Juma Crawford, Lewis Family Foundation President, was awarded the 2019 Jim O’Brien Leadership Award. Juma was honored as an associate who “has the guts to tell the truth – no matter how ugly, who tackles tough issues and makes hard decisions.”
Five years ago, predatory colleges were taking advantage of our young people in Massachusetts. Juma and his team created the Bigger Than My Block Movement, with over 3,500 young people joining the first-ever website directing young people to the right affordable colleges. He also led the only foundation in Boston with a Youth Advisory Council, where young people from the community advised us on how to reach our goals in doubling college graduation rates and getting young people well-paying jobs.
In 2017, he brought together non-profit and for-profit leaders to commit to employing over 250 young people of color. To date, over 478 young people have been placed into positions, totaling over $18.5M worth of jobs. In 2018-2019, he led in the creation of Strong Leader, a one-of-a-kind Program in the nation that provided 10 leaders, 100% leaders of color, with individual executive coaching to help them and their team meet their goals. This year, he is leading the foundation in partnership with the city of Boston to create a Public Private Partnership and revitalize Clifford Park in the Newmarket Square neighborhood, envisioning a beautiful, safe park for over 5,000 young people.
Associates describe Crawford as larger than life and as one who asks for aggressive truth. He excels in growing our Community Advisor Members, helping them get great results and become high performers. He cares so deeply for our young people, that on the day of his son’s birth, he still hosted an important community meeting.
The Jim O’Brien Leadership Award was created by the Lewis Family and named for our friend, coach, and mentor, a lifelong leader known for his gutsy truth-telling. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the U.S. Army’s Elite Airborne and Ranger Schools, Jim led numerous troops, served in Vietnam and achieved the rank of Captain. He worked at General Investment and Development (GID) for 27 years, retiring as the company’s Chairman. In 1995, he joined KIC and GCC and served in many key strategic advisor, board, and leadership roles. Jim O’Brien exemplifies moral courage, integrity, compassion and an uncommon grace and humility in his approach to life and work. The award in his name honors associates of similar character.
As the 2019 recipient of the award, Juma received $5,000 to gift to a strong leader in the community and we are proud he chose to support an annual Father’s Day initiative on Intervale Street in Roxbury.