By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Mar 28, 2024 at 1:31 PM

Dionne L. Grayson is not afraid to reinvent herself. Grayson has served in myriad different professional roles, from executive leadership to program design to her current role as a writer of 23 children's and self-improvement books

"When I look back at my career, I have always had intentionality around where I worked, volunteered and the activities I engaged in," says Grayson. "How I’m connected needs to fit into my big picture. Be something I’m passionate about. Sharpen a skill. And most importantly, I have to absolutely love doing it," says Grayson.

Grayson grew up in Milwaukee and received her undergrad degree from Alverno College and a Master's from UW-Milwaukee. She currently resides in Franklin.

"My hope is that I can inspire others to go after their dreams, whether new or old, and to live life as intentionally and purposefully as possible. It is important to be your best self and to absolutely love what you are doing each day," says Grayson.

Here are the eight questions every female in the series answers:

1. What does active listening mean to you?

Active listening is maintaining eye contact, paying attention to body language, commenting on what is said when it is warranted and knowing when to listen and when to speak. Sometimes, as women, we’re so quick to want to fix things when all that is required is for us to listen and be supportive or empathize.

Do you consider yourself a good listener, and if so, how has this helped you in your personal and professional relationships?

Absolutely. I had an experience where I was at a business lunch with someone to discuss something that was very important. I was excited about the meeting, but when I got there, the person I was meeting with was on his phone the entire time, and distracted by his surroundings, and I remember feeling like my time was wasted and undervalued. That experience was pivotal and reminded me to respect others’ time with my attention. I never want another person to feel the way I felt in that moment.

2. What was the last subject you were curious about and then pursued to learn more? How did you pursue it?

I’d have to say publishing children’s books. I had no idea where to start. The desire was there and I had a vision of it, so I sought out someone who was familiar in the industry. I became a part of a community of new and seasoned children’s book authors, and I sat through hours of free and paid trainings. I truly became a student, learning all things publishing children’s books. Through all of this, what I didn’t expect is I would absolutely fall in love with this journey. 

As a result, The Children’s Gift Series was born, and I have now published 23 children’s books and counting.

3. If you can’t figure something out yourself, what source or person do you turn to first?

As a woman of faith, I talk to God first. When you ask, you get an answer either from the Bible, through prayer, or through another person. Additionally and depending on what it is, I have a community of individuals who I confide in and bounce off ideas to professionally. This same community is also very honest with me and will give me “the real.”

4. How long do you wait before you ask for help? As a woman, do you think you wait longer to reach out?

If you asked me this question, years ago, I would say it took me a long time to ask for help. I didn’t necessarily not want the help, I was a natural fixer and didn’t think to ask nor was I taught to ask for help. It was a part of who I was. Now that I have gotten older, I am more conscious of asking for help, understanding I don’t have all of the answers and there is power in community.

4. What are your personal values? Who and/or what inspired them and how do these values affect your decision-making process?

I value my relationship with God foremost, because it serves as a guide with how I move – in business and in my personal relationships. I value my health and the things I put into my body. I value healthy friendships and relationships with the people around me. And I value doing things intentionally and with excellence. 

5. Technology and online communication/meetings/social has definitely changed over the years. Do these things help or hinder your growth – or both?

I am an introvert, so naturally, I am very comfortable being alone. In today’s world, it’s so easy to get caught up in your phone or on social media and hide or be distracted. Having a conversation on the phone versus having a conversation with someone in-person is very different, so for me, I am really intentional on maximizing human interaction and cultivating relationships that don’t rely so heavily on technology or online communication. I am probably one of few people who still has a house phone, and I take pride in tucking away my cell phone to not be a slave to the many mainstream apps and platforms that make up our world.

6. Where is the farthest you’ve traveled and what is a thing or two you learned from the experience? And what surprised you?

The farthest I’ve traveled is to Puerto Rico. I cannot fly past four hours, something I’m working on. I think it’s always important to be aware and conscious of other culture’s customs. In my family, we don’t have a lot of traditions, so I’m always super appreciative to learn of the other traditions that exist. I was surprised to learn about the popularity of cockfighting in Puerto Rico.

7. What are your favorite art forms? How do you challenge yourself to actively engage in the arts?

I can appreciate architecture and I enjoy the theater. I love listening to music, especially movie scores. In fact, while most people are looking at a movie and enjoying the scenes or dialogue, my mind is often occupied with the score. I’ll even go so far as Googling who the composer is in a movie and playing back the music once the movie is over.

8. How do you/your work move Milwaukee forward?

I’d like to think that I am moving Milwaukee forward by showing others how to be intentional and doing what one is designed to do. I have worked in many spaces – small businesses, nonprofits, corporations – which has allowed me to make an impact on many young people.

With publishing at 49, I am happy to demonstrate that it’s OK to pivot; it’s okay to have a career shift, and it’s never too late to explore or further discover that “new heartbeat” you may be feeling. I will be 52 in April, and I feel like I’m just starting to live all over again. 

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.