Coming from “the other side of the tracks” makes the list of hurdles faced by some Baltimore youth. Socioeconomic disparities are indicative of the continuous need for activism to promote change.
At an age when many contemporaries were still trying to decipher life, Zeke Cohen planted seedlings for his non-profit organization.
Today, as executive director and co-founder of The Intersection, Cohen is responsible for paving pathways to greener grass for many underserved Baltimore youth.
Where did you receive your higher education?
“I received my B.A. from Goucher College in political science and my master’s in public policy from Johns Hopkins University.”
How has your educational background contributed to your career accomplishments thus far?
“As a kid with learning disabilities, I never saw myself as an intellectual until I got to Goucher. In college, I learned that in order to compensate for my weaknesses, I needed to collaborate with my peers, follow my passions and work my tail off. These values helped shape my non-profit The Intersection, where I am able to teach leadership and civic engagement to amazing kids from Baltimore. Despite having grown up in poverty, my students have given speeches at the U.S. Department of Education, helped pass two laws and have all matriculated into college with scholarships.”
In your opinion, how does activism play a role in leadership?
“Activism is significant because it requires leaders to have skin in the game; but true leaders exhibit moral courage, without assuming moral clarity. I often find myself becoming outraged by a New York Times article about some corrupt government or corporation. My first instinct is to personally lead the hunger strike, or divestment campaign. Fortunately, my loved ones are able to talk me back to reality.”
Do you have any advice that you would like to share with fellow youth who would like to become leaders in their community?
“Lead with love for children, families and communities. Because after it’s all said and done, after you’ve taken your last exam, passed your last class and taught your last lesson, the only thing people will remember is how much you loved them.”
Keisha Oduor is a professional writer and entrepreneur who resides in Baltimore, Maryland. She has a degree in Communications and French from New York University with work experience in publishing, nonprofits, healthcare administration and program management. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.