From becoming the first African-American and Afro-Caribbean woman-owned, sustainably sourced luxury executive gift company to being listed on Forbes Next 1000, Kipenzi Chidinma is a professor by day and history-maker by night...
A Los Angeles native with Caribbean roots tracing back to Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas, Kipenzi Chidinma’s 24 hours consists of teaching as a Marketing Professor in the CBE (College of Business and Economics), working as CEO & Founder of LINĒIJ, serving as a board member for the Huntington's Disease Society of America (HDSA) Los Angeles, and championing diversity and equity.
After completing her MBA at Woodbury University, she saw firsthand the difference in the opportunities given to her by attending a private institution – and wanted to change that. She explained, “I wanted to bring what I learned and experienced at Woodbury to Cal State LA. I advocated for more than six years to teach here because I wanted to be part of the change that is taking place on campus. I could have taught someplace else. But Cal State LA holds a special place in my heart. I'm a third-generation graduate of Cal State LA – my Nona (Grandma), Mama, and now myself (along with my sister).”
Kipenzi continued, “I saw a need for more diversity not only in the department but in the business industry as a whole. You don't see a lot of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) individuals in the industry once you graduate, and or enter the workforce. I hope that as my career progresses at Cal State LA, I can be part of that change.”
A beacon of light to her community, clientele, family, and students, Kipenzi keeps the guidance of her Mama and Nana (Great Grandmother) at the forefront of everything she does. After losing her mother in 2019 to complications related Huntington’s Disease, Kipenzi has championed the search of finding a cure and as a result, 100% of the proceeds from her LINĒIJ HDSA collection is donated to HDSA.
“Every aspect of who I am radiates from a part of them. Both my Mama and Nana (Great grandmother) taught me to be respectful, embrace my creativity, and be proud of where I come from. They were extremely hard-working, ethical, and believed in giving back to their community. Be it with their time or work. I apply it daily whether I'm at work, in the classroom, and for my company.”
When she is not busy making the world better or making headlines in Forbes Next 1000, she unwinds by meditating, working out, going to the spa, and relaxing on the couch. Her students would be surprised to learn, however, that she lives for thrill sports. She recently jumped off a cliff that was 7,000 feet in the air – and will gladly do it again. She is “If your friend jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?” personified, but in the best, most adventurous way.
Kipenzi is living proof that when you find your joy, you find your purpose; and if she can help her students get one step closer to their joy – or a job – then she has succeeded.
“You only get one life and I must have joy. I think everything you accomplish comes from a place of joy. In my opinion, if it wasn't enjoyable there is no way you can sustain it. At some point, we all search for what brings us joy so we can always do that - because that thing is our purpose. If we are lucky we have several joys. For me, my joy comes from teaching and having my company.