3/13/2012 Joel Berg ’91

The Rev. Leonard Jamison '89

For Leonard Jamison, a job in higher education was supposed to be a bridge between his undergraduate career and law school. Instead, he found a higher purpose, one that inspired him to found a faith-based nonprofit dedicated to advancing educational opportunity in urban communities.

Last summer, he left a senior post in academic administration to lead the Philadelphia-based organization, Brighter Day Ministries, full-time. “It took a year and a half of prayer and planning and researching, and still it was like diving into the ocean,” said Jamison, a North Philadelphia native and ordained minister. “But there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.”

Jamison and his wife, Marilyn, launched Brighter Day to aid first-generation college students, primarily from urban areas. “There was an incredible need that the existing educational organizations and departments were not filling.”

The need is much like the one Jamison felt at F&M. While he qualified academically, he faced financial and social challenges as the first member of his family to attend college. “One thing I realized in my educational career was that it wasn’t just an issue for me, but for an entire group of people,” he said.

At F&M, he found mentors, including former Congressman Bill Gray ’63, who was an acquaintance of the late godparents who raised him. “They’re the ones who pushed me to dream big and filled me with the hope and passion to do good,” Jamison said.

He planned to do good as a lawyer. But before going to law school, he sought to build his savings and took a job in theAdmissions Office of Eugene Lang College. After marrying in 1990, he worked in F&M’s Admission Office, before moving to Philadelphia to take a series of higher education posts. At the same time, he felt a calling to join the ministry.

Instead of taking up the pulpit right away, Jamison became an educational entrepreneur. Brighter Day is his latest — and most intense — venture, combining his faith with his passion for education and social justice. In addition to mentoring young people, the nonprofit plans to operate a preschool, forge partnerships with other institutions to educate adult learners, engage in community outreach and host a weekend church fellowship.

He is already enjoying the rewards of his labor: seeing students he and his wife have helped become leaders. Several spoke at the dedication of Brighter Day’s new building in November. “The biggest accomplishment is helping people get to where God intended them to be and being part of that process,” Jamison said. “Not the whole process, just a part of it, because we all know that people along the way make the process smoother.”

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