Felicia Gomes-Gregory Live Love Faith And Dance


Felicia shares her remarkable journey. She was born in raised in Crown Heights Brooklyn and spent summers in Bridgeport MA. As a child she always had a passion for dance, public speaking, and technology. She has a Masters in Science from Fordham University. She has worked as a senior developer for several large firms in New York. She worked at Cannon Fritzgearld before and fter 9-11. In 2010 she startted her own event planning company called Marble Creations. She shares where sheb was during 9-11 and how the tragedy affected her, the bricks she faced through her amazing career, and the whispers that changed her life.

Episode Transcription:

Intro plays

Ari: Welcome to whisper bricks. My name is Ari Schonbrun, and I’m your hosts. My guest today is Felicia Gomez Gregory. She was born and raised in Crown Heights in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York. But her second home was Bridgeport, Connecticut and Cape Cod, Massachusetts where she spent summers with family. Even at an early age, she always had a passion for dance, public speaking and technology. In high school, she was cheerleading Captain school president and a member of the National Honor Society. Due to her love for math and science, she majored in computer science obtaining a bachelor’s degree and master’s of science degree from Fordham University. She began a career as a COBOL computer programmer, and has held positions as a senior developer quality assurance and systems support analyst working at various educational financial firms in New York. In 1999, she joined Cantor Fitzgerald, as part of the quality assurance and Application Support Team for fixed income. She continued with the company post 911 as part of the subsidiary owned company of Cantor e speedy in 2006. She joined Lehman Brothers as a member of the portfolio analytics team. After the Lehman bankruptcy, she remained with the private equity firm Neuberger Berman until 2016, providing 24 hours support for the equity trading desk for New York, Tokyo and London. She has served on various boards, including Fordham University’s black and Latino Alumni Club, and as a longtime parishioner, and lector at St. Francis of Assisi St. Blaise parish, sorry, Francis of Assisi St. Plays parish where she was baptized. Her true passion during her spare time, she embarked on a true passion of event planning, beginning as a wedding coordinator in the early 90s. At the lab, the largest black owned catering Hall and entertainment space in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York. In 2010, she started her own company called Marable creations. She continues to encourage young people, especially women of color, to seek knowledge in financial empowerment careers in math, science or technology, and to pursue their dreams and passions, no matter what she believes her faith and life are the products of her mother and all the phenomenal women in her circle of family and friends. And she quotes remember to look back so you can always appreciate your moving forward. Her motto is live love, faith and dance. She continues to reside Brooklyn, New York with her amazing husband, Joseph Gregory, her princesses Danielle and Gabrielle. And one of our first loves besides her dad and guardian angel forever Felix combs, the Queen, her mother, Mary, God, please help me welcome Felicia groves Gregory.

Felica: Thank you, Ari. I’m so I usually don’t listen to that bio. But thank you so much. It’s it’s a wonderful journey. It has been meeting you. Everything in my life has been just a journey. And I think that pattern said that way. So to even be speaking to you on my daughter’s birthday. And you know, finding out the night or the weekend before 911 It’s just this. This was all supposed to happen for REITs. But so this is So Julius, thank you so much. I’m so humbled, and I’m so gracious and thank you for inviting me.

Ari: Absolutely. Absolutely. I gotta tell you, you’re an accomplished individual, you know, obtaining a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, becoming a public speaker, a dancer, a tech person, starting your own company while working full time and now helping and encouraging the youth of America, especially young women of color. You know, I’m exhausted just reading everything that you do. So congratulations.

