As a business owner, a candidate running for Wilmington City Council At Large, and all around do-gooder, Rysheema Dixon has always been busy. She finds relaxation in Basketball, TD Jakes on Sunday mornings, and gospel music. Spending time with family and friends makes her happy, but what really brings her to her happy place is frozen yogurt. These pastimes help her “mellow out” when life gets hectic and are important to bringing balance, as Rysheema has been career focused since her youth.
Her first job was on the Marine Base Headquarters in Virginia. She worked with athletic trainers and wrote health articles. She also kept scores for volleyball, basketball, and softball games. She loved that job because it was fun and laid back, Rysheema smiled as she reminisced that, “she got to wear basketball shorts” on the job.
Rysheema’s wide range of experiences have taught her to be open and flexible. When she was younger, she wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon. Rysheema loved sports medicine (she has always been an NBA fan). She completed a medical and dental internship in Nebraska, and soon after, she was a health assistant and office manager for a language program at the Johns Hopkins Massachusetts camp.
While attending University of Delaware, Rysheema began taking courses in African American studies, sociology, and criminal justice. It is here that Rysheema found her passion; for her, helping people went beyond medicine. She changed her major from biology to sociology, and hasn’t looked back since.
After graduating with a Bachelor’s in Sociology from the University of Delaware, Rysheema attended the Washington DC satellite campus of The School for International Training for her graduate degree. Rysheema graduated with a Master’s in Sustainable Development/International Policy and Management.
After working at the Marine base headquarters, Rysheema worked for Friends of the Children in Philadelphia. This organization, which was created in Portland, Oregon, pairs children with adult mentors that remain in contact from kindergarten through college. Rysheema was a research assistant there. She enjoyed her time there, and still remains in contact with her past supervisor today.
The last position that Rysheema had before starting her own business was with Public Allies. After observing the dynamics of Wilmington, Rysheema realized that to get to where she wanted to be, she would need to start her own business. In addition, she a does not like to be tied down, and being a businesswoman allows her to be autonomous and versatile, which she loves.
Still, Rysheema has enjoyed almost all the jobs that she’s had. Although she is a great listener, the only position that she was not particularly fond of was at a call center. However, her experience taught her that, “people just want to be listened to,” and “they want to hear feedback.”
This lesson has served her well as a blossoming politician and business woman. In 2011, Rysheema created RD Innovative Planning, a strategy consulting business whose mission is:
…to educate and assist community members in advocating for equitable access to resources and affordable services which fosters a healthy and sustainable environment. We are actively invested in improving contemporary issues such as healthcare, nutrition, education and youth development that impact long-term effects on our local/global society. Our customers include local/global businesses to individual citizens.
RD Innovative Planning also offers advisement to new start-up businesses and service organizations. Through her business, Rysheema has been able to touch 10,000 people. For her, entering politics is an extension of what she has already been doing.
When she entered politics, Rysheema says she had been frustrated by the process of politics. She is tired of “business as usual,” and “hearing the same things over and over.” Rysheema finds that, “people lose sight of what they’re doing and who they’re working for.” She believes that it’s essential to “remain invested in constituents.” However, Rysheema says that she, “can’t complain,” and that she has to be “part of the solution.” She says she wants to, “see if I can make a change within the system.”
Rysheema believes that young people have the potential to initiate a “new era” in local politics. She sees a “new wave” of civic engagement as young African American women such as herself running for political office. Rysheema asserts that it is imperative for young people to be brought into the political process for the next generation to see.
The period we’re in is a “call of action” Rysheema states. “It’s our time to make a difference…showing younger generations what you can be and do and look like” She does admit that it’s “hard for the older generation to give up seats because they’ve been in politics so long.” Unless one has been groomed by a current politician, Rysheema says, “It’s harder to get through.” She tried to be a legislative aide and some other positions in order to get into the politic sphere, but she could not break through. In her frustration, she decided, “let me start where I live.” Ultimately, she would like to be a congress member or state representative. She concluded that in politics, there is no single path to your destination.
While she dislikes some parts of the process, for Rysheema, the best part is talking to people and learning about people’s concerns beyond the commonly known immediate needs. Since running for office, she has been able to talk to a diverse array of people from various backgrounds. She says that, “everyone knows that crime is an issue in some communities,” but that this is not the primary concern in every community she has interacted with. Rysheema explains that, “each area has a different concern,” and that “they want to be heard on every level…what may be small to us, is large to them.”
Rysheema’s awareness and perspective on others is what makes her a unique candidate. She believes that it is important to keep in mind that “people have feelings, baggage” and “their own understanding goes with it.” Rysheema is “not afraid to love unconditionally,” something that is “lost in our society.” She believes that “we all have an asset or talent that the world is looking forward to—don’t be afraid to shine bright.”
Rysheema Dixon is a practitioner of unconditional love. As she’s grown, she’s become, “more honest, more giving,” and “more huggable” she admits. Rysheema has always been humble and introverted, but she says is learning to be extroverted in certain areas. She is open to trying to things: new places and new foods. Rysheema says she loves the space she’s in: she’s still evolving and still learning every day.
Rysheema can be reached at: