Category Archives: WORK

INVENTING DARLA/Warren Buffett, I’m on your trail!

I must admit. I am in way over my head.

What have I gotten myself into with this social media marketing animal? And, boy, I do mean animal.

For two weeks, I have been trying to wrap my brain around all of this new media technology. I said yes to blogging with a passion. I love extemporaneous writing. The major hurdle was sharing my inner most thoughts with the world—pretty much like handing the key over to anyone who wanted to read my diary.

Now I have a Twitter account and a new NiyaKids Facebook page. It’s kind of weird having followers and following people around on the internet. The goal is to get as many people of like interests to sign up as followers, which would make me a leader. I’m all for that. But the other way around feels somewhat odd. I know. In order to have a friend, you must first be a friend; and to be a good leader, one must be a good follower. I get it! The same principle applies to my new Facebook page The goal is for me to get 100,000 friends to LIKE the page to gain the interest of a manufacturer or licensor.  The more toy folks I like, the more folks may like my products. I’m still trying to figure out if my Twitter name is Niya@NiyaKids or @NiyaKids. I need all of my global diary readers to ‘tweet’ me – and we’ll see which one works.

My technology tutor said that the object of all of this is to connect all of the dots. It’s like the neck bone is connected to the shoulder bone concept. With a push of a key, my blog will go out to all of my Facebook friends and Twitter followers. The thought of it is a bit overwhelming.

I wonder what Warren Buffett thinks about all of this texting and tweeting?  I bet he doesn’t answer his own email. But he does have a Facebook page. In fact, Warren Buffett’s page has180, 797 LIKES.

Tweet this: Warren Buffett, I’m on your trail!


INVENTING DARLA/God has a funny way . . .

My daughter and I were talking this morning about God and his sense of humor. One thing is for sure:  He has been consistent.

I can imagine how Abraham felt when God told him to “get thee from your kindred and kind, and I’ll make thee a nation; and make thy name great.”


Did anyone bother to tell God that Abraham was old, and his wife Sarah’s eggs had long since dried up? They were probably hardboiled by the time Isaac was conceived. Nevertheless, Isaac was conceived and we know the rest of the story.

The same God took Paul, persecutor of the Christians, and turned his life right side up to be a premier apostle of the very same Christians he hated.


God has a sense of humor, and He is consistent.

We see it in the story of the Mary the Mother of Jesus (a virgin), Mary Magdalene (a former prostitute), Peter (a former thug) and throughout the Bible. Take Noah for example. Here it is: He hears from God to build an ark for years with no rain in sight. I can imagine people murmuring: “Look at that crazy Noah, building a boat, and it ain’t even raining.” The flood came and we know the rest of the story.

I can talk from my own experiences. He sets me up to get a second master’s degree with full tuition paid, without a book allowance. Unemployed, son in college, one in high school, bills up the ying yang and you want me to go back to school and earn a second degree with no books, Lord?

It gets better . . You are not only going to earn a third degree, you are going to graduate with a 4.0 cumulative GPA.

And one car, 17-thousand schedules ( everybody going in opposite directions) and an ailing Dad, who was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma plus a myriad of other demands, I graduated.

And we know the rest of the story.

It doesn’t make human sense . . .

I live in a house that our salary does not sustain. My children attend private schools, I’m sitting on top of a mega-million children’s entertainment business. I’m able to fly to Philly for my graduation. I get my hair done and eat on the regular. I enjoy full medical benefits through my husband’s teaching salary. I get stopped in public places by people from foreign places who ask me: “Aren’t you that doll lady I saw on “American Inventor?” Who knew I would win $50,000 as a finalist to take my product to the next level on a show with 14 million viewers, a product that now is licensed internationally to countries around the world?

God’s ways are not our ways.

I don’t have to imagine what went through Abraham’s mind when God promised to make him a nation with faulty equipment. I know how Noah felt when he was given the assignment of building a boat for an event that people didn’t believe was going to happen. I can identify with Peter, who was rough around the edges but willing to trust what he couldn’t see. For faith is the street where I live; not knowing how but knowing who; not knowing when but knowing that if God said it . . . we know the rest of the story.



INVENTING DARLA/This just in!!

Dear friends and supporters: I wanted to share this news with you!

Drexel University Mom Graduates Top of Her Class without Buying a Book

Darla Davenport-Powell was so excited to learn that she would be one of the first recipients of a merit- based full fellowship from Drexel University that she forgot that it didn’t include a book allowance. So how did this mother of three graduate at the top of her class with a 4.0 cum GPA without buying any books?