Felica: Thank you. I’m trying i i just saw people. It’s that Superwoman cape and I don’t know. I’m sure there are other women out here that understand about having this Superwoman cape, but I think also really, in my community, it’s just always kind of been that way where I was just first taught, my mom always taught me you got to do this, this and this. So instead of me doing 100% I always had to do 120 So it’s just become part of my life. And I think that’s the reason I love programming and science and math and detect it because I was like, at eight years old, I was lining up my Barbie dolls, or my toys my dad told me and then I went to my dad. I recently lost them two years ago. So as I said, he was my guardian angel. I went back to his home the weekend, we were doing his home going. And I went to his apartment, and I looked at my father’s closet, and I walked in his hats for all in the row, the pants where I said, this is where I got it. My dad, and I had never know, everything was organized. So that’s what led me into the love of science, math, technology, programming, because I loved the organization and the structure. And then that later just pulled out into my passion of which was coordinating and doing, I used to coordinate fashion shows I used to model. And then I finally said, You know what, I’m always in a show one, I start coordinating some. And so I started working on East Flatbush, and in Crown Heights for some small black owned business fashion designers. And I would do fashion shows they would have these big block parties. And so I started coordinating those. And then I jumped to clubs, because I love to dance. He saw what I saw that Yeah. I’m a dancer. So I had friends that were promoters. And I would do fashion shows at the clubs. And it was just something fun to do. And I’ve always had this good eye eye for detail, you know. And that’s why I loved programming. That’s why I love being at canner. And then you know, ending up at Neuberger and working with all these financial firms. Just always love the structure and the technology. I think that’s what what you know, so I’ve learned to transition because now I’m in the transition stage and reinvention mode at this age, you know, even though we both look very, you’re handsome, and I’m gorgeous. For our ages.

And we always were by the way,

yes, we are. So I just realized as you transition and you become more season, you have to reinvent the wheel. And now this is my reinvention. 55

Ari: There you go. Well, as you know, the name of the podcast is whispers in bricks. Now the whispers of those voices telling you what the right thing to do is, and it represents the good in life. The bricks represent the bad things we go through in life and God knows, we all get hit with bricks throughout our lives. It’s just it’s part of life. Now the reason I asked you to be on the show, is because although your story reads like a fairy tale, I know that you’ve gone through some bricks of your own, including work Nicanor, when 911 happens. Yeah, I know. And I know that there are people in my audience who are going through some of the things things that you had gone through, they’ve been hit with brick after brick, much like what you have gone through what they needed to do they needed to hear and to know that they could get through the trials and tribulations the same way that you did. Right. They needed to know that there were whispers out there that could save them and help them. So my first question to you is an obvious one, like, right, where were you on 911? And what happened? Give us your story, give us the Reader’s Digest.

Digest version. 

Felica: Well, as I was saying already on that Monday, on Monday, basically a lot of us came into ESB because I worked with a subsidiary on the speed. And I was talking to my boss, Phil, and a lot of people got fired that day. Nobody knew that was going to happen. The managers didn’t know. So they were about 30 people that were let go and he speak

that day. That’s right. I remember that.

And so people were like, freaking out. My managers had no clue they were letting people go. So I called my head hunter who put me at, you know, canner. And I said, Yo, what’s going on? And he was like, Felicia, there’s about 100 of you getting ready to be let go. And I was like, like, just survive the first wait. And so for me as

