Traci S. Campbell
Bringing Glamour and Substance Together to Effect Change for Women
Traci S. Campbell took her first airplane ride at the age of 24. She has been soaring ever since.
This dynamic lady is a social entrepreneur, public speaker, author, and IT consultant. She is the founder and creator of The BIBO Awards (BIBO is an acronym for Beauty In – Beauty Out), and The BIBO Foundation, a 501c3 organization which assists women in transitioning from homelessness, domestic violence and/or are transitioning to new career or business paths.
The BIBO Awards started as a special project under the C.H.A.M.P. Community Project organization. C.H.A.MP stands for “Character, Happiness, Attitude, Mentality and Purpose”. In 2010, Traci launched the C.H.A.M.P. Community Project in Chicago, a 501c3 organization based on her book The C.H.A.M.P. Within, which explored the relationship and challenges she and her mom faced in a single parent household? It is from her own background that we get a better understanding of the driving force behind Traci’s passion, mission, and the work of BIBO and CH.A.M.P.
Traci was raised in the west side of Baltimore and was the product of a single parent home., Traci and her mother struggled financially but they worked daily as a team, not just as a mother and daughter. Traci gives credit to her mother for instilling in her, at a young age, what she likes to call the three “R’s”: responsibility, resourcefulness, and resiliency. As a result, Traci excelled in the schools in her area. With the support of teachers, her principal, and her mother who doggedly fought school zoning laws at the time, Traci was eventually able to enroll in a
“gifted and talented” program at a school outside of that dismal and impoverished area where she and her mom resided; where Traci had the ability to interact with kids and families very different from those who occupied the crime-ridden area she called home. Ultimately, that led to college prep and then on to many experiences that most other kids from her area did not have the chance to experience.
As a teen, Traci was motivated to work to help pay bills and take some of the financial burden off of her mother’s back. She worked as a hostess in a formal dining room, did some modeling print work for local catalogues and ads, all before she interned for her major in college. She also worked retail in high end women’s clothing. While all of this sounds pretty glamorous for a 16 year old, she was, in fact, very insecure and felt the constant pressure from her mom, peers, and even herself to be perfect. Like many of us, she never felt good enough or perfect enough. Some of this misconception came from looking at images on television and in magazines that rarely looked like her! This lead to a fear and feeling of not being able to achieve the things she often dreamed about, the main dream being the day she could move her mom out of the dangerous area where they lived. . Traci remembers feeling that way well into her mid 20’s.
When Traci entered the professional workforce arena, she began to meet women who were juggling family along with their careers. These women, like her, were traveling, managing time and work expectations. This experience gave her a true insight of the various mental and physical roles women take on. They mentored her and showed her other facets that make a woman truly interesting and truly beautiful. They showed her that the value of one’s character is beyond what is in the mirror. The combination of her upbringing and work experience coalesced to make a very advantageous background for her life’s ultimate direction. Elegance, kindness, composure, character and intellect are synonymous with real beauty.
Celebrating the accomplishments of others as well as her own has provided Traci with an opportunity to inform, influence, and educate a broader audience. Her experience as a career woman and as a caregiver to an elderly parent, equipped her to promote the importance of actively participating in helping others to become more self-reliant and developing a better quality of life.
Traci’s work in IT (Information Technology) has provided her with many advantages. She has worked for prominent consulting firm’s right out of college to various independent contracts with corporation and universities such as McDonald’s, Sears, Chase, Northwestern University, and University of Chicago Booth School of Business. For Traci, it is exciting to work in an environment that is forever changing and where learning new aspects of technology are never boring. She is an accomplished woman working in a field dominated by men and simultaneously supporting those causes she feels strongly about.
As her team moved forward with the C.H.A.M.P. Community Project that reaches teens in the Chicagoland area, Traci focused on The C.H.A.M.P. Within seminars she presented to local community colleges. Although the outreach has been mainly Southern Illinois and Atlanta Georgia, the program, which has educated over 800 young people and single parents, was also introduced in Nairobi, Kenya. It became quite evident to Traci, that in the C.H.A.M.P. Community, the common denominator was that lot of single parents, (about 95% single moms), were impacted. After these seminars or workshops, attendees would approach her to ask what her motivation was for writing the book as well as creating the overall program. Over time, the conversation evolved more personally. They felt comfortable enough her to speak on a more personal level where they began to share with her their personal challenges and struggles with their relationships, single parenting, issues with their children, frustrations with their career, their environment and, for many of them, their lack of resources. This became a repetitive common theme.