“I literally lived in the library,” says Davenport-Powell My day consisted of searching the web to find text books on line. Google became my friend and I read and printed any information on the topics that were assigned. On occasion, I would borrow my professor’s books and read as much as I could before returning them the following week. I also had wonderful colleagues who allowed me to make copies of pages that I couldn’t find (on-line).”

Davenport-Powell will give the invocation at Drexel University Sacramento Commencement at 6 p.m. on June 25, 2011 at the Crocker Art Museum, where more than 100 graduate students are expected to participate in the ceremony. Drexel has enrolled 424 students in its doctoral and master’s programs since opening its Center for Graduate Studies in Sacramento in January 2009.

“I feel a double honor to be celebrated as a graduate of Drexel’s inaugural class and keeper of my Dad’s legacy,” says Davenport-Powell. “He had a work ethic second-to-none and never called in sick after working 46 years and 3 months at the U.S. Postal Service. He was an example of excellence, determination and discipline. My success is a tribute to my father—a man who lived the motto: No excuses!”


INVENTING DARLA / Debt, you got to go!

My mama used to tell me all of the time: Don’t bite off more than you can chew, live within your means and don’t forget to save for a rainy day.

I should have listened.

Debt is no joke. What I know for sure, Oprah, is that a hard head makes a soft back. My backside has turned into Jell-O.

Hey Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman! I need a financial intervention. Come live in my house for a week and help me get my freedom back. I want to save more than I spend. I want to live beneath my means. I want to build a legacy for my children’s children. I want to be a lender and not a borrower. I want to tithe some, save some, spend some and share some. I want to scream “I’m debt free!” at the end of this year.

Today, I will start again by putting change into my piggy bank. I’m going to dust the budget book off and list every outstanding bill neatly on the pages—starting from the least to the greatest amount owed. I will repent for not being a good steward over the money that I have been given and vow to replace old habits with new ones.

I’m serving notice:  Debt you got to go!

INVENTING DARLA/The Price of a Dream

Each morning I wake up thinking that this is going to be the day my dreams come true.

In my mind’s eye, I see children all over the world interacting with Niya and her global friends. Through child’s play, they will learn about different cultures, customs and languages — through music and song. All it takes is $365,000 to manufacture or a licensing deal.

I see children all over the world watching Niya and her global friends on television. Through interactive play, they will learn how to serve others, celebrate diversity and solve problems — through games and activities. All it takes is $250,000 to produce a TV pilot or a production deal.

I see children all over the world reading books and listening to CDs about the adventures of Niya and her global friends. Through imaginative play, they will travel to places beyond their wildest fantasies and be inspired to live their dreams — through stories and songs. All it takes is $200,000 to self-publish or produce books and CDs or to get a book and record deal. Let’s not forget the marketing, trade shows, PR, miscellaneous costs and legal fees that are not included if one takes the “independent” route.

Everything has a price. How much is your dream?

INVENTING DARLA/Oprah’s last hurrah

Oprah Winfrey has pulled out all of the stops for her farewell season. Twenty-five years; where did the time go?

It seemed as if it were only yesterday when we welcomed her into our homes. I first met Oprah at a National Black Media Coalition conference. Pluria Marshall, Sr., founder and president of NBMC, made the introduction. Oprah had three years under her belt at AM Chicago, and I was just getting my feet wet in broadcast journalism. Pluria had put me on program to read a tribute to Oprah entitled, “Phenomenal Woman,” written by our mentor, Maya Angelou.

The program ran long, and I didn’t get a chance to do the poem. That ended up being a blessing because Oprah had included it in her speech. We were on the same page.

Now the final chapter of her show has come down to the last episodes.

I hear that her last show will be “star-studded” with celebrities from all walks of life paying tribute to the talk show legend. I was hoping that Oprah’s “last hurrah” would celebrate the behind-the-scene folks who cleaned the bathrooms at Harpo Studios, the personal assistants who ran errands and provided service outside of their job description, the door men, chauffeurs, mail room personnel, food staff and the janitors who swept the floors— all the real stars on the ‘O’ team.

I heard Oprah tell Hollywood film director Tom Shadyac that “This country has gotten off course in its obsession with celebrity…and this culture celebrates people for doing absolutely nothing.” Shadyac asked a question that brought it home “Who will celebrate the women who swept this floor as much as any artist because she is an artist, too?”

