Prep for Prep celebrated its 40th Anniversary at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, New York City. Founded by South Bronx school teacher Gary Simons in 1978 with 25 students and eleven independent school partners, today the program has grown to provide leadership development opportunities to over 700 students enrolled in 80 independent day and boarding schools across the Northeast. The Prep Community includes over 5,000 students and alumni.
Prep’s 40th Anniversary Alumni Summit was a full day of panel discussions, food, and entertainment. Alumni panels on entrepreneurship and political involvement, and the Alumni Prize Reception, were live-streamed on YouTube for alumni and guests outside of the city.
The day started with "Leaders Don’t Just Happen
," a panel discussion on the journeys and achievements of several Prep alum entrepreneurs. The panelists included: Kareem Cook (VI)
, Owner & Chief Marketing Officer, Naturade; Karen Tappin (IX)
, CEO, Karen’s Body Beautiful; Ryan Williams (LA I)
, Founder, Cadre; and Angela Yee (IX)
, Radio Show Co-Host of “The Breakfast Club” and Owner of Juices for Life. Angelina Darrisaw Cheeks (XXI)
, Founder & CEO, C-Suite Coach served as moderator.
The second panel, "A Seat at the Table
," showcased alum leaders in politics including: Troy Clair (XV)
, Chief of Staff, Congressman G.K. Butterfield, US House of Representatives; Erica Terry Derryck (VII)
, Director of Global Communications, Mozilla and former Director of Communications for Oakland, CA Mayor Libby Schaaf; Elbert Garcia (IX)
, Communications Director, The New Florida Majority; Nicole Isaac (XII)
, Head of North America Policy, LinkedIn; and Pablo Zevallos (XXVIII)
, New York County Democratic Committee. The panel was moderated by Imani Dawson (IX)
, Vice President and Managing Partner, MJM Strategy.
The day continued with an Alumni Association Meeting with Prep’s Chief Executive, Aileen Hefferren, and Alumni Council President, Leslie-Bernard Joseph (P9 XI). They answered questions from the audience and online viewers.
The evening’s program culminated with the Alumni Prize Reception. Starting in 1989, the Alumni Prize has been awarded annually to an alum in recognition of his or her outstanding service and commitment to Prep. The 2018 Alumni Prize recipient is Sue Meng (XV).
In 2003, Sue was the first Rhodes Scholar from Prep for Prep and Brearley. She is currently a Partner at Debevoise & Plimpton, and has been on Prep's Board of Trustees since 2015. She is also the first alum to serve on the Executive Committee and Oversight Committee of the Board. Most recently, Sue conferred scrolls to Prep students at the 2018 Lilac Ball.
During her acceptance speech, Sue said, "I feel wholly undeserving of this award because it would take me an entire lifetime to give back to Prep a small fraction of what it has given me. I think all my fellow alumni here today would agree that Prep was the turning point in our lives, the fork in the road that made everything else possible."
The celebrations concluded with a cocktail reception featuring alum chefs Marco Saavedra (P9 XVI) of La Morada and Leticia “Skai” Young (X) of Lolo’s Seafood Shack, both of which have been previously profiled by the New York Times.
Thank you to all of the alums who made this day special!