Sharon Cossey and Gail Gillespie


Life, Discrimination, and Divorce

Ep. 43 - What was it like as an African-American woman growing up in the U.S. in the 1960's and 1970's? Sharon Cossey, Gail Gillespie, and Nan McKay, long-term friends on a retreat in Las Vegas, have a candid conversation about a variety of subjects from growing up experiences to going to Maya Angelou's Black-Tie birthday parties given by Oprah. They discuss discrimination then and today. Gail gives some great advice on choosing a marriage partner, surviving an abusive household, and being a young woman in today's climate.

Top Takeaways:

    • Learning to take care of yourself as an older daughter even when it is expected of you to 'mother' your younger siblings
    • The nightmare of experiencing discrimination within your own race because of your skin tone
    • The power of having a vision and a mission to take care of yourself as a woman
    • Steps that you need to take to overcome an abusive marriage or relationship

Listen in to hear stories of two women-Sharon and Gail-who came from two different backgrounds but have similarities in how they now view life.

""Sometimes your community is your family, if you can get them on the right track, then that helps the entire community as a whole." -Sharon Cossey and Gail Gillespie

Gail Gillespie brings extensive knowledge of federally subsidized housing programs and decades of experience in property management and development, as well as a keen aptitude for analysis, informed perspective on housing issues, a vivacious personality, and superb communication and presentation skills. Gail trains nationally in both the public housing and housing choice voucher programs. Before joining Nan McKay and Associates, she was a program coordinator at Knoxville's Community Development Corporation, where she managed the development, administration, operation, and execution of the housing choice voucher and moderate rehabilitation programs.

Sharon Cossey started her career in the affordable housing industry in 1970. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, Sharon researched and designed special social services programs and later worked to integrate best practice methods into the public sector housing industry. Throughout the past four decades, she has held director level positions with private sector consulting firms and public housing authorities. Her impressive record includes tenures at the Chicago Housing Authority, the John Stewart Company, Oakland Housing Authority, and the Berkeley Housing Authority. In each one of these organizations, Sharon provided solutions that made a difference in the lives of people living in assisted housing. Her approaches weigh the impacts on the general community, budgetary constraints, and long-term growth.

Learn important lessons on how to be independent as a woman and how to deal with an abusive relationship.

Key Moments:

Sharon explains how she learned to take care of herself after being in charge of caring for her siblings [1:44]

How Sharon experienced racial and gender discrimination as a child, a woman, and later within the Black community [3:22]

She describes Maya Angelou's good-natured character that made her so lovable across the board [9:50]

Gail narrates her childhood in a restrictive environment and wanting to be taken care of [10:28]

What being married more than twice has taught Gail about life and relationships [13:23]

Lessons from both Sharon and Gail on how to overcome an abusive relationship and knowing when to leave [15:36]

Sharon explains where her life is right now after retirement and her relationship with her husband [17:44]

Sharon Cossey, Associate Consultant

Gail Gillespie, Senior Associate Trainer

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