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Gwen Mazer

Fashion and image consultant Gwen Mazer was born in New York City. She was one of two children born to Theodore Goodman, a postal worker; and Edythe Goodman, an educator. Mazer received her education in New York City at the Fashion Institute of Technology and New York University.

Mazer began her career in 1955 as a retail intern at Lord and Taylor’s department store becoming one of the first African Americans to hold a junior executive position at the store. She was a fashion director at Alexander’s Department Store and the stylist for Advertising Images, one of the foremost advertising photography studios in New York City.

In 1968 Mazer became the first African American fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar creating Bazaar’s Bazaar and Lifestyle for the magazine. In 1970, during her tenure at the magazine, she was the co-founder of Narcissa a New York boutique. In1976 Mazer became the marketing director for Nazareno Gabrielli, an Italian fashion company. She was responsible for opening New York offices and assisting with opening a retail store in Beverly Hills, California.

Mazer then moved to San Francisco, California to join Esprit as creative director. She was responsible for corporate branding, advertising, marketing, and catalogues to create the company’s public image. In 1982, Mazer founded Total Image Management, a consulting firm that has provided personal style and corporate image management services for clients such as, Wells Fargo Bank, Campton Place Hotel, and Oprah Winfrey. During this time she also founded the Gwen Mazer Collection, a San Francisco, Union Square boutique offering fine fashion accessories and fashion consulting.

Mazer was an adjunct professor at the Academy of Art University.
She has also lectured at the University of California at Berkeley and the City College of San Francisco; led seminars at the Central California Women’s Conference, the Professional Business Women’s Conference; and served as a guest speaker at the World Affairs Council, the Commonwealth Club, the Jewish Community Center, and the Francisca Club.

Mazer is a charter member of the Association of Image Consultants International (AICI) and served as president of the San Francisco Chapter from 1995 to 1997. Mazer is a former member of the Women’s Professional Network, the New York and San Francisco chapters of the Fashion Group, and the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). She has served as a board director for the Fort Mason Foundation, the San Francisco Convention Bureau, the Magic Theatre, and currently serves on the board of the International Women’s Forum of Northern California.

Mazer was awarded the highest honor in the image industry when she received the IMMIE award for outstanding professionalism and dedication and has received various honors from the city of San Francisco. Mazer is the author of the award winning book Wise Talk Wild Women and created the Wise Talk Lecture Series. The Friends and Foundation of the San Francisco Library honored Mazer as a Literary Laureate for her book Wise Talk, Wild Women.

Gwen Mazer was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 8, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.256

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/8/2013

Last Name

Mazer

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Schools

Fashion Institute of Technology

New York University

Public School 103- Hector Fontanez School

Evander Childs High School

Hunter College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Gwen

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

MAZ01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Italy

Favorite Quote

Let Go And Let God.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

5/23/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/San Francisco

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Caviar

Short Description

Personal style and image consultant and author Gwen Mazer (1950 - ) was the first African American to serve a junior executive at Lord & Taylor department store and as Fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar magazine. She also founded Total Image Management and the Gwen Mazer Collection.

Employment

Total Image Management

Academy of Art University

Gwen Mazer Collection

ESPRIT Fashion Company

Nazareno Gabrielli, Italian International Fashion Company

Harper's Bazaar Fashion Magazine

Narcissa Boutique

Advertising Images

Alexander's Department Stores

Lord & Taylor Department Store

Favorite Color

Turquoise

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Gwen Mazer's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Gwen Mazer lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Gwen Mazer describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Gwen Mazer talks about her family's farm in the Williamsbridge neighborhood of the Bronx, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Gwene Mazer recalls her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Gwene Mazer remembers her mother's educational background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Gwen Mazer describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Gwen Mazer talks about her father's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Gwen Mazer recalls her father's career as a postal worker

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Gwen Mazer describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Gwen Mazer talks about her brother and his family