The C.H.A.M.P. Program was in its second year when Traci, while enjoying “girl talk” with one of her good friends began a discussion about the ongoing work of the C.H.A.M.P Community Project. She shared some of the conversations from women who confided in her. “Wouldn’t it be great if there was something out there that honored and drew attention to women who were doing great things as role models and allowed women to feel glamorous at the same time?” She felt that women were making a real difference but you never heard about them because they were not celebrities on some TV show or had connections with the media. These women are spiritual sages, financial gurus, trailblazing roads which were once thought to be impassable.
The conversation with her friend continued, building a vision of what it would be like to celebrate and honor these women, and what a motivator it would be for the women like the majority of C.H.A.M.P. parents. This would give them something they could connect to; women that were more easily accessible than the high profiled women seen on television or in a magazines. And why not make it a glamorous event that celebrates the heroism of women coming together powerfully.
While still on her soapbox, she dismissed it as wishful thinking. Her friend admonished her saying, “By all means, you are on to something! Don’t let that go, don’t throw that aside”. However, she did let it slide because she was busy with C.H.A.M.P., a career as an IT consultant, a wife and all of the other challenges life presents.
Weeks later, Traci and her friend chatted again and her friend broached the subject again. This time the conversation turned serious and they began to explore ways to Segway possibilities to her friend’s connections in the beauty industry. At the end of a few more conversations, Traci came up with “Beauty In Beauty Out” because she thought that it truly summed up what she was trying to convey by, celebrating the many facets of beauty. It is not just a woman’s exterior or her genetics. Beauty transcends hair color, eye color, dress size, and all those things. The true beauty of a woman comes with age, it comes with experiences, it comes with her passions and thoughts and all those things that truly makes a woman beautiful. Beauty In Beauty Out really sums it up and The BIBO Awards has inadvertently become an advocate in promoting diversity, inclusion and equity.
Traci is very proud of everything behind The BIBO Awards and the BIBO mission. In addition to the awards, is the BIBO Foundation which is a 501c3 non-profit organization, and BIBO Worldwide LLC., the for profit side. BIBO Worldwide has an incredible team of advisory board members in Dr. Kas Henry, who is Six Sigma Certified; Sheila Marionneaux, formerly with HARPO and Blue Cross/Blue Shield; and, William Natale, an Emmy winner with over 30 years in the entertainment industry.
The Executive Board of The BIBO Foundation includes 7 dynamic women, of which 3 are former BIBO Award honorees. It is an honor to keep them connected to the BIBO family; it is very important that they continue the mission long after the fanfare of their own award and celebration is over and they are now able to give back. This board includes Traci’s “right hand” Beatrice Davis of Sassy B Productions who helps build the BIBO brand; Sherrie Campbell, a psychologist with over 50,000 followers on Facebook and other social media; and Yeniffer Behrens-Mendoza, a long time actress and co-founder of TrueForm Films.
It was very important to Traci personally, as hard as it was, to build a new brand from scratch. It would have been much easier to partner with another organization but it was paramount to her to create something that would form a legacy that she hopes and prays will live way beyond her years and the years of the current team. She foresees that it will be a brand that will grow into something that will not only reside here in the US, but will also go overseas and impact women of all ages and backgrounds. Traci wanted to focus on the area that women are all truly suffering from now, which is the lack of role models. There is a lack of images of women that are not only singers and dancers, but entertainers that control their own careers as well those who chose other careers in education, medicine, science, engineering, technology, math and government. These women occupy a diverse and increasingly dynamic range of business and corporate roles, from renowned physicians, CEO’s and Olympic athletes, to bestselling authors, spiritual sages and financial gurus. Many have blazed trails one thought impassable.
She feels that we need to return to more “simplistic values” that involved wanting to grow up and make a difference in someone’s life. Wanting to grow up and help people. Traci feels that this generation is lacking in consistent, accessible, and publicized women who are true role models who are out here doing the real work of their communities. She thinks there needs to be a concerted effort to bring that to the forefront. She wants BIBO to focus on that area in addition to providing education and practical support to women who are just trying to make it in the world and one day, hopefully will be a recipient of the coveted Reflection Award trophy through the BIBO Awards.
Today the BIBO Awards, a ‘purple carpet’ event that honors women for their true beauty, has celebrated over 120 women since 2013, which is a feat in and of itself.
