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Black Business Expo Speaker Shares Strategy For Success

Black Girls Golf

As an African American woman in corporate America, Tiffany Mack Fitzgerald says there were certain things she came to expect.

"One of the things I didn't expect was that people wouldn't know my name and that I would be referred to as 'the black girl in marketing,'" Fitzgerald says.

Fitzgerald worked in marketing and PR in the Quad Cities before transitioning to a role in government affairs in the Genesis Health System. She says she needed a way to better relate to her coworkers, who were mostly white men.

"It was learning about how to build relationships that were based on who I am as a person and not what I look like to you," Fitzgerald says. "That's one of the things I used golf for."

Fitzgerald started golfing with her colleagues and says having something in common with them outside of work leveled the playing the field at the office.

In 2013, she founded Black Girls Golf to introduce other women of color to the sport.

"I started playing golf probably more than 20 years ago but it was something I wasn't getting good at because there weren't other women for me to play with; I didn't always want to be on the golf course with men," Fitzgerald says. "So I started Black Girls Golf because I wanted to create a more comfortable, friendly, welcoming place for women to be able to learn, practice and play."

Fitzgerald moved to Atlanta a few years ago, but is back in town this weekend to be the keynote speaker at the Black Business Expo presented by the QC Empowerment Network and Augustana's Center for Inclusive Leadership and Equity.

Dr. Christopher Whitt is the center's director.

"It's so important to showcase black businesses and to bring them together because far too often, they're left to the side, they're marginalized, they're forgotten about; the support just isn't there," Whitt says. "This is one of the ways that these business owners can find out that they're not in this on their own, that there are other people who are trying to embody that entrepreneurial spirit and start businesses and build businesses."

There will be representatives from more than 40 black-owned businesses from around the Quad Cities, as well as resources for people with businesses. There will also be a youth business pitch contest modeled after the television "Sharktank" with students from Rock Island High School's business incubator program.

The expo is free and open to the public on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Gerber Center on the Augustana College campus.