Throughout my blog I often mention that my personal values-driven enterprise was informed and shaped by my time as founding Executive Director of Year Up National Capital Region. While I entered the organization with a strong belief system that evolved into my company's vision, Live.Learn.Grow.TM, it was at Year Up that I learned how much was possible when people with passion pursue their purpose. This would not have been possible without the vision and guidance of Year Up founder, Gerald Chertavian, and not a day goes by when I don't reflect on how fortunate I am to have played a small role in closing the Opportunity Divide. Recently, 60 Minutes created an amazing piece that highlights the endless possibilities when you find ways to harness the talent around you. I have shared the Year Up 60 Minutes episode in the hopes that it will motivate and inspire you to invest in the people and communities around you.
One of my favorite parts of the story (and I am biased) was the brief clip of when President Obama visited my site and spoke to my students. It was June 19, 2009, and Gerald, my board chair John King, and I had grabbed an overnight train due to horrible weather in Boston. We were racing from one of our first national board summits and were pinching ourselves that in just a few short years, Year Up was emerging as a national solution. That night, I wrote my reactions to the surreal events so I could always remember what is possible when thoughtful people engage in passionate work. I share this excerpt with you as a fellow values-driven entrepreneur and encourage you to pause and capture the moments that remind you why you wake up every day emboldened to make our world a better place.
"When he walked in the doors he said, 'Hey, Year Up, what's going on?' That was it.... Despite his obvious exhaustion, he was completely present for our students.... I beamed with pride at Manicia, Chris, Erica, Anastassia, and Rashad. They were why he was there, and he connected in a way that was so genuine that I could see in their eyes that some of them had truly started to believe that they could be where he is, too. This was a huge transition for my team as well.... They allowed everyone to enjoy [this] moment with the President because of their hard work. His visit brought hope to us about what we could achieve for this nation."