First Black CEO Of Big Brothers Big Sisters Aims to Honor Ahmaud Arbery Under Leadership
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First Black CEO Of Big Brothers Big Sisters Artis Stevens Aims to Honor Ahmaud Arbery Under Leadership

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America Artis Stevens

In another historic first in November 2020, Georgia-native Artis Stevens was named the first Black CEO Of youth mentorship nonprofit Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

He shared with CNBC Make It that the first person that came to mind when receiving the title, was Ahmaud Arbery

Hailing from the same small town of Brunswick as Arbery, Stevens recalled, “The street he walked on and was murdered on, I walked on as a kid.” 

The three men convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment were additionally found guilty on Tuesday, of federal hate crimes, which included violating Arbery’s civil rights and attempted kidnapping.

Upon hearing about Arbery’s death in February 2020, Stevens began questioning if more could be done for his community, after having been a decades-long youth development executive at associations like Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the National 4-H Council, and the Atlanta Public Housing Agency.

Stevens’ plan for the Big Brothers Big Sisters network is to provide opportunities for children such as himself growing up, who had to make do with less than means. If it wasn’t for him being deemed as “gifted,” mentors and education would have been too far beyond reach. His objective, however, pertains to all children. 

Years before becoming the head of the 116-year-old organization, Stevens set his sights for law school. On a visit back to his hometown after college, he was interviewed at a childhood playground in the public housing community, in which the interviewer ultimately set him on a different life course after discussing transforming the community he grew up in. 

In Stevens’ 25-year career of positive youth mentorship, the best advice he shares for the future generation is: “You don’t have to be perfect, you’ve just got to be present. You’ve got to be yourself… I call failure ‘learning’… People call it ‘failing forward,’ but for me, there is no such thing as failure. It’s all about learning and continuing to build and grow.”