Can you introduce yourself ma? Give us an insight into your background, please.
My name is Ogor Winnie Okoye. I am a mother to 5 beautiful children between the ages of 20 and 3. I am married to a truly beautiful man who has been in my life for the past 26 years. We have been married for 22 years. I am the principal attorney at BOS Legal, Group, LLC., a small sized boutique law firm located in Lynn, Massachusetts. My areas of specialty include, criminal defense, immigration defense, family law, divorces, and personal injury law. I immigrated from Nigeria to the United States almost 21 years ago after graduating with a law degree from the University of Nigeria. Upon arrival, I obtained a juris doctorate degree in law from Suffolk University School of Law and I have been in practice for over 16 years.
I am also the current chairperson of the Essex County Commission on the Status of Women. Essex county covers about 34 towns here in Massachusetts and the goal of the commission is to advance the causes of women while putting in place modalities that help women achieve full equity and equality within society. I am also on the board of multiple non-profit organizations within the Commonwealth.
I like to describe myself as a seeker/disruptor who is constantly on a quest to understand and explore topics ranging from spirituality, women empowerment, criminal justice reform, work/life balance, relationships, diversity, equity and inclusion in society and our work places, etc.
What was it like in Nigeria before you moved to the US?
I grew up in a middle-class and very catholic (thanks to my dad) home. Life was great. My parents expected nothing short of excellence from us and insisted that the virtue of kindness is paramount in all human interactions. I have 5 sisters and one brother, and we had a strict upbringing. I attended Queen’s School Enugu before pursuing law at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus.
How did you meet your husband?
Through my best friend, Uche.
What was the toughest decision you have ever had to make in your career?
I’m not sure I have one decision that I can designate as being the toughest, but I have gone through several that I considered tough. For instance, having three babies while in law school was tough; the decision to go back to law school in the United States and start afresh was tough; the decision to hang my own shingles (open up my solo practice) in a new country with no connections or mentors was a tough one as well but my husband’s business background provided the much-needed support. I also navigate several tough decisions daily in my role as a trial attorney; for instance, the decision to enter into a plea agreement or take a criminal matter to trial with the potential devastating repercussion upon a finding of guilt and the fact that clients can face potentially long prison sentences. Exposure to deportation upon conviction or a finding of removability is a tough one that I face with clients almost on a daily basis.
As a woman, do you think your profession is giving you all the opportunities to shine?
I love being an attorney and advocating for the needs of my clients. However, navigating these spaces as a black woman of color and an immigrant can sometimes an extremely tough terrain to navigate. Sexism and racism are a daily challenge that I manage to take on with courage and faith in my abilities as my twin superpowers. Some days I win, other days, the entrenched system that I am working to topple wins. The goal is to keep moving and organizing to change a status-quo that dehumanizes and oppresses others.
In the course of your professional or career mobility, did you experience any gender inferiority complex or intimidation?
No, I do not believe that I am wired to feel inferior, I am proud to be a black woman of Igbo descent and I am unafraid to take the space that rightfully belongs to me. As I alluded to in the previous answer, oftentimes, I experience insidious sexism and racism; though daunting and overwhelming at times, I cannot deterred. It’s a battle of the mind that can leave anyone battered, bruised and bloodied but my journey towards awakening and unleashing my victress has been tremendously helpful in nurturing the strong faith and confidence I have in my self and in my God-given abilities.
How do you combine being a Mother, and wife with your profession, as a career woman?
I must confess that It is not an easy balancing act at all. However, I feel that the passion and love that I have for my work drive me to balance these roles as best as I can. I am also reminded daily that I have a lot of people, young women, my children, and others who draw strength from my work and these propel me to just keep going. I’m still striving to achieve balance and do not have the formula and that is why I often insist in the NO “one size fits all” formula in all of life’s endeavors. Everyone would ultimately acquire their unique formula that awaits them once they begin their journey towards awakening and unleashing their victors/victresses.
