Inspired by my 2011 Year in Review, I wanted to highlight some of the great milestones and goals from the previous year. This isn’t meant to brag, but more as a reflection of all of the hard work I’ve put in to accomplishing many goals. What I’ve been able to do for the past couple of years is doing a better job of celebrating the good things that have transpired, which helps me aim for an even better next year. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t think it was possible for me to have a better 2012 than I had in 2011, but I’ve been fortunate enough to have had an amazing 2012. All of the credit goes to my amazing teammates, friends, and family, who have gone above and beyond to support me on this journey. Without them, none of this would be possible.
Highlights in chronological order:
In a scenario that is still surreal to me, my film For Flow debuted on HBO and Cinemax this year! When creating the film, we never considered the possibility of this sort of 2-year licensing arrangement, but this was definitely encouraging to continue to create more films in 2013. We didn’t film anything in 2012, but that will certainly change in 2013.
In one of the most amazing honors I received this year was winning a Gold Medal at the 2012 Edison Awards in NYC, for the 21st Century Youth Project, as the most innovative educational programs in the country. Wow! I’m still in shock.
I also had the honor of presenting on Social Change Filmmaking at the Chicago Counts conference in Chicago. This was my first time presenting as a filmmaker. I’ve done it as a techie, but never before as a filmmaker.
I was honored to have had the opportunity to sit on a panel discussion in front of a talented group of folks who were doing great things personally and professionally. Included in the audience were professional athletes, owners of the hottest nightspots in Chicago, and civic and non-profit leaders.
I was honored to be named Chicagoan of the Week by The Top Sheet magazine, citing my nonprofit, teaching, and film success.
I was the Keynote speaker at the Young and Powerful Group, a non-profit organization dedicated to civic engagement and train young professionals to serve disadvantaged communities in their brunch series.
I was one of 25 people in the country selected for the (all expense paid) Opportunity Nation Summit in DC. The Opportunity Nation Leaders Program is a national network of vocal opportunity advocates with personal experience facing barriers to opportunity and a track record of making meaningful change in their respective communities. Acting as community mobilizers and lending their insight to our policy agenda, Opportunity Leaders will be essential voices in the Opportunity Nation campaign.
On September 19th, I had the pleasure of getting a full tour of the White House with White House Chef and good friend, Sam Kass. So much history all wrapped up in one place. I had a chance to check out the West Wing, the oval office, and the White House garden. I can’t wait to go back.
I was pleased to be invited to join the Board of Advisors for the Depaul University’s Social Enterprise Collective. The Collaborative achieves its purpose through events that bring DePaul students and socially-purposeful entrepreneurs together.
We were pleased to launch the first Chicago International Social Change Film Festival. In what was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to pull off, it was also one of the most rewarding, surreal experiences I’ve had. I can’t wait to do it next year!
I was pleased to have had an opportunity to sit on the Grant Panel for the Chicago Digital Media Production Fund. An independent panel of nine media professionals chose eight projects out of 116 applications submitted by the March 19 deadline. Grant awards ranged from $1,500 to $10,000.
I was the featured speaker in the University of Chicago’s Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series. I was truly honored, humbled, and excited to come back to my alma mater, and impart a few of the things I’ve learned along the way, on this incredible journey. The University of Chicago was one of my first experiences in understanding the value of a strong work ethic, for it was the most challenging experience in my life.
We were pleased to announce that the 21st Century Youth Project is a proud recipient of the Illinois Broadband Innovation Fund grant. I am ecstatic with this opportunity and will do everything I can to make Illinois proud of recognizing us. This will enable us to better train future leaders and create a generation of students who will chart their own paths.
In what I call a “playground of entrepreneurship”, we launched a 10,000 square foot facility where we will host co-working space, conference rooms, classes, workshops, and other events. This came together in an amazing way, and one of the biggest launches of my life.
I was selected as a New Leaders Council Fellow for 2013. I’m looking forward to their curriculum and an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals, making a difference in our communities. New Leaders Council (NLC) works to train and promote the progressive political entrepreneurs of tomorrow — trendsetters, elected officials and civically-engaged leaders in business and industry who will shape the future landscape.
I was named a Top 100 Web-Savvy Professor for 2012, by BestOnlineUniversities.com. From the CEO of the company: We work hard every day to promote the use of communication technology on the web for the improvement of education opportunities. We noticed that you’re active on the web and that you use online media to provide extra value to your students and the broader online community of learners.
It’s been a great year! Can’t wait to see what 2013 brings.