August is Black Philanthropy Month! We asked our donors how they came to be philanthropists.
Here’s what Caeresa Richardson had to say:
How did you come to be charitable? Were there influences in your life that got you started?
I am greatly influenced by my older sister Shequeila Birdsong, who took a charitable approach to her role as “big sister” in my household. In addition to her positive example and role model, I have benefited from many mentors and sponsors who have guided me throughout my career. It has always been important to me to determine how to use my life to impact and influence members of my community. I believe that what drives me is knowing my background and respecting what others sacrificed with their lives for me to exist in my current state. I feel like I honor their lives and their sacrifices by making sure that I pay it forward.
What do you want Central New York to look like in the future? How can philanthropy be a part of that change?
I would love for Central New York to increase our presence as a diverse and creative “hub” for emerging leaders in New York State. I think that our location and culture make this a great training ground to test and release new ideas while growing as a leader. I would love to see future leaders in business and politics who proudly boast that they began their careers or got their professional start in Central New York.
What do you feel are the greatest needs in our community right now?
Central New York has seen a great amount of economic growth over the past few years. It is an exciting and encouraging time for many. I think to increase our impact on our community members, we need more equity and diversity specifically in business ownership in our metro areas. I would love to see more businesses owned by people of color in the downtown areas of Syracuse, Ithaca, Skaneateles, Oswego, etc. Increasing diversity in the businesses located in these areas is necessary for our growth and vitality as a community. Residents and business owners need to mirror the diversity of our complete community and we can only do that by ensuring a diverse representation of wealth, ownership and equity.
Is there a quote that sums up or has shaped how you live your life?
One of my favorite women in history is Shirley Chisholm. Her saying is, “If someone doesn’t offer you a seat at the table, bring in a folding chair.” It speaks to me directly and tells me to stay innovative and bold throughout my life and my leadership journey.
Caeresa Richardson is the owner of Gypsy Freedom, Central New York’s first sustainable fashion boutique. After spending many years as a corporate engineer, Caeresa created Gypsy Freedom to unite style and awareness, making them accessible for the everyday woman. Through her unique perspective, both technical and chic, she empowers women to express their social values through their personal style. Originally from Buffalo, she is very active in the CNY community. Most notably, she is a business consultant at the WISE women’s business center, a board member of The Gifford Foundation and a member of The Women’s Fund of Central New York Leadership Council at the Community Foundation. Caeresa is an avid reader and traveler who currently resides in Liverpool, NY with her dear daughter, Sharon Rose and loving husband, David Richardson.