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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

Interview Description
Birth Date

7/28/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/San Francisco

Country

USA

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

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

7$3

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.