I when I did that I called my girlfriend and when I got to canner being a technologist all those years. When I got there, I got there in 1999. It was the first company ever saw a woman of color and tech. And it was amazing. There was only a handful of us there. And I kind of lost all of my babies that day. But as I walked in, I was talking to Sondra, who was my colleague, Sandra Campbell, and amazing woman, single mom had a beautiful daughter getting ready to start college. And I remember talking to her and I was like, Do you believe this? And she’s like, Felicia, I can’t. I can’t afford to lose my job. My daughter’s the first gen first generation going to college and my family. And I was like this. The Lord God is here for a reason. I said, we’re here still. Don’t you worry. We get let’s get through another day. Right now we’re here. And I remember leaving that evening and she was supposed to come back to my house because I had just renovated the house here. She was what some Apple Jacks from Costco for her because she loved Apple day. She was coming back on Tuesday to pick it up. And I remember walking out that evening and I never left her out. It was so ironic that they had me so frazzled with losing so many friends that were leaving the company. Um, I just said you know what, I’m going to go home on time, because I never go home on time. As the technologist never did, and I left out at 530. And I remember I don’t know if you remember Margaret. She was the receptionist on 101. Because I think I was on 101. She was a receptionist. And she said, I think it was her to this day. I don’t know who spoke to me. But somebody said, Felicia, I’ll see you tomorrow. And I know these words are your what safety? I looked at her. And I don’t know who it was. I said, You know what? I said, God willing, you see me tomorrow with the way things are going, I don’t know what’s going to happen. Now, there’s no way that you could have told me what would happen next day would have happened. But those words saved me. And I walked out into this day, I still cannot figure all these years later who that beautiful voice was, I don’t know who it was. And I remember that evening going home. The next day, I had just been taking off of the 7am. Teen in July. And I was like I said, there’s a pattern for everybody. And I had, I had been taken off the 7am team and I was supposed to be at my desk at 930 I literally I live in Crown Heights, I would literally wake up 830 and be at my desk at 930 I’m the kind of woman I get dressed in 20 minutes. I don’t wear a lot of makeup. I don’t have jumping close my mouth. So that morning, I was getting dressed and I was trying to figure out how I picked up my suit and I was pregnant with my daughter I had just told Sondra that morning. On Monday, I forgot that quick part of the story. I told her that Monday I said guess what, I’m gonna have a baby. She’s like, you know, I knew you were pregnant cuz you got this little gun that I saw for the last two weeks, and you’re always looking out and I’m like, Oh, whatever. And then also that day Joe SAS came back. I don’t know if you remember Joe Sasser though. He was one of the bond traders because I worked for the bond desk helping out post support for them. And I remember every time Joe would come in the office and he would see me he was like, Felicia, you know, how you doing as far as like, I’m good job, what’s happening? You know, you know, you and my love child, right. So that day he came, and he had not been back for three months because he lost his 15 year old. So brain cancer. She had a tumor. And he came back on September 10. And I lost him on September 11. And I always said his daughter came to get him, you know, and he had just came back that morning. And when he said that to me, I just laughed and hugged him because I had I knew I was printed. It was so funny. And I was like, You know what, Joe, you from that. Just just go back to your desk. And, and those are the two vivid things that I remember the day before. But the morning of I remember trying. It’s now about maybe 20 minutes to nine. And I’m getting in my clothes and my mom, like I said, my work my queen. She is the person who is always the communists in the storm. So she calls me on the phone. And she’s like, Felicia, good morning. And I’m like, man, you know, I’m trying to get out of here. What’s wrong with you? I think 20 minutes that it because you’ve always been laid on your life. I’m not doing you know, so I’m going through these things. And she’s like, well, baby, you really can’t go to work because a plane hit your building. And there’s no trains or buses. She said this calmly, and I say excuse me, Isola Holly, could you repeat that? So she’s like, baby, just turn the TV on. And I remember dropping the phone. I went to turn the TV on. And when I saw the towers, I just screamed. I said Mommy, I gotta call you back. So the other thing people didn’t know that myself and Sandra Campbell were also the fire wardens for one on one. I was the fire warden on my floor. You were so we I was the fire warden. So one of the things that when the fire company would come up and do these drills with us, they would always say well you know what, it’s gonna take you 45 minutes to get down and I’m in my head. Okay, you not you and I know that was not true. But he was like snow taking 45 minutes to get down they would do this whole drill so the one funny thing I used to love about my girl Sandra is that we would wear our little caps and we’d have our whistles right because we so after they would leave Sondra be like Okay, excuse me. Excuse me everybody just wait I’m just want to let you know if we ever have a fire and you see my hat and hear my whistle. Get your ass up and run because I’m not coming to look for none of y’all okay. She said for luncheon Christians maybe she’ll come and get you but you ain’t get my whistle get show.

