On Feb. 22, the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship welcomed three alumni back to campus to speak on “Wesleyan Black Male Achievement: Narratives of Power, Purpose and Resilience.” The panel included Shawn Dove ’84, John Johnson ’82 and Marquis Lobban ’85 and was held in conjunction with Black History Month. Pictured at left is Makaela Kingsley, director of the Patricelli Center.
Dove is the CEO of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, a national membership organization dedicated to ensuring the growth, sustainability and impact of leaders and organizations focused on improving the life outcomes of America’s black men and boys. Under Dove’s direction, CBMA’s efforts led to the creation of the nation’s first-ever Black Male Achievement fellowship for social entrepreneurs. “When we were students at Wesleyan, social entrepreneurship wasn’t even a term, but the competencies existed,” Dove said. “I was constantly experimenting and discovering who I wanted to be. Even at 55 years of age, I feel like I’m just getting started. Lifelong learning doesn’t stop.”
Johnson is director of the Madison Square Boys and Girls Club at the Thomas S. Murphy Clubhouse in Brooklyn, N.Y. He’s had more than 30 years working in youth advocacy. He currently offers college and career counseling for the teen population. Having lived with bipolar disorder since the age of 17, Johnson is an outspoken advocate for those living with mental illness. He is the spokesperson for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and he speaks at high schools, churches and hospitals all over New York City, delivering the message of hope, understanding and acceptance while breaking the silence and stigma of mental illness. “When I was searching for a college, I visited Wesleyan and the black students here embraced me. I felt like Wesleyan had a heart,” Johnson said. “The whole Wesleyan experience was about caring and finding a career where I could give back.”
Lobban is a self-employed businessman, working primarily as a foreign currency trader and financial coach. With more than 25 years of experience in New York’s financial district, in roles that included serving as a pension consultant and corporate executive, he has a deep understanding of the stock markets and portfolio creation. Lobban is committed to building community as demonstrated by his service as a local elected official, chairman of a local political organization, and financial wellness seminar presenter and facilitator.
“Black lives are in jeopardy, and we need to say, ‘help us.’ There’s going to be people who irritate you, but see past that, and love them,” Lobban said. “You can learn a lot from them.”
While at Wesleyan, Dove worked as a sports editor for The Argus and played on the basketball team with Johnson and Lobban. “As black men, we need to take risks. Stop stalling on your calling. Figure out—as black men, fathers, husbands, brothers—what actions do we need to take?”
More than 60 students, faculty and staff met with the alumni over the course of the day. At right, Nate Taylor ’18 speaks about his social enterprise, Nate Taylor Coaching. At his left is Jaylen Berry ’18, founder and executive director of The Jaylen D. Berry Foundation.
Wesleyan Posse Fellow Lance Williams ’20 speaks about his role with the Wesleyan Design Tank, which uses human-centered design methodologies to facilitate problem-solving locally. Sankriti Malik ’20, at left, also is involved with the Design Tank. Pictured in back is Rhea Drozdenko ’18, the 2017–18 Civic Engagement Fellow, and at right is Kelly Acevedo ’20 who is creating Caput Productions through the Patricelli Center.
Thafir Elzofri ’19 is planning to collaborate with Adalah, Yemen’s first legal NGO that provides international support and promotes respect for human rights. (Photos by Olivia Drake)