Greetings Divas! It has been a while, but it’s time to catapult yet another fabulous lady into the Diva Spotlight! For those of you who are new to the Martini Chronicles, the Diva Spotlight introduces you to some of the most dynamic and successful professional women in various sectors of the business world. I completely believe that fabulousness should not be contained, and that I should highlight the accomplishments of my fellow Professional Divas who are dedicated to being the best at what they do.
This time, I am so excited to introduce you to Kia Smith. Kia hails from Gadsden, Alabama, and is a freelance writer and editor. Kia earned her B.A. in English from Spelman College (Go JAGUARS!), and her M.A. in Professional Writing from Kennesaw State University. Additionally, Kia is the Founder and Executive Director of DRIVEN Youth, Inc., a mentoring and youth development organization that partners with urban high schools to provide college preparatory services and develop student leaders who will promote change in their communities.
We put Kia in the “Haute Seat,” and here’s what she had to say:
1. Can you give a description of what you do in your current position?
A a writer and editor, I work with a variety of organizations and publishers to produce and edit copy. Services offered include:
- Annual Reports
- Dissertation Editing
- Fundraising Kits
- Magazine Features and Articles
- Manuscript Editing
- Media Kits
- Web Copy
As Founder and Executive Director of DRIVEN Youth, Inc., I am responsible for developing the organization's programs and running its day-to-day operations.
2. Please give a summary of your resume, and how you landed at your current position.
My resume reads like a fruit salad with lots of seemingly random experiences that mix wonderfully together and provide me with everything I need in order to do exactly what I am doing today.
In college I fell in love with two things: writing and music. I began working as a freelance writer for a number of local publications. I also worked record promotions for a local promotions company and interned with Def Jam Recordings. Upon graduating in 2004, I combined my writing, public relations and promotions experience and started Kia Smith Communications, a boutique communications firm. While running Kia Smith Communications, I also became the founding editorial manager of Black Health Magazine and Household Publishing, where I developed a nationwide publication and edited a number of non-fiction books.
In 2008, my desire to work with kids called me into the classroom, and I began teaching high school literature and journalism for Clayton County Public Schools in metro-Atlanta. After three years in the classroom, I felt the urge to do less formal teaching and more mentoring and developing. At that point, I quit steady and stable employment, founded DRIVEN Youth, Inc., and dived back into the world of freelancing.
My eclectic experiences have been an absolutely wonderful ride that has brought me before media personalities, Grammy Award-winning artists, U.S. Ambassadors, New York Times bestselling authors and young, bright thinkers who will one day change the world.
3. What professional accomplishment makes you the proudest?
Founding DRIVEN Youth, Inc., has to be my proudest professional accomplishments. The writing, celebrities and red carpets are nice, but nothing is more fulfilling to me than mentoring and developing youth. I love the way their eyes light up when they learn something new or when they get one step closer to accomplishing their dreams. This is what I was born for.
4. What is the one thing you know now that you wished you knew at the beginning of your career?
I wish I had known the importance of networking at the beginning ofcareer!!! Until recently, I have been the absolute worse networker in the world! And a lot of that came from my own insecurities and not knowing how to sell myself. But once I realized that: 1) I am good at what I do, and 2) God placed me here for a reason, networking became much easier. Yes, I still get nervous, but in the word's of Joyce Meyers, I "do it scared." I'm God's girl, so I can't lose!
5. What is your advice for women who would like to enter into your profession?
The industry is small so ALWAYS carry yourself with integrity. Don't look at those in your field as competition. They are your partners, so I always treat them as such. They are the same individuals who will recommend you for a job or introduce you to a connect. You are your only competition. Work every day to be better than you were the day before.
6. How do you balance your career with your personal life?
Honestly, this is a struggle for me. I tend to throw myself headfirst into whatever I'm doing at the time. If I'm editing a manuscript a may forget to cook dinner (hard to believe, right?) or if I'm cleaning house, I may become so engaged that I won't stop for 6 hours. To combat this, I over plan. I have to-do lists, I schedule everything and I set time deadlines. I don't go to bed until the to-do lists are complete and I move on to the next task when the timer goes off. That's my neurotic way of maintaining some sort of balance in my life.
7. What do you do in your spare time?
I spend a lot of my spare time with my 11-year-old son, Cameron. I also love listening to music, shopping and traveling.
8. What personal accomplishment makes you the proudest?
The personal accomplishment I'm proudest of is the relationships I've developed with my "kids" over the years. In my three years of teaching, I've collected an entire tribe of kids, and I'm immensely proud of the honest and sincere relationships we have been able to build. Nothing makes me smile harder than the phone calls, texts, tweets, Facebook messages and emails I receive from my kids. I'm humbled that they trust me with their secrets and are open to accepting my raw (and often harsh) advice.
Among the two that make me smile the most are Cameron and Princeton, the son I birthed and the son I claim. When I no longer feel like doing this for me or for the world, I do it for them. These two make me better. All my kids make me better, and I'm immensely proud to be a part of their world.
9. Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years, professionally and personally?
Professionally, I would love to be the hip-hop version of Oprah. I've been saying this since college. I want to build platform and brand that is constantly placing positive media in front of the hip hop generation and encouraging them to live their best life ever. If I can use the platform God gives me to build up others, I will have accomplished God's purpose for my life.
Personally, I want to be happy, I want to know joy and I want to have peace. I want to be married with children (3 boys, 1 girl), connected to all my kids, enjoying every moment of life and deeply in love with God.
10. What else do you want our readers to know about you and/or your career path?
My career path has never been about stability or getting rich. It's always been about going where God says go and doing what He placed me on earth to do. And I am confident that if I chase Him and follow His path for my life, I'll get all the extra stuff people spend a lifetime chasing (Matthew 6:31-33).
11. What is your favorite martini?
Apple Martinis are my favorite, but I'm a tequila girl, so I prefer a top shelf margarita on the rocks...salt always.
I don’t know about you Divas, but I am so ridiculously impressed with Kia. She epitomizes the many reasons why I created the Diva Spotlight. I hope that my Divas-In-Training subscribers take note of Kia’s drive and work ethic, and apply these principles as they chase their professional dreams.
Kia is always looking for new clients. Please feel free to Email her at IAmKiaWrites@gmail.com to get started on your project. She also would love to hear your comments! Email her at KiaSpeaks@gmail.com.
Finally, don’t forget to check out Kia’s blog Kia Speaks at www.IAmKiaSpeaks.com.