made me laugh. So what that did that morning. I was like, that’s all I got Sandra is that her whistle she’s running around. So I started calling Sargeras called Margaret. I called Bill fouling my boss. I was calling everybody nobody was answering. So that day, it just basically when the towers fell, I was in the fetal position on the floor for hours, just hours. And it was just a hard it was a hard day and then because of the fact that was so crystal clear. It was just a crystal clear day. And and it took a while. So it going through the memorials. Because I went to every Memorial I did photo collages for my dear co workers, Jorge Leone was one of my co workers, Sandra Beverly curry I did, I did picture collages. I went to Memorial after Memorial, and I was getting bigger and bigger. And I kept saying, Well, you know, what, my angels are looking over me now as I’m, as my child is here, you know. And the funny thing is now that I during 911, last year, the kids had to deal with, you know, being COVID being so it’s always seems that this generation, or you know, people that had their children during that time, they have gone through really tragic times, which had come through, and I think, for me, is how I got through every because it took a while I had to stop. For the first few years, it was kind of hard. And it wasn’t until three years ago that I actually even walked back down to world trade. I never went back and never went back. Um, and I think one year of Bill’s wife, Laura Fallon, she actually asked me and said, I’m gonna go to the memorial, would you like to come? And I was like, I’m gonna see. And I decided to go, and I’ve never gone again. It was it was like, every time I heard their name, it was like, a bunch of bricks. were falling on top of me. And I said, never ever, ever could I do this again. So I never went back to the memorial. And I never, you know, I don’t listen as much I used to, to the names on 911. Because it was just a little bit too painful. But this last year, the last two or three years, I’ve gotten better, because I remember the joyous moments. That’s what’s gotten me through all of these years that got me through every Memorial to remember me and Jorge dancing in our queue, because every morning I would get there before the desk would the stock market would open. Me and Jorge, we would have our little salsa dance, so we’d be doing our stuff. And they were like, I was like, I’m in technology. It’s okay, we need this break. Because, you know, most people think technologists and nerds No, we’re not. We’re fun people. And so Jorge, and I would have our little salsa dance and, and then Sondra nice, she actually used to have this. I don’t know, if you saw this animation back then it was this little baby that you love to clap. There was some little thing I think that’s when first came out a little video. And she would play it every morning because I always would just she loved to see me fall out, because I love a baby’s laughter. So what I did to survive those times to survive the memorials is that I was able to remember all of the wonderful blessings each and every person like Joanne she was next to me. i The Lotus, I can’t remember how to say her name. It was brief. But she loved to shop for shoes every day, she would come back with a new pair of shoes from Century 21. And I would go sit and chat with her to see her new shoes. So Beverly curry, she loved shopping as well on the weekend, but she hated driving. So her husband would do the driving. So I would have so each person, I had a connection, even with our consultants, Simon, he was a consultant on my floor from London. And he would always complain to me that I say zebra and they say is that and I was like, okay, whatever. So I would have this whole back and forth about the proper way to say words, you know, in English and grammar. So I just remembered all the joys, things. And finally when I stopped smoking, and I stopped letting the hurt and the pain of losing them. And when I took that cable off, I was good. And it took me a while to take that off. Because I would literally not even go into work on 911 I would just sit in the bed. And then I said I can’t do this anymore. I mean, you can’t you can’t do this anymore. Because you have to remember the joy, the joys in life. And I think even through most of us, everyone is going through something especially with this pandemic.

Mentally, physically, spiritually, physically, we’re all drained. But you got to remember the good things. The joy is things remember always that the glass is glasses half full, not half empty. And I think, you know, that’s what was able to and then also having pictures I have in my my house here and I have, you know, down in Maryland, I have a home there and I got pictures of them all over the towers are still part of my life, because they shaped me and one of the things that it did really shape before 911 Being a woman of faith. I never liked people complaining even though I even sometimes complain, but I’m like, You know what, God is not gonna let you only two people listen to complaints, God and your mama and usually your mama hangs up the phone. So I just let people know. So you could have those personal conversation because he has to listen to you. But you know, most people don’t want to hear that and what I learned as after surviving that, when people will come and complain about little things, I’m like, You know what? You could be dead. So could you please not? Could we not? It’s the so many things that when we look at where we are, how hard we work to get where we are in life, there’s always someone less fortunate, someone in a worse situation. And you know what it’s like, if you’re not here to uplift, why be in my circle. And I know I lost a few friends. And even now as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found my circle of friends has gotten smaller and smaller, because I, at this age at fiery, as I call it, fiery and 55. You know, I don’t have time to waste if you’re not uplifting, and helping someone else get through something. It’s what’s the purpose, you know, so that’s really kind of my story in a nutshell of how I really, you know, survived 911 and have always looked at it, as one of my cousins call, it’s calls it Felicia Gomez Gregory de, because even my dad, he and he was actually the person who called me he was the last phone call I got before the towers went out. And he called and I and my father never really called all the time when I was working. And he called and he said, I just want to hear your voice. I said that I was running late, and he’s like, I will never talk to you about being late again. And because my mother was late my entire life, she still is already told people when when we go to the home going, don’t She’s not gonna come you’re gonna have to wait. Because I’m gonna have to go find her body before we can even celebrate her life because she’s not gonna be here. I’m just like, so my dad was like, I am never gonna complain to you about being late because I did take that 10 to see from my mom, I’m improved way improved more than her. But that day, I was running late. And, you know, so my dad, and he did. He didn’t complain anymore. After that, about me being late. He’s like, I’m gonna leave you alone. And he held his word. It was so funny, because he used to complain constantly. My mother was late for everything. So anybody that knows me and my mom, she’s going to be late to the home going, and I’m letting you know in advance. Just so you know.

