Kenneth Braswell, Responsible Fatherhood director, ‘when reality exceeds expectations’
Kenneth Braswell is the executive director of Fathers Incorporated, which serves as a leader in the field of Responsible Fatherhood. “The organization’s international, national, and local mission focuses on remediating the impact of father absence. Braswell has over 25 years of community development experience and serves as a leader and advocate in the promotion of responsible fatherhood and Black male achievement,” he says.
Additionally, Braswell serves as the director of President Obama’s National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The NRFC is a widely recognized national and international resource for fathers, practitioners, researchers, and policymakers. Its components include: www.fatherhood.gov, media campaigns, products, Fatherhood Buzz and the national fatherhood hotline.
Read what he has to say.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
Independence and innovation have always been my motivator to resolve social issues through entrepreneurial endeavors. It began with my passion for communicating via the publishing of two community newspapers (WHAZUP! and Urban Voices). In addition, I also had a DJ and radio broadcasting career that spanned over 35 years. In 2004, after serving as the VP of Communications for the Urban League of Northeastern New York, I took a leap of faith into the nonprofit world and created Fathers Incorporated to train and build the capacity of human service agencies to better provide services for men/fathers. That work has evolved into also managing Black Rose MediaWorks, a media production company created to produce films and other media content designed to address social issues impacting black families.
What type of person or company is an ideal client?
An ideal client for Fathers Incorporated is any organizational entity whose mission is to provide social services to men/fathers and the families they impact. Also, any business whose clientele, members or workforce are primarily men. Our professional development mission seeks to equip organizations, faith-based institutions and bussinesses with a greater understanding of supporting families through stronger men/fathers.
When did you realize that you had what it took to make it on your own?
In 2011, when we finished writing the proposal for the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC), I got a chance to see all of my credentials and ideas on paper. It was the first time I realized that our organization had accomplished so much. Yet, it was when we won the bid for the contract I realized it wasn’t just words on a paper but a body of work that had done well. In fact, through my own hands, I have managed over $50 million in the work of Responsible Fatherhood over the last 10 years.
What has been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
My biggest obstacle came twice for the same reason. When I released my book When The Tear Won’t Fall: One Man’s Journey through the Struggles of Manhood and Fatherhood and then when I released my documentary, Spit’in Anger: Venom of a Fatherless Son. I struggled with putting the intimacy, failures and struggles of my life in such a public space. It was three years before I released the book and a year before I released the film because I was so nervous about what people would think. I’ve since learned that the two projects were not only healing mechanisms for others, but one for myself, as well.
What is your most proud and/or successful moment?
I wish I could answer this question with a singular answer, but I can’t. My moments of success and pride are continually eclipsed by the next [project]. A good friend of mine once told me that “You have not begun to live until your reality exceeds your expectations.”
I’ve always known that I would ultimately do good in my life, but I never knew that it would be my own life that would serve as the inspiration to serve others.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years, I want to see Fathers Incorporated be a sustainable business that continues to have a powerful impact on families–without having to have only my hands in the day-to-day operational management. In addition, because of the significant impact of our work, [we will be] mentioned in the same sentence of other large family based organizations like the Urban League, YMCA, Boy and Girls Club and others.