One local founder is tapping her own childhood trauma to change her community.
Dee Thomas is founder of Anchored With Excellence, where she offers empowerment coaching, tutoring, and educational consulting services. She specializes in training people to move through their own trauma, as well as work with students and clients who face trauma.
She tapped into the Launch Dayton community by attending Startup Week, then found her way to the SBDC for business counseling, the Greater West Dayton Incubator’s Business Blitz, and Parallax’s Entrepreneur Rising Academy. We recently caught up with her to learn more about her entrepreneurial journey.
LAUNCH DAYTON: INTRODUCE YOURSELF — WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT IS YOUR COMPANY?
Dee: I am Dee Thomas, Founder and CEO of Anchored With Excellence, LLC. I have 27 years of experience in educational leadership as a licensed teacher, principal, and superintendent. I am also an Ohio-verified trainer for Ohio Childcare Resource and Referral Association (OCCRRA). In addition, I am a Supervisor at Wright State University in the College of Education and Human Services. I am passionate about mentoring teachers, school leaders, youth, and women. Anchored With Excellence offers five services: educational consulting, mentoring for girls, motivational speaking, tutoring, and women empowerment through leadership and transformational coaching. We have just recently become a vendor for the City of Dayton.
HOW DID YOUR COMPANY START?
In 2011, Anchored With Excellence started as a tutoring business to help traumatized students from being defeated by subject matters that plagued them from being their best at learning. I experienced the power of tutoring in my own life when I attempted to take the teachers’ exam a few times and could not pass. I was traumatized! My husband knew the urgency of not having my credentials. He hired a tutor. After meeting with my tutor six times, I passed the exam! I then realized the power of one-on-one tutoring. It is powerful and effective when done the proper way. In 2019, I added four more services to create spaces for individuals that need support to transform life situations.
WHY THIS IDEA?
This idea came because I am a trauma survivor, NOW thriver; therefore, I created safe spaces for individuals to get support from stressful or traumatic experiences. I love to help people transform their lives into what they cannot see. I am the support system they need to get there.
As a teacher, I worked with students and families that had various traumatic circumstances and situations. It ranged from obesity to murder. Most teachers did not know how to effectively deal with students who dealt with these issues because they did not have the proper training. As an educational consultant, I provide effective professional development to equip school and childcare staff with a trauma-sensitive approach to handling traumatized students and families. As a tutor, I prevent embarrassment and help to build self-esteem and confidence in students. Confidence allows them to speak freely and truly get individualized learning and attention that is sometimes difficult to obtain in the regular classroom setting.
I also saw many girls in the school setting that lacked positive role models. I created a mentoring program for school-age girls to assist with life skills, self-esteem, self-love, leadership skills, academic coaching, career development, work skills, community service, and social skills. In March of 2022, I was awarded the Outstanding Certified Partner Award from the Mentoring Collaborative of Montgomery County.
Motivational speaking came because I love to empower others! I credit my motivational expertise to overcoming many obstacles in my life and the traumatic experiences I had to face. Speaking to others from an authentic place assures my audience that they can overcome obstacles too!
I began coaching women because I understand what it is like to go through life when you are not seen or heard. I have also worked with women who have been overlooked for promotions or better jobs because they feel stuck. In my one-on-one coaching series, I teach women how to balance their personal and professional life with clarity, alignment, and purpose. Once they master those areas, I teach them how to use their time, attention, and boundaries to stay unstuck to move to the next level. I work with women all over the world!
DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO BE AN ENTREPRENEUR?
Yes. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur because I consistently saw a vision of myself running my own company. I started working at the age of 12 as a paper route girl. That gave me the idea of how much money I could make if I put my all into it. I was determined to be successful no matter what I set out to do.
HOW DID YOU GET CONNECTED TO THE LAUNCH DAYTON COMMUNITY?
I connected with the Launch Dayton Community by attending Startup Week. It was amazing! I will be returning this year! I learned a lot, but the most influential part was networking with other entrepreneurs. To be in the room with other visionaries was magical!
