Exploring Life & Business with Diarra Warford of The Bailey Foundation
Today we’d like to introduce you to Diarra Warford. Them and their team share their story with us below:Diarra Warford has 10+ years of teaching Performing and Visual arts education. Life for Diarra from as far back as she could remember was seen through the lenses of creativity as an escape from childhood troubles and trauma. Even as a young adult struggling to make ends and living in the Salvation Army building in Downtown St. Louis Diarra has always believed that God blessed her with creativity as a way to process and foresee his vision; it gave her hope and it established her purpose. Diarra’s professional mission is to inspire and uplift the youth, to help them to identify their unique gifts and talents through the arts, and to help them paint a future that is not dictated by their past, instead, speaking to their hopeful future just as God always intended. Now, a former Owner/Director of DJDC Theatre of Performing arts, Diarra (also known as ‘Coach Dee’ to her proteges) has developed talents and skills that have proven to go far beyond the walls of her former center. She is a creator, a leader, and an innovator for the arts and education. Her resolute passion for faith, children and the arts will assure each student’s leadership, purpose, and success as they move toward their future. Mrs. Warford aka ‘Coach Dee’ has worked as a business executive for many up and coming performing arts-based companies including her own. Her mission to empower the youth through the lens of creativity has impacted the youth in and around St. Louis for years; Leading and organizing many community-focused events and fundraisers used to fund education and arts-based trips and provide enrichment for students from all over the St. Louis region and beyond. Now at only 27, Diarra is the Founder & Executive Director for The Bailey Foundation, a local non-profit providing resources, support, and educational empowerment to children and families around the community. Her organization is the first in the local region to partner with a company like Door Dash, Inc to provide services and economic opportunities to over 5k families per week. Alongside being a wonderful wife and mother to her two children, Diarra’s personal mission is to constitute an equitable society by transforming and co-producing the next generation of change agents.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The road has absolutely had its challenges (and still do). At 19, I began my journey of leading a company with over 500 youths and their families across St. Louis, Mo. and Nashville, Tn. planning and executing productions, events, and travel annually all while struggling in my own life to become stable. Going back to the Salvation Army building in Downtown Saint Louis each night after classes with no food and a mattress on the floor was always a humble reminder of why I needed to stay as close to God as possible. It was as if I knew for certain in those very moments, that it wasn’t in my own strength that I was producing and adding value to the lives of others.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
The Bailey Foundation creates opportunities for youth to become positive adults who impact the world in inspiring ways. We believe in creating a community that will encourage the power children hold, to guarantee they will mold future generations to come. We provide children and their families with educational programs, food and nutrition support, and leadership initiatives to ensure they have a strong healthy community to thrive in. We choose to be proactive in their development instead of reactive. Serving over 50 schools + community orgs, what makes The Bailey Foundation unique is our ability to make all our programs accessible to everyone. TBF is redefining and re-igniting what it means to be “community-engaged,” by restoring voices back to the community, inspiring more cultural unity, and educating the people in it all while fostering the development of our youth at the center.
What would you say have been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
The greatest leaders were even greater servants.
“Everybody can be great because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.” -MLK
- sponsor a week of meals for a child for $7
- Donate $20 to support the TBF +Door Dash, Inc community service and economic opportunities
- Adopt a family for a month for $40
- Sponsor a student for a month for $20