Welcome to M2057’s Spotlight Series: In Her Own Words, which features dynamic, stylish, and powerful women who inspire us.
This month, we chatted with Desiree Ralls-Morrison.
Desiree is General Counsel at McDonalds, a role she stepped into earlier this year after 23 years as an in-house lawyer in the healthcare space. She also founded The New Commonwealth Fund in Boston last year following George Floyd’s murder. Created with 18 other black executives, The New Commonwealth Fund’s mission is to increase philanthropic giving to nonprofits serving Black and Brown communities. Desiree is also on the board of Dick’s Sporting Goods and conducts community and philanthropic work with her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha. Outside of work and volunteering, Desiree loves to spend time with her family, especially her 21- and 23-year-old sons.
Special thanks to Sarah Kammerer for the beautiful photography for this spotlight!
IN HER WORDS…
ON CREATING A WORK/LIFE BALANCE: I have been fortunate enough to work at some great companies that allowed me the space to take care of both my professional and personal responsibilities. I also take care of myself, which is critically important for my stress management and sanity. Specifically, I work out every day and I do it first thing in the morning before I do anything else – no matter what time I have to get up to make it work.
CHALLENGES I’VE FACED: As a black woman, I have often been the only one that looks like me in the room or around the boardroom table. Obviously, this can be challenging at times for lots of different reasons. I try to remember a few things: I belong there and I earned it – it’s not a mistake or a fluke that I’m in the room or around that table. There’s a reason I’m there so I have to embrace and own that purpose. And, always do the right thing, which usually means I need to find the courage to leave things better than they were when I arrived. This often translates to making a positive impact for other black people, other women, working parents, wives, or any others who sometimes feel overwhelmed and/or overlooked.
WHAT I LOVE ABOUT BEING A WOMAN: Besides the clothes, shoes and handbags, I love our complexity and juxtaposition. I love that we are soft and hard at the same time. That we can be emotional and empathetic, but also tough and no-nonsense. I love that we can be mothers but also CEOs. This complexity and juxtaposition also represents our biggest challenge because sometimes people expect us to behave a certain way. We might be forced to choose one facet of who we are vs. another. Sometimes we’re judged based on what is perceived as appropriate behavior for women.
MY PERSONAL STYLE: Stylish, contemporary, and chic with a hint of edge. I will often mix and match casual and professional clothes. I might add something a little more edgy or sexy for a more casual look. I might also take something I’d wear to work but mix it with jeans or leather pants or joggers for going out. For work, I might wear a tunic with pants, and then pair it with high boots, tights, and a chunky belt for a more casual look when going out. This is another reason why I really love M2057 - I think the styles easily move from work to casual and I don’t need completely separate wardrobes.
MY FAVORITE FEATURES OF M2057 PIECES: I love everything about M2057. There’s nothing I don’t love. I love the look – the clothes are beautiful and Maria always pays extraordinary attention to detail. I love the quality of the clothing and how easy it is to care for the clothes – no dry cleaning or ironing. I love the fit – everything fits like it was made for me. I also love that you can mix and match pieces. For example, you can switch jackets or pants for a completely different look and you don’t have to worry about things like whether the black color will match or whether the color will be off. Choosing my favorite pieces is like having to pick out a favorite child. I love them all, but I do get a lot of use out of the Grace 2 jacket with the Rubi top. I bought that in every color! I feel like that’s the alternative to a zip-up sweatshirt. It’s comfortable like a sweatshirt, but so much more chic and put together. I also love the Sylvia pant. It is a dressed-up version of sweatpants or leggings. It feels the same in terms of comfort, but looks so much more sophisticated.
HOW I TAKE CARE OF MYSELF: Exercise – a jog, Peloton, strength training – and dark chocolate every day.
BEST ADVICE I’VE EVER RECEIVED: From my mom: “it’s never right to do wrong.”
WISDOM FOR MY YOUNGER SELF: Don’t work so hard – the journey is part of the experience and if you work too hard, you’ll miss it.