Meet Cherisse Wilks

Tuesday November 17, 2020 comments Tags: Budgets, CNRG Accounting Advisory, Chyla Graham, Development, Nonprofit, Training, Grants

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Chyla Graham (00:00):

Hi, it's Chyla Graham CNRG Accounting Advisory. Welcome to another episode of the Nonprofit Nuggets Podcast. This interview series will be with Cherrise Wilks. Her bio is Cherrise is a giver of information, guidance, counsel, and mercy, with a mission to serve others, to meet their sushi goals and find the resources they need. She's an experienced administrator with over 18 years in federal state, local government and nonprofit sectors. Ms. Wilks recently served as an emergency manager slash community development specialist, and formally as a hazard mitigation grant specialist for the US Department of Homeland Security, her firm has been successful in securing more than 77 million and managing 300 million in federal state and private grant contracts, loan tax credits, and sponsorships. Additionally, Ms. Wilks has directly managed local government budgets of 40 million in general operating funds and identified over 5.7 million local government operational costs. Ms. Wilks holds a BS in Family, Child and and Consumer Sciences from Florida State University and a Masters of Public Administration from the University of North Florida and professional credentials in community real estate development, contract management and grants management. Are you excited for our conversation?

Chyla Graham (01:31):

Hi Cherrise how are you?

Cherrise Wilks (01:33):

I'm doing good. How are you?

Chyla Graham (01:35):

I am good. So we are with, hold on. So I realized I did not ask you, how do you say your company name now?

Cherrise Wilks (01:44):

Affinity Consulting Group NEFL, LLC. Afffinity Consulting Group NEFL, NEFL cause most people don't know it means Northeast Florida, but that's fine.

Chyla Graham (01:56):

Okay. We are with Cherrise Wilks Affinity Consulting Group NEFL, right? Correct

Cherrise Wilks (02:05):

Doing business as Affinity Consulting Group.

Chyla Graham (02:09):

Okay. So what I would love to start off our episodes with is what are you celebrating? So it could be something from the last week, the last year, anything that you're like, yo, I really I'm really trying to celebrate that.

Cherrise Wilks (02:25):

Um, let's see. Currently what I'm celebrating is coming off of a weekend of having rest and sleep and fun with, um, a friend and, uh, yeah, I was had a lot of fun this weekend outside of that, uh, business related. Um, we have actually worked with one of our government clients and, um, got some tentative, good news last week that we will get our largest, uh, grant award ever. So we're just kinda waiting on the official paperwork, uh, before making that announcement. So yeah, that was some, a good way to end the week.

Chyla Graham (03:02):

Oh, yay. People more about the, about yourself. Like how could they connect with you? So if people are listening, where do you want them to find you?

Cherrise Wilks (03:14):

Okay. So, um, my name is Cherrise Wilks. I am the President and CEO of Affinity Consulting Group, uh, Northeast Florida NEFL. I own a women and minority owned management consulting firm of 10 years. We pretty much help, uh, governments, businesses and nonprofits who lack proper organizational structure and help them achieve multiple revenue streams for their programs and their projects. We assist them with research, analytics, development of plan planning documents, as well as helping them secure public and private funding. Um, we develop, uh, disaster recovery plans for those institutes as well. And we found that a lot of our clients were also having some problems managing any funding that we were able to help them get in. So we also do the project management for them as well on the backend. Um, our clients have seen an increase in profits. Uh, they have secured, uh, or really reclaim their time, uh, and they get to continue to, uh, operate in their zone of genius for their own clients by hiring us.

Cherrise Wilks (04:25):

So, um, that's kind of a quick little elevator pitch for the company. Um, we currently have a couple of government contracts and we're working on doing more training for businesses and nonprofits to make sure that they're poised to have, um, their ducks in a row and their paperwork in order and their organization's structure properly so that they can secure additional revenues, which are currently needed in our current recession with COVID-19. So, um, please definitely follow us. Um, we also have an educational arm that we're launching called the photocopiers and that educational arm is going to be a, um, Academy where we're putting what I'm bringing my friends, uh, colleagues basically experts in their own fields to come and basically teach classes on everything from business credit, to securing funding for a series, a seed funding for businesses to us talking about working capital, um, access to capital the whole nine yards.

Cherrise Wilks (05:30):

It's basically gonna be everything about funding. Um, we want to be able to teach other people the things that we have learned as experts, um, as women, as people of color, and then make sure that other individuals are able to access the same services and the same, um, funding that we have been successful in securing. So, um, we're launching that in the fall as well with those classes and we're getting kicked off with a few of them already. I've teaching some classes for some entities recently, but you can follow us at, uh, on Instagram at the fund finders. So that's the fund finders with S and then also follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn at Affinity Consulting Group. Or you can find us with the short handle @ACFLCO.

Chyla Graham (06:21):

All right. Thank you. Get into this work though.

Cherrise Wilks (06:26):

How did I get into this work? So, um, I'll try to shorten up the story, but essentially, um, affinity was born from a series of three dreams that I started having back in grad school. Um, in 2006, I told a classmate about it, um, kept having the same reoccurring dream about creating a business, starting out with grants, and then it wasn't going to grow into this consulting firm. And then I was going to be able to hire staff. I had never ran a business, not officially. I've done like babysitting and kind of did some side hustles when I was a kid, but that was about it, um, was in grad school. I was, uh, getting my masters in public administration. My career path at that time was to become a city manager. So I was climbing up the ladders through, uh, state and local governments.

Cherrise Wilks (07:20):

Um, this dream just kept coming. I didn't do anything with it besides till my classmates. Um, and then even within, uh, working for local governments, I had, uh, one of the mayor staff members, cheif of staff come to me while I was working in the finance department, um, over in Jacksonville, Florida. Um, she came and basically said, Hey, we'd like for you to create a centralized grants office for the entire city. Um, if anyone knows Jacksonville's consolidated city County. So that is a huge undertaking. I looked at her and started laughing and I told her I had no clue how to write grants. I had no clue how to run an office of that size. They picked the wrong person. She basically told me that she felt that I could do it. So it's kind of like, how do you say no to the mayor? So I went ahead and did it, and that kind of sparked my career with being able to combine my strengths, which are strategic planning, um, with my love of finance and money and, um, tap into my unknown, uh, skill with, um, writing proposal, writing, grant writing, um, utilizing that with my ability to just bring people into the room and get them together to create win-win solutions.

Cherrise Wilks (08:39):

So, yeah, I've just kind of basically ran with this with my career. So.

Chyla Graham (08:44):

Was that too short? Were you looking for more head over to our website to hear the full episode. Otherwise you'll get weekly doses of our conversation. Talk to you next week. Bye.

 

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