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Gwen Mazer describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Gwen Mazer talks about her early neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Gwen Mazer describes her experiences at P.S. 103 in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Gwen Mazer recalls her childhood social activities

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Gwen Mazer remembers her early exposure to the arts

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Gwen Mazer describes her mother's educational philosophy

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Gwen Mazer talks about her early childhood influences

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Gwen Mazer recalls her experiences at Evander Childs High School in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Gwen Mazer talks about her personality as a teenager

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Gwen Mazer describes her mentors at Evander Childs High School in New York, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Gwen Mazer talks about her early religious experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Gwen Mazer recalls preparing for church with her maternal grandfather

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Gwen Mazer talks about the music of her youth

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Gwen Mazer recalls her early interest in foreign films

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Gwen Mazer remembers publishing articles on Katherine Dunham

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Gwen Mazer describes her early interest in travel

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Gwen Mazer talks about her undergraduate experiences while studying fashion in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Gwen Mazer recalls her first position at Lord and Taylor in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Gwen Mazer remembers joining Alexander's Department Store in New York City as a fashion director

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Gwen Mazer recalls starting Advertising Images in New York City with her husband

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Gwen Mazer describes the work of Hugh Bell

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Gwen Mazer talks about her conversion to Judaism

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Gwen Mazer recalls the support of her father and maternal grandfather

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Gwen Mazer remembers interviewing with Diana Vreeland at Vogue

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Gwen Mazer recalls joining Harper's Bazaar and opening Narcissa Boutique in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Gwen Mazer talks about the clothing sold at Narcissa Boutique in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Gwen Mazer recalls the clientele at Narcissa Boutique in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Gwen Mazer remembers transitioning to Harper's Bazaar's 'Lifestyle' column

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Gwen Mazer recalls interviewing Nikki Giovanni

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Gwen Mazer talks about meeting Barbara Chase-Riboud

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Gwen Mazer describes the artistic work of Nikki Giovanni and Barbara Chase-Riboud

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Gwen Mazer describes her decision to leave Harper's Bazaar

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Gwen Mazer talks about her first interview with Katherine Dunham

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Gwen Mazer recalls traveling to Haiti with Katherine Dunham

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Gwen Mazer talks about Katherine Dunham's associates

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Gwen Mazer describes the political climate in Haiti under President Jean-Claude Duvalier

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Gwen Mazer talks about the black elitism in Haiti

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Gwen Mazer recalls the Vodun rituals held on Katherine Dunham's Haitian estate

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Gwen Mazer remembers the final years of Katherine Dunham's life

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Gwen Mazer recalls working for Nazareno Gabrielli

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Gwen Mazer talks about her experience as creative director of Esprit Holdings Limited

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Gwen Mazer describes her responsibilities at Esprit Holdings Limited

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Gwen Mazer talks about founding Total Image Management in San Francisco, California

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Gwen Mazer recalls the changes in business attire

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Gwen Mazer remembers her clients at Total Image Management, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Gwen Mazer remembers her clients at Total Image Management, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Gwen Mazer describes her work with Oprah Winfrey

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Gwen Mazer talks about designing the Gwen Mazer Collection in San Francisco, California

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Gwen Mazer recalls her organizational memberships

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Gwen Mazer remembers her board memberships

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Gwen Mazer recalls publishing 'Wide Talk: Wild Women' with Christine Alicino

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Gwen Mazer talks about the interview process for 'Wise Talk: Wild Women'

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Gwen Mazer recalls the reception of 'Wise Talk: Wild Women'

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Gwen Mazer describes her website and blog

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Gwen Mazer talks about black fashion as a cultural expression

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Gwen Mazer describes her fashion philosophy

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Gwen Mazer talks about the incorporation of psychology into image consulting

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Gwen Mazer describes her future writing projects

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Gwen Mazer reflects upon her life

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Gwen Mazer describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Gwen Mazer reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Gwen Mazer talks about her family

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Gwen Mazer narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Gwen Mazer narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

