Joyette Holmes, Esq most recently was appointed to serve as the District Attorney within Cobb County, Ga. She became the first African American woman to serve in this capacity within Cobb County. Appointed by the governor at the time, Governor Kemp, Attorney Holmes was appointed to the Ahmad Aubrey investigation.
Holmes changed the stereotype of the everyday black woman. Conservative, Southern, and Black, Holmes gave a voice to a growing population of black women leaders. Holmes has since been replaced during the most recent election cycle as Georgia undoubtedly turned blue which enacted a change in her position. Holmes now serves as a diversity consultant, speaker, and author. Her goal is to give a voice to a growing group of black women.
We Empower Magazine got an exclusive interview with Joyette.
Tammy Reese: How was the experience as the DA in Cobb County, Georgia?
Joyette Holmes: My experience was an extremely fulfilling challenge. First, I describe it as a challenge, not for the obvious reasons of it being a difficult job of making decisions that change the trajectory of an individual’s life.
I say that because I served during a very divisive presidential election that likewise divided communities and local elections; during a time when decisions related to matters of life/death and the pursuit of happiness were being ridiculously made based on preference; and, during a worldwide pandemic.
I describe it as an extremely fulfilling challenge in that it was an experience that provided me with so many opportunities to serve in and out of the courthouse; to develop new policies that would pivot the in-office work environment to the virtual world; to partner with individuals and organizations to bring awareness to community needs and necessary changes; and, to develop new programs with a changing mindset towards the future of restorative justice and criminal justice reform. For such a time as I was able to serve as DA, I believe our team was able to get a lot done.
Tammy Reese: Who are some historical Black Figures that have inspired you during your career of public service?
Joyette Holmes: Justice Thurgood Marshall – He blazed a trail for young African-Americans with a dream of becoming a lawyer and judge despite the internal and external obstacles that may have otherwise prevented him from becoming the first the sit on the United States Supreme Court. Justice Leah Ward-Sears – When she was selected to serve as the Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, she would become the first female African-American to serve in that role in the United States.
Both of these individuals not only served the courts, but they both made sure that they served the greater community with grace and tremendous integrity. They reached back to other youth aspiring to be servant leaders in whatever field that they wanted to serve in.
Tammy Reese: When you think of the word Empowerment, what comes to mind?
Joyette Holmes: Empowerment to me is having people and/or experiences in your life that provide tools to help you achieve your mission and goals.
Tammy Reese: How do you use your voice to empower black women leaders?
Joyette Holmes: I try to be intentional in the direct conversations or indirect communications that I have with or around black women leaders. Mentorship and opportunities to empower others do not always come in the package of a one on one conversation. I have been empowered by other leaders who I consider my “mentors at a distance”.
Whenever they speak on a top or are presiding over a matter, I pay attention to the things that they say or do that yield results. For that reason, I understand that people are always paying attention to the things that I say and do as they seek to reach their next level.
As what I have described is a passive way of empowering others, I do
also seek opportunities to speak to young black ladies particularly about overcoming the internal struggles (ie, insecurity, doubt) of pushing past glass ceilings and floors in between.
Tammy Reese: Please tell us about the work that you do now as a diversity consultant?
Joyette Holmes: I do not know if I would consider myself a diversity consultant. I have been blessed to serve in several roles as the first woman and first African-American. That experience has led to opportunities to be particularly mindful when selecting new team members/leadership in the workplace or recruiting new partners for non-profit boards or advisory committees. Decisions made without a diversity of experiences that may come from perspectives of race, gender, sexual orientation, or otherwise, leads to a lasting policy that yields narrow-minded and often harmful results to groups not included.
Tammy Reese: What else are you currently working on?
Joyette Holmes: I am currently a Partner in the Corporate Litigation firm of Gregory Doyle Calhoun & Rogers. Our firm assists clients in realizing their business, individual, family, and community goals and needs.
The team at the firm is also committed to being community partners. My role allows me to be the point of contact for making internal and external connections to philanthropic opportunities where serving youth and criminal reform projects are a priority.
Tammy Reese: Any words of encouragement for our readers during these unprecedented times?
Joyette Holmes: Keep your faith and your family first! You cannot be effective in your careers and your service if you are not first committed to being healthy in mind, body, and spirit. These times have been filled with a lot of “can not”. Focus on the things you CAN do despite it all and through it all.
Keep up-to-date by connecting with Joyette on Instagram @joyetteholmesda