Ari: Wow, that is so amazing. I had no idea. Quick question for you. Do you remember? Shai? Levin har. No, no. Okay. He was he was he worked in the in the tech. He was working at a speed. Okay. And

I remember faces. Yeah,

I always use an Israeli. He was an Israeli tall fellow. Really, really, he was helping me a lot with you know, I needed a program for a charity that was working on Ryan was helping me out with that. The name Saudi had a baby. He had a little girl in August.

I think because we had a baby shower for somebody that might have been him. He had a lot going on my bed planning stuff in the job too. So anytime, so I’m sure I did. My dad.

He had. He had a little girl. August, beginning of August, and and then he was killed on September 11. And

I think I probably I’m sure. I know faces, right? Yeah. All right.

Ari: So let’s switch gears a little bit. Okay. I’m interested in like your current passion, helping young people, especially women of color. Yeah. Talk to me about that a little bit. Okay,

Felica: so well, that came to be and you know, 2016. I was laid off from Neuberger Berman, and it was a blessing in disguise. As I turned 50, that year, and then no one told me this secret, I’m going to let your viewers know the secret. See, at 49, you’re really nice. But at 50. When people call you with stupidness, you just hang up the ball. You just say no. It’s just a natural reaction. Because in your brain, you’re like, I’m half a century. I’m not dealing with stupidness. So for the first six months, I hung up on everybody traders, portfolio managers and bosses. I was just hanging up on people. I was like, this is not working. Gregory, we got disconnected do we did I’m so sorry that I didn’t know what were you saying again. And they would say something stupid again. And I would hang up and they would call back again. So it was ironic that six months later, I got laid off. And I was really preying on it at the time because as a 24 hour support our analyst and specialists for three stock exchanges. I never saw my kids. I never saw my family. I was working 14 hour days for years. And at that point, I was already I was still the same weight. I’ve never been a heavy person. I’m tiny. But I was two points away from type two diabetes and I had high blood pressure for six years. And I was like, Okay, this is it. And I had recently just asked my primary doctor, could you just write me out? I need two weeks of mental Wellness. I really do. And finally she did and then they never accepted it because I found out later on July 11, They laid me off and they gave me a package. And so I said, okay, and then this was great because my mother in law, who was my most one of the beautiful women I loved in my life. Marion Williams Gregory, she used to say every time she saw me, that job is going to kill you. You need to become a teacher, and you need to be home with my granddaughters. Literally, I got laid off July 11, July 12, she went into the hospital, I had to take her to er, we came home, we were good. July 22. She was an angel. So everything in my life happens for a reason. Oh, absolutely. Everything. And so when she said those three things to me, in my head, I was like, wow, she was ready to go, I was home with her granddaughters. The job was no longer going to kill me. And she was a teacher for 53 years, she was actually the first black teacher ever went tenure in Suffolk County, when she was 19. And when she told me I need to become a teacher, that’s when it started churning. What am I going to do next? And I became a teacher. And so in 2017, I had a friend who was speaking to me constantly for two years straight. And you know, I really got this great Firm A really want you to come out and see what I’m doing. I’m in finance. And I’m like you are as like, Okay, I went to see it. And I was like, there’s people that look like me teaching education. And this was something I had always in my head on my heart for about 15 years, I wanted to have a forum where young women of color, young girls that love science and tech that was a nerd like me, could actually have a voice and have women that were role models to show them that they can go into these careers, and then say, Okay, now if I can go into this country, I can do something else, or I could do anything else. Because I was raised by 30 women with my mom, she had this amazing Sister Circle. They all met when they were 18, there was about six women, and they were known as the pace setters. And so therefore we’ve been around this year is our 50th anniversary, I’m actually still now the one that keeps the whole group together. And I only have two women left of the original six, which is my mother and my aunt Vivian. And those women are constants in my life. I mean, they were CFOs. They were scientists, they were principals, they built their own schools from scratch. They had their own businesses. So these were women that I looked up to, but when one day, I looked at myself, and I said, I got two daughters. I don’t have that circle of women are my daughters. What could I do different? I knew they existed. I knew I had a circle of phenomenal friends. So I said, How could I do it? So that’s when I went to this firm. And the gentleman that introduced me, my friend, Blake, he was like I said, you know, I want to bring women into finance. I want to teach them I want to say because I came out of Neuberger. And I said, Wow, if my husband leaves me tomorrow, I got two kids, two cars and a 401k. That looks like a 201 K.

