I am Serena Rochell Gatlin, a Connecticut native and founder of HER ZONE, INC. A Black woman. Native American. A mother. A career-woman. Smart. Savvy. Advocate. Empowerment-champion. Entrepreneur. A believer in kindness. I was a teen mother and faced many trials but I proudly and successfully raised two Black-Kings who are my pride and joy. HER ZONE, INC. manifested from my personal and professional life-journey combating negative experiences, challenges, and stereotypes in society as a woman-of-color. The scarcity of emotional support and economic-wellness was painfully obvious and opportunities to excel were minimal or lackluster.
In my childhood and early teen years, I was, shuffled on-and-off throughout the Foster Care System, which played a significant role in my shattered confidence. I often doubted my self-worth, and capabilities. In fear of embarrassment, or judgment I tucked this part of my life away. Subconsciously I allowed my experiences to dictate my life-quest and buried what authentically would shape my passion and purpose. Every struggle and victory endured, was the authentic navigation of who I am today.
I did not realize that my story would profoundly influence and uplift others until I begin to mentor young women in GOODWorks a nonprofit program designed to support young women in recovery from the criminal justice system and transitioning from incarceration into society. I learned so much about myself through these young women. Their transparency gave me the confidence to authentically open-up and appreciate the life-lessons that shaped me. I need young women that are/were faced with the challenges I experienced to embrace the society-defined failure(s) as an opportunity to create positive opportunities for themselves and others. Most importantly I need young women to know, I AM HER. SHE IS ME. A GIFT. A TREASURE. UNIQUE. A SUCCESS.
It is vital for young women-of-color to know and understand with positive reinforcement, proper guidance, love, hard-work, discipline, and integrity, she can prevail and achieve self-measured success. My mission to curate a safe, fun and educational environment to share ideologies without the pressures of ridicule, exclusion, or having HER self-worth, integrity, and confidence put on trial by societal scrutiny is very personal to me. HER ZONE, INC. is dedicated to helping young women recognize HER with a healthy, can-do attitude and to encourage women-of-color to remain AUTHENTIC, AWARE, and AMAZING. Mentoring young women have proven to be an organic-calling, and my greatest reward is knowing that I have positively influenced and empowered another human-being.
Merging my personal and professional background and multifaceted skill-set has allowed me to answer the call-of-duty to champion for young women-of-color and the institutionalized. My love for advocacy and media is the perfect combination to help young women discover their inner-strength, and vocal-power to self-champion for positive change. My ultimate goal is to reach young women everywhere and to launch -HER ZONE, INC. PRODUCTIONS- in Connecticut, an innovative learning environment that can provide the disadvantaged, hope, and the opportunity to obtain marketable skills, that will build courageous and fearless-leaders and entrepreneurs.
To learn more about me, please continue to follow the passionate work of HER ZONE, INC. You can also sign up to join our diverse and inclusive newsletter HBCU (HER. BLACK. COMMUNITY. UNITED.) Our newsletter will celebrate and spotlight the GREATNESS of our culture and HER achievements.
Words of ENCOURAGEMENT: HER ZONE, INC. was an idea and a dream that I built single-handed . I began executing this goal in 2009, became a nonprofit in 2013, and, I finally got the courage to give momentum in 2018. I hindered myself from working on this project out of fear and because I thought I lacked the ability and tools to achieve this goal due to societal acceptance; however, I knew this was my chosen assignment. I encourage you to believe in your gifts and recognize your assignment. Do not be afraid to tell your story, you never know who you can inspire. The journey will not be easy and at times overwhelming, but go for it! Be intentional with your purpose! Know that you are capable of achieving whatever you choose! Do not give up on yourself! You got this! I believe in you! Find the courage to be, YOU!! I pray this brief overview of my life has inspired you, as you travel through HER ZONE.
Serena R. Gatlin, FOUNDHER