From an Inner City Child to a Global Woman with Shuntella Richardson
Shuntella Richardson is the CEO of her own company. She’s the Regional Director of the Global Woman Club in Chicago. She’s worked with national and global companies as she rose to CEO in the IT field. She’s an author and an international speaker whose personal and professional mentorship and coaching draws upon her own triumph over tragedy story to guide others.
Her success has been hard-earned.
Shuntella Richardson grew up harboring a secret very few people knew.
It was the kind of secret that bored away at her soul and tormented her in nightmares. For years, Shuntella struggled to keep that secret from poisoning her life. She fought to focus on learning how to rise above her surroundings in a crime-ridden area of Chicago and tried to forget how that crime had touched her.
When you look at the picture of success Shuntella projects today, you’d never imagine the pain and struggle she’s overcome along the way. You’d never guess she’s known the heartache of divorce, the financial and emotional turmoil of a failed business, or that she’d been abducted and assaulted when she was just 4 years old.
It’s a story Shuntella openly shares in spite of how difficult the memories are; she vividly remembers details about that day – how the sun was shining and the heat that came with it, the little shorts and canvas tie-up sneakers she had on, and how it felt like just another beautiful day in her 4-year-old world.
She’d felt safe walking to the little grocery store with her babysitter and the other kids. It was a routine they’d done countless times before. She didn’t hesitate to return a smile and “hello” to the stranger who wished her good morning on her way in, but she hesitated for a split second when he beckoned her over on her way out, and that split second was all it took.
Before she had a chance to realize what was happening, the man had swooped her up and was running from the store. The frantic voices of her babysitter and the other kids grew more and more distant until they disappeared entirely, and she was alone with the massive man who’d stolen her.
Shuntella suffered for hours at his hands. There, on top of the viaduct he’d carried her onto, with the oblivious people passing beneath, the man did things to her no one should do to anyone, let alone a helpless four-year-old girl.
The sunlight shrank, darkness descended, and still he abused her. Finally Shuntella was helpless to stop the cries. She remembers how angry this made the man, and how he told her to be quiet.
This, she says, is the moment that convinced her God does exist, even if she didn’t understand that until years later.
As suddenly as the attack had begun, says Shuntella, it ended. The man cast a panicked look over her shoulder, jumped away from her and ran off while pulling his clothes back on. Both relieved help had arrived and mortified that someone else was going to see her without her clothes on, Shuntella rushed to get dressed.
But there was no one there.
There was no person on that viaduct that night – none that she could see. But someone or something had appeared to send her tormentor fleeing, and Shuntella believes it was God’s hand.
That she’d survived the brutal attack had been a miracle. That she was able to climb down to the street while bruised, bleeding, afraid, and in pain, is another. Two strangers worked together to help Shuntella find her way back to her family.
The experience is one Shuntella didn’t talk about for years – not even to her mother, who knew nothing about the assault. Her mother was just a teenager when Shuntella was born four years prior and was now expecting her third child. It was a high-risk pregnancy. Shuntella’s father decided to protect her mom from the news that could be so upsetting, it could pose a threat to herself or their baby.
It would be years before Shuntella came to terms with what happened to her. Years before she told her mom and talked about it with her father again. Meantime she withdrew into herself.
She wanted to go out and play but she was afraid. She wondered what she’d done wrong to cause such a terrible thing to happen to her.
Perhaps her instinct to hide from the world is what increased her awareness of other things. While other kids were playing and socializing, Shuntella turned to learning. She studied her parents and noticed how hard they worked. She realized the impressiveness of them paying for their home in cash.
Her father was an avid reader, and Shuntella found herself drawn to his extensive book collection. At first, she’d just run her fingers over the edge of those books, not understanding the words or the concept. Gradually she was able to open them up and absorb the words.
One book, in particular, changed the way Shuntella thought about life and her own potential.
Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich had her with its title. As a young lady in an inner-city, says Shuntella, the concept of growing rich intrigued her. That book taught about how anyone – even a confused, hurting, lonely young girl from an inner-city could chart a destiny far greater than she’d ever thought possible.
Shuntella Richardson was hooked.
At night, the nightmares could still find her but in the daytime she was in control of her dreams, and Shuntella began to dream big.
Her first dream was to become an astronaut. High school came and went, and the time came for Shuntella to decide what was next. Astronaut was not a career choice presented to her in her high school guidance counselor’s office, so Shuntella perused the options she was given. One by one she ticked through the list : Chief Executive Officer and anesthesiologist were foreign job descriptions to her. She continued down the list until she came to something she understood: pharmacist. A look at the projected salary of a pharmacist was enough to convince Shuntella she’d found a viable career path.
At the same time Shuntella was studying pharmacology, computers began to become more mainstream. Shuntella’s family had been among the first to have a computer in their home while she was in high school, and Shuntella loved using it. Her analytical mind made it fun for her to come to the rescue to fix glitches in the computers at school.
Her ability to get systems back up and running was invaluable. The Information Technology field was just developing, and Shuntella found herself pulled in that direction. She followed that pull for over two decades, rising to CEO of a company before leaving the corporate world to branch out on her own,
Shuntella may never have literally soared to the stars as she’d once dreamed, but she brought herself light years away from the solitary young girl in Chicago’s inner city. The high school student who hadn’t even known what a CEO was is now CEO of her own company.
“I bridge the gap between people and their dreams,” is how Shuntella describes her work.
The victimized child now speaks on multiple platforms about keeping children safe from predators, and the once isolated teenager is now the Regional Director of Chicago’s Global Woman Club.
“I didn’t have all the answers, says Shuntella, “but I had the will,” and that will is what drove her to overcome one struggle after another. From early childhood trauma to a failed business, to continued personal and professional challenges, Shuntella Richardson never let challenges stop her from dreaming of a better life for herself and others.
Her goal now is to touch, move, and inspire women from all over the world.
She’s on a mission to help them realize their own dreams and ambitions, and get the results they want in their own lives.