CEE Welcomes Agapi Gessesse As Executive Director
The CEE board is delighted to announce the appointment of Agapi Gessesse as Executive Director of the CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals, effective July 16, 2018.
Agapi is passionate about CEE’s mission-driven and evidence-based work. She brings superior communication skills, determination, intelligence and lived experience. Since 2015, Agapi served as Executive Director of POV 3rd Street, an organization that helps marginalized youth break into the media industry through training, mentorship, job placement and professional development opportunities. Her success at POV 3rd Street overseeing programs and services with a focus on racialized youth facing multiple employment barriers positions her well for her new role at CEE.
Through prior work as a fundraising professional, social enterprise manager and coordinator of youth leadership programs, Agapi has established a record of accomplishment in operations management, program implementation and evaluation, financial stewardship, partner development and community engagement. Her experience includes positions with United Way of Greater Toronto and the Toronto Community Housing Corporation. Agapi holds a Master of Arts in Social Justice from Royal Roads University and is a graduate of the City Leaders program.
The CEE board and staff team extend our warm welcome to Agapi. We are confident she will provide strong leadership to CEE as we embark on our next stage of development and sustainable growth. Agapi will be reaching out to our members, alumni, and partners in the coming months. She looks forward to continuing to work closely with all of you to build on CEE’s legacy of innovation and success.
Farewell Message From Kofi Hope
I am writing to you on my last day as Executive Director at the CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals. Wow, what an amazing journey this has been. It has been a tremendous honor to serve as the leader of such a professional, dedicated and intelligent team. I truly believe the CEE Team are world-class when it comes to doing innovative programming for marginalized youth. And what an amazing opportunity I was given in 2012 by United Way Toronto (via the Youth Challenge Fund) to steward a multi-million-dollar community investment. Over the past 6 years CEE has grown from an idea to an established, non-profit which has graduated over 120 youth in 5 years and now is at the scale to graduate 60 a year. Over 2000 people have attended our events, we have served youth from all over the city and now sit at policy tables with all levels of government advocating for real solutions for Black youth.
Though we have metrics to show our successes, from the very beginning CEE was about quality over quantity. About taking the time with each member to deliver holistic programming that built their resiliency, brilliance and potential. We committed to focus on youth who face significant barriers, but just need the right opportunities and a supportive community to succeed. It’s been so inspiring to see members start and keep their first jobs, open businesses, reunite with their family, break cycles of negativity, step onto national stages and become mentors in their own neighborhoods.
So why am I leaving? Definitely not due to a lack of love for my community, this organization or my team. It’s simply time for me to explore new horizons and opportunities to grow and make a greater impact. This process has been done hand-in-hand with our amazing volunteer board and I am 100% confident in the future for CEE. This idea that we are a part of -that Black youth have incredible potential and that we need focused programs for those youth not served by the existing system- is a powerful one. It’s bigger than any one person. But it’s also an idea that needs support and I look forward to continuing to support CEE moving forward. I hope all of you continue to support this idea as well. Because though we’ve done good work, there is so much more that needs to be done.
Where am I going? For at least the next year I will be wearing multiple-hats and doing change work at a more of a systems level. In September I will start a part-time role as a Senior Policy Advisor at the Wellesley Institute. I have also accepted a one year posting as the Bousfeild Distinguished Visitor in Planning at the University of Toronto, in their Graduate School of Urban Planning. In-between I will be running my own consulting practice. Moving forward you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In closing, thank you so much to all the people who have supported CEE. To the amazing staff and all of the volunteers. To Cheryl Prescod and the team at the Black Creek Community Health Centre who helped nurture CEE over the foundational years. To everyone at WoodGreen Community Services who continue to support us today. And thanks to all of our program partners and funders who have believed in CEE and worked with us to deliver our programs. But most of all thank you to our CEE Program Members: it’s been an absolute honor to walk with you on your journeys, to learn from you and to support you where I could. My life has been made so much richer by this experience at CEE and I will treasure it always.
Yours in Solidarity,
Dr. Kofi Hope to leave the helm of the CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals
The co-founder and Executive Director of the CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals, Dr. Kofi Hope, informed the CEE Board that he will be stepping down by the summer of 2018, ending a more than 6-year run leading one of Toronto’s most innovative agencies serving Black youth.
Dr. Hope and the Board have been engaged in succession planning for more than a year. CEE embarks on this leadership transition with a track record of graduating youth with a new sense of direction and skills, a strong strategic plan, solid funding, an engaged Board and a highly-skilled and dedicated staff team.
“I love this work and will always be passionate about CEE’s mission and its people,” Dr. Hope said. “We’ve achieved many significant milestones and it’s time for me to pursue other interests”.
Over the last six years CEE evolved from being a start-up funded by the Ontario government and United Way to address violence and disadvantage affecting youth in Black communities. It has grown into a dynamic hub that builds viable career paths while offering services that deal directly with the life situations of Black youth.
“Kofi’s leadership has been remarkable,” said Earl Miller, Board Chair of CEE. “He and his team created impressive programs with over 100 graduates, an 80 percent program retention rate and almost 8o percent of graduates going on to school or work after program completion. We now have capacity to serve 60 youth each year and are looking at annual growth in our programs in the years to come.”
“Kofi is deeply passionate about his work here and he will be missed,” said Jenine Gregory, CEE’s Treasurer and a member of its Executive Director Search Committee. “But he’s left a strong legacy and an exciting opportunity for a new leader who can take us to the next level of organizational success. We’re delighted he’s working with the Board to make this a smooth transition.”
The CEE Board has an executive director search process in place and recruitment for the position is underway.
More about Kofi Hope http://spacing.ca/jane-jacobs-prize/jane-jacobs-prize-winners/kofi-hope/