Today we’d like to introduce you to Delores Druilhet Morton.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Delores. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Moving to Los Angeles from Atlanta nearly three years ago was one of the greatest leaps of my life. Except for the distance from my friends and family on the east coast and in the south the risk has paid off and landed me in a dream job as the CEO of Step Up. This is my story now, but it was not a direct path, my journey has been filled with a few twists.
I’m originally from a small town on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast. Its picturesque landscape is filled with a lovely mix of sugar cane plantations, antebellum homes, trees heavy with Spanish moss, and slow-moving bayous. It was in Louisiana that foundation for my career was poured. The values learned growing up as a preacher’s daughter and surrounded by a caring community helped lead me towards a career in the nonprofit sector that started off as an AmeriCorps member in my home town.
The AmeriCorps service launched a career that has been rewarding and exciting. I look back at all the ways that I have been able to make better happen for students, families, individuals, communities and companies and am so appreciative of the opportunities. My AmeriCorps service in St. Mary Parish Louisiana, to my stint as the Executive Director of the Louisiana Association for Community Economic Development which were formative years spent learning and leading in the housing and community development space in my home state. Before I left Louisiana, I transitioned to roles that were focused on creating new programming and building capacity of nonprofit organizations.
The real transition came when I moved to Atlanta and took on a role at Points of Light that had me working nationally and globally rather than in state and local organization. But there was a through line—when I joined the Points of Light team, I was still working on social justice issues, trying to figure out the best ways that human capital could be deployed to solve the most pressing issues faced in communities. Quickly, it became apparent that the challenges in Louisiana—equity in education, economic opportunity, health and wellness, environmental health—were not unique to my state, or to the south, but are truly national and global issues. The task in front of me was clear, my mission was to identify ways that people (one of our greatest resources) could be at the center of creating change.
This was my purpose at Points of Light—identifying and recognizing citizen change makers as well as finding ways to replicate their efforts more broadly. For fifteen years, I flourished and grew in the organization and the role, but realized that among all of the issues I had the opportunity to work on, I was most passionate about youth and education. So, I jumped at the chance to take on a role at City Year—which is what eventually brought me to Los Angeles. My new role at Step Up brings me to this intersection of engaging people (our mentors) as part of the solution to change education and economic opportunity outcomes in communities (our girls).
I miss the smells, sights and sounds of the bayou, but have traded those for the beaches, mountains, and palm trees. California is definitely a different world! But I am so happy that my journey has landed me here.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
That’s a great question. It has been only as smooth as the back roads in Louisiana—which if you have traveled you know are not smooth at all.
I shared with a student in our program a few weeks ago that twelve years passed between my high school graduation and my college graduation. And by the time I actually completed my undergraduate studies, I was married with three children. It would not be inaccurate to say that I took the scenic route through college.
This is relevant because, in some roles, I did not have the credentials that many of my counterparts in similar roles possessed. On more than one occasion, this challenge along with the issues associated with being a woman of color in the south (not always known for its progressive stance), resulted in my capabilities being called into question, or even in outright dismissal. Unfortunately, acquiring the degree did not result in immediate change. I always felt like I had to work twice as hard, get us much training as possible and even get more education. I frequently felt ignored and overlooked.
I have been fortunate to have had many mentors and advisors in my life who helped me navigate these difficult circumstances. They helped me to build my social capital and continue to be an important part of my professional and personal network.
Please tell us about Step Up.
Step Up believes when all girls have the opportunity to fulfill their potential, our communities will be more just and will flourish.
We connect teen girls with mentors who share their experiences, skills, resources and access.
As a nonprofit offering mentorship programs for high school girls, we’re working with the next generation of leaders on becoming confident, college-bound and career-focused.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I started off talking about growing up in Louisiana—that is the source of my luck. I am lucky to have grown up in a small town surrounded by not only my parents and siblings but dozens of aunts and uncles and hordes of cousins. I was a part of a community that both supported and cheered me on when I did great, challenged me even in those moments of triumph to do better, but also appropriately chastised me when I faltered and helped to lift me up afterwards. It was sheer luck that I was born to two amazing parents who were true servant leaders and set that as an example for me on my professional journey.
I was lucky to attend schools with teachers and administrators who saw my potential and nurtured it. Along my professional journey, I was lucky to have supervisors who took a chance on me and gave me some freedom to learn and make mistakes. And I’ve been lucky that none of those mistakes have been catastrophic so far. I’m particularly lucky right now to be a part of the Step Up family, an organization that is dedicated to mentoring and to be connected with so many inspirational women and girls who are now forever a part of my story.
- Step Up memberships begin at $75/year
- Address: 510 S. Hewitt Street #111
- Website: www.suwn.org
- Phone: 213.382.9161
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @stepupwomensnetwork
- Facebook: @stepupwomensnetwork
- Twitter: @suwn