Traci is extremely proud of that and extremely proud of the team that she is blessed to have around her. Women honored have come from education, healthcare, politics, community activism, television and film. Some of these women include actress Barbara Nivens working with women with eating disorders, actress Sheryl Lee Ralph bringing Aids Awareness and Education, BIBO Starlet actress and model Alli Simpson of Disney Radio, and decorated Colonel Jill Morgenthaler, the first woman involved with Homeland Security in the State of Illinois, and one of the first women to go through an ROTC Program, who brought the house down, in 2013, with her energetic and encouraging speech especially riveting to the youngest women in the room, ages 8 to 12.
Other honorees include Dr. Jessica Shepherd, Ob/Gyn who has gone above and beyond with her success in minimally invasive surgery, teaching women how they can be healthier; Dr. Sandy Goldberg, created an organization called “A Silver Lining Foundation” for women who cannot afford testing and treatment for breast cancer. Her organization has saved the lives of many women who can’t afford decent health care; Annie Lobert, an ex-call girl, who was the victim of human trafficking in Las Vegas, created an organization called “Hookers for Jesus” which is a Christian based organization. Truly an angel, she has saved hundreds of lives of women from selling themselves on the street or worse; Dr. Barbara King out of Atlanta is the oldest Reflection Award recipient at 85 years young. Over 40 years in ministry, her spiritual leadership has saved lives and encouraged many, here and abroad.
These are just some of the 120 women BIBO has honored.
BIBO is excited as the 2017 nominations are now open for submissions. The nomination process is pretty simplistic. People are encouraged to go to www.biboawards.com to submit this very simple form nominating women that are dynamic and making a difference in their community.
Nominations are accepted throughout the year from anywhere and everywhere. BIBO has an internal committee who go through the difficult task of narrowing down the list of nominees per city — Chicago, Las Vegas and Los Angeles —where the actual award shows are hosted. There is a two month online voting process. The selected nominees are promoted, giving the public an opportunity to get to know these incredible women. By early June, the honorees are announced with the top 10 are selected from each city to become the recipient of the Reflection Award trophy.
Throughout the year, the work of The BIBO Foundation reaches out to support needy women in communities nationwide. Every February, the “Beauty is ALL Heart” campaign brings awareness to the number one killer of women, which is heart disease. This is a fantastic initiative all about educating, honoring and celebrating women, especially heart disease survivors.
Traci lost her mother in 2007 after a 13 year long battle with heart disease. Traci was her primary caregiver from a very young age and they fought that fight together. Her mother was an incredible woman, strong physically and mentally. Traci’s older sister is currently going through a battle with heart disease, so this issue really hits home for her. It means a lot that BIBO was able to create “Beauty is ALL Heart” for heart health “heroes”; , men and women who are fighting this disease by providing treatment to heart disease patients and supporting caregivers who are sacrificing their lives to provide comfort and care to loved ones going through this disease.
The “It’s Purse-sonal” campaign is one of BIBO’s biggest campaigns. It took off after last years’ launch, going from an initial goal of 100 to almost 400 collected purses in Chicago for struggling homeless women. These collected purses are filled with needed items, and personal notes of encouragement to help them to continue their fight for a better life. Most of the purses went to 3 women’s shelters in Chicago and now this year, there are 4 cities participating in the “It’s Purse-sonal” campaign (Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Chicago). The BIBO Foundation is really excited that it will keep growing and growing. Lastly, BIBO is partnering with Dress For Success in the Dallas area and Power Forward Woman, which is a local organization in Dallas, headed up by 2016 BIBO Awards Los Angeles honoree, Star Williams. As you can see, BIBO’s past honorees come back and truly support the growth of The BIBO awards and the mission of The BIBO Foundation.
Traci’s work as an IT consultant and being the founder of The BIBO Awards, The BIBO Foundation as well as C.H.A.M.P. Community Project keeps her plenty busy. How does Traci relax? How does she balance her own personal life? She still has two teams essentially to manage at all times and can be physically draining, however, at the same time she also finds it energizing. “I think when you are doing something that you are really passionate about, the times that you are physically tired are balanced by the times you are energized and you are excited to see the progression of things.” said Traci.
She is an avid reader though she does not have enough time to read as much as she likes. Traci loves “who done it” mysteries and fiction, just to escape for a while. She especially likes non-fiction centered around science or politics. A self-professed “nerd at heart” she enjoys a mean game of scrabble or backgammon, especially with her husband who, luckily likes those games as well. Traci still finds time to partake in some form of regular exercise, whether it be powerwalking or walking on her treadmill. Sometimes working out with her husband, they prefer kettle bells, her exercise of choice. And just having time to meditate and be still is something that she absolutely LOVES.
