KEZIA STEGEMOELLER Obama Academy director helps build young male leaders
PHOTO: REBECA POSADAS-NAVA
BY NICHOLAS SAKELARIS
It doesn’t take long for Kezia Stegemoeller’s passion to show through. Just get her talking about the students at the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy in Dallas—currently numbering 460—and the many successes they’ve had. She calls them “big smile moments.” Stegemoeller is the executive director for the Friends of the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy, a nonprofit that raises money for the Dallas Independent School District magnet school. Her wide-ranging efforts may entail securing a grant to send students on a college visit, giving them the chance to study abroad, or funding full-time college advisers to help students stay on track for graduation and college. “There are so many parts of my job that I’m incredibly proud of,” she says. “Exposure is so important for any young person, but especially from communities where their parents and family members may not have access or relationships to make that happen.” The school will graduate its fifth class of seniors this year, and so far it has an enviable record—a 100 percent graduation rate and college attendance rate.
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“Without the natural curiosity and interest, my job wouldn’t be possible,” Stegemoeller says. “I bet so much on our young men because I believe in them so much. They work so hard and they try so hard.” No matter what she’s doing, these youngsters are on her mind. In 2018, she participated in the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Leadership Dallas program. This class, and the alumni group she participated in afterward, gave her a direct pipeline to Dallas’ business elite, the perfect role models for the students at the school. “There are so many corporations here. Being part of the Dallas Regional Chamber (DRC) allows me to be a bridge,” Stegemoeller said. “I formed relationships with presidents
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