I met my best friend, Mateo Gin-Tarango when we were in the eighth grade, and we’ve been close since. Both Mateo and I were raised by single mothers. But we connected with a deeper understanding that being raised by single mothers actually meant having an abundance of a family rather than lacking a parent. Our mothers—tenacious and loving as they are—created networks of support systems of strong, influential women who mothered us. Women who brushed our hair, cooked our meals, picked us up from school, told us stories, and guided us through the trials and tribulations of adolescence. Of these women, one stands out. She is Mateo’s grandmother, Mary Tarango whom they drew in the third grade when asked to draw pictures of their superhero.
Colleen Taylor is the president of Merchants Services at American Express, a Spelman College Trustee and more. Her executive accomplishments are manifold. But she saved the best job title for last on her impressive resume “favorite auntie to fourteen nieces and nephews.” When talking with Taylor, she exudes pride with stories and gratitude for her role and how those relationships have shaped her life. Taylor also has a stepson from her late wife, Carol, whom Taylor praised as an “awesome, amazing young man.” Taylor explained how auntie relationships are different from parenting. “You don’t have the pressure of authority. I encourage them to experience everything.”