Celebrating Local Black Heroes: Tiffany Blackman

Portrait of Tiffany Blackman with text reading "Celebrating Black Heroes" Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Michigan logo, reads Tiffany Blackman

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Tiffany Blackman is a woman of many trades. As a single mother of 4, previous Program Officer and Director in nonprofit, the Founder and CEO of two small businesses (Blackman Capacity & Solutions and Bread & Basket, LLC), Blackman wears many hats in Battle Creek. She aims to build community and our region is richer for it.

“…TAKE MENTORSHIP FROM ANYONE…”

When asked who has inspired or mentored her, Blackman laughs and says, “Who didn’t mentor me?” Blackman explains that often she sees mentoring more in individual moments than in longer traditional mentor relationships.

She feels that mentoring can occur in every interaction, and encourages others to “…take wisdom from anyone who is willing to give it, and mentorship from anyone who is willing to invest in you.”

EARLY MENTORS

Growing up, Blackman was mentored by many different educators. She recalls Miss Green, her 8th grade English teacher, who taught her lessons about staying the course and what inclusivity looks like.

She also discusses Mr. Wilson, her Printing Technology teacher at Battle Creek Central High School (now at the Calhoun County Career Center), who taught her how to stick with projects. Blackman shares that these educators, among others, allowed her to be her fullest, most vibrant self while teaching her lessons that continue to impact her today.

CREATING OPPORTUNITIES

In adulthood, Blackman continues to be mentored by those around her. Tracie Tomak, district judge, took Blackman under her wing when they volunteered together with the Junior League of Battle Creek (JLBC).

Tomak believed in Blackman and encouraged her to pursue becoming the first African American president of JLBC based on her leadership interest and nonprofit experience. Blackman served on the Board of Directors for JLBC from 2015 – 2019. She served as President of JLBC from 2017-2018

Serving in Junior League opened many doors to Blackman’s leadership capacity. In 2017, she co-founded the Women of Color Affinity group, which helps to connect and support women of color in Junior League. This is the largest historically underrepresented membership group in Junior Leagues internationally. The group has since connected over 1,800 Junior League members who are women of color.

GIVING BACK AS A STRATEGY

Blackman explains that for her, giving back is a strategic, long-term multifaceted project rather than a one-time opportunity.

Blackman’s company, Bread & Basket, LLC is evidence of that. The company focuses on helping women of color entrepreneurs identify resources, training, and capital to elevate their product-based businesses. Blackman noticed a gap in the market during the pandemic and took action.

Blackman has spent several years helping local girls explore new experiences such as arts, cultures, alternative educational experiences, and life skills through a girl’s empowerment group she started in 2010 called “I Like Me Society.” Though much of their work is on hold due to the pandemic and capacity challenges, Blackman continues to be a presence in their lives by regularly providing them with care-packages that introduce them to new things.

ON LEGACY

As a Christian woman, Blackman hopes that her work uplifting and encouraging others brings glory to God. She strives to be remembered for the ways she has fought for equity, and by the way her 4 children show up in the world. She is always encouraging her children to be honest and hold integrity, to care for themselves and others, and uplift the community.

Because of the many ways Blackman shows up for the Battle Creek community, she makes a huge impact on our city and surrounding areas. The ripple effect of her willingness to uplift and encourage others, paired with her tenacity, energy, and resilience are why we identified Tiffany Blackman as a Local Black Hero.

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