Shakirah A. Hill
Vice President, Digital Strategy Metropolitan Group
How'd you get into the industry you're in?
I currently work in social impact marketing and am an author. I came into this work out of a passion for wanting to tell enriching and diverse stories while also doing my part to make the world a better place for the next generation. My parents were vocal about social justice when I was growing up. They often imparted the responsibility of those in positions of privilege to step up to advocate and work on behalf of those with less access to resources. I couldn't imagine being in a career that did not allow me to do work that is driving our communities toward positive, sustainable change. Writing has been foundational in my life so it was inevitable that I would begin writing books.
What woman has inspired you throughout your life?
My mother and I have not always had the closest relationship but she has been my inspiration. She birthed eight children (naturally, I might add) and was relentless in her pursuit of forging new paths for each of us. As a young woman, I was not always forgiving of her missteps. Getting older the possibility of perhaps becoming a mother myself has showed me how much she sacrificed to make room for me to be the woman I am today. Her example of strength has been a great roadmap.
What's one of the biggest challenges you've had and what lesson did you learn from it?
I got married at 25. The marriage was really toxic and abusive. When I made the decision to file for a divorce, it was one of the greatest challenges of my life. I was a new homeowner and a young wife. I had no idea how to navigate a marriage much less how to navigate ending a marriage. Letting go of that part of my life was frightening because I didn't know if I would have a safe landing. I gave up the marriage, my home and every ounce of security. On the other side, I came out stronger, wiser and more loving of myself and others.
I learned to be very clear about what I want and that it takes surrender to get what we ultimately want. I learned that I don't have to settle for a life with a man who doesn't truly love me. And I learned that ruin is a gift. Everything around my falling apart is God's way of setting me up to be rebuilt better than before.
Why do you think having a village of friends who supports you is important?
I jokingly say that my friends are my greatest loves but they truly are the people who have taught me what it means to be committed and to be loved. Being in a village of people who cheer you on in your victories and hold you accountable when you fall short is invaluable. I am, in part, successful because of my friends. When I went through my divorce, my girls spent time with me regularly to make sure I did even basic tasks like eat. One day when I was too weak to feed myself, my friend Teresa spoon-fed me. If that's not love, I don't know what is.
What are your favorite ways to self-care?
Reading is a great form of self-care for me. If I feel too wound up or tense, I pick up a book or an article to get my mind engaged in a new world or perspective. I'm an avid runner. I love going for a nice long run. I enjoy cooking and going for walks through the city.
What do you love most about D.C.?
I've come to appreciate the way DC maintains its historical arts and culture scene. I grew up surrounded by diverse groups of people and experiences. I like that DC, though rapidly gentrifying, has pockets of the city that are committed to staying diverse and accessible to all people. I love that DC is a city that shrinks and expands all at once. It's big enough to get lost in and yet small enough to not feel swallowed by its power.
What's your ultimate goal career wise?
My ultimate career goal is to make it so that every brown girl knows she can be anything she wants to be — full stop. I want to break every glass ceiling to open a flood gate of opportunities for the young women coming up behind me. If I do not do that, then I have not done my job.
What do you want your legacy to be?
I read somewhere that we are all someone's ancestor. I want my legacy to be that I did not remain silent when the time called for people to speak and stand up. I want my descendants to know that I was a woman who loved deeply, cared emphatically, and lived triumphantly.