Like, so. So that meant for 20 something years, I took care of the world except myself. And it’s not to say not taking care of your family is a priority it is but for women, it’s you have to take care of yourself, both physically, mentally, spiritually, and especially financially. And that’s where this came to be where I said, I’m going to create an organization where we’re going to speak, we’re going to show young girls, how to be financially literate, how to want to go into tech, were all of these different things that no one really taught me because I just met somebody, I think in eighth grade at St. Francis of Assissi. Came for free for university. And so they owned a jaguar, and they were computer scientists. And at 13 years old, I said those are the things I’m going to do. And I went to Fordham University are what my first Jaguar I can’t remember what year it was. And I became a computer scientist, all because this one man was there for career day. So I said, What can maybe I can do that for somebody else. And and so heels and higher achievement came to be, and which is a passion project of mine, which is to create this forum to speak about financial literacy and technology to young women, and especially to women of color, because a lot of times we don’t go in that direction. You know, so I speak to everyone, but I also speak based upon my own personal experience, because sometimes what I have suffered, what I have gone through my hardships are not always the same as someone else’s. But everybody’s stories different. And so that’s why I found it, it’s now time to pay for it. So I started feels in higher achievement four years ago, where I created heels in higher achievement ambassadors, and the young girls were ages 12 to 21. And we would basically have them come in and I would do a volunteer during women’s history. on four different fraternities, black fraternities, and if there was sorority events, anything that is empowering other young women to get to the next level, I would just join with their event and bring my girls in. And the last one I did, which was on, there is the Omega Psi Phi Epsilon chapter in Harlem, they do a phenomenal Women’s History Month award ceremony, and I brought my babies the last time and this the last two years, we had to go virtual because of COVID. But the last one I attended in person, I had six of my girls from eighth grade, at the time, and then seventh grade, and the there was a woman who was actually given Woman of the Year Award, she’s an author. And she created this free library in Brooklyn, where she brought black authors to different parts of Brooklyn for children to read so that you would come in and you would bring a book about a Blackboard, and then you would take another one to read. And she talked to the girls. And she was like, oh, so your kids, when do they graduate? And I’m like, those are seventh and eighth graders. She’s like, these are not high school seniors. I said, No, they’re from a charter school explore charter school here in Brooklyn. But they were they were readers, they loved it. And one of the little girls went home that day and told her mom, Mom, this was the best day of my life. And that’s all I needed to hear. Wow, that was all I needed to hear. So I know, it is my duty, it is my journey, because of the women that raised me to pay it forward. This is what I’m supposed to do. And that’s those whispers that I’ve had heard for years. So now I was able to take that idea and bring it to fruition, and said, and so I’m still building fields in higher achievement, I actually kick off my series this for every year, during Financial Literacy Month, I would go out and do workshops in the community. Now I’m virtual. So my first kickoff is Friday night, and I basically speak about how financial illness really affects your physical, mental, and your spiritual. Because money usually when your money ain’t right, everything else in your life is wrong.