My mother and I would stand in line for that show. I’ve produced it in my head. The theme would be, “A servant’s heart;” with special musical guest, Whitney Phipps. As the all-stars are celebrated on the world stage, Rev. Phipps would sing:

Just ordinary people,
God uses ordinary people.
He chooses people just like me and you,
who are willing to do as He commands.
God uses people that will give Him all,
no matter how small your all may seem to you;
because little becomes much
as you place it in the Master’s hand.(Danniebelle Hall)

Each segment would shine the spotlight on those unsung artists on the Oprah team, who served in “street sweeper” positions; and swept as Dr. King would say: “Even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry.

We stand on others’ shoulders.

What I know for sure is found in Proverbs18:16: “A gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great.”

Oprah is a giver. I hope it’s not too late for the cleaning crew, personal assistants and hospitality staff to share the stage with the Queen of Talk. I hear the last taping is being held at the Chicago United Center. From what I hear. that’s plenty good room.


My Mom and Dad didn’t play when it came to work.

They started working really early in life and had no mercy when it came to their children. My sisters and I were given daily chores that we were expected to do in order to get an allowance at the end of the week. I don’t remember sitting down too much because my Mom had this thing that if someone was working, you would help. You didn’t want to hear her talk about people who were so lazy they wouldn’t hit a lick at a snake or work on a pie train. The only legitimate reason for staying in bed was if you were sick. They made sure we didn’t get sick. In the South, we literally worked from sun up to sun down.

I had a great childhood. We played hard and worked even harder. There was nothing like earning your own money. Financial independence was drilled and modeled. Parents provided for their children, and children were expected to carry their own weight when they became of age.

God bless the child that’s got her own.

I worked many jobs as a teen. I was a school bus driver, cashier at Mr. Smith’s neighborhood store and at Giant Food World, a concession worker at high school football games, a drummer for the quartet “Big Betty and the Spiritualities,” an intern at Black on News, summer help at Horseman Doll Factory and a personal hairdresser; Mrs. Curry would pay me $20 every two weeks to shampoo, blow dry and curl her hair. On occasion, I would help Mrs. Martin, my former Spanish teacher, clean her home. I made her windows and bathrooms sparkle. Like my Dad would say: Any honest day’s work is honorable. Dr. King said: “Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.”

We must make sure that our children get the memo.


There is nothing like venturing into new territory. Two months ago, after 30 years of earning my first master’s degree in Journalism and Public Affairs, I completed requirements at Drexel University for my second masters in Higher Education. Little did I know that two months later, I would be in front of an audience conducting a workshop at a national WESTOP conference—an organization that’s been around for 33 years.

That’s where I’ve been the past three days.

TRIO professionals gathered in Vegas to explore “New Paradigms for Educational Access & Excellence.” In short, we were there to teach practical strategies for continued professional development; and to learn new ways to improve old programs—Upward Bound, Student Support Services and Talent Search. Those programs have been around for years and continue to champion the cause for low income, first generation and disabled students. I was the first to attend college in my family and can identify.

I was in my element at WESTOP. Couldn’t have been better, I was co-presenting with Dr. Jose Chavez, my former instructor who is an institution. Traveling with him is like being with a ‘rock star.’ He knows everybody in higher education and they know him, too. He is a mentor to many and his list of grooming successful higher education practitioners is long. Somehow I get the impression that our presentation topic: “Planning Your Career Path for the President’s Office” may have not been solely for the folks who signed up for our workshop. I have a sneaky suspicion that Dr. Chavez maybe up to something as he pushes me beyond my comfort zone into this new territory. One thing about deep water, you either sink or swim.

The WESTOP experience taught me that I could launch out into the deep and swim beyond my reach.


I’m calling a moratorium on my “to-do” list. It’s out of control. Mine is a mile long and each time I shorten it, it grows back like an amoeba. I’ve tried to convince myself that I’m not as “to-do” oriented as I was in the past. Someone once said you shouldn’t grade your own paper, either. I wonder why?

There is something about writing that brings order to my world. It helps me organize my thoughts, crystallize my goals, process my emotions and structure my day. But when the very thing you use to structure your day starts to control your life, then “Houston, we have a problem.”

There is nothing like the adrenalin rush that races through my body after crossing each completed task off my list. It’s the same high I get with each accomplished goal; no time to celebrate, on to the next assignment.

Is there a support group for people who do too much?

Hi, my name is Darla…

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