HOW DID ENTREPRENEUR RISING ACADEMY HELP YOU ON YOUR JOURNEY?
Entrepreneur Rising Academy helped me to understand all the elements needed to complete the Business Model Canvas. I knew there was a template to use, but I wasn’t aware of this tool. It is amazing once you learn what to put on it. The Business Model Canvas helped me to pitch my business as well.
THE LAUNCH DAYTON COMMUNITY VALUES ARE: 1. BE BOLD 2. ALL ARE WELCOME 3. PEOPLE FIRST 4. GIVE FIRST 5. REMOVE BARRIERS. HOW DO YOU EMBODY ONE OR MORE OF THESE VALUES?
Anchored With Excellence’s core values are to inspire, encourage, and motivate; therefore, we must be bold to show our clients how to turn from victim to victor. We welcome everyone because we are a one-stop shop for youth, women, families, and schools. Because we have all experienced trauma and stress-related events, we put our clients first by creating individualized plans to help them succeed. We provide free consultations to ensure we are a great fit. And we teach our clients how to be victors and not victims by providing them with the right tools to overcome and remove any barriers that trauma has plagued them with. Once our clients begin working with us, we teach them how to take the limits off how they think and navigate life.
WHAT IDENTITIES OR LIFE EXPERIENCES DO YOU BRING TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP THAT HELPED PREPARE YOU FOR THIS LIFESTYLE?
There are many identities that I bring to entrepreneurship that helped me prepare for this lifestyle, including but not limited to resiliency, ambition, visionary, leadership, tenacity, dedication, determined, self-less, empathetic, loyal, intelligent, faithful, caring, sympathetic, hardworking, innovative, encouraging, professional, disciplined, task-oriented and effective.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST BARRIER YOU’VE FACED ON YOUR ENTREPRENEUR JOURNEY?
One of the barriers I face on my entrepreneurial journey is not having enough time in the day to complete different tasks! Sometimes, I wish I could add more hours to the clock! I am very disciplined when it comes to completing projects. I create weekly calendars, and I stick to them. However, some workdays are 16 hours or more because of all the tasks I try to accomplish. I will work on a project until it is complete. But I love what I do, so I do not complain. And I will hire more team members soon to delegate social media and graphic design duties.
WHY DO YOU LOVE WHAT YOU DO?
I love what I do because I help transform lives! I was once a kid who lived in traumatic situations. But I dreamed of peace and love. Once I found it and overcame my traumatic experiences, I began to help others with similar stories to mine. So now I get to boost confidence in children, empower women, impact families, and help build better schools and childcare facilities!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU OFFER FELLOW OR ASPIRING ENTREPRENEURS?
The advice that I would offer aspiring entrepreneurs is to be determined and get out of your way. Often, we talk about what we want but don’t put action behind it. Or when we do, and it doesn’t work out, we quit. Keep going, even if it’s not your winning season. The seeds you plant will eventually become a harvest. Also, the dream you see means you must do something with it. We sometimes get in our way because of fear or rejection. Do not let those dreams or visions go to waste. Go for it with all you got. Make sure to write everything down and know that soon it will manifest if you believe it. Stay focused and get rid of distractions. Always work towards being more disciplined than the day before.
ANYTHING WE DIDN’T ASK THAT YOU’D LIKE US TO INCLUDE?
Anchored With Excellence is a Qualified Education Service Provider (QESP) with the Ohio ACE (After School Child Enrichment) program for our tutoring program. Families who qualify receive $1000 per child. We tutor reading, writing, and math for the 3rd through 12th grades. We are taking students now! Please, contact us for assistance at (937)381-9892 or to enroll, click here.
Our entrepreneur and small business coverage is powered by Launch Dayton, an organization that seeks to connect entrepreneurs to peers, resources and supporters while telling the story of the region's thriving entrepreneurial community.