The Theresa Randleman Story
I’m willing to wager that when Theresa Randleman became a single parent at the age of 30 with two young children to raise alone. Never in her wildest dreams could she imagine how her humble, but challenging journey would eventually lead to her across the globe advocating on behalf of socially, economically and culturally disenfranchised women. Yet, here she is, sharing her story and empowering others to “find their seat at the table.”
After she regained her composure from marital separation and then the unexpected death of her husband, the father of her two children, Theresa had to figure out what to do. Where do I go from here? Despite her grief, Theresa recognized the importance of keeping her children socially connected so she encouraged a small group of single mothers to charter a bus for an upcoming activity. She’d never done it before but took the chance to make it happen and it did. The other moms joined in, they designed a flyer to invite others and before they knew it, the bus was full a van and two additional cars were filled to capacity. The trip proved cost effective for everyone, paid for itself and her children didn’t have to pay anything. Hence, Theresa’s premiere travel/entertainment business venture was born out of necessity.
Thereafter, the travel group grew and together they enjoyed many live shows, concerts and sporting events at affordable costs. Meanwhile, Theresa’s confidence grew and her interests expanded into other entertainment entities. Soon a vision for entrepreneurship in the entertainment industry was birthed and produced T-Rose Entertainment.
However as major contacts were made and the business expanded, she sat quietly beside the wall with no voice or seat at the table. Theresa was not comfortable with that. She decided that something had to be done differently if she was to succeed in the business. So at the next meeting, she sat at table, placing herself at the middle. Her body language was whispering, “Look at me sitting here. I have a voice.” By the third meeting, she asked questions and looked around the table making direct eye contact, engaging an audience. Her voice was heard.
They tried to marginalize her with suggestions that she handle the catering. “Catering?” she asked. No thank you. Theresa wasn’t seeking a stereotypically female role at the table. She had much more to offer and would make certain that everyone knew it. “I can oversee routing and production,” Theresa said. “Yes, I have experience routing national tours and artists. I stepped further into the doorway when others believed and said I could not.”
Around the same time, she secured a major entertainment contract with the military where, again, she “took her seat at a table” surrounded by men. They thought she was there to take notes. Those Military men… whose eyes and body language shouted, “Who is she” and “why is she here?” They soon found out when the Commander discussed the possibility of adding Jazz music to the line-up. Theresa quickly raised her hand as someone who had experience working with Jazz groups. This initiative led to a European Tour that T-Rose Entertainment still contracts to this day!
“I learned to walk with authority and take my seat at the table through these situations,” she said. “And that became my personal motto.”
According to Randleman, “we have to be just like them (men) but utilizing the gift of womanhood. As a female, we are more multi-dimensional, especially women of color. I was not the majority member in the room but I still took my place at the table. I began working festivals conducting empowerment teams and now I’m developing networks whose staff is 80% female and men were the minority. Most of my staff and participants have children. But there were critics and they were men. Two particular men said it would never work. They warned that I was doing the wrong thing. One of them even contacted my inbox on Facebook. So I blocked him, all the while wondering why he was so aggressive about what I was doing. I later learned that the men attempted to do what I was doing but they were unsuccessful.”
In spite of it all, our very first festival was well received and the empowerment program planted seeds. The second year the festival received national attention; and the empowerment program had standing room only which both surprised and pleased me and my staff. The third year my team and I moved forward with the greater vision planted within me and held the empowerment program only and enhancing the educational component of the historic cultural location. The venue was over capacity and we had a waiting list. As we sat around the table evaluating the program’s strengths and weaknesses, we discussed “lifting as we climb.” Unbeknown to me, that’s what I’d been doing all along as I’d captured a vision, developed it into reality. Even my team of single mothers couldn't believe we could do it but during the process we learned to capitalize upon each other’s strengths. I don’t do what you do, but my gifting is this or that, and that’s how it evolved.”
Collectively, they learned that the critical component came in combining their individual talents and making it happen together. As a team not only were they formidable but realized that through collaboration they accomplished it all which led to their ultimate success.
Randleman was referred anonymously to the Women’s Economic World Forum (WEF EU 2017) in Hague, Netherlands and received an invitation to present among some of the world’s most powerful female entrepreneurs. The trip became the highlight of her humble career. As a result of that international networking experience, she learned:
Seventy percent of the world’s poor people are women and the expansion of contraception is slow at best.
There is no country in the world where women of color are without violent encounters
America has the greatest percentage of domestic violence cases in the world which includes rape and there is a strong correlation to the hyper masculine culture.
Theresa has also been invited to present in South Africa but due to the political climate, declined the invitation. Currently she is considering invitations to Iceland and Portugal, respectively; and will be returning to The Hague Netherlands again in 2018.