People don’t notice, it’s a truth a, you know, so if you can learn to get that under control, if you can learn to have the basic building blocks that how to build well, to just share knowledge, because that’s all I do is I share, and then also has now because of the the project itself actually got licensed in seven states. So I’m actually a financial coach as well. So I provide services as an independent broker. And then I’m actually going for my securities license, God willing, this coming year. So it’s been something that’s been on my heart. And I just think, I think women would be in a better situation. Because when I grew up, I was taught it took a village to raise a child, it still does, no matter where your village is, no matter where it is, it still does. But if we can start going across those lines, we would be in better places. And you know, and I’m born and raised in Crown Heights. It’s amazing. Like, just last year, when we had the whole black lives matter, I was marching with some like, my Jewish friends. It was like, so cool. I was like, This is phenomenal. And I’m born and raised in Crown Heights. So when I saw somebody that didn’t look like me holding a Black Lives Matter sign, I was like, there’s this hope yet, you know, and and we’re becoming human, or becoming human where because I believe the same as you do. It’s no different. I believe this You I hurt the same as you. My heart beats the same as you. So why do we have to have all of this division?

Ari: Oh, you know? So true. True words were never spoken. I mean, it’s, you’re 100%. Right. I tell you, you give you inspire me. You inspire and you inspire me. Let me ask you this. I did. I did go to your website, the heels in high achievement. And there was a late there was a tab there labeled mission and vision. Yes. Tell me a little bit. What is your mission? And what is your vision?

Felica: Well, the mission and vision is to empower other young women of color, and young women in general, to go into the direction of finance and technology. And to really empower as I said, My motto is to empower one young woman one step at a time, to really build leadership skills, to build AI ideas in places where they can go into any career to let them understand even though you see the stars shoot for the moon, to create those women of elegance because the women that I came from, they were very elegant, very classy, they had all of these different things that they were supposed to be part of being a young woman, you know, so I want to teach this as well as but understanding this got to be a faith base, because he is not this alarm clock that gets you up every morning and it’s him. You know, the the creator gets you up. You are your your heart is ticking because he decided to give you another day so If you don’t do something different with it, what’s the purpose? So the vision is to really inspire other young girls to be able to say I can’t. Because sometimes my daughters will, will talk about different things. And I’m really, you know, Mom, I can’t really do that. My generation we didn’t hear I can’t, we just did, right, like, Nike commercial, just do it. That’s what we did, it did. So I need to make sure that basically, heels in higher achievement will actually not really reinvent the wheel, I just want to push it. So what I tend to do is I try to find organizations and social civic organizations in the community that are doing things to empower young women. And I venture and I joined with them, so that I can expose my market my women that are in my circle, and other women that come into heels in higher achievement, to basically say, Well, what are they doing and showing the gems in my community, so that we can all kind of put it together. So no matter if you’re empowering a young woman of color, if you’re empowering a woman to say, I can be all I can be? That’s all I need to know. You know, and that’s, that’s the mission and vision, I basically would love to now that we’ve had COVID, it kind of stopped the in person. So I couldn’t really recruit as many young ladies but women are coming through so virtually. So I still have my website, people still subscribe, they can get financial coaching and education. And I also started through heels in high achievement. The most important part was actually took the workshops I did, and now I create classes. So I’m actually doing classes, I just did one for a young boys organization. I’m trying to go into an after school program, and I just did my first adult financial literacy class where I really focus on who my market is, where you live, and what are you going through what are the struggles we’re all going through now. So I customize each one. It’s not like a basic nuts and bolts because it’s not. But basically, that’s what heels in higher achievement will do. I said to myself, one day I will be national, I will be sitting across from Oprah explaining the reason that inspiration those those women, those six women from the pacesetters of why I decided to do this, and it’ll take a moment. It’s people always say, you know, you’re doing so many things, but you know what, whatever is on your heart, God has a path either you sit in the passenger side and let Him lead you while you sit in the driver’s side and just keep crashing schools.

Ari: I gotta tell you again, you know, very, very inspiring. Now I know why I really know why I had you on the show. Basically, this is what we do. All right, everything you’ve been talking about. That’s why I started this podcast, to give hope to others that you know, that are that are going through things that you went through that I went through, and you know, to let them know that hey, you can get through this. And you will get through this. And yeah, you need a little bit of faith, for sure.

