Company: AWOL All Walks of Life Inc.
Title: Executive director
• Growing AWOL’s budget by more than 1,000 percent since 2008
• Serving more than 1,000 Savannah youth since 2003
• Utilizing more than 20,000 hours of volunteer hours since 2003 valued at over a half-million dollars in cost savings to the organization
• Selection as one of the nation’s top 50 youth arts programs in 2010 and 2011
• 2009 features in national publications, Edutopia and Black Enterprise magazine
• Selection as 2010 MLK Observance Day Committee Humanitarian of the Year award
Q. How will you do business differently in the coming year or decade?
A. Leaner. My faith and belief in a higher power always leads me to believe that “all things are for a reason.” The economic recession has taught us all how to dig in harder and learn to operate leaner. For nonprofits, this was even moreso as we are already experts at making things work often with meager resources.
In the next decade AWOL and similar NPO’s will seek creative ways of generating revenue. The current nonprofit business model is insufficient to weather another recession of the scope and magnitude of 2009.
Q. What technological or cultural advances are you looking forward to in the coming year or decade?
A. Those of us who carry smartphones are all too knowledgeable of how these devices assist us in our everyday lives. What is the next step for these types of devices? Will they be implanted in our bodies since they are already seemingly like appendages? Moreover, I see a flourishing new job market for young people who at this point are already more adept in the use of such technology.
Q. What qualities or assets will distinguish Savannah and preserve/advance our local economy?
A. Savannah’s ability to hold fast to her roots is both a strength and a weakness. So long as Savannah continues to remain open to new and creative people and ideas, our local economy will continue to see growth and advancements.
Q. What economic drivers and business sectors promise the most growth in the next year or decade and why?
A. Without a doubt the technology industry with a particular focus on clean energy technologies as well as mobile devices like the iPad and smartphones going to the next level. The connection with AWOL is simple to start getting these industry professional in front of inner city youth and teaching our young people about the endless high wage job opportunities that will become available to some of the best and brightest.
Q. What college degrees will be the most in-demand in the Savannah area and why?
A. Software Engineers and other STEM-related degrees will be in high demand as our country works to regain its status as the leader in innovation. Again, finding ways to put industry professionals in the midst of our young people is at the forefront of AWOL’s latest five-year strategic plan for our arts and technology programs.
Q. What advice do you have for other Savannah leaders in the coming year or decade?
A. Keep your eyes open to emerging markets in Savannah, namely the film and media production industry. AWOL is currently in serious conversations with industry leaders to expand our intern and apprenticeship opportunities with several local media production firms such as Capital A Productions, Stage Front Presentation Systems and Meddin Studios.
Q. What innovation of yours do you hope will be remembered by future generations?
A. Becoming the “new nonprofit” has been a catch phrase of mine for quite some time. What that simply means is that from the outset, AWOL was developed with full intent to utilize our by-products as revenue drivers. Finally, the ability to utilize social media as a way to make direct contact with potential funders is a particular talent of mine, one which has since 2010 netted AWOL nearly $50,000 in private dollars from a single twitter post. With that being said, please feel free to follow me @awolinc!