5$3

DATitle
Gwen Mazer recalls joining Harper's Bazaar and opening Narcissa Boutique in New York City
Gwen Mazer recalls traveling to Haiti with Katherine Dunham
Transcript
So it was years later that after I had been working at our studio [Advertising Images, New York, New York] that I got a call from Harper's Bazaar; and at the same time I had, we had two--a very close friend who had said to me that he would love to partner with me to open a store. And so I, when I went to Harper's Bazaar to be interviewed, I said to Nancy White who was the editor-in-chief, "Well, I'm about to, in a, in a year's time I'm going to open a retail store either in Boston [Massachusetts] or in New York [New York]." And she said, "Well, that's fine because you don't have to be here on a full time schedule. I have a couple of ideas of what I would like to have you do. We're interested in boutiques now because that's a, you know, a big phase in the world of fashion and we'd like you to be the boutique editor and to cover them in New York and London [England] and Paris [France] and that will fit with your schedule." And, so I obviously said, "Yes," and became the editor for a section that I created for them called the 'Bazaar's Bazaar.'$$Okay.$$And that was an amazing and wonderful experience. I had a little office with no windows and attended meetings and at the same time was free to also develop the store. And my partner, and you can read that in The New Yorker magazine, was a woman from an old Boston family and it was quite heady I have to say. At first the store was going to open in Boston because the family owned a lot of real estate in Boston along with a fleet of antique cars. And Paul Rudolf was hired to design the building. And it just didn't make sense to be opening this kind of store in Boston. And so we decided that it should be in New York and that's how Narcissa [Narcissa Boutique, New York, New York] was born.$$Okay. So this is also in 1968?$$Yes.$$Okay.$$Sixty-nine [1969]. It was '69 [1969] by the time we started with the, with the store. And my pages for Bazaar didn't start to come out until sixty- the beginning of '69 [1969]. So in my manner of doing two things at once that were both really wonderful, I was writing and doing all the ad- you know, all the photography. I wasn't doing the photography but hiring photographers to do my pages with, in Bazaar and at the same time preparing for the store. And it worked wonderfully because suddenly I had the world of Paris open to me through the magazine and I was able to buy in Europe things that I would have never had access to no matter how much money there was to be spent. But the editor-in-chief of the Paris Harper's Bazaar and I became good friends. That's why I had that little letter there for you. And she introduced me to just amazing things in Paris and I met Yves Saint Laurent and she took me to all of these wonderful places to purchase things. So I was able to buy early 19th century umbrellas and (unclear) of all kinds and obviously opened my eyes to parts of Paris that I didn't know. I had been to Europe several times before but this was extraordinary. And the store was really heralded as one of the most fabulous stores in New York. We had our own designer, Eric Lund who has now passed but had been a designer at Henri Bendel and he was a really close and dear friend so he came to work for us. And my partner was traveling to India so she'd come back with bucket loads of interesting things; and the store was pretty interesting, pretty interesting and very exciting.$And about three days in she [HistoryMaker Katherine Dunham] said, "You know, you're the person I want to have do my autobiography--my biography. And if you really want to know what I'm up to for this story, then you have to come to Haiti." And Haiti was the one Caribbean country that I swore I would never go to because of Duvalier [Francois Duvalier]. And of course Duvalier was dead, but the Baby Doc [Jean-Claude Duvalier] and Madame Duvalier [Simone Duvalier], who was the Simone les griots and really the impetus behind a lot of the horror that was happening there. And, so I went back to Chicago [Illinois] and I said, "Well, Ms. Dunham would like me to go to Haiti." And they said, "Well, go to Haiti," and they paid for me to go to Haiti. And I'll never forget it because of all the countries that I have been in, in the Caribbean and I've been to almost every one of them, I'd never been so struck by both the energy, the beauty and the devastation at the same time. Haiti was like a, like a love affair. You never knew whether you were going to have a case of the blues or you were going to be ecstatic. And through Katherine I saw parts of Haiti that I--were amazing. I ended up going to Cap-Haitien [Haiti] with a UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] person and Katherine's place was like paradise in the middle of, in the middle--I mean you'd come into Haiti and it would be unbelievable and then suddenly you were in the area where Habitation [Habitation Leclerc, Port-au-Prince, Haiti] was and that had been a gift to her from one of the presidents [sic.]. I can't remember which president at this moment. And--$$Well, she lived--tell us something about that place. It has a historical--$$Well, it was the place of Pauline [Pauline Bonaparte] when she came from France.$$This is Napoleon's [Napoleon Bonaparte] sister?$$Napoleon's sister.$$Yeah.$$And Habitacion Leclerc was in a forest. It was one of the most exquisitely beautiful places. And of course Katherine had superb taste and so the place was simple, but it was magnificent. I mean it's just beautifully built and everything about it was serene and lovely. But when she received it, initially it was the place that she came with the dancers to renew after their times on the road and so on. So over the years it was built into something quite magnificent. It didn't look like that I'm sure when she first started. But she had an exquisite eye and, so there was a joy in being there. And I have memories of sitting out at sunset watching the sunset over these absolutely gigantic--excuse me--gigantic palm, royal palm trees and these incredible flocks of bats which one would not think of as beautiful, but these bats flying up into this almost darkened sky and swooping all over. Bats when they fly are quite lovely to see. It was a place of respite for her and a place of renewal. And for me, because she charmed me into the idea that I should do this book, I probably went to Haiti close to a dozen times. And she was there with Jeanelle Stovall who ran the business end of things and Rosie Rubenstein who was her right hand. Rosie was Israeli and occasionally when I would go down there would be other members of the Dunham Company [Katherine Dunham Company] there to visit. And it was, it was quite amazing.

