Magazine article The Crisis

Caring for Young People

Magazine article The Crisis

Caring for Young People

Article excerpt

[SERVICE]

Richard R. Buery Jr. is the first Black chief of the Children's Aid Society

For the past decade, Richard R. Buery Jr. has been the mastermind behind several innovative initiatives designed to improve the lives of economically disadvantaged youth in New York City. But in October, Buery, 38, became the first African American and the youngest person to be named chief executive of the Children's Aid Society, a private charitable group that provides comprehensive services to 150,000 children and their families in New York City.

"I didn't think that a 30-something-year-old Black guy from Brooklyn who ran smaller agencies was the most obvious candidate," said Buery, a married father of two. "But I eventually realized that they were open to new types of leadership."

In many ways, Buery's life has prepared him for this moment. Born in the East New York section of Brooklyn, his parents provided stability in a neighborhood known for crime and poverty. It wasn't until Buery attended Stuyvesant High School - a specialized math and science public school in Manhattan - that he became acutely aware of the widespread disparity in educational opportunities.

"I realized that we have two New Yorks," he said. "There are places like East New York and then there are other neighborhoods with more resources and different expectations."

It's a lesson that left an indelible impression on Buery. After his sophomore year at Harvard, Buery partnered with college classmates to create a summer program for children in a Boston housing project. He worked for nearly a year as a public-interest attorney in New York after graduating from Yale Law School, but it wasn't long before he found himself reevaluating his priorities and began pursuing work in youth advocacy. …

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