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Today’s episode is a panel discussion with the Campaign for Black Male Achievement's 2017 Building Beloved Communities Leadership Fellows. Our featured guests on the panel include Ashanti Branch, Ronda Alexander and Brandyn Bailey.

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Mission fuel inside today's conversation:

  • Why is it important for you to be a part of this fellowship and what are you most grateful to have experienced or learned since the program got started?
  • Why do you love leading and teaching young men and boys?
  • Tell me something that you’ve learned about your own leadership style and your journey?
  • What’s the most important habit that you’re learning to develop as you’re working to become a more impactful leader?
  • Let’s chat a little bit about the public service work that each of you are currently leading that helped you to get to this point
  • How can people learn a little bit more about the 100,000 mask challenge?
  • Has the work or the approach to your work shifted by choice or necessity with the most recent presidential election?
  • The changing of the political guards at the local and regional levels can impact the work that you are doing as on the ground leaders. Can you talk about the experience and importance of both city and state stakeholders like yourselves being part of that conversation?
  • Given the current socio-political climate, what are some of the resources that you are able to draw on to be able to maintain your stamina and vigilance?
  • What have been some of the most challenging experiences that you’ve each had on your journey. Share some of what you’ve learned about yourselves through some of these challenges?
  • What are your hopes for the public service work that you’re doing and the communities that you’re impacting?

Ashanti Branch Bio

Ashanti on LinkedIn

Ashanti Branch works to change how young men of color interact with their education and how their schools interact with them. Raised in Oakland by a single mother on welfare, Ashanti left the inner city to study civil engineering at Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo. A construction project manager in his first career, his life changed after he tutored struggling students and realized his passion for teaching. In 2004, during Ashanti’s first year teaching high school math, he started The Ever Forward Club to provide support for African American and Latino males who were not achieving to their potential. Since then, Ever Forward has helped all of its more than 150 members graduate from high school, and 93% of them have gone on to attend two- or four-year colleges, military or trade school.

In 2007, Ashanti was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to teach math in India. This experience ignited in him a deeper trust that students held to high expectations, and provided with high support can achieve academic success regardless of the odds they face. Since 2009, Ashanti has worked with several rites of passage organizations to initiate young men along their journey to manhood, and has supported more than 60 young men to complete their Young Men’s Ultimate Weekend.

The Ever Forward Club was featured last year in the documentary,“The Mask You Live In,” which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.After completing a fellowship at the Stanford d.school in 2016, Ashanti,stepped away from working for a school district and began working as the Founding Executive Director for Ever Forward-Siempre Adelante, in an effort to grow the organization to serve thousands of Bay Area students.

Ronda Alexander Bio

Ronda on LinkedIn

Ronda Alexander is the Director of Corporate and Community Alignment on the College and Career Pathways team at the United Way for Southeastern Michigan. In this role Ronda supports a team ofWork-Based Learning Directors as they collaborate with educator teams to ensure that high school students have opportunities to connect their learning to the world of work at each grade level. She is also leading an effort to align and leverage the resources of corporate,community, and civic partners to ensure Detroit students are able to thrive in career and/or post-secondary endeavors beyond high school.

Prior to joining the United Way team Ronda was the Program Manager of STEM Initiatives for Ford Next Generation Learning (Ford NGL), the signature education program of Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. She was responsible for developing strategy and managing the Powered by Ford STEM network. The Powered by Ford STEM network was designed to engage educators, employers, and community leaders in and around communities with Ford Motor Company facilities in the common goal of preparing high school students for the careers of tomorrow.

As an education and community development professional and native Detroiter Rondais extremely passionate about making sure all Detroit youth have access to a world-class education. She is especially committed to empowering students and communities of color to lead their own transformation.
Rondais also a graduate of the Leadership Detroit fellowship program where she workedwith a cohort of seniorlevel executives in southeast Michigan to develop leadership skills andknowledge of regional issues. Ronda currently serves as a member of theEmerging Educators Detroit leadership team, a group focused on providing anopportunity for educators and education advocates across the metro Detroit areato come together.

Brandyn Bailey Bio

Brandyn on LinkedIn

Brandyn Bailey was born and raised in Louisville, KY.

He grew up as an avid athlete and artist. Brandyn attended DuPont Manual High School as well as Youth Performing Arts School. Brandyn’s prior experience comes from Western Kentucky University’s Office of Diversity Programs. He received his bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism, master’s degree in communication and a graduate certificate in organizational leadership from Western Kentucky University. He served on the Communication Staff for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, and he is now the Youth Engagement and Communications Liaison for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods. Brandyn works with youth in various high schools and his church. Brandyn’s passion lies in advancing the quality of life for Blackmen and boys. Brandyn aims to help Black and men and boys tell their stories to uplift others.

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