History, Vision, and Mission
Interviews with existing lenders (banks, private investors, etc.) indicate that businesses in under-represented communities often fail to meet the investment/funding criteria established by the institutions for sound lending. Currently, these groups are challenged to start and grow businesses due to a lack of access to capital, which is, in part, a result of the risk assessment for these groups.
Founded in the midst of a pandemic in 2020, Diversity Financial Fund is a 501(c)3 pending non-profit organization dedicated to supporting underserved and under-represented minorities and women in starting and building new businesses in their communities. DFF provides business literacy and related programs to the target community members (inner city, rural, HUBZone, and Opportunity Zone areas) throughout the United States.
Business literacy includes training on key business concepts, guides entrepreneurs and would-be business owners from concept through establishing the business. In doing so, business founders create capable, viable businesses that can successful raise funds and build reserves for future growth.
DFF also serves as a physical and virtual incubator for companies that are started and owned by program participants. Incubator services include co-working space, video conferencing access, computer center, and other administrative and back-office
Lea Strickland, MA MBA CMA CFM CBM GMC CDE
President, Board Chair and Founder
Lea Strickland, MBA MA CMA CFM CBM GMC CDE is a recognized and respected business consultant, speaker, author, columnist, and radio show host. She has published over 800 articles in national and international publications and six books Lea has also developed over 100 business webinars, workshops, and courses focused on sound business practices, strategy, and governance.
Lea is the creator of The F.O.C.U.S.℠ Framework and the C.O.R.E.℠ Business Systems. Her clients and workshop attendees use these systems to define, start, run, and grow successful organizations.
She has worked with over 500 for profit and non-profit organizations to start and build successful organizations.
As an entrepreneur and dynamic speaker, Lea shares her real-life experience as a business owner and consultant using life lessons. Lea’s experience working with small businesses, university spinouts, as well as multinational and international corporations to develop a competitive advantage through how you do business.
Lea is committed to developing business owners, leaders, and professionals who have well-defined core values and understand how to do business profitably while maintaining their values. Lea’s focus is on providing high-quality resources and training for personal and professional growth. Her client companies have raised over $500 million in private investment and government funding.
Lea’s philosophy is that “success is a product of clear values, well-defined goals and hard work.”
Terry Dunn, MSA-HR, SHRM-SCP, SPHR
Terry Dunn, MSA-HR, SHRM-SCP, SPHR is a newly appointed Diversity Financial Fund, Inc. Director. Terry spent the last 20 years in Human Resources at GlaxoSmithKline in Research Triangle Park.
In 2018, she created a woman-owned small business and became President and Chief Executive Officer of Tai-Lynn HR Solutions in Cary, North Carolina. Tai-Lynn HR Solutions operates as a virtual HR Center of Excellence and provides solutions to both employers and employees. Although the company specializes in the pharmaceutical, biotech, and healthcare industry, its extensive network allows the organization to service companies from many areas including non-profits. Her HR motto is “Human Resources isn’t a thing we do. It’s the thing that runs our business.”
Terry served on the Board of Directors of Habitat for Humanity of Wake County (HFHWC) for 10 years and remains active as a liaison between HFHWC and several local organizations and Churches. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Rotary Club of Morrisville, NC as the Sergeant at Arms.
Marty Edwards is an entrepreneur with more than 35 years, founded White Hawk Group in 1999. White Hawk was an Oklahoma-based general contracting firm. His wife, Karen was diagnosed with esophageal cancer April 22nd 2016. Exactly 18 months later she left this life to enter into the presence of the Lord. The severity of the cancer battle forced the closure of White Hawk Group.
Yakoke Consulting, Marty Edwards newest venture, was founded on his passion to help small, minority and woman owned firms. “Yakoke” is how Choctaws say thank you. Marty Edwards is Yakoke’s CGO (Chief Gratitude Officer). In addition to mentoring small business owners, Marty feels a strong obligation to speak publically and share the power in unleashing gratitude into your life. His recent life experiences would seem disconnected from gratitude but his personal and professional story is a testimony to this truth:
“If you get your mind and spirit right, PROFOUND gratitude can eventually emerge darkest days of struggle and loss.”
Adam Skrzecz is a newly-appointed Diversity Financial Fund, Inc. Director. Adam is a J.D. Candidate at the University of North Carolina School of Law. There, he serves as Chief Justice of UNC’s acclaimed Holderness Moot Court Program and is the Founder of the Conservation and Agricultural Law Federation, which is to date the only organization of law students in North Carolina dedicated to promoting awareness of the legal issues affecting our #1 economic sector. Since January 2020, he has served as the inaugural part-time Fellow at the North Carolina Chamber Legal Institute.
Throughout his legal education and undergraduate career, Adam has interned or worked in every level of government, from staffing and volunteering for local and Congressional campaigns to interning at the White House. While an undergraduate at N.C. State University, Adam produced an original study of state Lieutenant Governorships across the United States which was fully funded by the John W. Pope Foundation and won the 2019 Erika Fairchild Award for Best Undergraduate Paper in Political Science.
Adam believes in servant-leadership, and was the recipient of the 2019 Mathews Medal, the highest non-academic undergraduate award given to an N.C. State Senior for institutional service.
In January, 2021, Adam founded and is the CEO of North State Strategies ([email protected]) where he consults with individuals and organizations on a wide range of client needs ranging from political campaign management and strategy to policy issues, policy strategy, government relations, research services, political risk management and negotiation.