Empowered is defined by Webster as "to promote the self-actualization or influence of". Laura Thompson is a beacon of empowerment and dedication. A native of San Antonio, she possesses a relentless creative drive, fueled by courage and the goal to cement her brand.
Choose one ideal word to describe her, and you must first consider empowering. Laura Thompson knows and defines who she is by establishing a brand that represents her personal philosophy and by holding fast to her rejection of common perceptions: she sees the potential in people, especially children. When asked what her greatest accomplishment is, she responds, "I put people in a positive light, that's my brand. That's what people know me for - that's my goal." Laura admits, “I see people differently than other people. I don't like to see people excluded . . . I've always been an advocate". Laura Thompson, the author, poet, successful entrepreneur, pioneer, leader, educator, advocate and social architect is a networking mastermind, which creates solutions and produces results.
This modern day Renaissance woman, who has taken on the enormous task of addressing the issue of children and literacy, uses the power of collaboration and seamless proactive impact, to change outcomes. Her life, her journey, her gift is expressed through the synergy of empowerment and inspiration. She doesn't talk a plan, she implements. She doesn't complain; she creates. She doesn't concede, she challenges.
Sistas in Business, Inc., an organization Ms. Thompson founded to support and encourage African American businesswomen and professionals, began with a "small monthly luncheon for fifty. Since then, she's added a power series with national speakers and other events including Networking on the Greens. In addition, Thompson motivated this group of women entrepreneurs to answer the call to service. Thus Sistas in Business for Literacybecame a vehicle for enhancing the reading skills of local children and implementing the Read and Lead Program.
Celebrating her tenth year with the Reading Cafe at Cameron Elementary, she has volunteered and helped the children write a book of their own stories. The Reading Cafe was later incorporated into Read and Lead. These youngsters read at various venues and for a variety of groups, including the Wounded Warriors: building their speaking skills and confidence. Laura explains her passion by saying, "reading is fundamental for everything they (children) do and learn."
She goes on to say,"It’s our fault that the literacy rate is low in San Antonio. We just haven't taken the time to do it." So what is the secret to the children's success? "We just spend time with them, we don't feel sorry for them and we don't look down on them, or look at their income level. We have an interest in their being successful. There is such a great need in San Antonio." So Laura doesn't stop there, she enlists others to take up the torch. Phi Delta Kappa will be taking on three schools, and Jack and Jill have been invited to take on a school as well.
Laura Thompson at the Reading Cafe
Literacy is not her only passion. As the owner of the Laura Thompson Agency, a media and public relations firm in San Antonio, she shepherds high profile clients and notes, she "sees few African Americans in the media business". Her response: the creation of Camp Logo. After taking on the administration of an established summer youth entrepreneurial camp facilitated by Our Lady of the Lake University, she was able to implement Camp Logo at the same campus. This project was actually a precursor to Read and Lead. "I have always been interested in entrepreneurship and showcasing our kids . . . minority kids are very creative and talented".
Laura Thompson is serious about higher order thinking and the economic benefits of women's empowerment. "People always say what they can't do," and obviously Laura wastes no time with such a thought.
As a successful business woman, educator and trainer, she offers the following insight. African American women in the San Antonio area are facing the same issues as others nationally: finding capital to finance their businesses, understanding cash flow and proper training. Her tips: "Have a business plan, have a team, and not necessarily people who work for you. Know your business and recruit someone to help with your financing and legal aspects, as well as sales and marketing. You may know how to do it all yourself, but you still need a team."
Laura admits she's still learning, and offers these helpful comments on networking. "Networking comes naturally to some people, but for others they have to work at it. Spend your time finding out what the other person needs and identify if you can do business with this person. Don't tell them everything you have, you will run them away. And don't just call them up after you collect their business cards to sell them, you should build a relationship first.
So what’s next for Laura? She is currently working on a project that is an offspring of her popular Who's Who publication that showcases African Americans. She recently inked a deal with the local public broadcasting station to produce two series, 4 episodes each, of Living Legends in the Hispanic Community in San Antonio and Living Legends in the African American Community to broadcast during Black History Month.
She has two books in the works as follow-ups to her published book of poetry, Beneath the Mask, a series of poems about classism and her life's struggles. Laura Thompson describes herself as "a multi-dimensional person: innovative, creative, practical, and down to earth." This descriptive could go on indefinitely. The one thing we know is perfectly clear - Laura Thompson is not working on an exit strategy any time soon, and the great State of Texas can only be, all the greater for it.
Tonya Crew, JD