Bonnie Ross-Parker: Up-Close
Author, Speaker, Supporter of WOMEN in Business
Do you know Bonnie Ross-Parker? If not, you’re definitely missing out on an incredible opportunity to get to know one of the most genuine, charming, energetic and professional women in the business arena.
Known as “America’s Connection Diva,” Bonnie is truly committed to helping women thrive, whether they are business professionals or business owners. Her company, The Joy of Connecting supports women nationwide, and she is well-known and respected throughout the metro Atlanta community.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Bonnie, here’s a small portion of her story to help you get to know her a little better . . .
Sometimes doors open for us in the most unusual and painful ways. A graduate of George Washington University, Bonnie Ross-Parker accepted a teaching position in suburban Maryland. However, at age 39, an unexpected health set-back brought an abrupt halt to her teaching career.
While convalescing, an opportunity came from a classified ad seeking individuals interested in managing the expansion of a major franchise. Bonnie interviewed and accepted her new role. Over the course of 12 years, she quickly expanded the franchise to 28 stores – personally owning 6 of them.
One of her most rewarding accomplishments during that time was using her facilities to hire individuals with disabilities by providing them employment, when others shied away. It did not go unnoticed. Her commitment resulted in numerous employer awards.
In spite of Bonnie’s success, the male-dominated corporate office and its lack of support for its female franchisees became the motivating force behind Bonnie’s steadfast commitment to nurture and support women in business. It was the seed that would eventually motivate her to establish The Joy of Connecting.
In 1995, new opportunities for both her and her husband opened in Atlanta. They sold their franchise organization back to the corporate office and relocated. A local newspaper, The Vinings Gazette, provided new and challenging possibilities for this new Southern Belle! Bonnie was invited to become the paper’s Associate Publisher where she launched a new section – “Women to Women – Cultivating Our Community” focused on its female readers. Designed to inspire, empower, and educate women, as well as support their initiatives and acknowledge their accomplishments, the two-page spread resulted in a huge following in both readership and advertising.
As a supporter of businesswomen, one of Bonnie’s first projects in Atlanta was a free mentoring program called, The Red Door. For several years, these weekly, no cost, drop-in gatherings offered women the opportunity to introduce themselves and their businesses to each other and gather valuable information and resources needed to grow and sustain their business. Again, Bonnie’s commitment to community brought her recognition. In 2002, she received the Athena Award for community leadership. In 2005, Women’s Leadership Exchange of New York honored her as an Influential Woman of Atlanta. In 2006, the Georgia Chapter of Toastmasters International presented Bonnie with their annual award for excellence in communication and leadership.
The overwhelming success of The Red Door was the impetus for the creation of Bonnie’s innovative customer acquisition/marketing program – The Joy of Connecting®. On August 21, 2002, it came to life and held its first get-together in her Atlanta home. More than eight years later, through her program, Bonnie continues to create support groups for female entrepreneurs, business owners and professional women nationwide. Participants find themselves in safe, comfortable and informal settings where they can freely share who they are, what they offer and support one another personally and professionally. Over 2500 women have participated in her home alone, and thousands more throughout the country.
The Joy of Connecting® is an in-touch/in-person licensed program. Licensees are trained by Bonnie, a 27+ year veteran of networking, who provides them resources and strategies to significantly increase their success as well as the success of the women who attend their events.
The Joy of Connecting experience reinforces Bonnie’s belief that every connection counts. You never know where a connection will lead. Having walked many different and successful paths in her career and life, including the 60-mile Avon walk for breast cancer, Bonnie, a silver-haired grandmother who always wears cowboy boots, reminds us that possibilities are endless when we value and nurture relationships. For her, life is about the people you meet and the joy that results from caring about and connecting with one another.
Hopefully, you’ll get a chance to meet or talk to Bonnie Ross-Parker. In the meantime, learn more about her and The Joy of Connecting by clicking here. Look for Bonnie in the 2011 Business Superstars Edition of People You Need to Know. On October 1st, she will be receiving “America’s Connection Diva” Superstar Award for her accomplishments with The Joy of Connecting.