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Women With Vision and Purpose: Dr. Shanelle R. Dawson Discusses Wellness, Equity, and Business Development

Updated: 6 days ago

By Dr. Sharon H. Porter | Wednesday, April 3, 2024 | 4:10 PM ET

Meet Dr. Shanelle R. Dawson, a visionary entrepreneur and advocate for women’s empowerment. From her journey as a dedicated educator to her transformative work in entrepreneurship, Dr. Dawson’s mission has evolved, focusing on uplifting women through Wellness, Equity, and Business (W.E.B.) Development. As the founder of ACCESS Global Group, she instills guiding principles of wellness, equity, and business acumen in her coaching approach, fostering growth and empowerment in individuals and organizations alike.

We applaud Dr. Dawson’s inspiring journey, her commitment to supporting women entrepreneurs, and her vision for rebranding ACCESS Dental Laboratories while continuing to shatter glass ceilings in her industry.

When you first became an entrepreneur, what was your mission and purpose? Has it changed or stayed the same? How so?

Dr. Shanelle: Most people do not know but I was a teacher for 20 years. I retired in 2021. When I first ventured into entrepreneurship, I wanted to change the landscape of education for students who represent diverse backgrounds and situations. My goal was to empower students and their families. Since 2009, my mission has evolved.. I continue to work with students in my volunteer efforts but now I also focus on women’s empowerment through Wellness, Equity and Business (W.E.B.) Development.

As a coach and consultant, you empower individuals and organizations. What guiding principles do you instill in your coaching approach, and how do you support women in starting their own businesses?

Dr. Shanelle: For 15 years we focused on Diversity Equity and Inclusion. As of recently, we’ve shifted our energy to W.E.B. W.E.B. is a component of my consulting business, ACCESS Global Group. W.E.B. is a wellness, equity, and business development framework created to educate, encourage, and empower women. Our framework is suitable for academic settings, nonprofit organizations, corporate communities, and local municipalities. The mission of this collaborative model is to transform environments by uplifting women. This is how we support women and uplift communities. Here are our foundational beliefs:

Wellness-A comprehensive approach to coaching which emphasizes the connection between environment, mindset, attitude, beliefs, thoughts, feelings, emotional state, and physical health. This is a holistic process that focuses on prevention and individualized care while recognizing the connection between the mind, body and soul.

Equity-A strategic method of addressing gender inequalities that limit a woman’s ability to access opportunities. Process by which women gain power and agency over their own lives and acquire the ability to make intentional choices. It is a woman-centered ideal that encourages active participation in all aspects of society and equal protections under the law.

Business-A process used to identify, nurture, and acquire business opportunities to drive growth and profitability for women by enhancing entrepreneurial and or leadership knowledge and skills through networking, mentorship, and structured training programs. This approach is holistic, collaborative, inclusive, and consultative while emphasizing the importance of succeeding in a global economy.

What specific challenges do you see women entrepreneurs facing, and how do you tailor your coaching approach to address these challenges?

Dr. Shanelle: I believe the greatest challenges women entrepreneurs face are access to capital and work-life balance. I try to provide women with road maps to success. I give step by step instructions and guidance on how I was able to secure funding and how I balance multiple businesses. I share my wisdom, experiences and pitfalls. I am an open book. I believe my experiences will help others. Additionally, I also make connections. I have a vast network and I am willing to make introductions. I do not believe in gatekeeping. I believe, to whom much is given, much is required. I think it is my duty to help others. If I have the information, I will share it. If I do not have the information, I will help you find it. Lastly, I do not see obstacles, I see opportunities. I am always looking for solutions.

Can you elaborate on your vision for rebranding ACCESS Dental Laboratories and how you intend to continue positioning yourself as a leader in the industry?

Dr. Shanelle: My vision for rebranding ACCESS Dental Laboratories is to focus on my team and the community. I’d like to highlight my employees and their stories. We are the sum-total of our experiences and I believe there is wisdom in stories. I want to provide a platform for my team to share their successes, challenges, strengths and limitations. I want them to have a voice. ACCESS Dental Laboratories is located in Syracuse, New York. Syracuse has been good to me. I owe this community. I want to be a major employer in this community, I hope to continue to grow and offer employment while addressing barriers to employment. I know what it is like to feel hopeless, without options. I know what it is like to push a stroller down the street as a teen mom, wondering if life will ever get better. I know what it is like to live surrounded by violence, wondering if someone you love will be a statistic. I want to make a difference and let my community know there is something on the other side of despair.

What role do boundaries play in achieving work-life balance, and how do you establish and communicate these boundaries effectively? Do you have any practices that help you disconnect from work and recharge outside of business hours?

Dr. Shanelle: Funny you mention boundaries because until recently, I allowed people to bulldoze my boundaries. However, not anymore. Now, when it comes to work-life balance I ask myself, are you okay, what do you need, and how do you feel? Are you okay, because sometimes it is a small issue that is causing discomfort. What do you need because if I am in a state of distress, I need to know how to gain relief. How do you feel, because I need to go through whatever I am experiencing. Therapy has helped me establish and communicate my boundaries. I spent a great deal of my life acquiescing and sacrificing my needs, now I say no. I ask myself the three questions and if I cannot provide a quick yes, then it is an easy no. I typically disconnect by engaging in visualization activities, It is basically daydreaming at any time but I do it when I want to relax. I picture something in my head then I create visual stories around the image. I like to get lost in my thoughts. Truth be told, this is my first step to manifesting.

As a business owner, how would you define the overall success for yourself and your companies?

Dr. Shanelle: My definition of success is the mark I leave on the world. From my team to my community: Did I inspire individuals to pursue self-discovery, did I empower them to be innovative, progressive and revolutionary in thought and did I motivate them to be global activists? This is my definition of success.

Any exclusive news you can share with us today?

Dr. Shanelle: ACCESS Dental laboratories is the first 100%, African American owned, woman lead, full-service, dental laboratory in the country. ADL was brought to life in 2018. We opened our doors in 2022. From 2022 to 2024, I hid in the shadows, dimming my light, shrinking myself, not wanting to offend or make waves, ascribing to traditional narratives. After two years, I can be proud of myself for having the courage to finally show up fully as the principal owner and managing partner of ACCESS Dental Laboratories and celebrate my heroism. My exclusive news is shattering glass ceilings and erecting boundaries!

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