Yet, that was just the beginning. His achievements there caught the eye of Ashoka Youth Ventures, the non-profit arm of the globally based community of leading social entrepreneurs. As Regional Director for the U.S. Mid-Atlantic U.S. and later all of Latin America, Davis oversaw staff and volunteer efforts that provided more than 900 youth teams with the inspiration tools, and financial support experience to lead their own transformative social ventures. That is, until leadership at the U.S. Department of Education recruited him to help carry out President Obama’s efforts to improve the academic achievement of Latino students. “I have been lucky enough that people who do similar work have reached out to me about opportunities,” said Davis. “Having been around this field, the Latino community, and having done work in the general broadest sense of education, the Initiative reached out and realized that I might be a good candidate.”
Davis and his two older sisters grew up in the Mt. Vernon section of New York City as the children of Jamaican and Mexican parents who instilled a strong sense of community service in their children as well as the belief that they had a responsibility to support and engage their neighbors. “[My parents] always had this sense of contributing to the community that they were apart of, or where they came from, whether it was my dad at his job or my mom with her volunteer work,” said Davis.
“As much as I didn’t know which was going to be my next job or what exactly was going to be my contribution to the world, I knew that I wanted to serve young people, that I wanted to serve the Latino community and that I wanted to find ways to do that effectively.”
What’s important, says the 41-year old father and husband, is that you earn a reputation of success in the very same thing that you love to do the most. Davis believes that society gives us a chance to do that early and often. “A former boss at Ashoka put it this way: it’s as simple as believing in young people and giving them the encouragement, support, structure and responsibility of making their own decisions,” said Davis. “Obviously, depending on the person and age group, some will need more guidance than others. But it’s about helping them figure out the process for decision-making and then giving them the opportunities to make those decisions themselves.” So what does the maker of leaders believe are some keys for success?