When Read to Lead Board Member Carl Turnipseed was in middle school in Baltimore, Maryland, he remembers having great admiration for his school teachers. He especially liked the way they displayed leadership. At the time, he aspired to become an elementary school teacher because he was inspired by how his teachers commanded the classroom, shared their vast knowledge and wisdom, and cared about their students’ future. Carl’s teachers’ influence was all the more impactful because they were teaching during a time of segregation, and he was aware of the discrimination they faced as Black educators. Yet his teachers never let that get in the way of encouraging Carl and his classmates to set high goals, believe in themselves, and aim for excellence in everything they did.
Although Carl didn’t become an elementary school teacher, leadership and education would become central to his professional life. As a college student at Morgan State University, he majored in business and was recruited to work for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He worked for 44 years at the New York Fed, retiring in 2013 as the Executive Vice President and Head of Financial Services Group, and Member of the Executive Committee. Many of Carl’s most cherished memories involved him coaching and mentoring young people who worked at the Bank and on Wall Street, while also sharing back his experiences and knowledge with students at academic institutions that had led him to his career.
One morning at a private meeting at work, Carl was introduced to Lewis Bernard by Gerry Corrigan who was (then) President of the New York Fed. Carl was very impressed with Lewis’ unique vision for helping students connect academics to career through technology and thereby become more engaged and find purpose in what they were learning. Though the Fed couldn’t donate funds to Lewis’ nascent organization, Gerry arranged for several professionals at the Fed, including Carl, to provide their knowledge and expertise, their skills and influence to Read to Lead (known as Classroom, Inc. at the time) — an invaluable contribution that Carl continues to provide today as a founding Board Member.
Looking back on the evolution of Read to Lead, Carl says it’s remarkable how the organization has kept up with the dynamics in the education technology industry, transitioning from a simulation software to a digital learning platform. Today, he’s excited to work alongside his fellow Board Members and the talented Read to Lead team to empower middle school students to believe in themselves as leaders and seek a path to leadership through reading.
Carl offers strong words of encouragement to Read to Lead middle schoolers everywhere:
“I’m just like you. I didn’t let my conditions define who I was or limit what I could become. I worked hard in class, did my homework, and learned as much as I could. Somewhere down the road, I was told that very good job opportunities would become available, and when they did I needed to be educated and prepared to take advantage of them. It’s all summed up in one of my favorite quotes: chance favors the prepared mind. Each of us must be prepared for the next level of opportunities that await us! Aim high, work hard, put in the time, and trust that it will all work out.”
When Carl reflects on what makes a true leader, his parents immediately come to mind, with their strong work ethic, their high expectations of him, and their strong commitment to giving back to the community. He also sees integrity, empathy, and vision as important character traits of a leader – in his words, “Don’t be afraid to take the road less traveled.”
At Read to Lead, we’ve been deeply fortunate to have Carl, who embodies all these traits, as one of the longest-standing members of our community. We look forward to continuing our work together to help students build the literacy, life, and career skills to live their dreams.
About Read to Lead
Read to Lead, created by the nonprofit organization, Classroom Inc., uses the power of game-based learning to empower middle school students to build literacy, life, and career skills. Teachers can sign up for a free account to get started!