Charné M. Tunson Biography
Charné M. Tunson has been an advocate for youth mentorship since she was a very young girl. One of her favorite memories was her first meeting with her mentor, who now happens to be the Vice President and General Manager at KJLH. It started when Charne’ was in the 8th grade and her mentor Karen, arrived to pick up Charne’ in a Mercedes Benz…Wow thought Charné, I get to ride in a Mercedes!! And it only got better from there.
Simply by spending time with a successful woman, Charné realized that anything is possible. As she recalls about that very first meeting with Karen, “That day I learned, I too could become a successful black woman,” which she went on to do, dramatically impacting the lives of so many youth and young adults across south Los Angeles.
Charné was born to a 16 year-old single mother in South East Los Angeles and coincidentally spent her first year of life around the Crenshaw High School campus while her mother completed her senior year. Charné’s mother was dedicated to creating the best environment she could for her 3 children (Charné and her two younger brothers Donald Jr. and DeAndre’) and made many sacrifices to support their educational careers; including putting off her own post secondary education. But mom had dreams of her own; she went back to school and graduated from Cal State University Dominguez Hills, the same year that Charné graduated from college, and they both began their pursuit in education together.
After Charné graduated from Crenshaw High School, she went left Los Angeles to attend Clark Atlanta University where she not only met her husband, which was certainly a highlight, but also learned how to survive and thrive on her own. For Charné, attending college is not just about the formal education, “the life skills you learn while trying to survive four years in a different world is priceless, it’s AMAZING times 10!” And she highly recommends that every young person leave their local area and attend college, as distance creates a totally different opportunity for growth. Charné notes that leaving her home to attend college helped to open her eyes to the possibilities that exist outside of South Los Angeles. When asked what else Charné learned in college, she recalls how it taught her to be resourceful when pursuing her goals and to be single-minded about success, allowing no excuses for failure. All of which she says created the foundation for her successes today.
Upon graduating from college, Charné returned once again to Crenshaw High School to teach, as she felt the need to make an impact on others as her mentors had done for her. But after 8 frustrating years of feeling like she was not making a significant impact; as a result of her students’ grades not improving, she had a true “Ah Ha” moment and realized just how much of a difference she was making and was in fact having a positive influence on their lives as demonstrated by the following story.
“There was one young who was struggling academically, was a troublemaker in every class and most teachers did not know what to do with him other than send him out of class. A year after he graduated, I saw him at a football game and he came over to say hello, then he continued on, ‘I just want to thank you for all that you did for me. I know that I was not the best student and I gave everyone a hard time, but you really made a difference in my life and you believed in me and I just want to say Thank you.’ That was the moment that I knew I was in the right place at the right time, but taking the wrong approach. I was in fact a mentor and a coach, not a teacher.”
It was this experience, which lead Charné to become the founder of the “Tunson Leadership Foundation”, a leadership based non-profit organization, and launch a mobile coaching agency, “Inner City Educators.” This newfound sense of purpose and direction allowed her to do what she was so good at and loved doing, mentoring and coaching. Over the past seven years as an educational leader, non-profit founder and small business owner, Charné has been able to continue her personal mission of touching the lives of youth and helping them grow and achieve their life dreams, as well as teaching them the importance of coaching and mentoring others. Charné credits her childhood influencers with demonstrating to her the value of mentoring and more importantly providing her with the courage to pursue her dream and follow her passion.
Charné is not even close to being satisfied with her accomplishments; in fact she has only just begun. Her ten-year goals include expanding the leadership foundation to impact the lives of youth across the country, as well as opening a leadership based residential preparatory academy for middle and high school students. Longer range goals are no less inspirational; striving to develop leadership curriculum and have it implemented in every school across the U.S., leading to better prepared youth entering college and the workforce. She also aspires to hold a seat on the US Department of Education Advisory Board, and those of us that know Charné have every confidence she’ll do it!
When asked what words of wisdom Charné has for current mentors and mentees she focuses on the value of the overall experience, suggesting that both mentors and mentees alike take full advantage of every moment, becoming friends and freely sharing feelings, hopes and dreams, setting goals and meeting their commitments to one another. For all individuals, Charné has this advice, “always say please, thank you and remember to smile. These simple things make a world of difference to yourself and those around you. Now is the time to shape yourself for the rest of your life; time is something that you can never get back, so make the most of your experiences!”
Charné is a tremendous role model and has so much to teach all of us. But perhaps one key message for all us to remember is her belief that “your current situation is not your final destination. Just because you may not be in the best circumstances, you do not have to stay there forever.”
To find out more about Charné M. Tunson, you can visit her personal website at www.charnemtunson.com.