I was 21 years old when I began my professional property management career as a leasing agent, pivoting from Estee Lauder Beauty Advisor with Dillards Department Store.

I loved sales but hated retail hours and a guy I was dating suggested that I would be a GREAT leasing agent. I had no idea what a leasing agent was. The home I was brought home to from the hospital was the same home I left when I moved into my 2 bedroom condo in Cleveland Heights, Ohio at 20 years old.

I did a little research, applied for my first leasing agent job, wowed the owner, accepted the position at $14 an hour plus a $100 bonus for every leased apartment, grabbed my golf cart keys, moved into a 2 bedroom apartment in Shaker Heights, Ohio and was rolling. This was 1993.

The Property Management Industry does not require a degree. It is self-educated, motivated, and regulated by the NAA. Before I knew it, I had been recruited to two cities and was earning over $60,000.00 I was barely 30 years old.

Not bad for an inner-city kid with a high school diploma.

My professional career was derailed when I got married and had my first child and for the first time in my life began making decisions with a man. The worse decisions I have ever and I do mean ever made is when I stopped listening to my gut, my intuition, and very reluctantly, tortuously started listening to a husband.

Every organization and every institution in this country says man is right and knows what is right simply because of his anatomy and they are dead ass wrong.

Wisdom is feminine energy.

Nevertheless, when I found my way back to myself with two children in tow, a college education was a part of my plan for them. I began aligning opportunities and engagements that would ensure they would be college-ready. I had taken a salary hit but I was on course to own my first home.

One of the chief goals I had set for my son was for him to be HBCU educated. It was non-negotiable and as the scholarship offers rolled in, he discarded all offers from predominately white institutions. My son would be educated in the spirit of love, harmony, and excellence. Not resistance, hatred, and acrimony.

My lectures convicted me. I had to do what I told my son was important so I enrolled in school taking classes at night after work and finished. When I walked across that stage, my babies were so proud. I wasn’t proud of the degree because things, and the opinion of men do not turn me on, but my children and what they think of me is my everything.

After being on my son’s college campus, I had to take more of my own advice, enrolling for my next degree at an HBCU. I wanted the experience that I had insisted he have. My parents had not demanded it for me, so I was demanding it for myself. I would be an HBCU graduate.

I learned through one of my own Mommy Moment lectures that education is continual and the best example for our kids is to actually do what we preach and teach. I am pushing my kids to be the best they can be and as an unexpected result, I am becoming better and better.

Thank God for these kids. Without them, I would be a different kind of missing and a whole lot of empty.

~Dana Lena’


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