Scott Steele ’92 left NC State with a degree in Latin American studies and went right to work developing relationships overseas, helping launch a Young Life program in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Years later, he found himself working as the executive director of Cherokee Gives Back, a non-profit focused on the transformation of real estate liabilities into assets and advancing global improvements to poverty and the environment.
At first glance you wouldn’t think there would be a connection between youth ministry and the philanthropic arm of a major investment company, but Steele has found his passion through it.
“A major thread of our organization’s work is cultivating connections between people – oftentimes college students – that can lead to life-changing growth,” Steele says. “We run programs like ‘Go To Ethiopia’ and an emerging leaders program to help mold and inspire future leaders dedicated to making a difference in the lives of people around the world.”
Steele is slated to speak Tuesday to a group of Caldwell Fellows at a dinner seminar focused around the theme of “Doing Better at Doing Good.” The seminar will serve as a conversation among leaders who engage deeply with the idea of effective social change across many disciplines and venues.
Cherokee Gives Back’s Emerging Leaders Program takes students from NC State, UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke and equips them to be servant leaders through a five-month program that includes meeting national and community leaders who are working strategically to care for the poor and the environment. Guest speakers at monthly meetings complement the program’s integrated curriculum of readings around the themes of servant leadership, poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability. Students also participate in a service project that develops hands-on understanding of social and environmental leadership.
The Ethiopia program – which hopes to include a crop of NC State’s Caldwell Fellows in coming years – opens its doors to those who would like to learn about and experience Ethiopia while strengthening their leadership skills and assisting local entities. Selected students stay at the Cherokee House in the capital city of Addis Ababa and are matched with Ethiopian organizations and businesses for a one-to-four month term. They have the additional opportunity to interact with local leaders, businesses and citizens to expand their own leadership capabilities.
“These programs fall right in line with the mission of the Caldwell Fellows which is to grow servant leaders,” Steele says. “During my time at NC State, there were two people who took a significant interest in me. They helped me grow into the person I am today. Because of that, I enjoy working in the field of relationship building and providing opportunities to connect students with mentors.
“The Caldwell Fellows group has a passion for serving others through leadership and Cherokee Gives Back can provide some great opportunities to further cultivate that passion and put it to work.”
— Caroline Barnhill ‘05
The Caldwell Fellows program is an intensive leadership-development scholarship program that was created by the Alumni Association to honor the legacy of Chancellor John T. Caldwell.