Felica: Your faith is not a little I tell people there’s two things I do in the morning. Either I wait, pray and slay or cry, pray and slay. And I’ve been crying, praying slave for the last few months because on December 1, I lost my best friend after 50 years, she had a heart attack. And I’m so sorry. Yeah, and Allah say people since so, it’s just I wake praying, slay. That’s all you can do. That’s all you can do. You can only stand in prayer, and then just make somebody else smile. That’s one of the things make somebody else smile, because you have no clue what they’re going through. Even just a hello. You know,

Ari: I want to I want to I’m gonna I’m going to stop you right there for me because I just want to tell you a story. That is that is right along those lines. I mean, I’m a firm believer, my son, I have a 28 year old who who carries these little cards on him and the cards say keep smiling. And he said he hands me hands those things out. But you know, I’m a firm believer as well that you know, make somebody laugh make somebody smile. I was I got to work one morning in the Trade Center. And I was waiting for the you remember those elevators was huge elevators, right? So when you walk into the elevator, what normally happens, you the doors open up, you walk in, you turn around your face out, right and the doors closed and you go up, and everybody’s in their own little world. Right, exactly. Okay. This one day, the elevator comes down, doors open up, I walk in, I don’t turn around. Alright, the doors closed. I’m facing everybody. You know, listen. No, no, wait, wait, wait, the doors close. And I turn and I say to the people, you’re probably all wondering why I called this meeting. And that’s exactly what happened that people started to laugh at the smile. And I got off the elevator and I said, Have a great day. I know that their days at least their mornings were really good because they were they they

definitely did it that because you have to people do not realize I had one of my other favorite mentors was a gentleman named Phil Leo. When I graduated Fordham University I went to a company called Collins and Aikman, which was a Yarn Company. And they blew up after they sold all their yarn to Betsey Johnson, because that’s when she was first starting out the designer. And Phil was like, he was just one of the mentors. I kept entire my entire life. I met him at 21. And he came to my 50th birthday party. Wow. If philleo was an amazing, amazing man, and every year, twice a year, he would have lunch with me, I don’t care where I was. And he still worked in the yarn in 34th Street, the yard district till he was like 92. He was still working. And I said, Phil, how do you do this? He’s like, look, I don’t want to stay on my wife, we’d kill each other. So we would go in twice a week. But two of the things I asked him one day, we were having lunch, he said, Phil, you know, you’re such a beautiful person. You’ve been here for so many years. How do you do what you do? What is the secret to your youth? And you’re, you know, you’re being so vibrant. He said, there’s two things I always remembered to tell people. He says, One, you always got to make somebody smile. Because when you make them laugh, they’re gonna make somebody else laugh. And I kept that. I just kept that. And I said, and that’s always what I’ve been. I’ve always wanted to make somebody else smile, even when I’m down. Nobody will ever know I’m down because I I cry and pray and slay in quiet corners. You don’t see that, you know, you know, that’s something that I don’t like to show because my mother always told me, no matter what you’re feeling on the inside, no one should know that on the outside. You know?

Okay, so before we go give me again, or let my audience know, what is the if they want to if they want to join your program, or they want more information? You know, you have a website you mentioned to me what is your website, so

Felica: they can go to www,heelshigh.org They can see the program kicks off for this year for our financial literacy Awareness Month, kicks off Friday evening, the 23rd at 830. They can register on the website. My women and wellness series starts on Sunday. And then my wine and wealth series starts on Friday. And this year, I’m actually doing something I’m so excited. I’m doing a two night series for the men because I used to have a men and money workshop that I would do because I love cigars. So I would actually do many money workshops and cigars, cigar shops.

Ari: Wow. Wow. All right. That’s great. You know, this has been fantastic. You know, it’s so much what you are

doing is a blessing do not stop this was it was so bad. And I’m just feel so blessed that you kept in touch with me all of these years because I don’t have too many cancer friends. Listen, I just, I just love you for that. Thank you so much.

Thank you so much. Felicia, thanks so much for sharing your story. You know, I’m sure you’ve touched the hearts of many people in my audience. Good luck going forward. Keep up the good work. Thank you for listening to whispers and bricks. And I’m your host Gary Sherman. Until next time, listen to the whispers avoid the bricks and never ever give up on your dreams. Bye for now.