I’d have to look in my journal to remember exactly what I did for my 40th birthday but I certainly remember how I felt: relieved and excited.Â The years leading up to that momentous day had been full of revelation.Â My 30s was the time when I came to terms with who I am and what I am supposed to do.Â
There are people in Prince George’s County having that same awakening and changing the world around them in their respective fields.Â Who are they?Â You’ll just have to follow my posts on Tonia Wellons and Forty UNDER 40 to find out.Â I’m excited about this and you will be too.
It’s never been done in Prince George’s County.Â Business organizations, metropolitan areas, even journals like Washington Business Journal sponsor a 40 under 40 to celebrate the talent and achievements of persons under the age of 40 who are making a mark for the better.Â Why hasn’t it been done?Â I’m sure you want to know that and maybe you have more questions.Â Let’s get started.
Tonia Wellons is a the 1 -2 knockout combination of dreamer and doer.Â She has a vision for the County that requires and challenges every Prince Georgian toÂ be more that just resident and she is set to bring her vision into full public view.
Tonia, who are you?Â
I am the classic ‘Prince George’s’ story! A 15 year residentÂ of the county, from southern Virginia. I came here after graduate school to pursue a dream career in international affairs. Like many residents, I am a proud graduate of an HBCU, North Carolina A&T State University, and the veryÂ proud mother of two incredible children who attend public schools in the County.Â Everyday I commute to DC for work, but chose to live in Prince George’s County because of its diversity and its promise. I’m pretty vested here, which is why I launched the Prince George’s County Social Innovation Fund.Â The Forty UNDER 40 is one of its first initiatives!
Why does Prince George’s County need Forty UNDER 40?
There are hundreds of county residents of all agesÂ who have and are making incredible achievements in all areas of community life – business, science, politics, education, arts and humanities, health and fitness – and they should be recognized at home.Â Â These Prince Georgians are what makes this county a great community.Â I think that Forty UNDER 40 is one way to add a bit of texture to the Prince George’s County story and to give our residents the hometown recognition they deserve.Â Â It’s also a step toward building community cohesiveness andÂ creating a scene of sorts where people on a like trajectory can connect and build upon each others successes above and beyond their typical networks.
Have you turned 40 yet and if yes, what did it mean to you?Â If no, what do you think it will mean to you?
I have not yet turned 40; but I’m pushing it pretty hard. In just a few months, I will have reached that magical age!Â Â One of the things I’d pledged to accomplish before turning 40, was to really begin to focus on community change at home.Â Â Most of my career has been spent focusing on capacity-building efforts for people inÂ developing and transitional countries and I’ve worked on and led some really incredible initiatives that have hopefully have improved the quality of people’s lives – particularly the poor.Â I really expect to spend the next half my life as a force for change locally.
Through the Prince George’s County Social Innovation Fund, we will form a consortium of county residents who work with entities in and outside the county and direct their effortsÂ toward Prince George’s County. That’s my personal hope for 40 and beyond!
What would you like to say to the innovative UNDER 40 demographic in Prince George’s County?
There is a call out to Innovative and UNDER 40 Prince Georgians to stand up and be recognized! There is also opportunity to use our gifts, skills, and talents locally. Generation X’ers know how to get things done. They know how to create something out of nothing – how to build, create, design, invent, research, replicate.Â In order for us to move beyond the great promise of this county, we have to use those talents right here. Prince Georgians can’t sleep through the revolution! It’s time that WE create the place we envisioned it to be.