Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson
Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson

Long before she became the president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the nation’s oldest African-American sorority, Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson was showing the world that she was a proven leader.

The Benedict College graduate, who earned an MBA from Clark Atlanta University, served as senior vice president at Goodwill Industries, where she was responsible for a $25 million enterprise in southern Wisconsin and metropolitan Chicago. Her personal and professional endeavors have equipped her with leadership skills and strategies that she’s sharing in her new book, “You Can Lead: 30 Life Lessons to Empower the Leader Within.”

Wilson has proven her ability to lead through challenges and develop those around her by encouraging them to tap into their true leadership potential.

She was in recently in Houston to talk about the compelling stories and practical tips designed to walk readers through 30 valuable leadership lessons gained during her 30-plus years of corporate, non-profit and civic experience.

Defender: Why did you decide to write “You Can Lead?”

Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson: Coming out of office, it dawned on me that we learn these valuable lessons on life, leadership or just in general. I had served as international president of such a large, global organization, and I realized that people needed to hear from women like us who have had the extraordinary experiences of leading in the corporate arena, the nonprofit arena and civic arena. We needed to talk about led us to those positions and how did we get there. It dawned on me that a lot of experiences started from when I was very young and served as building blocks that allowed me to turn out to be a pretty decent leader, I would say. 

Defender: What are the top three things that you want readers to get from the book? 

Wilson:Number one, I want people to realize that everyone has some level of leadership potential. Whether you acknowledge it or not,  there is some level of leadership inside you. It’s just a matter of, do you develop it further and how do you make sure that you’re effective at what you do. The other point I’d like people to get is the fact that as you’re coming into your own, you understand that a lot of what you experience in life affects you either positively or negatively in terms of being a leader. And those experiences really do shape you in more ways than you could ever imagine. 

And finally, we all have contributions to make, and in addition to leading yourself, always be aware and conscious that we need to always be on the lookout for opportunities to develop other leaders. I’m very serious about paying it forward. We need to always make sure that as we progress, we bring others along with us and make sure there’s always that perpetuity that’s in place. 

Defender: Your Houston stop was packed. Do you plan to continue touring the country with “Yes, You Can Lead?” 

Wilson: We are currently on tour with the book. It was a nine-city tour initially, but what has happened when I started the book, I didn’t intend to publish a book. It was just a collection of my thoughts. But the project grew and now that I’m out talking about the book, I’ve gotten a lot more requests to bring this to major cities in a major way. 

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