2020 YWCA Women of Distinction: Aleea Slappy Wilson
Business & the Professions
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, City of Norfolk
“An impactful leader allows their life to be an example that inspires, challenges and encourages others to show up as their best most incredible selves.”
Aleea Slappy Wilson may only be three years into her Norfolk residency, but she has enacted major changes in the city since her arrival as business development manager in December 2016. Wilson arrived strapped with a Washington, D.C. fierceness, eager to grow the City of Norfolk to the same caliber of collaboration, inclusivity and innovation as our nation’s capital. She created the Small Business Initiative and Women’s Power Lunch to respectively emphasize the economic importance of small businesses and power of collaboration between female entrepreneurs. Wilson’s most recent work as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer is dedicated to eliminating bias to create a more culturally aware and accepting business community.
Explain the power of your Diversity, Equity and Inclusion book club.
In September 2019, we offered our first DEI training to the City’s Senior Executive team. We know that training alone does not change a city or organization. With this in mind, we wanted to create a space to continue the conversation. The book club creates a safe place for everyone to examine themselves, ask questions, challenge perspectives and become individuals who use their power to create positive outcomes for others.
What advice can you give to a budding entrepreneur?
Put your ideas down on paper. We tend to keep ideas in our head and not take action.
Why are small businesses so important?
It may sound cliché, but small businesses are the backbone to our economy. And ultimately, there’s something powerful about seeing someone identify a problem and creating a small business that offers a solution.