Darlene Lorraine McKinnon

Darlene Lorraine McClaine McKinnon was born on July 28, 1943 in Baltimore, Maryland. She graduated from an all-girls public high school, Western High School, in Baltimore in 1961. McKinnon attended Morgan State University and received her B.A. degree in business from the University of the Redlands in Redlands, California in 1985.

From 1974 to 1979, McKinnon was the Assistant to the Development Director for the Rouse Company, a real estate development company that pioneered the development of new cities including Columbia, Maryland. In 1977, she became the procurement director for the Council for Equal Business Opportunity in Maryland. Since 1979, McKinnon has held several positions in the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in California. Over the years, she has held the positions of Assistant Director of Business Development and District Director of Development. Following her graduation from the SBA’s prestigious District Directors Candidate Program and moving to San Francisco from San Diego, McKinnon became the Deputy District Director for the San Francisco District Office. McKinnon has been responsible for the start-up of key programs such as the Entrepreneur Centers in Silicon Valley, East Bay and San Francisco and the SBA Business Coaches.

In addition to her work with the SBA, McKinnon has operated her own small business, TheaterGoers International, and instructed business courses at San Diego State University. She is the co-founder of the San Diego Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners; is a board member of the Northern California Supplier Development Council; and a member on the President’s Board of the Children’s Hospital of Oakland. McKinnon is listed in Who’s Who Among Black Americans, has been recognized by Soroptomists International and received its Woman of Achievement Awards. In 1992, she was named one of San Diego’s 100 Local Business and Community Leaders. In 2003, McKinnon was named one of the Fifty Most Influential Women in Silicon Valley. She serves on numerous advisory boards and community organizations and has a passion for fine arts, photography and cars.

Accession Number

A2005.092

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/1/2005

Last Name

McKinnon

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Lorraine

Schools

Western High School

Morgan State University

University of Redlands

First Name

Darlene

Birth City, State, Country

Baltimore

HM ID

MCK09

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

Maryland

Favorite Vacation Destination

Italy

Favorite Quote

Aim High.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

7/28/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/San Francisco

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Lobster

Short Description

Federal government official Darlene Lorraine McKinnon (1943 - ) was the deputy director of the Small Business Adminstration in San Francisco, CA.

