Diana Leon Taylor
Tell us about yourself
I am a first-generation American and was born in New York. I spent my formative years in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Miami, Florida. For the past fifteen years, I have worked in the United States and overseas as an international business consultant. My clients have included Fortune 500 companies and the European Commission for whom I led the development of multinational marketing strategies that enabled companies to successfully expand in the European Union.
Eight years ago, I founded SageGroup-DC Consulting, LLC through which I provide strategic marketing services for several corporations and non-profit organizations. Through SageGroup, I currently lead the launch of the Women’s Global Initiative’s (WGI) international expansion to London, Paris Qatar, and Brazil. WGI serves as the platform for the advancement and networking of the leadership, education and business development of women of ethnicity and influence throughout the world. WGI brings together the international women leadership community through a spectrum of business development opportunities. Whether as leaders of their country, businesses, or institutions, WGI is committed to promoting the positive images of successful professional women contributing to the economies of the world. I am tremendously excited about this project because it promotes the economic advancement in conjunction with social responsibility.
In addition, I proudly serve as the political liaison and special advisor to the White House, State Department, and Organization of American States on behalf of the Haitian Diaspora Federation. My role is to coordinate and facilitate the development efforts in Haiti by mobilizing the international Haitian Diaspora communities. My grandfather was a former Ambassador of Haiti so it is personally rewarding to me to represent Haiti’s interest in a diplomatic manner. It is the way that I honor my grandparents.
I earned my Bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude) in Psychology and Economics from Harvard University; a MS degree (summa cum laude) in Statistics; as well as an MBA (magna cum laude) in International Business Marketing from the George Washington University School of Business.
Through my foundation, The Yolande Leon Foundation, which I created in honor of my grandmother, I have served on several foundations and boards that create leadership and educational opportunities for underserved children. These boards include: Leadership Greater Washington, Beauvoir: The National
Cathedral Elementary School, The National Park Trust (Buddy Bison: Youth to Parks), The Haitian Fund, The Haitian Diaspora Foundation, the National Presbyterian School, The Black Student Fund, The Latino Student Fund, SITAR Arts Center, and For Love Of Children (FLOC).
What led you to pursue your career?
I have pursued my career because I believe that for-profit entities can also be socially responsible. I only take on projects that can contribute to a greater good in addition to being profitable.
How were you able to get started?
I was fortunate to have opportunities to work in Europe during the conversions to the Euro. As countries were converting to the Euro, a need for companies to enter new markets in a culturally sensitive and responsible manner was created. I was honestly in the right place at the right time.
When did you realize that you were making real progress with your career?
I realized I was making progress when I saw the successful implementation of some of my projects and the reaction to the work I was doing. Clients and colleagues kept making reference to my ‘unique perspective’ and ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking. That was when I realized that my skills were adding value.
What have been some of your professional highlights?
Representing Haiti to international government leaders has been most meaningful. I have the benefit of my family’s diplomatic experience, a personal understanding of the cultural dynamics and needs of Haiti while having a strong educational base and political access. I feel that I make a small but meaningful contribution.
What have been some of the challenges you’ve had to face?
I could name many challenges, being a woman, being a minority, discrimination, and so on. I really don’t spend a lot of dwelling on the hardships. I focus on two things with challenges 1) What can I do to change the situation and advance the ball, 2) What is the lesson to be learned to avoid this challenge from happening again. I learned a long time ago that challenges are part of the successes so I don’t take myself too seriously and I don’t take what I can’t control personally. I do spend my efforts focusing on actions that I can take to lead to successes.
Do you personally know other Haitians in your field?
Yes, I know several.
Do you feel as though you’ve helped break barriers?
I feel that I have made a concerted effort to help other Haitian Americans, Women and Children break through numerous barriers professionally and philanthropically. It is a personal mission of mine. Whenever I can, I do!
What do you feel is next for your career?
I love my public speaking engagements on Leadership Strategies and Empowerment. will definitely be doing more of those. I love sharing what I’ve learned and experienced to motivate others to share reach their goals. I would love to devote all of my time doing speaking engagements and developing my foundation. Like I said earlier, providing leadership opportunities for the advancement of women and children is where my heart truly is.
What would be your advice to young people who want their careers and lives to have an impact?
My advice is this (and I live by this) “Life is not a dress rehearsal; find your passion and fight to manifest it during your lifetime. The more successful you are the more people will criticize you, so do not allow it to bring you down or discourage you. It is merely a sign of how well you are doing.”
What do you think can be done for Haiti to develop financial assistance without having to be reliant upon others in times of crisis?
If the Haitian International community could truly unite, it would create the political and financial base needed to be truly independent.
Do you believe a campaign highlighting the positives of Haiti would be worth exploring to take away the stigma of it being impoverished?
I think that such a campaign would create a more balanced perspective of the Haitian experience. There is tremendous wealth, culture, cuisine, and art in Haiti and that is rarely, if ever, highlighted.
Would you recommend NAHP to Haitian students and professionals? Why?
Absolutely! I support anything that helps Haitians advance professionally and academically. The more successful we are individually be stronger we are collectively.