Through our work we have had the good fortune of seeing firsthand how success comes in every shape, size, color, faith, and orientation. More importantly we’ve learned that success is often the result of people embracing their unique backgrounds and so we’ve asked the community to tell us about their background and how it has impacted where they are today.

Ann-Suhet Kamffer | Head of Litigation and Van Deventer and Van Deventer Incorporated

West Province of South Africa. I know that my upbringing has had a major impact on who and what I am today. I was very fortunate to have been raised with values such as integrity, honesty and to be just and fair. Being educated in a rural (“platteland”) area, not only had an impact on me to be humble, but to need to work for everything that I wanted and dreamt of becoming. I grew up, knowing the poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich (well, what we thought was the benchmark for being rich at that time). Read more>>

Maryanne Chisholm | Artist

I am an artist, a daughter, wife, and mother from Tucson, Arizona, USA. I was raised by two amazing parents who were involved in the founding of an organization called “Up With People”. They raised me to believe that all people were goods, and that sometimes they might do bad things, but in the end if you tried to exhibit compassion you would see the good person inside. It was devastating for us all to discover that was not true. My art began to depict the agony of maintaining faith and hope, in a world that had collapsed around me. Read more>>

Carrie Kelly | AAED Executive Director & Strategic Problem Solver

I grew up in Crawfordsville, Indiana. It’s a small community in West Central Indiana with a population of 17,000 and an outstanding liberal arts college, Wabash College. Most of my friends counted down the days until they could leave Crawfordsville, but not me because I planned to return post-graduation and work in our family’s law firm. However, after I graduated and worked a few years in the law firm, I realized that work might not be for me. Read more>>

John Cornelio | Filipino style BBQ vendor

I was born in the Philippines, but moved to Anchorage, Alaska when I was only two years old. The schools I attended had a very diverse student body. Our district actually ranks amongst the top one percent in the nation for diversity. Three high schools, including the one I went to, top all the other High Schools in the nation. Because of this, I had the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and around the world. It piqued my interest of cultures from a very young age. My family was also fortunate enough to take yearly trips to the Philippines. Back home I was able to soak in the culture and food of my Motherland.
Today, you can see and taste how my upbringing had a big impact in the way I present my take on Filipino food. Read more>>

Dr. Marci Batiste | Domestic Violence Champion – Found/Executive Director, Nine Seconds Corporation

months before I was born, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. My father insisted that my mother terminate her pregnancy. When she refused, he ended the relationship and wanted nothing further to do with her or with me. Leaving this 19-year-old white girl, to give birth to and raise this bi-racial baby and navigate everything that came with that. Within my family, as with many families, there were a number of dynamics in motion all at once. Read more>>

Skye Riss | Fearless Artist

Growing up in Connecticut, I have always loved painting and drawing. Fine art was always a big part of my life as both my mom’s and dad’s sides of the family included artists, so creating runs in my blood. Many of my artistic relatives would teach me a lot about art and we would experiment with different techniques and mediums such as watercolors and oil pastels. We would often get together in my childhood home and sit outside on a beautiful sunny day painting, while my dad played guitar for all of us. Read more>>