A few years ago  I approached a vibrant writers summer camp program at Pine Manor College in Massachusetts.  They  had a MFA program and when fall arrived, they  suggested that I apply.  Considering that I had not gotten my bachelors degree I thought this was crazy. I was in my 40’s finally figuring out what I wanted to do and my lack of education was potentially going to stop me. I heard the echoes of yesterdays, my mothers being the loudest. “One day you will regret not going to college.” And the day had arrived. The director heard my concerns and suggested I apply anyway. The vigorous program wasn’t for beginners but she said sometimes they give credit for life experience. We both knew I had experience but it had to shine so vibrantly and passionately in my  application essay that it was irrefutably grounds for me to enter and complete the program.

The essay I began to write was about being  born in the same year Dr. Martin Luther King JR. gave his speech “ I Have a Dream”, in 1963. I was at a point in my life where I hoped something I would write would make a difference. I thought long and hard about how I wanted to be remembered and wrote about being inspired by the greatest mentor of all, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. What I thought I was going to write and what I ended up writing were two completely different things but both were completely inspired by the same man, the same message: “I Have a Dream.”

Last year when the Over My Shoulder Song I co-wrote  (listen here) was broadcast live to 127 countries as part of the 8th Annual celebration honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. here in Boston, my dream came true. With my guidance and the help of many volunteers the Over My Shoulder Foundation began to soar. Over My Shoulder has connected me with the most amazing group of people. One of these amazing people you will read about below. Stephen Powell is being recognized by the White House as a leader who has followed the footprints of Dr. King. Please share our joy and meet our new friend, Champion of Change, Stephen Powell. – Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founder


Stephen Powell, Champion of Change


Office of Communications


January 10, 2012


White House Highlights Stephen Powell as a “Champion of Change” For Following in the Footsteps of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

WASHINGTON, DC – Thursday, January 12th, eight local leaders who are following in the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. will be honored at the White House as Champions of Change. These men and women, who include business and non-profit leaders and community volunteers, have each taken great strides to improve the lives of others through volunteerism and in providing economic opportunity to others in their community.


The Champions of Change program was created as a part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative. Each week, a different issue is highlighted and groups of Champions, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community leaders, are recognized for the work they are doing to better their communities.


To watch this event live, visit www.whitehouse.gov/live at 1:30 pm ET January 12th.


Stephen Powell is the Executive Director at Mentoring USA based in New York, NY. A native of New Jersey, Stephen was born and raised in Newark and East Orange, respectively and now resides in New York City with his wife and family.

He remains driven to lead program expansion and technical assistance efforts for Mentoring USA across the nation in major cities such as Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Newark, NJ. Prior to joining Mentoring USA, Stephen worked in program development and management for local and national non-profits and toured the world with percussive-based dance troupe, Step Afrika, which was developed through his collegiate affiliation, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated (Beta Chapter- Howard University). His passion for mentoring and community are visible is his roles leading the Trinity faith-based mentoring initiative at Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark, NJ, chairing the USTA Eastern Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and providing technical assistance to the National CARES Mentoring Movement. He is also an Advisory Board Member to the New York City Young Men’s Initiative and leads an Open Society Institute sponsored male mentor recruitment initiative entitled MEN-TOUR.



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