Lauren Bealore, 29, is a political director working to bridge gaps and break boundaries.
By Cassie Kunze
Photography by Hayden Stinebaugh
Being the “first” is not an unfamiliar feeling for Southfield native Lauren Bealore. She is the first African-American Michigan political director for the nonprofit America Votes, the youngest delegate to be elected in Precinct 19 for the City of Southfield and the youngest appointed commissioner for the city’s Total Living Commission, to name a few.
“You can’t break down the barriers in society without first breaking down the barriers within yourself,” Bealore says.
Her mother Rhonda Bealore, a sales support associate at Bank of America, says her daughter has always pushed herself to bridge gaps and create opportunities for other women and people of color, even when it has not been easy to do so. “Lauren doesn’t mind standing alone,” she says. “Because often you do have to stand alone when you’re the only female or the only African-American in the room.”
Although Bealore is the first African-American and, at age 29, the youngest person in several of her roles, she says she hopes to not be the last.
Bealore advocates for women to have a seat at the table. She is especially passionate about women-owned businesses and has made it a priority to help women bring their dreams to fruition. In 2012, she co-founded Y.A.B., an entrepreneurial conglomerate to assist women-owned businesses. The name Y.A.B stands for “young, ambitious and beautiful.” Bealore explains a woman can be any one of these at any phase in her life. “Young is a mindset,” Bealore says.
Before the prominent women’s social movements highlighted in the media today, Bealore noticed in 2012 many millennial women of color were not getting recognized for their entrepreneurial endeavors.
With Y.A.B., she strives to challenge the stereotypes regarding how women, especially women of color, are represented in business. “We don’t want women to just work at Fortune 500 companies,” she says, “we want them to start their own.”
Y.A.B. serves 35 venture partners across the country and thousands of online community members. The nonprofit offers an array of services for businesses accepted into the program, including business development, community engagement, mentorship and personal development.
Bealore and her team also strive to break up the monotonous trend of the male-dominated startup industry. She says she realized coworking spaces offer unique opportunities that women-owned businesses could not only benefit from, but also allow for greater representation in the startup world.
They have since hosted events in partnership with several coworking spaces in Detroit to encourage more women in business to tap into the resources available through these networks. Y.A.B. has received an
overwhelming positive response, as their events have attracted hundreds of women from around the country who are current or prospective business owners.
Bealore and her co-founders do not charge for events or services. When asked why she doesn’t charge her clients, she says, “it’s not always about the money.”
Meaghan McLaughlin, loan manager at Michigan Women Forward, has attended a few events and says Bealore’s work with Y.A.B. is important. “It was refreshing when I was first introduced to Y.A.B.,” McLaughlin says. “There is substance to their message and the connections women make through this organization.” She adds the resources and networking Y.A.B. fosters are a game-changer for women trying to make a career for themselves.
Bealore aspires to have a greater impact nationwide and strives to do this by becoming a TV political correspondent and use her experience to educate voters. Her message of diversity, equity and inclusion has been a consistent theme throughout her career, and she says she plans to carry that with her in all her endeavors.
When asked what advice she would give to young women, Bealore says you can always “create your own opportunity.”
“You can’t let social constructions or barriers of race and gender limit your goals,” she says, “because, otherwise, things will never change.”