Dear RAP Community,
I am so happy to introduce myself as RAP’s new Executive Director. I cannot imagine a more amazing team of staff, board members, and youth leaders and am grateful they have chosen me to help guide this organization where it needs to go. Brooke put her boundless spirit, brilliance, and dedication to social justice into creating and building RAP, and I am deeply committed to honoring our shared vision for the organization.
This work is personal for me. As a child born into extreme poverty and domestic violence, I lacked the early childhood foundation most would consider necessary for success. My own vulnerability mirrors that of many of the youth RAP works to empower; I spent much of my own adolescence in and out of homelessness because the streets were safer than home.
Fast-forward 20 years: I am now a member of the New York Bar with a law degree from Boston University. I’m happily settled with my wonderful husband and son in Brooklyn enjoying a roof over my head, enough food to eat and the energy to think about serving others instead of just making ends meet. I am so grateful. But I’ve thought about how things might have been different if RAP had been around when I was younger. How much less alone I would have felt. How much more I could have accomplished with the support and training RAP provides.
This is why I am beyond excited to support RAP’s innovative model: helping the next generation channel the resilience they already use to survive poverty and injustice into first navigating and then transforming the systems that maintain poverty and injustice.
As a leader, I love working with people of all ages, backgrounds and experiences and helping them find their groove in our collective symphony. I believe that the work we do with and for our youth is—and should be—as much of a reward as the outcomes towards which we strive. I look forward to stewarding this organization’s competent, grounded, and whole-hearted team as they help our city’s young people tap into their greatness.
As RAP’s Executive Director, I pledge to both deepen and expand our impact. My vision for RAP’s future includes work on a number of fronts where I bring both big-picture ideas and concrete skills:
- Connecting our young leaders across programs and boroughs. While there is great power in intimate, community-based groups, I also envision more events like our Youth-Led Mayoral Debate, where our participants can connect with each other, share leadership skills and leverage common ground. We are already exploring technological solutions that will help youth at our multiple partner sites across the city connect throughout the year, and I eagerly support that effort.
- Deepening RAP’s commitment to system-level, youth-led change. I want RAP to continue to think creatively while building an empowering space for our young people to be thought leaders on the social issues affecting them and their communities, especially in our current political reality. Where do we have access to power? How we can open the door for RAP’s youth to be heard? What support do they need to get the job done? How do we help them learn from failures and celebrate successes?
- Sharpening our focus on measuring and communicating our impact. Everyone on staff is excited to bring our evaluation tools and communications channels to the next level. We know that if you can’t measure or explain your impact, you can’t evaluate or share it. Because helping our youth achieve meaningful impact in their communities is at the core of what we do, we must focus on measuring and sharing our impact on their capacity to lead.
- Expanding our Board to include experts from different industries. We have a deeply committed, smart, and accomplished Board of Directors that is ready to grow. I envision a diverse, vibrant community of peers that enlivens each other with their different perspectives while enriching RAP with their range of skills and networks.
- Empowering our Impact Council to become ambassadors for RAP and mentors for our youth. I have first-hand experience with the power of impact councils to both take action on board and staff goals and train the next generation as leaders. I would love to see them spread RAP’s message far and wide and connect with the young people we serve.
I want you all to know I am brimming over with enthusiasm and commitment to this organization’s success. These ideas are just a jumping-off point from which to begin working together to create RAP’s future, and to continue our work of building a corps of youth leaders in the fight against poverty. I would love to hear from you, and would be honored if you would please share your visions with me at [email protected].
Together, we will get free.
Warmly and sincerely,