It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength. — Maya Angelou

What is diversity? Queensborough Community College, a community college in Queens, New York, defines diversity as the following:

The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.

Amy’s young brother, Allen, with a friend at a playground

For me, since I was a young girl, I have been on the periphery of cliques…I didn’t have a label like prep, jock, or goth.  My menagerie of friends came from different walks of life allowing me to learn more about my friends from spending time at their home or even joining them at their place of worship — whether a temple, kingdom hall, or other gathering place. In middle school and high school, I spent one day a week at the nursing home, especially on the memory care wing.  Often, that patient couldn’t recall what had transpired in their life the past few decades, but they would vividly recount stories from when they were young. I also volunteered to help those with developmental disabilities either at the Russell Home or even at my school.

Amy and friends before Prom

My parents were quite supportive of my curiosity in allowing me to bond with those from diverse backgrounds. They welcomed my friends into our home, usually with a hearty meal and even unfettered access to our kitchen in between meals. My mom often said, “if you ever left our home hungry, that it was your fault.” Because of this hospitality, I believe that I’m a more well-rounded person from being surrounded by such diverse, kind people over my lifetime.

Beyond Commercial’s Commercial Realtor Rafael and Amy

According to a 2019 survey from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, a combined number of 30 percent accounts for all workers who identify as Black and Hispanic in the United States. On the other hand, 33 percent of Beyond Commercial’s staff identify as members of the minority population, which is 3 percent greater than the national average. As a firm that operates at the boutique level, the numbers speak volumes to how invested I am in creating an equitable and inclusive environment for everyone despite age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, race, and religion. 

Our firm collaborates with Inspire of Central Florida to provide meaningful opportunities on many of our special projects.  Inspire of Central Florida serves adults with special needs including Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder, traumatic brain injuries, and other intellectual and developmental disabilities.  We’ve also volunteered with Best Buddies of Central Florida – an organization dedicated to creating opportunities for friendship, employment, leadership, and living for people with intellectual and development disabilities (IDD).  It’s strengthened us as a team and also heightened our awareness for the need for more IDD opportunities.  As part of our core values, the time and treasure we donate as a team is squarely focused on diversity and inclusion.

Amy with members from the CCIM board

With the Winter Leadership Winter Park, we earmarked additional scholarship funds for diverse candidates during my presidency.   Moreover, we’ve had to nimbly adjust plans and formulate new strategies as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic to adapt during these unprecedented times. We could not have done that without such a powerfully dynamic leadership.

Amy with Kwaku at a Leadership Winter Park community service event

Stephen Covey once said: “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.” I wholeheartedly agree.  I will continue to advocate for diversity especially within the commercial real estate industry, but also within the community.