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Rising Stars: Meet Arriell Q. Gipson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Arriell Q. Gipson.

Hi Arriell, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I was born and spent the early part of my childhood in Westwood, the eldest of four (well now 5, you’ll have to ask my dad about that story, but I promise our newest addition is God-sent and I can’t imagine life without her). My parents got divorced and my siblings moved with my mother from Hickory Hill to Cordova.

I excelled in academics, in part, due to the heavy expectations my family placed on education – my grandfather took my siblings and me to the library nearly every Saturday. My mother held us accountable for the success we said we wanted. Life wasn’t always easy growing up (at times it was extremely difficult) but many people stepped in to become our village and that’s my first encounter with the essence of community.

Throughout life, I always held tight to both my faith and sense of community and that, along with my drive and passion, has led me to work in over four diverse career fields, strengthening my unique transferable skills, and leading with integrity. I left Memphis at age 18 ready to see the world outside of the space my mother, father, and village created for me.

The world I did see – meeting many incredible people, learning trades, skills, and cultures outside my own. I had my shares of ups and downs but I held tight to the dream I had as a young girl of changing the world. I learned on my own how much work goes into a dream as large as that. I also learned about planting seeds and how everyone has a different role. Some people plant the seed, others water, some weed, others shift the sun, and at the end of the day, it takes us all to see success.

In 2018, after many incredible life experiences and opportunities for growth, I relocated back to Memphis and began reconnecting back to the community that helped shaped me into the woman I am today. I fell in love with Memphis all over again and saw so many opportunities to help out the city and County and that’s exactly what I began to do. Networking, volunteering, and building my reputation as a dedicated public servant who gets the job done.

Here I am now at 29 years of age running for an elected office, always moving the needle forward, always smashing glass ceilings, and doing it all with faith, integrity, and my community behind me. Like my grandmother, Bernice Gipson always says “Don’t ever give up on your ideas and dreams, that’s like giving up on life”.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
The road less traveled is hardly a road at all. It’s a path full of adventure, unforeseen obstacles, trails, and tribulations. Yet, (as Maya Angelou taught me) still I rise.

What I have had to overcome the most is for the vast majority of my life I and others my age were taught that we could be anything we wanted to be in this life if we worked hard and showed ourselves approval, yet we are constantly gate kept from achieving success because of our age.

Growing up, many of us were told about how David beat Goliath before he was even a teenager, or how Jesus changed nations all before the age of 35.

Each year this entire country reminisces on the courageous and enlightening words of Dr. Martin Luther King and honor his legacy – while noting all he did in only 39 years of life – and yet when you strive for greatness as a millennial and it happens to be outside of the comfort zone of others you often hear “you are too young.”

What I have found to work the best is to smile and continue on your path. Where there’s a will, there’s away.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I’m the Community Engagement Manager for the Crime Victims and Rape Crisis Center of Shelby County and outside of work.

I am the committee chair for the Mayor’s Young Professional Council, Violence Prevention and Criminal Justice Reform Committee, First Vice President for the Shelby County Young Democrats, a graduate of Leaders of Color, Organizing for Action, New Memphis Leadership Institute, and The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.

I am armed with trauma-informed training from The Department of Criminal Justice Services, The Commonwealth of Virginia, and Law and Epidemic Emergency Preparedness from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I am the 2020 Miss Shelby County USA and voted Miss Congeniality for Miss Tennessee USA 2020.

I have worked in three government agency departments or divisions; Shelby County Clerk’s Office, Shelby County Health Department, and now The Shelby County Division of Community Services.

I am 3-0 in the political sphere managing and helping the following campaigns succeed in victory; Temiika Gipson for Circuit Court Clerk, Sheleah Harris for District 5 School Board, and Torrey Harris for Tennessee House of Representatives District 90.

I am a former contractor with Civic Tennessee, a bipartisan non-profit civic engagement coalition that envisions a future where underrepresented communities of color, single women, and young people — the rising American electorate — have a greater voice and influence in shaping state policy and choosing leaders who affect their lives. I am also a former executive board member of the Hamilton County chapter of the NAACP.

I specialize in people – helping them connect to the true essence of a healthy and whole community. I wear many hats but they all equate back to strategically making this world a better place one interaction at a time.

I’m most proud at the end of a community event that I helped coordinate and organize when I can witness barriers fall, access is regained, relationships heal, and lives begin to mend. That’s when I know it was all for a greater purpose. I have faith that as long as God guides me, the good work will be done and lives will be positively impacted.

What sets me apart from others is I walk my purposed path, uniquely designed for me. Every accomplishment I described above has been done within the last four years. I sharpen my God-gifted skills daily and though I am not perfect, I give my best shot often.

I am a newlywed, wife to an incredible, sexy, kind-hearted, bold, brave, disciplined Memphis Fire Fighter, Calvin Martin.

What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
Faith discipline and the ability to laugh are most important to my success.

I’ve learned to create space to enjoy the small things, prepare well and diligently for the big things and give it all to God. There’s a saying “All glory to God.” and I couldn’t agree more.

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