed the ability to educate and motivate men and women a like.
Shanel Cooper-Sykes has always possessed the ability to educate and motivate men and women a like.

Milwaukee's women to watch

After the magic of Oscar night, one of my favorite things to do is to investigate the backgrounds of these celebrities.

I enjoy learning about the life-changing moments that contributed to their success.

I enjoy listening to their stories about the life struggles, the moment they almost gave up on their dreams or their sources of inspiration.

I constantly seek sources of inspiration that will motivate me to take the next step, and encourage me to keep going when times get rough.

This year, though, rather than research the lives of the Oscar nominees, I thought it would be more exciting and motivating to highlight local women who are making their dreams come true.

And the nominees are:

  • Shanel Cooper-Sykes: Author, motivational speaker, life coach and overall domestic goddess.
  • Monique Rose Simms: Self-published author, founder of the House of Hope Girls Home of Milwaukee
  • Professor Portia Cobb-Heyward: Professor of film and video, artist and now community agriculture specialist (as well as my mom).

Cooper-Sykes is a 20-something, self-taught Renaissance woman. She is a professional make-up artist, certified lifestyle coach, speaker and a magnificent cook. This Milwaukee native prides herself on her ability to move and motivate women into action.

Shanel has always possessed the ability to educate and motivate men and women alike. From her first job as a denim specialist to make up artist, to self-made businesswoman, Shanel's tactic has been consistency. With her latest project, the book "Stiletto's in the Kitchen," this domestic goddess is not only educating women on how to rule in the kitchen, but also how to reign in life.

Her books, coaching calls and You Tube info sessions, show women how to succeed in love, goal-setting and being fabulous. Shanel is not just talk, she stresses how important it is to love yourself and encourages a healthy relationship with yourself before inviting anyone else into your life.

The woman is amazing and keeps both sexes talking! With nearly 12,000 fans on Facebook, and way more You Yube views, her worldwide success is just around the corner. I encourage you to order a copy of "Stiletto's in the Kitchen," but I warn you if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen!

Monique Rose-Simms -- A mother at the age of 16, the odds were against her. Often, young women facing this reality have two choices, either fight to ensure a better life for the child or give up on your goals and dreams.

For a teenager, there is a tremendous amount of difficulty that comes with raising a child, attending school and working. Monique was fortunate, because she had a loving and supportive family that stood by her side.

Since then, Rose-Simms has become victorious in her life and decided that she wanted to pass on my life skills and knowledge to other young ladies who may be going through similar situations.

She wanted to create a space for girls who may not have a supportive family and stable household. She created the House of Hope, a safe place that offers young transitional girls a home where hope is the standard. She mentors and coaches the girls by teaching them life skills that will help them lead independent and responsible lives.

As a wife, mother of two, business owner and philanthropist its hard to believe that Monique can find the time to pursue her other passion, writing. She is a self published author who dreams of being at the top of The New York Times bestsellers list one day.

Portia Cobb-Heyward -- The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor is in the process of having the former residence of her grandparents (my great-grandparents) -- a 13-acre plot -- cleared and restored to create a community cooperative garden in Charleston, South Carolina.

She invested her savings to clear the land of debris that had grown for more than 10 years, obscuring the little house where many family and community memories were created. Her vision is to restore the house to make it a sustainable living learning center where educators, students, researchers, service learners, chefs, sustainable food specialists and artists could convene to share information about eco-agriculture, sustainable gardening, food production, culture and history.

Professor Cobb-Heyward hopes to propel the mission by developing partnerships with neighboring elementary, middle and high schools-children, teachers to maintain a organic garden that will produce everything from fruit and vegetables, to flower and organic tea. Proud of you Mommy!

Now these women have amazing stories, and created paths for the development of their dreams, against all odds. This kind of courage and strength takes much more than hiring a good agent; it takes focus, consistency and prayer. This is why these ladies take the cake!

For more information on how you can support these local women and make donations to their organizations check them out on Facebook.

Talkbacks

Beautybee | May 31, 2010 at 3:52 p.m. (report)

36386 Great article. There are so many young women in Milwaukee that are doing more than is asked of them. Going over and beyond to not only make a name for themselves, but give back to the community. Keep these wonderful profiles coming!

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pfunkyouup | March 9, 2010 at 1:55 p.m. (report)

Awesome article do more spots like this one! I give it 5 stars!!!!

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TosaJim | March 8, 2010 at 3:54 p.m. (report)

Great article...three outstanding women. It's refreshing to read about people who give back to their communities..rather than the terrible stories of those who take away from their communities. Let's see more articles about the men and women in Milwaukee who are making a difference.

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