Ms. SiSi: MaryAnne Howland Discusses Organizing A “Black Mitzvah” Rite Of Passage For Her Son

In this episode, Ms. SiSi The Real Infopreneur speaks to MaryAnne Howland about the challenges of raising a son with physical difficulties, an absent father and the ingenious plan she came up with to provide her son with positive male role models, not just one mentor but up to four. MaryAnne Howland is the founder and CEO of Ibis Communications, a branding marketing solutions firm in Nashville, Tennessee and has been widely recognized for her business success including invites to several summits at the White House. With those kinds of social and professional relations, Howland had access to a pool of successful black men to potentially mentor her son.

 Penguin Random House Warrior Rising by MaryAnne HowlandWhen MaryAnne Howland’s son was turning thirteen she organized a “Black Mitzvah” rite of passage celebration for him. Max is one of the one-in-three children in America being raised without a father in the home. Among African-Americans, that number is reported to be as high as 72 percent. To help fill the father-shaped hole in Max’s life as he transitioned from boyhood to manhood, MaryAnne invited four men from different corners of her life –an engineer, a philanthropist, a publisher, and a financial planner–to become Max’s mentors.

Max has faced many challenges. As a boy without a consistent father figure in his life, as an African-American male in a time when race relations in this country continue to be fraught, and also because Max was born premature and as a result has cerebral palsy, he has had to be a true warrior. On the brink of manhood, his mother wanted to give him the benefit of men who could answer some of the questions she felt that she, as a woman, might not be able to answer. Through his adolescence, Max’s mentors have shared valuable insights with him about what it means to be a good man in the face of life’s challenges. These lessons, recounted in this book, will serve as a powerful roadmap for anyone wishing to support boys as they approach manhood. Purchase a copy!

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