Video / Women on a MISSION

Peace Through Business is the MISSION of This Woman on a Mission

In this Video, Terry Neese, founder of the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women, describes the 2009 Peace through Business program.

Interview with Terry Neese, founder of the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do professionally.
I have been called a serial entrepreneur since I have founded several businesses. My current role is Founder & CEO of a non-profit called the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women, where I work with women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda. My first business was and is Terry Neese Personnel Services, which has been in business over 30 years. We have found jobs for over 25,000 people and generated billions of dollars in payroll for our community and state.  In addition, I have been involved in the women business owner community at the national level since 1988.  I have served as president of the National Association of Women Business Owners, founded Women Impacting Public Policy, as well as IEEW. I also serve as a distinguished fellow for the National Center for Policy Analysis and work extensively in Washington, D.C. I am a pilot and love to fly small aircraft.  I am also married to my number one supporter, Earl Neese and my daughter, Kim Neese is now President of Terry Neese Personnel Services.  I am excited to see what the next few years brings for my two granddaughters.

2. What do you enjoy most about your “calling” and why did you choose it in the first place? 
Enjoyment for me is educating and mentoring with other small business owners.  When they learn something new, to be able to see that light bulb come on in their head is a thrill for me.  Sometimes our profession isn’t chosen, we are chosen for our profession.  I feel like that is what happened to me.  I never planned to work with women business owners around the world.  My work with women in Afghanistan and Rwanda was not a choice; I was destined to work in these war-torn countries.
3. Tell us about the organizations your company supports and why? 
I have personally seen and felt the reward of philanthropy as I have given my time, talent and treasure to several organizations.  The first of which was the National Association of Women Business Owners.  I support this group because they encourage women business owners to network, to continue to be educated and to pay forward their experiences.  I support Women Impacting Public Policy, because the organization encourages women to be involved in policy. My mantra is that if you are not involved in politics, then politics will run or destroy your business.  I support the March of Dimes and have for many, many years, even before my granddaughter was born with a major birth defect. I support the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women because we are building bridges to women in war-torn countries and teaching these women to be self-sufficient and to pay their knowledge forward to others in their country.  I believe if you teach people to fish; they will feed their family and their village or province. 

4. What is the biggest risk you ever took professionally and/or the biggest obstacle you have overcome? 
I would have to say starting my first business in the ’70s.  I had no money, not much talent, very little experience at 21 years of age, but I had lots of determination and passion.  I overcame major highway construction that closed down access to my firm for over two years, a devastating fire that destroyed everything I had, and a major oil and gas recession in the ’80s.  There is more, but you get the picture.  Despite these obstacles, we managed to increase revenues every year during these roadblocks and built the firm exponentially during each trauma.  

5.  From where do you draw inspiration? Who have been your role models, mentors, etc?
Sadly, there were no women business owner role models or mentors in the ’70s and ’80s.  So I drew and continue to draw inspiration from God, my husband and my mom. 

6. How is the current economic situation affecting your company/organization? 
Only to the point I allow it to affect me.  I listen to the negatives, and then try very hard to forget it and move on.  You can do anything you want to do – doesn’t matter if there is a recession going on or not!

7. What one thing would you like to learn this year? 
I want to know more about war-torn countries and how they have turned their countries around.  I want to be more steeped in policy and spend time with policy gurus.

8. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?  
I would like to see our PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS program operate in several countries instead of two.  Also, help craft legislation that has positive impacts on small business.
9. What do you do for fun/relaxation/entertainment? 
Spend time with my husband and grandchildren.  I love the beach, so getting to our place on the water is one of my goals … OFTEN!

10. Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?  
Whatever you want in life:  GO FOR IT.  Life is short – find your passion and GO FOR IT.  You can do it.   I grew up on a farm in southwest Oklahoma with no running water and an outdoor toilet.  My parents couldn’t afford to send me to college.  The rest is history.  I am blessed to be doing what I am doing today and living the life I live.

11. Which,  social networking sites do you belong to?
You can learn more about the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women at the  IIEEW Web site:

Be sure to leave your comments for Terry and let her know your thoughts about this exceptional program! And if you know of a woman on a mission, please send her to We’d love to share HER (or YOUR) story with the world!

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