( ENSPIRE She Did That ) Mary Parker Is Hosting For The Praise In The A Event
ENSPIRE Contributor: Gabrielle Maya
Mary Parker is a woman who has accomplished so much in the past thirty years. From being an inspirational speaker, author, philanthropist, and entrepreneur, she is a trailblazer who brings history to the making. Parker’s childhood with Mississippi sharecroppers, now a career woman who is the President and CEO of the first and most significant African-American and woman-owned security services in the United States. All N One Security has grown with over 800 employees. Parker lives by the principle: “If It Is To Be, It Is Up To Me,” she intends to walk through life one event at a time, whether good or bad.
Through her commitment, curiosity, courage, and vision, she established a nonprofit called The Mary Parker Foundation, which was launched in 2011. This organization has provided educational and leadership resources. Parker’s contributions through her foundation include giving 4,000 backpacks and school supplies to the SouthWest Atlanta community and $60,000 in scholarships. Parker invests in under-resourced people and fosters prosperity and well-being through different programs and business alliances. She also offers support to motherless daughters and Children of Incarcerated Parents organizations.
In 2019, Parker opened Junction 2800, a multipurpose community center, to create and host programs to support the SouthWest Atlanta community. In addition, she implemented a Virtual Summer Camp for Visionaries that served homebound children during COVID-19. According to 11Alive, Parker said, “That’s what we’re doing at Junction 2800, we are creating a hub, a hub for opportunities for southwest Atlanta but also for other surrounding communities to stop and gain access to the resources that we’re bringing to that particular community.”
Parker discusses her life story, including how she pursued entrepreneurship in the security industry, the creation of All N One Security, advice on entrepreneurship, Junction 2800, the future goals of the Mary Parker Foundation, and more!
Tell us about your story; how did you suddenly go from a Mississippi life to pursuing entrepreneurship in the security industry?
There is no short answer to this question. Please allow me to take you on a 40-year journey. It wasn’t a sudden move; it was well-calculated by my parents. I’m the second oldest of nine children to my sharecropping parents on a plantation in rural Mississippi. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I was the rebel of the family and didn’t have a great relationship with my father. His state of depression and oppression, which I didn’t understand at the time, led him to physically abuse my mom and me. It wasn’t until September 17, 1973, that we had our first conversation as adults – that was the night before he died! I am convinced that it was God’s plan for the conversation that night. It was great for me because he said I love you to me for the first time. For Dad, he needed the conversation.
Now, I told you the move from Mississippi to Michigan was calculated – I always wanted to live with my Uncle Homer and Aunt Mae! They didn’t have children then, and it was my only opportunity to be an only child, not stuck between what appeared to be two perfect sisters. Hence, moving with my aunt and uncle allowed me to be accessible to dream, make decisions, and be myself: curious, bold, courageous, and independent. They were both there to guide/advise me of the opportunity to apply for a manufacturing position at one of the automotive facilities. I quickly applied for the position and got the job.
It started as a summer position that would later set me up for the security position. After several years of climbing from Security Officer to Security Director, I was demoted without cause. This was my AHA moment; GO! – follow my dreams, reach for my destiny, and trust God‘s plan. I chose to step out on faith, left the company, and moved to Atlanta in 1992. Several months after arriving, I started the first security company with a partner and remained there until 2000. ALL N ONE Security was birthed in January 2001, becoming the first woman in United States history to own a full-service security firm. Most people look at security companies as guarding services only. The difference in our company is we provide much more than just security guarding; we also offer consultation, Training, design, and installation of Command Centers, security, surveillance, access control systems, Executive Protection, traffic control solutions, and Cyber Security. We proudly boast that Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport is one of our clients. What company wouldn’t be proud to boast of the world’s largest and busiest airport as their client? Entrepreneurialism hit my bloodstream at age four while assisting my grandfather with his thriving moonshine business.
At age seven, I recognized that a successful career was not the answer for me. I wanted to own my own business! I saw and realized the difference between being a black female and a white man; it’s two different worlds. This awareness created a highly competitive spirit within me. It caused me to set my sights on the pathways and industries they chose; security was one of those industries. It remains one of those best-kept industry secrets. In the late 80s, it was a multi-billion dollar industry. You can only imagine the increase in market shares since 9/11. Which, by the way, occurred only nine months after the birth of ALL N ONE Security.
The industry now reports a market share of approximately $50B by the end of 2027, just three years away. Cyber security, on the other hand, will write roughly $118B by 2028. This remains an industry where blacks and women are making very little progress, even today. My advice to them is this: as an entrepreneur, you must keep an eye on trends, follow the money, and know who’s buying what you’re, when they purchase, and if you can compete.
How did you get the idea of ALL N ONE Security?
When I left the partnership, at one point, I believed I only knew security – that was the farthest from being true. Yes, I did know security, but I only viewed it from working in the business and not on it. At the time, my mindset was that of an employee, not an employer or CEO. With that, I immediately became focused on keeping the main thing the main thing: operating the company with systems and processes, repeatable and reliable solutions, and trusting God every step of the way.
That’s how the name ALL N ONE Security came about. While committing the business to the Lord in prayer, I asked him to show me his plan for the business. Since this was a second chance for me, I asked God to give me the name of the company, its mission, its purpose, to send employees, its clients, His wisdom, and finances to grow the company according to his plan and not my own. On January 29, 2001, the journey of all in one began with leaders, the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, all in one, and myself. That was the favorite team. Today, all in One has over 800 employees, providing security services to augment the Secret Service on presidential details, Super Bowls, entertainment, education, and training.
