Telaekah Brooks
Partner, Investment Practice Group

Joining the VPP team has allowed me to bring together my interests in education, youth development, economic development and building programs in a way that I haven’t experienced in the past. I hope my combined experiences can lend a different depth to our current work and that I can be a part of the team that continues to drive our organization into the future.

I work on some of the newer investments, but I also research the landscape for potential investment opportunities. I’m especially excited about providing strategic assistance to our nonprofit partners and taking on new challenges.

When you work with multiple diverse populations in one environment and with widely varying needs, it’s important to think of creative ways to address all of the populations given the size and scope of the project.

For four years, I worked to help start hundreds of both for-profits and nonprofits by diving deep and pinpointing models that could be applied across sectors. For example, I would identify a model in a grocery store that could be applied in a hair salon or models in youth development nonprofits that could work in senior centers.

My experience in higher education is directly applicable to my role at VPP. I was responsible for building programs. To do that, I had to develop coalitions of faculty, administration, students and other stakeholders. I also focused intently on driving outcomes and looking at how the projected outcomes should inform decisions for the programs and students.

As a foster parent, I’ve had a lot of interactions with disadvantaged youth. Making their lives better is what makes me so committed to the work that we do here at VPP.

When I went into undergrad, I knew I was passionate about juvenile justice and inequities in the system. I believed that the only way to change the system is to be inside the system. That’s what inspired me to go to law school. Ultimately, I realized that my niche was community economic development, and by rebuilding communities and neighborhoods, I could impact the lives of youth, their parents and grandparents who live in those communities.

My two daughters are fearless and I admire how they interact with adults and how poised they are at such a young age. One thing that I talk about with them is the “power of curiosity.” That was one of the more important traits that I identified in college students when I was an academic administrator. If a student was curious and dogmatic, then they could do pretty much anything they wanted in life. Curiosity has the power to overcome your natural intelligence and give you the determination to find the answer to problems and to go after your dreams.