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Coach Carmen Duncan: Advancing Career Development Through Mission Accomplished Transition Services

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Carmen “Coach Carmen” Duncan, BA, MSW, is a social entrepreneur, career and small business development coach and dedicated Chief Coach and founder of Mission Accomplished Transition Services, a non-profit community-based career education organization she founded in 2011. The mission of the company is to prepare rising young professionals and entrepreneurs for the workforce by providing industry-specific coaching, mentoring and sponsorship. She has led the company to become one that is unapologetic about their priority being the advancement of Black and Brown young professionals and entrepreneurs while advocating for social, racial and economic justice within the workplace. She truly believes that mentors, coaches and sponsors are irreplaceable partners in the lives of young people as they navigate life’s transitions. Coach Carmen is a survivor of homelessness and the impact of community substance abuse, street violence and family incarceration. She holds a bachelor of science in psychology, Russell Sage College, and a master’s in social work, macro concentration, University at Albany School of Social Welfare. 

HLM: Coach Carmen, please tell us about yourself?
CC: At the young age of 16, I became homeless after the incarceration of three prominent individuals in my life. This was one of the darkest moments in my life. I felt lost, abandoned and unsafe without my protectors readily available to care for me. Although this life experience created a dark moment, I was found by mentors who cared for me and helped me find stable housing, my voice and place in the professional world. And I continue to thrive through the impacts of global racism. I truly credit much of my success to the support I received from mentors and family members, which led me to establish Mission Accomplished Transition Services. 

HLM: Are you originally from this area? If not, what brought you to the Capital Region?
CC: I come from two seemingly opposite worlds, the suburbs and the “hood.” I am originally from Poughkeepsie, New York, and spent much of my childhood and adolescence in Spackenkill, a suburb outside Poughkeepsie. I moved to Albany in the winter of 2000 to live with my father after someone pulled a gun on me in Poughkeepsie and I tried to fight them. My mother knew she had to save her daughter! I believe the city of Albany saved my life. I stayed here because I knew it was my duty to give back to the community that gave so much to me! 

HLM: You are the founder of Mission Accomplished Transition Services. Where is it located and what need did you see out there that gave you the passion to start this organization? What does the organization do?
CC: Our office is located in Schenectady in Urban Co-Works, a co-working space. I saw a need for all early- and mid-career-rising young professionals across the country, rich and poor, to receive intentional career coaching and mentorship as they prepared for the transition from school to the workforce or from job to career or employee to full time entrepreneur.

We help early- to mid-career young professionals, 13 to 35, bridge the gap between where they are today in their career to where they want to be. Our students come to us knowing what they want to do, they have a vision for their future, they just need support, guidance and to be held accountable to getting there. Our comprehensive career coaching and mentorship help our students further develop their brand, industry influence and self-confidence while enhancing their understanding of the operational and administrative responsibilities behind the operation of a business or department. As an industry-specific company, we focus on the following trades: fashion, construction, interior design and decorating and mural painting. These creative trades were strategically chosen to highlight Black, Brown and Indigenous People of Color’s roles as the cultural architects of this country while honoring our ancestral legacy of building and beautifying this nation.

We provide mentorship and coaching for all young professionals, not just those in most need, and our hearts are open to everyone. We believe that each person deserves support regardless of her or his socioeconomic status!

HLM: Explain to us more about your passion and thought process behind Mission Accomplished Transition Services.
CC: I had to make this happen with much of my own money until people believed in me, the team and the mission enough to take the risk to make an investment to help the company grow. I want to make sure we help people with a dream gain access to resources so they do not have to defer their dreams!

I was motivated to launch and lead career and small business development programs through Mission Accomplished because I received and continue to receive intentional mentorship and coaching from those who believe in my wild, bodacious career goals and dreams. My team and I are dedicated and remain focused on providing those in low- to middle-income communities with influential industry professionals who have the power to break down barriers of entry to meaningful, well-paying careers and thriving, revenue-generating small businesses. The team and stakeholders who support the mission have established a culture that motivates program participants to establish and achieve career, higher education and philanthropic goals while creating a community with a mindset of community collaboration over competition. 

 HLM: How can our readers help Mission Accomplished?
CC: Thank you for asking this important question. It truly demonstrates your commitment to helping to spread the wealth of time, talent and treasure. We invite your readers to help us in several ways: 

Refer badass, go-getter young entrepreneurs and employees to explore and apply to enroll in our intensive career and small business development programs. We will begin accepting applications for our Advanced Fashion + Beauty Institute and Advanced Construction + Design Institute in October 2022. These institutes call on those who have 2+ years of experience plus a passion and desire to grow in the fashion, beauty, construction, interior design and decorating industries whether they have worked for and supported the growth of a fashion or beauty company; offer freelance services in the fashion or beauty industry; or run a business in the fashion or beauty industry

Be curious and learn about our programs. 

Encourage employers to invest in their badass, go-getter employees by encouraging them to enroll in our programs, then invest in their professional development by paying the cost for
their participation. 

Invest in and donate to support our Advanced Fashion + Beauty Institute and Advanced Construction + Design Institute. These institutes are funded by foundations and individuals passionate about making sure young professionals and entrepreneurs gain access to quality career coaching and mentorship. 

Apply to join our board of directors for two or more years. We are in search of high-net-worth individuals seeking to help grassroots social, racial, economic career education organizations started in the region gain national attention and growth while fundraising to ensure we sustain our important work for years to come!

Since the founding of Mission Accomplished, Coach Carmen, with the support and help of dedicated team members, has raised over $1.5 million to develop and operate career and small business development programs for over 3,500 rising young professionals and entrepreneurs, create and sustain jobs for more than 20 people who have worked for the company since 2015 and be a resource to the Capital Region of New York community. She has received several awards honoring her leadership and recognition including being the keynote speaker at the 2016 Women’s Fund of the Capital Region Trailblazers awards luncheon; the 2015 Black Women’s Association of Albany’s Women of Distinction awards luncheon, and in 2016 she was named Top 40 under 40 by Albany Business Review for her business acumen, leadership skills and community involvement. For more information or to learn more about Mission Accomplished Transition Services, visit