Employment

U.S. Small Business Administration

Council for Equal Business Opportunity

Rouse Company

TheaterGoers International

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon narrates her photographs

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Slating of Darlene Lorraine McKinnon's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon talks about her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon talks about her father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon describes her maternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon describes her paternal great-grandmother and grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon describes her life as a child in Cherry Hill, Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon describes her upbringing after her father's death

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon remembers her childhood communities in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon describes attending Carter G. Woodson Elementary School in Cherry Hill, Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon recalls the churches she attended during her childhoods

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon describes dealing with the aftermath of her father's death when she was in junior high school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon remembers attending Western Senior High School in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon talks about her friends and activities at Western Senior High School in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon remembers wanting to be a writer while at Western High School, Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon describes her paternal aunt, Emily Cox

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon remembers important events from her time at Morgan State College, Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon describes her work experience after leaving Morgan State College, Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon remembers her marriage to her first husband and her time in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon describes returning to Baltimore, Maryland after her paternal grandmother's stroke

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon remembers learning about business while working at the Rouse Company

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon talks about her second husband, Clem McKinnon, and moving back to California

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon describes working for the United States Small Business Administration in San Diego, California

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon recalls discovering and owning TheaterGoers International in San Diego, California

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon describes her work at TheaterGoers International in San Diego, California

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon describes moving to the United States Small Business Administration office in San Francisco, California

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon describes her accomplishments as deputy district director of the San Francisco office of the Small Business Administration

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon talks about her work with various civic organizations

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon talks about her heroines and repairing her relationship with her mother

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon talks about her love of cars and photography

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon describes her frustration with politics

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon talks about the importance of voting

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon talks about the United States Small Business Administration's changing role

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon reflects upon her life, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon describes her future plans

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon reflects upon her life, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon describes her concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon talks about the importance of supporting black-owned businesses

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon reflects upon her life, pt. 3

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon describes her values

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon explains why she thinks history is important

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon shares her advice for young people

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Darlene Lorraine McKinnon reflects upon her legacy

