Raised in Atlanta, GA, Odiaka Gonzalez graduated from Morehouse College with a BA in Psychology. Prior to serving as the executive director of Oakland Leaf, a nonprofit that utilizes creative education to develop young leaders to become agents of change in their community, Odiaka was a program manager at Playworks East Bay.
A husband, father, community advocate, and deejay, Odiaka sat down with us to talk about his journey post-Playworks.
Who is a constant motivator in your life and why?
My greatest motivator is my family. They inspire me to learn, grow, and be my best self so I can do my small part to make this world a better place for them and our community.
How long did you work with Playworks?
I started working at Playworks as a site coordinator in East Oakland in 2000 when there were only 20 employees. I worked there for nine years.
How did your experience at Playworks shape your current career path?
Playworks is the reason I am in education, youth development, and why I have made Oakland my home. I saw how much our students could do when they were given a basic opportunity to play. This inspired me to work in organizations and companies that were pushing the envelope and fighting for students to have equal opportunities so they can thrive in and out of school.
Looking back where you started and where you are now, what continues to drive your passion to serve your community?
What drives me now is looking at the big picture and trying to get to the root causes of issues that are negatively affecting our community. I want to be a part of long-term and permanent solutions that will give all children the opportunity to be their best selves.
Rumor has it that you can rock the turntables. What does music/deejaying mean to you?
The rumor is true, although I have tried and failed to keep it a secret in my nine-to-five life. Deejaying means to create an experience, a mood, a feeling through music. It is being part of a crowd, feeding off of them, taking them on a journey with you, and letting them take you on a journey as well. I love music and love to be able to share that passion with others. I wish there was a little more time in the day/week to do it more.
Ok, we have to ask, what Playworks clap or game have you recently used at work, home, or with friends?
If people want to reach out to you for advice, networking, or collaboration, what is the best way to contact you?
I would love to connect with other alum. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org