Sandra Richards

*Sandra Richards has spent her entire professional life committed to empowering other people’s lives. As the Executive Director and Head of Diverse and Multicultural Marketing, Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley, she plays a key leadership role in creating opportunities for Morgan Stanley wealth advisors to build bridges with underserved communities.

As she calls it, her job is about curating programs that engage the under tapped wealth in diverse and multicultural markets. The New York native is also a former executive at the Jackie Robinson Foundation, where she was responsible for procuring major fund raising initiatives that significantly grew that organization’s annual programming.

With her first children’s book, “Rice & Rocks,” the American born daughter of Jamaican immigrant parents, has fulfilled a lifelong passion for storytelling with a project that she hopes will delivers a message of the importance of cultural diversity. The book tells the story of young boy who is embarrassed by his family’s tradition of eating rice and beans. But then his favorite Auntie comes to the rescue, who along with his pet parrot, takes him on a magical journey across the globe, visiting places where people eat different versions of rice and rocks thus revealing the similarities that links us all together.

Robertson Treatment recently sat down with the budding author to talk about the value of cultural heritage and the importance of people embracing their differences.

Robertson Treatment: You are a busy executive on Wall St., what motivated you to write?

Sandra Richards: There is a quote that I read a few years ago by Maya Angelou, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” This quote touched me very deeply, and the profound feeling came over me at a time when my family had suffered an unexpected and heartbreaking loss.  In 2007, we lost my nephew Giovanni to meningitis. He was only 8 years old. No matter what I did during my busy ‘day job’, I spent many nights filled with the void of him – missing my loving, sweet nephew.  I was trying to figure out a way to honor him in a way that was natural to me and that was by storytelling.  Giovanni and I shared many moments together, and had many conversations.  One of our many conversations led to the title of the new children’s picture book, “Rice& Rocks”(Wise Ink Creative Publishing, August 2016, $17.99 U.S.).

RT: Why is this particular story so important to you?

SR: I think it is important for kids to learn about their cultural heritage.  My parents did an amazing job of infusing our Jamaica traditions while living in the United States.  It gave me a sense of self, giving me the foundation to identifying who I am, who my ancestor are and the legacy I am carrying forward.  “Rice & Rocks” showcases the commonality all people share, food – and how that bridges cultures and celebrating diversity.

As of late, this story has taken on a new meaning for me.  My mother passed away, a few weeks before the book hit the ‘shelves’.  The pain and hurt of losing her is still fresh.  But what makes my heart smile is that my mother is in the book as “Grandma”. As in the book, Grandma is the carrier of the family traditions and that was true of my mother.  She was the ‘rock’ of our family.  In 1967, with her ‘suitcase’ packed full of optimism, courage, faith, and the determination to give her family a better life in the United States of America, she boarded a Pan Am flight in Jamaica ready to embark on the journey of a lifetime. Upon settling down, my mother was first joined by my father and my older brother who was nine months old. As time passed my mother shared her ‘suitcase’ with so many in her family could join her, and also live a life full of opportunities in America.

While this story is personal to me and my family, it is one with a universal theme that many kids, and adults for that matter, can embrace and find their our ‘rice and rocks’ that gives them meaning and purpose.

RT: What do you want the reader to take away from this project?

SR: My hope is that the reader will enjoy the journey across where Giovanni ultimately learned that we have many things in common that those things that make us different. As the story unfolds, the reader will learn along with Giovanni more about rice and rocks, (I mean beans) and how other families share the same traditions.

RT: How do you plan to make young readers aware of this project?

SR: My team and I are reaching out directly to parents, teachers, aunts and uncles, and community organizations via a targeted PR and social media plan. I have been invited to do a number of school visits and participate in programs to do group readings.  I have been presented with an amazing opportunity to host a few book events with First Book due to a generous donor gift of “Rice & Rocks” to the organization.  I am looking forward to participating in book event across America to expand my network of young readers.

RT: Are there other stories that you would like to share with readers?

Yes, indeed!  There are so many more stories in development based off of my many conversations with Giovanni – as well as my other nieces and nephews. I hope the readers enjoy “Rice & Rocks” and share their feedback, might get a nugget of a story from that too!

Ready to get a copy of “Rice & Rocks”?  Visit these online retailers to get your copy or you can purchase it at your local independent book store.



Mini Clubman

I was impressed with the Mini Clubman from the moment it entered my driveway. First of all, its Anglophile inspired exterior stylings are super cool. Fully redesigned for 2016, the Clubman is now a larger four-door model, outfitted with higher interior elements that are destined to appeal to a wide variety of car buyers. The redesign perfectly accommodated my 6ft plus frame, so I immediately got behind its wheels to for an adventurous ride around LA.

Wow Factor: Few will deny that the Clubman is by far the best Mini in the lineup. Big on looks, style and sophistication, the Clubman has a sophisticated appeal that drivers will appreciated. With added value in areas of performance and improved utility, the Clubman will certainly earn big kudos from other drivers on the road.

Ride: Powered by a well-defined, turbocharged three-cylinder engine and 6-speed transmission, the Clubman is able to perfectly manage every day driving needs. The ride is also outfitted with nimbleness and sharp steering that will come in handy for navigating big city traffic and a variety of road conditions.

Comfort:  The 2016 Clubman features several notable interior design features that have make for improved comfort. Starting with its size that’s a full 10 inches longer and 3 inches wider than other vehicles in the Mini portfolio. That extra space definitely adds to the Clubman’s hauling capabilities and overall convenience and comfort. Drivers will delight with the high quality materials used throughout the interior, and its well-placed controls, gauges and infotainment center really add to Clubman’s comfort experience.

Spin Control: Offering great style and much improved performance and utility, the Mini Clubman is a family compact that we will certainly see more of out on the road. With a base MSRP starting in the mid-20s and an EPA estimate at (24 city/34 hwy.), the Clubman is the kind of ride that you’ll love to drive and be seen in.

Grade: B+

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