As a native New York, Erika spent most of her career advocating for others in her community. She most recently worked in Nassau County Government as the Director of Programs and Community Engagement for the Office of the Nassau County Comptroller. In her role she was responsible for organizing events such as the Comptroller’s Entrepreneurial Challenge, the office’s summer internship program, as well as serving as a liaison between the office and the non-profit community. She also oversaw two external committees: the Minority Women Business Enterprises (MWBE) Committee and the Non-Profit Steering Committee. Additionally, she spearheaded the office workforce development efforts through organizing a series of 2020 Census job fairs and information sessions in hard to count communities.
We recently caught up with Erika to learn more about HerStory as a leader:
When did you know that you wanted to work in “your industry”? I knew I wanted to work in marketing research after working for MBE research in 2002, the community research and economic advancement was an outgrowth of my graduate degree in Urban Planning and my equity work at Partnership For Southern Equity. My analytical skills and passion for community economic development produced a burning desire to establish myself in this industry.
Who is a role model that you look up to? Though he is no longer with me I still look up to my dad, Norman Hill. I think about the key components of his business Norman L. Hill & Sons which were providing great customer service and teaching young people skills they could use to provide for themselves and their families. He showed me by his example mentorship, customer retention and personal branding. He was a resource many people relied on for expertise in the field of Electrical Contracting and Plumbing.
What is a struggle that you’ve faced and how did you handle it? I love the work I do (and have done) so saying “No” hasn’t always been the easiest thing for me. Unfortunately, my inability to say “no” and burn the midnight oil at nauseum has caused me to struggle with overextending myself which led to business burn out. Early on in my career and business ownership journey I did find myself getting burned out more frequently than I would have liked. I realized I had to establish greater work live balance, leverage some health & wellness tools such as meditation and yoga and most importantly establish some clear boundaries for my time and professional endeavors.
What is something that you are immensely proud of? Willa Mae Grant. Using results from local covid-19 quantitative and qualitative research I did among Black Owned businesses on Long Island, I responded with a solution. Teaming up with my mother to administer a grant honoring my late maternal grandmother and to help to support a local Black Women Owned and Family Owned, The Best Goodie Bag made me very proud. Economic advancement through support of the Black family legacy and pursuit of generational wealth are things that resonate with me.
What qualities make a great leader? Strong work ethic, excellent listening skills, ability to mentor and empower others, ability to effectively delegate tasks, conducting impactful work, creating a succession plan and pipeline for future generations of leaders.
What do you believe will be the biggest challenge for the next generation of leaders? Obtaining access to key leadership roles across various sectors due to the lack of succession plans I am seeing among existing leaders, especially those of color. Access is necessary and while I see some headway being made amongst my generation, I believe this will continue to be a challenge until greater racial, gender and generational diversity is achieved in offices and industries of influence and power.
If you could try another job for a day, what would it be? I would be a high school math teacher because I love math, love helping youth better understand math and believe mathematical/problem solving skills are very important.
If you could give your 18-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be? Don’t stress yourself over perfection, give yourself grace and focus on progress. You are on the right track with seeds you are sowing.
Favorite book? Their Eyes Were Watching God
Where can we find you on your day off? Playing tennis, trying an extreme sport, patronizing a black owned business or hanging out with family.
Marsha Guerrier is a bestselling author, speaker, trainer, business analyst, business coach, and CEO of HerSuiteSpot®, a MWBE and SBE certified small business consulting and coaching agency that provides online and in-person support to early stage female founders looking to accelerate their business.