This journey to explore Southwest Atlanta was introduced early after relocating to Atlanta. Few blacks convene for specific discussions about causes that impacted the black community in Grand Rapids—being introduced to a community filled with Black people leading initiatives that do impact black communities. Sweet, I thought at the time! What I’ve learned since arriving here in 1992 is that Southwest Atlanta still has not changed much as the needs such as being unmet, quality food, deserts of all kinds, health, deficiencies, education, entrepreneurism, social partnerships, economic impact, financial resources, and leadership to help empower underserved communities. I believe when one starts something good, others will follow.
When this interview started, I said to whom much is given, much is required. I repeat this because God has blessed many of us with financial resources, influence, Faith, and the ability to show others the way. God told us to use what he has given us in our hands. He says when we use it and trust Him, He will direct our paths.
You are well known for your philanthropic work and help towards the SouthWest Atlanta community. What advice do you give those who want to become entrepreneurs and help their communities?
My advice to those wanting to become entrepreneurs is to know yourself first. Do you believe in powers higher than your own, lead with your core values, determine what you’re working with, what you’re selling, how the services and products will impact the community, are you focused and committed, practice patience and consistency, and be intentional about what you offer.
The entrepreneurial programs. It’s always a great day at Junction 2800! This has been a great year of planning while launching programs and workshops, such as:
1. Community Conversations have been consistent monthly with different topics of interest to the community.
2. I completed revising my book, The Chick in Charge, which goes on sale later this month.
3. I renewed the annual lease agreement with Invest Atlanta.
4. Secured five new partnership agreements with other nonprofits and corporations.
5. Several other agreements in negotiations with the Empire Realty board, healthcare, and financial service providers.
6. developed a series of business and leadership workshops to begin January ‘24: financial literacy, senior insurance providers, Medicare, access to capital, FACS for entrepreneurs behind the scenes is a series of courses, workshops, and coaching based on lessons learned, best practices, and tools for scaling businesses, relationship building, networking, self-care from a mental health perspective, life-work balance, technology specifically, addressing cyber security, and artificial intelligence and its impact on the economy, community, businesses, and future-forward leaders.
COVID-19: Tell us about the entrepreneurship programs in Junction 2800
COVID-19 taught us a lot – about a lot of things. In this case, it showed us how vulnerable we were and remain today as a community regarding technology and other resources. Camp for visionaries offered the opportunity to see the problems as they existed to create a solution. Our solution was to conduct the camp online despite the challenges, especially technology. The highlight of MPF’s first virtual camp was implementing an LMS (learning management system), enabling us to conduct the first virtual camp for students ages 8-17.
These students were grouped by age, where they enjoyed four hours daily, four days per week, participating in morning mindful moments, healthy eating and cooking, arts and crafts, content development, gardening, and technology. Two of our students nurtured the tomato plants we provided them. Parents picked up the plants and other items from our office for their children’s weekly activities. They prepared for weekly projects at home, attended the plants, and presented the various growth stages online during classes. Sisters Halen and Kaylen Tony’s plants are featured on our website, mpfatl.org.
The Mary Parker Foundation has provided so much to the SouthWest Atlanta community. Are there any future goals to expand assistance throughout Atlanta, even in other states?
Yes, MPF continues to provide access to resources for Southwest Atlanta citizens, where the “underserved community” condition is an ” understatement” and is “unacceptable.” I am committed, along with my team and others, to being a part of the change we and this community want to see. ONE COMMUNITY AT A TIME~
You presented for the praise in the A. event: tell us more about the event and what audiences experienced.
PRAISE IN THE A was a phenomenal experience. The vision was to provide a worshiping and praise atmosphere where attendees could freely praise and worship for two hours without interruption. One participant attended the entire nine days. Her testimony was that she got what she came for; she praised her way through the storm she faced with her son. Others testified that it was one of the greatest worship experiences ever, with lyrics to songs displayed on a giant LED wall. Mime dancers performed with praise that set the audience on fire! Pastor Ron Kenoly, Pastor Dawn, JoJo, Martin, Dominque, church praise teams, and other worship leaders also engaged attendees with their unique praise and worship styles.
You live by your principle: “IF IT IS TO BE, IT IS UP TO ME.” How do you apply this to your personal and professional life?
This principle is across the board; it is all or none! Knowing when to say it/or I’m not OK is OK, knowing when to say NO and mean it. You do not have to say YES to everything every time! When you DO say yes, know that IF IT IS TO BE, IT IS UP TO ME – let those ten two-letter words fuel your superpowers.
Her goal for the Mary Parker Foundation is to create state-of-the-art classrooms, lounges for students and faculty, and a reliable resource for prospective students and educators all about innovation and collaboration. This campus aims to help workforce development, aimed at students working with partners to provide training, certification, employment staffing, tech support, and more, and it is continuing to do so. In recent news, Mary Parker hosted the Praise in the A event, held from November 3rd to the 11th, with pastor Ron Kenoly.
You can follow Mary Parker on Instagram to keep up with events and her philanthropy work. Go to The Mary Parker Foundation to see their mission and what they do to give back to the community. Get access to the Praise in the A event here. Explore All-in-One Security and its services.