How Activate Durham is building and bolstering the community

In Durham, N.C., Leonardo Williams and his wife, Chef Zweli, own one of two Zimbabwean restaurants in the country – Zweli’s. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, he’s had to make several innovations and pivots to keep his small business running, but he’s never given up. After partnering with Summit Church to allocate extra food to the his community, he realized the power in connecting individuals from all walks of life to support one another, and he started Activate Durham to do just that.

In this episode of The Donald Thompson Podcast, Donald and Leonardo talk about how Activate Durham will help people gain access to public health and transportation information,  legal assistance, financial assistance and, what Leonardo’s most excited about, finding jobs.
The Donald Thompson Podcast is hosted by Walk West CEO, The Diversity Movement CEO, mentor, investor, and Diversity and Inclusion Consultant Donald Thompson.


Donald Thompson: Welcome to the Donald Thompson podcast. A good friend of mine is joining the show today. Leonardo Williams is our guests. Welcome my friend.

Leonardo Williams: Thank you. I’m so excited to be here. I’ve been waiting for this for a while so this is awesome.

Donald Thompson: I would like my audience to get to know you the way that I have. So, I want to give you some space to just tell a little bit about you, your family, where you grew up, and then we’ll dig into some of the business things that you’re doing in the community.

Leonardo Williams: Well, thank you so much DT. I’m the luckiest dad alive. I’m also the luckiest husband in the world.  Who goes from, you know, a music teacher to a principal, to a director, to an education consulting for the governor, to a restaurant owner? That’s what I do now, I own a restaurant.  It was the only Zimbabwean restaurant in the United States, it is now one of two. So yeah, I’m a dad I’m my husband, I’m definitely heavily engaged in the community. That was the only condition of opening the restaurant. I needed to make sure that I could still do community work. So that’s me, man. It’s simply stated.

Donald Thompson: One of the things I’m aware is that you transformed your business, right? You went from dine-in and then the dining room was closed. Why don’t you tell me a little bit about just some of the innovations and pivots you had to make to really keep things moving. And then now you’re seeing some next level growth.

Full Episode Transcript

Music for this episode provided by Jensen Reed from his song, “You Can’t Stop Me”.

The Donald Thompson Podcast is edited and produced by Earfluence. For more on how to engage your community or build your personal brand through podcasting, visit

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