When asked who is her personal role model Traci found that tough to answer because it is not just one person. She has been really blessed in the journey thus far to meet incredible women from all walks of life, all cultures, all ethnicities, many of them are older in chronological years, many younger, and all of them inspirational. Traci has learned something from all of them and has been able to incorporate other ideas for this BIBO journey.
One role model would have to be her own mother, Marie McKnight. It was her sacrifice and her selflessness, fueled by her desire to see her children do better in this world than she was able to do, that stirred her on. For them to have opportunities that she was not afforded, growing up in South Carolina in the 1930’s and 1940’s, finally making it to the big city of Baltimore with very limited formal education. Thus, working two and three jobs to make ends meet and to assure that her kids had a better life was her main purpose in life. Instilling in them the “old-fashioned “values she grew up with was her mission. She was a proponent of a woman being a lady at all times and, at the same time, being confident in who you are; standing on your moral convictions and never letting anyone walk over you or having you doubt your faith. Being resourceful and thinking outside of the box because they had to in order to survive was a way of life for Traci and her mom. Without a doubt, Marie McKnight is Traci’s number one role model, having prepared Traci to be the woman she is today.
Additionally here are some of the women that Traci has met along the way that she looks up to as role models. Dr. Barbara King, whom Traci read about and then later, was excited to meet in person at the 2013 BIBO Awards Atlanta event. . Traci realized Dr. King is a powerful inspiration of how to use your faith everyday like a tool. Like brushing your teeth for your health, using your faith in everyday life is necessary for your mental and emotional health to get ahead and to help others get ahead.
Next is Paula Fuller. She was Traci’s mom on the road when she took her first airplane ride. She taught her how to function as a woman in the male dominated industry of Information Technology.. She taught Traci, not just the technical side of the business, but how to be a professional woman, especially a professional woman of color, and command respect, She mentored her in how to get along with everyone without compromising who you are. Traci owes the start of her career to Paula Fuller.
Creating the BIBO brand and creating C.H.A.M.P. has been a challenge and a pleasure, yet Traci can’t wait to see what is next on the horizon. She is most grateful to be able to share the journey with her husband, Kevin Campbell. Kevin is the reason we have the Reflection Award trophy. Initially, the concept of the trophy was a group effort; its name was given by Traci, and Beatrice Davis added the concept of using a mirror, to reflect upon oneself. These ideas idea were brought to life by Kevin when he created the final design. Every year since 2013, with assistance from two other very talented gentlemen, Kevin oversees the handcrafting of each and every trophy. Without Kevin, there would not be the Reflection Award Trophy, which is the center of the BIBO Awards.
Kevin has also been Traci’s biggest cheerleader and confidante. He has been there when she cried literally; when, due to inefficient budgets and resource constraints, she didn’t know how things were going to be pulled off. He was there to keep Traci energized when she felt like slightly overwhelmed with the daunting responsibility of overseeing three shows in three cities.. He is a quiet force behind everything, as he doesn’t like a lot of public accolades, but he brings invaluable talent. Traci is not sure BIBO could have gone this far without him. They are able work very well together and still maintain their individuality. Traci is extremely grateful that it is a great balance in their marriage. She hopes it is something that they can share and be an example to other couples. No couple is perfect and no marriage is perfect, but it is when you are able to laugh, joke and really and truly like each other as friends first that the marriage sustains. According to Traci, “Being able to work together on something that is growing continuously means you are growing with it. It adds to a healthy relationship and a healthy marriage.”
For anyone who wants to be a part of The BIBO Foundation and/or The BIBO Awards, the BIBO Worldwide team would love to hear from you. It is very easy to get in touch: www.biboawards.com/contact. The BIBO staff would love to meet you.
“This is more than just about being women. This is about family. This is about community. It’s about making a difference at the local level in each city, and, BIBO needs help to expand and to grow so that we can extend the family to cities they haven’t even ventured into to effect a broader impact.” Traci said.
BIBO loves their sponsors, business partners and benefactors. BIBO is proud to boast over 50,000 visitors per month to their websites. BIBO has grown into a brand that is visible and good for companies to align with, especially companies that think about their social responsibilities.
By Deborah Hayter