Twin Cities author, consultant and speaker Verna Cornelia Price flew to Atlanta to speak Aug. 12 at the ninth annual Pan-African Congress Conference.
There was only one problem, which two of her employees learned as they arrived early Saturday morning at the Georgia World Congress Center to prepare for her presentation. The conference had been abruptly canceled. Price, who was to speak on black entrepreneurship, is a collaborative entrepreneur and innovator who quickly devised a plan B.
She quickly called friend Terri Bonoff, a former Minnesota state senator who has Atlanta connections. Price also contacted Sierra Wolf, a Minneapolis North High School and St. Catherine University graduate who lives in Atlanta and whom Price had mentored as part of her Girls In Action organization; as well as Melva Holt, one-time Girls in Action board chairwoman and General Mills manager who also lives in Atlanta.
Price estimates she spent $2,000 on transportation-hotel and other expenses over three days for her team of three. She was stiffed for the $3,000-plus expenses she was supposed to be paid by the conference, plus several thousand in expected book sales.
“But I think we made lemonade out of lemons,” Price said last week.
Indeed, her Atlanta contacts helped her stage a “pop-up’’ seminar at a local hotel on Sunday. Moreover, it has been viewed by nearly 1,500 people on Price’s Facebook page.
And she reached an agreement on Monday with the Atlanta Public Schools to establish a chapter of the Girls In Action nonprofit.
Bonoff helped Price connect with the female management of Atlanta’s Community Smith restaurant.
“They said this is not what Atlanta is about,” they told Price. “The restaurant is connected to the Renaissance Atlanta Midtown Hotel. They said, ‘You can do it right here in our Alliance Room on Sunday. We flooded Facebook and LinkedIn in the Atlanta area.”
The theme of the seminar was taken from Price’s 2003 book, “The Power of People: Four Kinds of People Who Can Change Your Life.”
The focus, whether for middle-school students or business people, is to use your inherent power to collaborate and help others as you advance, thanks to those who are positive influences, and avoid the “subtracters” and “dividers.”
“And never use your power to detract,” Price said. “And the Atlanta experience reminded me that there are so many good people. I kept my heart right, and others helped. I gained, by refusing to give up and doing something positive.”
Verna Price and her husband, Shane Price, another top-shelf presenter, have developed customized presentations for students, businesses, Minnesota prison inmates and others.
Shane Price’s presentations and follow-up work have so moved inmates at several state prisons that the two have become mentors to others who need to improve their attitude, accountability and go on to increase their education, skills and success after release.
“Those who graduate have formed their own community, and it’s very positive,” a state prison warden told the Star Tribune several years ago. “The results have been amazing.”
The Prices, through their Power of People Leadership Institute, have developed a network of graduates, supporters and friends around the country.
“We talk about the personal power we all have, choices, friends, vision and destiny,” said Verna Price, who earned a doctorate in education and leadership from the University of Minnesota.
Bonoff, an advocate of Girls in Action, points to improved lives led by the mostly lower-income minority school girls who are involved in a growing number of chapters that started at Minneapolis North High in 2005
“Verna and I are like-minded,” said Bonoff, a business woman before she served the western suburbs in the Minnesota Senate. “Her results with Girls in Action are outstanding. Those high school girls of color have a very high graduation rate.”