The Top 5 Ways These Greater Triangle Leaders Succeeded Since Becoming 10 to Watch Recipients
United Way of the Greater Triangle launched its 10 to Watch initiative in 2018 as an intentional way to address racial, gender, and power disparities in local leadership. Through the initiative, we committed to making a $50,000 investment over two years in 10 local nonprofit leaders who are women and/or people of color.
Nearly two years later, those leaders have experienced exclusive leadership opportunities, kicked off strategic partnerships, and even shared their expertise on a national stage.
While we can’t take credit for everything they’ve accomplished since becoming 10 to Watch leaders, we can celebrate them. And trust us, they’re worth celebrating.
Take a look at the top 5 ways these Greater Triangle leaders have succeeded in the last two years:
1. Curated A Photography Exhibit Celebrating Black Women And Girls For New York City’s Famous Metropolitan Museum
Last November, Jamaica Gilmer (Founder and Executive Director of The Beautiful Project), finally announced a secret she’d be holding in for quite some time: The Beautiful Project was unveiling its own photography exhibit at one of the largest and most-esteemed fine arts museums in the country.
The exhibit, Pen, Lens & Soul: The Story of The Beautiful Project, was on display at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art for nearly three months and presented over a decade of work that gave viewers an “intimate and necessary view into the dynamic lives of Black girls and women through photography, poetry, and film,” according to Essence Magazine.
The exhibit, which featured work created by the organization’s own collective of image-makers, has also been heralded in other publications like New York Times, Hyperallergic, IndyWeek, and WRAL as a “tender, dynamic portrait of black Southern life that opens up important conversations about gender, race and the authority of the photographic gaze” among other compliments.
2. Launched A Candidacy For NC House District 63
In his full-time role as Co-Director of LatinxEd, Ricky Hurtado is helping first-generation college students break down barriers to success and expand opportunities for immigrant families in North Carolina. And it’s working — 100% of his students are college-bound despite having to overcome the hurdles of being first-generation students from immigrant families.
Ricky has first-hand experience with the struggles that his students face. Growing up in rural North Carolina as the son of immigrant parents, he remembers what it felt like to juggle two jobs, work, and sports as a high school student alongside the need to get a quality education so that he could get a good-paying job to support his family. That dream came true for Ricky when he was accepted to UNC-Chapel Hill as Morehead-Cain Scholar and eventually to Princeton University for graduate school.
Now he’s aiming to take that dream even further. Last July, Ricky announced that he was running for NC House District 63 and campaigning on the promise of ensuring everyone that invests in North Carolina has a fair shot to thrive in North Carolina.
His hope to lead North Carolinians towards a more just and equal North Carolina will be decided during the General Election on November 3.
3. Featured On National Outlets Including Forbes.Com And Good Morning America
Maggie Kane’s goal when she opened A Place At The Table, Raleigh’s first “pay what you can” restaurant, in January 2018 was to create a place that provides community and good food for all regardless of means where everyone could feel like they mattered and like they were welcome. Since then, she and her team (with community support) have served more than 20,000 meals to people in need and paid forward meals to 27,000+ more. Outside of the delicious food and welcoming personality, what’s striking about Maggie is her ability to operate with both humility and positivity.
So when Good Morning America surprised Maggie Kane during last year’s Christmas season with a spa day while volunteers decked the restaurant with festivity, all of Raleigh celebrated.
On the flip side, Dr. Will Jackson is serious, thoughtful, and sometimes intense. But that’s exactly the kind of person you want helping parents and teachers create true and supportive educational environments for Black students to thrive. That’s exactly what Will set up his nonprofit, Village of Wisdom, to do.
In late January of this year, Will Jackson’s work with Village of Wisdom caught the eye of Forbes.com — which reaches an average of 74M+ unique visitors every month. The author didn’t just interview Will about his work but dove deep into the importance of unlocking the gifts, talents, and prior knowledge of Black students.
“…learning is the act of connecting new information to prior knowledge,” Will explains in the interview. “So when a teacher says, ‘well, these kids don’t come to school knowing anything’ or ‘their parents aren’t invested or investing in them,’ what is actually true is that the child is coming with prior knowledge that doesn’t match the knowledge relied upon to teach in this country.”
4. Became the Inaugural President and CEO of MENTOR North Carolina — A Local Affiliate of the National Organization Committed to Increasing the Quality and Quantity of Mentoring Relationships
Atrayus Goode founded Movement of Youth, an award-winning mentoring and youth leadership development agency, while still in school at UNC-Chapel Hill. His work and commitment to the community has been featured on various media platforms, including TED and StoryCorps, and has been celebrated through numerous accolades including the UNC Harvey E. Beech Outstanding Young Alumni Award and the North Carolina Governor’s Medallion Award for Volunteer Service, the state’s highest award for volunteer service.
It turns out that organizations were taking notice too.
Last year, Atrayus was tapped by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership to lead the North Carolina Affiliate as President and CEO to increase the number of youth in quality mentoring relationships across the state while working to address the systemic barriers that young people face on a daily basis. MENTOR North Carolina is currently the only Affiliate in the country with an explicit racial equity focus. Atrayus is also supporting the development of MENTOR’s National Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
“It is not enough to tell young people that anyone who studies and works hard will get ahead when we know that barriers based on race create different outcomes for black and brown youth,” said Atrayus shared in a press release issued by MENTOR in April 2019. “We look forward to not only increasing the capacity of mentoring agencies, but also activating them in ways that begin to address the deeper systemic issues that create the need for mentoring in the first place.”
5. Launched A Partnership That’s Bringing High-quality Arts Programming To Southeast Raleigh Elementary School Students
Raleigh was recently named one of the top 10 cities in the world for quality of life and residents could easily point to the many amenities, low unemployment rate, or nationally award-winning magnet schools for proof.
What’s not included on that list is likely Southeast Raleigh’s Rock Quarry Road Corridor, an area with high levels of concentrated poverty. The area — which is sandwiched between Downtown Raleigh, Garner, and rural Wake County — is home to approximately 29,000 residents, including over 4,200 children who are living in poverty. In stark contrast to its counterparts listed above, this area is experiencing rapid gentrification that’s out-pricing long-time residents, is historically African American, and also boasts a rich legacy of resident leadership.
Early this year, Nichole Morgan and her team at The GiftedArts announced a new partnership with Southeast Raleigh Promise, a United Way-funded partner committed to building a purpose-built community in the area to help break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. Through this partnership, TheGifted Arts will bring a high-quality arts program to Southeast Raleigh Elementary School designed to help students increase their confidence and build leadership skills to support them in the classroom and at home. That partnership isn’t just an opportunity for students experiencing poverty to learn positive social and emotional skills. It also represents incredible growth for the nearly 9-year-old arts organization, which predicts serving over 200 students in total this year — a nearly 213% increase from its last program year.
“This is a perfect opportunity for us to expand our desired service region, making quality arts programming accessible to more children and allowing for leadership, volunteer, and work opportunities for our Senior Academy students, who are often also from the same area and can ultimately demonstrate what an authentic community collaboration can look and feel like,” Nichole said.