Richard leads with a collaborative approach and strives to address root causes of social issues. He builds teams that focus on the problem and search collaboratively for contributing factors before seeking solutions. He aims to engage people from diverse backgrounds and to build bridges among groups, as he knows that space for dialogue creates success. Last year he led a coalition created to improve the relationships between civilians and law enforcement in South Salt Lake City. By bringing people together to discuss difficult issues, progress was made within the community. This process established ongoing public forums that now provide residents the opportunity to address their concerns directly with the mayor and the chief of police. Richard believes that most social problems can be solved through collaboration and that fostering empathy and compassion for experiences that differ from his own keeps him focused on being helpful and respectful. Richard believes that most people have a powerful desire to improve the world; he hopes to make deeper and more sustainable efforts to address social issues by finding ways to increase the capacity and impact of community organizations. Richard is becoming a leader who is excited by collaborative change.
I started out as a volunteer at a community center for underprivileged youth by mentoring a refugee student from Somalia. I found a promising reading program, and I started working with him regularly. I eventually saw him get over his difficulties with understanding and pronouncing English and develop appreciation for books. His success made me want to get more involved, and I started mentoring other students, mostly refugees as well. I vowed to not only help them with schoolwork, but also to feel welcomed in the U.S. I enrolled as a part-time AmeriCorps member, eventually committing to working at the local community center full-time. As a college student, I became deeply involved in projects at the Bennion Center at the University of Utah, which helped me recruit volunteers for the community center and develop a comprehensive reading program for the students. I now serve on a committee that reviews student community service proposals at the Bennion Center. I recently got to serve as a spokesperson of a coalition that aimed to improve the relationship between city officials and residents. Our efforts led to the creation of public forums where residents can directly address the mayor and the chief of police.