Our 25th Anniversary Leadership Week has come and gone. And wow, what a time it was!! Let’s review…
Young Leaders in the City
The week started off with Summer Search New York City’s Young Leadership Committee (YLC) Cocktail Event. The YLC is a group of young professionals who share Summer Search’s commitment to college success for all youth in New York City. Other than being a great evening of music, mingling, and NYC skyline views, the event also raised more than $75,000!
Changing the Narrative
Our Annual Meeting brought together many staff and board members to reflect on the past year (and last 25 years) and to look ahead.
The highlight of the meeting was a powerful panel of voices led by alumnus Jabali Sawicki on Changing the Narrative for Young Men of Color. The panel featured Robin White from AT&T’s #ConnectToGood program, Shawn Dove of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, Donald Ruff from the Eagle Academy Foundation and Cyrus Garrett of the NYC Young Men’s Initiative.
You can learn more about this discussion (as well as AT&T’s support of Summer Search) from Robin White’s guest blog post from last week.
Shawn Dove, who was also the meeting’s keynote, stressed the power of mentorship, saying: “Black boys and young men don’t need saviors, they need people who believe in them.” He also borrowed the catchphrase of one of his favorite superheroes, the Human Torch, asking everyone if they were ready to “flame on” and continue this important work supporting young males of color. “Flame on” became a rallying cry for the remainder of the week.
Celebrating 25 Years
On Thursday night, the Rubin Museum of Art was overflowing with the love and goodwill of the Summer Search family at our Welcome Home Celebration. More than 250 alumni, friends, and supporters came together to celebrate our 25th Anniversary.
Alumni from our staff and board, and many more in leadership positions across the country, shared their inspiring stories throughout the night. Alumnus Levar Smith delivered a moving keynote speech.
“My life has developed full circle because of the lessons I internalized through Summer Search… Yet, my transformation through Summer Search is greater than a single story. My success is OUR story… Tonight, as we embrace the success of Summer Search over the past 25 years, it is important that we celebrate our transformations, for it is these moments which make life such a beautiful struggle.” — Levar Smith
Building the Future
The final event of the week was our Alumni Summit and Leadership Conference, which brought hundreds of alumni together (in fact, 10% of our entire alumni community) to network, reconnect, strengthen their leadership skills, and envision the next 25 years of service and leadership at Summer Search.
After a great kickoff cocktail party the night before, the Leadership Conference started bright and early at PwC’s NYC headquarters. The program included an impactful presentation from LinkedIn For Good, as well as sessions about building your own brand and network, salary negotiations, social entrepreneurship and careers in government and politics. We’re proud to say that two-thirds of the Leadership Conference presenters were Summer Search alumni!
One such alumnus was Robert Reffkin, the Summit’s keynote speaker. Robert, who was recently featured in Fortune Magazine’s “40 Under 40”, inspired attendees with his own journey as an entrepreneur, and how the lessons learned both at Summer Search and in running 50 marathons (yes, 50 marathons!), helped him succeed in business.
“Summer Search helped me believe in myself.” – Robert Reffkin
One of Summer Search’s longest-standing supporters observed while attending the Summit: “We both looked out over this sea of young adults and said to ourselves, if this is what the future looks like, things are going to be O.K.“
Thank You x 7
The success of Leadership Week would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of so many Summer Search staff, board members, alumni, and supporters. Here’s to the next 25 years of developing young leaders! #SummerSearch25