Forty Under Forty: Unique Brathwaite

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Unique Brathwaite

Executive Director LIFT-New York


WE ALL HAVE A ROLE TO PLAY

Fast fact: Braithwaite’s favorite cartoon growing up? Fraggle Rock


Brathwaite heads LIFT-New York, a nonprofit working to break the cycle of poverty for South Bronx families by helping clients strengthen their personal, social and financial supports. Before joining LIFT in 2015, Brathwaite worked in education, first by designing college and career-focused curricula for high school students at iMentor, and later with the GO Project, an early academic intervention program. Born in Brooklyn, she lives in Harlem and works in the Bronx.

 

NYN: HOW DID YOU BECOME INTERESTED IN YOUR FIELD?

UB: I am born and raised in Brooklyn, I’m a New York native and I’ve always done service in my community. It’s been part of my family values and the schools that I went to, so it’s always been important to me that once I graduated from college and started my career that I would continue working in communities that are important to me: communities of color that are under-resourced.

 

NYN: DESCRIBE AN ACCOMPLISHMENT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF.

UB: There are many things that I’m proud of in terms of the work that I’ve done. When I think of my leadership in this sector, it’s been important to work with folks that are interested in the field, interested in this kind of work and really being able to provide professional development opportunities for them to grow and become emerging leaders themselves. In addition to work that I’ve done directly with the community – the parents, the families, the schools – it’s also been important to me to be able to provide the right kind of leadership and development opportunities for young people who also want to make the commitment in this field. I’m really proud of that.

 

NYN: WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU’D LIKE TO ACCOMPLISH BEFORE YOU RETIRE?

UB: When I think of the contribution that I want to have in the nonprofit sector and in the community, it’s being able to bring strong, high-quality, high-impact services to communities and people I care about. I want to be a good partner to different kinds of stakeholders, whether it’s families, institutions, schools. I want to be someone who is trustworthy and dedicated to doing good quality work. When I think about my successes, there’s nothing that I’ve ever done by myself. I’ve always had a mentor or someone else or a group of people in my corner to be supportive and so I do think that it’s a moral responsibility that I have to provide support and opportunities to others.

 

NYN: WHAT DO YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT YOUR JOB?

UB: Because poverty is so massive, it’s so complicated and nuanced, everyone can play a role in being able to address systemic change. Young people have a role, parents have a role, CEO’s have a role, institutions have a role, colleges, funders – everyone can play a role in this. And I think that it’s a missed opportunity if we’re not thinking longer term together as partners in this to be able to address poverty at all kinds of levels.

 

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