As Black History Month wraps up, we’re reminded that celebrating Black excellence is something we should do every day, not just in February. At Larkin Street Youth Services, we’re proud to share the stories of our team members who really stand out for their leadership, strength, and commitment. Their experiences inspire us to keep the spirit of Black History Month alive all year long.

Elijah Mitchell: Program Manager, Learning Center

Elijah Mitchell switched from a career in the U.S. Air Force to take charge of our Learning Center. He’s all about mixing discipline with new ideas. With help from mentors like Dewayne Cook, Elijah has guided many to tech certification success. His advice for us is simple and powerful, encouraging us to keep growing and learning:

“Be patient and compassionate with yourself; embrace discomfort.”

Gezel Frederick: Senior Director of Individual Giving, Development

Gezel Frederick brings her rich background in education and leadership to Larkin Street, making deep connections. She speaks three languages and was a rugby MVP back in St. Lucia. Gezel’s work is deeply rooted in empathy and respect, shining a light on everyone’s unique stories. Her message to us is,

“Develop a deep sense of empathy for those experiencing homelessness and for each other. Recognize everyone’s unique story.”

Bryn VanAlstyne: Chief Operating Officer, Operations

Bryn VanAlstyne moved from education to operational leadership at Larkin Street, driven by her desire to make a difference. She values being real and serving as an example for the youth we support. Her advice reflects her approach to leadership and encourages everyone to stay true to themselves.

“Be yourself before anything else.”

Chayla Gibson: Chief People & Equity Officer, People’s Team

Chayla Gibson tells a story of making her own way with the support of mentors and friends. She emphasizes the importance of always learning, chasing your goals with everything you’ve got, and remembering to take care of yourself and connect with your community. Inspired by her family and the bravery of those she works with, Chayla says,

“Always stay open to learning new things. Go hard for your goals and take care of yourself along the way. Build community and get involved; it doesn’t matter where you start, just start.”

As we move beyond Black History Month, let’s keep in mind what Elijah, Gezel, Bryn, and Chayla teach us. Their commitment not only improves Larkin Street Youth Services but also motivates us to have a positive impact in our communities. Let’s make every day a chance to celebrate Black excellence, leading with honesty and kindness.

Check out our first week and second week‘s staff spotlights if you haven’t already.
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