CEO & Founder of One Community USA, Toni Brinker has ambitious plans of bringing America back together, and so far she’s making a difference.
One afternoon several years ago, Toni overheard a crowd marching outside her building chanting “What do you want? Dead cops! When do you want them? Right now!”
That’s when she picked up the phone and called some friends. She heard the same message several times – what are you going to do about it?
After going through that troubling experience, Toni knew our country was heading in the wrong direction. She pondered over how she could help reunite America, if at all. She eventually figured it out; start a nonprofit organization to help communities come together with One Community USA. But it wasn’t your run-of-the-mill organization. She knew she had to hit the road and get her message out.
“I met with every governor who would see me, every police chief who would see me, every victim of police violence that would see me. And every officer’s family that may have been killed by a community member – if they would sit down with me, I met with them as well,” Toni said.
Toni recognized that America was being torn apart by social issues. She knew something had to change or it would simply continue to get worse. So Toni started One Community USA with the vision that every neighborhood across the country is safe, secure and the local businesses are thriving. She won’t stop until every community is like that. Part of the strategy is to connect people within a community and help them work together for the sake of everyone there.
“We design programs around minority-owned business owners who have taken a leap of faith to go and get a loan to open up a business in an area of concentrated poverty,” Toni said. She continued, “When you can talk about things you can build a bridge of trust. When you build a bridge of trust, you create unity. When that happens, that one little shopping center now becomes safer.”
Local Law Enforcement is Vital to One Community USA
Toni understands that in order for a community to improve, they not only have to communicate as residents and business owners, they must incorporate government organizations as well, particularly the local law enforcement. It is law enforcement who responds to many emergencies and knowing members in the community can prove to be a vital part of being successful in law enforcement objectives.
“Over a three to five year period, I can show empirically, the value of law enforcement. I can show empirically the value of positive conversations,” Toni said. “I can also show you how the neighborhood goes from being slightly unsafe to safer. What we’re doing is stabilizing, revitalizing and then having economic development. That’s a win-win for everyone.”
Toni’s conviction to help America is moving full steam ahead. The growing organization has since expanded to include ten leaders who accomplish a variety of tasks for the nonprofit, and dozens of individuals on various advisory boards.
But she also knows nothing is possible without first responders.
“Those two groups, community and our frontline first responders… if we come together, we have a safer, stronger and better America,” Toni said.
Have you read about these other Great American Women?
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-Carrie Beavers, Army veteran, is the COE/founder of a fast growing company, Soldier Girl Coffee Company. But she only found success after she confronted her PTSD.
Who is Trudy Jacobson?
Trudy is an entrepreneur and leader. Her path to success and entrepreneurialism started in the trucking industry decades ago. She encountered numerous obstacles in the male-dominated industry- like discrimination. She was even conned out of a lot of money in a fraudulent scheme. Despite all that, Trudy always fought hard and pushed forward. Once she realized she was capable of anything, she went on to start her own company and excelled. Now she empowers other women to do the same and to learn from her experience. Trudy now highlights their stories for the world to see in the Great American Women Series. Trudy wants women everywhere to know they can achieve their goals.