Latoya Coleman is passionate about public service and being a change agent for underserved communities. Prior to her selection as a National Urban Fellow, she worked for multiple nonprofit organizations and in education, where she cultivated her desire to become a leader on the national and global levels.
Raised in a single parent home in Harlem, Latoya benefited from opportunities created by effective community leaders in her neighborhood. She attended private schools in Harlem established by people of color who gave back to their communities. This strong foundation enabled Latoya to receive a full scholarship to The Dana Hall School, a prestigious boarding school in Wellesley, MA. Her experiences motivated her to receive a Bachelor of Arts in African American studies with a concentration in Public Policy from Wesleyan University. At Wesleyan, Latoya pursued her desire to help others through tutoring and advising Middletown youth. During her junior year, she attended The School for International Living’s study abroad program in Durban, South Africa that centered on reconciliation and development. Working with international NGOs focused on women’s rights and community development expanded Latoya’s aspiration to make an impact on a global scale.
Working for nonprofits showed Latoya how one individual can have a direct impact an organization’s success. Her professional experience began at Mother Hale House in Harlem, a renowned nonprofit organization that provides a foster home for children. Latoya coordinated fundraising events, managed volunteer groups, and learned how clients directly benefit from the services of a nonprofit organization. She later worked at the African Film Festival, where her responsibilities included advertising for the annual Harlem Parks Film Festival, management of the annual budget, and correspondence with donors and grant makers.
Latoya’s work experience in education began at Breakthrough Collaborative in Philadelphia, a summer program for middle school students in underserved communities. Later, she entered the private sector at Apple Inc. where she created the daily store schedule and honed her problem-solving skills. She returned to education as the Introductory Curriculum Coordinator at Touro College of Pharmacy, compelled by the college’s commitment to training pharmacists to work in underserved communities.
Latoya attributes her academic and professional success to the mentoring and community programs in her native Harlem. As a National Urban Fellow, she hopes to enhance her knowledge of the inner workings of community-based programs to effectively lead and serve on a national and global level.