I graduated from high school thinking I wanted to be a professional musician, so I majored in music at the University of Central Florida. I spent my days playing music, sports, and pledging to a fraternity but failed to have an academic focus. After three semesters of struggle, I went to work for Disney World, where for the first time in my life I was given responsibility for other employees. I blossomed in this role and was sent to France to open Euro Disney where I lived and worked for four months. Coming back home with a burning desire to learn more about the African diaspora, I went back to school graduating with a sociology degree from State University of New York Geneseo. I wanted to pursue a career where I could make a difference in the world, particularly for those who have historically been underserved and denied the opportunity. I moved to NYC where I taught high school, then was hired by NAF (National Academy Foundation) in 2000 to help launch the Academy of Information Technology. NAF is a national network of education, business, and community leaders who work together to ensure high school students are college, career, and future ready.
My NAF career has been a wonderful 22-year journey which has prepared me for this incredible opportunity with BUILD. I helped NAF grow from supporting 3,000 students to over 120,000 today, with budgets growing from $8M to $25M, and a staff of 17 to over 90. Growth and scale are not easy hills to climb, however, I am very confident that we will accomplish that at BUILD given the incredible work done to date and the passion and energy that exists to create an even brighter future.
I believe that we are at a critical moment in the United States, confronted with deep partisan divisions roiled by populism, racism, and other dividing forces. Now more than ever, our country needs an organization committed to helping its youth develop the entrepreneurial skills and growth mindsets that will empower them as leaders of innovation, agents of change, and position them for success as the CEOs of their lives. I am very honored and super excited to lead the BUILD team at this unique moment.
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