Promise Team Spotlight - Von Washington, Jr.0
This week, we are continuing KzooConnect’s Team Spotlight series. Our focus this time around will be on Von Washington Jr., Executive Director of Community Relations for The Kalamazoo Promise (The Promise).
As Executive Director of Community Relations, Washington acts as a primary representative for The Promise and the work it does. Whether it is serving in media relations or building relationships with key stakeholders, Washington, along with the rest of The Promise’s staff, is helping cultivate the organization’s goal of education throughout the community.
Washington has had a history of working within education prior to his current role with The Promise. As the former Associate-Vice President at Southwest Michigan First, one of his primary duties was connecting educational institutions with businesses to better prepare students for entering the workforce. Before this he served as the principal of Kalamazoo Central High School from August 2007 to July 2012.
Washington is grateful to our community for their pride in The Promise and the students that it impacts. He also believes that this work sends a powerful message to the rest of the country.
“This local community is so excited about The Promise that it gives way to great relationships and creative and innovative thinking every day,” Washington explained. “You realize with a gift of this magnitude that the entire country is watching and [The Promise] has become part of a national movement to invest in human capital to revive our cities and our nation.”
Outside of work, Washington appreciates a variety of hobbies.
“I enjoy fishing, both in local lakes as well as in northern Michigan,” he stated. “I also recently picked up bicycle riding, so I am greatly anticipating summer.”
In terms of entertainment, Washington prefers the Kalamazoo State Theatre.
When asked why the venue was so important to him, Washington responded, “I really enjoy the nostalgia that it brings, just being there makes me feel like I’m a part of history. I like that they bring in a lot of old school performances.”
For Washington, his time with The Promise has taught him that working towards improving the lives of future generations and the community they live in takes time.
“When working with the thought of community transformation you discover quickly that there are so many moving parts and so many partners that have to come together that it’s not quick work,” said Washington.
Washington and The Promise team enjoy this process and the community connections that it forges. After being asked what some of his favorite aspects of his job were, Washington responded, “[I’m] excited every day to help others succeed, gain access to education and linkages to the vast amount of resources and support provided by this community.”