What is your take on extra-marital affair and domestic violence as it affects the family and the society at large?
Extra marital affairs are the ultimate breach of trust but if the parties affected are willing to work it out, then, I applaud and encourage them to do so. There are no perfect relationships out there because there are no perfect humans. As for domestic violence, personally for me, it is a deal breaker. An abuser violates not only the physical body but the soul and essence of the victim and is likely to re-offend. I am not a fan of encouraging anyone to stay in an abusive relationship but if the parties believe they can work through it, hey, please, by all means, let them do what makes sense for them. Our society should always believe victims. Before a woman dares to report to another person, it is often the case that they have been battered beyond their breaking point. As a society we need to give women safe spaces to speak about these and stop forcing them to stay in abusive relationships simply to save face or because of a culture that insists that marriage is forever.
Looking back, what will you say has been your biggest achievement, biggest fears and your biggest challenges?
I have so many moments of pride and gratitude, but I am not sure if anyone of them can be described as “my biggest.” I am still working on my biggest achievement which for me would be living out the greatest expression of who the Almighty called me to be; giving every area of my life my absolute best, living a fully authentic and empowered life, staying centered and making “joy” my default setting no matter my external circumstances. I am working towards these goals daily and because there is no final destination, I intend to keep at it until that day when I’ll take my last breath.
My biggest fear would be the opposite, failing to live up to the greatest expression of who I was called to be. My biggest challenge is setting and meeting those little daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals that would help me attain these achievements due to the fact that my plate is often full.
Looking back at your growing up years, what would you say was one thing you could have done better or differently?
Being purposeful with relationships. Relationships require emotional maturity on both sides and neither money nor social status is a required ingredient.
What inspired you to put down your Thoughts and words of wisdoms into books published and have impacted so many lives positively. Can you share with us the names of the books authored by you?
My lived experience led me to the path of my spiritual journey when I began to ask myself some existential questions about my purpose in life. Living a life divorced from the answer to this kind of inquiry can lead to a lot of stress, dissatisfaction and ultimately despair and depression. I began searching and the answers led me to a place of centeredness, joy, peace, and love. I wanted to share the answers with the world as well. I also want to make it abundantly clear that this journey is never-ending and the tools shared in both books must be utilized on a daily basis in order to access our core of divinity/truth which ultimately gives us the benefits of the fruits of that divine spirit.
My book, Awaken and Unleash your Victor; Uncover the path to your magnificent Destiny is a spiritual guidebook that aims to help teach people how to awaken and unleash the divinity within themselves. This book is premised on the theory that as humans, we house two components in our vaults, (essence of our being, or our spirit/minds) a divine and a human component. A fixation on merely the human component of our vaults is the reason we suffer and go through immense suffering and pain in our lives. Once we awaken and unleash our victor/victresses, life begins to look a lot more balanced, more joyful, more passionate, more infused with love.
My second book, the Soul Compass Collection, is a collection of short prayers, affirmations and bite-sized wisdom capsules that can help anyone navigate every season of their lives. It provides empowering and inspirational tips for daily living. I also co-authored a third book, a guidebook for helping new business owners and entrepreneurs excel in their business endeavors titled, “The Success Guide for the Unstoppable Entrepreneurs.”
What advice do you have for young people who are seeking to be like you?
I would say to them, please do not strive to be like me. Strive rather to be the greatest version of whom you were called to be by the Almighty. We are each gifted by the Universe with talents and strengths that are unique to only us. Our goal is to discover those and utilize them in blessing ourselves and positively impacting our world.
If destiny permits you to become the president of Nigeria, what would you do differently to fix Nigeria?
Overhauling the current constitution and re-convening the different stake holder in our very diverse nation with the singular goal of drafting a constitution that is reflective of our collective goals as a diverse nation; a constitution truly steeped in equality and justice for all and one that guarantees that leaders are truly held accountable by their constituents should they run afoul of its provisions. Of course, many women would be a part of my administration because of my recognition that women are truly a strong force for good in every society and that any nation that empowers its women are guaranteeing a strong foundation for its present and future generations.
