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Dieneria Brown: “Listen to your body”

There is always a Light at the End of the Tunnel and with COVID-19 that light is the advancement of technology. As a society, we are learning just how much can be done online — from school to work and everything in between. With more things being virtual, we are able to have larger networks that aren’t […]

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There is always a Light at the End of the Tunnel and with COVID-19 that light is the advancement of technology. As a society, we are learning just how much can be done online — from school to work and everything in between. With more things being virtual, we are able to have larger networks that aren’t constrained by geographic region. Your child can be in camp with someone 100 miles away from them. The connections we build now will be with us for a lifetime. The people we are connected to are the light at the end of the tunnel. We are building stronger bonds and appreciating each other more than before.


The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.

As a part of our series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dieneria Brown.

Dieneria Brown is the Founder and CEO of Young Authors’ Workshop (www.youngauthorsworkshop.com), a creative writing auxiliary program and publishing house for children. She has a B.A. in English with a Concentration in Creative Writing and a M.F.A. in Creative Writing. In 2020, Acquisition International recognized her as the Most Inspirational English Language Arts Business Leader.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Creative writing has always been a passion of mine — I actually published my first book as a senior in high school. Though I studied creative writing in undergrad and graduate school, I worked in education. Over my career in the educational field, I’ve worked from the elementary level through higher education. Ultimately, I combined my two passions, education and creative writing, to create Young Authors’ Workshop.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?

As the Founder & CEO I rarely get to be in the workshops with the students, but pre-COVID one of our Workshop Leaders had a family emergency, and I filled in for one of her workshops. I briefly mentioned at the beginning of the workshop that I was the CEO and thought nothing of it, but at the end of the workshop I had a student pull me aside and ask if I was really the CEO. The student reminded me a lot of myself — a quite young black girl at a predominantly white school. She said she didn’t know someone like her could own a company. That moment really grounded me and reminded me how important it is to show my face and get out there more. I’m the stereotypical reclusive writer, but that student reminded me of the power I have just by being seen.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Right now we are gearing up for our Virtual Summer Camp. Our Summer Camp will help parents give their children the camp experience while still remaining safe. No one is certain of when this pandemic will end. Though vaccinations are rolling out, the process takes time and is currently focused on the 18 and over demographic. With children unvaccinated and cases still rising parents are worried that sending their children to in-person camps could put them at risk. Virtual camps eliminate this worry, while still allowing children to connect with other campers outside of their typical bubble of school and neighborhood friends.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’m thankful for Leroy Nesbitt who is the Director of the Black Student Fund — a DC based non-profit that helped desegregate independent schools in the DC area and provides support to black students. I was a Black Student Fund student myself, and Leroy has continued to be a mentor to me as an alumna of the program. He was one of the first people I told about my business plan. He not only encouraged me but helped me network with local schools. To this day Young Authors’ Workshop partners with the Black Student Fund to offer their students creative writing workshops and writing evaluations. His support and connections helped open doors during our start-up phase.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?

Right now we are seeing a lot of families concerned about distance learning. Prior to distance learning, there was a huge emphasis on limiting screen time. Many parents are now left confused — if screen time is so bad, why are we forcing our children to do distance learning?

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

These parents are right: days full of screen time are not good for children, which is why they should be in a camp that limits screen time. In our virtual camp, campers have an entire week to go through each camp activity. This allows parents to break up the time over multiple days and limit how much screen time their child has each day. Though our camp is virtual, it includes activities that encourage campers to step away from the screen.

Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?

Our biggest challenge to date has been pivoting from an in-person business to a virtual business. Prior to COVID-19, all of our workshops were in person at schools and summer camps. When schools moved to distance learning, we had to move our workshops online. This was an unexpected change that needed to happen immediately. We were able to successfully move our workshops online, but it was definitely a challenging time.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

To address the challenge of moving to virtual learning, we invested time and resources. From getting an outside SEO consultant to creating our own learning management system. We put a huge focus on doing everything in our power to make the virtual student experience just as good as our in-person student experience.

Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?

The key to balancing work from home and homeschooling is flexibility. We are living in unprecedented times and we need unprecedented solutions, which means breaking away from our schedules and changing our expectations. Now that work, school, and personal life are all happening within our homes we have to accept that those distinctions will become blurred and in order to balance it all some things will not get done.

Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?

The most important thing is you and your family’s mental health. Listen to your body — if you are feeling stressed, don’t power through. Instead, step away, relax, and regain your sense of calm. Then you can go back to your task — the work will still be there in an hour, take the time to address your body and mind’s needs.

Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

There is always a Light at the End of the Tunnel and with COVID-19 that light is the advancement of technology. As a society, we are learning just how much can be done online — from school to work and everything in between. With more things being virtual, we are able to have larger networks that aren’t constrained by geographic region. Your child can be in camp with someone 100 miles away from them. The connections we build now will be with us for a lifetime. The people we are connected to are the light at the end of the tunnel. We are building stronger bonds and appreciating each other more than before.

From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

It is important to give them a space to express those feelings. Children especially need to feel empowered to share their thoughts and work through their emotions. I find writing to be the best way to do this, but it can be through other means like singing, dancing, meditation, etc.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

As a writer, I think my biggest life lesson is the power of words. Writing can not only be therapeutic for the writer, but it can also be inspiring to the masses. It is an opportunity to both get your thoughts out on the page and to draw others in to your world and worldview.

How can our readers follow you online?

https://www.facebook.com/youngauthorsworkshop
https://www.linkedin.com/company/young-authors-workshop-llc/
https://www.instagram.com/youngauthorsworkshop/

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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