As Executive Director of GEARup2LEAD, AJ brings almost 20 years in K-12 education as a teacher, principal, and an Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. He holds a B.A. and M.P.A. from The University of Michigan-Flint, an Ed.S. from Oakland University, and received his Ed.D. from Eastern Michigan University. He is a Tigers fan, loves Pearl Jam, and most of all, loves his hometown, Flint, MI! AJ and his wife Nicole have three children, Taylor (21), Adam (19), and Cameron (15). They are proud to be a part of Genesee County and welcome you to join GEARup2LEAD to create positive change in Flint and beyond! AJ's favorite quote is, “If you are not on the edge, get out of the way, you are taking up too much room.”- Jim Kitchen
*Photo by Mike Naddeo
Dan felt a connection with GEARup2LEAD's cause and proposed a new idea: teaching heroism and leadership through athletics. Dan’s background is in coaching, team management, and athletic administration. Born and raised in Grand Rapids, he began coaching and managing a non-profit called the Grand Rapids Lightning after studying Business Economics at Grand Valley State University. He became head varsity basketball coach at Grand Rapids Catholic Central in 2010 and was also assistant to the athletic director, where he focused on facilitating the success of at-risk student athletes. He most recently worked within operations at Krossover Intelligence Inc., a video analytics company that specializes in college and high school athletics. Dan was recently married, he and his wife Jennifer reside in Linden with their two golden retrievers, Jules and Jada.
*Photo by Mike Naddeo
Dawn Demps, mother, crusader, organizer, speaker, artist and life student, is a Flint native that has been involved with community advocacy since 12 years old. Dawn utilizes her own lived experiences to understand how youth can feel disconnected from their community and to conceptualize the devices needed to keep them anchored to success.
Dawn formerly served as the Director of Youth, Education and Community Projects for the Urban League of Flint and served nearly 400 youth every year through various initiatives. She is presently the Executive Director of the Urban Center for Post-Secondary Access and Success (UPASS) and the Beecher Scholarship Incentive Program which helps students successfully navigate high school and tackle postsecondary challenges and opportunities.
Dawn believes the difficulties that presently face oppressed communities are more complex than the band-aid policies of current and past leadership. “We need too fully understand how issues of agency, race, gender, and class intertwine underneath a tarp of economic and governmental policies that effectually promote or prohibit the life chances of all groups to succeed.”