For over three years, Taylor Strode has served as a member of the New Leaders, NYC Outward Bound School’s junior board that brings together a diverse group of young professionals who support the mission through volunteering and fundraising.
Professionally, Taylor works at Dow Jones as the Global Program Manager for Diversity & Inclusion, helping to redefine the company’s philosophies around inclusion and promote all forms of diversity in the office and culture.
Taylor has a long history of volunteering in NYC: “I’m not from here,” she says, “I wanted to find new ways to meet people. But I also wanted to get more involved with the community and do something different,” to develop and promote the leadership of young women or students of color.
When she first moved to NYC, she volunteered occasionally with New York Cares, but wanted more opportunities to work with students directly. When she saw on her company’s volunteer network that Brooklyn Collaborative, one of our Network Schools, was looking for a young professional to speak to their 11th-grade internship seminar students, she jumped on it!
To her surprise, she was the only speaker that day, but she didn’t let that rattle her. She spoke frankly with the students about how it’s taken “heart, head, and guts” for her to reach her goals. She, in turn, was so inspired by the students’ curiosity and engagement, that she asked the teacher how she could get more involved, and it’s from him that she first learned about New Leaders.
Just a few weeks later, Taylor found herself at a New Leaders meet-and-greet, held at a local climbing gym, where she got to meet some of the New Leaders for the first time. Impressed by the other members, Taylor decided to accept an invitation to attend the staff holiday reception, where she got to hear from the staff themselves. “It was really then that I started to learn more about the organization.”
Hearing straight from staff and teachers about their devotion to their students’ success sealed the deal for Taylor. “The organization takes the time to push the students beyond what they see in New York City,” says Taylor, a lesson she wishes had been more present in her own middle and high school.
Since joining, Taylor has rallied support from her friends and family to raise funds for NYC Outward Bound Schools and she’s also taken advantage of lots of opportunities to work directly with students. Last year, she devoted time off to helping students and their families work through the complicated FAFSA, a critical task for students seeking financial aid for college.
“It really hit me [that day] many of the students were the first generation to try to go to college. A lot of these kids don’t have parents or have families who can help them [with these sorts of tasks]. But [the parents] are willing to go out with their children to get that help, to say, I want you to go to college, we’ll do what we need to do to get you through the door.” She was glad to be there to help those families achieve this important milestone.
She also attended STEAM Night, a showcase of student work, at our Network School James Baldwin. She was amazed at what many of our students had demonstrated and conceived for their projects. “I was not doing this stuff in high school!”
When Taylor talks about her role as a New Leader, she says “I hope I can be a role model for other people,” not just the students in our schools, but also other young professionals who may want to get involved in their community. She adds, “I hope that I’ve had some effect [on the students I’ve encountered]. Even if I can’t touch all, I’ve touched one.”