The Leadership Classroom: Getting to Know Hasan Stephens
Hasan Stephens began his journey with The Leadership Classroom (TLC) three years ago in 2011 as a participant with Save the Kids, but his development as a community leader began with the mentors and experiences he encountered throughout his life. A graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Hasan remembers growing up with a mother who could do it all.
“She worked full-time, went to school full-time, raised two black males in inner-city New York, put us in the best of schools and we made it out ok,” said Stephens.
His mother’s work ethic made him question how little he knew about fiscal responsibility so he sought to educate himself and other disadvantaged youth about financial literacy. Eventually, he delved deeper into the causes of poverty by asking the question “What does it take for youth to have a good life?”
The Leadership Classroom is an ideal initiative for residents like Stephens and grassroots groups wanting to improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods. Stephens returned to TLC in in 2012 with a desire to learn how to build his own outreach to provide mentorship, entrepreneurial opportunities, and educational support for local youth.
“It helped me, on a personal level, to know that what I was doing was needed, and that I was a part of a family that was doing good in the world,” he said.
TLC not only taught him how to build a steady brick-by-brick foundation for his own nonprofit, Good Life Youth Foundation, but allowed him to motivate classmates with probing questions and an engaging presence.
For Stephens, the outcomes of the TLC program are as emotional as they are encouraging. He feels the program forces participants to look at their own lives and self-interests where, as community leaders, they often overlook their own needs to help others.
“Hasan was an immediate ‘star’ of TLC, grasping the key concepts of leadership, community organizing, and grantwriting; he put them to work right away for his nonprofit,” said Beth Broadway, TLC Lead Facilitator. “It was his passion and intelligence that led Olive and me to ask him to co-facilitate the Leadership Classroom.”
His level of engagement and experience as a Sociology professor at SUNY Cortland and a youth consultant for Nourishing Tomorrows Leaders and the Department of Justice Youth Taskforce made him a strong candidate to continue the spark by serving as TLC Co-Facilitator.
“It was clear from his first day as a TLC participant that Hasan brings tremendous qualities that inspire everyone whom he interacts with,” said Olive Sephuma, Director of Community Grantmaking. “He serves as a great model for the community leaders that he mentors and works with through TLC. We are thrilled to have him serving in the role of facilitator for this program.”
To motivate future leaders in the program, he taps into their passion. He says that TLC students are insightful, want to go out into the community and are people who are ready to act. His goal is to empower students to communicate efficiently, to value the powerful one-to-one organizing model and to take their training very seriously whether in the classroom or as a TLC graduate.
“I love being a part of a family of people who want change in the world,” said Stephens. “I really do have a goal to change the world. I hope that my work is able to change and shift a better culture for youth and have an impact on a large scale.”
Listen to a few fun tidbits about Hasan Stephens below: