The Making Of A Queen

by Tonya Dixon | January 17th, 2017
Alana V. Allen (Photos by Still Shots Photography)

Alana V. Allen (Photo by Still Shots Photography)

Alana V. Allen was four years old before she said her first word. She didn’t walk until she was three. According to doctors, she was perfectly normal. Nothing was wrong. She would talk when she was ready. Still, she was considered significantly delayed. However, that soon changed.

Although Allen was always shy, when she did begin talking and walking there was no stopping her. The Reidsville, North Carolina, native is so busy these days that she has a new problem. With all that she has going on, it’s finding the time to sit still long enough to talk.

Allen is a public relations (PR) professional whose career has included working for local and national companies as well as state government. Her current position keeps her traveling and pitching ideas to the media. When she’s not locked in to her day job, she’s intently focused on building, branding and expanding her own empire, which includes “I Am A Queen,” a nonprofit focused on empowering young woman and encouraging service; and “Lotus Flower Consulting Group,” a nonprofit and public relations consulting agency.

To come from being labeled significantly delayed as a child, to graduating from college (North Carolina A&T State University to be exact), to becoming the deputy press secretary for former Governor Beverly Perdue, to gaining the reputation of an expert in the nonprofit sector, it’s nothing short of a miracle for Allen. But according to her, that’s exactly how she would explain a great deal of her accomplishments – simply miracles.

With a degree in journalism and mass communication, Allen was on the fast track. She accomplished a truly unusual feat, when she secured a job in her field barely two months after graduating college. She loved her position and was good at it. Allen nailed her first big PR assignment with flying colors. Life was good, until one Wednesday when everything changed.

“I vividly remember the day I was let go. It was around noon. They told me ‘It’s not that we don’t like you or that you’re not doing your job. We just can’t afford to keep you.’ I couldn’t believe it,” said Allen. “I went home and cried in the floor. I felt like my job was my God. I made it my idol. God pretty much knocked me off that horse I was on.”

Although the news was devastating, Allen now realizes it was a blessing in disguise. It saved her from a much harder fall later. Her life had begun to spiral out of control even before she was laid off. The money and status of the position, afforded her the opportunity to experience freedom and independence like never before.

“I had become somebody I had never been before. I never partied before, but the moment I got that job and money I started clubbing and drinking from Thursday to Sunday. I became that girl,” said Allen. “I went home and cried in the floor. But at that same time I know I met God in the floor. He told me to get up. The next Sunday I went to church. They were preaching about the prodigal son coming home. I felt like God was talking to me.”

Although she realized she had to change her lifestyle, she also had a revelation that her partying and drinking were the result of a much deeper issue that she hadn’t addressed. She had been molested by her cousin. It was a secret she harbored for 18 years. It had become easier to bury it than to deal with it.
“It was the real reason why I partied so hard and found myself in the wrong relationships. I was destroying myself because of that secret. It was eating me up and it had been eating me up, but I didn’t know how to articulate it or communicate that I was going through a situation,” she said.
It was at that point of self-realization that she asked God to intervene in her situation and issues. At the same time “I Am A Queen” was born. During church services she found herself writing I Am A Queen, I Am A Queen on notes of paper. Initially she thought it would develop into a book club for women, but God had other plans.

Having been raised in the church, faith has always been a cornerstone for Allen. Even when she did things that were contrary to what she was taught, she always remembered that foundation and God never failed to intervene on her behalf.

It was faith that compelled Allen to move to Atlanta without a job or even a prospect in sight. All she had was a dream that she had a job working for a major telecommunications company. In less than two weeks after moving, she was offered a position with AT&T. It was all started by faith.

Faith encouraged Allen when she was unemployed for nearly a year and felt dejected. Faith gave her the strength to forgive her molester. Faith compelled her to start her first nonprofit with no money, during the Great Recession. And faith enabled her to dedicate a portion of her life to serving others, with nothing in return.

““I Am A Queen” is my therapy,” said Allen. “I was such a mess at one point. It has become my outlet. When I forgave my molester and everyone that hid my secret I felt a weight lifted off my chest. I didn’t have to feel dead anymore holding a dirty little secret. I don’t give glory to what he did to me. I celebrate the power of forgiveness and letting go.”

“I work with girls ages 10-18 years old. We deal with self-esteem and leadership. We also tackle sexual assault and the things that are holding them back. God doesn’t intend for us to be bound.” Allen said God loosed her, so she knows he will do the same for others and that’s exactly what she teaches the girls of “I Am A Queen.”

Although the young ladies involved in the organization discuss their issues and ways to deal with them, Allen makes sure there is more action involved. The girls are participate in a year-round mentoring program and the executive board plans its own community service events such as the Winter Drive for the Homeless, the Community Baby Shower and an annual teen empowerment conference.

Recently, I Am A Queen introduced the Fatherless Daughters Community Forum. While dealing with her own father issues, Allen realized many of the girls in the organization dealt with the same issues of not having active fathers in their lives. The forum provides a platform for positive men and fathers to give the young ladies advice on the importance of maintaining their standards and how to act as a young lady around young men. The men write letters to their own daughters and give advice to the girls who don’t have fathers and it all gets catalogued in a book, which Allen gives out as a reference tool.

“It has been a powerful addition to the program. Many of the girls gasped when they heard about it. That one event shakes everybody up,” said Allen. “Sometimes they hear and receive it better when the advice is spoken by a grown man. They listen.” For the past seven years, the organization has also facilitated three additional community outreach programs including a back to school drive, a Thanksgiving turkey giveaway and a Christmas adoption.

In the midst of all that “I Am A Queen” encompasses, Allen still has time to consult with aspiring nonprofit owners and provide PR strategies through Lotus Flower Consulting Group. With a schedule as packed as hers, Allen finds structure to be her best friend. Time is a precious commodity so she doesn’t waste any. And because she has been building her organizations for a while, she’s learned the art of delegation.

While PR is certainly near and dear to her heart, Allen says she’s learning that her passion has veered a bit more toward fundraising, which is required in order to serve more people. When “I Am A Queen” becomes a national initiative, which she has the faith to believe will happen; she says she will need that training and education. Her goals are lofty, but with Allen’s tenacity and strength, they’re undoubtedly obtainable.

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