By Brendan Hader
For the third consecutive year, the Cincinnati Reds on September 19 hosted students from 12 My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) chapters around Ohio at Great American Ball Park for a leadership event on Monday.
Over 190 students from MBK chapters across Ohio attended the program. Special guests included U.S. senator Sherrod Brown, Hamilton County commissioner Alicia Reece, Cincinnati mayor Aftab Pureval, Reds senior vice president of business operations Karen Forgus, National League Baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin and director of MBK Ohio Kyle Strickland, along with other local leaders and Reds representatives.
“My Brother’s Keeper is about more than just providing resources and support,” said Brown while addressing the group. “It’s about building relationships and creating a network of mentors and educators and community leaders who are committed to helping young people. That’s why we’ve hosted this event with the Reds the past three years. It’s a chance for students to connect with one another. It’s about showing you there is a whole network of people who are talented like you and want to make a difference in the world and achieve their dreams just like you do.”
In 2014, President Barack Obama started My Brother’s Keeper as a national initiative to address opportunity gaps facing boys and young men of color, and to ensure all young people reach their full potential. In 2015, Brown led efforts to launch MBK chapters around the state and helped launch the statewide MBK coalition in 2018.
“President Obama created this program because he saw a real need to reach into cities like Cincinnati, Dayton, Cleveland, Columbus and all the other areas that you represent,” Pureval told the students. “You all represent the promise of Ohio’s future. You all represent students who are valuable, who matter, and who all the executives on this panel want to pour into. You are here because you are needed and you’re crucial to the future of not only the communities that you come from, but for the entire state.”
Attendees arrived in the morning and took a ballpark tour before settling into the Bally Sports Club for lunch and an introduction of the program’s panelists. The students took part in breakout sessions where they asked the panelists questions and sought advice on management, career opportunities, leadership and more.
“The Reds are honored to host the My Brother’s Keeper chapters at Great American Ball Park for the annual leadership event,” said Victor Livisay, Reds vice president of people and culture. “As an organization, we are committed to using our influence to spark positive change and ensure all young people can reach their full potential.”
This year, the students also enjoyed a surprise visit from two current Reds players: outfielder Will Benson and pitcher Fernando Cruz. The two big leaguers fielded questions before posing for pictures and signing autographs.
After the program ended, the group walked down the street to visit the new Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame located by the Andrew J. Brady Music Center. The attraction, which opened in July, is a family-friendly interactive musical experience that brings history to life through immersive technology. After checking out the Walk of Fame, the group returned to the ballpark for a tour of the Reds Hall of Fame presented by Dinsmore. The day concluded with tickets to that night’s game where they watched the Reds beat the Minnesota Twins.