Conversation by: Kylie Cooper Photos by: Lillian Reitz
KC: Let’s start with where you’re from and how you got to where you are now.
TCF: I am from Corpus Christi. I am affectionally known as Dr. Tammy, the Catalyst. I am a proud daughter, granddaughter, sister, and mother. It is because of all my family and my ancestors that I am here. They are my inspiration and motivation for doing all that I do to be a catalyst for change, empower others, and build generational wealth.
I have been an educator for more than 20 years. I taught at the secondary level for 10 years, and it was during that time I pursued a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction. Now, I help adults improve their reading and writing skills as well as their ability to be successful in college and life. I offer my services as a consultant and professional developer, and support educators in the secondary and postsecondary classroom.
KC: When did the entrepreneur element of your life come into the picture?
TCF: In 2016, I made the decision to do more of what I am meant to do and impact more people. I had done consulting several years before then, but it was fall 2016 when I strategically began to work on my vision and plan to impact change globally. As an entrepreneur and strategist, I help purpose-driven leaders move in the direction of more and prepare for what’s next by providing the tools and strategies needed to plan and live on purpose in life and/or business. I also offer goal setting/vision sessions, purpose planning workshops, and conscious connections retreats. Additionally, I support Black women on their journey to earning doctoral degrees or just wanting to advance in their careers. I even have a podcast, “Journey Toward More” available to encourage and inspire.
KC: Self-awareness and self-development are two key components to a lot of your work. Why do you think working on those aspects of ourselves is so important?
TCF: In order to create change in the world, we must be self-aware. Self-awareness is not about what you like and don’t like; true self-awareness is not only to recognize those things but also our ability to understand our impact on others. We can’t do that when we don’t know ourselves and seek to learn more about ourselves; self-development.
KC: Talk to me about your publication, Manifesting More: A Playbook for Planning and Living on Purpose, and your most recent book, R.E.A.P. More: 76 Seeds for This Season.
TCF: Manifesting More: A Playbook for Planning and Living on Purpose is a guide to help you organize the vision for your life and get what you want. I want you to manifest all that you desire in the areas of education, career, personal development, family, fitness, fun and travel, finances, and faith. It is a catalyst for change with plays to help you win in life and/or business. This comprehensive playbook is the secret you’ve been looking for to help you reach your goals.
R.E.A.P. More: 76 Seeds for This Season is filled with inspiration and encouragement to help us through these uncertain times and feed our soul. R.E.A.P. More is a book of 76 quotes with commentary and reflective questions to help you on your journey toward more. It offers practical strategies and mindset work to apply to your life.
KC: You actually have a global, online reading community called Women Aspiring for More. What was the inspiration behind that group?
TCF: I’m a literacy educator and advocate. I wanted to do what I do in my community on a larger scale, so I decided to open it up to the world, specifically women who need encouragement and inspiration from other like-minded women. Since founding Women Aspiring for More four years ago, I have expanded again. In 2020, I established Catalyst 4 Change Global Reading Community to include purpose-driven men, because I have had so many men also want to join us during the pandemic.
Women Aspiring for More and Catalysts 4 Change Global Reading Community focus on pushing you toward “what’s next” and equipping you with the tools, strategies, and resources to do so. They are also personal and professional development book clubs, where we read nonfiction books around the topics of mindset, empowerment, self-care, leadership, collaboration, encouragement, inspiration, business, financial literacy, and so much more. We choose a book and speak about the topics, themes, and/or ideas in the book during our discussions.
KC: Let’s talk about your nickname “The Catalyst.” How did that come about and what does it mean?
TCF: People would always ask me what I do and to describe it. The best way I would do that was use the metaphor of being a catalyst. The person who precipitates change by offering tools, strategies, and mindset work to move in the direction of more and prepare for what’s next. I help purpose-driven leaders get unstuck or figure out what’s next. We clarify the vision, create an action plan, and establish tasks to execute. When they finish their work with me, I help them identify content or subject matter experts to help with the next phase of their journey toward more.
KC: You’re active in several community organizations and always have been. What would you say is the importance of giving back to your community in this way?
TCF: When it comes to service and serving, my philosophy is simple: Leave a lasting legacy by serving and impacting others. I am only as successful as the people I help. If I can impact and inspire one person to affirm their greatness and help them on their journey, then I have left a legacy; I have been successful; I have made my contribution to the world during my time here on Earth. Of course, my goal is to help millions, not just one, on their journey toward more.
KC: Which leads us to the TEDx series. Let’s talk about TEDxCole Park, which you co-founded with Liza Wisner and are the curator of. How did this event come about and what exactly is it?
TCF: Liza Wisner had the vision to host a TEDx event in Corpus Christi. She applied for the TEDx Cole Park license. She is a real visionary. Liza put out a call for people to help with the event; I responded and attended the initial planning event. When she asked for a volunteer to serve as curator for the event, I found myself saying, “I’ll do it!”
TEDx Cole Park is one of many TEDx events planned and coordinated independently, by a local community, under a free license from TED. In the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading,” the TEDx program helps communities, organizations, and individuals produce TED-style events locally around ideas or themes relevant to the local community. This year’s theme is J.E.D.I: Justice. Equity. Diversity. Inclusion.
KC: Why were you drawn to those four words and how are they incorporated into the event series?
TCF: This year we are exploring ways our community can be JEDI advocates by eliminating barriers, practicing equitable access to resources – including people from different backgrounds – and amplifying the voices, perspectives, and styles of those silenced.
As an educator, researcher, and scholar, my work has always been centered around these four pillars and the idea of freedom. In addition, the events during this past year in our country have increased the necessity to address inequities and bring injustices to the forefront. It is impossible to discuss or target one of these ideas or pillars without addressing them all. Each pillar impacts the other and how effective we are at implementing it and impacting change. It is time to have courageous conversations around what is happening to marginalized people and communities. Therefore, it was our idea to use this event as a way to begin those conversations together. The TEDx speakers will be addressing these ideas within their talks based on their perspective, their industry, and personal experience.
KC: By the time this issue comes out, the May 1 event will have just happened. What do you hope comes from the event and will there be more in the future?
TCF: It is my hope that this will be a catalyst for courageous conversations in our community and inspire people to take action toward dismantling inequities in whatever space they occupy and have influence. It is my hope that folks are more conscious of their biases and inequitable practices, and work to create more inclusive environments. And yes, there will be more TEDx events in the future. It is our hope to host these regularly, so stay tuned.
KC: What are your favorite local businesses to support?
TCF: Some of my favorite local businesses to support are Lott’s of Art by Evelyn Cooper, Miracles Hair Fashions, PowerUp.org, and Coral Bean Café.