BY: DELLIA RISMAY
Kimberlee Shelley-Ajibolade is many things: an author, a wife, a paralegal, an HR professional, a minister, and an online TV personality. Despite juggling all these hats, she ensures she makes time to give back to her community, especially young women.
Born in Jamaica, Kimberlee was raised by her mother until she was in her early teens. When she was 14, she moved to Canada with her father. She credits her grounded nature to her parents instilling Christian values in her from an early age. They also taught her the value of education, as well as the importance of giving back.
Kimberlee’s mother did this by leading by example. Watching her mother do things like often donating her time towards her church’s food bank drives or simply being there for a friend or family member in need is a big source of inspiration for Kimberlee. “She’s so passionate about it, she’s just a selfless person. Just doing so much for so many people and not expecting anything back in return,” she says.
Today, Kimberlee can be found in several initiatives in her community. In 2017, she was chosen as Brampton’s Queen Ambassador of the Black Canadian Queens Program, which celebrates the abilities, characters, and strength of young black women. To be crowned an ambassador, participants must meet several criteria, such as successfully completing a community and leadership task, as well as a publicity task. Kimberlee is using her platform as a Queen Ambassador to reach out to other women.
Just in time for Mother’s Day, Kimberlee hosted a drive called “Celebrate HER”, which aimed to helped single mothers who were living at a shelter, some of which were the victims of abuse. The women received beauty and personal care products, as well as a short motivational speech from Kimberlee.
Kimberlee also helps those in her community by doing pro bono paralegal work. She attended Humber College where she was a student in the paralegal education program. Her love of advocating for those who needed a voice inspired her to become a paralegal, however, the costs of opening her own practice were too much for her to handle as a new graduate. So, she went on to work in an administrativerole at a head office of a security guard company, which eventually led to a job in HR/administration.
“Based on my interest and aptitude of the role, it became more HR/admin. So, I began to do more of the screening,” she says. She is now a branch manager of a recruitment firm called Universal Staffing, where, at age 27, she was the youngest branch manager in the company’s history. Though her day job is to help those in her community find good, meaningful careers, in her spare time, Kimberlee offers advice to those looking for guidance with issues like landlord and tenant disputes. “I am passionate about advocacy,” Kimberlee says.
As part of her continued quest to uplift others, Kimberlee co-authored a book in February of this year called “Designer’s Original—A Woman’s Guide to Understanding Her Self-Worth and Identity in God”. “It’s by no means a devotional, but we do take it from a biblical aspectbecause we believe that the Bibledoes such a great job of reassuring us of who we are […] We’re trying to be a better version of ourselves. The only person we’re comparing to is who we were yesterday,” Kimberlee explains.
In the book, which features stories about life experiences from multiple authors, Kimberlee describes overcoming her own challenges with struggling to accept parts of her own life story. “For me, I talk about growing up in the inner city and how I didn’t want people to know that,” she says. “In my chapter, I talk about how over time, we have to learn to accept what our truth is and find a good way to sell that, so it is a truth we can be proud of. We can’t go back in time, but we can determine how we move forward,” she says. Now, Kimberlee stands tall when it comes to her past, and helps others who may be in a similar situation.
Her determination to give back and support her community has earned Kimberlee several awards. In addition to being an ambassador for the Black Canadian Queens Program, she was also recognized as a Woman of Inspiration by Soulful Image Magazine, was named “Woman On Fire-Community Activist Award Winner” earlier this year, and, on June 20th, she will receive an award for being one of Brampton’s top 40 under 40 for 2018.
So, what’s coming up on the horizon for Kimberlee? Perhaps a career in politics. “I hope to continue the philanthropy in a bigger and better way. To start my foundation, and hopefully run for office,” she says. Wherever life takes her, it’s clear she will continue to be an advocate in her community for a long time.