OnMilwaukee's The Future Is Female series is brought to you by Alverno College and features some of the most interesting, innovative and intelligent women in the city.
Alverno College, for over 135 years, has strived to educate and empower women to realize their leadership, strength of voice and potential to lead in the working world. Alverno’s support of “The Future is Female” continues to showcase and exemplify these efforts by supporting the stories of grit, resilience and strength of character of present, past and future leading women in the Milwaukee community! #AlvernoStrong
Sherrice Harrell is the Chief Administrative Officer for Community Care, a nonprofit organization that assists adults with long-term-care needs to live as independently as possible. This means she spends her workdays leading the human resources, marketing and communications, and facilities departments.
"I love connecting with people, solving problems, and seeing people grow personally and professionally," says Harrell.
Harrell, who grew up in Flint, Mich., earned a Bachelor of Science in Health Services Administration and a Master of Arts in Organizational Management from Wilberforce University, the nation’s oldest private, historically Black university owned and operated by African Americans. She is also a certified human resources professional, holding both the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and SHRM-SCP certifications.
Today, she lives in Milwaukee with her husband and has two grown children. She is also very close to her parents, who still live in the Flint, Mich. home she was raised in.
OnMilwaukee recently had the chance to chat with Harrell, and ask her the eight questions posed to all women in this series. The women chosen for this series are from many different walks of life, but have numerous things in common, including vision, passion, compassion and contribution.
1. What does active listening mean to you? Do you consider yourself a good listener, and if so, how has this helped you in your personal and professional relationships?
Active listening means being fully engaged in the conversation. This is often hard because we are “multi-tasking.” I feel like active listening is something I can always do better on. I think I’m an OK listener. This is something that I work on often. Like others, technology and pressing priorities sometimes get in the way of me being a better listener. I am also a problem solver. Sometimes I fall short of being an active listener because I am listening to solve a problem and not listening to fully understand and empathize with the person.
2. What was the last subject you were curious about and then pursued to learn more? How did you pursue it?
Professionally, the thing I am most passionate about is leadership. I am always striving to be a better leader and lift up those around me. One of the best ways I’ve found to do this is by pursuing ways to connect and network with others who I can learn from. I would prefer to learn from another person (or the perspective of another person) rather than from a book.
Personally, my latest interest is real estate. My parents were involved in real estate when I was growing up, which got me interested. I would like to start a real estate investment group focused on women. Like other investment groups, this would be a group of like-minded individuals who pool their resources to invest in real estate. I am passionate about helping other women develop personally and professionally, because I think we have some unique challenges that others don’t face.
3. If you can’t figure something out yourself, what source or person do you turn to first? How long do you wait before you ask for help?
It depends on what I am trying to figure out. I feel blessed that I have people who I can go to and I trust, like my husband and parents. When I am faced with a decision or I’m struggling with something, I will run it by my husband. He often has a thoughtful and unique perspective on things that I do. Otherwise, Google can be a useful, but a dangerous tool, so I use it with a certain amount of caution.
I have no problem asking for help, especially if I know it’s something out of my wheelhouse. I think am a better leader because I know and understand my limitations.
4. What are your personal values? Who and/or what inspired them and how do these values affect your decision-making process?
Faith, Love, Family and Gratitude. Growing up, my parents instilled in me many values that have helped me in my personal and professional life. I believe they all are critical to building and maintaining meaningful relationships.
5. Technology and online communication have definitely changed over the years. Do these things help or hinder your growth – or both?
Both. Technology and online communication have been great tools to allow others from around the world to communicate and to get to see a slice of someone else’s life. I think these tools can be used to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion – opening people’s minds to other ideas and experiences.
However, it can take away from a person’s ability to listen actively and be engaged in one-on-one conversation. Technology can never replace the connections made through real, human interaction. We lose something when we replace someone’s ability to connect with others in person.
6. Where is the farthest you’ve traveled and what is a thing or two you learned from the experience? And what surprised you?
I have been to the Caribbean more than once, including Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. Once, while in Jamaica, we visited Bob Marley’s house. On our way there, we saw a group carrying water up a hill and they were laughing and happy. It is always so surprising to me to see people who have what appears to be very little, at least by our country’s standards, yet are so humble and grateful.
I feel like there are so many things that we take for granted in the United States. Traveling makes me appreciate things even more and broaden my perspective. I’m always reminded to be thankful for all that I have.
7. What are your favorite art forms? How do you challenge yourself to actively engage in the arts?
My favorite art forms are music and poetry. It’s no challenge. I love listening to live music the most. I am amazed by how someone can use their voice as an instrument. The words to songs have so much meaning and feeling behind them. I look at music like poetry with a tune. I also am a firm believer that music brings people together.
8. How do you/your work move Milwaukee forward?
The way I help to move Milwaukee forward is by being myself, being kind to people, being empathetic, and living my values. There are so many positive things happening in Milwaukee. However, the city still has its share of issues that might seem discouraging and could cause someone to turn inward and not want to be a part of the solution. I challenge myself every day to not fall into that mindset. The work I do at Community Care aligns with my personal values. We work with some of the most vulnerable members of our community. Being a part of that mission allows me to play a part in helping to make the city a more inclusive and welcoming place for everyone.
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.