Hero: Dorothy Stoneman, the founder and leader of YouthBuild USA. YouthBuild trains young people in construction and other fields, helps them obtain a GED, and grows them as leaders to overcome past failure and oppression. It is one of the most effective and inspiring programs for giving troubled young people (dropouts, teen parents, and incarcerated youth) a second chance. It has grown from one site in New York City to 273 in 45 states in 20 years, graduating 92,000 young people. Dorothy is calm but fierce, visionary and clear-minded, a leader and developer of leaders, an uncompromising ally to young people, and a great youth worker. All things I aspire to be.
Inspiration: See above! Additionally, I am inspired by outstanding poets including Martin Espada, Jalāl ad-Dīn Rumi, the Nuyoricans, Marge Piercy, and young people like Brave New Voices.
Reason for coming to United Way of the Bay Area: The fabulous Molly Wertz recruited me when we met as classmates in Leadership San Francisco in 2006. Then Carole Watson decided to give me a shot. (Thanks boss!) What attracted me even back then was UWBA’s effective and edgy poverty-fighting work.
How does UWBA make an impact in the community: By leading. We are a big, credible, established, skilled organization. To me that means we have both the opportunity and responsibility to lead on the most important issues, like poverty. As we embark on the roadmap to halving poverty by 2020, we need to be trusted gatherers of the community, skilled facilitators of shared planning and action, expert deliverers of high impact programs, determined policy advocates and coalition-builders, successful fundraisers, and inspiring communicators. I have confidence in our staff and volunteer team – we are all of these things, and we are the right people to lead.