Benton Harbor Area Schools
What Does Your Company/Organization Do?
Benton Harbor Area Schools is a public school system, serving students in Kindergarten-12th grade
- Founded Traci Burton & Associates—mission-driven multicultural marketing firm
- Featured in Time Magazine black history edition (March 2020)
- Graduated from Western Michigan University with a Bachelor’s degree in Film, Video and Media and minor certification in non-profit leadership
- Produced a viral video with Benton Harbor Area Schools students (amassed over 200,000 views on Facebook)
- Published in the National Boys and Girls Club “Be There” program study
- Implemented Project LITerature which placed over 18,000 books in 49022 homes
What else do you hope to accomplish by the age of 40?
By 40, I would like to own my own school that focuses on literacy and arts.
- Bachelor’s–Western Michigan University
- BA–Film, Video and Media Studies
- Certification: Nonprofit Leadership
- Minor–gender and women’s studies
St. Joseph, MI
Where were you born?
Berrien Springs, MI
What was your first job?
My first professional job out of college was the Boys and Girls Clubs in Benton Harbor.
My first job in high school was at WMU in the chemistry lab.
Best advice you ever got?
The best advice I ever got was to “Advocate for yourself professionally.”
Who inspires you most?
My daughter Zion inspires me the most. Watching her grow every single day is a true honor. She is the future and I am so blessed to be able to nurture and care for her.
That one thing about you we’d be most surprised to learn.
The one thing that you’d be the most surprised to learn is that I secretly wish I was a rapper—if I didn’t have a professional career in education, I would love to be in the music industry.
What do you love to do in your downtime?
I LOVE to read in my downtime. I love books, research, articles, etc.
What book are you reading now?
I am reading “You Goal, Girl” by Meleah Bowles & Elise Williams Rikard
Volunteer activity you love the most.
I love volunteering with elementary-aged students in the area of dramatic arts.
What motivates you to give back to your community?
As a child, I had the fortunate experience of amazing community mentors and leaders who poured relentlessly into my life. Knowing that I wouldn’t be who I am today without those supportive factors, I feel it is my duty to pour into the community that poured into me. Every child is only one caring adult away from being a success story.
What Superpower would you most love to have?
I would love to have the power to time travel.
What has been the most eye-opening thing about the coronavirus pandemic for you, personally?
Personally, coronavirus has shown me the fragility of life. I’ve learned how to trust God in deeper ways even when the world is up in flames. Also, my eyes have definitely been opened to the precious nature of relationships—I definitely value them more during this uncertain time.
What does the honor of being named to the 40 Under 40 most mean to you?
Being named to the 40 under 40 is affirmation that my hard work is being noticed and is paying off. Being young in my career presents many different challenges, but I’ve dedicated the last couple years to hard work and growth. It is truly amazing to see it pay off. More than anything, I want to be an example to young women/girls that they CAN achieve anything when they are sincere and focused. I love my community and I am grateful to be loved back.