DASession

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DATape

1$4

DAStory

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DATitle
Darlene Lorraine McKinnon describes her paternal great-grandmother and grandmother
Darlene Lorraine McKinnon describes her accomplishments as deputy district director of the San Francisco office of the Small Business Administration
Transcript
Could you tell me about your grandparents on your father's [Percy McClaine, Jr.] side?$$I--I'm lucky there too, because I knew both my great-grandmother and my grandmother. My great-grandmother probably died when I was five or six. So what I remember about her is sitting and knitting with me and teaching me how to pick good fruit and how to feel it and smell it. My great-grandmother--my grandmother, Beulah McClaine, is probably the strongest woman I've ever met in my life and probably the woman who had the most influence on me. My grandmother cleaned other people's houses for a living. But yet and still, and she was a widow. But yet and still, she owned her own home in the late 1940s. She taught me to cook, to sew, to upholster, to make lace, to embroider, to read, to write, to become politically involved. She was the head of the black Democratic Party where we lived, so I grew up with political debates. I remember the Jet magazine coming into our household and her sitting me down to talk to me about Emmett Till and the picture of his being hung in the South. And a little while later, a month later, coming back and relating to me the song that Billie Holiday sang that was called 'Strange Fruit,' and how that related back to Emmett Till. My grandmother never let me forget my history, my past. She made it a point to take me back to Ivy, Virginia where her family grew up. She took me to--we would always go and understand history. Growing up on the East Coast you have the advantage of walking in the path of history. So we went to Jamestown [Virginia], we went to the Gettysburg [National] Cemetery [Gettysburg, Pennsylvania], we went to the Liberty Bell [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]. And she always framed a context for me, look at what is around you, this is what's happening, things are possible. And she never let me forget that people gave up their lives so that we could be free, so that we could vote, so I could have an education. And I always remember her telling me, all I want you to do is get an education so you can have your independence.$So I started forming partnerships with the private sector. I got Microsoft to build the training room here for me. HP [Hewlett-Packard] to fill it with computers. Silicon Valley is a part of my territory. I felt that businesses, if they were to succeed, don't have time to do double bookkeeping entry, they had to use technology it could make them compete with anybody. So, I got the tech giants to help us to teach businesses, getting it from the horse's mouth. Our lenders, because every bank in the United States is here. For--formed themselves into a nonprofit association because they're very competitive and that association helped to fund a lot of what I wanted, videoconferencing so I could videoconference in speakers from all over. And so after building this training room and you know, having success in training businesses on and on, Cisco came to me, Cisco Systems who was a partner teaching businesses how to build their own website about now seven or eight years ago. They dropped the ball and the new people came back and said, oh we just wanna pick up on our partnership or whatever. And I said, there's nothin' to pick up, I'm over you. You know, you made promises, you didn't keep it. The guy disappeared, you don't get a second chance back in my door. You don't ruin my good reputation. So the woman who later became my friend said she went to her boss and said we better get up to San Francisco [California] from Silicon Valley 'cause there is one pissed-off woman up there. You know, so they came and I had the attitude and the armor it's like, you know, show me. So we're out at lunch and they go, well what's your dream, what's the next step for you. And I said the next step would be to build a center that centers all around business with everything they will ever need in one place so they don't have to like run all over town tryin' to find where to get a permit, where to get counseling, how do I get the money, show me how to put together a loan package, blah, blah, blah. So Cisco became my partner in building the [SBA Cisco Systems San Jose] Entrepreneur Center [San Jose, California] in Silicon Valley which is a one-stop shop and you'll have the video of it, that contains lenders, counselors, consultants, a state of the art training room, a Cisco Internet development center that teaches businesses how to build online components to their business, satellite locations for all the ethnic chambers of commerce so that we can take our counseling and training to immigrant businesses in their native languages. People talk about the digital divide, it's lack of access and information. And no one wants to cross that cultural divide. And that's, you know, I talked to you earlier about growing up, the neighborhoods of Baltimore [Maryland], really understanding that there weren't differences between people and there're really aren't. You just have to connect with people. So all of these organizations moved in, shared the dream. So like this is gonna be the best in the nation, nothing, you know, everything is donated in that center, all the furniture, the carpeting, the computers, everything. Not one government dime was spent in it. Every corporation donated it. It's five years old. They've tried to build models in Orlando [Florida] and all of that. The difference is most people view it as moving a lot of services into one place. You have to have a vision, a passion. You have to own it. You gotta see it, feel it, taste it. It has to be an extension of what you're about. That's not--that's the missing element. They don't understand you put out in the universe, it comes back, it makes you stronger, you keep pushing. So, that's what brought me to San Francisco.$$Could you tell us what your title is?$$Deputy district director.$$Okay, thank you. And how long have you been doing this now?$$I've been with SBA [U.S. Small Business Administration] for over twenty years. I've been up here for ten years. I was in San Diego for somewhere between eleven and thirteen years, and Baltimore for about a year-and-a-half to two years it took me to get back to California. I mean really that was the best thing that happened, the SBA, I could use it to move back here.$$It sounds like you like your job?$$I love my job. I know that I'm delivering quality products and services and we're known for it. We have partnerships with all the nonprofits. We give over our space, our facilities to them so that they can share it with their clients. They don't have to try to chase dollars. They get state of the art equipment. They get all of the latest books and reference materials on the market, to use the conference room, the videoconferencing facility. So it's a community of services. And I'm very fortunate that most of these people, because they are nonprofits are called to it because it's a mission. They have a calling for it. So we all have ownership. We know we're making a difference. Many of my partners touch low-income, immigrant communities or people, so it's even more important that you bring 'em the service in a way that they can use it, that you do no harm. And--and if necessary, you teach bus--them that maybe business isn't from them--for them rather, but they walk away with a skill understanding how to manage money, how to write a letter, how to communicate, how to dress. 'Cause, you know, we do it all from A to Z.