PeerForward Leadership Council Hosts Future Leaders Fundraiser in NYC

The PeerForward Leadership Council joined by Development Manager, Nicole Sauder (right)

When you bring together a room full of people inspired by a common mission, magic happens. On April 24, the PeerForward Leadership Council experienced just that. The 2019 Future Leaders Fundraiser in New York City brought council members and their invited guests together with PeerForward staff and alumni to celebrate our mission, students, and legacy of 20+ years of guiding more than 350,000 students on the path to higher education.

The night featured a silent auction, where guests bid on items arranged or donated by council members, like Hamilton Broadway tickets, a framed photograph of Central Park, reservations at the 5-star Greenwich Hotel, and more. Nearly $25,000 was raised (including almost $5,000 through the silent auction alone), serving as a testament to the generous support and enthusiasm for PeerForward that radiated among attendees in the room.

PeerForward COO and President, Jo Smith, thanking attendees in the room.

The event was an opportunity to reflect on the lives that PeerForward continues to deeply impact, and how the family of supporters keeps our work going. No moment was more representative of this than when two alumni of the program, Omezie Omeokwe and Phil Percy, took the stage and shared their stories.

Phil Percy, 2010 PeerForward alumnus and member of the newest cohort of Coaches-in-Training, recounted vividly his own summer workshop experience, sharing: “It was amazing to me that volunteers who didn’t even know me, who had important jobs, had PhD’s, wanted to help me figure out how to navigate through life and how to get to college.” He shared the ways that PeerForward guided him and gave him purpose, and the excitement he has now knowing that as he trains to be a PeerForward Coach himself, he can do the same for the newest wave of Peer Leaders.

Then, Omezie Omeokwe, 2007 PeerForward alumnus, Leadership Council member, and Chair of the National Alumni Council shared the lifelong lessons PeerForward has given him, saying: “I learned to stop focusing on my past, the things that didn’t go right, whatever my counselor or my parents or my family couldn’t provide for me, and I focused on what I could do every day of my life to change that.” He spoke of the power of possibilities, the power of choice, and the sense of purpose he has carried with him across his 10+ years volunteering and facilitating at PeerForward summer workshops.

PeerForward alumnus and Leadership Council member, Omezie Omeokwe.

Many attendees spoke of their memorable and moving experiences serving as volunteers as Writing and College Coaches at summer workshops. In speaking on her many years of experience as a Writing Coach, Chair of the Leadership Council and Deloitte Managing Director Amanda Hale shared how she’s built many meaningful connections with Peer Leaders and continues to mentor several of them even after the workshops. She said, “Many of them are the first in their families to go to college, so they may not have someone to guide them through it. That’s where we come in – as their PeerForward family, we are here to help them every step of the way.”

Cherelle Glimp, council member and Associate at DLA Piper LLC shared that, after observing a workshop this past summer, she was struck by the “indescribable impact in such a short time” she witnessed, extending in areas beyond just college admissions. “They learn important life skills, like figuring out their ‘why’ and their purpose… it was wonderful to see,” she said.

PeerForward is deeply grateful for the combined efforts, contributions, and support from the Leadership Council that made this event so successful, and look forward to more meaningful collaborations to come.



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