January 14, 2019 | Interview by Katie Capri | Photos by Alex Kusak
For this month’s Member Q&A, we got to know a bit about the daily life and inner-workings of youth advocate, social entrepreneur, and CEO of the Daniel Trust Foundation, Mr. Daniel Trust.
Can you tell us a little about what you do?
I serve as President and CEO of Daniel Trust Foundation, an award-winning youth development nonprofit organization with offices in Bridgeport, Connecticut and New York City, that provides mentorship and financial support to high achieving low-income students. We make a point to honor teachers who make the most impact in the lives of our students too.
We offer high school mentoring, college scholarship and teacher recognition programs. This past spring we provided 610 hours (valued at $73,200) of free SAT tutoring to 19 low-income students. Since 2014, we have awarded 53 students with $69,000 in scholarships and 41 teachers $13,500 in honorariums.
What part of your career inspires you the most?
The friendships I build with our students and donors over time inspires me the most. To see our students accomplish their educational and professional goals because of the mentorship and financial support they receive from our foundation brings me great joy. It also makes me very happy to give donors an opportunity to invest in the students who benefit from our programs and services.
What is your favorite moment of your career so far?
My favorite moment of my career so far has to be being able to replicate our program model in New York City earlier this year. A lot of people in my network doubted me when I shared that I was going to replicate our program in NYC, but thanks to their doubt, I was inspired to work even harder. Both programs in Bridgeport, Connecticut and New York City are thriving and I very much look forward to hosting my very first Daniel Trust Awards in the city this summer.
Whose career inspires you and why?
Scott Harrison, Founder and CEO of charity: water, inspires me a lot. I’ve learned a lot from him from afar. I just love how he tells his organization’s story. His team uses storytelling to show the impact charity: water is making around the world, providing clean water to millions of people who don’t have access to it. The way he markets and fundraises is remarkable.
If you could eat lunch with anyone, departed or living, who would it be? Why?
If I could have lunch with anyone at this very moment, it would have to be Marie Forleo, host of MarieTV. I have been watching her YouTube show for a very long time and she is a friend in my head. I love how creative she is and how consistent she has been with her work over the years. Over lunch, I would thank her for being such a positive role model for young social entrepreneurs like myself.
Can you describe your favorite “New York” moment?
One of my favorite moments in New York City happened when I was still in college. I went to a taping of Anderson Live, Anderson Cooper’s daytime talk show. That day Yvette Nicole Brown was his co-host. I remember fanning out throughout the show because, not only am I a huge fan of Anderson but I love Yvette’s advocacy work for Donors Choose, an awesome nonprofit that gives teachers the opportunity to raise funds for their classroom projects.
Tell us about your daily ritual.
When I have the opportunity to do so, I love taking a break from work and going to the gym for an hour. I spend 50% of my time working from home, so taking a break in the middle of the day for a good workout allows me to think about how my day is going so far, and what I can do to end it on a high point.
Is there a beverage you can’t go without each day?
I drink a lot of water. When I am not working, I often stop by Starbucks for an Iced Chai Latte. I love how they make it. If you haven’t tried it, you should.
Favorite genre of music?
I love to dance, so I like any type of music that will allow me to do just that. I went to Rwanda 4 years ago and my nephews and nieces introduced me to Navy Kenzo, an AfroPop/Dancehall group from Tanzania. Their radio station on Pandora is my favorite at the moment.
What’s your idea of a perfect Saturday afternoon?
On a perfect Saturday afternoon, I am having lunch with a loved one and our friends. We’re at one of our favorite restaurants talking about the previous week and what we will do in the evening. Hopefully our plans will include some dancing too.