20 Under 40: Brittany Underwood

Brittany Underwood – CREATIVE
Age: 34
Business: Akola Project
High School: Westminister
College: SMU
Faith: Highland Park Presbyterian Church
Community Involvement: I founded Akola, meaning “she works,” a 501(c)(3) non-profit in Uganda and Dallas in 2007 to employ the ‘unemployable’ woman through training, development programming, and living wage work, while sourcing, creating and assembling jewelry and home goods for sale in US markets. Akola is creating community transformation by moving women from crisis to stability with a powerful new model offering on the job training and transitional work opportunities to at-risk women in Dallas and Uganda.

Brittany Underwood has transformed the lives of more than 600 Ugandan women since starting the Akola Project in 2004. During her sophomore year at SMU, she met a Ugandan woman who had taken 24 street children under her care. Inspired by this woman, Brittany set out to provide a means of income for women who had no such prospects in their communities. Since then, the project has expanded to the Dallas area to help women in poverty earn a regular monthly wage through handcrafting jewelry, which is carried at Neiman Marcus.

What is the best advice you received when beginning your career? Never never never never give up 🙂

What is your business philosophy? To serve those most in need

What inspires you? The women we work with who are overcoming all odds and rebuilding the lives of their families.

If you could tell 16-year-old you anything, what would you say? You are capable of so much more than you know or could dream. Because they are!

What is your proudest career accomplishment? Transforming the lives of 600 women and building a new retail model that harnesses market forces to meet their needs.

What did you learn from your best boss or mentor? The most important journey is not the work you do but who you become.

What was your first summer job? Tribune Broadcasting in D.C.

What do you love about your community? The way they give to others

What is your fondest Park Cities or Preston Hollow memory? Being awarded the Emerging Leader Award from SMU.

Where will we find you enjoying your hard-earned time off? At the pool with my boys: George Baxter Laith Underwood, 3, and William Henri Colson Underwood, 1 1/2.

What do you want your last meal to be? Fasting and praying.

What is your favorite color? Green

What fictional world or place would you like to visit? Narnia

If you could be on a reality TV show, which one would you choose? Shark Tank – for obvious reasons.

What would your superpower be? Wiggle my nose and suddenly be anywhere in the world

Bianca R. Montes

Bianca Montes is an award-winning journalist and former Managing Editor of Park Cities People. She currently serves as a Senior Editor with D Magazine's D CEO publication. You can reach her by email at Bianca.Montes@Dmagazine or follow her on Instagram @Bianca_TBD. For the latest news, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

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