From a young age, I've always had a passion for helping others. When I was 12 years old, this passion led me to create my first nonprofit, Young People Who Care (YPWC). I created this organization because so many youth were interested in serving the community, but just didn’t know how. To address this need, YPWC empowered young people to create their own service-learning projects built around their personal passions.
We accomplished this primarily by educating youth on project management best practices needed to successfully serve the community. These areas included traditional business skills such as planning, execution, resourcing, budgeting, marketing, and team building. We also knew the importance of teaching an empathetic approach to service, so we incorporated skill development related to community trust development, inclusive communication, and human capital investment.
Using this approach, over the next six years we mobilized thousands of youth nationally to complete hundreds of service projects. I was fortunate to have my work recognized by the United States House of Representatives, President George W. Bush, America’s Promise Alliance, Best Buy, Prudential Financial, State Farm, and the Dallas Mavericks, among other groups.
After graduating high school, I moved on from YPWC and attended Texas State, where I received a degree in Consumer Affairs and Business Management. While in college, I also received the distinguished opportunity of serving in a leadership role at State Farm. My primary responsibility was providing leadership to the State Farm Youth Advisory Board (SFYAB), an innovative corporate philanthropy initiative to grant funds to youth-led service projects. Each year, the board evaluated funding requests from North American nonprofits and issued $5 million in grants. This was a continuation of the work I did with YPWC, and under my leadership, I helped the SFYAB develop their grant solicitation and evaluation processes and awarded $10 million in grants to nonprofits.
In addition to college and my position at State Farm, I created Crestpoint Athletics, a sports and enrichment camp provider. I founded this company to provide families with an affordable, but high quality, option for sending their kids to summer camp. Crestpoint partnered with governmental agencies and became one of the largest of its kind in the country. Having become interested in entrepreneurship through this venture, I then went on to create several other for-profit entities, one of which I sold by the age of 23.
Following this, I sought to return to my roots in community impact and started Educational Pathways, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to increasing access to college. To that end, I created programs that provided financial, academic, and professional development resources which helped over 1,000 students continue their educational journeys and maximize their college experience.
My experience with Educational Pathways and the SFYAB opened my eyes to the importance of access to education and equity in learning resources. To deepen my impact and work in this area, I worked with the nationally renowned dean of the SMU Simmons School of Education and Human Development to create a new position dedicated to community engagement and using education as a vehicle for socioeconomic mobility. In this role, I supported the work of the school’s faculty and its alumni to further Simmons’ mission of putting research into practice to create systemic change and social impact.
Since joining Simmons, I’m proud of the work we have done to tackle inequity in access to education opportunities. This includes securing a partnership with Toyota North America and Dallas ISD to establish the West Dallas STEM School, an innovative PK-8 school that prepares underserved youth for 21st century careers using a project-based STEM curriculum. We also established a landmark partnership with a major medical provider to address knowledge gaps in youth sports and systemic access, equity, and retention issues, as well as created a national diversity conference.
Recently, I co-authored the book Better Together: How 30 Days of Service Changed My Life with a mentee, who I challenged to complete 30 different service projects in 30 days. Inspired by this challenge, he and I wrote this book to serve as a practical guide for how anyone can serve their community and make a difference.
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Better Together is a practical guide about how you can positively impact your community and leave your mark on the world.
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