Finally, I would make sure that the current curriculum in school from nursery school to the university would have a lesson on black history, pride, and identity. I think that colonial mentality has hurt us more than it had enriched us. Africa needs to understand and acknowledge that the history of the world was skewed to place us in a permanent place of inferiority when the truth is that we were the cradle of civilization and had strong and vibrant economies and kingdoms before the so-called advent of colonization.
As Nigerians, we are often extremely educated but that education never seemed to have empowered us to become independent thinkers rather, we end up as copycats of the western culture and the entire school curriculum seem to have indoctrinated us into a culture that is alien to our needs and reality. I would constitute a panel to overhaul and re-write the school curriculum to expose the incredibly strong, powerful and thinking people we were prior to our so-called colonization. This would be a pivotal move towards re-wiring our mindset towards self-acceptance and love. These inevitably will foster patriotism amongst its citizens.
What’s your driving force that fuels your life journey and your never to give up mentality?
I have a fervent faith in myself and my God-given ability. I tap into that faith to stay resilient, joyful and centered. Whenever I become disconnected, every part of my life is thrown into turmoil and so I strive to always be connected to my source.
What’s your advice for the married women especially professional women, yes, career women, who allow their achievements to get into their heads and make them abandon their domestic responsibilities in their homes and some of them become very hostile to their husbands?
Domestic responsibilities should not be solely for women. Each marriage would need to evaluate what roles each party would assume to help all parties stay stress-free and be able to seamlessly step up into their other designated roles. Burnt out women rarely make good mothers, employee, or companion and that’s why its essential that these traditional roles are revisited and its boundaries, redrawn.
A man who professes love for his wife should be able to help her out as most women navigating both professional and traditional domestic responsibilities are rightfully angry, overworked, and tired. The same should apply to the woman as well. The goal is for a partnership that is steeped in equity, one that works and not one that is unduly burdensome on one person.
I think It is too much responsibility for one person to wear that differ hats of provider, mother, caregiver, cook, cleaner and also be employed outside of the home. Becoming resentful and hostile in such a setting is inevitable and so the husbands need to reassess their responsibilities in these kinds of settings. If you are a husband with a hostile wife and her hostility stem from these kinds of complaints, you are the problem and I’m sorry for being the bearer of bad news.
What is the secret of your youthful look despite your very busy life?
Awww. . . That is really nice of you to say. Thank you. I think my youthful looks might be a result of my innate ability to forget adverse experiences. I have a box that I put these in and throw away the keys. I think it’s my way of surviving. It’s really bad. Literally, I can forget that someone did me dirty until another person reminds me that this individual that I’m lavishing with praise did A or B to me in the past. I think this also stem from my belief that no action goes unrewarded and that the Universe never needs my help in sending out both good and bad karmas. My job is to let the Universe handle its business “for every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” It might not be the greatest attribute in the world to have as your past experiences should influence your future courses of action, but it is an attribute that has served me well. A forgetful mind is a happy mind, and a happy mind gives one a youthful look, I guess. I also like to get in my exercise. I am not sure if there’s a correlation between that and a youthful look, but I love the endorphins and that amazing high that follows a real cardio workout.
Any final words for our readers?
Go get a copy of my books from Amazon or dm me on fb for a personalized copy.
Invest in yourself because once you learn the skills to navigate life’s multiple curve balls, life becomes more effortless and joyful. Remember that problems are a part of life and will never stop coming your way, but you’re better able to accept and assess them differently from a place of centeredness. Life always conspires for you and never against you. The Almighty allowed that (problem) to come your way and so, it can’t be that bad.
Never ever forget that you are a bonafide badass, as the maker of this universe does not thrive in mediocrity and so the world is waiting for you to unleash that victress/victor that lies beneath all the layers of grime and dust.
Let’s begin that journey today. I am rooting for you. Life in high definition is possible but requires a lot of work. See you soon on the bright side.