The Speakers’ Bureau has been producing successful events at “Brooklyn Leadership” high school for several years now. The program originally started after we sponsored several successful career panels that highlighted the need for introducing our students to positive role models who could provide personal inspiration and exposure to various professional endeavors. Our program recruits speakers to the school to talk with the students about their careers, life journeys, and struggles to overcome adversity. The format is approximately 35 minutes and typically consists of a speech followed by an interactive discussion or Q&A. While the time commitment is short, the positive impact on the kids is huge.
Our students often face multiple challenges, including economic stress (or poverty), familial strife, legal trouble, community violence and more. They need positive, inspiring role models with whom they can identify and relate. Accordingly, our speakers are usually successful professionals, businesspeople and artists and activists who share similarities with the students, either by background, neighborhood, personal struggle, family challenge or ethnicity.
Despite their challenges, our students have a variety of interests and talents, and they’re eager to learn about the many career options and life paths open to them. When they receive this information via personal stories from speakers with whom they can identify, the message is doubly powerful and productive.
The goal is to enable our speakers to inspire the students to dream big, set goals, and continue working hard. Program coordinator, Steve Williamson identifies and recruits speakers, assisting them through the process. Committing to the program only requires a few hours on a single weekday, but the positive impact on the kids can be profound and transformational.
Brooklyn Leadership has been fortunate to have the following speakers volunteer their time to share with our students their stories, achievements, struggles, and career paths:
- Honorable Sylvia O. Hinds-Radix, Associate Justice of the New York State Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, delivered a powerful message to the students about following a positive life path and avoiding the mistakes that often entangle young people in the criminal justice system and impact their future prospects.
- Janesse Dawson, an Assistant District Attorney with the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, shared her personal story of overcoming tremendous obstacles to become a lawyer and join the District Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn. Ms. Dawson also discussed her role in the criminal justice system.
- Tracy Inman, co-Director of The Ailey School at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, introduced the students to the world of professional dance, explained The Ailey School, and shared his unconventional story of success rising through the ranks to his current position.
- Jocelyn Cooper of AfroPunk, a multicultural music festival, shared a multimedia demonstration of music and art that entertained and educated the students.
- Fredara Mareva-Hadley, PhD., a visiting assistant professor in Jazz Studies at Oberlin College, spoke about music, culture and history, introducing the students toacademia as a potential career path and a different way of viewing and understanding music.
- Prince Campbell, a dynamic media entrepreneur and founder of DevRover, a public relations and marketing company focused on internet presence, spoke about his various business enterprises.
- George Littlejohn, co-found and co-owner of Purpose Records, talked candidly about his background, entry into the music business and eventual rise to record company owner.
- Frantz Pierre-Louis, Jr., a co-founder of Team First and former professional basketball player. Team First is a Brooklyn-based, not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping academically under-performing children with a passion for basketball to reach their full potential.
- Soul Cycle’s Charlee Atkins drives her classes by emotion, beats, and bass and combined with universal life motivation. She believes that who you are in class is an honest look at yourself. A firm believer in creating space in your life for abundance, Charlee’s favorite quote is “Yes…or yes?” Charlee also models for Wilhelmina Models and is affiliated with numerous brand sponsorships across the nation.
- Soul Cycle’s Chad “String” Stringfellow was born and raised in Sin City, String brings his urban soul to SoulCycle. He has an ear for eclectic music and his playlist inspires riders to “hustle and flow.” To String, SoulCycle has become so much more than just exercise. Whether it’s “Take-on Tuesday”, “Thirsty Thursday”, “Sunday Service” or just a Monday ride… String don’t play! He is big on form and will take the time to make adjustments on both the bike and your body to ensure the optimal riding experience, making sure there is “NO JANK”!
- Geo Derice, one of the New York’s leading motivational speakers for young people, is the youth ambassador for the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center. Mr. Derice has spoken to a wide range of students in various settings on behalf of the Museum, including at-risk youth and troubled young people. A Brooklyn native and 2006 graduate of St. John’s University, Mr. Derice has spoken on numerous topics – including anti-bullying, sportsmanship and leadership. Mr. Derice, the son of Haitian immigrants with a compelling personal story, often speaks of his struggles as a young man. He owns a public speaking company, Geo Speaks (www.geospeaks.com) and is the author of “The Thirst is Real: The Teen’s Guide to Maximizing Your True Potential.”
- Asha Tarry, a licensed psychotherapist and certified life coach, has over 15 years of experience in mental health. She is an advocate for social justice and mental health awareness and the CEO of her own counseling & life coaching business based in NYC. For more information on Asha’s services, published work and to book her for speaking engagements, visit www.BHConsultingServices.net.
- Jarret N. Freeman is an award-winning international relations, diplomacy and policy specialist. Experienced in the public, private and non-profit sectors, Mr. Freeman has managed budgets up to $1.2 million and personnel up to 60. Mr. Freeman has maintained a US Department of State security clearance, worked for the Russian American Chamber of Commerce, and conversationally speaks Spanish and Russian.
- Native Philadelphian Carolyn Giles currently lives and serves the Brooklyn community of East New York as an Area Director for Young Life. Carolyn completed her undergraduate and graduate studies in Theater Arts at Bucknell University and Antioch University-McGregor School. She is currently completing a Master of Divinity at Nyack College-Alliance Theological Seminary. Prior to joining Young Life staff, Carolyn enjoyed a twenty-year theater arts teaching career. Most recently, she served as Department Chair of Theater and Middle School Theater Director at The Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn, NY. Additionally, Carolyn serves on the Intercessory Board of Community2Community (C2C), a grassroots organization dedicated to building self-sufficient communities by working alongside the Haitian community of Petit Goâve as they recover from the staggering effects of the 2010 earthquake.
- Noah Brier is the CEO of Percolate, a software company building The System of Record for Marketing. Percolate works with top global brands including Unilever, GE, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and MasterCard. Prior to founding Percolate, Noah ran the strategy department at The Barbarian Group, a digital advertising agency based in NYC. He has been named to Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business, a “social media innovator” by BusinessWeek, and sits on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on social media.
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