I have admired this organization for a long time. My admiration began when my dear friend Dacia Toll launched Amistad Academy in 1999. It continued when I served as founding chair of the AF East New York board more than 15 years ago, and it is even stronger today. To not only become a part of the AF community, but to be named as our next CEO, is the privilege of a lifetime.
I am forever grateful for Dacia for all that she has built over the last 21 years, and for her confidence in me. It is a blessing to have your heroes be your friends, and with Dacia I am truly blessed. I was impressed with AF before I came to work here. Now, I am in awe.
Growing up in East New York in the 70s and 80s, I learned early that while America espouses a creed of equality and liberty, it has never truly lived by that creed. I came to understand that denying an excellent education to Black and Brown children is one of the most powerful tools this nation has ever developed to keep us in “our place.” Like you, I have committed my life to this work because I believe that we can be better.
As Langston Hughes once wrote, “America never was America to me, And yet I swear this oath—America will be!”
We do this work because we know that by creating great schools for our children, we are doing the work of building an America that finally lives up to its promises “the land where every man is free.”
The challenges our students, families, and communities face will not simply disappear with the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine. We will need to continue to innovate and adapt, to make difficult choices and find creative solutions. I have every confidence that our incredible team and family will continue to rise to the challenge.