Dr. Monica Motley
Proud Danville, VA Native
Dr. Monica Motley
(She, Her) is 34
“Everyone can’t leave,” are words that a young Black gay man spoke, as Dr. Monica Motley was sitting in a briefing with the White House Office of Public Engagement and the National Black Justice Coalition. NBJC is a civil rights organization dedicated to the eradication of homophobia and racism in the Black community. As an NBJC Emerging Leader, Monica had the opportunity to participate in such briefings as one of the few representatives from small rural areas. When that young male spoke, his words rocked Monica to her core. Everyone can’t leave.
As a native from Danville, Virginia, Monica had been taught rural Virginia was no place for a queer Black woman like her. As she continued into graduate studies in public health, she began to understand and witness on a more intimate level the structural injustices and cultural complexities that contributed to the feeling of not belonging, poor quality of life for minoritized folks and not wanting to return to communities like her hometown. More importantly, those very factors along with that briefing turned into inspiration to do the opposite. As a young, Black, queer woman, she decided to launch a business in her hometown, known as the last capital of the Confederacy, and use her marginalization as a pipeline for innovation to address some of the most pressing health equity and quality of life issues facing communities like Danville.
The Motley Consulting Group (TMCG) is a boutique consulting firm that uses practice-based research and inclusion, equity and diversity methods to help community activists, organizations and academic institutions more strategically address community disparities and health inequities. Their innovative model has led to acceptance by the US/China Entrepreneurship Forum and Kaiser Foundation’s Rebuild Black Wall Street, as well as the ability to train community members to disrupt oppression.
Monica talks about small rural communities not being considered the “epicenter” of innovation, but she believes “there is innovation in our marginalization.” This motto is actually a mantra for empowering yourself — taking back the power and the responsibility to control your destiny. Monica believes that with appropriate resources and support, communities like hers and the “minoritized” individuals within them are the ideal candidates for social entrepreneurship and innovative justice work.
Monica and TMCG function at the intersections of purpose and profit — a portion of their profits are reserved to offer free community action training sessions throughout the year as well sponsorship of community programs. In March 2018, TMCG piloted its first two-day training of ~20 community members on “direct ask” and “policy development” skills. As a result, the first publicly supported LGBTQIA+ group, Collidescope, was formalized leading to June being declared as Danville Pride month along with Danville’s first Pride event. Additionally, activists from Mother’s Against Violence learned skills to disrupt deeply internalized oppression related to Black women, violence and their voices. Participants thanked the facilitators for teaching them concepts like “tone policing” and “stereotype threat”. Monica believes there is power in educating people on how to understand and dismantle oppression.