Gale Nelson, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Miami, expands mentorship throughout the city.
From left: Gale Nelson II, Shauntell Nelson, Gale Nelson, Alexis Nelson, Jordan Nelson and Brandon Nelson attend School of Swagger event. PHOTO BY AJ SHORTER
Since its inception in 1958, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami has served over 65,000 “Littles.” Under Nelson’s leadership, the chapter has expanded mentorship programs focusing on digital literacy, health and wellness, the arts, career training and more. We caught up with Nelson to discuss his work within the Miami community and what’s next.
What is your personal mission statement?
To be a force for good regardless of obstacles because to whom much is given, much is required.
What is the most rewarding part of working with BBBS?
When smiles are your “bottom line,” joy is threaded into each day. The tangible impact of mentoring never gets old! I am rewarded by this every day.
What sparked your passion for community involvement?
The sacrifice and love of a single mother who did everything she could to put me on a path to success. Whenever I help someone in need or mentor a future leader, I am—by extension—thanking my mom!
What is your proudest moment as president and CEO of BBBS?
I take pride in so many moments as CEO of this organization. One recent experience that holds a special place in my heart occurred during our annual graduation ceremony for our “Littles.” We had the privilege of awarding a scholarship to a “Little” sister, which included dormitory housing, and witnessing her overwhelming emotion was truly moving. Knowing that she had been homeless at the time made her tears so powerful, and this post-secondary assistance was like a lifeline, offering her a fresh start. Her mother rushed to the stage, and in that unforgettable moment, we were again reminded of our WHY at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami.
What’s next for the organization?
We are focusing on meaningful growth, including the expansion of our services to the Florida Keys, the establishment of a state-of-the-art Teen Tech Center at our headquarters, a collaborative mural installation with the Wynwood Walls Foundation to further amplify our mission, and fostering increased involvement of men of color through strategic partnerships with organizations such as the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and other social groups. Remember, it takes LITTLE to be BIG—now is the time to get involved individually or through your company. The cost of doing nothing is far too high.