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Getting to know: Marian Parker Branch with Mending Fences and Stemtree Education Center


Title: CEO/executive director of educational services at Mending Fences LLC, Mending Fences II LLC and Stemtree Education Center. Mending Fences offers educational services in the Richmond area and provides one-to-one support in public schools to students with disabilities. Mending Fences II provides mental health skill-building support to families in the community. Stemtree Education Center focuses on science, technology, and engineering to aligns with an emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Born: Muskegon, Mich., 1971

Education: A bachelor’s degree in sociology, Grand Valley State University; master’s degree in education administration and supervision from University of Phoenix; currently pursing a doctorate in education with a specialization in educational policy, leadership and management.

Career: Mending Fences LLC, established in 2007; Mending Fences II LLC, established in 2017; Stemtree Education Center, established in 2019

Where in the metro area do you live?: Moseley

Best business decision: “Stepping away from a corporate job to become an entrepreneur and learning how to be a servant leader.”

Worst business decision: “Trying to bring individuals along with me who did not share my vision.”

Mistake you learned the most from: “Some of my biggest mistakes I learned early were not focusing on the company’s growth, choosing the wrong business partners, wearing multiple hats, and underestimating the number of financial obligations that come with owning your own business.”

What is the most significant challenge/opportunity in the next two to five years: “With COVID-19, we have faced some challenging times financially and internally with our fiscal structure. The biggest challenge would be to provide ongoing stability for the company and pivot our educational model to fit the community’s needs. We will need to change and adapt to meet the ever-changing needs to serve the population we serve. COVID-19 has also lead us to look at prospects to figure out how to thrive beyond the pandemic. The opportunity to improve our business model by working with other companies, adding alternative services, increasing our social media platform, and utilizing technology differently.”

First job after college: Working at an alternative school for boys

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently: “Starting my journey as an entrepreneur earlier and getting my Ph.D. earlier.”

Movie or book that inspired you the most, and why?: “Professional: I have been reading many of John Maxwell’s leadership books. He provides concrete, direct and insightful motivational words to craft you into becoming an exceptional leader. Personal: ‘How Exceptional Black Women Lead,’ by Avis A. Jones-DeWeever. This has been my blueprint to my success. This book is power, because it speaks directly to me regarding my dreams, aspirations and how to be a professional black women in the business arena.”

Favorite and least favorite subject in school: Favorite: history; Least favorite: math