2015 Featured Guest

Mrs. Susan L. Taylor

After 27 years as the chief editor of Essence magazine and the visionary credited with building the brand, Susan L. Taylor left publishing to devote her life to building an organization that is devoted to breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty among African Americans. The National CARES Mentoring Movement is more than an organization but rather a community transformation crusade dedicated to “changing the predictable futures defined for our young who are struggling along the margins and living with the indignity of poverty.” she says.

At Essence magazine, Ms. Taylor not only served as chief editor, but also authored the magazine’s most popular column, In The Spirit—the first mainstream U.S.magazine to champion spiritual growth as a pathway to total well-being and a meaningful life.  Under her guidance, the publication’s readership soared to eight million in the U.S., the Caribbean, Canada, the U.K. and English-speaking African nations. The Essence brand expanded into book publishing, broadcasting, eyewear, hosiery, and its own fashion catalogue. But nowhere outside the magazine did she bring people and African American culture together so beautifully as with the launching of the Essence Music Festival and its famous empowerment seminars.

Founded by Ms. Taylor in 2005 as Essence CARES, the National CARES Mentoring Movement is the fastest growing mentor-recruitment organization in the nation.  Located in 58 U.S. cities, local CARES affiliates recruit, train and deploy caring adults to schools and a wide variety of youth-serving organizations that are desperate for Black volunteers to serve as mentors, tutors, reading buddies and role models. Big Brothers, Big Sisters, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Boy Scouts and U.S. Dream Academy are among the hundreds of organizations for which the CARES volunteer army of passionate CARES affiliate leaders recruit mentors.  To date, National CARES has recruited more than 130,000 mentors.

Susan Taylor is the editor of eight books, and the author of four books: the best seller In The Spirit, Lessons in Living, Confirmation: The Spiritual Wisdom That Has Shaped Our Lives, which she co-authored with husband Khephra Burns, and her most recent book All About Love.  Genuine, energetic, and spiritual, Susan Taylor’s passion is to help people realize their strengths and take charge of their lives.  She brings her gift of inspiration to every audience, sharing with them her prescription for adopting the best practices, both personally and professionally, that will help them find fulfillment and success in life.